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very friendly to us He blazes, if you will, but that is not always the steadiest light. Lowth is another bishop who has risen by his learning."
Dr. Johnson examined young Arthur, Lord Monboddo's son, in Latin. He answered very well, upon which he said, with complacency, "Get you gone! When King James comes back,* you shall be in the 'Muses' Welcome!" My lord and Dr. Johnson disputed a little, whether the savage or the London shopkeeper had the best existence; his lordship, as usual, preferring the savage. My lord was extremely hospitable, and I saw both Dr Johnson and him liking each other better every hour.
Dr. Johnson having retired for a short time, his lordship spoke of his conversation as I could have wished Dr. Johnson had said, "I have done greater feats with my knife than this;" though he had eaten a very hearty dinner. My lord, who affects or believes he follows an abstemious system, seemed struck with Dr. Johnson's manner of living. I had a particular satisfaction in being under the roof of Monboddo, my lord being my father's old friend, and having been always very good to me. We were cordial together. He asked Dr. Johnson and me to stay all night. When I said we must be at Aberdeen, he replied, "Well, I am like the Romans: I shall say to you, 'Happy to come-happy to depart!' He thanked Dr. Johnson for his visit.-JOHNSON: "I little thought, when I had the honour to meet your lordship in London, that I should see you at Monboddo." After dinner, as the ladies were going away, Dr. Johnson would stand up. He insisted that politeness was of great consequence in society. "It is," said he, "fictitious benevolence It supplies the place of it amongst those who see each other only in public, or but little Depend upon it, the want of it never fails to produce something dis agreeable to one or other. I have always applied to good breeding what Addison in his "Cato" says of honour.
"Honour's a sacred tie; the law of kings;
The noble mind's distinguishing perfection,
That aids and strengthens Virtue where it meets her,
When he took up his large oak stick, he said, My lord, that's Homeric;" thus pleasantly alluding to his lordship's favourite writer.
Gory, my lord's black servant, was sent as our guide, to conduct us to the high road. The circumstance of each of them having a * I find some doubt has been entertained concerning Dr. Johnson's meaning here. It is to be supposed that he meant, "when a king shall again be entertained in Scotland."-BOSWELL.
black servant was another point of similarity between Johnson and Monboddo. I observed how curious it was to see an African in the North of Scotland, with little or no difference of manners from those of the natives. Dr. Johnson laughed to see Gory and Joseph riding together most cordially. "Those two fellows," said he, "one from Africa, the other from Bohemia, seem quite at home." He was much pleased with Lord Monboddo to-day. He said, he would have pardoned him for a few paradoxes when he found he had so much that was good: but that, from his appearance in London, he thought him all paradox; which would not do. He observed, that his lordship had talked no paradoxes to-day. "And as to the savage and the London shopkeeper," said he, "I don't know but I might have taken the side of the savage equally, had anybody else taken the side of the shopkeeper." He had said to my lord, in opposition to the value of the savage's courage, that it was owing to his limited power of thinking; and repeated Pope's verses, in which "Macedonia's madman" is introduced, and the conclusion is,
"Yet ne'er looks forward farther than his nose."
I objected to the last phrase, as being low.-JOHNSON: "Sir, it is intended to be low: it is satire. The expression is debased, to debase the character."
When Gory was about to part from us, Dr. Johnson called to him, Mr. Gory, give me leave to ask you a question; are you baptised?" Gory told him he was, and confirmed by the Bishop of Durham. He then gave him a shilling.
We had tedious driving this afternoon, and were somewhat drowsy. Last night I was afraid Dr. Johnson was beginning to faint in his resolution; for he said, “If we must ride much, we shall not go; and there's an end on't." To-day, when he talked of Sky* with spirit, I said, "Why, sir, you seemed to me to despond yesterday. You are a delicate Londoner; you are a maccaroni; you can't ride."-JOHNSON: "Sir, I shall ride better than you. I was only afraid I should not find a horse able to carry me." I hoped then there would be no fear of getting through our wild Tour.
