Life Of Johnson, Volume 5
by Boswell
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Some Poetical Pieces by Dr. JOHNSON, relative to the TOUR, and never before published;

A Series of his Conversation, Literary Anecdotes, and Opinions of Men and Books:


The Distresses and Escape of the GRANDSON of KING JAMES II. in the Year 1746.


* * * * *

O! while along the stream of time, thy name Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame, Say, shall my little bark attendant fail, Pursue the triumph and partake the gale? POPE.

* * * * *








In every narrative, whether historical or biographical, authenticity is of the utmost consequence[1]. Of this I have ever been so firmly persuaded, that I inscribed a former work[2] to that person who was the best judge of its truth. I need not tell you I mean General Paoli; who, after his great, though unsuccessful, efforts to preserve the liberties of his country, has found an honourable asylum in Britain, where he has now lived many years the object of Royal regard and private respect[3]; and whom I cannot name without expressing my very grateful sense of the uniform kindness which he has been pleased to shew me[4].

The friends of Doctor Johnson can best judge, from internal evidence, whether the numerous conversations which form the most valuable part of the ensuing pages are correctly related. To them, therefore, I wish to appeal, for the accuracy of the portrait here exhibited to the world.

As one of those who were intimately acquainted with him, you have a title to this address. You have obligingly taken the trouble to peruse the original manuscript of this Tour, and can vouch for the strict fidelity of the present publication[5]. Your literary alliance with our much lamented friend, in consequence of having undertaken to render one of his labours more complete, by your edition of Shakspeare[6], a work which I am confident will not disappoint the expectations of the publick, gives you another claim. But I have a still more powerful inducement to prefix your name to this volume, as it gives me an opportunity of letting the world know that I enjoy the honour and happiness of your friendship; and of thus publickly testifying the sincere regard with which I am,

My dear Sir, Your very faithful And obedient servant, JAMES BOSWELL.

LONDON, 20th September, 1785.




Animated by the very favourable reception which two large impressions of this work have had[7], it has been my study to make it as perfect as I could in this edition, by correcting some inaccuracies which I discovered myself, and some which the kindness of friends or the scrutiny of adversaries pointed out. A few notes are added, of which the principal object is, to refute misrepresentation and calumny.

To the animadversions in the periodical Journals of criticism, and in the numerous publications to which my book has given rise, I have made no answer. Every work must stand or fall by its own merit. I cannot, however, omit this opportunity of returning thanks to a gentleman who published a Defence of my Journal, and has added to the favour by communicating his name to me in a very obliging letter.

It would be an idle waste of time to take any particular notice of the futile remarks, to many of which, a petty national resentment, unworthy of my countrymen, has probably given rise; remarks which have been industriously circulated in the publick prints by shallow or envious cavillers, who have endeavoured to persuade the world that Dr. Johnson's character has been lessened by recording such various instances of his lively wit and acute judgment, on every topick that was presented to his mind. In the opinion of every person of taste and knowledge that I have conversed with, it has been greatly heightened; and I will venture to predict, that this specimen of the colloquial talents and extemporaneous effusions of my illustrious fellow-traveller will become still more valuable, when, by the lapse of time, he shall have become an ancient; when all those who can now bear testimony to the transcendent powers of his mind, shall have passed away; and no other memorial of this great and good man shall remain but the following Journal, the other anecdotes and letters preserved by his friends, and those incomparable works, which have for many years been in the highest estimation, and will be read and admired as long as the English language shall be spoken or understood.


LONDON, 15th Aug. 1786.


DEDICATION. ADVERTISEMENT. INTRODUCTION. Character of Dr. Johnson. He arrives in Scotland.

August 15. Sir William Forbes. Practice of the law. Emigration. Dr. Beattie and Mr. Hume. Dr. Robertson. Mr. Burke's various and extraordinary talents. Question concerning genius. Whitfield and Wesley. Instructions to political parties. Dr. Johnson's opinion of Garrick as a tragedian.

August 16. Ogden on Prayer. Aphoristick writing. Edinburgh surveyed. Character of Swift's works. Evil spirits and witchcraft. Lord Monboddo and the Ouran-Outang.

August 17. Poetry and Dictionary writing. Scepticism. Eternal necessity refuted. Lord Hailes's criticism on The Vanity of Human Wishes. Mr. Maclaurin. Decision of the Judges in Scotland on literary property.

August 18. Set out for the Hebrides. Sketch of the authour's character. Trade of Glasgow. Suicide. Inchkeith. Parliamentary knowledge. Influence of Peers. Popular clamours. Arrive at St. Andrews.

August 19. Dr. Watson. Literature and patronage. Writing and conversation compared. Change of manners. The Union. Value of money. St. Andrews and John Knox. Retirement from the world. Dinner with the Professors. Question concerning sorrow and content. Instructions for composition. Dr. Johnson's method. Uncertainty of memory.

August 20. Effect of prayer. Observance of Sunday. Professor Shaw. Transubstantiation. Literary property. Mr. Tyers's remark on Dr. Johnson. Arrive at Montrose.

August 21. Want of trees. Laurence Kirk. Dinner at Monboddo. Emigration. Homer. Biography and history compared. Decrease of learning. Causes of it. Promotion of bishops. Warburton. Lowth. Value of politeness. Dr. Johnson's sentiments concerning Lord Monboddo. Arrive at Aberdeen.

August 22. Professor Thomas Gordon. Publick and private education. Sir Alexander Gordon. Trade of Aberdeen. Prescription of murder in Scotland. Mystery of the Trinity. Satisfaction of Christ. Importance of old friendships.

August 23. Dr. Johnson made a burgess of Aberdeen. Dinner at Sir Alexander Gordon's. Warburton's powers of invective. His Doctrine of Grace. Lock's verses. Fingal.

August 24. Goldsmith and Graham. Slains castle. Education of children. Buller of Buchan. Entails. Consequence of Peers. Sir Joshua Reynolds. Earl of Errol.

August 25. The advantage of being on good terms with relations. Nabobs. Feudal state of subordination. Dinner at Strichen. Life of country gentlemen. THE LITERARY CLUB.

August 26. Lord Monboddo. Use and importance of wealth. Elgin. Macbeth's heath. Fores.

August 27. Leonidas. Paul Whitehead. Derrick. Origin of Evil. Calder-manse. Reasonableness of ecclesiastical subscription. Family worship.

August 28. Fort George. Sir Adolphus Oughton. Contest between Warburton and Lowth. Dinner at Sir Eyre Coote's. Arabs and English soldiers compared. The Stage. Mr. Garrick, Mrs. Cibber, Mrs. Pritchard, Mrs. Clive. Inverness.

August 29. Macbeth's Castle. Incorrectness of writers of Travels. Coinage of new words. Dr. Johnson's Dictionary.

August 30. Dr. Johnson on horseback. A Highland hut. Fort Augustus. Governour Trapaud.

August 31. Anoch. Emigration. Goldsmith. Poets and soldiers compared. Life of a sailor. Landlord's daughter at Anoch.

September 1. Glensheal. The Macraas. Dr. Johnson's anger at being left for a little while by the authour on a wild plain. Wretched inn at Glenelg.

September 2. Dr. Johnson relents. Isle of Sky. Armidale.

September 3. Colonel Montgomery, now Earl of Eglintoune.

September 4. Ancient Highland Enthusiasm.

September 5. Sir James Macdonald's epitaph and last letters to his mother. Dr. Johnson's Latin ode on the Isle of Sky. Isaac Hawkins Browne.

September 6. Corrichatachin. Highland hospitality and mirth. Dr. Johnson's Latin ode to Mrs. Thrale.

September 7. Uneasy state of dependence on the weather. State of those who live in the country. Dr. M'Pherson's Dissertations. Second Sight.

September 8. Rev. Mr. Donald M'Queen. Mr. Malcolm M'Cleod. Sail to Rasay. Fingal. Homer. Elegant and gay entertainment at Rasay.

September 9. Antiquity of the family of Rasay. Cure of infidelity.

September 10. Survey of the island of Rasay. Bentley. Mallet. Hooke. Duchess of Marlborough.

