Thursday, 26th August
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.
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, [Footnote: 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 aukward 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 surname, as JAMES BURNETT, HENRY HOME, even in judicial acts.] 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 in farming by his ENTHUSIASM?' Here, however, I think Dr Johnson mistaken. He who wishes to be successful, or happy, ought to be enthusiastical, that is to say, very keen in all the occupations or diversions of life. An ordinary gentleman-farmer will be satisfied with looking at his fields once or twice a day: an enthusiastical farmer will be constantly employed on them; will have his mind earnestly engaged; will talk perpetually of them. But Dr Johnson has much of the nil admirari in smaller concerns. That survey of life which gave birth to his Vanity of Human Wishes early sobered his mind. Besides, so great a mind as his cannot be moved by inferior objects: an elephant does not run and skip like lesser animals.
Mr Robertson sent a servant with us, to shew us through Lord Findlater's wood, by which our way was shortened, and we saw some part of his domain, which is indeed admirably laid out. Dr Johnson did not choose to walk through it. He always said, that he was not come to Scotland to see fine places, of which there were enough in England; but wild objects--mountains, waterfalls, peculiar manners; in short, things which he had not seen before. I have a notion that he at no time has had much taste for rural beauties. I have myself very little.
Dr Johnson said, there was nothing more contemptible than a country gentleman living beyond his income, and every year growing poorer and poorer. He spoke strongly of the influence which a man has by being rich. 'A man,' said he, 'who keeps his money, has in reality more use from it, than he can have by spending it.' I observed that this looked very like a paradox; but he explained it thus: 'If it were certain that a man would keep his money locked up for ever, to be sure he would have no influence; but, as so many want money, and he has the power of giving it, and they know not but by gaining his favour they may obtain it, the rich man will always have the greatest influence. He again who lavishes his money, is laughed at as foolish, and in a great degree with justice, considering how much is spent from vanity. Even those who partake of a man's hospitality, have but a transient kindness for him. If he has not the command of money, people know he cannot help them, if he would; whereas the rich man always can, if he will, and for the chance of that, will have much weight.' BOSWELL. 'But philosophers and satirists have all treated a miser as contemptible.' JOHNSON. 'He is so philosophically; but not in the practice of life.' BOSWELL. 'Let me see now--I do not know the instances of misers in England, so as to examine into their influence.' JOHNSON. 'We have had few misers in England.' BOSWELL. 'There was Lowther." JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, Lowther, by keeping his money, had the command of the county, which the family has now lost, by spending it. [Footnote: I do not know what was at this time the state of the parliamentary interest of the ancient family of Lowther; a family before the Conquest: but all the nation knows it to be very extensive at present. A due mixture of severity and kindness, oeconomy and munificence, characterizes its present Representative.] I take it, he lent a great deal; and that is the way to have influence, and yet preserve one's wealth. A man may lend his money upon very good security, and yet have his debtor much under his power.' BOSWELL. 'No doubt, sir. He can always distress him for the money; as no man borrows, who is able to pay on demand quite conveniently.'
We dined at Elgin, and saw the noble ruins of the cathedral. Though it rained much, Dr Johnson examined them with a most patient attention. He could not here feel any abhorrence at the Scottish reformers, for he had been told by Lord Hailes, that it was destroyed before the Reformation, by the Lord of Badenoch, [Footnote: NOTE, by Lord Hailes: 'The cathedral of Elgin was burnt by the Lord of Badenoch, because the Bishop of Moray had pronounced an award not to his liking. The indemnification that the see obtained, was that the Lord of Badenoch stood for three days bare footed at the great gate of the cathedral. The story is in the Chartulary of Elgin.'] who had a quarrel with the bishop. The bishop's house, and those of the other clergy, which are still pretty entire, do not seem to have been proportioned to the magnificence of the cathedral, which has been of great extent, and had very fine carved work. The ground within the walls of the cathedral is employed as a burying-place. The family of Gordon have their vault here; but it has nothing grand.
We passed Gordon Castle [Footnote: I am not sure whether the duke was at home. But, not having the honour of being much known to his grace, I could not have presumed to enter his castle, though to introduce even so celebrated a stranger. We were at any rate in a hurry to get forward to the wildness which we came to see. Perhaps, if this noble family had still preserved that sequestered magnificence which they maintained when Catholicks, corresponding with the Grand Duke of Tuscany, we might have been induced to have procured proper letters of introduction, and devoted some time to the contemplation of venerable superstitious state.] this forenoon, which has a princely appearance. Fochabers, the neighbouring village, is a poor place, many of the houses being ruinous; but it is remarkable, they have in general orchards well stored with apple-trees. Elgin has what in England are called piazzas, that run in many places on each side of the street. It must have been a much better place formerly. Probably it had piazzas all along the town, as I have seen at Bologna. I approved much of such structures in a town, on account of their conveniency in wet weather. Dr Johnson disapproved of them, 'because,' said he, 'it makes the under story of a house very dark, which greatly over-balances the conveniency, when it is considered how small a part of the year it rains; how few are usually in the street at such times; that many who are might as well be at home; and the little that people suffer, supposing them to be as much wet as they commonly are in walking a street'.
We fared but ill at our inn here; and Dr Johnson said, this was the first time he had seen a dinner in Scotland that he could not eat.
In the afternoon, we drove over the very heath where Macbeth met the witches, according to tradition. Dr Johnson again solemnly repeated
'"How far is't called to Fores? What are these, So wither'd, and so wild in their attire That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth. And yet are on't "'
He repeated a good deal more of Macbeth. His recitation was grand and affecting, and, as Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed to me, had no more tone than it should have: it was the better for it. He then parodied the 'All-hail' of the witches to Macbeth, addressing himself to me. I had purchased some land called Dalblair; and, as in Scotland it is customary to distinguish landed men by the name of their estates, I had thus two titles, Dalblair and Young Auchinleck. So my friend, in imitation of
All hail Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
condescended to amuse himself with uttering
We got to Fores at night, and found an admirable inn, in which Dr Johnson was pleased to meet with a landlord who styled himself 'Wine-Cooper, from London'.