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He then said, " I see a number of people barefooted 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. We coasted about, and put into a little bay on the north-west. We clambered up a very steep ascent, on which was 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. 1504,” 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 might 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.
* My friend General Campbell, Governor of Madras, tells me that they make speldings in the East Indies, particularly at Bombay, where they call them bambaloes.BOSWELL.
“Invitus, regina, tuo de littore cessi."* “Very well hit off,” said he.
We dined at Kinghorn, and then got into a post-chaise. Mr. Nairne, and his servant and Joseph, rode by us. We stopped at Cupar, and drank tea. We talked of Parliament; and I said I supposed very few of the Members knew much of what was going on, as, indeed, very few gentlemen know much of their own private affairs.—Johnson: “Why, sir, if a man is not of a sluggish mind, he may be his own steward. If he will look into his affairs, he will soon learn. So it is as to public affairs. There must always be a certain number of men of business in Parliament.”— Boswell: consider, sir, what is the House of Commons? Is not a great part of it chosen by the peers? Do you think, sir, they ought to have such an influence ?"-JOHNSON: “Yes, sir Influence must ever be in proportion to property; and it is right it should.”—BOSWELL: “ But is there not reason to fear that the common people may be oppressed ?"JOHNSON: “No, sir. Our great fear is from want of power in Government, such a storm of vulgar force has broke in."-BOSWELL: “It has only roared.”—JOHNSON Sir, it has roared till the judges in Westminster Hall have been afraid to pronounce sentence in opposition to the popular cry. You are frightened by what is no longer dangerous, like Presbyterians by Popery.” He then repeated a passage, I think, in Butler's “Remains,” which ends, “ And would cry, Fire! Fire! in Noah's flood.”+
We had a dreary drive, in a dusky night, to St. Andrews, where we arrived late. We found a good supper at Glass's inn, and Dr.
ohnson revived agreeably. He said, The collection called The Muses' Welcome to King James' (First of England and Sixth of
- Unhappy queen! Unwilling I forsook your friendly state.”--DRYDEN. + The passage quoted by Dr. Johnson is in the “Character of the Assembly-man." Butler's Remains, p. 232, edit. 1754.—“He preaches, indeed, both in season and out of season; for he rails at Popery, when the land is almost lost in Presbytery; and would cry Fire! Fire! in Noah's flood."
There is reason to believe that this piece was not written by Butler, but by Sir John Birkenhead; for Wood, in his “Athena Oxonienses," vol. II. p. 640, enumerates it among that gentleman's works, and gives the following account of it:
“The Assembly-man' (or, 'The Character of an Assembly-man') written 1647, Lond. 1662-3, in three sheets in qu. The copy of it was taken from the author by those who said they could not rob, because all was theirs; so excised what they liked not, and so mangled and reformed it that it was no character of an assembly, but of themselves. At length, after it had slept several years, the author published it to avoid false copies. It is also reprinted in a book entitled “Wit and Loyalty Revived,' in a collection of some smart satyrs in verse and prose on the late times, Lond. 1682, qu., said to be written by Abr. Cowley, Sir John Birkenhead, and Hudibras, alias Samuel Butler.”-For this information I am indebted to Mr. Reed, of Staple Inn.--.BUSWELL.
Scotland), on his return to his native kingdom, showed that there was then abundance of learning in Scotland; and that the conceits in that collection with which people find fault were mere modo." He added, “We could not now entertain a sovereign so; that Buchanan had spread the spirit of learning amongst us, but we had lost it during the civil wars.” He did not allow the Latin poetry of Pitcairne so much merit as has been usually attributed to it, though he owned that one of his pieces, which he mentioned, but which I am sorry is not specified in my notes, was very well.” It is not improbable that it was the poem which Prior has so elegantly translated.*
After supper we made a procession to Saint Leonard's College, the landlord walking before us with a candle, and the waiter with a lantern. That college had some time before been dissolved; and Dr. Watson, a professor here (the historian of Philip II.), had purchased the ground and what buildings remained. When we entered this court, it seemed quite academical; and we found in his house very comfortable and genteel accommodation.f
THURSDAY, AUGUST 19. We rose much refreshed. I had with me a map of Scotland, a Bible which was given me by Lord Mountstuart when we were together in Italy, and Ogden's “ Sermons on Prayer.” Mr. Nairne introduced us to Dr. Watson, whom we found a well-informed man, of very amiable manners. Dr. Johnson, after they were acquainted, said, “I take great delight in him." His daughter, a very pleasing young lady, made breakfast. Dr. Watson observed that Glasgow University had fewer home-students since trade increased, as learning was rather incompatible with it.-Johnson: “Why, sir, as trade is now carried on by subordinate hands, men in trade have as much leisure as others; and now learning itself is a trade. A man goes to a bookseller and gets what he can. We have done with patronage
* Gualterus Danistonus ad Amicos. Pitcairne wrote several pieces under the name of Walter Daniston. Prior's imitation opens in that easy, graceful style of which he was so perfect a master:
“Studious the busy moments to deceive
And Samian sounds o'er Scotia's hills convey." Pitcairne's most celebrated Latin poem is his epitaph on Viscount Dundee, translated by Dryden. This learned physician died at Edinburgh, October 20th, 1713, aged sixtyone.-ED.
+ My Journal, from this day inclusive, was read by Dr. Johnson.--Boswell.
