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Sir William Forbes.

[August 15.

was in equilibrio, as when one affirmed and another denied ; and they had a notion that Providence would interfere in favour of him who was in the right. But as it was found that in a duel, he who was in the right had not a better chance than he who was in the wrong, therefore society instituted the present mode of trial, and gave the advantage to him who is in the right.'

We sat till near two in the morning, having chatted a good while after my wife left us. She had insisted, that to shew all respect to the Sage, she would give up her own bed-chamber to him and take a worse'. This I cannot but gratefully mention, as one of a thousand obligations which I owe her, since the great obligation of her being pleased to accept of me as her husband'.


Mr. Scott came to breakfast, at which I introduced to Dr. Johnson and him, my friend Sir William Forbes, now of Pitsligo; a man of whom too much good cannot be said; who,

1 See ante, iii. 245.

Boswell writes, in his Hypochondriacks:- Naturally somewhat singular, independent of any additions which affectation and vanity may perhaps have made, I resolved to have a more pleasing species of marriage than common, and bargained with my bride that I should not be bound to live with her longer than I really inclined; and that whenever I tired of her domestic society I should be at liberty to give it up. Eleven years have elapsed, and I have never yet wished to take advantage of my stipulated privilege.' London Mag. 1781, p. 156. See ante, ii. 161, note 1.

'Sir Walter Scott was two years old this day. He was born in a house at the head of the College Wynd. When Johnson and Boswell returned to Edinburgh Jeffrey was a baby there seventeen days old. Some seventeen or eighteen years later he had the honour of assisting to carry the biographer of Johnson, in a state of great intoxication, to bed. For this he was rewarded next morning by Mr. Boswell clapping his head, and telling him that he was a very promising lad, and that if "you go on as you've begun, you may live to be a Bozzy yourself yet." Cockburn's Jeffrey, i. 33.

He was one of Boswell's executors, and as such was in part responsible for the destruction of his manuscripts. Ante, iii. 342, note 1.

August 15.]

Boswell's ancestors.


with distinguished abilities and application in his profession of a Banker, is at once a good companion, and a good christian; which I think is saying enough. Yet it is but justice to record, that once, when he was in a dangerous illness, he was watched with the anxious apprehension of a general calamity; day and night his house was beset with affectionate enquiries; and, upon his recovery, Te deum was the universal chorus from the hearts of his countrymen.

Mr. Johnson was pleased with my daughter Veronica',

It is to his Life of Dr. Beattie that Scott alludes in the Introduction to the fourth Canto of Marmion:

'Scarce had lamented Forbes paid
The tribute to his Minstrel's shade;
The tale of friendship scarce was told,
Ere the narrator's heart was cold-
Far may we search before we find
A heart so manly and so kind.'

It is only of late years that Forbes has generally ceased to be a dissyllable.

The saint's name of Veronica was introduced into our family through my great grandmother Veronica, Countess of Kincardine, a Dutch lady of the noble house of Sommelsdyck, of which there is a full account in Bayle's Dictionary. The family had once a princely right in Surinam. The governour of that settlement was appointed by the States General, the town of Amsterdam, and Sommelsdyck. The States General have acquired Sommelsdyck's right; but the family has still great dignity and opulence, and by intermarriages is connected with many other noble families. When I was at the Hague, I was received with all the affection of kindred. The present Sommelsdyck has an important charge in the Republick, and is as worthy a man as lives. He has honoured me with his correspondence for these twenty years. My great grandfather, the husband of Countess Veronica, was Alexander, Earl of Kincardine, that eminent Royalist whose character is given by Burnet in his History of his own Times. From him the blood of Bruce flows in my veins. Of such ancestry who would not be proud? And, as Nihil est, nisi hoc sciat alter, is peculiarly true of genealogy, who would not be glad to seize a fair opportunity to let it be known. BoSWELL. Boswell visited Holland in 1763. Ante, i. 547. Burnet says that the Earl was both the wisest and the worthiest man that belonged to his country, and fit for governing any affairs but his own; which he by a wrong turn, and by his



Practice of the law.

[August 15,

She had the ap

then a child of about four months old. pearance of listening to him. His motions seemed to her to be intended for her amusement; and when he stopped, she fluttered, and made a little infantine noise, and a kind. of signal for him to begin again. She would be held close to him; which was a proof, from simple nature, that his figure was not horrid. Her fondness for him endeared her still more to me, and I declared she should have five hundred pounds of additional fortune'.

