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Boswett for the Defence, *76?~*774> Copyright <g) 1959 by Yale University. 
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Literature, and Keeper of Rare Books in the University Library, Yale University 

The Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell will consist of two inde- 
pendent but parallel series. One, the "research" edition, will give a complete text of 
BoswelFs journals, diaries, and memoranda; of his correspondence; and of "The Life 
of Johnson," from the original manuscript' the whole running to at least thirty vol- 
umes. It will preserve the spelling and capitalization of the original documents, and 
will be provided with extensive scholarly annotation. A large group of editors and a 
permanent office staff are engaged in this comprehensive undertaking, the first volume 
of which may appear in t?6o. The other, the reading or "trade" edition, will select 
from the total mass of papers those portions that appear likely to be of general interest, 
and will present them in modern spelling and with appropriate annotation. The pub- 
lishers may also issue limited de luxe printings of the trade volumes, with extra 
illustrations and special editorial matter, but in no case will the trade volumes or the 
de luxe printing include matter from EoswelFs archives that will not also appear in 
the research edition. 

The present volume is the seventh of the trade edition. 


INTRODUCTION by William K. Wimsatt, Jr. ix 

TEXT OP Boswett for the Defence, ^69-1774 i 
APPENDIX A. The Last Speech, Confession, and Dying Words of John 

Reid 343 

APPENDIX B. The Scottish Courts and Legal System 350 

INDEX 359 


The Grassmarket and West Bow, Edinburgh, on an execution day. Etch- 
ing after a water-colour by James Skene, from an original in the 
Edinburgh Central Public Library. (No executions took place in the 
Grassmarket after 1784; Skene's view was published in 1829 and is 
undoubtedly reconstructed from memory.) ii 

Map of Edinburgh in 1 765 . Redrawn by Harold EL Faye 

Map of Edinburgh and Environs, about 1767. Redrawn by Harold K. Faye 

pages. 398 - 

William Murray, first Earl of Mansfield (1705-1793), from an oil paint- 
ing by John Singleton Copley, 1783, in the National Portrait Gallery, 
London Facing page 78 

The House of Lords in 1742, from an engraving (1749) by John Pine. 
From an original in the Yale Universily Art Gallery. 

Facing page 114 

The room is the Parliament Chamber or White Chamber of the old 
Palace of Westminster; the wall-hangings are a famous set of tapes- 


viii List of Illustrations 

tries representing the dispersal of the Spanish Armada, a gift to 
Queen Elizabeth I from the States of Holland. The Speaker and 
Members of the House of Commons are in attendance, probably to 
hear the Royal Assent to a bill. George n is seated on the throne, 
surrounded by Privy Councillors and sons of peers. The woolsack 
would normally be just in front of the steps of the throne, but has 
apparently been removed, as it would be today if the Sovereign were 
present. A little further to the front is the clerks' table. The benches 
along the walls and across the centre are occupied by spiritual and 
temporal peers, the former on the left The bar (a waist-high wooden 
partition, barely visible) divides the peers (seated) from the Mem- 
bers of the House of Commons (standing) ; the Speaker, in his gown, 
stands on a low platform in the centre. 

A song by Goldsmith, originally intended for inclusion in She Stoops to 
Conquer; with heading written by James Boswell. From the original 
in the Yale University library Facing page 2 08 

The Tolbooth, Edinburgh, engraved from a painting by Alexander Nas- 
myth. From an original in the Edinburgh Central Public Library 

Facing page 236 

Thomas Miller (1717-1789), Lord Justice-Clerk; later Lord President 
and baronet From an oil painting reputedly by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 
sold at Christie's in 1927. Photograph courtesy of the Frick Art Refer- 
ence Library Facing page 322 

Map of London, about 1772. Redrawn by Harold K. Faye 

pages 402.405 



The immediately preceding volume of this series ended with BoswdTs 
happy wedding in November 1 769. The present volume ends in Sep- 
tember 1 774 with the hanging of a client and his burial. The contrast 
in feeling between these events has a more than superficial relation to 
the course of Boswell's life and the evolution of his character during 
this period. The first five years of BoswelPs married life present the 
spectacle of a man moving through a climacteric. The sobering and 
maturing effects of a prudent marriage show the first signs of giving 
way before the return of older, more radical impulses of extravagance 
and their attendant penalties. The change is not rapid or violent but 
it is none the less certain. 

To describe the contents of the present volume in more external 
terms: It gives us in succession the model young husband and profes- 
sional man, the adventurer returning to literary associations and the 
ways of the southern metropolis, and then the Scots advocate in a sum- 
mer session energetic conversationalist, steady drinker, and an- 
guished pleader of a desperate cause. We have, in short, Boswell the 
"Benedict," Boswell at the Club, Boswell Agonistes. 

Marriage was a good thing for Boswell. The main accent of his 
new life is surely that of domestic felicity. He experiences a very com- 
fortable kind of affection for his wife, a warm glow of devotion, a de- 
gree, even, of uxoriousness. He is content with a state of relative 
retirement from the literary world, with a nearly uninterrupted resi- 
dence in Scotland. It is a period of sustained application to professional 
labours. Boswell being admitted to plead in the Church court and 
moving into a larger and more handsome house in ChesseTs Buildings 
during the spring of 1770, Boswell bowling southward through the 
historic and scenic country-side into Northumberland with his wife 
on a post-chaise jaunt in August 1 771, Boswell at Auchinleck in Octo- 
ber getting lessons from his father in election law and the pruning of 
trees, is a picture of the solid citizen busy about his wholesome con- 
cerns the steady "young" laird of Auchinleck, the industrious and 

x Introduction 

ambitious advocate, the attentive and companionable spouse, the duti- 
ful son. The first two years of his married life stand out as a time of 
extraordinary serenity, the steadiest and most cheerful period of his 
whole life. 

During the next three years he was to suffer certain kinds of dis- 
tress; but at the same time he would have the great satisfaction of 
commencing father of a family. After the loss of an infant son during 
the summer following his marriage, in the spring of the fourth year, 
1773, was born his first daughter and darling, Veronica, and in the 
spring of the fifth year, his scarcely less beloved second daughter, 
Euphemia. These little girls were to provide the brighter moments of 
many a Journal sequence in the years immediately ahead. 

But contentment is a matter which is on the whole difficult to docu- 
ment. Boswell in the state of euphoria which we have been describing 
was such a man as for his own sake we might retrospectively wish him 
to have continued to be, but such as would scarcely have given us the 
ensuing years of his exciting Journals or the great Life of Johnson. 
One of the effects of Boswell's preoccupation with his marriage and 
his profession was that for a while he wrote almost nothing about him- 
self for about two years, scarcely more than a few pages of Journal 
notes. Surely there is some connexion to be noted between a degree of 
unhappiness, or at least of restlessness, on Boswell's part and his usual 
habit of self-recording. It is no doubt our good fortune that certain 
strains of dissonance, the effects in part of former bad habits and mis- 
taken decisions, were never entirely suspended and were soon to grow 
stronger again. The difference of opinion with his father over the 
entail of the Auchinleck estate (really a dispute over Boswell's fitness 
to preserve the property and traditions of the family) had broken out 
as recently as the summer before his marriage. It was now somewhat 
intensified by his father's disappointment in the marriage and by the 
simultaneous appearance of a stepmother. And all along, Boswell's 
old discontent with the "narrow" society of the northern metropolis 
never entirely went to sleep. He acknowledged in himself recurrent 
moments of distinct uneasiness. 

In the spring of 1772, with the justification of an appeal to plead 
before the House of Lords, he made his first return to London, and as 
he set out on this jaunt, he began his first fully written Journal since 

Introduction xi 

the month before his marriage. He had now the slightly agitating but 
exhilarating experience of re-exploration, re-initiation, into old fa- 
vourite ways old streets, old taverns, old friends and their homes, 
old habits. He recovered a way of life which had been familiar, but 
never so securely and habitually his own as not to be capable of such 
renewal and refreshment. The habit of good spirits which had pre- 
vailed during the past two years seems to have gone along with him 
for the space of this jaunt and even to have been heightened to a special 
pitch. It was with the fullest relish of which he was capable that he 
experienced such moments as the first meeting with his revered friend 
Samuel Johnson or his Easter mass at the Sardinian minister's chapel. 
*The sound of his feet upon the timber steps was weighty and well 
announced his approach. He had on an old purple cloth suit and a 
large whitish wig. He embraced me with a robust sincerity of friend- 
ship, saying, *I am glad to see thee, I am glad to see thee.'" "I was . . . 
conducted by a person in the Ambassador's livery to a seat just before 
the organ and fronting the altar. The solemnity of high mass, the 
music, the wax lights, and the odour of the frankincense made a de- 
lightful impression upon me. I was divinely happy." Perhaps the most 
blissful hour of all came when he got invited to a party with Dr. John- 
son and Goldsmith at General Oglethorpe's. "I felt a completion of 
happiness. I just sat and hugged myself in my own mind." "Nothing 
was wanting but my dearest wife to go home to, and a better fortune 
in the mean time to make her live as she deserves." During this visit 
to London not only did Boswell manage to avoid "deviating from 
fidelity" to his 'Valuable spouse" but, after an initially risky experi- 
ment of engaging in conversations with streetwalkers, he very sensi- 
bly resolved to refrain from this indulgence, and with a minor excep- 
tion he managed to keep his resolution. 

On his second trip to London, during the spring of 1 773, he was re- 
ceived into the Club of the most celebrated politicians and litterateurs. 
In August of the same year Samuel Johnson came up to Edinburgh, 
and he and Boswell went off on a golden tour to the Hebrides, re- 
corded by Boswell in a Journal that would one day be a marvellous 
and famous book. That book lies necessarily outside the text of the 
present volume, but the importance of the Hebrides episode in this 
phase of ihe mind and life of Boswell can scarcely be over-estimated. 

xii Introduction 

During these years Boswell's earlier connexion with London and with 
Johnson became a confirmed allegiance. These were the years when 
he formed a plan, fell into a pattern, of the yearly return to London, 
the regular visits which during the whole decade of the 1 770*5 and un- 
til the death of Samuel Johnson in 1784 gave him the elaborate rec- 
ords of Johnson's conversation which are the glory of the Life. From 
the Journal of 1772, for example, he later pulled page after page of 
rich materials to be used directly as copy. Recovered only within re- 
cent years, these portions of the Journal are a special boast and revela- 
tion of the present volume. 

