Tuesday, 2d November

We were now in a country not only 'of saddles and bridles', but of post-chaises; and having ordered one from Kilmarnock, we got to Auchinleck before dinner.

My father was not quite a year and a half older than Dr Johnson; but his conscientious discharge of his laborious duty as a judge in Scotland, where the law proceedings are almost all in writing, a severe complaint which ended in his death, and the loss of my mother, a woman of almost unexampled piety and goodness, had before this time in some degree affected his spirits, and rendered him less disposed to exert his faculties: for he had originally a very strong mind, and cheerful temper. He assured me, he never had felt one moment of what is called low spirits, or uneasiness, without a real cause. He had a great many good stories, which he told uncommonly well, and he was remarkable for 'humour, incolumi gravitate', as Lord Monboddo used to characterize it. His age, his office, and his character, had long given him an acknowledged claim to great attention, in whatever company he was; and he could ill brook any diminution of it. He was as sanguine a Whig and Presbyterian, as Dr Johnson was a Tory and Church of England man: and as he had not much leisure to be informed of Dr Johnson's great merits by reading his works, he had a partial and unfavourable notion of him, founded on his supposed political tenets; which were so discordant to his own, that, instead of speaking of him with respect to which he was entitled, he used to call him 'a JACOBITE FELLOW'. Knowing all this, I should not have ventured to bring them together, had not my father, out of kindness to me, desired me to invite Dr Johnson his house.

I was very anxious that all should be well; and begged of my friend to avoid three topicks, as to which they differed very widely; Whiggism, Presbyterianism, and--Sir John Pringle. He said courteously, 'I shall certainly not talk on subjects which I am told are disagreeable to a gentleman under whose roof I am; especially, I shall not do so to YOUR FATHER.'

Our first day went off very smoothly. It rained, and we could not get out; but my father shewed Dr Johnson his library, which, in curious editions of the Greek and Roman classicks, is, I suppose, not excelled by any private collection in Great Britain. My father had studied at Leyden, and been very intimate with the Gronovii, and other learned men there. He was a sound scholar, and, in particular, had collated manuscripts and different editions of Anacreon, and others of the Greek lyrick poets, with great care; so that my friend and he had much matter for conversation, without touching on the fatal topicks of difference.

Dr Johnson found here Baxter's Anacreon, which he told me he had long inquired for in vain, and began to suspect there was no such book. Baxter was the keen antagonist of Barnes. His life is in the Biographia Britannica. My father has written many notes on this book, and Dr Johnson and I talked of having it reprinted.