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addressed, as you will see from his letter to you, which I now inclose. He has allowed me to take a copy of it, and he says you may read it to your clan, or publish it, if you please. Be assured, Sir, that I shall take care of what he has intrusted to me, which is to have an acknowledgment of his error inserted in the Edinburgh newspapers. You will, I dare say, be fully satisfied with Dr. Johnson's behaviour. He is desirous to know that you are; and therefore when you have read his acknowledgment in the papers, I beg you may write to me; and if you choose it, I am persuaded a letter from you to the Doctor also will be taken kind. I shall be at Edinburgh the week after next.
"Any civilities which my wife and I had in our power to show to your daughter, Miss WLeod, were due to her own merit, and were well repaid by her agreeable company. But I am sure I should be a very unworthy man if I did not wish to show a gratefid sense of the hospitable and genteel manner in which you were pleased to treat me. Be assured, my dear Sir, that I shall never forget your goodness, and the happy hours which I spent in Rasay.
"You and Dr. M'Leod were both so obliging as to promise me an account, in writing, of all the particulars which each of you remember, concerning the transactions of 1745-6. Pray do not forget this, and be as minute and full as you can; put down every thing: I have a great curiosity to know as much as I can, authentically.
"I beg that you may present my best respects to Lady Rasay, my compliments to your young family, and to Dr. M'Leod; and my hearty good wishes to Malcolm, with whom I hope again to shake hands cordially.—I have the honour to be, deal' Sir, your obliged and faithful humble servant,
ADVERTISEMENT WRITTEX BY DR. JOHN SOX,
And inserted by his desire in the Edinburgh newspapers, referred to in the foregoing letter.1
"The author of the 'Journey to the Western Islands,' having related that the M'Leods of Rasay acknowledge the chieftainship
1 The original MS. is now in my possession.
or superiority of the M'Leods of Sky, finds that he has been misinformed or mistaken. He means in a future edition to correct his error, and wishes to be told of more, if more have been discovered."
Dr. Johnson's letter was as follows :—
TO THE LAIRD OF RASAY.
"London, May 6, 1775.
"Mr. Boswell has this day shown me a letter in which you complain of a passage in the ' Journey to the Hebrides.' My meaning is mistaken. I did not intend to say that you had personally made any cession of the rights of your house, or any acknowledgment of the superiority of M'Leod of Dunvegan. I only designed to express what I thought generally admitted— that the house of Rasay allowed the superiority of the house of Dunvegan. Even this I now find to be erroneous, and will therefore omit or retract it in the next edition.
"Though what I had said had been true, if it had been disagreeable to you, I should have wished it unsaid; for it is not my business to adjust precedence. As it is mistaken, I find myself disposed to correct, both by my respect for you, and my reverence for truth.
"As I know not when the book will be reprinted, I have desired Mr. Boswell to anticipate the correction in the Edinburgh newspapers. This is all that can be done.
"I hope I may now venture to desire that my compliments may be made, and my gratitude expressed, to Lady Rasay, Mr. Malcolm M'Leod, Mr. Donald M'Queen, and all the gentlemen and all the ladies whom I saw in the island of Rasay; a place which I remember with too much pleasure and too much kindness, not to be sorry that my ignorance, or hasty persuasion, should for a single moment have violated its tranquillity.
"I beg you all to forgive an undesigned and involuntary injury, and to consider me as, Sir, your most obliged and most humble servant, "Sam. Johnson."'
1 Rasay was highly gratified, and afterwards visited and dined with Dr. Johnson, at his house in London.
Johnsou gives Mrs. Thrale the following account of this affair:—
It would be improper for me to boast of my own labours; but I cannot refrain from publishing such praise as I received from such a man as Sir William Forbes, of Pitsligo, after the perusal of the original manuscript of my "Journal."
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
"Edinburgh, March 7, 1777.
"My Dear Sir,
"I ought to have thanked you sooner for your very obliging letter, and for the singular confidence you are pleased to place in me, when you trust me with such a curious and valuable deposit as the papers you have sent me.1 Be assured I have a due sense of this favour, and shall faithfully and carefully return them to you. You may rely that I shall neither copy any part, nor permit the papers to be seen.
"They contain a curious picture of society, and form a journal on the most instructive plan that can possibly be thought of; for I am not sure that an ordinary observer would become so well acquainted either with Dr. Johnson, or with the manners of the Hebrides, by a personal intercourse, as by a perusal of your Journal. I am very truly, dear Sir, your most obedient and affectionate humble servant, "William Forbes."
