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408 The Duchess's coldness for Boswell.
duke to go to another room, for a specimen of curious marble, which his grace wished to shew us. He brought a wrong piece, upon which the duke sent him back again. He could not refuse; but, to avoid any appearance of servility, he whistled as he walked out of the room, to shew his independency. On my mentioning this afterwards to Dr. Johnson, he said, it was a nice trait of character.
Dr. Johnson talked a great deal, and was so entertaining, that Lady Betty Hamilton, after dinner, went and placed her chair close to his, leaned upon the back of it, and listened eagerly. It would have made a fine picture to have drawn the Sage and her at this time in their several attitudes. He did not know, all the while, how much he was honoured. I told him afterwards. I never saw him so gentle and com
plaisant as this day.
We went to tea. The duke and I walked up and down the drawing-room, conversing. The duchess still continued to shew the same marked coldness for me; for which, though I suffered from it, I made every allowance, considering the very warm part that I had taken for Douglas, in the cause in which she thought her son deeply interested. Had not her grace discovered some displeasure towards me, I should have suspected her of insensibility or dissimulation.
Her grace made Dr. Johnson come and sit by her, and asked him why he made his journey so late in the year. 'Why, madam, (said he,) you know Mr. Boswell must attend the Court of Session, and it does not rise till the twelfth of August.' She said, with some sharpness, I know nothing of Mr. Boswell.' Poor Lady Lucy Douglas', to whom I mentioned this, observed, 'She knew too much of Mr. Boswell.' I shall make no remark on her grace's speech. I indeed felt it as rather too severe; but when I recollected that my punishment was inflicted by so dignified a beauty, I had that kind of consolation which a man would feel who is
Lady Lucy Graham, daughter of the second Duke of Montrose, and wife of Mr. Douglas, the successful claimant she died in 1780, whence Boswell calls her 'poor Lady Lucy.' CROKER.
Good principles and bad practice.
strangled by a silken cord. Dr. Johnson was all attention to her grace. He used afterwards a droll expression, upon her enjoying the three titles of Hamilton, Brandon, and Argyle'. Borrowing an image from the Turkish empire, he called her a Duchess with three tails.
He was much pleased with our visit at the castle of Inverary. The Duke of Argyle was exceedingly polite to him, and upon his complaining of the shelties which he had hitherto ridden being too small for him, his grace told him he should be provided with a good horse to carry him next day.
Mr. John M'Aulay passed the evening with us at our inn. When Dr. Johnson spoke of people whose principles were good, but whose practice was faulty, Mr. M'Aulay said, he had no notion of people being in earnest in their good professions, whose practice was not suitable to them. The Doctor grew warm, and said, ‘Sir, you are so grossly ignorant of human nature, as not to know that a man may be very sincere in good principles, without having good practice!'
Dr. Johnson was unquestionably in the right; and whoever examines himself candidly, will be satisfied of it, though the inconsistency between principles and practice is greater in some men than in others.
'Her first husband was the sixth Duke of Hamilton and Brandon. On his death she refused the Duke of Bridgewater. She was the mother of four dukes-two of Hamilton and two of Argyle. Her sister married the Earl of Coventry. Walpole's Letters, ii. 259, note. Walpole, writing on Oct. 9, 1791, says that their story was amazing. The two beautiful sisters were going on the stage, when they were at once exalted almost as high as they could be, were Countessed and double-Duchessed.' 1b. ix. 358. Their maiden name was Gunning. The Duchess of Argyle was alive when Boswell published his Journai. 2 See ante, iv. 457, and v. 239. It was Lord Macaulay's grandfather who was thus reprimanded. Mr. Trevelyan remarks (Life of Macaulay, i. 7), 'When we think what well-known ground this [subject] was to Lord Macaulay, it is impossible to suppress a wish that the great talker had been at hand to avenge his grandfather.' The result might v ll have been, however, that the great talker would have been reduced to silence-one of those brilliant flashes of silence for which Sydney Smith longed, but longed in vain.
John Home's gold medal.
I recollect very little of this night's conversation. I am sorry that indolence came upon me towards the conclusion. of our journey, so that I did not write down what passed with the same assiduity as during the greatest part of it.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26.
Mr. M'Aulay breakfasted with us, nothing hurt or dismayed by his last night's correction. Being a man of good sense, he had a just admiration of Dr. Johnson.
Either yesterday morning, or this, I communicated to Dr. Johnson, from Mr. M'Aulay's information, the news that Dr. Beattie had got a pension of two hundred pounds a year'. He sat up in his bed, clapped his hands, and cried, 'O brave we'!'-a peculiar exclamation of his when he rejoices3.