Two London figures who chiefly share with Johnson the focus of 
BoswelTs attention during this period are Garrick and Goldsmith. 
BosweU's appreciation of being admitted to the friendship of the great 
actor and manager had been enthusiastic and steady from the earliest 
encounters, through the Stratford Shakespeare Jubilee in the autumn 
before his marriage, and even through the quiet time while he re- 
mained at home working hard. The first awakening and exchange of 
literary letters, of Edinburgh and London theatrical gossip, in the 
spring of 1 771-, is with Garrick. And BoswelTs chief literary exercises, 
the dedication of an Edinburgh edition of Shakespeare and three es- 
says on the art of acting in The London Magazine, are centred upon 
the same glamorous figure. He cherished as one of his best memories 
of the London trip of 1772 a morning when he walked with Garrick 
along the Thames near the Adelphi and was fortunate enough to hear 
him burst into an animated recital of a speech from Macbeth. On the 
Hebrides tour, after Shakespearian quotations by Johnson and Bos- 
well on the blasted heath near Forres and amid the ruins of Macbeth's 
castle at Inverness ("A raven perched upon one of the chimney 
tops") , one of the first things Boswell did was to write an account of 
the experience in a letter back to Garrick in London leaving out of 
course Johnson's growls about a mere "player" and his unwillingness 
to get subscriptions or lend old plays. 

The relation to Goldsmith is not so even. It is a striking, a some- 
what disconcerting fact that Boswell during the first years of their 
acquaintance had under-estimated the struggling author, had per- 
haps felt he could patronize him. The comic view of Goldsmith as the 
awkwardly over-eager and humiliated conversationalist, the habitual 

Introduction xiii 

perpetrator of Irish bulls, continues to the very end of the record. At 
the same time, with Goldsmith's sudden theatrical triumph in She 
Stoops to Conquer, BoswelFs enthusiasm for him had blazed. From 
Edinburgh, just before hurrying south at the end of March 1 773, he 
wrote the now celebrated letter linking the new play with the birth of 
his own little girl Veronica and inviting the equally celebrated reply 
"as if in repartee." Then, a little more than a year later, the friend- 
ship is terminated by Goldsmith's death of a "fever." Boswell learns 
of the event, apparently from the newspapers, and sits down to me- 
morialize his feelings and re-establish connexions with his literary 
friends in long-neglected letters to Langton and Garrick. A little later, 
in a communication to The London Magazine, he gives the world a 
song which had been dropped (because an actress could not sing) 
from the text of She Stoops to Conquer. He takes it from the only sur- 
viving copy (which thanks to his good habit as a collector he pos- 
sesses), in Goldsmith's hand. 

To Boswell, far away from all his London associations, kept at 
home that spring season by the need for attending to business and by 
the approaching confinement of his wife, the news of Goldsmith's 
death was a sad blow. But already, at least as early as November 1 773, 
immediately after his three-months' sprint of qui vive during the 
Hebrides tour, a strong reassertion of the darker side of his mind had 
begun. As he saw Johnson into the coach for London and turned back 
towards Edinburgh and his professional duties, he had relaxed into a 
gradually complicating mood of depression. The habit of heavy drink- 
ing which had set in shortly after his becoming an advocate in 1766 
now began to increase its hold during a year of malaise and distrac- 
tion, of more than usually discouraging courtroom experiences, of 
emerging political differences with his father. Boswell was keeping 
up steady convivial habits during the sessions of Court. He had by 
now taken to rather frequent social gaming. 

Above all, it was the burden of his legal undertakings which gave 
the distinctive shade to Boswell's returning hypochondria. We may 
suppose that the civil causes which formed the staple of his employ- 
ment and which are noted year after year in his Consultation Book 
were not very exciting to him and seldom enlisted his sympathy very 
deeply. Even the more spectacular appeal against Hastie the ejected 

xiv Introduction 

schoolmaster of Campbeltown, which brought Boswell to London and 
before Lord Mansfield in the House of Lords in the spring of 1 772, 
seems to have been for him mainly an opportunity to travel and the 
occasion of his making a distinguished appearance, displaying his 
now fairly confident powers of legal oratory. Hastie himself must have 
been a coarse enough, a selfish and even brutal fellow (perhaps Bos- 
well had never even seen this client), and when the decision against 
him had been pronounced, Boswell apparently suffered no particular 
pang. It was off with his wig and gown and away to a party and con- 
gratulations for his effort. The great occasion, the more or less facti- 
tious reason and climax of a trip to London, had come off and served 
its purpose. 

BoswelTs emotion was always much the opposite of this in the 
criminal causes which he argued before the Court of Justiciary in 
Edinburgh. During these years he seems to have become a kind of self- 
appointed public defender. He acquired a distinct reputation as a man 
who would take on, become ardently concerned in, the causes of com- 
mon criminals, the unfortunate, the desperate, the clearly guilty and 
imminently threatened with the pains of law. He was badly hurting 
his chances for professional advancement by his keenness in a kind of 
endeavour which was shunned by his brother advocates, those who 
were on their way to becoming MP.'s, Lords of Session, or Barons of 
Exchequer. The criminal causes of BoswelTs first few years as ad- 
vocate of Hay the soldier, hanged for implication in a drunken 
assault and the robbery of a watch, of Raybould the forger, also duly 
hanged were paralleled with increasing frequency during the bad 
year after the Hebrides tour. Such causes were not relatively numer- 
ous in BoswelTs total practice, but they stand out in his brief Journals 
of the period, in extended newspaper accounts, which he himself often 
wrote, and in masses of legal papers which at least in a few instances 
he preserved. A forger who obstinately refused to confess, a pair of 
young scoundrels who murdered a poor rag-gatherer at night in his 
cottage on a heath, a half-crazed man, excited by the insults of a mob, 
who ran out of his house and stabbed his best friend, a sheep-stealer or 
a horse thief, a group of "meal" rioters, another group of burglars and 
arsonists, a couple of young girls, sisters, who in some kind of drunken 
brawl pushed over a woman shopkeeper and killed her such were 

Introduction xv 

the clients, in their various degrees of guilt, who engaged BoswelTs 
sympathy most warmly, elicited his most strenuous endeavours, his 
repeated visits to prison and consultations, his all-day and all-night 
marathon exertions in the courtroom, his further visits as they awaited 
execution, his Bible readings with them, his exhortations to repent- 

And then we come to the summer of 1 774, with its crowded activi- 
ties, recorded by Boswell in a Journal which he begins on 14 June, 
the day of the opening of the session. For two solid months during 
this busy season of the Scottish metropolis, the daily affairs of the ses- 
sion (the court appearances, the drafting of legal papers, the appoint- 
ments, the consultations) alternate and mingle with the no less regu- 
lar, the feverishly regular, social engagements. Business merges with 
pleasure, almost daily intemperance follows hard upon recovery from 
the day before. We hurry along without pause through the assorted 
agitation of parties with his cousins and his friends, the judges, advo- 
cates, "writers," doctors, clergymen and military men, their ladies 
and their daughters, who make up the thronging, the bustling and 
talkative society of which Boswell is a part These are the ordinary 
matters which fill his Journal. 

But a little less than half way through the summer begins the 
extraordinary record of the struggle for the life of John Reid the 
sheep-stealer. This occupies the best part of BoswelTs mind and effort 
for seven weeks an$ makes the sombre conclusion of our volume. Reid 
had been Boswell's first criminal client, by court appointment, in the 
autumn of 1 766, and with the help of his friend Andrew Crosbie, Bos- 
well had saved Reid's life. But now Crosbie refused to be involved a 
second time. Against a formidable array of Crown witnesses and the 
suave, complacent reasoning of the Lord Advocate, Boswell adduced 
a single witness, a scarcely relevant forlorn hope, and threw into the 
balance his own flourishes of oratory. The nearly inevitable verdict 
and sentence led to a second phase of the episode, drawn out and ago- 
nized, as Boswell worked frantically by various means, prudent and 
imprudent, for a pardon or a commutation of sentence. (He gained an 
illusory reprieve, while the King and his advisers awaited the ruthless 
report of the Justice-Clerk.) At the start of the affair Boswell had said 
he would write of Reid only apart from his Journal, in his Register of 

xvi Introduction 

Criminal Trials. But the uncouth tormented figure of the sheep- 
stealer in the Tolbooth succeeded before the end in usurping a much 
larger place in his sympathy and imagination than he had antici- 
pated. No other client that he ever had came even close to filling so 
many pages of the Journal with the accumulating discoveries of a 
story not only macabre and poignant but precise, intricate, and puz- 
zling. The case of John Reid is much like a modern psychologically 
oriented detective story, especially as we are now able to fill it out 
with the relevant letters, petitions, and broadsides preserved in Bos- 
well's collection. Boswell pursues the narrative, gives us the horrid 
picture, to the last movement on the ladder, the last words, hardly un- 
derstood: "Mine is an unjust [a just?] sentence." That night he sits 
by his fire, with a friend and a bottle of claret, nursing himself 
through a misery of nervous shock. 


We have Samuel Johnson's advice to Boswell on how to keep a 
journal, delivered in the very swim of events during BoswelTs London 
visit of 1773. **The great thing ... is the state of your own mind; 
and you ought to write down everything that you can. . . . Write 
immediately while the impression is fresh." (Aristotle to Menander 
on how to get a laugh, to the tadpole on how to become a frog.) This 
advice can scarcely have seemed novel to Boswell, yet one part of it 
was impressive enough for him to repeat it in his tfournal more than 
a year later. "Mr. Johnson said that the great thing was to register the 
state of my mind." 

If we wish to understand why some of BoswelTs narrations, even 
some of the most seemingly routine or perfunctory sketches of the 
shape of a given day, have their own interest and carry us on easily 
to the next day and the next, it is because Boswell is always talking 
about how his days and nights felt to him. It is always a cardinal point 
with him to be searching for happiness, to keep testing himself to see 
if he is finding it, to take his own emotional temperature, to look for- 
ward to his opportunities, and backward to estimate his successes and 
his failures. He tries hard to state his feelings explicitly. He is busy 
also arranging the details of his narrative to intimate the shades of 

Introduction xvii 

feeling. ("The state of my mind must be gathered from the little cir- 
cumstances inserted in my Journal.") The great days of London life 
when he hugs himself for joy, certain skilfully managed Edinburgh 
days of just enough work, just enough sociability, just the right kind 
and amount of food and the warming wine carefully "sucked," and on 
the contrary the days of madness and rampaging, of gross boldness, of 
violence and intemperance in convivial life, in drinking, in making 
love, and the subsequent days of oppressive melancholy and desola- 
tion these stand forth conspicuously enough in the record. At the 
same time he is attentive to the days of quieter tone, the intermediate 
values. "I rose from the table quite cool, and several of us drank tea 
with the ladies. This was an inoffensive day." "We three drank a bot- 
tle of claret each, which just cheered me.*' 

Under the simple rubric of "feeling" we might be tempted to con- 
clude that we were placing Boswell accurately as a typical man of his 
country and his era. Certain distinctions, however, ought to be made. 