September 11. Heritable jurisdictions. Insular life. The Laird of M'Cleod.

September 12. Sail to Portree. Dr. Johnson's discourse on death. Letters from Lord Elibank to Dr. Johnson and the authour. Dr. Johnson's answer. Ride to Kingsburgh. Flora M'Donald.

September 13. Distresses and escape of the grandson of King James II. Arrive at Dunvegan.

September 14. Importance of the chastity of women. Dr. Cadogan. Whether the practice of authours is necessary to enforce their Doctrines. Good humour acquirable.

September 15. Sir George M'Kenzie. Mr. Burke's wit, knowledge and eloquence.

September 16. Dr. Johnson's hereditary melancholy. His minute knowledge in various arts. Apology for the authour's ardour in his pursuits. Dr. Johnson's imaginary seraglio. Polygamy.

September 17. Cunning. Whether great abilities are necessary to be wicked. Temple of the Goddess Anaitis. Family portraits. Records not consulted by old English historians. Mr. Pennant's Tours criticised.

September 18. Ancient residence of a Highland Chief. Languages the pedigree of nations. Laird of the Isle of Muck.

September 19. Choice of a wife. Women an over-match for men. Lady Grange in St. Kilda. Poetry of savages. French Literati. Prize-fighting. French and English soldiers. Duelling.

September 20. Change of London manners. Laziness censured. Landed and traded interest compared. Gratitude considered.

September 21. Description of Dunvegan. Lord Lovat's Pyramid. Ride to Ulinish. Phipps's Voyage to the North Pole.

September 22. Subterraneous house and vast cave in Ulinish. Swift's Lord Orrery. Defects as well as virtues the proper subject of biography, though the life be written by a friend. Studied conclusions of letters. Whether allowable in dying men to maintain resentment to the last. Instructions for writing the lives of literary men. Fingal denied to be genuine, and pleasantly ridiculed.

September 23. Further disquisition concerning Fingal. Eminent men disconcerted by a new mode of publick appearance. Garrick. Mrs. Montague's Essay on Shakspeare. Persons of consequence watched in London. Learning of the Scots from 1550 to 1650. The arts of civil life little known in Scotland till the Union. Life of a sailor. The folly of Peter the Great in working in a dock-yard. Arrive at Talisker. Presbyterian clergy deficient in learning. September 24. French hunting. Young Col. Dr. Birch, Dr. Percy. Lord Hailes. Historical impartiality. Whiggism unbecoming in a clergyman.

September 25. Every island a prison. A Sky cottage. Return to Corrichatachin. Good fellowship carried to excess.

September 26. Morning review of last night's intemperance. Old Kingsburgh's Jacobite song. Lady Margaret Macdonald adored in Sky. Different views of the same subject at different times. Self-deception.

September 27. Dr. Johnson's popularity in the Isle of Sky. His good-humoured gaiety with a Highland lady.

September 28. Ancient Irish pride of family. Dr. Johnson on threshing and thatching. Dangerous to increase the price of labour. Arrive at Ostig. Dr. M'Pherson's Latin poetry.

September 29. Reverend Mr. M'Pherson, Shenstone. Hammond. Sir Charles Hanbury Williams.

September 30. Mr. Burke the first man every where. Very moderate talents requisite to make a figure in the House of Commons. Dr. Young. Dr. Doddridge. Increase of infidel writings since the accession of the Hanover family. Gradual impression made by Dr. Johnson. Particular minutes to be kept of our studies.

October 1. Dr. Johnson not answerable for all the words in his Dictionary. Attacks on authours useful to them. Return to Armidale.

October 2. Old manners of great families in Wales. German courts. Goldsmith's love of talk. Emigration. Curious story of the people of St. Kilda.

October 3. Epictetus on the voyage of death. Sail for Mull. A storm. Driven into Col.

October 4. Dr. Johnson's mode of living in the Temple. His curious appearance on a sheltie. Nature of sea-sickness. Burnet's History of his own Times. Difference between dedications and histories.

October 5. People may come to do anything by talking of it. The Reverend Mr. Hector Maclean. Bayle. Leibnitz and Clarke. Survey of Col. Insular life. Arrive at Breacacha. Dr. Johnson's power of ridicule.

October 6. Heritable jurisdictions. The opinion of philosophers concerning happiness in a cottage, considered. Advice to landlords.

October 7. Books the best solace in a state of confinement.

October 8. Pretended brother of Dr. Johnson. No redress for a man's name being affixed to a foolish work. Lady Sidney Beauclerk. Carte's Life of the Duke of Ormond. Col's cabinet. Letters of the great Montrose. Present state of the island of Col.

October 9. Dr. Johnson's avidity for a variety of books. Improbability of a Highland tradition. Dr. Johnson's delicacy of feeling.

October 10. Dependence of tenants on landlords.

October 11. London and Pekin compared. Dr. Johnson's high opinion of the former.

October 12. Return to Mr. M'Sweyn's. Other superstitions beside those connected with religion. Dr. Johnson disgusted with coarse manners. His peculiar habits.

October 13. Bustle not necessary to dispatch. Oats the food not of the Scotch alone.

October 14. Arrive in Mull. Addison's Remarks on Italy. Addison not much conversant with Italian literature. The French masters of the art of accommodating literature. Their Ana. Racine. Corneille. Moliere. Fenelon. Voltaire. Bossuet. Massillon. Bourdaloue. Virgil's description of the entrance into hell, compared to a printing-house.

October 15. Erse poetry. Danger of a knowledge of musick. The propriety of settling our affairs so as to be always prepared for death. Religion and literary attainments not to be described to young persons as too hard. Reception of the travellers in their progress. Spence.

October 16. Miss Maclean. Account of Mull. The value of an oak walking-stick in the Hebrides. Arrive at Mr. M'Quarrie's in Ulva. Captain Macleod. Second Sight. Mercheta Mulierum, and Borough-English. The grounds on which the sale of an estate may be set aside in a court of equity.

October 17. Arrive at Inchkenneth. Sir Allan Maclean and his daughters. None but theological books should be read on Sunday. Dr. Campbell. Dr. Johnson exhibited as a Highlander. Thoughts on drinking. Dr. Johnson's Latin verses on Inchkenneth.

October 18. Young Col's various good qualities. No extraordinary talents requisite to success in trade. Dr. Solander. Mr. Burke. Dr. Johnson's intrepidity and presence of mind. Singular custom in the islands of Col and Otaheite. Further elogium on young Col. Credulity of a Frenchman in foreign countries.

October 19. Death of young Col. Dr. Johnson slow of belief without strong evidence. La Credulite des incredules. Coast of Mull. Nun's Island. Past scenes pleasing in recollection. Land on Icolmkill. October 20. Sketch of the ruins of Icolmkill. Influence of solemn scenes of piety. Feudal authority in the extreme. Return to Mull.

October 21. Pulteney. Pitt. Walpole. Mr. Wilkes. English and Jewish history compared. Scotland composed of stone and water, and a little earth. Turkish Spy. Dreary ride to Lochbuy. Description of the laird.

October 22. Uncommon breakfast offered to Dr. Johnson, and rejected. Lochbuy's war-saddle. Sail to Oban.

October 23. Goldsmith's Traveller. Pope and Cowley compared. Archibald Duke of Argyle. Arrive at Inverary. Dr. Johnson drinks some whisky, and assigns his reason. Letter from the authour to Mr. Garrick. Mr. Garrick's answer.

October 24. Specimen of Ogden on Prayer. Hervey's Meditations. Dr. Johnson's Meditation on a Pudding. Country neighbours. The authour's visit to the castle of Inverary. Perverse opposition to the influence of Peers in Ayrshire.

October 25. Dr. Johnson presented to the Duke of Argyle. Grandeur of his grace's seat. The authour possesses himself in an embarrassing situation. Honourable Archibald Campbell on a middle state. The old Lord Townshend. Question concerning luxury. Nice trait of character. Good principles and bad practice.

October 26. A passage in Home's Douglas, and one in Juvenal, compared. Neglect of religious buildings in Scotland. Arrive at Sir James Colquhoun's.

