« AnteriorContinuar »
attachment between the great and those in lower rank.-Mr. Boyd gave us an instance of their gentlemanly spirit. An old Chevalier de Malthe, of ancient noblesse, but in low circumstances, was in a coffee-house at Paris, where was Julien, the great Manufacturer at the Gobelins, of the fine tapestry, so much distingished both for the figures and the colours. The chevalier's carriage was very old. Says Julien, with a plebeian insolence, "I think sir, you had better have your carriage new painted." The chevalier looked at him with indignant contempt, and answered, "Well, sir, you may take it home and dye it!"-All the coffee-house rejoiced at Julien's confusion.
We set out about nine. Dr. Johnson was curious. to see one of those structures which northern antiquarians call a Druid's temple. I had a recollection of one at Strichen; which I had seen fifteen years ago; so we went four miles out of our road, after passing Old Deer, and went thither. Mr. Fraser, the proprietor, was at home, and shewed it to us. But I had augmented it in my mind; for all that remains is two stones set up on end, with a long one laid upon them, as was usual, and one stone at a little distance from them. That stone was the capital one of the circle which surrounded what now remains. Mr. Fraser was very hospitable.*
He is the worthy son of a worthy father, the late Lord Strichen, one of our judges, to whose kind notice I was much obliged. Lord Strichen was a man not only honest, but highly generous; for after his succession to the family estate, he paid a large sum of debts contracted by his predecessor, which he was not under any obligation to pay. Let me here, for the credit of Ayrshire, my own county, record a noble instance of liberal honesty in William Hutchi
There was a fair at Strichen; and he had several of his neighbours from it at dinner. One of them, Dr. Fraser, who had been in the army, remembered to have seen Dr. Johnson at a lecture on experimental philosophy, at Lichfield. The doctor recollected being at the lecture; and he was, surprised to find here somebody who knew him.
Mr. Fraser sent a servant to conduct us by a short passage into the high-road. I observed to Dr. Johnson, that I had a most disagreeable notion of the life of country gentlemen; that I left Mr. Fraser just now, as one leaves a prisoner in a jail.— Dr. Johnson said, that I was right in thinking them unhappy; for that they had not enough to keep their minds in motion.
I started a thought this afternoon, which amused us a great part of the way." If, (said I,) our club should come and set up in St. Andrews, as a college, to teach all that each of us can, in the several departments of learning and taste, we should rebuild the city we should draw a wonderful concourse of students."-Dr. Johnson entered fully into the spirit of this project. We immediately fell to distributing the offices. I was to teach Civil and
son, drover, in Lanehead, Kyle, who formerly obtained a full discharge from his creditors upon a composition of his debts; but upon being restored to good circumstances, invited his creditors last winter to a dinner, without telling the reason, and paid them their full sums, principal and interest. They presented him with a piece of plate, with an inscription to commemorate this extraordinary instance of true worth; which should make some people in Scotland blush, while, though mean themselves, they strut about under the protection of great alliance, conscious of the wretchedness of numbers who have lost by them, to whom they never think of making reparation, but indulge themselves and their families in most unsuitable expence.
Scotch law; Burke, politicks and eloquence; Garrick, the art of publick speaking; Langton was to be our Grecian, Coleman our Latin professor; Nugent to teach physick; Lord Charlemont, modern history; Beauclerk, natural philosophy; Vesey, Irish antiquities, or Celtick learning;* Jones, Oriental learning; Goldsmith, poetry and ancient history; Chamier, commercial politicks; Reynolds, painting, and the arts which have beauty for their object; Chambers, the law of England. Dr. Johnson at first said, "I'll trust theology to nobody but myself." But, upon due consideration, that Percy is a clergyman, it was agreed that Percy should teach practical divinity and British antiquities: Dr. Johnson himself, logick, metaphysicks and scholastick divinity. In this manner did we amuse ourselves; -each suggesting, and each varying or adding, till the whole was adjusted. Dr. Johnson said, we only wanted a mathematician since Dyer died, who was a very good one; but as to every thing else, we should have a very capital university.
Since the first edition, it has been suggested by one of the club, who knew Mr. Vesey better than Dr. Johnson and I, that we did not assign him a proper place; for he was quite unskilled in Irish antiquities and Celtick learning, but might with propriety have been made professor of architecture, which he understood well, and has left a very good specimen of his knowledge and taste in that art, by an elegant house built on a plan his own formation, at Lucan, a few miles from Dublin.
