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which are interspersed. He was much pleased with the scene, which is so well known by the accounts of various travellers, that it is unnecessary for me to attempt any description of it.
I recollect none of his conversation, except that, when talking of dress, he said, “ Sir, were I to have anything fine, it should be very fine. Were I to wear a ring, it should not be a bauble, but a stone of great value. Were I to wear a laced or embroidered waistcoat, it should be very rich. I had once a very rich laced waistcoat, which I wore the first night of my tragedy."
Lady Helen Colquhoun being a very pious woman, the conversation, after dinner, took a religious turn. * Her ladyship defended the Presbyterian mode of public worship; upon which Dr. Johnson delivered those excellent arguments for a form of prayer which he has introduced into his “ Journey." I am myself fully convinced that a form of prayer for public worship is, in general, most decent and edifying. Solennia verba have a kind of prescriptive sanctity, and make
** This lady was a daughter of Lord Strathnaver, son of the Earl of Sutherland. She died at Rosedow House, January 7th, 1791.-ED.
a deeper impression on the mind than extemporaneous effusions, in which, as we know not what they are to be, we cannot readily acqui
Yet I would allow, also, of a certain portion of extempore address, as occasion may require. This is the practice of the French Protestant churches ; and, although the office of forming supplications to the throne of Heaven is, in my mind, too great a trust to be indiscriminately committed to the discretion of every minister, I do not mean to deny that sincere devotion may be experienced when joining in prayer
with those who use no liturgy. We were favoured with Sir James Colquhoun's coach to convey us in the evening to Cameron, the seat of Commissary Smollett. Our satisfaction of finding ourselves again in a comfortable carriage was very great. We had a pleasing conviction of the commodiousness of civilisation, and heartily laughed at the ravings of those absurd visionaries who have attempted to persuade us of the superior advantages of a state of nature.
Mr. Smollett was a man of considerable learning, with abundance of animal spirits ; so that he was a very good companion for Dr. Johnson, who said to me, “ We have had more solid talk here than at any place where we have been.”
I remember Dr. Johnson gave us this evening an able and eloquent discourse on the “ Origin of Evil,” and on the consistency of moral evil with the power and goodness of God. He showed us how it arose from our free agency, an extinction of which would be a still greater evil than any we experience. I know not that he said anything absolutely new, but he said a great deal wonderfully well; and, perceiving us to be delighted and satisfied, he concluded his harangue with an air of benevolent triumph over an objection which has distressed many worthy minds: “ This, then, is the answer to the question, IIo0ɛv to Kakov ?”—Mrs. Smollett whispered me, that it was the best sermon she had ever heard. Much do I upbraid mysel for having neglected to preserve it.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28. Mr. Smollett pleased Dr. Johnson, by producing a collection of newspapers in the time of the Usurpation, from which it appeared that all sorts of crimes were very frequent during that horrible anarchy. By the side of the high road to Glasgow, at some distance from his house, he had erected a pillar to the memory of his ingenious kinsman, Dr. Smollett; and he consulted Dr. Johnson as to an inscription for it. Lord Kames, who, though he had a great store of knowledge, with much ingenuity and uncommon activity of mind, was no profound scholar, had, it seems, recommended an English inscrip
tion. Dr. Johnson treated this with great contempt, saying, “ An English inscription would be a disgrace to Dr. Smollett;" and, in answer to what Lord Kames had urged, as to the advantage of its being in English because it would be generally understood, I observed, that all to whom Dr. Smollett's merit could be an object of respect and imitation would understand it as well in Latin, and that surely it was not meant for the Highland drovers, or other such people, who pass and repass
way. We were then shown a Latin inscription proposed for this monument. Dr. Johnson sat down with an ardent and liberal earnestness to revise it, and greatly improved it by several additions and variations. I unfortunately did not take a copy of it as it originally stood, but I have happily preserved every fragment of what Dr. Johnson wrote:
Quisquis ades, viator,
Immorare paululum memoriæ
Viri iis virtutibus
* The epitaph which has been inscribed on the pillar erected on the banks of the Leven, in honour of Dr. Smollett, is as follows. The part which was written by Dr. Johnson, it apears, has been altered; whether for the better, the reader will judge The alterations are distinguished by Italics.
Unquam es miratus,
Viri virtutibus hisce
Et laudes et imiteris,
We had this morning a singular proof of Dr. Johnson's quick and retentive memory.
Hay's translation of Martial was lying in a window. I said, I thought it was pretty well done, and showed him
Ι a particular epigram, I think, of ten, but am certain of eight lines. He read it, and tossed away the book, saying—“No, it is not pretty well.” As I persisted in my opinion, he said, "Why, sir, the original is thus,—” (and he repeated it) " and this man's translation is thus," --and then he repeated that also, exactly, though he had never seen it before, and read it over only once, and that, too, without any intention of getting it by heart.
Qui in literis varii versatus,
Morte acerbâ raptus
Anno ætatis 51,
Cui in decursu lampada
In ipsis Leviniæ ripis
Abi et reminiscere,
Hoc quidem honore,
Idem erit virtutis præmium!
[TRANSLATION.-"Stay, traveller! If elegance of taste and wit, if fertility of genius and an unrivalled talent in delineating the characters of mankind have ever attracted thy admiration, pause awhile on the memory of Tobias Smollett, M.D.; one more than commonly endued with those virtues which, in a man or citizen, you could praise or imitate ; who, having secured the applause of posterity by a variety of literary abilities, and a peculiar felicity of composition, was, by a rapid and cruel distemper, snatched from the world in the fifty-first year of his age. Far, alas ! from his native country, he lies interred near Leghorn, in Italy. In testimony of his many and great virtues, this empty monument, the only pledge, alas! of his affection, is erected on the banks of the Leven, the scene of his birth and of his latest poetry, by James Smollett of Bonhill, his cousin; who should rather have expected this last tribute from him. Go, and remember this honour was not given alone to the memory of the deceased, but for the encouragement of others : deserve like him, and be alike rewarded !"-LIFE OF SMOLLETT.
The inscription submitted to Johnson was the joint production of Professor George Stuart, of Edinburgh, and Mr. Ramsay, of Ochtertyre. Smollett of Bonhill, who erected the monument did nothing for his distinguished relative while living. and left the novelist's widow to appeal to the public for relief. It is melancholy to think of this, and to know that if Smollett had lived a few years longer he would have in. herited the property, worth about 1,0001. per annum.-Ed.]
Here a post-chaise, which I had ordered from Glasgow, came for
ns, and we drove on in high spirits. We stopped at Dunbarton, and though the approach to the castle there is very steep, Dr. Johnson ascended it with alacrity and surveyed all that was to be seen. During the whole of our tour, he showed uncommon spirit, could not bear to be treated like an old or infirm man, and was very unwilling to accept of any assistance, insomuch that, at our landing at Icolmkill, when Sir Allan Maclean and I submitted to be carried on men's shoulders from the boat to the shore, as it could not be brought quite close to land, he sprang into the sea and waded vigorously out.
On our arrival at the Saracen’s Head Inn, at Glasgow, I was made happy by good accounts from home; and Dr. Johnson, who had not received a single letter since we left Aberdeen, found here a great many, the perusal of which entertained him much. He enjoyed in imagination the comforts which we could now command, and seemed to be in high glee. I remember, he put a leg up on each side of the grate and said, with a mock solemnity, by way of soliloquy, but loud enough for me to hear it, “Here am I, an ENGLISH man, sitting by a coal fire.”