The story of Boswell is the story of man's disobedience and its 
fruit as that fruit grew ripe in the experience of a man who lived both 
marvellously in accord, and marvellously at variance, with the lif e of 
his contemporaries. Sing, terrestrial muse. . . . The literary mind of 
the age would have had the story, if not heavenly poetic or majesti- 
cally grand, at any rate reasonably smooth and elegant or purely 
tender and pathetic. As a precocious Eton schoolboy, about a decade 
later than the events recorded in this book, would write in his Addi- 
sonian essay: the poet Chaucer "lived in a period little favourable to 
simplicity in poetry, and several meannesses occur throughout his 
work. . . . The state of equipoise between horror and laughter which 
the mind must here experience may be ranked among its most un- 
pleasing sensations." There was one part of BoswelTs mind which was 
largely in rapport with the prevailing taste of the age. "When Fancy 
from its bud scarce peeped, And life's sweet matins rung," he wrote in 
a youthful poem, and he defended the lines in his Journal: "I think 
them two beautiful allusions." His favourite image for what delights 
him in verbal composition is the edible sweet the delicious "pine- 
apple," the "dessert of rich flavour." Among his most frequent terms 
of praise for the conversation of Samuel Johnson are "majestic," 
"musical," "melodious." 

xviii Introduction 

Such expressions, however, do not bring us very close to the true 
imaginative principle in Boswell. For BoswelFs verbal art, his actual 
dealing with human life and feeling, is above all realistic and to 
that extent it is low rather than lofty, plain, even in a sense "ugly," 
rather than "beautiful." One of the books that Boswell was reading 
with considerable interest and taking notes from during the year 1 771 
was his countryman Henry Mackenzie's new novel The Man of Feel- 
ing. How typical of BoswelFs artistic mind is his comment on a cer- 
tain scene of elevated sentiment between Mackenzie's hero and a lady 
of the town! "Harley's behaviour to the courtesan is quite unnatural. 
. . . All her speech too is far beyond nature." Boswell not only knew 
what he was talking about in the sense of his being an expert wit- 
ness but in this instance he was writing with critical shrewdness. 
Let us observe, furthermore, that realism in the portrayal of hu- 
man feelings involves, almost inevitably, a kind of impurity, a traffic 
with the mixed or complicated (for feelings seldom occur pure or sim- 
ple) . And next that there is a special kind of reflective or aesthetic 
feeling an accent of realization which arises just out of the ten- 
sion of the primary or immediate life feelings; so that paradoxically 
the most sensitive realism is in effect always more than realism. 

It is difficult to illustrate this part of our aesthetic from Boswell's 
theoretical utterances. But the illustration is scarcely avoidable once 
we turn to his performance. Surely the most extraordinary thing 
about his experience and his management of feeling, in his life and in 
his Journals, is his capacity (defying the good taste of his age) to 
entertain the jostling opposites in alternation, in conjunction: good 
and evil, prudence and rashness, and all their attendant range of 
pleasure and pain, delight and woe. One of the accents of aesthetic 
realization that arises from such conflict, a major one, is the laugh- 
able. The principle of "incongruity" expounded by so many theorists 
of this subject applies with peculiar force to Boswell at many mo- 
ments to BoswelL, in March 1772, standing before the bar of the 
House of Lords, Boswell recording of himself: " * My Lords,' said I, *I 
speak with warmth for this schoolmaster who is accused of too much 
severity. I speak from gratitude, for I am sensible that if I had not been 
very severely beat by my master, I should not have been able to make 
even the weak defence which I now make. . . . ' Lord Mansfield 

Introduction xix 

smiled." Boswell for the defence: comic mode. A second major accent 
is, with Boswell, not quite the classic counterpart or full tragic op- 
posite of the laughable, but rather a near neighbour living in certain 
interestingly uneasy relationships. At the level of simple transforma- 
tion: almost any kind of pang at all, any internal commotion, may be 
enjoyable and may be deliberately sought and deliberately nursed in 
memory. "There is a pleasure in being to a certain degree agitated by 
events." Thus his repeated interviews with condemned men, his exe- 
cutions, and his funerals. And then at a further depth of internalify 
appears his curiously flickering and detached, both complacent and 
assured, self-awareness on such occasions. His tortured and unselfish 
engagement in behalf of a doomed client merges with a quite satis- 
factory consciousness of his own role as eloquent defender and a pro- 
longed exploitation of his opportunity as observer. "I was in a kind 
of agitation, which is not without something agreeable, in an odd way 
of feeling. ... I enjoyed the applause." "I said, *I suppose, John, 
you know that the executioner is down in the hall." . . . Two o'clock 
struck. I said, with a solemn tone, There's two o'clock.' " Boswell for 
the defence: quasi-tragic mode. 

Such are his experiences in partisanship and sympathy. But an 
even more central theme of the Journals is the daily endurance of his 
own most personal and immediate version of the human tragicomedy. 
One of the most constant things that Boswell knows is the vibration 
between indulgence and remorse or their near simultaneity and 
union. "Drinking never fails to make me ill-bred. ... I recollect 
having felt much warmth of heart, fertility of fancy, and joyous com- 
placency mingled in a sort of delirium. . . . My wife was waiting 
all the time, drowsy and anxious." Sometimes the awareness is more 
tired and casual. In those nonce reflections, incidental and effortless 
observations, after a day or after a supper, of which the Journals are 
so full, often there appears a kind of puzzled estimate of dissatisfac- 
tion, its causes, its feeble remedies. "After every enjoyment comes 
weariness or disgust." "Our grave reflections on the vanity of life 
are part of the farce like the grave ridiculous in comedy for, 
after making them, we take a jovial bottle as if we never had thought." 

We ask the question, inevitably, how is this frank, this prideful, 
at moments even exultant record not offensive? What is the quality or 

xx Introduction 

degree of BoswelTs awareness of evil? Does he really understand what 
he is? Does he enjoy the kind of perspective needed to shape such ex- 
periences as he endures into a record that commands our serious re- 

We have to acknowledge that this record proceeds throughout 
upon a kind of perception which is demonstrated in the expression. 
It is not a record or a confession by accident. When Bos well joins with 
the very jury at a tavern in a species of celebration on the coffin of 
John Rei4, there is, it is true, no embarrassment. "I was in such a 
frame as to think myself an Edmund Burke." Still it is Boswell him- 
self who has acknowledged and joined these impressions for us. An- 
other sensibility might well have screened, might well have bowdler- 
ized and simplified bidding for a higher degree of propriety, of the 
supposed tragic, pathetic, or sublime. The endless naivete of Boswell, 
his profoundly childlike mentality, comes in here as a force in the 
self-dramatization. If only the writer have the accuracy, the courage, 
to portray his childlikeness! Childlikeness directly displayed is not 
like what leaks out unhappily around the edges of the dishonest at- 
tempt at self-concealment. Let us add that Boswell almost never, per- 
haps never for any extended stretch, writes in complete ignorance or 
moral obtuseness. Even the exuberant whoring passages of his early 
Journals are likely to have their edging of apology, of rueful humour, 
their introspective accent, their partly foreseen and dreaded after- 
math of remorse. The awareness of evil perhaps seldom or never 
reaches degrees of great reflective intensity. Still Boswell has a sense 
of evil a feeling of it, the kind of painful impression which John- 
son, after a day of fatiguing hospitality at Aberdeen, acknowledged in 
the words: "Sensation is sensation.'* 

The analogy between Boswell and the sentimental hero of his day 
the rake with the heart of gold in the picaresque or comic epic novel, 
is too striking to be resisted. Doubtless Boswell himself felt the resem- 
blance, and he must have felt some special distress in the realization 
that his own true story could not end like the fiction of Tom Jones. 
("Such a cloud of hypochondria. . . . I wish it may not press upon 
me in my old age.") The sentimental novels were a species of hagiog- 
raphy. They presented the rake as the hero of the new morality of 
the good heart Boswell himself exemplifies that morality, but no 

Introduction xxi 

author ever took less pains to glorify his hero than Boswell in his auto- 
biography, less pains to make his readers like that hero. 

Boswell and his Journal sometimes today do encounter the criti- 
cism that it is difficult to like Boswell. Hie question is hardly more 
relevant than a question whether we can like Hamlet or Heathcliff. 
Boswell writes a true story beyond question and this is one un- 
doubted source of its peculiar power. (In real life no doubt he did care 
very much whether he was liked. He tried hard to be liked.) At the 
same time, in the detachment of his writing, in the subtle ranges and 
conflicts of feeling which he manages, in his firmness of detail and in 
the purity of his verbal style in his general artistry as a journalist 
Boswell projects himself as a figure of unique fictive significance. 
If we know what we are about as we read and respond to this extra- 
ordinary saga of self-portrayal, we shall hardly stop to wonder 
whether we do like Boswell, whether we ought to like him. (The very 
possibility of puzzlement is a clue to the situation.) In part no doubt 
we will like him. Who can fail to like the lover of Margaret Mont- 
gomerie, the patient correspondent of the neurotic Temple, the friend 
of Paoli, the devotee and biographer of Johnson, the desperate oppo- 
nent of the Justice-Clerk, the counsel for the defence of the abandoned 
John Reid? At the same time there will doubtless be many respects in 
which we find it very difficult to like him, Why should we not admit 
this? What kind of purity, of whitewash, do we look for in the protag- 
onists of our most impressive stories? The correct response to Boswell 
is to value the man through the artist, the artist in the man. 


A. The principal documents used in their entirety to make the 
text of this book: 

1. Manuscript Journal in London, 14 March to 20 April 1772: 
"Journal of my Jaunt to London, Spring 1772": bound quarto note- 
book with leather back and marbled board covers, 235 pages and a 
title page, 7^ by 6 inches, originally numbered by Boswell 1186, 
189-237, 338-347, though continuous; but his pp. 159-164, 181-184 
are missing. 

2. Manuscript Journal in London, 30 March to 13 April 1 773: in 

xxii Introduction 

a wrapper endorsed by BoswelL, "Journal in London, 1 773," 57 num- 
bered quarto pages, written on leaves torn from a notebook, 7^ by 6| 

3. Manuscript Journal in Edinburgh, 14 June to 21 September 
1774, in two notebooks: (i) bound octavo notebook with marbled 
paper back and covers, 14 June to 2 September, 147 numbered pages, 
7 hy 4f inches; the first three pages are filled by an unfinished "Re- 
view" of the period from 22 November 1773 to *4 J" 116 *774; (2) 
bound octavo notebook with leather back and marbled covers, [2 Sep- 
tember] to 26 December, 188 numbered pages, 7% 6 by 4%e inches; 
the text of the present volume ends with p. 72 of this notebook. 

B. Other Boswellian documents quoted more or less extensively to 
supplement the Journals of i 772 and 1 773: 

1. Notes for London Journal, 22 April to 15 May 1 772 : 5 unpaged 
quarto leaves, both sides written on, loose, about 9 by 7! inches. 

2. Notes for London Journal, [11 April] to 15 May 1773; con- 
tained in the same wrapper as the Journal for 30 March to 13 April, 
12 unpaged folio and quarto leaves, both sides written on, loose, rang- 
ing in size from 1 2 % 6 by 7 J to 9%e by 7^ inches. 

