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loved while in this world, and after whom I gaze with humble hope, now that it has pleased Almighty God to call him to a better world, will serve to introduce to the fancy of my readers the capital object of the following journal, in the course of which I trust they will attain to a considerable degree of acquaintance with him.
His prejudice against Scotland was announced almost as soon as he began to appear in the world of letters. In his "London," a poem, are the following nervous lines:—
"For who could leave, unbribed, Hibernia's land?
The truth is, like the ancient Greeks and Romans, he allowed himself to look upon all nations but his own as barbarians: not only Hibernia and Scotland, but Spain, Italy, and France, are attacked in the same poem. If he was particularly prejudiced against the Scots, it was because they were more in his way; because he thought their success in England rather exceeded the due proportion of their real merit; and because he could not but see in them that nationality which I believe no liberal-minded Scotsman will deny. He was, indeed, if I may be allowed the phrase, at bottom much of a John Bull: much of a blunt trueborn Englishman. There was a stratum of common clay under the rock of marble. He was voraciously fond of good eating; and he had a great deal of that quality called humour, which gives an oiliness and a gloss to every other quality. I am, I flatter myself, completely a citizen of the world. In my travels through Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Corsica, France, I never felt myself from home; and I sincerely love "every kindred and tongue and people and nation." I subscribe to what my late truly learned and philosophical friend Mr. Crosbie' said, that
1 Mr. Crosbie, one of the most eminent advocates then at the Scotch bar. Lord Stowell recollects that Johnson was treated by the Scottish literati with a degree of deference bordering on pusillanimity; but he excepts from that observation Mr. Crosbie, whom he characterises as an intrepid talker, and the only man who was disposed to stand up (as the phrase is) to Johnson,— Croker.
the English are better animals than the Scots; they are nearer the sun; their blood is richer, and more mellow: but when I humour any of them in an outrageous contempt of Scotland, I fairly own I treat them as children. And thus I have, at some moments, found myself obliged to treat even Dr. Johnson.
To Scotland, however, he ventured: and he returned from it in great good humour, with his prejudices much lessened, and with very grateful feelings of the hospitality with which he was treated; as is evident from that admirable work, his "Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland," which, to my utter astonishment, has been misapprehended, even to rancour, by many of my countrymen.
To have the company of Chambers and Scott, he delayed his journey so long, that the court of session, which rises on the 11th of August, was broke up before he got to Edinburgh.
On Saturday, the 14th of August, 1773, late in the evening, I received a note from him, that he was arrived at Boyd's inn,1 at the head of the Canongate.
"Saturday night. "Mr. Johnson sends his compliments to Mr. Boswell, being just arrived at Boyd's."
I went to him directly. He embraced me cordially; and I exulted in the thought that I now had him actually in Caledonia. Mr. Scott's amiable manners, and attachment to our Socrates, at once united me to him. He told me that, before I came in, the Doctor had unluckily had a bad specimen of Scottish cleanliness. He then drank no fermented liquor. He asked to have his lemonade made sweeter; upon which the waiter, with his greasy fingers, lifted a lump of sugar, and put it into it. The Doctor, in indignation, threw it out of the window. Scott said he was afraid he would have knocked the waiter down.1 Mr. Johnson told me that such another trick was played him at the house of a lady in Paris. He was to do me the honour to lodge under my roof. I regretted sincerely that I had not also a room for Mr. Scott. Mr. Johnson and I walked arm-in-arm, up the High Street, to my house in James's Court;2 it was a dusky night: I couid not pre
1 The sign of the White Horse. It continued a place from which coaches used to start till the end of the eighteenth century; some twelve or fifteen years ago it was a carrier's inn, and has since been held unworthy even of that occupation, and the sign is taken down. It was a base hovel.— Walter Scott,
It was the best of the only three inns in Edinburgh, where, at lhat time, people of any condition could be accommodated. The room in which Johnson had sat used to be pointed out by its later occupants.— Chambers,
1 "The house," said Lord Stowell to me, " was kept by a woman, and she was called Luckie, which it seems is synonymous to Goody in England. I, at first, thought the appellation very inappropriate, and that Unlucky would have been better, for Dr. Johnson had a mind to have thrown the waiter, as well as the lemonade, out of the window.'' —Craker.
