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When we returned to the house we found coffee and tea in the drawing-room. Lady Errol was not there, being, as I supposed, engaged with her young family. There is a bow-window fronting the sea. Dr. Johnson repeated the ode, “Jam satis terris,” while Mr. Boyd was with his patients. He spoke well in favour of entails, to preserve lines of men whom mankind are accustomed to reverence. His opinion was, that so much land should be entailed as that families should never fall into contempt, and as much left free as to give them all the advantages of property in case of any emergency. “If,” said he, the nobility are suffered to sink into indigence, they of course become corrupt, they are ready to do whatever the king chooses, therefore it is fit that they should be kept from becoming poor, unless it is fixed that when they fall below a certain standard of wealth they should lose their peerages. We know the House of Peers have made noble stands, when the House of Commons durst not. The two last years of Parliament they dare not contradict the populace."
This room is ornamented with a number of fine prints, and with a whole-length picture of Lord Errol, by Sir Joshua Reynolds. This led Dr. Johnson and me to talk of our amiable and elegant friend, whose panegyric he concluded by saying, “Sir Joshua Reynolds, sir, is the most invulnerable man I know; the man with whom if you should quarrel, you would find the most difficulty how to abuse.”
Dr. Johnson observed the situation here was the noblest he had ever seen, better than Mount Edgecumbe, reckoned the first in England; because, at Mount Edgecumbe, the sea is bounded by land on the other side, and, though there is the grandeur of a fleet, there is also the impression of there being a dockyard, the circumstances of which are not agreeable. At Slains is an excellent old house. The noble owner has built of brick, along the square in the inside, a gallery, both on the first and second storey, the house being no higher ; so that he has always a dry walk, and the rooms, to which formerly there was no approach but through each other, have now all separate entries from the gallery, which is hung with Hogarth's works and other prints. We went and sat awhile in the library. There is a valuable numerous collection. It was chiefly made by Mr. Falconer, husband to the late Countess of Errol in her own right. This Earl has added a good many modern books. of Senegal in 1758. He planned the expedition, and, as he predicted, the French surrendered without a contest. "If it was the first military scheme of any Quaker,” says Smollett, “let it be remembered it was also the first successful expedition of this war, and one of the first that ever was carried on, according to the pacific system of the Quakers, without the loss of a drop of blood on either side.” (“History of England,” A. D., 1758.) “In 1745, my friend, Tom Cumming, the Quaker, said he would not fight, but he would drive an ammunition-cart.” (Johnson in Boswell's “Life,” 1783.) This energetic Quaker died in 1774.-- ED.
About nine the Earl came home. Captain Gordon, of Park, was with him. His lordship put Dr. Johnson in mind of their having dined together in London, along with Mr. Beauclerk. I was exceedingly pleased with Lord Errol. His dignified person ånd agreeable countenance with the most un. affected affability, give me high satisfaction. From perhaps a weakness, or, as I rather hope, more fancy and warmth of feeling than is quite reasonable, my mind is ever impressed with admiration for persons of high birth, and 1 could with the most perfect honesty expatiate on Lord Errol's good qualities, but he stands in no need of my praise. His agreeable manners and softness of address prevented that constraint which the idea of his being Lord High Con stable of Scotland might otherwise have occasioned. He talked very easily and sensibly with his learned guest. I observed that Dr. Johnson, though he showed that respect to his lordship which, from principle, he always does to high rank, yet, when they came to argument, maintained that manliness which becomes the force and vigour of his understanding. To show external deference to our superiors is proper; to seem to yield to them in opinion is meanness.* The Earl said grace, both
If a peer
* Lord Chesterfield, in his Letters to his son, complains of one who argued in an indiscriminate manner with men of all ranks. Probably the noble lord had felt with some uneasiness what it was to encounter stronger abilities than his own. will engage at foils with his inferior in station, he must expect that his inferior in station will avail himself of every advantage; otherwise it is rot a fair trial of strength and skill. The same will hold in a contest of reason, or of wit. A certain king entered the lists of genius with Voltaire. The consequence was, that, though the king had great and brilliant talents, Voltaire had such a superiority that his majesty could not bear it; and the poet was dismissed, or escaped, from that court. In the reign or James I. of England, Crichton, Lord Sanquhar, a peer of Scotland, from a vain ambition to excel a fencing-master in his own art, played at rapier and dagger with him The fencing-master, whose fame ard bread were at stake, put out one of his lordship's eyes
before and after supper, with much decency. He told us a story of a man who was executed at Perth some years ago for murdering a woman who was with child by him, and a former child he had by her. His hand was cut off; he was then pulled up, but the rope broke, and he was forced to lie an hour on the ground, till another rope was brought from Perth, the execution being in a wood at some distance, at the place where the rders were committed. “There,” said my lord, “I see the hand of Providence.” I was really happy here. I saw in this nobleman the best dispositions and best principles; and I saw him, in my mind's eye, to be the representative of the ancient Boyds of Kilmarnock. I was afraid he might have urged drinking, as, I believe, he used formerly to do; but he drank port and water out of a large glass himself, and let us do as we pleased. He went with us to our rooms at night, said he took the visit very kindly, and told me my father and he were very old acquaintance, that I now knew the way to Slains, and he hoped to see me there again.