3. Manuscript of the Life of Johnson, passages Jor 30 April, i, 7, 
and 10 May i 773: 12 quarto leaves, rectos numbered by Boswell 393, 
398-401, 411412, 414, 417420, some with additions on verso, 
roughly 9! by 8J inches, unbound. 

C Brief Notes for Journals, mainly in Edinburgh, for the period 
1772-1774, drawn upon in various ways for the editorial narratives 
and. the annotation. These are partly in the hand of BoswelTs clerk 
John Lawrie. They consist of seven sequences, as follows: Notes on 
General Paoli's visit to Scotland, 4, [9, 10, 1 1 ] September 1 771 ; Notes 
for Journal in Edinburgh, i January to 13 March 1772; 3 August 
1772 to 27 January 1773; 16 February to 29 March 1773; 15 May to 
14 August 1773; 20 December 1773 to 15 March 1774; 11 April to 6 
May 1774. 

D. The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. The Tour (18 August 
to 11 November 1773) published in part by Boswell in 1 785 was de- 
rived from a main manuscript of 314 octavo leaves, originally paged 
by Boswell 1-674 (78 pages are missing) and from some further 
leaves of notes corresponding to the beginning and end of the episode. 
This is another book; it is bypassed rather than embraced in the pres- 

Introduction xxiii 

ent volume; but it is drawn upon in various ways for the editorial 
narratives, the annotation, and the Introduction. 

E. Upwards of 245 letters, sent or received by Boswell between 25 
November 1 769 and 2 October 1 774, and 14 letters sent or received by 
Mrs. Boswell. BoswelTs letters to William Johnson Temple for this 
period are in the Pierpont Morgan Library. The manuscripts of his 
letters to Samuel Johnson for this period have not been recovered 
with a single exception, that for 3 March 1 772, now in the Hyde Col- 
lection, Somerville, New Jersey. BoswelTs letter to Goldsmith, the 
only one he is known to have written to him, and his letters of 26 
August 1771 and i March 1773 to Percy and of 22 November 1773 
to Henry Thrale and of 1 1 April 1 774 to Garrick are also in the Hyde 
Collection. Other letters not at Yale which have been quoted in whole 
or in part may be noted as follows: Boswell to James Beattie, 27 July 
1 771, in King's College Library, University of Aberdeen; Lord Hailes 
to Boswell, c. 2 December 1771, in the possession of Sir Charles Mark 
Dalrymple of Newhailes, Bt; Boswell to John Johnston of Grange, 20 
October 1771 and 9 May 1 772, in the possession of the Misses Carlyle 
of Waterbeck, Dumfriesshire; Boswell to Bennet Langton, 10 April 
1774, in the British Museum; Boswell to Percy, 16 April 1773, from 
the collection of Roger W. Barrett; Boswell to Thrale, 13 May 1774, 
in the Murdock Collection in the Harvard College Library. The cor- 
respondence between Boswell and W. J. Mickle is preserved partly at 
Yale but mainly among the Mickle papers in the care of Professor 
A. J. M. Ellis; it appeared in part in The Universal Magazine during 
1809. Unless the contrary is stated, all other letters by Boswell are 
printed from manuscripts in the collection at Yale; these, except for 
the letters to John Johnston of Grange, are copies, in several hands. 
BosweU's signature is added, in square brackets, to the copied letters. 
Letters sent and received by Boswell are quoted extensively through- 
out the editorial narratives. Nine letters by him and fourteen to him 
are presented in their entirety. Of these the most important are: Bos- 
well to Johnson, 3 March 1772; Johnson to Boswell, 15 March 1772; 
Boswell to Garrick, 10 September 1772; Boswell to Goldsmith, 29 
March 1773; Goldsmith to Boswell, 4 April 1773. BosweU's Register 
of Letters, now at Yale, is useful for fixing dates when Boswell sent 
and received letters and for its listing of letters now lost 

xxiv Introduction 

to 10 October 1774. These include such items as letters between other 
persons, BoswelTs reading notes, verses by Boswell. They have been 
used in various ways in the editorial narratives and the annotation; 
and 5 letters, all having to do with the John Reid case of 1774, have 
been presented in their entirety. 

G. Legal papers relating to the trial, sentencing, reprieve, and ex- 
ecution of John Reid for sheep-stealing, i August to 21 September 
1 774, in three groups: 

1. Those relating to the trial and sentencing preserved in Bos- 
weirs own archives: (a) report of the trial, i August 1774: 14 folio 
leaves, 28 sides written on; in BoswelTs hand to the bottom of p. 27, 
where, after the heading, "My Charge," the remainder is written by 
John Lawrie; (b) "Copy. Declaration of John Reid, 23 March 774" : 
2 folio leaves, 3 sides written on, in an unidentified hand; (c) report 
of a portion of BoswelTs opening plea for Reid: 2 folio leaves, 2 sides 
written on, in Lawrie's hand; (d) "Defences for John Reid": 2 folio 
leaves, 2 sides written on, in Lawrie's hand; (e) indictment of John 
Reid, with list of witnesses and list of names from which the jury was 
to be chosen: 6 printed quarto pages; (f) "On John Reid's Verdict": 
marginal notes, in BoswelTs hand, on 5 of 6 printed pages of a legal 
petition dated 26 July 1 774. 

2. Official records of the trial: the Indictment, Declaration, Ver- 
dict, Sentence, and other documents relating to the trial preserved in 
the Scottish Record Office Justiciary Records, Books of Adjournal 
1 773-1 774, Series D, voL 38, i August 1 774; and Processes 1 774, Trial 
of John Reid. 

3. Papers relating to the reprieve, preserved in the Public Record 
Office, Scottish Entry Book, Criminal, H.0. 104/1, pp. 140-142: three 

Extensive quotations from these three sets of papers are inserted 
in the editorial narratives and the annotation under the dates in ques- 
tion; and two documents, the Indictment of Reid and his Declaration, 
are quoted in their entirety. 

BoswelFs collection concerning Reid contains also four printed 
broadsides, two of which (including one written by Boswell himself) 
are presented in their entirety. 

H. Published works of James Boswell: A few miscellaneous publi- 
cations, chiefly essays and communications appearing in The London 

Introduction xxv 

Chronicle and The London Magazine for the period 1769-17/4, are 
drawn upon in various ways in the editorial narratives and the annota- 
tion; and one letter by Boswell, signed "A Royalist'* and published in 
The London Chronicle for 17-20 September 1774, is presented in its 

Two of the Journals published in the present volume (those for 14 
March to 20 April 1772 and 14 June to 21 September 1774) and the 
Journal Notes and Condensed Journals for i January to 13 March 
1772, 22 April to 11 May 1772, and 16 February to 29 March 1773 
were published in 1930 by Frederick A. Pottle in the ninth volume of 
the Private Papers of James Boswell from Maldhide Castle in the Col- 
lection of Lt. -Colonel Ralph Heyward Isham^ a limited edition of 570 
copies. The third Journal published in the present volume (that for 
30 March to 13 April 1773) and the Condensed Journal for 11 April 
to 15 May 1 773 were published by Geoffrey Scott in 1929 in the sixth 
volume of the same edition of the Private Papers. Mrs. BoswelTs letter 
to her husband of 7 February 1 770 was published by Professor Pottle 
in 1930 in the eighth volume of the same edition. BoswelTs letters to 
Temple and some of his other letters were published in Professor C. B. 
Tinker's Letters of James Boswell^ Clarendon Press, 1924; and most 
of Boswell's letters to Temple had been published even earlier in Let- 
ters of James Boswell Addressed to the Rev. W. J. Temple [ed. Sir 
Philip Francis], 1857, reprinted by Thomas Seccombe in 1908. Bos- 
well's letters to Johnson (in part) and Johnson's to Boswell were first 
published by Boswell himself in his Life of Johnson, 1791, the most 
authoritative edition of which is that of G. B. Hill (1887), revised by 
L. F. Powell, 1934-1950. The most recent and authoritative edition 
of Johnson's letters is The tetters of Samuel Johnson, by R. W. Chap- 
man, Oxford, 1952. The greater part of the manuscript of Boswell's 
Journal ofaTour to the Hebrides was published by Frederick A. Pottle 
and Charles H. Bennett in 1936. BoswelTs Notes on Dr. Johnson's visit 
in Edinburgh, 14 to 17 August 1773, on which the first part of his 
Tour is partly based, were published by Geoffrey Scott and Professor 
Pottle in the sixth and ninth volumes of the Private Papers of James 

The spelling, capitalization, and punctuation of both manuscripts 
and previously printed material have been brought close to modern 

xxvi Introduction 

Abbreviations and contractions have been expanded. All quotations 
have been standardized in the same fashion. The standard of spelling 
for all but proper names is The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1956). 
For place names F. H. Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, J. G. 
Bartholomew's Survey Gazetteer of the British Isles, and London Past 
and Present by Peter Cunningham and H. B. Wheatley have been 
followed. Family names have been brought into conformity with the 
usage of The Dictionary of National Biography, Mrs. Margaret 
Stuart's Scottish Family History, G. E. Cokayne's Complete Baron- 
etage and Complete Peerage, Sir James Balf our Paul's Scots Peerage, 
and various other special books of reference. Names of speakers in con- 
versations cast dramatically, whether supplied by Boswell or by the 
editors, are put in small capitals without distinction. A few clear in- 
advertencies have been put right without notice. Square brackets in- 
dicate words added where the manuscript shows no defect, but where 
for one reason or another the editors have made an insertion; angular 
brackets indicate reconstruction of words lost through defects in the 
manuscript, where the reconstruction is not entirely certain. 

The editorial narratives of this volume draw upon the correspond- 
ence of Boswell, his condensed Journals and Journal Notes, his publi- 
cations, and various other minor sources to tell the story of his life 
for the period that comes between his marriage in November 1769 
and his first return to London in the spring of 1772, and thereafter 
for the extended periods which come between the London Journals of 
1772 and 1773 and between the second of these and the Edinburgh 
Journal for the summer of 1774. Shorter editorial summaries help to 
complete the London Journals of 1772 and 1773 an ^ appear also at 
various places in the account of the case of John Reid. The annotation 
of the Journals and letters attempts to provide essential information 
when it is available and occasionally to add sidelights upon the char- 
acter of a person or event. But complete annotation has been reserved 
for the research edition. The index of the volume is intended not only 
as a finding tool but as a supplement to the annotation; we have some- 
times reserved for the index the Christian names, professions, and 
titles of persons mentioned by Boswell only casually. 