We talked of the practice of the law. Sir William Forbes said, he thought an honest lawyer should never undertake a cause which he was satisfied was not a just one. 'Sir, (said Mr. Johnson,) a lawyer has no business with the justice or injustice of the cause which he undertakes, unless his client asks his opinion, and then he is bound to give it honestly. The justice or injustice of the cause is to be decided by the judge. Consider, Sir; what is the purpose of courts of justice? It is, that every man may have his cause fairly tried, by men appointed to try causes. A lawyer is not to tell what he knows to be a lie: he is not to produce what he knows to be a false deed; but he is not to usurp the province of the jury and of the judge, and determine what shall be the effect of evidence,-what shall be the result of legal argument. As it rarely happens that a man is fit to plead his own cause, lawyers are a class of the community, who, by study and experience, have acquired the art and power of arranging evidence, and of applying to the points

love for the public, neglected to his ruin. His thoughts went slow and his words came much slower; but a deep judgment appeared in everything he said or did. I may be, perhaps, inclined to carry his character too far; for he was the first man that entered into friendship with me.' Burnet's History, ed. 1818, i. 111. The ninth Earl succeeded as fifth Earl of Elgin and thus united the two dignities.' Burke's Peerage. Boswell's quotation is from Persius, Satires, i. 27: 'Scire tuum nihil est, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter.' It is the motto to The Spectator, No. 379.

She died four months after her father. I cannot find that she received this additional fortune.


August 15.]



at issue what the law has settled. A lawyer is to do for his client all that his client might fairly do for himself, if he could. If, by a superiority of attention, of knowledge, of skill, and a better method of communication, he has the advantage of his adversary, it is an advantage to which he is entitled. There must always be some advantage, on one side or other; and it is better that advantage should be had by talents than by chance. If lawyers were to undertake no causes till they were sure they were just, a man might be precluded altogether from a trial of his claim, though, were it judicially examined, it might be found a very just claim'.' This was sound practical doctrine, and rationally repressed a too refined scrupulosity of conscience.

Emigration was at this time a common topick of discourse. Dr. Johnson regretted it as hurtful to human happiness: For (said he) it spreads mankind, which weakens the defence of a nation, and lessens the comfort of living. Men, thinly scattered, make a shift, but a bad shift, without many things. A smith is ten miles off: they'll do without a nail or a staple. A taylor is far from them: they'll botch their own clothes. It is being concentrated which produces high convenience'.'

1 See ante, ii. 53.

* See ante, iv. 6, note 2.


See ante, iii. 262. Johnson (Works, ix. 33) speaks of the general dissatisfaction which is now driving the Highlanders into the other hemisphere.' This dissatisfaction chiefly arose from the fact that the chiefs were 'gradually degenerating from patriarchal rulers to rapacious landlords.' Ib. p. 86. That the people may not fly from the increase of rent I know not whether the general good does not require that the landlords be, for a time, restrained in their demands, and kept quiet by pensions proportionate to their loss... It affords a legislator little self-applause to consider, that where there was formerly an insurrection there is now a wilderness.' Ib. p. 94. As the world has been let in upon the people, they have heard of happier climates and less arbitrary government.' Ib. p. 128.

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Lord Chief Baron Orde.

[August 15.

Sir William Forbes, Mr. Scott, and I, accompanied Mr. Johnson to the chapel', founded by Lord Chief Baron Smith, for the Service of the Church of England. The Reverend Mr. Carre, the senior clergyman, preached from these words, Because the Lord reigneth, let the earth be be glad'.' I was sorry to think Mr. Johnson did not attend to the sermon, Mr. Carre's low voice not being strong enough to reach his hearing. A selection of Mr. Carre's sermons has, since his death, been published by Sir William Forbes', and the world has acknowledged their uncommon merit. I am well assured Lord Mansfield has pronounced them to be excellent.

Here I obtained a promise from Lord Chief Baron Orde', that he would dine at my house next day. I presented Mr. Johnson to his Lordship, who politely said to him, 'I have not the honour of knowing you; but I hope for it, and to see you at my house. I am to wait on you to-morrow.' This respectable English judge will be long remembered in Scotland, where he built an elegant house, and lived in it magnificently. His own ample fortune, with the addition. of his salary, enabled him to be splendidly hospitable. It may be fortunate for an individual amongst ourselves to be Lord Chief Baron; and a most worthy man now has the

of existence between good and evil. To live in perpetual want of little things is a state, not indeed of torture, but of constant vexation. I have in Sky had some difficulty to find ink for a letter; and if a woman breaks her needle, the work is at a stop.' Works, ix. 127. ''It was demolished in 1822.' Chambers's Traditions of Edinburgh, i. 215.

The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.' Psalms, xcvii. 1.

A brief memoir of Mr. Carre is given in Forbes's Life of Beattie, Appendix Z.

• It was his daughter who gave the name to the new street in which Hume had taken a house by chalking on his wall ST. DAVID STREET. 'Hume's "lass," judging that it was not meant in honour or reverence, ran into the house much excited, to tell her master how he was made game of. "Never mind, lassie," he said; "many a better man has been made a saint of before."' J. H. Burton's Hume, ii. 436.


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