I had a most elegant room, but there was a fire in it which blazed, and the sea, to which my windows looked, roared, and the pillows were made of the feathers of some sea-fowl which had to me a disagreeable smell; so that by all these causes I was kept awake a good while. I saw in imagination Lord Errol's father, Lord Kilmarnock, who was beheaded on Tower-hill in 1746, and I was somewhat dreary. But the thought did not last long, and I fell asleep
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25. We got up between seven and eight, and found Mr. Boyd in the dining-room, with tea and coffee before him, to give us breakfast. We were in an admirable humour. Lady Errol had given each of us a copy of an ode by Beattie on the birth of her son, Lord Hay. Mr. Boyd asked Dr. Johnson how he liked it. Dr. Johnson, who did not admire it, got off very well by taking it out and reading the second and third stanzas of it with much melody. This, without his saying a word, pleased Mr. Boyd. He observed, however, to Dr. Johnson that the expression as to the family of Errol,
“ A thousand years have seen it shine," compared with what went before, was an anti-climax, and that it would have been better,
“ Ages have seen," &c. Dr. Johnson said. “ So great a number as a thousand is better. Dolus Exasperated at this, Lord Sarquhar hired ruffians, and had the fencing-master assassinated; for which his lordship was capitally tried, condemned, and hanged. Not being a peer of England, ne was tried by the name of Robert Crichton, Esq.; but he was admitted to be a baron of three hundred years standing. See the State Trials; and the History of England by Hume, who applauds the impartial justice executed upon a man of high rank.-BOSWELL.
latet in universalibus. Ages might be only two ages.'
"* He talked of the advantage of keeping up the connexions of relationship, which produce much kindness.“ • Every man,” said he, “who comes into the world has need of friends. If he has to get them for himself, half his life is spent before his merit is known. Relations are a man's ready friends, who support him. When a man is in real distress, he flies into the arms of his relations. An old lawyer, who had much experience in making wills, told me that after people had deliberated long, and thought of many for their executors, they settled at last by fixing on their relations. This shows the universality of the principle."
I regretted the decay of respect for men of family, and that a nabob now would carry an election from them.-JOHNSON: “Why, sir, the nabob will carry it by means of his wealth, in a country where money is highly valued, as it must be where nothing can be had without money; but, if it comes to personal preference, the man of family will always carry it. There is generally a scoundrelism about a low man.” Mr. Boyd said that was a good ism.
I said I believed mankind were happier in the ancient feudal state of subordination than they are in the modern state of independency -Johnson: “ To be sure, the chief was, but we must think of the number of individuals. That they were less happy seems plain; for the state from which all escape as soon as they can, and to which none return after they have left it, must be less happy; and this is the case with the state of dependence on a chief or great man.”
