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Arrival at Aberdeen.
of Sky with spirit, I said, “Why, Sir, you seemed to me to despond yesterday. You are a delicate Londoner ;—you are a maccaroni'; you can't ride.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I shall ride better than you. I was only afraid I should not find a horse able to carry me. I hoped then there would be no fear of getting through our wild Tour,
We came to Aberdeen at half an hour past eleven. The New Inn, we were told, was full. This was comfortless. The waiter, however, asked, if one of our names was Boswell, and brought me a letter left at the inn: it was from Mr. Thrale, enclosing one to Dr. Johnson’. Finding who I was, we were told they would contrive to lodge us by putting us for a night into a room with two beds. The waiter said to me in the broad strong Aberdeenshire dialect, 'I thought I knew you by your likeness to your father.' My father puts up at the New Inn, when on his circuit. Little was said to-night. I was to sleep in a little press-bed in Dr. Johnson's room. I had it wheeled out into the dining-room, and there I lay very well.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 22. I sent a message to Professor Thomas Gordon, who came and breakfasted with us. He had secured seats for us at the English chapel. We found a respectable congregation, and an admirable organ, well played by Mr. Tait.
We walked down to the shore: Dr. Johnson laughed to hear that Cromwell's soldiers taught the Aberdeen people to make shoes and stockings, and to plant cabbages3. He asked, if
* Maccaroni is not in Johnson's people were happily recovered of the Dictionary. Horace Walpole (Letters, measles. Every part of your letter iv. 178) on Feb. 6, 1764, mentions was pleasing. Piozzi Letters, i. 115. the Maccaroni Club, which is com- For Johnson's use of the word posed of all the travelled young men mistress in speaking of Mrs. Thrale who wear long curls and spying- see ante, i. 494. glasses. On the following Dec. 16 3 See ante, ii. 455. “They taught he says :—'The Maccaroni Club has us,' said one of the Professors, 'to quite absorbed Arthur's; for, you raise cabbage and make shoes. know, old fools will hobble after How they lived without shoes may young ones.' Ib. p. 302. See post, yet be seen ; but in the passage Sept. 12, for buck.
through villages it seems to him 2“We came late to Aberdeen, that surveys their gardens, that when where I found my dear mistress's they had not cabbage they had letter, and learned that all our little nothing.' Pioszi Letters, i. 116.
Publick and private education.
weaving the plaids' was ever a domestick art in the Highlands, like spinning or knitting. They could not inform him here. But he conjectured probably, that where people lived so remote from each other, it was likely to be a domestick art ; as we see it was among the ancients, from Penelope. I was sensible today, to an extraordinary degree, of Dr. Johnson's excellent English pronunciation. I cannot account for its striking me more now than any other day: but it was as if new to me; and I listened to every sentence which he spoke, as to a musical com. position. Professor Gordon gave him an account of the plan of education in his college. Dr. Johnson said, it was similar to that at Oxford. Waller the poet's great-grandson was studying here. Dr. Johnson wondered that a man should send his son so far off, when there were so many good schools in England ? He said, “At a great school there is all the splendour and illumination of many minds; the radiance of all is concentrated in each, or at least reflected upon each. But we must own that neither a dull boy, nor an idle boy, will do so well at a great school as at a private one. For at a great school there are always boys enough to do well easily, who are sufficient to keep up the credit of the school ; and after whipping being tried to no purpose, the dull or idle boys are left at the end of a class, having the appearance of going through the course, but learning nothing at all?. Such boys may do good at a private school, where constant attention is paid to them, and they are watched. So that the question of publick or private education is not properly a general one; but whether one or the other is best for my son.' Johnson in the same letter says that Hall. Mackintosh's Life, i. 10, 13. New Aberdeen is built of that In Forbes's Life of Beattie (ed. granite which is used for the new 1824, p. 169) is a letter by Beattie, pavement in London.'
dated Oct. 15, 1773, in which the !'In Aberdeen I first saw the English and Scotch Universities are women in plaids. Piozzi Letters, i. compared. Colman, in his Random 116.
Records, ii. 85, gives an account of · Seven years later Mackintosh, on his life at Aberdeen as a student. entering King's College, found there 3 Lord Bolingbroke (Works, iii. the son of Johnson's old friend, the 347) in 1735 speaks of the little learned Dr. Charles Burney, finishing care that is taken in the training up his term at Aberdeen. Among his our youth,' and adds, 'surely it is fellow-students were also some Eng. impossible to take less.' See ante, lish Dissenters, among them Robert ii. 407, and ii. 12.
The Aberdeen stocking-trade.
We were told the present Mr. Waller was a plain country gentleman; and his son would be such another. I observed, a family could not expect a poet but in a hundred generations. Nay, (said Dr. Johnson,) not one family in a hundred can expect a poet in a hundred generations.' He then repeated Dryden's celebrated lines,
'Three poets in three distant ages born,' &c. and a part of a Latin translation of it done at Oxford": he did not then say by whom.
