Saturday, 23d October
After a good night's rest, we breakfasted at our leisure. We talked of Goldsmith's Traveller, of which Dr Johnson spoke highly; and, while I was helping him on with his great coat, he repeated from it the character of the British nation, which he did with such energy, that the tear started into his eye:
'"Stern o'er each bosom reason holds her state. With daring aims irregularly great, Pride in their port, defiance in their eye, I see the lords of humankind pass by, Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band, By forms unfashion'd; fresh from nature's hand; Fierce in their native hardiness of soul, True to imagin'd right, above control, While ev'n the peasant boasts these rights to scan, And learns to venerate himself as man."'
We could get but one bridle here, which, according to the maxim detur digniori, was appropriated to Dr Johnson's sheltie. I and Joseph rode with halters. We crossed in a ferry-boat a pretty wide lake, and on the farther side of it, close by the shore, found a hut for our inn. We were much wet. I changed my clothes in part, and was at pains to get myself well dried. Dr Johnson resolutely kept on all his clothes, wet as they were, letting them steam before the smoky turf fire. I thought him in the wrong; but his firmness was, perhaps, a species of heroism.
I remember but little of our conversation. I mentioned Shenstone's saying of Pope, that he had the art of condensing sense more than any body. Dr Johnson said, 'It is not true, sir. There is more sense in a line of Cowley than in a page' (or a sentence of ten lines--I am not quite certain of the very phrase) 'of Pope.' He maintained that Archibald, Duke of Argyle, was a narrow man. I wondered at this; and observed, that his building so great a house at Inveraray was not like a narrow man. 'Sir,' said he, 'when a narrow man has resolved to build a house, he builds it like another man. But Archibald, Duke of Argyle, was narrow in his ordinary expences, in his quotidian expences.'
The distinction is very just. It is in the ordinary expences of life that a man's liberality or narrowness is to be discovered. I never heard the word quotidian in this sense, and I imagined it to be a word of Dr Johnson's own fabrication; but I have since found it in Young's Night Thoughts (Night fifth):
Death's a destroyer of quotidian prey.
and in my friend's Dictionary, supported by the authorities of Charles I and Dr Donne.
It rained very hard as we journied on after dinner. The roar of torrents from the mountains, as we passed along in the dusk, and the other circumstances attending our ride this evening, have been mentioned with so much animation by Dr Johnson, that I shall not attempt to say any thing on the subject.
We got at night to Inveraray, where we found an excellent inn. Even here, Dr Johnson would not change his wet clothes.
The prospect of good accommodation cheered us much. We supped well; and after supper, Dr Johnson, whom I had not seen taste any fermented liquor during all our travels, called for a gill of whisky. 'Come,' said he, 'let me know what it is that makes a Scotchman happy!' He drank it all but a drop, which I begged leave to pour into my glass, that I might say we had drunk whisky together. I proposed Mrs Thrale should be our toast. He would not have HER drunk in whisky, but rather 'some insular lady', so we drank one of the ladies whom we had lately left. He owned tonight, that he got as good a room and bed as at an English inn.
I had here the pleasure of finding a letter from home, which relieved me from the anxiety I had suffered, in consequence of not having received any account of my family for many weeks. I also found a letter from Mr Garrick, which was a regale as agreeable as a pineapple would be in a desert. He had favoured me with his correspondence for many years; and when Dr Johnson and I were at Inverness, I had written to him as follows:
Inverness, My dear Sir, Sunday, 29 August, 1773
Here I am, and Mr Samuel Johnson actually with me. We were a night at Fores, in coming to which, in the dusk of the evening, we passed over a bleak and blasted heath where Macbeth met the witches. Your old preceptor repeated, with much solemnity, the speech
How far is't called to Fores? What are these So wither'd and so wild in their attire, etc.
