Slike strani
PDF
ePub

Johnson's prejudice against Scotland.

19

plain shirt, black worsted stockings, and silver buckles. Upon this tour, when journeying, he wore boots, and a very wide brown cloth great coat, with pockets which might have almost held the two volumes of his folio Dictionary; and he carried in his hand a large English oak stick. Let me not be censured for mentioning such minute particulars. Every thing relative to so great a man is worth observing. I remember Dr. Adam Smith, in his rhetorical lectures at Glasgow", told us he was glad to know that Milton wore latchets in his shoes, instead of buckles. When I mention the oak stick, it is but letting Hercules have his club; and, by-and-by, my readers will find this stick will bud, and produce a good joke?.

This imperfect sketch of the COMBINATION and the form 3 of that Wonderful Man, whom I venerated and loved while in this world, and after whom I gaze with humble hope, now that it has pleased ALMIGHTY GOD to call him to a better world, will serve to introduce to the fancy of my readers the capital object of the following journal, in the course of which I trust they will attain to a considerable degree of acquaintance with him.

His prejudice against Scotland* was announced almost as soon as he began to appear in the world of Letters. In his London, a poem, are the following nervous lines :

* For who would leave, unbrib’d, Hibernia's land ?
Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand ?
There none are swept by sudden fate away ;
But all, whom hunger spares, with age decay.'

prejudice of the woollen manufac- * See ante, iv., March 21, 1783. tures.' An Act was brought in to Johnson is often reproached with his prohibit the use of horse-hair, and dislike of the Scotch, though much was only thrown out on the third of it was assumed; but no one reading. Parl. Hist. x. 787.

blames Hume's dislike of the Eng'Boswell wrote to Erskine on lish, though it was deep and real. Dec. 8, 1761: 'I, James Boswell Esq., On Feb. 21, 1770, he wrote :-'Our who "am happily possessed of a Government is too perfect in point facility of manners - to use the very of liberty for so rude a beast as an words of Mr. Professor [Adam]Smith, Englishman ; who is a man, a bad which upon honour were addressed animal too, corrupted by above a to me.' Boswell and Erskine Corres. century of licentiousness.' J. H. Bured. 1879, p. 26.

ton's Hume, ii. 434. Dr. Burton writes Post, Oct. 16.

of the English as 'a people Hume Hamlet, act iii. sc. 4.

so heartily disliked.' 16. p. 433.

[ocr errors]

2

3

20

Johnson 'a true born Englishman.'

The truth is, like the ancient Greeks and Romans, he allowed himself to look upon all nations but his own as barbarians!: not only Hibernia, and Scotland, but Spain, Italy, and France, are attacked in the same poem. If he was particularly prejudiced against the Scots, it was because they were more in his way; because he thought their success in England rather exceeded the due proportion of their real merit; and because he could not but see in them that nationality which I believe no liberalminded Scotsman will deny. He was indeed, if I may be allowed the phrase, at bottom much of a John Bull?; much of a blunt true born Englishman? There was a stratum of common clay under the rock of marble. He was voraciously fond of good eating* ; and he had a great deal of that quality called humour, which gives an oiliness and a gloss to every other quality

I am, I flatter myself, completely a citizen of the world. In my travels through Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Corsica, France, I never felt myself from home; and I sincerely love 'every kindred and tongue and people and nation". I subscribe to what my late truly learned and philosophical friend Mr. Crosbie said, that the English are better animals than the Scots; they are nearer the sun; their blood is richer, and more mellow: but when I humour any of them in an outrageous contempt of Scotland, I fairly own I treat them as children. And thus I have, at some moments, found myself obliged to treat even Dr. Johnson.

To Scotland however he ventured ; and he returned from it in great good humour, with his prejudices much lessened, and with very grateful feelings of the hospitality with which he was treated; as is evident from that admirable work, his journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, which, to my utter astonishment, has been misapprehended, even to rancour, by many of my countrymen. To have the company of Chambers and Scott, he delayed See ante, iv. 15.

describes Johnson. See ante, i. 129, • The term John Bull came into note 3. the English language in 1712, when * See ante, i. 467. Dr. Arbuthnot wrote The History 5.All nations, and kindreds, and of John Bull.

people, and tongues.' Rev. vii. 9. Boswell in three other places so • See ante, ii. 376

August 14.]