Both the textual editing and the annotation of this volume owe 
much to earlier works of scholarship already mentioned: the edition 

Introduction xxvii 

of the Private Papers of James Boswell by Geoffrey Scott and F. A. 
Pottle, that of the Tour to the Hebrides by F. A. Pottle and C. H. Ben- 
nett, that of BoswelTs Letters by C. B. Tinker, the great edition of the 
Life of Johnson by G. B. Hill as revised by L. F. Powell, and the edi- 
tion of the Letters of Samuel Johnson by R. W. Chapman. To these 
titles should be added Professor Pottle's The Literary Career of James 
Boswell) Esq., 1929, the catalogue of the Private Papers of James Bos- 
well by F. A. Pottle and Marion S. Pottle, 1931, and A Catalogue of 
Papers relating to Boswell . . . found at Fettercairn House^ by 
Claude Colleer Abbott, 1936. A considerable amount of unpublished 
preliminary work has also been available. More than twenty years 
ago (1936-1937) the writer of this Introduction prepared in two type- 
script volumes, as a class exercise in the Yale Graduate School, an 
editing of BoswelTs London Journal and Notes, 14 March to 15 May 
1772. At the same time A. Stuart Pitt prepared a similar editing of 
BoswelTs London Journal and Notes, 13 March to 15 May 1 773. And 
in 1939 John Murray presented to the Faculty of the Yale Graduate 
School his doctoral dissertation in four typescript volumes, James Bos- 
well in Edinburgh^ an editing of BoswelTs Journal Notes in Edin- 
burgh for the years 1 771-1 774, with elaborate attention to the institu- 
tions and customs of the city and to BoswelTs literary and legal career. 
In 1955 Mary E. Dukeshire presented as her doctoral dissertation an 
editing of Selected Correspondences of James Boswell^ 1770-* 773. In 
1952, Charles McC. Weis presented as his doctoral dissertation The 
Correspondence of James Boswell and Sir David Dalrymple, and in 
the same year Frank Brady presented The Political Career of James 
Boswell^ Esq. In 1954 Charles N. Fifer presented in two volumes Let- 
ters between James Boswell and Six Members of the Club. In 1953 
Marshall Waingrow began the task of transcribing and editing the 
manuscript of BoswelTs Life of Johnson. Meanwhile, Dr. Charles H. 
Bennett had gone ahead with a systematic and nearly exhaustive an- 
notation of BoswelTs Journals from the point (June 1 774) where John 
Murray's dissertation had left off. Using such of the foregoing ma- 
terials as were available and others resulting from his own researches, 
Professor Pottle more than eighteen years ago completed a text and a 
set of notes for a reading edition of the three Journals printed in this 
volume. Then the recovery of further papers from Malahide Castle 

xxviii Introduction 

and of other documents and the release of those that had been re- 
covered at Fettercairn House necessitated the planning of a quite 
different series of volumes, with extensive revision of the earlier 


The plan of this volume, though the editors themselves are re- 
sponsible for the general layout and the details, has benefited consid- 
erably from the advice of the Editorial Committee. Mr. Herman W. 
Liebert assumed the special responsibility of providing the artist with 
material for the maps, and Dr. Robert F. Metzdorf was not only chief 
technical assistant at every stage but also the principal collector of the 
illustrations. Mr. John Gates, special assistant in the Boswell Office 
during the summer of 1958, typed almost the entire manuscript and 
executed a number of assignments in research; Mr. Anthony Moore, 
'59, Bursary aide in the Boswell Office, 1957-1959, helped in various 
ways. Miss Harriet Chidester, principal secretary in the Boswell 
Office during the period of the book's production, not only typed parts 
of the manuscript but verified the normalizing and preparation of 
the whole for the printer and in addition made numerous special con- 
tributions through her skill in the transcription of Boswellian docu- 
ments and her mastery of the files. Mr. Norman Chodikoff Charles, 
*59, assistant in the Boswell Office during the summer of 1959, per- 
formed tasks of research and helped in proof-reading the book. The 
index was compiled by Miss Delight Ansley. 

Proof for this volume was read not only by the members of the 
Editorial Committee and the office staff but by several members of 
the Advisory Committee Professor Bergin, Professor Brooks, Pro- 
fessor Clifford, Sir James Fergusson, Professor Ireland, Dr. Malcolm, 
and Dr. Powell. 

We gratefully acknowledge various kinds of learned assistance 
from the following friends: David Baxandall, William Beattie, 
Frank Brady, James L. Clifford, N. S. Curnow, P. B. Daghlian, Chris- 
topher S. A. Dobson, the Edinburgh Central Library, Olof von Feilit- 
zen, Sir James Fergusson, C. Beecher Hogan, Mrs. Henry W. Howell, 
R. E. Hutchison, Mr. and Mrs. Donald F. Hyde, Ronald Ireland, 
George M. Kahrl, Helge Kokeritz, George Lam, W. S. Lewis, Mrs. 

Introduction xxix 

Joyce T. McCombe (formerly Lady Talbot de Malahide) , C. A. Mal- 
colm, Roy M. Mersky, Charles S. Minto, Ernest C. Mossner, Henri 
Peyre, Mrs. Marion S. Pottle, Konstantin Reichardt, Philip Ritter- 
bush, L. W. Sharp, Brooks Shepard, Robert Smith, Warren H. Smith, 
G. H. Spencer, G. W. Stone, T. W. Strachan, Alexander Victor, Mar- 
shall Waingrow, Ralph Walker, Rene Wellek, Robert Williams. 

W.K.W., Jr. 
Yale University, New Haven 

18 May 1959 


/ felt a completion of happiness. I just sat and hugged myself in my own 
mind. Here I am in London, at the house of General Oglethorpe, who intro- 
duced himself to me just because I had distinguished myself; and here is Mr. 
Johnson, whose character is so vast; here is Dr. Goldsmith, so distinguished 
in literature. Words cannot describe our feelings. The finer parts are lost, 
as the down upon a plum; the radiance of light cannot be painted. 

[iO APRIX, 1772] 

ft was now about eight in the evening, and gloom came upon me. I went 
home and found my wife no comforter, as she thought I had carried my 'zeal 
for John too far, might hurt my own character and interest by it 9 and as she 
thought him guilty. I was so affrighted that I started every now and then 
and durst hardly rise from my chair at the fireside. [21 SEPTEMBER 

u for tne <*2/e[ence 
f 7 69- f 7 74 

born at Edinburgh on 29 October, eldest son of Alexander Bos well, the 
head of an ancient landed family in the shire of Ayr, and a judge in 
the Supreme Courts of Session and of Justiciary in Scotland, enjoying 
by virtue of this position the title Lord Auchinleck. Boswell's mother, 
Euphemia Erskine, was descended from the Earls of Mar and the 
Earls of Lennox and through the latter from James II of Scotland. 

1753-1759- Boswell went through the regular arts course at the 
College of Edinburgh and then studied law at the University during 
the session of 1 758-1 759. About that time, however, he began to show 
a special interest in the literary and theatrical life of the city and was, 
apparently for that reason, in 1 759 removed by his father to the Uni- 
versity of Glasgow where he again very quickly succeeded in form- 
ing theatrical friendships. 

1 760. In the spring, Boswell rairaway to London and made the ex- 
periment, exceedingly dangerous to his legal and political prospects, 
of becoming for a short time a Roman Catholic. He was reconverted 
under the tutelage of his father's Ayrshire neighbour the Earl of 
Eglinton and systematically introduced "into the circles of the great, 
the gay, and the ingenious." 

1 762 . In July he passed the civil law examination at Edinburgh. La 
the autumn he returned with his father's permission to London and 
attempted by influence to obtain the commission in the Foot Guards 
which his father refused to purchase. During the months of this first 
extended stay in London, Boswell wrote his first long stretch of Jour- 
nal. Towards the end, he met and became a friend of Samuel John- 
son. (Boswell's Journal was discovered in 1930 by Professor C. Colleer 
Abbott at Fettercairn House and in 1950 published under the title 

2 BoswelPs Life to November 1769 

BoswelFs London Journal, 176217631 the first volume of the present 
series, by the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., of New York and 
William Heinemann, Ltd., in London.) 

1763. Having failed to secure his commission, Boswell now 
yielded to his father's desire and agreed to become a lawyer; he 
crossed the Channel to Utrecht in August and spent an unhappily 
ascetic year in Holland applying himself to the study of civil law. 
Near the end, a relaxation of moral rigour and an interest in a Dutch 
girl of noble family, Belle de Zuylen (Zelide), revived his spirits. 
(His Journal for the period was in large part lost soon after, but the 
story, constructed from his memoranda and letters, has been pub- 
lished as the second volume of the present series, Boswell in Holland^ 
1 763-1 764^ 1 952, by the same publishers.) 

1764. In June Boswell started on his Grand Tour, the reward ex- 
torted from his father for the completion of his legal studies. His first 
travelling companion was the veteran Scots Jacobite and diplomat in 
the service of Prussia, George Keith, Earl Marischal of Scotland. After 
visiting a number of the German courts but failing to meet Frederick 
the Great, Boswell entered Switzerland, where he enjoyed the 
triumph of intimate conversations with Rousseau and Voltaire. (Bos- 
well on the Grand Tour: Germany and Switzerland^ 1764, appeared 
in 1954, the fourth 1 volume in the present series.) 

1 765. In January Boswell went over the Alps to Italy, where he 
continued with equal zest his usual pursuit of women and of im- 
portant personalities. He hob-nobbed with the English political exile 
John Wilkes, and he travelled with the Earl of Bute's eldest son, Lord 
Mountstuart The most serious amour of his continental sojourn oc- 
curred in Siena, with the wife of the "Capitano" or mayor of the city, 
Girolama Piccolomini. In October and November he visited revolu- 
tionary Corsica and achieved the friendship of the warrior leader 
Pasquale de Paoli. From Corsica he travelled to Genoa and then 
through France to Paris. (Boswell on the Grand Tour: Italy , Corsica^ 
and France^ 1765-1 7 66 , appeared in 1955, the fifth volume of this 

1766. In January at Paris Boswell read in a newspaper that his 
mother had died. He hurried homeward, stopping briefly at London, 
1 The third was Portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds, published in 1952. 

BoswelPs Life to November 1 769 3 

and arrived in Edinburgh about 7 March. During the next few 
months his experiments in gallantry became even more complicated 
than before, while at the same time he began to look more and more 
seriously towards marriage. A feverish interest in a gardener's 
daughter at Auchinleck soon gave way to a much deeper entangle- 
ment with a "dark" mistress, a "Circe,'* Mrs. Dodds, first encountered 
during a visit in May to the watering village of Moffat. At Edinburgh 
in late July he printed his Latin thesis on a title of the Roman Civil 
Law, Concerning Legacies of Household Furniture (De supellectile 
legato) , and having gone through the formality of defending it before 
the Faculty of Advocates, he was admitted advocate. Before the 
autumn circuit court at Glasgow, and then at Edinburgh with his 
friend Andrew Crosbie, Boswell successfully, if precariously, de- 
fended his first criminal client, John Reid, in a trial on the capital 
charge of sheep-stealing. He settled in now to spending busy winters 
and summers at Edinburgh during the sessions of court. He enjoyed 
a professional success which he realized, uncomfortably, was due in 
some measure to the presence of his father on the bench. 