As we sat over our tea, Mr. Home's tragedy of Douglas was mentioned. I put Dr. Johnson in mind, that once, in a coffee house at Oxford, he called to old Mr. Sheridan,' How came you, Sir, to give Home a gold medal for writing that foolish play?' and defied Mr. Sheridan to shew ten good lines in it. He did not insist they should be together; but that there were not ten good lines in the whole play'. He now persisted in this. I endeavoured to defend that pathetick and beautiful tragedy, and repeated the following
Thou first of virtues! let no mortal leave
Thy onward path, although the earth should gape,
To take dissimulation's winding way'.'
1 See ante, ii. 303, note 2.
2 See ante, iv. 9, for his use of 'O brave!'
Having mentioned, more than once, that my Journal was perused by Dr. Johnson, I think it proper to inform my readers that this is the last paragraph which he read. BOSWELL. He began to read it on August 18 (ante, p. 65, note 2).
See ante, ii. 365.
5 Act i. sc. I. The best known passage in Douglas is the speech
The play of Douglas.
JOHNSON. That will not do, Sir. Nothing is good but what is consistent with truth or probability, which this is Juvenal, indeed, gives us a noble picture of inflexible
"Esto bonus miles, tutor bonus, arbiter idem
Summum crede nefas animam præferre pudori,
He repeated the lines with great force and dignity; then
beginning My name is Norval.' Act ii. The play affords a few quotations more or less known, as :
'I found myself
As women wish to be who love their lords.'
Who thinks the worst he can of womankind.'
'Honour, sole judge and umpire of itself.'
May yet conjecture what I might have proved,
Be thou; thy station deem a sacred trust.
With thy good sword maintain thy country's cause;
The lie suborn'd if falsely urg'd to swear,
That for which only man should wish to live.'
For this and the other translations to which no signature is affixed, I am indebted to the friend whose observations are mentioned in the notes, pp. 88 and 455. BOSWELL. Sir Walter Scott says, 'probably Dr. Hugh Blair.' I have little doubt that it was Malone. One of the best criticks of our age,' Boswell calls this friend in the other two passages. This was a compliment Boswell was likely to pay to Malone, to whom he dedicated this book, Malone was a versifier. See Prior's Malone, p. 463.
Neglect of religious buildings.
added, And, after this, comes Johnny Home, with his earth gaping, and his destruction crying:--Pooh'!'
While we were lamenting the number of ruined religious buildings which we had lately seen, I spoke with peculiar feeling of the miserable neglect of the chapel belonging to the palace of Holyrood-house, in which are deposited the remains of many of the Kings of Scotland, and many of our nobility. I said, it was a disgrace to the country that it was not repaired: and particularly complained that my friend Douglas, the representative of a great house and proprietor of a vast estate, should suffer the sacred spot where his mother lies interred, to be unroofed, and exposed to all the inclemencies of the weather. Dr. Johnson, who, I know not how, had formed an opinion on the Hamilton side, in the Douglas cause, slily answered, 'Sir, Sir, don't be too severe upon the gentleman; don't accuse him of want of filial piety! Lady Jane Douglas was not his mother.' He
roused my zeal so much that I took the liberty to tell him
1 I am sorry that I was unlucky in my quotation. But notwithstanding the acuteness of Dr. Johnson's criticism, and the power of his ridicule, The Tragedy of Douglas still continues to be generally and deservedly admired. BosWELL. Johnson's scorn was no doubt returned, for Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 295) says of Home:- As John all his life had a thorough contempt for such as neglected his poetry, he treated all who approved of his works with a partiality which more than approached to flattery.' Carlyle tells (pp. 301-305) how Home started for London with his tragedy in one pocket of his great coat and his clean shirt and nightcap in the other, escorted on setting out by six or seven Merse ministers. Garrick, after reading his play, returned it as totally unfit for the stage.' It was brought out first in Edinburgh, and in the year 1757 in Covent Garden, where it had great success. This tragedy,' wrote Carlyle forty-five years later, ‘still maintains its ground, has been more frequently acted, and is more popular than any tragedy in the English language.' Ib. p. 325. Hannah More recorded in 1786 (Memoirs, ii. 22), 'I had a quarrel with Lord Monboddo one night lately. He said Douglas was a better play than Shakespeare could have written. He was angry and I was pert. Lord Mulgrave sat spiriting me up, but kept out of the scrape himself, and Lord Stormont seemed to enjoy the debate, but was shabby enough not to help me out.'