Johnson arrives at Edinburgh.

21

his journey so long, that the court of session, which rises on the eleventh of August, was broke up before he got to Edinburgh'.

On Saturday the fourteenth of August, 1773, late in the evening, I received a note from him, that he was arrived at Boyd's inn?, at the head of the Canongate. I went to him directly. He embraced me cordially; and I exulted in the thought, that I now had him actually in Caledonia. Mr. Scott's amiable manners, and attachment to our Socrates, at once united me to him. He told me that, before I came in, the Doctor had unluckily had a bad specimen of Scottish cleanliness? He

' In Cockburn's Life of Jeffrey, clergymen, which was due, according i. 157, there is a description of to Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 57), to Edinburgh, towards the close of the the fact that the Professor of century, the last purely Scotch age Theology under whom they had that Scotland was destined to see. studied was 'dull and Dutch and Almost the whole official state, as prolix.' 'There was one advantage,' settled at the Union, survived ; and he says, 'attending the lectures of a all graced the capital, unconscious of dull professor-viz., that he could the economical scythe which has form no school, and the students since mowed it down.

All our

were left entirely to themselves, and nobility had not then fed. The naturally formed opinions far more lawyers, instead of disturbing good liberal than those they got from the company by professional matter, Professor were remarkably free of this vul- Chambers (Traditions of Edingarity; and being trained to take burgh, ed. 1825, ii. 297) says that difference of opinion easily, and to 'the very spot which Johnson's armconduct discussions with forbearance, chair occupied is pointed out by the were, without undue obtrusion, the

modern possessors.'

The inn was most cheerful people that were to be called “The White Horse.' 'It demet with. Philosophy had become rives its name from having been the indigenous in the place, and all resort of the Hanoverian faction, classes, even in their gayest hours, the White Horse being the crest were proud of the presence of its of Hanover.' Murray's Guide to cultivators. And all this was still a Scotland, ed. 1867, p. 111. Scotch scene. The whole country 3 Boswell writing of Scotland says: had not begun to be absorbed in the -'In the last age it was the common ocean of London. According to the practice in the best families for all modern rate of travelling (written in the company to eat milk, or pudding, 1852] the capitals of Scotland and of

or any other dish that is eat with a England were then about 2400 miles spoon, not by distributing the conasunder. Edinburgh was still more tents of the dish into small plates distant in its style and habits. It round the table, but by every person had then its own independent tastes, dipping his spoon into the large and ideas, and pursuits.' Scotland platter; and when the fashion of at this time was distinguished by the having a small plate for each guest liberality of mind of its leading was brought from the continent by a

then

22

Boswell's house in James's court.

(August 14.

then drank no fermented liquor. He asked to have his lemonade made sweeter ; upon which the waiter, with his greasy fingers, lifted a lump of sugar, and put it into it. The Doctor, in indignation, threw it out of the window. Scott said, he was afraid he would have knocked the waiter down. Mr. Johnson told me, that such another trick was played him at the house of a lady in Paris'. He was to do me the honour to lodge under my roof. I regretted sincerely that I had not also a room for Mr. Scott. Mr. Johnson and I walked arm-in-arm up the High-street, to my house in James's court?: it was a dusky night: I could not prevent his being assailed by the evening effluvia of Edinburgh. I heard a late baronet, of some distinction in the political world in the beginning of the present reign, observe, that 'walking the streets of Edinburgh at night was pretty perilous, and a good deal odoriferous.' The peril is much abated, by the care which the magistrates have taken to enforce the city laws against throwing foul water from the windows}; but from the structure of the houses in the old town, young gentleman returned from his Traditions of Edinburgh, i. 219. It travels, a good old inflexible neigh- was burnt down in 1857. Murray's bour in the country said, “ he did not Guide to Scotland, ed. 1883, p. 49. see anything he had learnt but to Johnson wrote:— Boswell has very take his broth twice.” Nay, in our handsome and spacious rooms, level own remembrance, the use of a with the ground on one side of the carving knife was considered as a house, and on the other four stories novelty; and a gentleman of ancient high.' Piozzi Letters, i. 109. Dr. J.H. family and good literature used to Burton says that Hume occupied them rate his son, a friend of mine, for just before Boswell. He continues :introducing such a foppish super- ‘Of the first impression made on a fluity.'-London Mag. 1778, p. 199. stranger at that period when enter* See ante, ii. 403.