1767. The year was marked by the continuation, rupture, and 
renewal of his affair with Mrs. Dodds, by the respectable courtship 
of Catherine Blair, an Ayrshire "Heiress" or "Princess," his father's 
candidate, and by his spectacular participation as publicist and vol- 
unteer advocate in the celebrated "cause" concerning the succession 
to the estate of Douglas. Boswell published a poem, an allegorical 
fiction (Dorando) , two polemical pamphlets, and an edition of Lady 
Jane Douglas's Letters in support of young Douglas, who suffered a 
temporary defeat in July of this year by a decision of the Court of 
Session. In December Mrs. Dodds presented him with a daughter, 

1768. Early in February Boswell renewed relations with Mrs. 
Dodds, was a few days later (though without connexion between the 
events) formally rejected by Miss Blair, and about the middle of the 
month published through Messrs. Dilly in London his first widely 
successful book, begun about a year earlier, his Account of Corsica. 
Having thus established his position as a man of letters, he set out in 
March on a three-months' trip to London, complicated by a brief ex- 
cursion to Oxford for the purpose of seeing Samuel Johnson. In 

4 BoswelVs Life to November 1 769 

August a new marital prospect appeared, an Irish heiress sixteen 
years old, Mary Ann Boyd, visiting in Ayrshire at the home of Bos- 
well's cousin Margaret Montgomerie. 

1 769. The year began auspiciously when in February the House 
of Lords reversed the decision of the Court of Session against Douglas, 
and Boswell led the Edinburgh mob which broke windows in the 
houses of his father and other judges who refused to acknowledge the 
event by "illumination.'* At the end of April Boswell in company 
with Miss Montgomerie went on a trip of conquest to Dublin, the 
home of the Irish heiress. The result was a new revelation or the con- 
firmation of an old suspicion, a conquest by his travelling companion: 
by 25 July he and Margaret Montgomerie were formally engaged. At 
the end of August he set out for a last bachelor jaunt, partly in order 
that the London doctors might "clear his constitution." The trip in- 
cluded a sortie in September to Garrick's Shakespeare Jubilee at Strat- 
ford-on-Avon, where he made his celebrated appearance at the masked 
ball as an armed Corsican Chief. On 10 November Samuel Johnson 
came in from Streatham to London with him and saw him into the 
post-chaise which was to carry him on his road to Scotland and his 
marriage a fortnight later. (The events of the three and a half years 
between BoswelPs return to Scotland from Paris in the winter of 1 766 
and his marriage in the autumn of 1 769 are told in Boswell in Search 
of a Wife> 1766-17691 which appeared in 1956, the sixth volume in 
the present series.) 


1772. Boswell was married to his cousin Margaret Montgomerie, his 
"valuable friend," his "lady," the woman whom he had "preferred to 
all others for her real merit," on Saturday 25 November 1769, at the 
seat of her family, Lainshaw, in the shire of Ayr. On the same day, or 
a few days earlier, at Edinburgh, BoswelFs father, nearly four years 
a widower, was married again, to another cousin, Elizabeth Boswell 
of Balmuto. 

The younger BoswelTs bride wore a white (or silver) dress which 
he had apparently brought up from London, and from Edinburgh to 
Lainshaw on the day of the wedding. At a late dinner that afternoon, 
not only the bride but Boswell himself was dressed in white. The 
wedding-ring was a plain gold band, for a slender finger. BoswelTs 
distinguished client and friend Douglas of Douglas was present and 
put his name as witness to the marriage contract, which had been 
witnessed in London by Samuel Johnson and Pasquale de Paoli. 

"I wish you could steal out of Edinburgh when nobody can 
suspect where you are going," Peggie Montgomerie had written, 
"and let the ceremony be put over as privately as possible, as I would 
like to remain in the country till you thought it necessary for me to 
come to town." Court was in session at Edinburgh; it is likely that his 
wife came back with him immediately in a letter three days before 
the marriage she had written: "Be you positive to take me with you." 
Lord Auchinleck's grudging acceptance of his niece (neither richly 
dowered nor brilliantly connected) , his habitual loggerheads with his 
son, his severe, sarcastic, and chilling manner, the passionate resent- 
ment of Boswell at the second marriage and all it might threaten for 
the family succession, made it unthinkable that Boswell could resume 
residence under his father's roof. In London, Samuel Johnson had 
strongly advised against this. In his last letter to his sweetheart "as 
a young lady," two days before the marriage, Boswell wrote: "I can- 
not think of our coming to my father's house. It would be mixing gall 

6 BoswelPs Life., November i j6Q-March 1 772 

with my honey. We shall concert what to do when we meet." The 
first two months of his domestic life remain almost invisible to us. 
He receives congratulations, both serious and jocular. The friends of 
his early days, Erskine and Temple, add expressions of commiseration 
on the marriage of his father. "I was very sorry that your father had 
felt a tingling in his veins and had done the most foolish thing that an 
old man can do." "Do not allow your father's marriage to affect your 
spirits. . . . Cultivate your stepmother's good opinion. . . . If your 
father should be provoked or inveigled to leave his estate past you, 
think what would be your situation, what would be Mrs. BoswelTs, 
what would be your children's! " 

The first letter known to survive from the hand of Boswell after his 
marriage is one addressed to his wife early in February of the new 
year. A brother-in-law of Mrs. BoswelTs died, and after the visit to 
Lainshaw for the funeral, Boswell returned alone to Edinburgh a week 
ahead of his wife. 

"I am anxious on account of the cold which you had when I left 
you. I am afraid your rising so early and taking so kind a charge of 
me, when setting out, may have done you harm. Pray take care of 
yourself. You have always been my steady friend. Consider that your 
being well and happy is absolutely necessary to make me so. ... Be- 
lieve me, my dearest, the short absence which I have now suffered has 
convinced me still more feelingly than before how much I love you, 
what real happiness it is to me to enjoy your company, and how ill 
I can do without you. . . . It is a common observation that we never 
value sufficiently any happiness till we are deprived of it. It is lucky if 
a short separation has the same effect on both our minds that the long 
and melancholy parting by death has on the survivor. . . . 

'Tomorrow I dine with Mr. Hugh Maxwell 2 in our new house. I 
shall please myself with the prospect of our happiness in it. . . . My 
family affairs go on very well. I keep an exact account, as I know you 
will make a strict inquiry into my administration." 

And she wrote on the same day, answering another letter he had 
written the day before: 

* A cousin of BoswelTs, a "writer," that is to say, a law-agent or solicitor. Many 
of BoswelTs acquaintances to be encountered in this volume will be writers. 

BosweWs Life, November i^dQ-March 1772 7 

"How much am I indebted to my kindest, dearest friend for the 
relief his friendly letter gave me! I dare say you can figure my distress, 
and may therefore judge how agreeable it was to receive good accounts 
when I was so apprehensive of the contrary. I thank God for his good- 
ness to me and pray for his friendship and protection to My Dearest 
Life. . . . I am sorry your father has been indisposed. Is it the cold or 
his old complaint?" 8 

The new house is no doubt the "house in the Cowgate near the 
Excise office," at which Boswell receives letters during March and 
April. No doubt a modest house, in that modest neighbourhood. They 
did not stay there long, but moved, the last week in May, to a more 
commodious place in the newest and finest residential development in 
Edinburgh, Chessel's Land, or Chessel's Buildings, in the Canongate. 
In the same month Boswell became a church lawyer, being admitted 
to practice at the Bar of the General Assembly. One of his closest pro- 
fessional friends, John MacLaurin, 4 lay leader of the popular party in 
the Assembly, sent him a witty celebration of the event in verse: The 
Moderator's Advice to James Boswell^ Esq. . . . to the tune of "A 
Bumper, Squire Jones' 9 in "The Provoked Wife" 

Sure great is the folly 

In him whom Paoli 

His friendship permitted to share 

To go for a guinea 

(Dear Boswell, what mean ye?) 
To plead at so scurvy a bar. . . . 

Boswell had been able to clear over eighty guineas during a winter 
term even in his first year at the bar (1766-1767). He had his clerk 
come to hrm every morning at six and could dictate to him in a pinch 
forty folio pages in a day. We can fill in without much trouble a pic- 

3 A suppression of urine, probably due to an enlarged prostate. The affliction 
had first appeared about four years earlier, when at the Ogilvy murder trial (see 
below, p. 29271. 8) Lord Auchinleck had sat nine hours without rising. One 
severe attack had occurred on the second day of January 1768. On the present 
occasion he had a cold. 
* See below, p. 209/1. 2. 

8 BosweWs Life, November ii6$-March 1772 

tore of the young advocate during his first winter of married life as 
a man "kept very throng," a man of affairs, thriving, extremely busy 
very much absorbed also in domestic felicity. He passes through a 
phase of his career marked so successfully by marital devotion, so- 
briety, and business that the record all but completely escapes being 

One legal cause in which Boswell was engaged at this time was 
characteristic of involvements which during the next few years would 
become both more frequent and more intense. A merchant in Ayr 
named William Harris had been arrested in the summer of 1 768 on 
a charge of wholesale forging of the notes of the Thistle Banking Com- 
pany in Glasgow. After lying in prison at Ayr and Edinburgh for 
about fifteen months, he had shortly before BoswelTs marriage es- 
caped from the Edinburgh Tolbooth but had been recaptured and put 
in irons. A statement by the gaoler concerning this phase of his im- 
prisonment records that Boswell visited him and gave him a guinea. 
In February he attempted to strangle himself. The "Petition and 
Complaint" brought against Harris early in 1769 by the Glasgow 
bankers in conjunction with the Lord Advocate resulted in an ex- 
tended trial during February 1 770 before the Court of Session. He was 
found guilty by a decreet of 10 March and remitted to the Court of 
Justiciary. He feigned madness at his criminal trial on 24 April but 
was pronounced sane and again found guilty. In a letter of 31 May 
to his close friend the philosophic Edinburgh writer and "worthy 
country gentleman" John Johnston of Grange, Boswell describes the 
final scenes: 

"I visited Harris the evening before he was executed, and insisted 
to know from him as a dying man the truth as to his accomplices. He 
persisted in what I told you and added something stronger. ... I 
can hardly believe him. I saw him hanged yesterday. He seemed very 
penitent and not at all frightened. He suffered great pain to all ap- 
pearance. I was much shocked and am still gloomy," 

We get other glimpses of BoswelTs mind during this period 
through his correspondence with Temple, his old classmate at the 
University of Edinburgh and his closest friend, now rector of the small 
parish of Mamhead in Devonshire. Boswell had paid a visit there, 

BoswelFs Life, November i j6g-March i 772 9 

going down from London, during the autumn before his marriage, 
had formed or at least had expressed in his Journal a better opinion of 
Mrs. Temple than he had earlier entertained, and had stood godfather 
to Temple's first son. Temple was the correspondent to whom Boswell 
had spread out the most unexpurgated pageant of his adventurous 
heart during his years in search of a wife. It will be readily conceived 
that the new Boswell no longer had quite so much to say to Temple, 
nor so much gusto of introspection and lover's torment to say it with. 
Temple himself during these years is increasingly a doleful and ver- 
bose correspondent, full to the brim with his own frustrations, his pro- 
vincial seclusion, his poverty, his growing family, his abortive literary 
hopes and projects (to write a history of Venice, of Florence, of Rome, 
to translate some Italian book of travels) . He sends frequent requests 
to Boswell, or to David Hume through Boswell, for advice on what 
books he ought to read, in what order, what he ought to try to write. 
He sends other requests, unhappy pleas, to Boswell to use influence 
with somebody to get him a better place, a chaplainship at Turin, 
Venice, or Florence. Nevertheless, Temple stands always high in Bos- 
well's esteem, and he succeeds in writing paragraphs of kindly, if 
sometimes rather officious, insight into BoswelTs affairs, of warm 
friendly and "sacerdotal" advice. On 15 December, the same day that 
he wrote his letter of congratulation to Boswell, Temple had written 
also to Mrs. Boswell: 

"My DEAR MADAM, I hope you will pardon the liberty I take in 
addressing you in this familiar and affectionate manner. . . . Indeed 
I do not know a more valuable man than Mr. BoswelL No man has a 
better heart, no man has better principles, no man has a nicer sense 
of honour. ... If anybody can make my friend happy, I think you 
must be the person. Your easiness of temper and equal flow of spirits 
will keep him in good humour, check his flights when he soars too 
high, and gently agitate and exhilarate him when he inclines towards 
melancholy and gloomy reflections. Your own prudence will tell you 
how necessary it is that he should live upon a friendly footing with his 
father and even his stepmother." 

