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mentioned an argument of mine, that literary performances are not taxed. As Churchill says,
“ No statesman yet has thought it worth his pains
and therefore they are not property.-" Yet (said he,) we hang a man for stealing a horse, and horses are not taxed.” -Mr. Pitt has since put an end to that argument.
Wednesday, 18th August.
On this day we set out from Edinburgh. We should gladly have had Mr. Scott to go with us; but he was obliged to return to England.—I have given a sketch of Dr. Johnson: my readers may wish to know a little of his fellow-traveller. Think, then, of a gentleman of ancient blood, the pride of which was his predominant passion. He was then in his thirty-third year, and had been about four years happily married. His inclination was to be a soldier ; but his father, a respectable Judge, had pressed him into the profession of the law. He had travelled a good deal, and seen many varieties of human life. He had thought more than any body supposed, and had a pretty good stock of general learning and knowledge. He had all Dr. Johnson's principles, with some degree of relaxation. He had rather too little than too much prudence; and, his imagination being lively, he often said things of which the effect was very different from the intention. He resembled sometimes
“ The best good man, with the worst natur'd muse."
He cannot deny himself the vanity of finishing with the encomium of Dr. Johnson, whose friendly partiality to the companion of his Tour represents him as one, “whose acuteness would help my inquiry, and whose gaiety of conversation, and civility of manners, are sufficient to counteract the inconveniencies of travel, in countries less hospitable than we have passed.”
Dr. Johnson thought it unnecessary to put himself to the additional expense of bringing with him Francis Barber his faithful black servant; so we were attended only by my man, Joseph Ritter, a Bohemian ; a fine stately fellow above six feet high, who had been over a great part of Europe, and spoke many languages. He was the best servant I ever saw. Let not my readers disdain his introduction ! For Dr. Johnson gave him this character: “Sir, he is a civil man, and a wise man.”
From an erroneous apprehension of violence, Dr. Johnson had provided a pair of pistols, some gunpowder, and a quantity of bullets : but upon being assured we should run no risk of meeting any robbers, he left his arms and ammunition in an open drawer, of which he gave my wife the charge. He also left in that drawer one volume of a pretty full and curious Diary of his Life, of which I have a few fragments; but the book has been destroyed. I wish female curiosity had been strong enough to have had it all transcribed, which might easily have been done; and I should think the theft, being pro bono publico, might have been forgiven. But I
may be wrong. My wife told me she never once looked into it.-She did not seem quite easy when we left her; but away we went !
Mr. Nairne, advocate, was to go with us as far as St. Andrews. It gives me pleasure that, by mentioning his name, I connect his title to the just and handsome compliment paid him by Dr. Johnson, in his book : “A gentleman who could stay with us only long enough to make us know how much we lost by his leay. ing us.” When we came to Leith, I talked with perhaps too boasting an air, how pretty the Frith of Forth looked; as indeed, after the prospect from Constanti. nople, of which I have been told, and that from Naples, which I have seen, I believe the view of that frith and its environs, from the Castle-hill of Edinburgh, is the finest prospect in Europe. Ay, (said Dr. Johnson,) that is the state of the world. Water is the same
Una est injusti cærula forma maris.'
I told him the port here was the mouth of the river or water of Leith. “ Not Lethe," said Mr. Nairne.
Why, sir, (said Dr. Johnson,) when a Scotchman sets out from this port for England, he forgets his native country.”—Nairne. “I hope, sir, you will forget England here."-Johnson. “ Then 'twill be still more Lethe.”—He observed of the Pier or Quay, “ you have no occasion for so large a one: your trade does not require it: but you are like a shopkeeper who takes a shop, not only for what he has to put into it, but that it may be believed he has a great deal to put into it.” It is very true, that there is now, comparatively, little trade upon the eastern coast of Scotland. The riches of Glasgow shew how much there is in the west; and perhaps we shall find trade travel westward on a great scale, as well as a small.
* Non illic urbes, non tu mirabere silvas:
We talked of a man's drowning himself.—Johnson. “ I should never think it time to make
myself.”—I put the case of Eustace Budgell, who was accused of forging a will, and sunk himself in the Thames before the trial of its authenticity came on. Suppose, sir, (said I,) that a man is absolutely sure, that, if he lives a few days longer, he shall be detected in a fraud, the consequence of which will be utter disgrace and expulsion from society.”—Johnson. “Then, sir, let him go abroad to a distant country ; let him go to some place where he is not known. Don't let him go to the devil where he is known !”
He then said, “I see a number of people bare-footed here: I suppose you all went so before the Union. Boswell, your ancestors went so, when they had as much land as your family has now. Yet Auchinleck is the field of Stones : there would be bad going barefooted there. The Lairds, however, did it.”—I bought some speldings, fish (generally whitings salted and dried in a particular manner, being dipped in the sea and dried in the sun, and eaten by the Scots by way of a relish. He had never seen them, though they are sold in London. I insisted on scottifying* his palate ; but he was very reluctant. With difficulty I prevailed with him to let a bit of one of them lie in his mouth. He did not like it.
In crossing the Frith, Dr. Johnson determined that we should land upon Inch Keith. On approaching it, we first observed a high rocky shore.
rocky shore. We coasted about, and put into a little bay on the North-west. We clambered up a very steep ascent, on which was
My friend, General Campbell, Governour of Madras, tells me, that they make speldings in the East Indies, particularly at Bombay, where they call them Bombalocs,
very good grass, but rather a profusion of thistles, There were sixteen head of black cattle grazing upon the island. Lord Hailes observed to me, that Brantome calls it L'isle des Chevaux, and that it was probably “a safer stable” than many others in his time. The fort, with an inscription on it, Maria Re 1564, is strongly built. Dr. Johnson examined it with much attention. He stalked like a giant among the luxuriant thistles and nettles. There are three wells in the island, but we could not find one in the fort. There must probably have been one, though now filled up, as a garrison could not subsist without it. But I have dwelt too long on this little spot. Dr. Johnson afterwards bade me try to write a description of our discovering Inch Keith, in the usual style of travellers, describing fully every particular; stating the grounds on which we concluded that it must have once been inhabited, and introducing many sage reflections; and we should see how a thing miglit be covered in words, so as to induce people to come and survey it. All that was told might be true, and yet in reality there might be nothing to see. He said, “I'd have this island. I'd build a house, make a good landing place, have a garden, and vines, and all sorts of trees. A rich man, of a hospitable turn, here, would have many visitors from Edinburgh." When we had got into our boat again, he called to me, “Come, now, pay a classical compliment to the island on quitting it.” I happened luckily, in allusion to the beautiful Queen Mary, whose name is upon
the fort, to think of what Virgil makes Æneas say, on having left the country of his charming Dido:
Invitus, regina, tuo de littore cessi.*