Johnson, in ing such a house, a vivid description describing Sir A. Macdonald's house is given by Sir Walter Scott in Guy in Sky, said :—'The Lady had not Mannering ; and in Counsellor Pleythe common decencies of her tea- dell’s library, with its collection of table; we picked up our sugar with books, and the prospect from the our fingers.' Piozzi Letters, i. 138. window, we have probablyan accurate

? Chambers says that 'James's picture of the room in which Hume Court, till the building of the spent his studious hours. Life of New Town, was inhabited by a Hume, ii. 137, 431. At Johnson's select set of gentlemen. They kept visit Hume was living in his new a clerk to record their names and house in the street which their proceedings, had a scavenger humorously named after him, St. of their own, and had balls and David Street. Ib. p. 436. assemblies among themselves.' Paoli 3 The English servant-girl in was Boswell's guest there in 1771. Humphry Clinker (Letter of July 18),

was

August 14.]

The strezts of Edinburgh.

23

which consist of many stories, in each of which a different family lives, and there being no covered sewers, the odour still continues. A zealous Scotsman would have wished Mr. Johnson to be without one of his five senses upon this occasion. As we marched slowly along, he grumbled in my ear, 'I smell you in the dark!!' But he acknowledged that the breadth of the street, and the loftiness of the buildings on each side made a noble appearance”.

My wife had tea ready for him, which it is well known he delighted to drink at all hours, particularly when sitting up late, and of which his able defence against Mr. Jonas Hanway? should have obtained him a magnificent reward from the EastIndia Company. He shewed much complacency upon finding that the mistress of the house was so attentive to his singular habit; and as no man could be more polite when he chose to be so, his address to her was most courteous and engaging; and his conversation soon charmed her into a forgetfulness of his external appearance".

I did not begin to keep a regular full journal till some days after we had set out from Edinburgh; but I have luckily

i. 109.

after describing how the filth is thus Smollett in Humphry Clinker makes thrown out, says :-“The maid calls Matthew Bramble say (Letter of gardy loo to the passengers, which July 18) :-—'The inhabitants of Edinsignifies Lord have mercy upon burgh are apt to imagine the disgust you !''

that we avow is little better than • Wesley, when at Edinburgh in affectation.' May, 1761, writes :- How can it be : 'Most of their buildings are suffered that all manner of filth very mean; and the whole town should still be thrown even into this bears some resemblance to the old street [High Street] continually? part of Birmingham.' Piossi Letters, How long shall the capital city of Scotland, yea, and the chief street

3 See ante, i. 313. of it, stink worse than a common * Miss Burney, describing her first sewer?' Wesley's Journal, iii. 52. sight of Johnson, says : — Upon Baretti (Journey from London to asking my father why he had not Genoa, ii. 255) says that this was the prepared us for such uncouth, ununiversal practice in Madrid in 1760. toward strangeness, he laughed He was driven out of that town heartily, and said he had entirely earlier than he had intended to leave forgotten that the same impression it by the dreadful stench. A few had been at first made upon himyears after his visit the King made a self; but had been lost even on the reform, so that it became one of the second interview.' Memoirs of Dr. cleanest towns in Europe.' 'Ib. p. 258. Burney, ii. 91.

preserved

« PrejšnjaNaprej »