I mentioned the happiness of the French in their subordination, by the reciprocal benevolence and attachment between the great and those in lower rank. Mr. Boyd gave us an instance of their gentlemanly spirit. An old Chevalier de Malthe, of ancient noblesse, but in low circumstances, was in a coffee-house at Paris, where was Julien, the great manufacturer, at the Gobelins, of the fine tapestry, so much distinguished both for the figures and the colours. The chevalier's carriage was very old. Says Julien, with a plebeian insolence, “I think, sir, you had better have your carriage new painted.” The che
* The truth of Johnson's remark has been finely illustrated by Campbell's naval ode, "Ye Mariners of England :"
“ Whose flag has braved a thousand years
The battle and the breeze." Lord Errol, the courteous entertainer of the travellers, died June 3rd, 1778, aged fiftytwo. Dr. Beattie, in communicating an account of his death to Mrs. Montagu, eulogises his character and adds—“His stature was six feet four inches, and his proportions most exact. His countenance and deportment exhibited such a mixture of the sublime and the graceful as I have never seen united in any other man. He often put me in mind of an ancient hero; and I remember Dr. Samuel Johnson was positive that he resembled Homer's character of Sarpedon.” ("Life of Dr. Beattie," Vol. II. p. 333.) Mr. Boyd died December 27th, 1780.-ED.
valier looked at him with indignant contempt, and answered, “Well, sir, you may take it home and dye it!" All the coffee-house rejoiced at Julien's confusion.
We set out about nine. Dr. Johnson was curious to see one of those structures which northern antiquarians call a Druid's temple. I had a recollection of one at Strichen, which I had seen fifteen years ago; so we went four miles out of our road, after passing Old Deer, and went thither. Mr. Fraser, the proprietor, was at home, and showed it to us.
But I had augmented it in my mind, for all that remains is two stones set up on end, with a long one laid upon them, as was usual, and one store at a little distance from them. That stone was the capital one of the circle which surrounded what now remains. Mr Fraser was very hospitable.* There was a fair at Strichen, and
• He is the worthy son of a worthy father, the late Lord Strichen, one of our judges, to whose kind notice I was much obliged. Lord Strichen was a man not only honest, but highly generous; for after his succession to the family estate, he paid a large sum of debts contracted by his predecessor, which he was not under any obligation to pay. Let me here, for the credit of Ayrshire, my own county, record a noble instance of liberal honesty in William Hutchison, drover, in Lanehead, Kyle, who formerly obtained a full discharge from his creditors upon a composition of his debts; but upon being restored to good circumstances, invited his creditors last winter to a dinner, without telling the reason, and paid them their full sums, principal and interest. They presented him with a piece of plate, with an inscription to commemorate this extraordinary instance of true worth; which should make some people in Scotland blush, while, though mean themselves, they strut about under the protection of great alliance, conscious of the wretchedness of numbers who have lost by them, to whom they never think of making reparation, but indulge themselves and their families in most unsuitable expense.-Boswell.
[Lord Strichen died 15th February, 1775. He sat on the bench for the unprecedentedly long period of forty-five years. As one of the Scottish Judges by whom the Douglas cause was tried, his lordship coincided in opinion with Boswell, using, among others, the following curious illustration. “It has been said that the proof of Lady Jane Douglas's pregnancy depends chiefly upon eyesight. Why, my lords, don't we owe half our knowledge to the eye ? Is it not by the eye we acquire our knowledge of astronomy, the effects of the moon, the change of tides? We know the progress of the seasons by the observation of our eye-sight; and why may not the advancement of pregnancy be ascertained by similar observation ?" In 1731 Lord Strichen married Ann, Countess of Bute, who thus announces the event to a female friend, the Hon. Mrs. Mac Veil of Ugdale.
“ Edr., 21st October, 1731. “MY DEAREST PEGGY,-Since the time I receaved yours I have had much bussness, and have, as I sepose you will have heard, dispached some things of consequence, as I hope for my own happiness, and no disadvantage to ether my childreen or ther friends, rether otherways. I am sure I could have married non who have a more real regard for you then the gentilman I have choss. We often mind you and drink your health, as I conciude you doe ours.
“The letters you wrote me was most diverting, but I must tell you your Camelton gentrey are no coungererrs, ore they would not tell such lyes. I assure you the intension of my marriage was known to non, but so fare as I told my mother, it was a thing resolved one; but for my brothers I defer'd telling them till I could not help it, fearing they would not be pleased with my changing my condision one any terms; but to shew you how pepel may be mistaken, my mother, who approved of the thing upou my first