When I consider how many of the persons mentioned
"I have offended; and what is stranger, have justly offended, the nation of Kusay. If they could come hither, they would be as fierce as the Americans. Rasay has written to Boswell an account of the injury done him by representing his house as subordinate to that of Dunvegan Boswell has his letter, and, I believe, copied my answer. I have ap peased him, if a degraded chief can possibly be appeased: but it will be thirteen days—days of resentment and discontent—before my recantation can reach him. Many a dirk will imagination, during that interval, fix in my heart. I really question if at this time my life would not be in danger, if distance did not secure it. Boswell will find his way to Streatham before he goes, and will detail this great affair."—Letters, 12th May, 1775.— Croker.
1 In justice both to Sir William Forbes and myself, it is proper to mention, that the papers which were submitted to His perusal contained only an account of our Tour from the time that Dr. Johnson and I set out from Edinburgh (see ante, p. 42), and consequently did not contain the eulogium on bir William Forbes (ante, p. 12), which he r.ever saw till this book appeared in print; nor did he even know, when he wrote the above letter, that this Journal was to be published.
in this Tour are now gone to "that undiscovered country, from whose bourne uo traveller returns," I feel an impression at once awful and tender.—Beqniescant in pace!
It may be objected by some persons, as it has been by one of my friends, that he who has the power of thus exhibiting an exact transcript of conversations is not a desirable member of society. I repeat the answer which I made to that friend: "Few, very few, need be afraid that their sayings will be recorded. Can it be imagined that I would take the trouble to gather what grows on every hedge, because I have collected such fruits as the Nonpareil and the Bon Chretien?"
On the other hand, how useful is such a faculty, if well exercised. To it we owe all those interesting apophthegms and memorabilia of the ancients, which Plutarch, Xenophon, and Valerius Maximus have transmitted to us. To it we owe all those instructive and entertaining collections which the French have made under the title of "Ana," affixed to some celebrated name. To it we owe the " Table Talk" of Selden, the " Conversation" between Ben Jonson and Drummond of Hawthornden, Spence's "Anedotes of Pope," and other valuable remains in our own language. How delighted should we have been, if thus introduced into the company of Shakspeare and of Dryden, of whom we know scarcely any thing but their admirable writings! What pleasure would it have given us, to have known their jietty habits, their characteristic manners, their modes of composition, amd their genuine opinion of preceding writers and of their contemporaries! All these are now irrecoveraLlv lost. Considering how manv of the strongest and most brilliant effusions of exalted intellect must have perished, how much is it to be regretted that all men of distinguished wisdom and wit have not been attended by friends, of taste enough to relish, and abilities enough to register their conversation:
'- Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona
1 Ilor. Carm., iv. 9, vv. 25-28.
They whose inferior exertions are recorded, as serving to explain or illustrate the sayings of such men, may be proud of being thus associated, and of their names being transmitted to posterity, by being appended to an illustrious character.
Before I conclude, I think it proper to say, that I have suppressedl every thing which I thought could really hurt any one now living. Vanity and self-conceit indeed may sometimes suffer. With respect to what is related, I considered it my duty to " extenuate nothing, nor set down aught in malice;" and with those lighter strokes of Dr. Johnson's satire, proceeding from a warmth and quickness of imagination, not from any malevolence of heart, and which, on account of their excellence, could not be omitted, I trust that they who are the subject of them have good sense and good temper enough not to be displeased.
1 Having found, on a revision of the first edition of this work, that, notwithstanding my best care, a few observations had escaped me, which arose from the instant impression, the publication of which might perhaps be considered as passing the bounds of a strict decorum, I immediately ordered that they should be omitted in the subsequent editions. I was pleased to find that they did not amount in the whole to a page. If any of the same kind are yet left, it is owing to inadvertence alone, no man being more unwilling to give pain to others than I am.
A contemporary scribbler, of whom I have learned no more than that, after having disgraced and deserted the clerical character, he picks up in London a scanty livelihood by scurrilous lampoons under a feigned name, has impudently and falsely asserted that the passages omitted were defamatory, and that the omission was not voluntary, but com pulsory. The last insinuation I took the trouble publicly to disprove; yet, like one of Pope's dunces, he persevered in "the lie o'srthrown." As to the charge of defamation, there is an obvious and certain mode of refuting it. Any person who thinks it worth while to compare one edition with the other, will find that the passages omitted were not in the least degree of that nature, but exactly such as I have represented them in the former part of this note, the hasty effusion of momentary feelings, which the delicacy of politeness should have suppressed.
I believe the scribbler alluded to was William Thompson, author of The Man in the Moon, and other satirical novels, half-clever, half-crazy kind of works. He was once a member of the kirk of Scotland, but being deposed by the presbytery of Auchterarder, became an author-ofall-works in London, and could seldom finish a work, on whatever subject, without giving a slap by the way to that same presbytery with the unpronounceable name. Boswell's denial of having retracted upon compulsion refutes what was said by Peter Pindar and others about "McDonald's rage."— Walter Scott.