This day we visited the ruins of Macbeth's castle at Inverness. I have had great romantick satisfaction in seeing Johnson upon the classical scenes of Shakspeare in Scotland; which I really looked upon as almost as improbable as that 'Birnam wood should come to Dunsinane'. Indeed, as I have always been accustomed to view him as a permanent London object, it would not be much more wonderful to me to see St Paul's church moving along where we now are. As yet we have travelled in postchaises; but to-morrow we are to mount on horseback, and ascend into the mountains by Fort Augustus, and so on to the ferry, where we are to cross to Sky. We shall see that island fully, and then visit some more of the Hebrides; after which we are to land in Argyleshire, proceed by Glasgow to Auchinleck, repose there a competent time, and then return to Edinburgh, from whence the Rambler will depart for old England again, as soon as he finds it convenient. Hitherto we have had a very prosperous expedition. I flatter myself servetur ad imum, qualis ab incepto processerit. He is in excellent spirits, and I have a rich Journal of his conversation. Look back, Davy, [Footnote: I took the liberty of giving this familiar appellation to my celebrated friend, to bring in a more lively manner to his remembrance the period when he was Dr Johnson's pupil.] to Litchfield; run up through the time that has elapsed since you first knew Mr Johnson, and enjoy with me his present extraordinary tour. I could not resist the impulse of writing to you from this place. The situation of the old castle corresponds exactly to Shakspeare's description. While we were there to-day, it happened oddly, that a raven perched upon one of the chimney-tops, and croaked. Then I in my turn repeated,
'The raven himself is hoarse. That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan, Under my battlements.'
I wish you had been with us. Think what enthusiastick happiness I shall have to see Mr Samuel Johnson walking among the romantick rocks and woods of my ancestors at Auchinleck! Write to me at Edinburgh. You owe me his verses on great George and tuneful Cibber, and the bad verses which led him to make his fine ones on Philips the musician. Keep your promise, and let me have them. I offer my very best compliments to Mrs Garrick, and ever am
Your warm admirer and friend, JAMES BOSWELL.
To David Garrick, Esq; London.
His answer was as follows.
Hampton, September 14, 1773, Dear Sir,
You stole away from London, and left us all in the lurch; for we expected you one night at the club, and knew nothing of your departure. Had I payed you what I owed you, for the book you bought for me, I should only have grieved for the loss of your company, and slept with a quiet conscience; but, wounded as it is, it must remain so till I see you again, though I am sure our good friend Mr Johnson will discharge the debt for me, if you will let him. Your account of your journey to Fores, the RAVEN, OLD CASTLE, &c. &c. made me half mad. Are you not rather too late in the year for fine weather, which is the life and soul of seeing places? I hope your pleasure will continue qualis ab incepto, &c.
Your friend---[Footnote: I have suppressed my Mend's name from an apprehension of wounding his sensibility; but I would not withhold from my readers a passage which shews Mr Gamck's mode of writing as the Manager of a Theatre, and contains a pleasing trait of his domestick life. His judgment of dramatick pieces, so far as concerns their exhibition on the stage, must be allowed to have considerable weight. But from the effect which a perusal of the tragedy here condemned had upon myself, and from the opinions of some eminent criticks. I venture to pronounce that it has much poetical merit; and Its author has distinguished himself by several performances which shew that the epithet poetaster was, in the present Instance, much misapplied.] threatens me much. I only wish that he would put his threats in execution, and, if he prints his play, I will forgive him. I remember he complained to you, that his bookseller called for the money for some copies of his--, which I subscribed for, and that I desired him to call again. The truth is, that my wife was not at home, and that for weeks together I have not ten shillings in my pocket. However, had it been otherwise, it was not so great a crime to draw his poetical vengeance upon me. I despise all that he can do, and am glad that I can so easily get rid of him and his ingratitude. I am hardened both to abuse and ingratitude.
You, I am sure, will no more recommend your poetasters to my civility and good offices.
Shall I recommend to you a play of Eschylus (the Prometheus), published and translated by poor old Morel], who is a good scholar, and an acquaintance of mine. It will be but half a guinea, and your name shall be put in the list I am making for him. You will be in very good company.
Now for the Epitaphs!
(These, together with the verses on George the Second, and Colley Gibber, as his Poet Laureat, of which imperfect copies are gone about, will appear in my Life of Dr Johnson.)
I have no more paper, or I should have said more to you. My love and respects to Mr Johnson.
Yours ever, D. GARRICK. I can't write. I have the gout in my hand.
To James Boswell, Esq., Edinburgh.