[Dr. Watson was then Professor of Logic in the College of St. Salvator. In 1777 he was appointed Principal of the United Colleges of St. Andrews. He died in 1781, aged fifty-one.-ED.)
In the infancy of learning, we find some great man praised for it. This diffused it among others. When it becomes general an author leaves the great, and applies to the multitude.-BOSWELL: “It is a shame that authors are not now better patronised.”—JOHNSON: “No, sir. If learning cannot support a man, if he must sit with his hands across till somebody feeds him, it is as to him a bad thing, and it is better as it is. With patronage, what flattery! what falsehood ! While a man is in equilibrio, he throws truth among the multitude, and lets them take it as they please ; in patronage, he must say what pleases his patron, and it is an equal chance whether that be truth or falsehood.”_WATSON: “ But is not the case now, that, instead of flattering one person, we flatter the age ?”—JOHNSON: “No, sir. The world always lets a man tell what he thinks his own way. I wonder, however, that so many people have written who might have let it alone. That people should endeavour to excel in conversation I do not wonder; because in conversation praise is instantly reverberated.”
We talked of change of manners. Dr. Johnson observed that our drinking less than our ancestors was owing to the change from ale to wine. I remember," said he," when all the decent people in Lichfield got drunk every night, and were not the worse thought of. Ale was cheap, so you pressed strongly. When a man must bring a bottle of wine, he is not in such haste. Smoking has gone out. To be sure, it is a shocking thing, blowing smoke out of our mouths, into other people's mouths, eyes, and noses, and having the same thing done to us. Yet I cannot account why a thing which requires so little exertion, and yet preserves the mind from total vacuity, should have gone out. Every man has something by which he calms himself; beating with his feet, or so.* I remember when people in England changed a shirt only once a week; a Pandour, when he gets a shirt, greases it to make it last. Formerly, good tradesmen had no fire but in the kitchen ; never in the parlour, except on Sunday. My father, who was a magistrate of Lichfield, lived thus. They never begun to have a fire in the parlour but on leaving off business, or some great revolution of their life.”—Dr. Watson said the hall was as a kitchen in old squires' houses.-JOHNSON: “No, sir. The hall was for great occasions, and never was used for domestic refection.'t We talked of the Union, and what money it
* Dr. Johnson used to practise this himself very much.-Boswell.
+ The nuncupative will of Milton gives a picture (inexpressibly touching in its minuteness) of the great poet dining in his kitchen at noon. The custom was formerly universal in the middle ranks. Dr. Watson, however, was right in saying that in old squires' houses the hall, and not the kitchen, was the dining-room. Up to the time of
had brought into Scotland. Dr. Watson observed, that a little money formerly went as far as a great deal now.—JOHNSON : “In speculation, it seems that a smaller quantity of money, equal in value to a larger quantity if equally divided, should produce the same effect. But it is not so in reality. Many more conveniencies and elegancies are enjoyed where money is plentiful than where it is scarce. Perhaps a great familiarity with it, which arises from plenty, makes us more easily part with it.”
After what Dr. Johnson had said of St. Andrews, which he had long wished to see, as our oldest university, and the seat of our Primate in the days of episcopacy, I can say little. Since the publication of Dr. Johnson's book, I find that he has been censured for not seeing here the ancient chapel of St. Rule, a curious piece of sacred architecture. But this was neither his fault nor mine. We were both of us abundantly desirous of surveying such sort of antiquities; but neither of us knew of this. I am afraid the censure must fall on those who did not tell us of it.* In every place, where there is anything worthy of observation, there should be a short printed directory for strangers, such as we find in all the towns of Italy, and in some of the towns of England. I was told that there is a manuscript account of St. Andrews, by Martin, secretary to Archbishop Sharp; and that one Douglas has published a small account of it. I inquired at a bookseller's, but could not get it. Dr Johnson's veneration for the heirarchy is well known. There is no wonder, then, that he was affected with a strong indignation while he beheld the ruins of religious magnificence. I happened to ask where John Knox was buried. Dr. Johnson burst out, “I hope in the highway! I have been looking at his reformations!”
It was a very fine day. Dr. Johnson seemed quite wrapt up in
Charles I., and perhaps later, this appears to have been the case, excepting in very stately houses. Tusser in his “Points of Huswifery” (written in the reign of Elizabeth) speaks of the hall as the refectory. The custom had changed before the days of Addison. Sir Roger de Coverley has his great hall hung with the trophies and implements of his field-sports, in which he feasts the whole village at Christmas, but it was not his common dining-room. Pope, in a letter to the Duke of Buckingham, gives an exquisite description of a large old country seat with its great hall.-Ed.
* Supposed to have been built before the ninth century, if not much earlier. “The Chapel was used as a Culdee place of worship, and in the early ages was regarded with much veneration. Before the erection of the Cathedral it served as the Episcopal church of the diocese. Here Hungus, King of the Picts, and his nobles, offered thanks and devotion to St. Andrew for the victory over Athelstane, which they conceived that they had obtained through the influence of the Apostle : here Constantine III. was first interred, till his bones were removed to Iona : here Alexander I. bestowed the munificent grant of the Cursus Apri: here are interred many of the early Culdean fathers, many mitred prelates, many saints and sages, whose dust has been turned over a thousand times.' Roger’s “ History of St. Andrews,” 1849 –ED.