When Boswell resumes his correspondence with Temple during 
the spring of 1770, such messages, such themes (mingled with much 

10 BoswelFs Life, November if6&-March 1772 

more about Hume on studying history, about Temple's own dilemma 

and discontent) pass repeatedly back and forth. 

"Why do you still distress yourself about your father's marriage? 
You know at all adventures you would not have lived with him, his 
wife can have no children, and I suppose he will leave her a very mod- 
erate jointure. Take my advice then, live in a friendly and familiar 
manner with them and make yourself easy." TEMPLE, 26 April. 

"Well do I know that I have the seeds of the same discontent. But 
I strive to bury them." BOSWELL, 7 May. 

"Women at forty seldom conceive; if they do, it is often fatal to 
them. . . . Does Mrs. Boswell engross you entirely? Can the gay, 
the volatile Boswell, whom hardly variety itself could satiate, confine 
himself to one object? Have you no expedition in your head, no essay 
in prose, no epistle in verse? or do you begin to think it your chief 
merit to be a good husband and a good lawyer? Throw yourself out 
upon paper, let me know all the movements of your heart!" TEM- 
PLE, c. 26 May. 

"My father is come to town and never looked better in his life. 
Honest man, he really is, I believe, very fond of me; and we are at 
present on very good terms. I behave with prudence towards the per- 
son who has occasioned so much uneasiness. I do not as yet see any 
appearance of her multiplying." BOSWELL, 19 June. 

Both Temple and Boswell were approaching fatherhood that sum- 
mer, Boswell for the first time (legitimately), Temple for the second, 
and Temple strained at the leash towards the moment of escape when 
he could contrive a trip to the North first to Gainslaw, near Ber- 
wick, where he felt he had family business to superintend ("Good 
God! how my father has managed my little fortune!") and then, in 
a bolder dash, even farther. "As soon as my wife is a week delivered, 
I set out for the North; I hope the first or second Sunday in August. I 
trust soon after to see you at Edinburgh. ..." Temple's wife was 
safely delivered of a son on the 2Oth of July, and on the 6th of August 
Temple set out On the soth he wrote: "Pray tell me how Mrs. Bos- 
well is and when you wish me to come. Are you a father yet?" 

BoswelVs Life, November iiGg-March 1772 11 

But Boswell had been less fortunate. His son, born on 28 August, 
after Mrs. Boswell had suffered two days of "illness and real danger," 
died within two hours. We have his note the next day to Johnston of 
Grange ("Pray come to me directly") and a letter to Temple: "I am 
very glad you are so near me. ... I have much need of your com- 
fort." And this is followed by an exchange in which incidental ref- 
erences to a certain philosopher of Edinburgh chime appropriately 
enough with an inquiry into the origins of parental feeling. 

"You ought not, you cannot feel much for what you have lost. 
People of reflection love their children not so much from instinct as 
from a knowledge and esteem of their good and amiable qualities. 
Think then no more of your misfortune and trust that Providence will 
be more favourable to you upon another occasion. ... Is Mr. Hume 
now at Edinburgh?" TEMPLE, 4 September. 

"The consolation of hearing from you and the prospect of seeing 
you soon do me more good than your philosophical consideration on 
the death of my child. I grant you that there is no reason for our hav- 
ing an affection for an infant which, as it is not properly a rational 
being, can have no qualities to engage us; yet Nature has given us 
such an instinctive fondness that being deprived of an infant gives us 
real distress. I have experienced this; and there is no arguing against 
it. ... 

"Mr. Hume is just now at Sir Gilbert Elliot's country seat. He will 
be here again in ten days. . . . My wife will be in her drawing-room 
next week, if it please God to continue to favour her. My dear friend! 
how happy will it make me to have you under my roof and enjoy with 
you some invaluable hours of elegant friendship and classical social- 
ity." BOSWELL, 6 September. 

Temple came during the third week of September and stayed 
about a week. As he retreated again to the South, he and Boswell wrote 
echoing portraits of BoswelTs felicity in his wife: 

"How can I express with what regret I parted from you! I had not 
passed a week so happily a long time. I shall always remember with 
pleasure and gratitude the sensible, the lively conversation of Mrs. 
Boswell (let me call her your excellent wife), and her tender atten- 

12 BoswelFs Life y November ifdg-March 1772 

tion about me. O fortunate nimium si bona, etc. 6 If you are not the 
happiest of mortals, it will be your own fault. Never did I see such a 
command of temper, such amiable sensibility. It is absolute cruelty 
and tyranny to give that woman the least room for uneasiness. De- 
pend upon it, you will always be in the wrong; she loves you too well 
ever to give you unnecessary pain. Continue to love her, to respect 
her, and thank God daily for having given you, for preserving to you, 
so excellent a wife. Tell her I wish her every satisfaction this world 
can afford. . . . 

"Make my respectful compliments to Mr. Hume." TEMPLE, 
30 September. 

"You cannot say too much to me of my wife. How dare you quote 
to me sua si bona norint? I am fully sensible of my happiness in being 
married to so excellent a woman, so sensible a mistress of a family, so 
agreeable a companion, and above all so affectionate and peculiarly 
proper helpmate for me. I own I am not so much on my guard against 
fits of passion or gloom as I ought to be; but that is really owing to her 
great goodness. There is something childish in it I confess. I ought 
not to indulge such fits. It is like a child that lets itself fall purposely, 
to have the pleasure of being tenderly raised up again by those who are 
fond of it. I shall endeavour to be better. Upon the whole, I do believe 
I make her very happy. God bless and preserve her." BOSWELL, 6 

And Boswell announces that they intend to set out on Monday for 
Ayrshire. They would stay part of the time with her sister at Lain- 
shaw, and part at Auchinleck. It would be their second return to Lain- 
shaw since the marriage, their first to Auchinleck, to BoswelTs father 
and the other person. 

In spite of the loss of their first child, in spite of strained relations 
with the household of Lord Auchinleck, in spite of Mrs. BoswelTs un- 
certain health during the next year, this period must have been a very 
successful and happy one in the lives of Boswell and his wife. There 
is little to indicate that the tenor of their existence did not remain 
relatively unruffled for another year and a half. During the winter 

9 "O happy farmers! did they but know their blessings!" (O forfunatos nimium, 
$ua si bona norint, agricolas! Virgil, Georgics II. 458-459) , 

BoswelUs Life, November if6g-March 1772 13 

of 1 771 they moved once more, this time into a smallish flat which be- 
longed to the philosopher David Hume and had formerly been his 
home, in James's Court, in the Lawnmarket. It is perhaps significant 
that the letters of Temple during this year, though they continue in 
frequency and length and are increasingly full of his own literary and 
domestic problems ("My wife's questions indeed and the petulance 
and squalls of my children often interrupt me and distract my atten- 
tion"), at the same time tell us somewhat less than before about the 
troubles of Boswell. BoswelTs side of the correspondence for this period 
is lost. And he was keeping no Journal. A few happy and sunlit pic- 
tures of the Boswells on vacation are preserved in letters from Boswell 
to Johnston of Grange. Immediately after a swing into Ayrshire, on 
22 May 1771: 

"My wife and I had a very good journey west. I left her at Trees- 
bank with her sister 6 and went by myself to Auchinleck, where I was 
four nights. I then accompanied my father on the Western Circuit. I 
passed six days at Inveraray, without seeing a shower; and being in 
perfect good health I fully saw the whole of that plape, which is truly 
a magnificent seat. It has all the highland wild grandeur, and a vast 
addition from art. I have written a pretty good description of it, which 
you shall see. I then came on the Circuit to Glasgow, where I passed 
two days, and then returned to Treesbank, where I remained two 
nights comfortably and quietly; and then my wife and I, with a little 
daughter of Treesbank, came into Edinburgh. 

"I am now in my house in James's Court, which we find large 
enough for us, very convenient, and exceedingly healthful and pleas- 
ant. My wife is very fond of it. Her jaunt to the country has done her 
great good, made her fatter, and given her a much stronger look than 
when we parted. . . . 

"I am immersed in General Assembly business, having no less 
than five causes before that venerable court and being in expectation 
of a sixth. I am engaged on different sides both for and against patron- 
age. But you know I am to have no opinion. I am only to speak in the 
person of others. So that the judgements of the Assembly do not affect 

o Mary Montgomerie. She was the second wife of James Campbell of Treesbank, 
an elderly cousin of BoswelTs. 

14 BoswelFs Life, November j6^-March 1772 

But let them say or let them do, 
It's aw ane to me, 
If I but get into my pouch 
A braw swingeing fee, etc." 

Again, in late August, Boswell took his wife for a week's jaunt to 
the South writing a journal-style letter which he put into Grange's 
hand on his return to Edinburgh. "We dined at Norton and got to 
Cornhill at night, so that we slept the very first night in old England." 
Onward, the next day, past country-seat and castle, they drove pleas- 
antly, past 

"... the bridge at Coldstream, the ancient castle on the English 
side . . . Flodden Field, Milf ord Plain, the finest sheep-ground and 
hunting-ground that can be imagined, and several seats whose names 
the post-boys could not tell. We had fine weather, and my travelling 
companion was delighted with ihe quick, lively motion of driving 

In September and October Boswell made another pilgrimage and 
a retreat with his father at Auchinleck. His purposes were bucolic and 
legal education that is, to allow his father to instruct him in the 
care of the estate and in Scots law and antiquities. Lord Hailes's letter 
of 23 September, forwarded by Mrs. Boswell from Edinburgh, urges 
Boswell to attend carefully to all that his father has to say about the 
law. "Everything that you hear you ought to commit to writing." 
BoswelPs letter to Grange (20 October 1771) describes the sober and 
diligent life of the pupil. 

