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SIR ALEXANDER DICK
certainly to be carried by appeal to the House of Lords, the assistance of such a mind as yours will be of consequence. Your paper on Vicious Intromission is a noble proof of what you can do even in Scotch law....
I have not yet distributed all your books. Lord Hailes and Lord Monboddo have each received one, and return you thanks. Monboddo dined with me lately, and having drank tea, we were a good while by ourselves, and as I knew that he had read the Journey superficially, as he did not talk of it as I wished, I brought it to him, and read aloud several passages; and then he talked so, that I told him he was to have a copy from the authour. He begged that might be marked on it. I ever am, my dear Sir, your most faithful, and affectionate humble servant,
6 JAMES BOSWELL.'
'SIR ALEXANDER DICK TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON. 6 SIR, 'Prestonfield, Feb. 17, 1777.
'I had yesterday the honour of receiving your book of your Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, which you was so good as to send me, by the hands of our mutual friend, Mr. Boswell, of Auchinleck; for which I return you my most hearty thanks; and after carefully reading it over again, shall deposit in my little collection of choice books, next our worthy friend's Journey to Corsica. As there are many things to admire in both performances, I have often wished that no Travels or Journeys should be published but those undertaken by persons of integrity and capacity to judge well, and describe faithfully, and in good language, the situation, condition, and manners of the countries past through. Indeed our country of Scotland, in spite of the union of the crowns, is still in most places so devoid of clothing, or cover from hedges and plantations, that it was well you gave your readers a sound Monitoire with respect to that circumstance. The truths you have told, and the purity of the language in which they are expressed, as your Journey is universally read, may, and already appear to have a very good effect. For a man of my acquaintance, who has the largest nursery for trees and hedges in this country, tells me, that of late the demand upon him for these articles is doubled, and sometimes tripled. I have, therefore, listed Dr. Samuel Johnson
1777] ANXIETY TO HEAR FROM BOSWELL
in some of my memorandums of the principal planters and favourers of the enclosures, under a name which I took the liberty to invent from the Greek, Papadendrion. Lord Auchinleck and some few more are of the list. I am told that one gentleman in the shire of Aberdeen, viz. Sir Archibald Grant, has planted above fifty millions of trees on a piece of very wild ground at Monimusk: I must enquire if he has fenced them well, before he enters my list; for, that is the soul of enclosing. I began myself to plant a little, our ground being too valuable for much, and that is now fifty 3 years ago; and the trees, now in my seventy-fourth year, I look up to with reverence, and shew them to my eldest son now in his fifteenth year, and they are full the height of my country-house here, where I had the pleasure of receiving you, and hope again to have that satisfaction with our mutual friend, Mr. Boswell. I shall always continue, with the truest esteem, dear Doctor, your much obliged, and obedient humble servant,
'ALEXANDER DICK 1.'
'To JAMES BOSWELL, Esq.
DEAR SIR,-It is so long since I heard any thing from you 2, that I am not easy about it; write something to me next post. When you sent your last letter, every thing seemed to be mending; I hope nothing has lately grown worse. I suppose young Alexander continues to thrive, and Veronica is now very pretty company. I do not suppose the lady is yet reconciled to me, yet let her know that I love her very well, and value her very much.
Dr. Blair is printing some sermons. If they are all like the first, which I have read, they are sermones aurei, ac auro magis aurei. It is excellently written both as to doctrine and language. Mr. Watson's book seems to be much esteemed....
Poor Beauclerk still continues very ill. Langton lives on as he used to do. His children are very pretty, and, I think, his lady loses her Scotch. Paoli I never see.
1 For a character of this very amiable man, see Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 3rd edit. p. 36. [Aug. 17.]
By the then course of the post, my long letter of the 14th had not yet reached him. 3 History of Philip the Second.
76 BOSWELL'S ATTACHMENT TO JOHNSON [1777
'I have been so distressed by difficulty of breathing, that I lost, as was computed, six-and-thirty ounces of blood in a few days. I am better, but not well.
'I wish you would be vigilant and get me Graham's Telemachus that was printed at Glasgow, a very little book; and Johnstoni Poemata, another little book, printed at Middleburgh.
'Mrs. Williams sends her compliments, and promises that when you come hither, she will accommodate you as well as ever she can in the old room. She wishes to know whether you sent her book to Sir Alexander Gordon.
My dear Boswell, do not neglect to write to me; for your kindness is one of the pleasures of my life, which I should be sorry to lose. I am, Sir, your humble servant,
'February 18, 1777.'
'TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
'Edinburgh, Feb. 24, 1777. Your letter dated the 18th instant, I had the pleasure to receive last post. Although my late long neglect, or rather delay, was truely culpable, I am tempted not to regret it, since it has produced me so valuable a proof of your regard. I did, indeed, during that inexcusable silence, sometimes divert the reproaches of my own mind, by fancying that I should hear again from you, inquiring with some anxiety about me, because, for aught you knew, I might have been ill.
You are pleased to shew me, that my kindness is of some consequence to you. My heart is elated at the thought. Be assured, my dear Sir, that my affection and reverence for you are exalted and steady. I do not believe that a more perfect attachment ever existed in the history of mankind. And it is a noble attachment; for the attractions are Genius, Learning, and Piety.
'Your difficulty of breathing alarms me, and brings into my imagination an event, which although in the natural course of things, I must expect at some period, I cannot view with composure.
'My wife is much honoured by what you say of her. She begs you may accept of her best compliments. She is to send you some marmalade of oranges of her own making. . . .
MR. SHAW'S ERSE GRAMMAR
I ever am, my dear Sir, your most obliged and faithful humble servant, JAMES BOSWELL.'
'To JAMES BOSWELL, Esq.
'DEAR SIR,-I have been much pleased with your late letter, and am glad that my old enemy, Mrs. Boswell, begins to feel some remorse. As to Miss Veronica's Scotch, I think it cannot be helped. An English maid you might easily have; but she would still imitate the greater number, as they would be likewise those whom she must most respect. Her dialect will not be gross. Her Mamma has not much Scotch, and you have yourself very little. I hope she knows my name, and does not call me Johnston 1.
The immediate cause of my writing is this :-One Shaw, who seems a modest and a decent man, has written an Erse Grammar, which a very learned Highlander, Macbean, has, at my request, examined and approved.
'The book is very little, but Mr. Shaw has been persuaded by his friends to set it at half a guinea, though I advised only a crown, and thought myself liberal. You, whom the authour considers as a great encourager of ingenious men, will receive a parcel of his proposals and receipts. I have undertaken to give you notice of them, and to solicit your countenance. You must ask no poor man, because the price is really too high. Yet such a work deserves patronage.
It is proposed to augment our club from twenty to thirty, of which I am glad; for as we have several in it whom I do not much like to consort with 2, I am for reducing it to a mere miscellaneous collection of conspicuous men, without any determinate character.. I am, dear Sir, most affectionately your's,
' March 11, 1777.'
'My respects to Madam, to Veronica, to Alexander, to Euphemia, to David.'
1 Johnson is the most common English formation of the Sirname from John; Johnston the Scotch. My illustrious friend observed that many North Britons pronounced his name in their own way.
2 On account of their differing from him as to religion and politicks.
MR. SHAW'S PROPOSALS
'MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON. 'Edinburgh, April 4, 1777. [After informing him of the death of my little son David, and that I could not come to London this spring :-]
'I think it hard that I should be a whole year without seeing you. May I presume to petition for a meeting with you in the autumn? You have, I believe, seen all the cathedrals in England, except that of Carlisle. If you are to be with Dr. Taylor, at Ashbourne, it would not be a great journey to come thither. We may pass a few most agreeable days there by ourselves, and I will accompany you a good part of the way to the southward again. Pray think of this.
You forget that Mr. Shaw's Erse Grammar was put into your hands by myself last year. Lord Eglintoune put it into mine. I am glad that Mr. Macbean approves of it. I have received Mr. Shaw's Proposals for its publication, which I can perceive are written by the hand of a MASTER..
Pray get for me all the editions of Walton's Lives: I have a notion that the republication of them with Notes will fall upon me, between Dr. Horne and Lord Hailes.'
Mr. Shaw's Proposals † for An Analysis of the Scotch Celtick Language, were thus illuminated by the pen of Johnson:
'Though the Erse dialect of the Celtick language has, from the earliest times, been spoken in Britain, and still subsists in the northern parts and adjacent islands, yet, by the negligence of a people rather warlike than lettered, it has hitherto been left to the caprice and judgement of every speaker, and has floated in the living voice, without the steadiness of analogy, or direction of rules. An Erse Grammar is an addition to the stores of literature; and its authour hopes for the indulgence always shewn to those that attempt to do what was never done before. If his work shall be found defective, it is at least all his own: he is not like other grammarians, a compiler or transcriber; what he delivers, he has learned by attentive observation among his countrymen, who perhaps will be themselves surprized to see that speech reduced to principles, which they have used only by imitation.