He received a card from Sir Alexander Gordon, who had been his acquaintance twenty years ago in London, and who, if forgiven for not answering a line from him,' would come in the afternoon. Dr. Johnson rejoiced to hear of him, and begged he would come and dine with us. I was much pleased to see the kindness with which Dr. Johnson received his old friend Sir Alexander”; a gentleman of good family, Lismore, but who had not the estate. The King's College here made him Professor of Medicine, which affords him a decent subsistence. He told us that the value of the stockings exported from Aberdeen was, in peace, a hundred thousand pounds; and amounted, in time of war, to one hundred and seventy thousand pounds. Dr. Johnson asked, What made the difference? Here we had a proof of the comparative sagacity of the two professors. Sir Alexander answered, 'Because there is more occasion for them in war. Professor Thomas Gordon answered, “Because the Germans, who are our great rivals in the manufacture of stockings, are other
London, 2d May, 1778.
Quæ potuere duos tertius unus
habet. BOSWELL. It was on May 2, 1778, that Johnson attacked Boswell with such rudeness that he kept away from him for a week. Ante, iii. 337.
2 'We were on both sides glad of the interview, having not seen nor perhaps thought on one another for many years; but we had no emulation, nor had either of us risen to the other's envy, and our old kindness was easily renewed.' Piozzi Letters, August 22.]
Prescription of murder .
wise employed in time of war.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you have given a very good solution.'
At dinner, Dr. Johnson ate several plate-fulls of Scotch broth, with barley and peas in it, and seemed very fond of the dish. I said, “You never ate it before.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; but I don't care how soon I eat it again! My cousin, Miss Dallas, formerly of Inverness, was married to Mr. Riddoch, one of the ministers of the English chapel here. He was ill, and confined to his room ; but she sent us a kind invitation to tea, which we all accepted. She was the same lively, sensible, cheerful woman
Dr. Johnson here threw out some jokes against Scotland. He said, You go first to Aberdeen; then to Enbru (the Scottish pronunciation of Edinburgh); then to Newcastle, to be polished by the colliers; then to York; then to London. And he laid hold of a little girl, Stuart Dallas, niece to Mrs. Riddoch, and, representing himself as a giant, said, he would take her with him! telling her, in a hollow voice, that he lived in a cave, and had a bed in the rock, and she should have a little bed cut opposite to it!
He thus treated the point, as to prescription of murder in Scotland ? ‘A jury in England would make allowance for deficiencies of evidence, on account of lapse of time; but a general rule that a crime should not be punished, or tried for the purpose of punishment, after twenty years, is bad. It is cant to talk of the King's advocate delaying a prosecution from malice. How unlikely is it the King's advocate should have malice against persons who commit murder, or should even know them at all. If the son of the murdered man should kill the murderer who got off merely by prescription, I would help him to make his escape; though, were I upon his jury, I would not acquit him. I would not advise him to commit such an act. On the contrary, I would bid him submit to the determination of society, because a man is bound to submit to the inconveniences of it, as he enjoys the good : but the young man, though politically wrong, would not be morally wrong.
1 Johnson wrote on Sept. 30 :* Barley-broth is a constant dish, and is made well in every house. A stranger, if he is prudent, will secure
his share, for it is not certain that he
The satisfaction of Christ.
He would have to say, 'here I am amongst barbarians, who not only refuse to do justice, but encourage the greatest of all crimes. I am therefore in a state of nature: for, so far as there is no law, it is a state of nature: and consequently, upon the eternal and immutable law of justice, which requires that he who sheds man's blood should have his blood shed', I will stab the murderer of
We went to our inn, and sat quietly. Dr. Johnson borrowed, at Mr. Riddoch's, a volume of Massillon's Discourses on the Psalms : but I found he read little in it. Ogden too he sometimes took up, and glanced at; but threw it down again. I then entered upon religious conversation. Never did I see him in a better frame: calm, gentle, wise, holy. I said, 'Would not the same objection hold against the Trinity as against Transubstantiation?' 'Yes, (said he,) if you take three and one in the same sense. If you do so, to be sure you cannot believe it: but the three persons in the Godhead are Three in one sense, and One in another. We cannot tell how; and that is the mystery!'
I spoke of the satisfaction of Christ. He said his notion was, that it did not atone for the sins of the world ; but, by satisfying divine justice, by shewing that no less than the Son of God suffered for sin, it shewed to men and innumerable created beings, the heinousness of it, and therefore rendered it unnecessary for divine vengeance to be exercised against sinners, as it otherwise must have been ; that in this way it might operate even in favour of those who had never heard of it: as to those who did hear of it, the effect it should produce would be repentance and piety, by impressing upon the mind a just notion of sin : that original sin was the propensity to evil, which no doubt was occasioned by the fall. He presented this solemn subject in a new light to me?, and rendered much more rational and clear the doctrine of what our Saviour has done for us ;—as it removed the notion of imputed righteousness in co-operating; whereas by