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Oct. 26.]

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The play of Douglas.


JOHNSON. That will not do, Sir. Nothing is good but what is consistent with truth or probability, which this is not. Juvenal, indeed, gives us a noble picture of inflexible virtue :

"Esto bonus miles, tutor bonus, arbiter idem
Integer: ambiguæ si quando citabere testis,
Incertæque rei, Phalaris licet imperet ut sis,
Falsus, et admoto dictet perjuria tauro,

Summum crede nefas animam præferre pudori,
Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas'."

He repeated the lines with great force and dignity; then

beginning 'My name is Norval.' Act ii. The play affords a few quotations more or less known, as :

'I found myself

As women wish to be who love their lords.'

Act i.

'He seldom errs`

Who thinks the worst he can of womankind.'

Act iii.

'Honour, sole judge and umpire of itself.'
'Unknown I die; no tongue shall speak of me.
Some noble spirits, judging by themselves,
May yet conjecture what I might have proved,
And think life only wanting to my fame.'

Act iv.

Act v.

'An honest guardian, arbitrator just,

Be thou; thy station deem a sacred trust.

With thy good sword maintain thy country's cause;
In every action venerate its laws:

The lie suborn'd if falsely urg'd to swear,
Though torture wait thee, torture firmly bear;
To forfeit honour, think the highest shame,
And life too dearly bought by loss of fame;
Nor to preserve it, with thy virtue give

That for which only man should wish to live.'
[Satires, viii. 79.]

For this and the other translations to which no signature is affixed, I am indebted to the friend whose observations are mentioned in the notes, pp. 88 and 455. BOSWELL. Sir Walter Scott says, 'probably Dr. Hugh Blair.' I have little doubt that it was Malone. 'One of the best criticks of our age,' Boswell calls this friend in the other two passages. This was a compliment Boswell was likely to pay to Malone, to whom he dedicated this book. Malone was a versifier. See Prior's Malone, p. 463.



Neglect of religious buildings.

[Oct. 26. added, 'And, after this, comes Johnny Home, with his earth gaping, and his destruction crying:-Pooh'!'

While we were lamenting the number of ruined religious buildings which we had lately seen, I spoke with peculiar feeling of the miserable neglect of the chapel belonging to the palace of Holyrood-house, in which are deposited the remains of many of the Kings of Scotland, and many of our nobility. I said, it was a disgrace to the country that it was not repaired and particularly complained that my friend Douglas, the representative of a great house and proprietor of a vast estate, should suffer the sacred spot where his mother lies interred, to be unroofed, and exposed to all the inclemencies of the weather. Dr. Johnson, who, I know not how, had formed an opinion on the Hamilton side, in the Douglas cause, slily answered, 'Sir, Sir, don't be too severe upon the gentleman; don't accuse him of want of filial piety! Lady Jane Douglas was not his mother.' He roused my zeal so much that I took the liberty to tell him

'I am sorry that I was unlucky in my quotation. But notwithstanding the acuteness of Dr. Johnson's criticism, and the power of his ridicule, The Tragedy of Douglas still continues to be generally and deservedly admired. BOSWELL. Johnson's scorn was no doubt returned, for Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 295) says of Home:- As John all his life had a thorough contempt for such as neglected his poetry, he treated all who approved of his works with a partiality which more than approached to flattery.' Carlyle tells (pp. 301-305) how Home started for London with his tragedy in one pocket of his great coat and his clean shirt and nightcap in the other, escorted on setting out by six or seven Merse ministers. 'Garrick, after reading his play, returned it as totally unfit for the stage.' It was brought out first in Edinburgh, and in the year 1757 in Covent Garden, where it had great success. 'This tragedy,' wrote Carlyle forty-five years later, 'still maintains its ground, has been more frequently acted, and is more popular than any tragedy in the English language.' Ib. p. 325. Hannah More recorded in 1786 (Memoirs, ii. 22), 'I had a quarrel with Lord Monboddo one night lately. He said Douglas was a better play than Shakespeare could have written. He was angry and I was pert. Lord Mulgrave sat spiriting me up, but kept out of the scrape himself, and Lord Stormont seemed to enjoy the debate, but was shabby enough not to help me out.'


Oct. 27.]

Johnson a very polite man.


he knew nothing of the cause: which I do most seriously believe was the case'.

We were now in a country of bridles and saddles',' and set out fully equipped. The Duke of Argyle was obliging enough to mount Dr. Johnson on a stately steed from his grace's stable. My friend was highly pleased, and Joseph said, 'He now looks like a bishop.'