2 The house had been Hume's, and Boswell wns now his tenant. In a letter, dated May 17, 1762, from Hume to Andrew Millar the publisher, Hume writes to him, " I remove my house this week to James's Court." There he remained till the spring of 1770, when he seems to have moved to the house which he had built in the New Town of Edinburgh, at the south-west corner of the street leading southward from St. Andrew Square, now called St. David Street. During Hume's absence in France, Hugh Blair, D.I)., occupied the house in James's Court, which was thus the homo successively of three very eminent men, Hume. Blair, and Boswell. The site of this house has been picturesquely described by Mr. Hill Burton in his Life of David Hume, vol. ii. p. 136. ..." Entering a low gateway, which pierces the line of lofty houses along the I.awn market, one finds oneself in a square court, surrounded by houses which have now evidently fallen to the lot of humbler inhabitants than these for whom they were erected. . . . Entering one of the doors opposite the main entrance, the stranger is sometimes led by a friend, wishing to atford him an agreeable surprise, down flight after flight of the steps of a stone staircase, and when he imagines he is descending so far into the bowels of the earth, he emerges on the edge of a cheerful crowded thoroughfare, connecting together the Old and New Town, the latter of which lies spread before him, a contrast to the gloom from which he has emerged. When he looks up to the building containing the upright street through which he has descended, he sees that vast pile of tail houses, standing at the head of the mound, which creates astonishment in every visitor of Edinburgh. This vast fabric is built on the declivity of a hill, and thus one entering on the level of the Lawn market is at the height of several stories from the ground on the side next the New Town. . . . I have ascertained that by ascending the western of the two stairs facing the entry of James's Court to the height of three stories, we arrive at the door of David Hume's house, which of the two doors on that landing-place is the one towards the left. The court on the north side was burnt down in 1858, and the site is now occupied by the Free Church offices." See Burton's Life of Hume, vol. ii. p. 136 an:l
vent his being assailed bv the evening effluvia of Edinburgh. I heard a late baronet of some distinction in the political world in the beginning of the present reign, observe, that " walking the streets of Edinburgh at night was pretty perilous, and a good deal odoriferous." The peril is much abated, by the care which the magistrates have taken to enforce the city laws against throwing foul water from the windows; but, from the structure of the houses in the old town, which consist of many stories, in each of which a different family lives, and there being no covered sewers, the odour still continues. A zealous Scotsman would have wished Mr. Johnson to be without one of his five senses upon this occasion. As we marched slowly along, he grumbled in my car, "I smell you in the dark!" But he acknowledged that the breadth of the street, and the loftiness of the buildings on each side, made a noble appearance.
My wife had tea ready for him, which it is well known he delighted to drink at all hours, particularly when sitting up late, and of which his able defence against Mr. Jonas Hanway should have obtained him a magnificent reward from the East India Company. He showed much complacency upon finding that the mistress of the house was so attentive to his singular habit; and as no man could be more polite when he chose to be so, his address to her was most courteous and engaging; and his conversation soon charmed her into a forgetfuluess of his external appearance.
I did not begin to keep a regular full journal till some days after we had set out from Edinburgh; but I have luckily preserved a good many fragments of his Memorabilia from his very first evening in Scotland.
We had a little before this had a trial for murder, in which the judges had allowed the lapse of twenty years since its commission as a plea in bar, in conformity with
foil., and Wilson's Reminiscences of Old Edinburgh, vol. i. p. 253. — Editor.
It was considered a very good house and was entailed, but Sir Alexander Boswell obtained an act of Parliament to sell it, to discharge the land tax from the rest of his property. It was lately occupied by a printer. — Chambers.
the doctrine of prescription in the civil law, which Scotland and several other countries in Europe have adopted. He at first disapproved of this; but then he thought there was something in it if there had been for twenty years a neglect to prosecute a crime which was known. He would not allow that a murder, by not being discovered for twenty years, should escape punishment. We talked of the ancient trial by duel. He did not think it so absurd as is generally supposed; "for," said he, " it was only allowed when the question 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 show all respect to the sage, she would give lvp her own bedchamber 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.
Sunday, Aug. 15.—Mr. Scott came to breakfast, at which I introduced to Dr. Johnson, and him. my friend Sir William Forbes,1 now of Pitsligo, a man of whom too much good cannot be said; who, 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 affec
1 William Forbes, of Pitsligo, born at Edinburgh April 5, 1739, and became one of the most active and enterprising of its citizens, a most successful banker, and the originator of many of the chief public works and improvements of the city. He was a partner in tha Edinburgh branch of the famous Coutts' Bank. He wrote the Life of Beattie originally published at Edinburgh. 1806, in two vols. 4to. and died in 1806, at the age of sixty-eight.—Editor.