October 27. Dr. Johnson's letter to the Duke of Argyle. His grace's answer. Lochlomond. Dr. Johnson's sentiments on dress. Forms of prayer considered. Arrive at Mr. Smollet's.

October 28. Dr. Smollet's Epitaph. Dr. Johnson's wonderful memory. His alacrity during the Tour. Arrive at Glasgow.

October 29. Glasgow surveyed. Attention of the professors to Dr. Johnson.

October 30. Dinner at the Earl of Loudoun's. Character of that nobleman. Arrive at Treesbank.

October 31. Sir John Cunningham of Caprington.

November 1. Rules for the distribution of charity. Castle of Dundonald. Countess of Eglintoune. Alexander Earl of Eglintoune.

November 2. Arrive at Auchinleck. Character of Lord Auchinleck, His idea of Dr. Johnson.

November 3. Dr. Johnson's sentiments concerning the Highlands. Mr. Harris of Salisbury.

November 4. Auchinleck. Cattle without horns. Composure of mind how far attainable. November 5. Dr. Johnson's high respect for the English clergy.

November 6. Lord Auchinleck and Dr. Johnson in collision.

November 7. Dr. Johnson's uniform piety. His dislike of presbyterian worship.

November 8. Arrive at Hamilton.

November 9. The Duke of Hamilton's house. Arrive at Edinburgh.

November 10. Lord Elibank. Difference in political principles increased by opposition. Edinburgh Castle. Fingal. English credulity not less than Scottish. Second Sight. Garrick and Foote compared as companions. Moravian Missions and Methodism.

November 11. History originally oral. Dr. Robertson's liberality of sentiment. Rebellion natural to man.

* * * * *

Summary account of the manner in which Dr. Johnson spent his time from November 12 to November 21. Lord Mansfield, Mr. Richardson. The private life of an English Judge. Dr. Johnson's high opinion of Dr. Robertson and Dr. Blair. Letter from Dr. Blair to the authour. Officers of the army often ignorant of things belonging to their own profession. Academy for the deaf and dumb. A Scotch Highlander and an English sailor. Attacks on authours advantageous to them. Roslin Castle and Hawthornden. Dr. Johnson's Parody of Sir John Dalrymple's Memoirs. Arrive at Cranston. Dr. Johnson's departure for London. Letters from Lord Hailes and Mr. Dempster to the authour. Letter from the Laird of Rasay to the authour. The authour's answer. Dr. Johnson's Advertisement, acknowledging a mistake in his Journey to the Western Islands. His letter to the Laird of Rasay. Letter from Sir William Forbes to the authour. Conclusion.


Baker's Chronicle [ed. 1665, p. 449].







Dr. Johnson had for many years given me hopes that we should go together, and visit the Hebrides[9]. Martin's Account of those islands had impressed us with a notion that we might there contemplate a system of life almost totally different from what we had been accustomed to see; and, to find simplicity and wildness, and all the circumstances of remote time or place, so near to our native great island, was an object within the reach of reasonable curiosity. Dr. Johnson has said in his Journey[10] 'that he scarcely remembered how the wish to visit the Hebrides was excited;' but he told me, in summer, 1763[11], that his father put Martin's Account into his hands when he was very young, and that he was much pleased with it. We reckoned there would be some inconveniencies and hardships, and perhaps a little danger; but these we were persuaded were magnified in the imagination of every body. When I was at Ferney, in 1764, I mentioned our design to Voltaire. He looked at me, as if I had talked of going to the North Pole, and said, 'You do not insist on my accompanying you?'—'No, Sir,'—'Then I am very willing you should go.' I was not afraid that our curious expedition would be prevented by such apprehensions; but I doubted that it would not be possible to prevail on Dr. Johnson to relinquish, for some time, the felicity of a London life, which, to a man who can enjoy it with full intellectual relish, is apt to make existence in any narrower sphere seem insipid or irksome. I doubted that he would not be willing to come down from his elevated state of philosophical dignity; from a superiority of wisdom among the wise, and of learning among the learned; and from flashing his wit upon minds bright enough to reflect it.

He had disappointed my expectations so long, that I began to despair; but in spring, 1773, he talked of coming to Scotland that year with so much firmness, that I hoped he was at last in earnest. I knew that, if he were once launched from the metropolis he would go forward very well; and I got our common friends there to assist in setting him afloat. To Mrs. Thrale in particular, whose enchantment over him seldom failed, I was much obliged. It was, 'I'll give thee a wind.'-' Thou art kind.[12]'—To attract him, we had invitations from the chiefs Macdonald and Macleod; and, for additional aid, I wrote to Lord Elibank[13], Dr. William Robertson, and Dr. Beattie.

To Dr. Robertson, so far as my letter concerned the present subject, I wrote as follows:

'Our friend, Mr. Samuel Johnson, is in great health and spirits; and, I do think, has a serious resolution to visit Scotland this year. The more attraction, however, the better; and therefore, though I know he will be happy to meet you there, it will forward the scheme, if, in your answer to this, you express yourself concerning it with that power of which you are so happily possessed, and which may be so directed as to operate strongly upon him.'

His answer to that part of my letter was quite as I could have wished. It was written with the address and persuasion of the historian of America. 'When I saw you last, you gave us some hopes that you might prevail with Mr. Johnson to make out that excursion to Scotland, with the expectation of which we have long flattered ourselves. If he could order matters so, as to pass some time in Edinburgh, about the close of the summer session, and then visit some of the Highland scenes, I am confident he would be pleased with the grand features of nature in many parts of this country: he will meet with many persons here who respect him, and some whom I am persuaded he will think not unworthy of his esteem. I wish he would make the experiment. He sometimes cracks his jokes upon us; but he will find that we can distinguish between the stabs of malevolence, and the rebukes of the righteous, which are like excellent oil[14], and break not the head[15]. Offer my best compliments to him, and assure him that I shall be happy to have the satisfaction of seeing him under my roof.

To Dr. Beattie I wrote, 'The chief intention of this letter is to inform you, that I now seriously believe Mr. Samuel Johnson will visit Scotland this year: but I wish that every power of attraction may be employed to secure our having so valuable an acquisition, and therefore I hope you will without delay write to me what I know you think, that I may read it to the mighty sage, with proper emphasis, before I leave London, which I must do soon. He talks of you with the same warmth that he did last year[16]. We are to see as much of Scotland as we can, in the months of August and September. We shall not be long of being at Marischal College[17]. He is particularly desirous of seeing some of the Western Islands.'

Dr. Beattie did better: ipse venit. He was, however, so polite as to wave his privilege of nil mihi rescribas[18], and wrote from Edinburgh, as follows:—'Your very kind and agreeable favour of the 20th of April overtook me here yesterday, after having gone to Aberdeen, which place I left about a week ago. I am to set out this day for London, and hope to have the honour of paying my respects to Mr. Johnson and you, about a week or ten days hence. I shall then do what I can, to enforce the topick you mention; but at present I cannot enter upon it, as I am in a very great hurry; for I intend to begin my journey within an hour or two.'

He was as good as his word, and threw some pleasing motives into the northern scale. But, indeed, Mr. Johnson loved all that he heard, from one whom he tells us, in his Lives of the Poets, Gray found 'a poet, a philosopher, and a good man[19].'

My Lord Elibank did not answer my letter to his lordship for some time. The reason will appear, when we come to the isle of Sky[20]. I shall then insert my letter, with letters from his lordship, both to myself and Mr. Johnson. I beg it may be understood, that I insert my own letters, as I relate my own sayings, rather as keys to what is valuable belonging to others, than for their own sake.

Luckily Mr. Justice (now Sir Robert) Chambers[21], who was about to sail for the East-Indies, was going to take leave of his relations at Newcastle, and he conducted Dr. Johnson to that town. Mr. Scott, of University College, Oxford, (now Dr. Scott[22], of the Commons,) accompanied him from thence to Edinburgh, With such propitious convoys did he proceed to my native city. But, lest metaphor should make it be supposed he actually went by sea, I choose to mention that he travelled in post-chaises, of which the rapid motion was one of his most favourite amusements[23].

