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now presented to him. He kept his hat off while he was upon any part of the ground where the cathedral had stood. He said well, that “ Knox had set on a mob, without knowing where it would end; and that differing from a man in doctrine was no reason why you should pull his house about his ears.” As we walked in the cloisters, there was a solemn echo, while he talked loudly of a proper retirement from the world. Mr. Nairne said, he had an inclination to retire. I called Dr. Johnson's attention to this, that I might hear his opinion if it was right.-Johnson. “Yes, when he has done his duty to society. In general, as every man is obliged not only to “love God, but his neighbour as himself,” he must bear his part in active life e; yet
there are exceptions. Those who are exceedingly scrupulous, (which I do not approve, for I am no friend to scruples) and find their scrupulosity invincible, so that they are quite in the dark, and know not what they shall do,—or those who cannot resist temptations, and find they make themselves worse by being in the world, without making it better, may retire. I never read of a hermit, but in imagination I kiss his feet; never of a monastery, but I could fall on my knees and kiss the pavement. But I think putting young people there, who know nothing of life, nothing of retirement, is dangerous and wicked. It is a saying as old as Hesiod,
Εργα νεών, βελαιγε μέσων, έυχαιζε γερόντων.*
That is a very noble line: not that young men should not pray, or old men not give counsel, but that
* Let active enterprize the young engage, The riper man be famed for counsel sage ; Prayer is the proper duty of old age.
season of life has its proper duties. I have thought of retiring, and have talked of it to a friend ; but I find my
vocation is rather to active life.” I said, some young monks might be allowed, to shew that it is not age alone that can retire to pious solitude ; but he thought this would only shew that they could not resist temptation.
He wanted to mount the steeples but this could not be done. There are no good inscriptions here. Bad Roman characters he naturally mistook for half Gothic, half Roman. One of the steeples, which he was told was in danger, he wished not to be taken down; “ for, said he, it may fall on some of the posterity of John Knox; and no great. matter!”—Dinner was mentioned.-Johnson. Ay, ay; amidst all these sorrowful scenes, I have no objection to dinner.”
We went and looked at the castle, where Cardinal Beaton was murdered, and then visited Principal Murison at his college, where is a good library-room; but the principal was abundantly vain of it, for he seriously said to Dr. Johnson, "you have not such a one in England.” The professors entertained us with a very good din.
Present: Murison, Shaw, Cooke, Hill, Haddo, Watson, Flint, Brown. I observed, that I wondered to see him eat so well, after viewing so many sorrowful scenes of ruined religious magnificence. “Why, said he, I am not sorry, after seeing these gentlemen; for they are not sorry.”-Murison said, all sorrow was bad, as it was murmuring against the dispensations of Providence-Johnson. “Sir, sorrow is inherent in humanity. As you cannot judge two and two to be either five, or three, but certainly four, so, when comparing a worse present state with a better which is past, you cannot but feel sorrow. It is not cured by reason, but by We talked of composition, which was a favourite topick of Dr. Watson's, who first distinguished himself by lectures on rhetorick.-Johnson. “I advised Chambers, and would advise every young man beginning to compose, to do it as fast as he can, to get a habit of having his mind to start promptly; it is so much more difficult to improve in speed than in accuracy. -Watson. " I own I am for much attention to accuracy in composing, lest one should get bad habits of doing it in a slovenly manner.”—Johnson. “Why, sir, you are confounding doing inaccurately with the necessity of doing inaccurately. A man knows when his composition is inaccurate, and when he thinks fit he'll correct it. But if a man is accustomed to compose slowly, and with difficulty, upon all occasions, there is danger that he may not compose at all, as we do not like to do that which is not done easily; and, at any rate, more time is consumed in a small matter than ought to be.”Watson. “ Dr. Hugh Blair has taken a week to compose a sermon.”—Johnson. “Then, sir, that is for want of the habit of composing quickly, which I am insisting one should acquire.”—Watson. not composing all the week, but only such hours as he found himself disposed for composition.”—Johnson. “Nay, sir, unless you tell me the time he took, you tell me nothing. If I say I took a week to walk a mile, and have had the gout five days, and been ill otherwise another day, I have taken but one day. I myself have composed about forty sermons. I have begun a sermon after dinner, and sent it off by the post that night. I wrote forty-eight of the printed octavo pages of the Life of Savage at a sitting ; but then I sat up all night. I have also written six sheets in a day of translation from the French.” Boswell. “We have all observed
kow one man dresses himself slowly, and another fast." -Johnson. “Yes, sir; it is wonderful how much time some people will consume in dressing ; taking up a thing and looking at it, and laying it down, and taking it up again. Every one should get the habit of doing it quickly. I would say to a young divine, “Here is your text; let me see how soon you can make a ser. mon.'
Then I'd say, “Let me see how much better you can make it.' Thus I should see both his powers and his judgement.”
We all went to Dr. Watson's to supper. Miss Sharp, great grandchild of Archbishop Sharp, was there; as was Mr. Craig, the ingenious architect of the new town of Edinburgh, and nephew of Thomson, to whom Dr. Johnson has since done so much justice, in his “ Lives of the Poets."
We talked of memory, and its various modes.Johnson. Memory will play strange tricks. One sometimes loses a single word. I once lost fugaces in the Ode Posthume, Posthume.” I mentioned to him that a worthy gentleman of my acquaintance actually forgot his own name.-Johnson.
Sir, that was a more bid oblivion.”
Friday, 20th August.
Dr. Shaw, the professor of divinity, breakfasted with us. I took out my Ogden on Prayer,” and read some of it to the company. Dr. Johnson praised him. " Abernethy, (said he,) allows only of a physical effect of prayer upon the mind, which may be produced many ways, as well as by prayer; for instance, by meditation. Ogden goes farther. In truth, we have the consent of all nations for the efficacy of
er, whether offered up by individuals, or by assemblies; and Revelation has told us, it will be effectual.”--I said, “Leechman seemed to incline to Abernethy's doctrine." Dr. Watson observed, that Leechman meant to shew, that, even admitting no effect to be produced by prayer, respecting the Deity, it was useful to our own minds.
He had given only a part of his system: Dr. Johnson thought he should have given the whole.
Dr. Johnson enforced the strict observance of Sunday. “It should be different (he observed) from another day. People may walk, but not throw stones at birds. There may be relaxation, but there should be no levity.'
We went and saw Colonel Nairne's garden and grotto. Here was a fine old plane tree. Unluckily the colonel said, there was but this and another large tree in the county. This assertion was an excellent cue for Dr. Johnson, who laughed enormously, calling me to hear it. He had expatiated to me on the naked. nes of that part of Scotland which he had seen. His “ Journey” has been violently abused, for what he has said upon this subject. But let it be considered, that when Dr. Johnson talks of trees, he means trees of good size, such as he was accustomed to see in England; and of these there are certainly very few upon the eastern coast of Scotland. Besides, he said, that he meant to give only a map of the road ; and let any traveller observe how many trees, which deserve the name, he can see from the road from Berwick to Aberdeen. Had Dr. Johnson said, trees” upon this line, he would have said what is colloquially true ; because, by no trees, in common speech, we mean few. When he is particular in
" there are no