"The complaint 7 which I had is quite removed by sober regular 
living, country air, and exercise. I have been serving an apprentice- 
ship with my father in the art of pruning, and I hope in time to be a 
skilful and diligent guardian of the trees here. My father has been as 
good as his word in giving me a college upon the election law of Scot- 
land, mixed with its antiquities, which illustrate it in an entertaining 
manner, and without which one cannot have a full and clear knowl- 
edge of it. My father just dictated to me a system, which I took down 

7 Possibly a return of the malaria which he had contracted in Corsica and had 
suffered from again in the autumn of 1766. 

BosweWs Life, November if6g-March 1772 15 

in writing, and which will be a valuable collection.* I can say with 
truth that I have been employing my time to good purpose." 

Still this stay at his father's house was a retreat, a separation and priva- 
tion. Apparently his wife had come with him on the visit to Auchin- 
leck in October of 1 770, but on the second visit to the West, in May of 
this year, she had pointedly remained with her sister at Treesbank. 
And now: 

"I must tell you that I have suffered much more than anybody 
would imagine, on account of so long a separation from my wife. You 
know, my worthy friend, with what uncommon affection and true 
happiness she and I live together. To be deprived of that inestimable 
blessing for day after day and week after week (for so I have counted 
the time though it is not four weeks yet since I left her) has seriously 
distressed me. I have been seized with fits of impatience and my heart 
has fluttered like a bird confined in a cage, and I have had the most 
anxious apprehensions about her, while my strong imagination has 
in the silence and solitude of night presented to me such dreary 
thoughts as are the more afflicting that we can have no certainty but 
they may be realized. Thank God, she is in much better health than 
when I left her." 

Boswell's parallel account to Temple is lost, but we have Temple's 

"I think you were very right in passing part of your vacation with 
your father, but am sorry my prudent friend did not accompany you. 
So manifest a proof of dislike and irreverence cannot serve any good 
purpose. . . . Pray desire her to learn a little dissimulation, or to give 
it a more honourable name, a little Christian charity and forgiveness. 
... If you think I have said too much, do not show this part of my 

We may suppose that the effect of these words upon Boswell was some- 
what muffled by the volume of Temple's own complaints: "It grieves 

8 Boswell's manuscript of his father's "Observations on the Election Law of Scot- 
land" is owned by Mrs. Joyce T. McCombe (formerly Lady Talbot de Mala- 
hide); it is deposited in the National library of Scotland. The text was pri- 
vately printed at Edinburgh in 1825. 

1 6 BoswelPs Life, November i jS^-March 1 772 

me, my dear friend, to say it, but in my desponding hours I am some- 
times inclined to suspect that you do not feel for me as I think I would 
for you in my situation. . . . Indeed, I begin to experience some of 
the symptoms of age before I am well a man. My nerves already trem- 
ble, as you must perceive by my handwriting." 

And all this while, what of Boswell the man of letters, the man of 
travels, the friend of Johnson, of Garrick, of Goldsmith, of Paoli? 
What of Corsica Boswell? BoswelPs inevitable return to the world of 
these associations would not of course be an entirely unprepared erup- 
tion. It would have been difficult for him to cease altogether at this 
stage of his career to be the public figure. Corsica alone would carry 
him a long way. Already he was on the Continent one of the best 
known English authors better known perhaps than Samuel John- 
son. In addition to the three London editions of Corsica and the three 
editions printed in Ireland, there had been, as Boswell was later to 
point out proudly, translations into Dutch, German, and Italian, and 
two into French. What prevented an appearance in Russian seems to 
have been mainly the fact that a writer hard at work during the spring 
of 1 771 fell dead one evening in the very act of translation. 9 It would 
have been exceedingly difficult now for Boswell to change his habits 
so radically as to refrain from contributions to the periodical press. 
Has marked file of The London Chronicle shows us during the first 
half of 1770 alone no fewer than nine communications on political, 
civic, legal, and literary topics. (This newspaper was sent to Boswell 
"as a present from the proprietors.") More ambitious essays appear 
during these years in The London Magazine, of which in fact Boswell 
had become one of the proprietors while in London during the autumn 
of 1 769.* From London, Boswell's words in both Magazine and Chron- 
icle were as likely as not to be echoed back to Edinburgh in The Scots 

One of the most conspicuous themes is the theatrical. Boswell's 
early and eager resort to the world of the theatre had given him a 
habit which did not wear off easily. After his return from the Conti- 
nent, one of his most widely publicized theatrical feats had been the 

1 As Boswell's correspondent in St. Petersburg put it, death "translated" him. 
1 Boswell seems to have held a sixth part of the ownership, worth in 1777 240. 
The yearly dividend was in 1774 &5 (see below, p. 272) and in 1778 12. 11. 4. 

BoswelFs Life, November i fdg-March 1 772 1 7 

Prologue which he wrote for the London actor David Ross on his open- 
ing of a Theatre Royal at Edinburgh, against strong local opposition, 
in December 1 767. ("This night loved GEORGE'S free enlightened age 
Bids ROYAL FAVOUR shield the Scottish stage. ... I wish to hold no 
RIGHT but by YOUR choice; I'll trust my patent to the PUBLIC VOICE.") 
Two years later, in the month after BoswelTs marriage, the Prologue 
for the opening of the new season was both written and spoken by 
Ross, but Boswell participated by sending an account to The London 
Chronicle shortly after a "Notice" of his own marriage. Congratu- 
lations on his marriage came to Boswell from Ross in the same month, 
and in February another old theatrical companion, the author-actor 
Francis Gentleman (dedicator to Boswell of an edition of the tragedy 
Oroonoko in 1760), wrote from London, combining flowery congrat- 
ulations with announcement of a new tragedy of his own, just pub- 
lished. During the first year after his marriage (August, September, 
and October 1770) Boswell came out in The London Magazine with 
three essays "On the Profession of a Player" the first two being in 
part an encomium on the acting of David Garrick, in part a shrewd 
self-revelation concerning BoswelFs own affinity for the stage. 

"Mr. Garrick exhibits in his own person such a variety of charac- 
ters, with such propriety and excellence, as not only to catch the im- 
mediate applause of the multitude, but to be the delight and admira- 
tion of the judicious, enlightened, and philosophical spectators." 
August 1 770. 

"If I may be allowed to conjecture what is the nature of that mys- 
terious power by which a player really is the character which he rep- 
resents, my notion is that he must have a kind of double feeling. He 
must assume in a strong degree the character which he represents, 
while he at the same time retains the consciousness of his own char- 
acter. The feelings and passions of the character which he represents 
must take full possession as it were of the antechamber of his mind, 
while his own character remains in the innermost recess. This is ex- 
perienced in some measure by the barrister who enters warmly into 
the cause of his client, while at the same time, when he examines him- 
self coolly, he knows that he is much in the wrong, and does not even 
wish to prevail." September 1 770. 

i8 BoswelPs Life, November ifGy-March 1772 

Early in the year 1771, BoswelTs friend Alexander Donaldson, 
the Edinburgh publisher, brought out an eight-volume duodecimo 
edition of Shakespeare. To this he prefixed a dedication to Garrick, the 
eloquence of which may well have aroused in the right readers a cer- 
tain kind of suspicion. 

"An edition of Shakespeare is inscribed to you with such peculiar 
propriety that it cannot fail of meeting with universal approbation. 
You, Sir, by animating his characters on the stage, have shown the 
British nation the astonishing treasures of the Father of their Drama: 
and I even question if ever his genius was sufficiently acknowledged 
by the general voice till you appeared." 

In a letter written to Garrick on 30 March, Boswell apologizes for long 
silence ("I married a few weeks after I left you. . . . lam . . . com- 
fortably settled. . . . Tempora mutantur") and then quickly stakes 
out a claim: 

"Mr. Donaldson tells me he has sent you a copy of his edition of 
Shakespeare. You must know the dedication is written by your hum- 
ble servant. I should be glad to know how you like it." 

That year the Edinburgh Theatre was leased by one of Garrick's 
most formidable rivals, the English Aristophanes, the mimic-actor 
and manager Samuel Foote. One of the incidents which Boswell re- 
membered years later, in writing his Life of Johnson, was that in a 
"numerous Scotch company" Foote undertook to entertain "with a 
great deal of coarse jocularity" at the expense of Johnson. "I felt this," 
says Boswell, "as not civil to me, but sat very patiently till he had ex- 
hausted his merriment on that subject, and then observed that surely 
Johnson must be allowed to have some sterling wit, and that I had 
heard him say a very good thing of Mr. Foote himself." With Foote 
all eagerness to hear, Boswell then related a piece of conversation 
which he had recorded in his London Journal of October 1 769: 

BOSWELL. "Pray, Sir, is not Foote an infidel?" JOHNSON. "I do not 
know, Sir, that ho is an infidel. But if he be an infidel, he is an infidel 
as a dog is an infidel; that is to say, he has never thought upon the sub- 

BoswelFs Life, November ifdQ-March 1772 19 

In the letter to Garrick, Boswell says that Foote is making a "very good 
campaign of it," that he has along with him in his troupe Henry 
Woodward, who has been a "great support," and also "his favourite 
Mrs. Jewell," who, however, has "not taken." "Her poorness of figure 
and awkward inanimate action disgust us much." (At about the same 
date, Boswell receives a facetious invitation from Woodward in the 
character of a Jonsonian braggart: "Captain Bobadil kisses Master 
BoswelTs hilts; does not command, but entreats him to a taste of his 
Trinidado. . . . ") Garrick's reply to Boswell reveals how theatrical 
success, like other kinds, may depend much upon point of view: "Our 
friend Foote has convinced me that he has brought from Scotland a 
balance of above one thousand pounds but his account of the the- 
atrical matters there differs widely from yours. He tells me (this is 
between ourselves) that he was much followed and that Woodward 
was deserted, and likewise that Mrs. Jewell was much approved of." 

It is possible that Boswell had entered upon his married life with 
something like a conscious resolution to keep his back turned for a 
good while upon the attractions of his former ways. Or, more likely, a 
spontaneous absorption in domestic duties, in domestic felicity, and in 
his freshly realized powers as an advocate had kept him for a while 
simply unmindful of his important friends in the South. But an 
equally spontaneous motive or concurrence of motives turned his mind 
once again, during the spring of 1 771, in the old direction. The letter 
to Garrick of 30 March was followed on 18 April by one to Johnson. 
Of this unhappily we know only the beginning, inserted by Boswell 
later in the Life of Johnson. 

"Mr DEAR SIR, I can now fully understand those intervals of 
silence in your correspondence with me which have often given me 
anxiety and uneasiness; for although I am conscious that my venera- 
tion and love for Mr. