Monday, 23d August
Principal Campbell, Sir Alexander Gordon, Professor Gordon, and Professor Ross, visited us in the morning, as did Dr Gerard, who had come six miles from the country on purpose. We went and saw the Marischal College, [Footnote: Dr Beattie was so kindly entertained in England, that he had not yet returned home.] and at one o'clock we waited on the magistrates in the town hall, as they had invited us in order to present Dr Johnson with the freedom of the town, which Provost Jopp did with a very good grace. Dr Johnson was much pleased with this mark of attention, and received it very politely. There was a pretty numerous company assembled. It was striking to hear all of them drinking?'Dr Johnson! Dr Johnson!' in the town-hall of Aberdeen, and then to see him with his burgess-ticket, or diploma, [Footnote: Dr Johnson's burgess-ticket was in these words:
Aberdoniae, vigesimo tertio die mensis Augusti, anno Domini millesimo septingentesimo septuagesimo tertio, in presentia honorabilium virorum, Jacobi Jopp, armigeri, praepositi, Adami Duff, Gulielmi Young, Georgii Marr, et Gulielmi Forbes, Balivorum, Gulielmi Rainie Decani guildae, et Joannis Nicoll Thesaurarii dicti burgi.
Quo die vir generosus et doctrina clarus, Samuel Johnson, LL. D. receptus et admissus fuit in municipes et fratres guildae praefati burgi de Aberdeen. In deditissimi amoris et affectus ac eximiae observantiae tesseram, quibus dicti Magistratus eum amplectuntur. Extractum per me, ALEX. CARNEGIE.] in his hat, which he wore as he walked along the street, according to the usual custom. It gave me great satisfaction to observe the regard, and indeed fondness too, which every body here had for my father.
While Sir Alexander Gordon conducted Dr Johnson to old Aberdeen, Professor Gordon and I called on Mr Riddoch, whom I found to be a grave worthy clergyman. He observed, that, whatever might be said of Dr Johnson while he was alive, he would, after he was dead, be looked upon by the world with regard and astonishment, on account of his Dictionary.
Professor Gordon and I walked over to the Old College, which Dr Johnson had seen by this time. I stepped into the chapel, and looked at the tomb of the founder, Archbishop Elphinston, of whom I shall have occasion to write in my History of James IV of Scotland, the patron of my family.
We dined at Sir Alexander Gordon's. The Provost, Professor Ross, Professor Dunbar, Professor Thomas Gordon, were there. After dinner came in Dr Gerard, Professor Leslie, Professor Macleod. We had little or no conversation in the morning; now we were but barren. The professors seemed afraid to speak.
Dr Gerard told us that an eminent printer was very intimate with Warburton. JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, he has printed some of his works, and perhaps bought the property of some of them. The intimacy is such as one of the professors here may have with one of the carpenters who is repairing the college.' 'But,' said Gerard, 'I saw a letter from him to this printer, in which he says, that the one half of the clergy of the Church of Scotland are fanaticks, and the other half infidels.' JOHNSON. 'Warburton has accustomed himself to write letters just as he speaks, without thinking any more of what he throws out. When I read Warburton first, and observed his force, and his contempt of mankind, I thought he had driven the world before him; but I soon found that was not the case; for Warburton, by extending his abuse, rendered it ineffectual.'
He told me, when we were by ourselves, that he thought it very wrong in the printer, to shew Warburton's letter, as it was raising a body of enemies against him. He thought it foolish in Warburton to write so to the printer; and added, 'Sir, the worst way of being intimate, is by scribbling.' He called Warburton's Doctrine of Grace a poor performance, and so he said was Wesley's Answer. 'Warburton,' he observed, 'had laid himself very open. In particular, he was weak enough to say, that, in some disorders of the imagination, people had spoken with tongues, had spoken languages which they never knew before; a thing as absurd as to say, that, in some disorders of the imagination, people had been known to fly.'
I talked of the difference of genius, to try if I could engage Gerard in a disquisition with Dr Johnson; but I did not succeed. I mentioned, as a curious fact, that Locke had written verses. JOHNSON. 'I know of none, sir, but a kind of exercise prefixed to Dr Sydenham's Works, in which he has some conceits about the dropsy, in which water and burning are united; and how Dr Sydenham removed fire by drawing off water, contrary to the usual practice, which is to extinguish fire by bringing water upon it. I am not sure that there is a word of all this; but it is such kind of talk.' [Footnote: All this, as Dr Johnson suspected at the time, was the immediate invention of his own lively imagination; for there is not one word of it in Mr Locke's complimentary performance. My readers will, I have no doubt, like to be satisfied, by comparing them: and, at any rate, it may entertain them to read verses composed by our great metaphysician, when a Bachelor in Physick.
AUCTORI, IN TRACTATUM EJUS DE FEBRIBUS.
Febriles aestus, victumque ardoribus orbem Flevit, non tantis par Medicina malis. Et post mille artes, medicae tentamina curae, Ardet adhuc Febris; nec velit arte regi. Praeda sumus flammis; solum hoc speramus ab igne, Ut restet paucus, quem capit urna, cinis. Dum quaerit medicus febris caussamque, modumque, Flammarum et tenebras, et sine luce faces; Quas tractat patitur flammas, et febre calescens, Corruit ipse suis victima rapta focis. Qui tardos potuit morbos, artusque trementes, Sistere, febrili se videt igne rapi. Sic faber exesos fulsit tibicine muros; Dum trahit antiquas lenta ruina domos. Sed si flamma vorax miseras incenderit aedes, Unica flagrantes tunc sepelire salus. Fit fuga, tectonicas nemo tunc invocat artes; Cum perit artificis non minus usta domus. Se tandem Sydenham febrisque Scholaeque furori]
We spoke of Fingal. Dr Johnson said calmly, 'If the poems were really translated, they were certainly first written down. Let Mr Macpherson deposite the manuscript in one of the colleges at Aberdeen, where there are people who can judge; and, if the professors certify the authenticity, then there will be an end of the controversy. If he does not take this obvious and easy method, he gives the best reason to doubt; considering too, how much is against it a priori.'
We sauntered after dinner in Sir Alexander's garden, and saw his little grotto, which is hung with pieces of poetry written in a fair hand. It was
[Footnote: Opponens, morbi quaerit, et artis opem. Non temere incusat tectae putedinis ignes; Nec fictus, febres qui fovet, humor erit, Non bilem ille movet, nulla hic pituita; Salutis Quae spes, si fallax ardeat intus aqua Nec doctas magno rixas ostentat hiatu, Quis ipsis major febribus ardor inest. Innocuas placide corpus jubet urere flammas, Et justo rapidos temperat igne focos. Quid febrim exstinguat; varius quid postulat usus, Solari aegrotos, qua potes arte, docet. Hactenus ipsa suum timuit Natura calorem, Dum saepe incerto, quo calet, igne perit: Dum reparat tacitos male provida sanguinis ignes, Praelusit busto, fit calor iste rogus. Jam secura suas foveant praecordia flammas, Quem Natura negat, dat Medicina modum. Nec solum faciles compescit sanguinis aestus, Dum dubia est inter spemque metumque salus; Sed fatale malum domuit, quodque astra malignum Credimus, iratam vel genuisse Stygem. Extorsit Lachesi cultros, Pestique venenum Abstulit, et tantos non sinit esse metus. Quis tandem arte nova domitam mitescere Pestem Credat, et antiquas ponere posse minas Post tot mille neces, cumulataque funera busto, Victa jacet, parvo vulnere, dira Lues. Aetheriae quanquam spargunt contagia flammae, Quicquid inest istis ignibus, ignis erit. Delapsae coelo flammae licet acrius urant, Has gelida exstingui non nisi morte putas Tu meliora paras victrix Medicina; tuusque, Pestis qua superat cuncta, triumphus eris. Vive liber, victis febrilibus ignibus; unus Te simul et mundum qui manet, ignis erit. J. LOCK, A. M. Ex. Aede Christi, Oxon.]
agreeable to observe the contentment and kindness of this quiet, benevolent man. Professor Macleod was brother to Macleod of Talisker, and brother-in-law to the Laird of Col. He gave me a letter to young Col. I was weary of this day, and began to think wishfully of being again in motion. I was uneasy to think myself too fastidious, whilst I fancied Dr Johnson quite satisfied. But he owned to me that he was fatigued and teased by Sir Alexander's doing too much to entertain him. I said, it was all kindness. JOHNSON. 'True, sir: but sensation is sensation.' BOSWELL. 'It is so: we feel pain equally from the surgeon's probe, as from the sword of the foe.'
We visited two booksellers' shops, and could not find Arthur Johnston's Poems. We went and sat near an hour at Mr Riddoch's. He could not tell distinctly how much education at the college here costs, which disgusted Dr Johnson. I had pledged myself that we should go to the inn, and not stay supper. They pressed us, but he was resolute. I saw Mr Riddoch did not please him. He said to me, afterwards, 'Sir, he has no vigour in his talk.' But my friend should have considered that he himself was not in good humour; so that it was not easy to talk to his satisfaction. We sat contentedly at our inn. He then became merry, and observed how little we had either heard or said at Aberdeen: that the Aberdonians had not started a single mawkin (the Scottish word for hare) for us to pursue.