Dr. Samuel Johnson's character, religious, moral, political, and literary, nay his figure and manner, are, I believe, more generally known than those of almost any man; yet it may not be superfluous here to attempt a sketch of him. Let my readers then remember that he was a sincere and zealous Christian, of high church of England and monarchical principles, which he would not tamely suffer to be questioned; steady and inflexible in maintaining the obligations of piety and virtue, both from a regard to the order of society, and from a veneration for the Great Source of all order; correct, nay stern in his taste; hard to please, and easily offended, impetuous and irritable in his temper, but of a most humane and benevolent heart; having a mind stored with a vast and various collection of learning and knowledge, which he communicated with peculiar perspicuity and force, in rich and choice expression. He united a most logical head with a most fertile imagination, which gave him an extraordinary advantage in arguing; for he could reason close or wide, as he saw best for the moment. He could, when he chose it, be the greatest sophist that ever wielded a weapon in the schools of declamation; but he indulged this only in conversation; for he owned he sometimes talked for victory[24]; he was too conscientious to make errour permanent and pernicious, by deliberately writing it. He was conscious of his superiority. He loved praise when it was brought to him; but was too proud to seek for it. He was somewhat susceptible of flattery[25]. His mind was so full of imagery, that he might have been perpetually a poet. It has been often remarked, that in his poetical pieces, which it is to be regretted are so few, because so excellent, his style is easier than in his prose. There is deception in this: it is not easier, but better suited to the dignity of verse; as one may dance with grace, whose motions, in ordinary walking, in the common step, are awkward. He had a constitutional melancholy, the clouds of which darkened the brightness of his fancy, and gave a gloomy cast to his whole course of thinking: yet, though grave and awful in his deportment, when he thought it necessary or proper, he frequently indulged himself in pleasantry and sportive sallies. He was prone to superstition, but not to credulity. Though his imagination might incline him to a belief of the marvellous and the mysterious, his vigorous reason examined the evidence with jealousy. He had a loud voice, and a slow deliberate utterance, which no doubt gave some additional weight to the sterling metal of his conversation[26]. His person was large, robust, I may say approaching to the gigantick, and grown unwieldy from corpulency. His countenance was naturally of the cast of an ancient statue, but somewhat disfigured by the scars of that evil, which, it was formerly imagined, the royal touch[27] could cure. He was now in his sixty-fourth year, and was become a little dull of hearing. His sight had always been somewhat weak; yet, so much does mind govern, and even supply the deficiency of organs, that his perceptions were uncommonly quick and accurate[28]. His head, and sometimes also his body shook with a kind of motion like the effect of a palsy: he appeared to be frequently disturbed by cramps, or convulsive contractions[29], of the nature of that distemper called St. Vitus's dance. He wore a full suit of plain brown clothes, with twisted hair-buttons[30] of the same colour, a large bushy greyish wig, a plain shirt, black worsted stockings, and silver buckles. Upon this tour, when journeying, he wore boots, and a very wide brown cloth great coat, with pockets which might have almost held the two volumes of his folio Dictionary; and he carried in his hand a large English oak stick. Let me not be censured for mentioning such minute particulars. Every thing relative to so great a man is worth observing. I remember Dr. Adam Smith, in his rhetorical lectures at Glasgow[31], told us he was glad to know that Milton wore latchets in his shoes, instead of buckles. When I mention the oak stick, it is but letting Hercules have his club; and, by-and-by, my readers will find this stick will bud, and produce a good joke[32].

This imperfect sketch of 'the COMBINATION and the form[33]' of that Wonderful Man, whom I venerated and 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[34] 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 would leave, unbrib'd, Hibernia's land? Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand? There none are swept by sudden fate away; But all, whom hunger spares, with age decay.'

The truth is, like the ancient Greeks and Romans, he allowed himself to look upon all nations but his own as barbarians[35]: 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[36]; much of a blunt true born Englishman[37]. There was a stratum of common clay under the rock of marble. He was voraciously fond of good eating[38]; 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[39].' I subscribe to what my late truly learned and philosophical friend Mr. Crosbie[40] said, that 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 eleventh of August, was broke up before he got to Edinburgh[41].

On Saturday the fourteenth of August, 1773, late in the evening, I received a note from him, that he was arrived at Boyd's inn[42], at the head of the Canongate. 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[43]. 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. Mr. Johnson told me, that such another trick was played him at the house of a lady in Paris[44]. 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[45]: it was a dusky night: I could not prevent his being assailed by 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[46]; 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 ordour 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 ear, 'I smell you in the dark[47]!' But he acknowledged that the breadth of the street, and the loftiness of the buildings on each side made a noble appearance[48].

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[49] should have obtained him a magnificent reward from the East-India Company. He shewed 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 forgetfulness of his external appearance[50].

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 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[51]. 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 shew all respect to the Sage she would give up her own bed-chamber to him and take a worse[52]. 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[53].


Mr. Scott came to breakfast, at which I introduced to Dr. Johnson and him, my friend Sir William Forbes, now of Pitsligo[55]; 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 affectionate enquiries; and, upon his recovery, Te deum was the universal chorus from the hearts of his countrymen. Mr. Johnson was pleased with my daughter Veronica[56], then a child of about four months old. She had the appearance of listening to him. His motions seemed to her to be intended for her amusement; and when he stopped, she fluttered, and made a little infantine noise, and a kind of signal for him to begin again. She would be held close to him; which was a proof, from simple nature, that his figure was not horrid. Her fondness for him endeared her still more to me, and I declared she should have five hundred pounds of additional fortune[57].

We talked of the practice of the law. Sir William Forbes said, he thought an honest lawyer should never undertake a cause which he was satisfied was not a just one. 'Sir, (said Mr. Johnson,) a lawyer has no business with the justice or injustice of the cause which he undertakes, unless his client asks his opinion, and then he is bound to give it honestly. The justice or injustice of the cause is to be decided by the judge. Consider, Sir; what is the purpose of courts of justice? It is, that every man may have his cause fairly tried, by men appointed to try causes. A lawyer is not to tell what he knows to be a lie: he is not to produce what he knows to be a false deed; but he is not to usurp the province of the jury and of the judge, and determine what shall be the effect of evidence,—what shall be the result of legal argument. As it rarely happens that a man is fit to plead his own cause, lawyers are a class of the community, who, by study and experience, have acquired the art and power of arranging evidence, and of applying to the points at issue what the law has settled. A lawyer is to do for his client all that his client might fairly do for himself, if he could. If, by a superiority of attention, of knowledge, of skill, and a better method of communication, he has the advantage of his adversary, it is an advantage to which he is entitled. There must always be some advantage, on one side or other; and it is better that advantage should be had by talents than by chance. Lawyers were to undertake no causes till they were sure they were just, a man might be precluded altogether from a trial of his claim, though, were it judicially examined it might be found a very just claim[58].' This was sound practical doctrine, and rationally repressed a too refined scrupulosity[59] of conscience.

Emigration was at this time a common topick of discourse[60]. Dr. Johnson regretted it as hurtful to human happiness: 'For (said he) it spreads mankind, which weakens the defence of a nation, and lessens the comfort of living. Men, thinly scattered, make a shift, but a bad shift, without many things. A smith is ten miles off: they'll do without a nail or a staple. A taylor is far from them: they'll botch their own clothes. It is being concentrated which produces high convenience[61].'

Sir William Forbes, Mr. Scott, and I, accompanied Mr. Johnson to the chapel[62], founded by Lord Chief Baron Smith, for the Service of the Church of England. The Reverend Mr. Carre, the senior clergyman, preached from these words, 'Because the Lord reigneth, let the earth be glad[63].' I was sorry to think Mr. Johnson did not attend to the sermon, Mr. Carre's low voice not being strong enough to reach his hearing. A selection of Mr. Carre's sermons has, since his death, been published by Sir William Forbes[64], and the world has acknowledged their uncommon merit. I am well assured Lord Mansfield has pronounced them to be excellent.