We came to Aberdeen at half an hour past eleven. The New Inn, we were told, was full. This was comfortless. The waiter, however, asked if one of our names was Boswell, and brought me a letter left at the inn: it was from Mr. Thrale, inclosing one to Dr Johnson. Finding who I was, we were told they would contrive to
The name of the island is now invariably spelt Skye; but in this and other instances the orthography of the author, which was the practice of his times, is retained. have, however, corrected and made uniform the spelling of the names of individuals, in which Boswell was careless.-ED.
lodge us by putting us for a night into a room with two beds. The waiter said to me, in the broad strong Aberdeenshire dialect, 'I thought I knew you, by your likeness to your father." My father puts up at the New Inn when on his circuit. Little was said to-night. I was to sleep in a little press-bed in Dr. Johnson's room. I had it wheeled out into the dining-room, and there I lay very well.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 22:
I sent a message to Professor Thomas Gordon, who came and breakfasted with us. He had secured seats for us at the English chapel. We found a respectable congregation, and an admirable organ. well played by Mr. Tait.
We walked down to the shore: Dr. Johnson laughed to hear that Cromwell's soldiers taught the Aberdeen people to make shoes and stockings, and to plant cabbages. He asked, if weaving the plaids was ever a domestic art in the Highlands, like spinning or knitting. They could not inform him here. But he conjectured probably, that where people lived so remote from each other, it was likely to be a domestic art; as we see it was among the ancients, from Penelope.* I was sensible to-day, to an extraordinary degree, of Dr. Johnson's excellent English pronunciation. I cannot account for its striking me more now than any other day, but it was as if new to me; and I listened to every sentence which he spoke as to a musical composition. Professor Gordon gave him an account of the plan of education in his college. Dr. Johnson said, it was similar to that at Oxford. Waller the poet's great-grandson was studying
* The finely variegated plaids were no doubt made by skilled weavers. The women, according to Pennant, spun their husbands' clothes, and knitted the stockings. They had several native dyes. The juice of the tops of heath supplied them with a yellow, the roots of the white water-lily with a brown, those of the yellow water-iris with a black, and the Galium verum, the rue of the islanders, with a red not inferior to madder. Martin describes the islanders as particular about the colours and patterns of their plaids. "For this reason," " he says, "the women are at great pains, first to give an exact pattern of the plaid upon a piece of wood, having the number of every thread of the stripe upon it." He adds an observation which seems to prove that, the clan patterns were then recognised: "Every isle differs from each other in their fancy of making plaids, as to the stripes in breadth and colours. This humour is as different through the mainland of the Highlands, in so far that they who have seen those places are able at the first view of a man's plaid to guess the place of his residence." ("Martin's Description of the Western Islands," London, 1703.) The above remark about Cromwell and the city of Aberdeen is highly absurd. That a collegiate and trading town of eight or nine thousand inhabitants, which Aberdeen was at the time of Cromwell, should be without shoemakers is too ridiculous for serious refutation. In fact, the shoemakers were an important craft in that city, taking part as a body in processions and masques so early as 1442. Cabbages, salad, &c., were introduced into England from the Netherlands about 1520 or 1530, and we may conclude that the citizens of Aberdeen, possessing such an array of churchmen and professors, would not be a century behind their English neighbours.-ED.
here Dr Johnson wondered that a man should send his son so far off, when there were so many good schools in England. He said, At a great school there is all the splendour and illumination of many minds; the radiance of all is concentrated in each, or at least reflected upon each But we must own that neither a dull boy, nor an idle boy, will do so well at a great school as at a private one. For at a great school there are always boys enough to do well easily, who are sufficient to keep up the credit of the school; and after whipping being tried to no purpose, the dull or idle boys are left at the end of a class, having the appearance of going through the course, but learning nothing at all Such boys may do good at a private school, where constant attention is paid to them, and they are watched. So that the question of public or private education is not properly a general one; but whether one or the other is best for my son."
