Page images
PDF
EPUB

1

counting, he may be attacked. I know not how Colonel Nairne came to say there were but two large trees in the county of Fife. I did not perceive that he smiled. There are certainly not a great many; but I could have shewn him more than two at Balmuto, from whence my ancestors came, and which now be. longs to a branch of my family.

In the grotto, we saw a lobster's claw uncommonly large. In the front of it were petrified stocks of fir, plane, and some other tree. Dr. Johnson said, “ Scotland has no right to boast of this grotto; it is owing to personal merit. I never denied personal merit to many of you."-Professor Shaw said to me, as we walked, " This is a wonderful man: he is master of every subject he handles.”—Dr. Watson allowed him a very strong understanding, but'wondered at his total inattention to established manners, as he came from London.

I have not preserved, in my Journal, any of the conversation which passed between Dr. Johnson and Professor Shaw; but I recollect Dr. Johnson said to me afterwards, “I took much to Shaw."

We left St. Andrews about noon, and some miles from it observing, at Leuchars, a church, with an old tower, we stopped to look at it. The manse, as the parsonage-house is called in Scotland, was close by. I waited on the minister, mentioned our names, and begged he would tell us what he knew about it. He was a very civil old man; but could only inform us, that it was supposed to have stood eight hundred years. He told us, there was a colony of Danes in his parish; that they had landed at a remote period of time, and still remained a distinct people. Dr. 'Johnson shrewdly inquired whether they had brought women with them. We were not satisfied as to this colony.

We saw, this day, Dundee and Aberbrothick, the last of which Dr. Johnson has celebrated in his “Journey.” Upon the road we talked of the Roman Catholick faith. He mentioned (I think) Tillotson's argument against transubstantiation : “ That we are as sure we see bread and wine only, as that we read in the Bible the text on which that false doctrine is founded. We have only the evidence of our senses for both.” “ If, (he added,) God had never spoken figuratively, we might hold that he speaks literally, when he says, * This is my body." -Boswell.

But what do you say, sir, to the ancient and continued tradition of the church upon this point ?” Johnson. “ Tradition, sir, has no place, where the Scriptures are plain; and tra“ dition cannot persuade a man into a belief of transubstantiation. Able men, indeed, have said they believed it.”

This is an awful subject. I did not then press Dr. Johnson upon it; nor shall I now enter upon a disquisition concerning the import of those words uttered by our Saviour, which had such an effect upon many of his disciples, that they “ went back, and walked no more with him." The Catechism and solemn office for Communion, in the Church of England, maintain a mysterious belief in more than a mere commemoration of the death of Christ, by partaking of the elements of bread and wine.

Dr. Johnson put me in mind, that, at St. Andrews, I had defended my profession very well, when the question had again been started, Whether a lawyer might honestly engage with the first side that offers him a fee. “Sir, (said I,) it was with your arguments against Sir William Forbes: but it was much that I could wield the arms of Goliah."

He said, our judges had not gone deep in the question concerning literary property. I mentioned Lord Monboddo's opinion, that if a man could get a work by heart, he might print it, as by such an act the mind is exercised.—Johnson. “No, sir ; a man's repeating it no more makes it his property, than aman may sell a cow which he drives home.”—I said, printing an abridgement of a work was allowed, which was only cutting the horns and tail off the cow.--Johnson. - No sir; 'tis making the cow have a calf.”

About eleven at night we arrived at Montrose. We found but a sorry ini, where I myself saw another waiter put a lump of sugar with his fingers into Dr. Johnson's lemonade, for which he called him “Rascal!” It put me in great glee that our landlord was an Englishman. I rallied the Doctor upon this, and he grew quiet. Both Sir John Hawkins's and Dr. Burney's History of Musick had then been advertised. I asked if this was not unlucky: would not they hurt one another? -Johnson. “No, sir. They will do good to one another. Some will buy the one, some the other, and compare them; and so a talk is made about a thing, and the books are sold.”

He was angry at me for proposing to carry lemons with us to Sky, that he might be sure to have his lemonade. Sir, (said he,) I do not wish to be thought that feeble man who cannot do without any thing. Sir, it is very bad manners to carry provisions to any man's house, as if he could not entertain you. To an inferiour it is oppressive; to a superiour, it is insolent.”

Having taken the liberty, this evening, to remark to Dr. Johnson, that he very often sat quite silent for a long time, even when in company with only a single friend, which I myself had sometimes sadly experienced, he

smiled and said, “ It is true, sir. Tom Tyers, (for so he familiarly called our ingenious friend, who, since his death, has paid a biographical tribute to his memory,) Tom Tyers described me the best. He once said to me, “Sir you are like a ghost ; you never speak till you are spoken to.”

Saturday, 21st August.

Neither the Rev. Mr. Nisbet, the established minister, nor the Rev. Mr. Spooner, the episcopal minister, were in town. Before breakfast, we went and saw the town-hall, where is a good dancing room, and other rooms, for tea-drinking. The appearance of the town from it is very well; but many of the houses are built with their ends to the street, which looks awkward. When we came down from it, I met Mr. Gleg, a merchant here. He went with us to see the English chapel. It is situated on a pretty dry spot, and there is a fine walk to it. It is really an elegant building, both within and without. The organ is adorned with green and gold. Dr. Johnson gave a shilling extraordinary to the clerk, saying, “He belongs to an honest church.” I put him in mind, that episcopals were but dissenters here; they were only tolerated. “Sir, (said he,) we are here, as Christians in Turkey.”—He afterwards went into an apothecary's shop, and ordered some medi. cine for himself, and wrote the prescription in technical characters. The boy took him for a physician.

I doubted much which road to take, whether to go by the coast, or by Laurence Kirk and Monboddo. I knew Lord Monboddo and Dr. Johnson did not love each other : yet I was unwilling not to visit his lord

ship; and was also curious to see them together*. I mentioned my doubts to Dr. Johnson, who said, he would go two miles out of his way to see Lord Monboddo. I therefore sent Joseph forward, with the following note:

My dear Lord,

Montrose, 21 August. “ THUS far I am come with Mr. Samuel Johnson. We must be at Aberdeen to-night. I know you do not admire him so much as I do; but I cannot be in this country without making you a bow at your old place, as I do not know if I may again have an opportunity of seeing Monboddo. Besides, Mr. Johnson says, he would go two miles out of his way to see Lord Monboddo. I have sent forward my servant, that we may know if your lordship be at home. I am ever, my dear lord,

“ Most sincerely yours,

“ JAMES BOSWELL."

[ocr errors]

As we travelled onwards from Montrose, we had the Grampion hills in our view, and some good land around us, but void of trees and hedges. Dr. Johnson has said ludicrously, in his “ Journey,” that the hedges were of stone; for, instead of the verdant thorn to refresh the eye, we found the bare wall or dike intersect. ing the prospect. He observed, that it was wonderful to see a country so divested, so denuded of trees.

We stopped at Laurence Kirk, where our great grammarian, Ruddiman, was once schoolmaster. We

* There were several points of similarity between them ; iearning, clearness of head, precision of speech, and a love of research on many subjects which people in general do not investigate. Foote paid Lord Monboddo the compliment of saying, that he was " an Elzevir edition of Johnson."

I

« PreviousContinue »