Here I obtained a promise from Lord Chief Baron Orde[65], that he would dine at my house next day. I presented Mr. Johnson to his Lordship, who politely said to him, I have not the honour of knowing you; but I hope for it, and to see you at my house. I am to wait on you to-morrow.' This respectable English judge will be long remembered in Scotland, where he built an elegant house, and lived in it magnificently. His own ample fortune, with the addition of his salary, enabled him to be splendidly hospitable. It may be fortunate for an individual amongst ourselves to be Lord Chief Baron; and a most worthy man now has the office; but, in my opinion, it is better for Scotland in general, that some of our publick employments should be filled by gentlemen of distinction from the south side of the Tweed, as we have the benefit of promotion in England. Such an interchange would make a beneficial mixture of manners, and render our union more complete. Lord Chief Baron Orde was on good terms with us all, in a narrow country filled with jarring interests and keen parties; and, though I well knew his opinion to be the same with my own, he kept himself aloof at a very critical period indeed, when the Douglas cause shook the sacred security of birthright in Scotland to its foundation; a cause, which had it happened before the Union, when there was no appeal to a British House of Lords, would have left the great fortress of honours and of property in ruins[66]. When we got home, Dr. Johnson desired to see my books. He took down Ogden's Sermons on Prayer[67], on which I set a very high value, having been much edified by them, and he retired with them to his room. He did not stay long, but soon joined us in the drawing room. I presented to him Mr. Robert Arbuthnot, a relation of the celebrated Dr. Arbuthnot[68], and a man of literature and taste. To him we were obliged for a previous recommendation, which secured us a very agreeable reception at St. Andrews, and which Dr. Johnson, in his Journey, ascribes to 'some invisible friend[69].'

Of Dr. Beattie, Mr. Johnson said, 'Sir, he has written like a man conscious of the truth, and feeling his own strength[70]. Treating your adversary with respect is giving him an advantage to which he is not entitled[71]. The greatest part of men cannot judge of reasoning, and are impressed by character; so that, if you allow your adversary a respectable character, they will think, that though you differ from him, you may be in the wrong. Sir, treating your adversary with respect, is striking soft in a battle. And as to Hume,—a man who has so much conceit as to tell all mankind that they have been bubbled[72] for ages, and he is the wise man who sees better than they,—a man who has so little scrupulosity as to venture to oppose those principles which have been thought necessary to human happiness,—is he to be surprized if another man comes and laughs at him? If he is the great man he thinks himself, all this cannot hurt him: it is like throwing peas against a rock.' He added 'something much too rough' both as to Mr. Hume's head and heart, which I suppress. Violence is, in my opinion, not suitable to the Christian cause. Besides, I always lived on good terms with Mr. Hume, though I have frankly told him, I was not clear that it was right in me to keep company with him. 'But, (said I) how much better are you than your books!' He was cheerful, obliging, and instructive; he was charitable to the poor; and many an agreeable hour have I passed with him[73]: I have preserved some entertaining and interesting memoirs of him, particularly when he knew himself to be dying, which I may some time or other communicate to the world[74]. I shall not, however, extol him so very highly as Dr. Adam Smith does, who says, in a letter to Mr. Strahan the Printer (not a confidential letter to his friend, but a letter which is published[75] with all formality:) 'Upon the whole, I have always considered him, both in his life time and since his death, as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man as perhaps the nature of human frailty will permit.' Let Dr. Smith consider: Was not Mr. Hume blest with good health, good spirits, good friends, a competent and increasing fortune? And had he not also a perpetual feast of fame[76]? But, as a learned friend has observed to me, 'What trials did he undergo to prove the perfection of his virtue? Did he ever experience any great instance of adversity?'—When I read this sentence delivered by my old Professor of Moral Philosophy, I could not help exclaiming with the Psalmist, 'Surely I have now more understanding than my teachers[77]!'

While we were talking, there came a note to me from Dr. William Robertson.

'DEAR SIR, 'I have been expecting every day to hear from you, of Dr. Johnson's arrival. Pray, what do you know about his motions? I long to take him by the hand. I write this from the college, where I have only this scrap of paper. Ever yours,

'W. R.'


It pleased me to find Dr. Robertson thus eager to meet Dr. Johnson. I was glad I could answer, that he was come: and I begged Dr. Robertson might be with us as soon as he could.

Sir William Forbes, Mr. Scott, Mr. Arbuthnot, and another gentleman dined with us. 'Come, Dr. Johnson, (said I,) it is commonly thought that our veal in Scotland is not good. But here is some which I believe you will like.' There was no catching him. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, what is commonly thought, I should take to be true. Your veal may be good; but that will only be an exception to the general opinion; not a proof against it.'

Dr. Robertson, according to the custom of Edinburgh at that time, dined in the interval between the forenoon and afternoon service, which was then later than now; so we had not the pleasure of his company till dinner was over, when he came and drank wine with us. And then began some animated dialogue[78], of which here follows a pretty full note.

We talked of Mr. Burke. Dr. Johnson said, he had great variety of knowledge, store of imagery, copiousness of language. ROBERTSON. 'He has wit too.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; he never succeeds there. 'Tis low; 'tis conceit. I used to say, Burke never once made a good joke[79]. What I most envy Burke for, is his being constantly the same. He is never what we call hum-drum; never unwilling to begin to talk, nor in haste to leave off.' BOSWELL. 'Yet he can listen.' JOHNSON. 'No: I cannot say he is good at that[80]. So desirous is he to talk, that, if one is speaking at this end of the table, he'll speak to somebody at the other end. Burke, Sir, is such a man, that if you met him for the first time in the street where you were stopped by a drove of oxen, and you and he stepped aside to take shelter but for five minutes, he'd talk to you in such a manner, that, when you parted, you would say, this is an extraordinary man[81]. Now, you may be long enough with me, without finding any thing extraordinary.' He said, he believed Burke was intended for the law; but either had not money enough to follow it, or had not diligence enough[82]. He said, he could not understand how a man could apply to one thing, and not to another. ROBERTSON said, one man had more judgment, another more imagination. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; it is only, one man has more mind than another. He may direct it differently; he may, by accident, see the success of one kind of study, and take a desire to excel in it. I am persuaded that, had Sir Isaac Newton applied to poetry, he would have made a very fine epick poem. I could as easily apply to law as to tragick poetry.' BOSWELL. 'Yet, Sir, you did apply to tragick poetry, not to law.' JOHNSON. 'Because, Sir, I had not money to study law. Sir, the man who has vigour, may walk to the east, just as well as to the west, if he happens to turn his head that way[83].' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, 'tis like walking up and down a hill; one man will naturally do the one better than the other. A hare will run up a hill best, from her fore-legs being short; a dog down.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir; that is from mechanical powers. If you make mind mechanical, you may argue in that manner. One mind is a vice, and holds fast; there's a good memory. Another is a file; and he is a disputant, a controversialist. Another is a razor; and he is sarcastical.' We talked of Whitefield. He said he was at the same college with him[84], and knew him before he began to be better than other people (smiling;) that he believed he sincerely meant well, but had a mixture of politicks and ostentation: whereas Wesley thought of religion only[85]. ROBERTSON said, Whitefield had strong natural eloquence, which, if cultivated, would have done great things. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I take it, he was at the height of what his abilities could do, and was sensible of it. He had the ordinary advantages of education; but he chose to pursue that oratory which is for the mob[86].' BOSWELL. 'He had great effect on the passions.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I don't think so. He could not represent a succession of pathetic images. He vociferated, and made an impression. There, again, was a mind like a hammer.' Dr. Johnson now said, a certain eminent political friend of our's[87] was wrong, in his maxim of sticking to a certain set of men on all occasions. 'I can see that a man may do right to stick to a party (said he;) that is to say, he is a Whig, or he is a Tory, and he thinks one of those parties upon the whole the best, and that to make it prevail, it must be generally supported, though, in particulars it may be wrong. He takes its faggot of principles, in which there are fewer rotten sticks than in the other, though some rotten sticks to be sure; and they cannot well be separated. But, to bind one's self to one man, or one set of men, (who may be right to-day and wrong to-morrow,) without any general preference of system, I must disapprove[88].'