We were told the present Mr. Waller was a plain country gentleman, and his son would be such another. I observed, a family could not expect a poet but in a hundred generations. "Nay," said Dr Johnson, "not one family in a hundred can expect a poet in a hundred generations." He then repeated Dryden's celebrated lines,
"Three poets in three distant ages born,
To make a third she joined the other two."
and a part of a Latin translation of it done at Oxford,* he did not then say by whom
He received a card from Sir Alexander Gordon, who had been his acquaintance twenty years ago in London, and who, "if forgiven for not answering a line from him," would come in the afternoon. Dr. Johnson rejoiced to hear of him, and begged he would come and dine with us. I was much pleased to see the kindness with which Dr. Johnson received his old friend Sir Alexander; a gentleman of good family, Lismore, but who had not the estate. The King's College here made him Professor of Medicine, which affords him a decent subsis
* London, 2nd May, 1778. Dr. Johnson acknowledged that he was himself the author of the translation above alluded to, and dictated it to me as follows:
Quos laudet vates Graius Romanus et Anglus
Tres tria temporibus secla dedere suis.
Nil majus Natura capit; clarare priores
tence. He told us that the value of the stockings exported from Aberdeen was, in peace, a hundred thousand pounds; and amounted, in time of war, to one hundred and seventy thousand pounds. Dr. Johnson asked what made the difference. Here we had a proof of the comparative sagacity of the two professors. Sir Alexander answered, "Because there is more occasion for them in war." Professor Thomas Gordon answered, "Because the Germans, who are our great rivals in the manufacture of stockings, are otherwise employed in time of war."-JOHNSON: "Sir, you have given a very good solution."*
At dinner, Dr. Johnson ate several platefuls of Scotch broth, with barley and peas in it, and seemed very fond of the dish. I said, "You never ate it before."-JOHNSON: "No, sir; but I don't care how soon I eat it again." My cousin, Miss Dallas, formerly of Inverness, was married to Mr. Riddoch, one of the ministers of the English chapel here. He was ill, and confined to his room; but she sent us a kind invitation to tea, which we all accepted. She was the same lively, sensible, cheerful woman as ever. Dr. Johnson here threw out some jokes against Scotland. He said, "You go first to Aberdeen; then to Enbru (the Scottish pronunciation of Edinburgh); then to Newcastle, to be polished by the colliers; then to York; then to London." And he laid hold of a little girl, Stuart Dallas, niece to Mrs. Riddoch, and representing himself as a giant, said he would take her with him, telling her in a hollow voice that he lived in a cave, and had a bed in the rock, and she should have a little bed cut opposite to it.
He thus treated the point as to prescription of murder in Scotland. "A jury in England would make allowance for deficiencies of evidence, on account oflapse of time; but a general rule that a crime should not be punished, or tried for the purpose of punishment, after twenty years, is bad. It is cant to talk of the king's advocate delaying a prosecution from malice. How unlikely is it the king's advocate should have malice against persons who commit murder, or should even know them at all! If the son of the murdered man should kill the murderer, who got off merely by prescription, I would help him to make his escape, though were I upon his jury I would not acquit him. I would not advise him to commit such an act; on the
Professor Thomas Gordon held his chair for the long period of sixty-one years. He died March 11th, 1797, aged eighty-three. Sir Alexander Gordon was appointed assistant and successor to Dr. John Gregory in 1766. Dr. Gregory resigned two years afterwards, and Sir A. Gordon was duly admitted as Professor of Medicine. He resigned his chair March 19th, 1782, and died six days afterwards. Sir Alexander was an amiable, gentlemanly man. He was very fond of horticulture, and in the grounds of the college are traces of a pond which he had constructed and filled with rare aquatic plants that he had brought from abroad.-ED.