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of course become corrupt; they are ready to do whatever the king chooses; therefore it is fit they should be kept from becoming poor, unless it is fixed that when they fall below a certain standard of wealth they shall lose their peerages. We know the House of Peers have made noble stands, when the House of Commons durst not. The two last years of parliament they dare not contradict the populace."
This room is ornamented with a number of fine prints, and with a whole length picture of Lord Errol, by Sir Joshua Reynolds. This led Dr. Johnson and me to talk of our amiable and elegant friend, whose panegyrick he concluded by saying, "Sir Joshua Reynolds, sir, is the most invulnerable man I know; the man with whom if you should quarrel, you would find the most difficulty how to abuse."
Dr. Johnson observed, the situation here was the noblest he had ever seen,-better than Mount Edgecumbe, reckoned the first in England; because, at Mount Edgecumbe, the sea is bounded by land on the other side, and, though there is there the grandeur of a fleet, there is also the impression of there being a dock-yard, the circumstances of which are not agreeable. At Slains is an excellent old house. The noble owner has built of brick, along the square in the inside, a gallery, both on the first and second story, the house being no higher; so that he has always a dry walk, and the rooms, to which formerly there was no approach but through each other, have now all separate entries from the gallery, which is hung with Hogarth's works, and other prints. We went and
sat a while in the library. There is a valuable numerous collection. It was chiefly made by Mr. Falconer, husband to the late Countess of Errol in her own right. This earl has added a good many modern books.
About nine the Earl came home. Captain Gordon of Park was with him. His lordship put Dr. Johnson in mind of their having dined together in London, along with Mr. Beauclerk. I was exceedingly pleased with Lord Errol. His dignified person and agreeable countenance, with the most unaffected affability, give me high satisfaction. From perhaps a weakness, or, as I rather hope, more fancy and warmth of feeling than is quite reasonable, my mind is ever impressed with admiration for persons of high birth, and I could, with the most perfect honesty, expatiate on Lord Errol's good qualities; - but he stands in no need of my praise. His agreeable manners and softness of address prevented that constraint which the idea of his being Lord High Constable of Scotland might otherwise have occasioned. He talked very easily and sensibly with his learned guest. I observed that Dr. Johnson, though he shewed that respect to his lordship, which, from principle, he always does to high rank, yet, when they came to argument, maintained that manliness which becomes the force and vigour of his understanding. To shew external deference to our superiors, is proper: to seem to yield to them in opinion, is meanness. The earl said grace, both
* Lord Chesterfield, in his letters to his son, complains of one who argued in an indiscriminate manner with men of all ranks. Probably the noble lord had felt with some uneasiness what it was to encounter stronger abilities than his own. If a peer will engage at
before and after supper, with much decency. He told us a story of a man who was executed at Perth, some years ago, fór murdering a woman who was with child by him, and a former child he had by her. His hand was cut off: he was then pulled up; but the rope broke, and he was forced to lie an hour. on the ground, till another rope was brought from Perth, the execution being in a wood at some distance, at the place where the murders were committed. "There, (said my lord,) I see the hand of Providence."-I was really happy here. I saw in this nobleman the best dispositions and best principles; and I saw him, in my mind's eye, to be the representative of the ancient Boyds of Kilmarnock. I was afraid he might have urged drinking, as, I believe, he used formerly to do, but he drank port and water out of a large glass himself, and let us do as we pleased. He went with us to our rooms at night; said, he took the visit very kindly; and told me, my father and he were very old acquain
foils with his inferior in station, he must expect that his inferior in station will avail himself of every advantage; otherwise it is not a fair trial of strength and skill. The same will hold in a contest of reason, or of wit.-A certain king entered the lists of genius with Voltaire. The consequence was, that, though the king had great and brilliant talents, Voltaire had such a superiority that his majesty could not bear it; and the poet was dismissed, or escaped, from that court. In the reign of James I. of England, Crichton, Lord Sanquhar, a peer of Scotland, from a vain ambition to excel a fencingmaster in his own art, played at rapier and dagger with him. The fencing-master, whose fame and bread were at stake, put out one of his lordship's eyes. Exasperated at this, Lord Sanquhar hired ruffians, and had the fencing-master assassinated; for which his lordship was capitally tried, condemned, and hanged. Not being a peer of England, he was tried by the name of Robert Crichton, Esq; but he was admitted to be a baron of three hundred years standing.-See the State Trials; and the History of England by Hume, who applauds the impartial justice executed upon a man of high ranh.
tance; that I now knew the way to Slains, and he hoped to see me there again.
I had a most elegant room; but there was a fire in it which blazed; and the sea, to which my windows looked, roared; and the pillows were made of the feathers of some sea-fowl, which had to me a disagreeable smell; so that, by all these causes, I was kept awake a good while. I saw, in imagination, Lord Errol's Father, Lord Kilmarnock, (who was beheaded on Tower-hill in 1746,) and I was somewhat dreary. But the thought did not last long, and I fell asleep.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25.
We got up between seven and eight, and found Mr. Boyd in the dining-room, with tea and coffee before him, to give us breakfast. We were in an admirable humour. Lady Errol had given each of us a copy of an ode by Beattie, on the birth of her son, Lord Hay. Mr. Boyd asked Dr. Johnson how he liked it. Dr. Johnson, who did not admire it, got off very well, by taking it out, and reading the second and third stanzas of it with much melody. This, without his saying a word, pleased Mr. Boyd. He observed, however, to Dr. Johnson, that the expression as to the family of Errol, "A thousand years have seen it shine."
compared with what went before, was an anticlimax, and that it would have been better
Ages have seen, &c.
Dr. Johnson said, "So great a number as a thousand is better. Dolus latet in universalibus. Ages might be only two ages."-He talked of the advantage of keeping up the connections of relationship,
which produce much kindness. "Every man (said he,) who comes into the world, has need of friends. If he has to get them for himself, half his life is spent, before his merit is known. Relations are a man's ready friends who support him. When a man is in real distress, he flies into the arms of his relations. An old lawyer, who had much experience in making wills, told me, that after people had deliberated long, and thought of many for their executors, they settled at last by fixing on their relations. This shews the universality of the principle."
I regretted the decay of respect for men of family, and that a Nabob now would carry an election from them.-JOHNSON. Why, sir, the Nabob will carry it by means of his wealth, in a country where money is highly valued, as it must be where nothing can be had without money; but, if it comes to personal preference, the man of family will always carry it. There is generally a scoundrelism about a low man."-Mr. Boyd said, that was a good ism.
I said, I believed mankind were happier in the ancient feudal state of subordination, than they are in the modern state of independency.-JOHNSON. "To be sure, the Chief was: but we must think of the number of individuals. That they were less happy, seems plain; for the state from which all escape as soon as they can, and to which none return after they have left it, must be less happy; and this is the case with the state of dependance on a chief or great man."
I mentioned the happiness of the French in their subordination, by the reciprocal benevolence and