+ Our Club, originally at the Turk's Head, Gerrard-Street, then at Prince's, Sackville-street, now at Baxter's, Dover-street, which at Mr. Garrick's funeral acquired a name for the first time, and was called THE LITERARY CLUB, was instituted in 1764, and now consists of thirty-five members. It has, since 1773, been greatly augwented; and though Dr. Johnson with justice observed, that, by losing Goldsmith, Garrick, Nugent, Chamier, Beauclerk, we had lost what would make an eminent club, yet when I mentioned, as an accession, Mr. Fox, Dr. George Fordyce, Sir Charles Bunbury,
We got at night to Banff. I sent Joseph on to Duff-house; but Earl Fife was not at home, which I regretted much, as we should have had a very elegant reception from his lordship. We found here but an indifferent inn.* Dr. Johnson wrote a long letter to Mrs. Thrale. I wondered to see him write so much so easily. He verified his own doctrine that "a man may always write when he will set himself doggedly to it."
THURSDAY, AUGUST 26.
We got a fresh chaise here, a very good one, and very good horses. We breakfasted at Cullen. They set down dried haddocks broiled, along with our tea. I ate one; but Dr. Johnson was disgusted by the sight of them, so they were removed. Cullen has a comfortable appearance, though but a very small town, and the houses mostly poor buildings.
Lord Ossory, Mr. Gibbon, Dr. Adam Smith, Mr. R. B. Sheridan, the Bishops of Kilaloe and St. Asaph, Dean Marley, Mr. Steevens, Mr. Dunning, Sir Joseph Banks, Dr. Scott of the commons, Earl Spencer, Mr. Windham of Norfolk, Lord Elliott, Mr. Malone, Dr. Joseph Warton, the Rev. Thomas Warton, Lord Lucan, Mr. Burke junior, Lord Palmerston, Dr. Burney, Sir William Hamilton, and Dr. Warren, it will be acknowledged that wo might establish a second university of high reputation.
Here, unluckily the windows had no pullies; and Dr. Johnson, who was constantly eager for fresh air, had much struggling to get one of them kept open. Thus he had a notion impressed upon him, that this wretched defect was general in Scotland; in consequence of which he has erroneously enlarged upon it in his
Journey." I regretted that he did not allow me to read over his book before it was printed. I should have changed very little; but I should have suggested an alteration in a few places where he has laid himself open to be attacked. I hope I should have prevailed with him to omit or soften his assertion, that a Scotchman must be a sturdy moralist, who does not prefer Scotland to truth."-for I really think it is not founded; and it is harshly said.
I called on Mr. Robertson, who has the charge of Lord Findlater's affairs, and was formerly Lord Monboddo's clerk, was three times in France with him, and translated Condamine's Account of the Savage Girl, to which his lordship wrote a preface, containing several remarks of his own. Robertson said, he did not believe so much as his lordship did; that it was plain to him, the girl confounded what she imagined with what she remembered; that, besides, she perceived Condamine and Lord, Monboddo forming theories, and she adapted her story to them.
Dr. Johnson said, "It is a pity to see Lord Monboddo publish such notions as he has done; a man of sense, and of so much elegant learning. There would be little in a fool doing it; we should only laugh; but when a wise man does it, we are sorry. Other people have strange notions but they conceal them. If they have tails, they hide them; but Monboddo is as jealous of his tail as a squirrel.”—I shall here put down some more remarks of Dr. Johnson's on Lord Monboddo, which were not made exactly at this time, but come in well from connection. He said, he did not approve of a judge's calling himself Farmer Burnett, * and going about with a little round hat. He laughed heartily at his lordship's saying he was an enthusiastical farmer; "for, (said he,) what can he do
It is the custom in Scotland for the judges of the Court of Session to have the title of lords, from their estates: thus Mr. Burnett is Lord Monboddo, as Mr. Home was Lord Kames. There is something a little awkward in this; for they are denominated in deeds by their names, with the addition of "one of the Senators of the College of Justice;" and subscribe their christian and sur-names, as Jumes Burnett, Henry Home, even in judicial acts.