We dined at the inn at Tarbat, and at night came to Rosedow, the beautiful seat of Sir James Colquhoun, on the banks of Lochlomond, where I, and any friends whom I have introduced, have ever been received with kind and elegant hospitality.


When I went into Dr. Johnson's room this morning, I observed to him how wonderfully courteous he had been at Inveraray, and said, 'You were quite a fine gentleman, when with the duchess.' He answered, in good humour, 'Sir, I look upon myself as a very polite man:' and he was right, in a proper manly sense of the word'. As an immediate proof of it, let me observe, that he would not send back the Duke of Argyle's horse without a letter of thanks, which I copied. 'TO HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF ARGYLE.


'That kindness which disposed your grace to supply me with the horse, which I have now returned, will make you pleased to hear that he has carried me well.

'By my diligence in the little commission with which I was honoured by the duchess', I will endeavour to shew how highly I value the favours which I have received, and how much I desire to be thought,

'My Lord,

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Johnson's negligence.

[Oct. 27.

The duke was so attentive to his respectable' guest, that on the same day, he wrote him an answer, which was received at Auchinleck ::


'TO DR. JOHNSON, AUCHINLeck, Ayrshire.

'I am glad to hear your journey from this place was not unpleasant, in regard to your horse. I wish I could have supplied you with good weather, which I am afraid you felt the want of. 'The Duchess of Argyle desires her compliments to you, and is much obliged to you for remembering her commission.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most obedient humble servant,

'Inveraray, Oct. 29, 1773.'


I am happy to insert every memorial of the honour done to my great friend. Indeed, I was at all times desirous to preserve the letters which he received from eminent persons, of which, as of all other papers, he was very negligent; and I once proposed to him, that they should be committed to my care, as his Custos Rotulorum. I wish he had complied with my request, as by that means many valuable writings might have been preserved, that are now lost'.

After breakfast, Dr. Johnson and I were furnished with a boat, and sailed about upon Lochlomond, and landed on some of the islands which are interspersed. He was much

'See ante, iii. 273, note 2.

As a remarkable instance of his negligence, I remember some years ago to have found lying loose in his study, and without the cover, which contained the address, a letter to him from Lord Thurlow, to whom he had made an application as Chancellor, in behalf of a poor literary friend. It was expressed in such terms of respect for Dr. Johnson, that, in my zeal for his reputation, I remonstrated warmly with him on his strange inattention, and obtained his permission to take a copy of it; by which probably it has been preserved, as the original I have reason to suppose is lost. BOSWELL. See ante, iii. 500.

The islets, which court the gazer at a distance, disgust him at his approach, when he finds, instead of soft lawns and shady thickets nothing more than uncultivated ruggedness.' Johnson's Works, ix. 156.


Oct. 27.]

Forms of prayer.


pleased with the scene, which is so well known by the accounts of various travellers, that it is unnecessary for me to attempt any description of it.

I recollect none of his conversation, except that, when talking of dress, he said, 'Sir, were I to have any thing fine, it should be very fine. Were I to wear a ring, it should not be a bauble, but a stone of great value. Were I to wear a laced or embroidered waistcoat, it should be very rich. I had once a very rich laced waistcoat, which I wore the first night of my tragedy'.'

Lady Helen Colquhoun being a very pious woman, the conversation, after dinner, took a religious turn. Her ladyship defended the presbyterian mode of publick worship; upon which Dr. Johnson delivered those excellent arguments for a form of prayer which he has introduced into his Journey. I am myself fully convinced that a form of prayer for publick worship is in general most decent and edifying. Solennia verba have a kind of prescriptive sanctity, and make a deeper impression on the mind than extemporaneous effusions, in which, as we know not what they are to be, we cannot readily acquiesce. Yet I would allow also of a certain portion of extempore address, as occasion may require. This is the practice of the French Protestant churches. And although the office of forming supplications to the throne of Heaven is, in my mind, too great a trust to be indiscriminately committed to the discretion of every minister, I do not mean to deny that sincere devotion may be experienced when joining in prayer with those who use no Liturgy.

We were favoured with Sir James Colquhoun's coach to

'See ante, i. 232, and iv. 207.

'In these arguments he says:-'Reason and truth will prevail at last. The most learned of the Scottish doctors would now gladly admit a form of prayer, if the people would endure it. The zeal or rage of congregations has its different degrees. In some parishes the Lord's Prayer is suffered in others it is still rejected as a form; and he that should make it part of his supplication would be suspected of heretical pravity.' Johnson's Works, ix. 102. See ante, p. 138.

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