He told us of Cooke, who translated Hesiod, and lived twenty years on a translation of Plautus, for which he was always taking subscriptions; and that he presented Foote to a Club, in the following singular manner: 'This is the nephew of the gentleman who was lately hung in chains for murdering his brother[89].' In the evening I introduced to Mr. Johnson[90] two good friends of mine, Mr. William Nairne, Advocate, and Mr. Hamilton of Sundrum, my neighbour in the country, both of whom supped with us. I have preserved nothing of what passed, except that Dr. Johnson displayed another of his heterodox opinions,—a contempt of tragick acting[91]. He said, 'the action of all players in tragedy is bad. It should be a man's study to repress those signs of emotion and passion, as they are called.' He was of a directly contrary opinion to that of Fielding, in his Tom Jones; who makes Partridge say, of Garrick, 'why, I could act as well as he myself. I am sure, if I had seen a ghost, I should have looked in the very same manner, and done just as he did[92].' For, when I asked him, 'Would you not, Sir, start as Mr. Garrick does, if you saw a ghost?' He answered, 'I hope not. If I did, I should frighten the ghost.'


Dr. William Robertson came to breakfast. We talked of Ogden on Prayer. Dr. Johnson said, 'The same arguments which are used against GOD'S hearing prayer, will serve against his rewarding good, and punishing evil. He has resolved, he has declared, in the former case as in the latter.' He had last night looked into Lord Hailes's Remarks on the History of Scotland. Dr. Robertson and I said, it was a pity Lord Hailes did not write greater things. His lordship had not then published his Annals of Scotland[93]. JOHNSON. 'I remember I was once on a visit at the house of a lady for whom I had a high respect. There was a good deal of company in the room. When they were gone, I said to this lady, "What foolish talking have we had!" "Yes, (said she,) but while they talked, you said nothing." I was struck with the reproof. How much better is the man who does anything that is innocent, than he who does nothing. Besides, I love anecdotes[94]. I fancy mankind may come, in time, to write all aphoristically, except in narrative; grow weary of preparation, and connection, and illustration, and all those arts by which a big book is made. If a man is to wait till he weaves anecdotes into a system, we may be long in getting them, and get but few, in comparison of what we might get.

Dr. Robertson said, the notions of Eupham Macallan, a fanatick woman, of whom Lord Hailes gives a sketch, were still prevalent among some of the Presbyterians; and therefore it was right in Lord Hailes, a man of known piety, to undeceive them[95].

We walked out[96], that Dr. Johnson might see some of the things which we have to shew at Edinburgh. We went to the Parliament-House[97], where the Parliament of Scotland sat, and where the Ordinary Lords of Session hold their courts; and to the New Session-House adjoining to it, where our Court of Fifteen (the fourteen Ordinaries, with the Lord President at their head,) sit as a court of Review. We went to the Advocates Library[98], of which Dr. Johnson took a cursory view, and then to what is called the Laigh[99] (or under) Parliament-House, where the records of Scotland, which has an universal security by register, are deposited, till the great Register Office be finished. I was pleased to behold Dr. Samuel Johnson rolling about in this old magazine of antiquities. There was, by this time, a pretty numerous circle of us attending upon him. Somebody talked of happy moments for composition; and how a man can write at one time, and not at another. 'Nay, (said Dr. Johnson,) a man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly[100] to it.'

I here began to indulge old Scottish[101] sentiments, and to express a warm regret, that, by our Union with England, we were no more;—our independent kingdom was lost[102]. JOHNSON. 'Sir, never talk of your independency, who could let your Queen remain twenty years in captivity, and then be put to death, without even a pretence of justice, without your ever attempting to rescue her; and such a Queen too; as every man of any gallantry of spirit would have sacrificed his life for[103].' Worthy Mr. JAMES KERR, Keeper of the Records. 'Half our nation was bribed by English money.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, that is no defence: that makes you worse.' Good Mr. BROWN, Keeper of the Advocates' Library. 'We had better say nothing about it.' BOSWELL. 'You would have been glad, however, to have had us last war, sir, to fight your battles!' JOHNSON. 'We should have had you for the same price, though there had been no Union, as we might have had Swiss, or other troops. No, no, I shall agree to a separation. You have only to go home.' Just as he had said this, I, to divert the subject, shewed him the signed assurances of the three successive Kings of the Hanover family, to maintain the Presbyterian establishment in Scotland. 'We'll give you that (said he) into the bargain.'

We next went to the great church of St. Giles, which has lost its original magnificence in the inside, by being divided into four places of Presbyterian worship[104]. 'Come, (said Dr. Johnson jocularly to Principal Robertson[105],) let me see what was once a church!' We entered that division which was formerly called the New Church, and of late the High Church, so well known by the eloquence of Dr. Hugh Blair. It is now very elegantly fitted up; but it was then shamefully dirty[106]. Dr. Johnson said nothing at the time; but when we came to the great door of the Royal Infirmary, where upon a board was this inscription, 'Clean your feet!' he turned about slyly and said, 'There is no occasion for putting this at the doors of your churches!'

We then conducted him down the Post-house stairs, Parliament-close, and made him look up from the Cow-gate to the highest building in Edinburgh, (from which he had just descended,) being thirteen floors or stories from the ground upon the back elevation; the front wall being built upon the edge of the hill, and the back wall rising from the bottom of the hill several stories before it comes to a level with the front wall. We proceeded to the College, with the Principal at our head. Dr. Adam Fergusson, whose Essay on the History of Civil Society[107] gives him a respectable place in the ranks of literature, was with us. As the College buildings[108] are indeed very mean, the Principal said to Dr. Johnson, that he must give them the same epithet that a Jesuit did when shewing a poor college abroad: 'Hae miseriae nostrae.' Dr. Johnson was, however, much pleased with the library, and with the conversation of Dr. James Robertson, Professor of Oriental Languages, the Librarian. We talked of Kennicot's edition of the Hebrew Bible[109], and hoped it would be quite faithful. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I know not any crime so great that a man could contrive to commit, as poisoning the sources of eternal truth.'

I pointed out to him where there formerly stood an old wall enclosing part of the college, which I remember bulged out in a threatening manner, and of which there was a common tradition similar to that concerning Bacon's study at Oxford, that it would fall upon some very learned man[110]. It had some time before this been taken down, that the street might be widened, and a more convenient wall built. Dr. Johnson, glad of an opportunity to have a pleasant hit at Scottish learning, said, 'they have been afraid it never would fall.'

We shewed him the Royal Infirmary, for which, and for every other exertion of generous publick spirit in his power, that noble-minded citizen of Edinburgh, George Drummond, will be ever held in honourable remembrance. And we were too proud not to carry him to the Abbey of Holyrood-house, that beautiful piece of architecture, but, alas! that deserted mansion of royalty, which Hamilton of Bangour, in one of his elegant poems, calls

'A virtuous palace, where no monarch dwells[111].'

I was much entertained while Principal Robertson fluently harangued to Dr. Johnson, upon the spot, concerning scenes of his celebrated History of Scotland. We surveyed that part of the palace appropriated to the Duke of Hamilton, as Keeper, in which our beautiful Queen Mary lived, and in which David Rizzio was murdered; and also the State Rooms. Dr. Johnson was a great reciter of all sorts of things serious or comical. I overheard him repeating here in a kind of muttering tone, a line of the old ballad, Johnny Armstrong's Last Good Night:

'And ran him through the fair body[112]!'

We returned to my house, where there met him, at dinner, the Duchess of Douglas[113], Sir Adolphus Oughton, Lord Chief Baron, Sir William Forbes, Principal Robertson, Mr. Cullen[114], Advocate. Before dinner he told us of a curious conversation between the famous George Faulkner[115] and him. George said that England had drained Ireland of fifty thousand pounds in specie, annually, for fifty years. 'How so, Sir! (said Dr. Johnson,) you must have a very great trade?' 'No trade.' 'Very rich mines?' 'No mines.' 'From whence, then, does all this money come?' 'Come! why out of the blood and bowels of the poor people of Ireland!'

He seemed to me to have an unaccountable prejudice against Swift[116]; for I once took the liberty to ask him, if Swift had personally offended him, and he told me he had not. He said to-day, 'Swift is clear, but he is shallow. In coarse humour, he is inferior to Arbuthnot[117]; in delicate humour, he is inferior to Addison. So he is inferior to his contemporaries; without putting him against the whole world. I doubt if the Tale of a Tub was his[118]: it has so much more thinking, more knowledge, more power, more colour, than any of the works which are indisputably his. If it was his, I shall only say, he was impar sibi[119].'

We gave him as good a dinner as we could. Our Scotch muir-fowl, or growse, were then abundant, and quite in season; and so far as wisdom and wit can be aided by administering agreeable sensations to the palate, my wife took care that our great guest should not be deficient.

Sir Adolphus Oughton, then our Deputy Commander in Chief, who was not only an excellent officer, but one of the most universal scholars I ever knew, had learned the Erse language, and expressed his belief in the authenticity of Ossian's Poetry[120]. Dr. Johnson took the opposite side of that perplexed question; and I was afraid the dispute would have run high between them. But Sir Adolphus, who had a very sweet temper, changed the discourse, grew playful, laughed at Lord Monboddo's[121] notion of men having tails, and called him a Judge, a posteriori, which amused Dr. Johnson; and thus hostilities were prevented.

At supper[122] we had Dr. Cullen, his son the advocate, Dr. Adam Fergusson, and Mr. Crosbie, advocate. Witchcraft was introduced[123]. Mr. Crosbie said, he thought it the greatest blasphemy to suppose evil spirits counteracting the Deity, and raising storms, for instance, to destroy his creatures. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, if moral evil be consistent with the government of the Deity, why may not physical evil be also consistent with it? It is not more strange that there should be evil spirits, than evil men: evil unembodied spirits, than evil embodied spirits. And as to storms, we know there are such things; and it is no worse that evil spirits raise them, than that they rise.' CROSBIE. 'But it is not credible, that witches should have effected what they are said in stories to have done.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I am not defending their credibility. I am only saying, that your arguments are not good, and will not overturn the belief of witchcraft.—(Dr. Fergusson said to me, aside, 'He is right.')—And then, Sir, you have all mankind, rude and civilized, agreeing in the belief of the agency of preternatural powers. You must take evidence: you must consider, that wise and great men have condemned witches to die[124].' CROSBIE. 'But an act of parliament put an end to witchcraft[125].' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; witchcraft had ceased; and therefore an act of parliament was passed to prevent persecution for what was not witchcraft. Why it ceased, we cannot tell, as we cannot tell the reason of many other things.'—Dr. Cullen, to keep up the gratification of mysterious disquisition, with the grave address for which he is remarkable in his companionable as in his professional hours, talked, in a very entertaining manner, of people walking and conversing in their sleep. I am very sorry I have no note of this. We talked of the Ouran-Outang, and of Lord Monboddo's thinking that he might be taught to speak. Dr. Johnson treated this with ridicule. Mr. Crosbie said, that Lord Monboddo believed the existence of every thing possible; in short, that all which is in posse might be found in esse. JOHNSON. 'But, Sir, it is as possible that the Ouran-Outang does not speak, as that he speaks. However, I shall not contest the point. I should have thought it not possible to find a Monboddo; yet he exists.' I again mentioned the stage. JOHNSON. 'The appearance of a player, with whom I have drunk tea, counteracts the imagination that he is the character he represents. Nay, you know, nobody imagines that he is the character he represents. They say, "See Garrick! how he looks to night! See how he'll clutch the dagger!" That is the buz of the theatre[126].'


Sir William Forbes came to breakfast, and brought with him Dr. Blacklock[127], whom he introduced to Dr. Johnson, who received him with a most humane complacency; 'Dear Dr. Blacklock, I am glad to see you!' Blacklock seemed to be much surprized, when Dr. Johnson said, 'it was easier to him to write poetry than to compose his Dictionary[128]. His mind was less on the stretch in doing the one than the other. Besides; composing a Dictionary requires books and a desk: you can make a poem walking in the fields, or lying in bed. Dr. Blacklock spoke of scepticism in morals and religion, with apparent uneasiness, as if he wished for more certainty[129]. Dr. Johnson, who had thought it all over, and whose vigorous understanding was fortified by much experience, thus encouraged the blind Bard to apply to higher speculations what we all willingly submit to in common life: in short, he gave him more familiarly the able and fair reasoning of Butler's Analogy: 'Why, Sir, the greatest concern we have in this world, the choice of our profession, must be determined without demonstrative reasoning. Human life is not yet so well known, as that we can have it. And take the case of a man who is ill. I call two physicians: they differ in opinion. I am not to lie down, and die between them: I must do something.' The conversation then turned on Atheism; on that horrible book, Systeme de la Nature[130]; and on the supposition of an eternal necessity, without design, without a governing mind. JOHNSON. 'If it were so, why has it ceased? Why don't we see men thus produced around us now? Why, at least, does it not keep pace, in some measure, with the progress of time? If it stops because there is now no need of it, then it is plain there is, and ever has been, an all powerful intelligence. But stay! (said he, with one of his satyrick laughs[131].) Ha! ha! ha! I shall suppose Scotchmen made necessarily, and Englishmen by choice.'

At dinner this day, we had Sir Alexander Dick, whose amiable character, and ingenious and cultivated mind, are so generally known; (he was then on the verge of seventy, and is now (1785) eighty-one, with his faculties entire, his heart warm, and his temper gay;) Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes; Mr. Maclaurin[132], advocate; Dr. Gregory, who now worthily fills his father's medical chair[133]; and my uncle, Dr. Boswell. This was one of Dr. Johnson's best days. He was quite in his element. All was literature and taste, without any interruption. Lord Hailes, who is one of the best philologists in Great Britain, who has written papers in The World[134], and a variety of other works in prose and in verse, both Latin and English, pleased him highly. He told him, he had discovered the life of Cheynel, in The Student[135], to be his. JOHNSON. 'No one else knows it.' Dr. Johnson had, before this, dictated to me a law-paper, upon a question purely in the law of Scotland, concerning vicious intromission[136], that is to say, intermeddling with the effects of a deceased person, without a regular title; which formerly was understood to subject the intermeddler to payment of all the defunct's debts. The principle has of late been relaxed. Dr. Johnson's argument was, for a renewal of its strictness. The paper was printed, with additions by me, and given into the Court of Session. Lord Hailes knew Dr. Johnson's part not to be mine, and pointed out exactly where it began, and where it ended. Dr. Johnson said, 'It is much, now, that his lordship can distinguish so.' In Dr. Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes, there is the following passage:—

'The teeming mother, anxious for her race, Begs, for each birth, the fortune of a face: Yet Vane could tell, what ills from beauty spring, And Sedley curs'd the charms which pleas'd a king[137].'

Lord Hailes told him, he was mistaken in the instances he had given of unfortunate fair ones; for neither Vane nor Sedley had a title to that description. His Lordship has since been so obliging as to send me a note of this, for the communication of which I am sure my readers will thank me.

'The lines in the tenth Satire of Juvenal, according to my alteration, should have run thus:—

'Yet Shore[138] could tell——-; And Valiere[139] curs'd———.'

'The first was a penitent by compulsion, the second by sentiment; though the truth is, Mademoiselle de la Valiere threw herself (but still from sentiment) in the King's way.

'Our friend chose Vane[140], who was far from being well-looked; and Sedley, who was so ugly, that Charles II. said, his brother had her by way of penance[141].'

Mr. Maclaurin's learning and talents enabled him to do his part very well in Dr. Johnson's company. He produced two epitaphs upon his father, the celebrated mathematician[142]. One was in English, of which Dr. Johnson did not change one word. In the other, which was in Latin, he made several alterations. In place of the very words of Virgil, 'Ubi luctus et pavor et plurima mortis imago[143],' he wrote 'Ubi luctus regnant et pavor.' He introduced the word prorsus into the line 'Mortalibus prorsus non absit solatium,' and after 'Hujus enim scripta evolve,' he added 'Mentemque tantarum rerum capacem corpori caduco superstitem crede;' which is quite applicable to Dr. Johnson himself[144].

Mr. Murray, advocate, who married a niece of Lord Mansfield's, and is now one of the judges of Scotland, by the title of Lord Henderland, sat with us a part of the evening; but did not venture to say any thing, that I remember, though he is certainly possessed of talents which would have enabled him to have shewn himself to advantage, if too great anxiety had not prevented him.

At supper we had Dr. Alexander Webster, who, though not, learned, had such a knowledge of mankind, such a fund of information and entertainment, so clear a head and such accommodating manners, that Dr. Johnson found him a very agreeable companion.

When Dr. Johnson and I were left by ourselves, I read to him my notes of the Opinions of our Judges upon the questions of Literary Property[145]. He did not like them; and said, 'they make me think of your Judges not with that respect which I should wish to do.' To the argument of one of them, that there can be no property in blasphemy or nonsense, he answered, 'then your rotten sheep are mine! By that rule, when a man's house falls into decay, he must lose it.' I mentioned an argument of mine, that literary performances are not taxed. As Churchill says,

'No statesman yet has thought it worth his pains To tax our labours, or excise our brains[146];'

and therefore they are not property. 'Yet, (said he,) we hang a man for stealing a horse, and horses are not taxed.' Mr. Pitt has since put an end to that argument[147].


On this day we set out from Edinburgh. We should gladly have had Mr. Scott to go with us; but he was obliged to return to England.—I have given a sketch of Dr. Johnson: my readers may wish to know a little of his fellow traveller[148]. Think then, of a gentleman of ancient blood, the pride of which was his predominant passion. He was then in his thirty-third year, and had been about four years happily married. His inclination was to be a soldier[149]; but his father, a respectable[150] Judge, had pressed him into the profession of the law. He had travelled a good deal, and seen many varieties of human life. He had thought more than any body supposed, and had a pretty good stock of general learning and knowledge[151]. He had all Dr. Johnson's principles, with some degree of relaxation. He had rather too little, than too much prudence; and, his imagination being lively, he often said things of which the effect was very different from the intention[152]. He resembled sometimes

'The best good man, with the worst natur'd muse[153].'

He cannot deny himself the vanity of finishing with the encomium of Dr. Johnson, whose friendly partiality to the companion of his Tour represents him as one 'whose acuteness would help my enquiry, and whose gaiety of conversation, and civility of manners, are sufficient to counteract the inconveniences of travel, in countries less hospitable than we have passed[154].' Dr. Johnson thought it unnecessary to put himself to the additional expence of bringing with him Francis Barber, his faithful black servant; so we were attended only by my man, Joseph Ritter, a Bohemian; a fine stately fellow above six feet high, who had been over a great part of Europe, and spoke many languages. He was the best servant I ever saw. Let not my readers disdain his introduction! For Dr. Johnson gave him this character: 'Sir, he is a civil man, and a wise man[155].'

From an erroneous apprehension of violence, Dr. Johnson had provided a pair of pistols, some gunpowder, and a quantity of bullets: but upon being assured we should run no risk of meeting any robbers, he left his arms and ammunition in an open drawer, of which he gave my wife the charge. He also left in that drawer one volume of a pretty full and curious Diary of his Life, of which I have a few fragments; but the book has been destroyed. I wish female curiosity had been strong enough to have had it all transcribed; which might easily have been done; and I should think the theft, being pro bono publico, might have been forgiven. But I may be wrong. My wife told me she never once looked into it[156].—She did not seem quite easy when we left her: but away we went!

Mr. Nairne, advocate, was to go with us as far as St. Andrews. It gives me pleasure that, by mentioning his name, I connect his title to the just and handsome compliment paid him by Dr. Johnson, in his book: 'A gentleman who could stay with us only long enough to make us know how much we lost by his leaving us[157]. 'When we came to Leith, I talked with perhaps too boasting an air, how pretty the Frith of Forth looked; as indeed, after the prospect from Constantinople, of which I have been told, and that from Naples, which I have seen, I believe the view of that Frith and its environs, from the Castle-hill of Edinburgh, is the finest prospect in Europe. 'Ay, (said Dr. Johnson,) that is the state of the world. Water is the same every where.

"Una est injusti caerula forma maris[158]."'

I told him the port here was the mouth of the river or water of Leith. 'Not Lethe; said Mr. Nairne. 'Why, Sir, (said Dr. Johnson,) when a Scotchman sets out from this port for England, he forgets his native country.' NAIRNE. 'I hope, Sir, you will forget England here.' JOHNSON. 'Then 'twill still be more Lethe' He observed of the Pier or Quay, 'you have no occasion for so large a one: your trade does not require it: but you are like a shopkeeper who takes a shop, not only for what he has to put in it, but that it may be believed he has a great deal to put into it.' It is very true, that there is now, comparatively, little trade upon the eastern coast of Scotland. The riches of Glasgow shew how much there is in the west; and perhaps we shall find trade travel westward on a great scale, as well as a small.

We talked of a man's drowning himself. JOHNSON. 'I should never think it time to make away with myself.' I put the case of Eustace Budgell[159], who was accused of forging a will, and sunk himself in the Thames, before the trial of its authenticity came on. 'Suppose, Sir, (said I,) that a man is absolutely sure, that, if he lives a few days longer, he shall be detected in a fraud, the consequence of which will be utter disgrace and expulsion from society.' JOHNSON. 'Then, Sir, let him go abroad to a distant country; let him go to some place where he is not known. Don't let him go to the devil where he is known!'

He then said, 'I see a number of people bare-footed 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 bare-footed 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[160] 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[161]. 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[162], with an inscription on it, Maria Re 1564, 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 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 Aeneas say, on having left the country of his charming Dido.

'Invitus, regina, tuo de littore cessi[163].'

'Very well hit off!' said he.

We dined at Kinghorn, and then got into a post-chaise[164]. 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[165]. So it is as to publick affairs. There must always be a certain number of men of business in parliament.' BOSWELL. 'But consider, Sir; what is the House of Commons? Is not a great part of it chosen by 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[166].' 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[167]. 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[168].'

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. Johnson revived agreeably. He said, 'the collection called The Muses' Welcome to King James, (first of England, and sixth of Scotland,) on his return to his native kingdom, shewed that there was then abundance of learning in Scotland; and that the conceits in that collection, with which people find fault, were mere mode.' 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[169].' 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[170].

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[171].


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[172], 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[173]. In the infancy of learning, we find some great man praised for it. This diffused it among others. When it becomes general, an authour leaves the great, and applies to the multitude.' BOSWELL. 'It is a shame that authours are not now better patronized.' 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[174].'

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[175]. 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[176]. Every man has something by which he calms himself: beating with his feet, or so[177]. I remember when people in England changed a shirt only once a week[178]: 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 began 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 domestick refection[179].' We talked of the Union, and what money it 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 conveniences 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.[180] 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 any thing 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 in England. I was told that there is a manuscript account of St. Andrews, by Martin, secretary to Archbishop Sharp;[181] 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 Hierarchy is well known.[182] 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 high-way.[183] I have been looking at his reformations.'[184] It was a very fine day. Dr. Johnson seemed quite wrapt up in the contemplation of the scenes which were now presented to him. He kept his hat off while he was upon any part of the ground where the cathedral had stood. He said well, that 'Knox had set on a mob, without knowing where it would end; and that differing from a man in doctrine was no reason why you should pull his house about his ears.' As we walked in the cloisters, there was a solemn echo, while he talked loudly of a proper retirement from the world. Mr. Nairne said, he had an inclination to retire. I called Dr. Johnson's attention to this, that I might hear his opinion if it was right. JOHNSON. 'Yes, when he has done his duty to society[185]. In general, as every man is obliged not only to "love GOD, but his neighbour as himself," he must bear his part in active life; yet there are exceptions. Those who are exceedingly scrupulous, (which I do not approve, for I am no friend to scruples[186],) and find their scrupulosity[187] invincible, so that they are quite in the dark, and know not what they shall do,—or those who cannot resist temptations, and find they make themselves worse by being in the world, without making it better, may retire[188]. I never read of a hermit, but in imagination I kiss his feet; never of a monastery, but I could fall on my knees, and kiss the pavement. But I think putting young people there, who know nothing of life, nothing of retirement, is dangerous and wicked[189]. It is a saying as old as Hesiod,

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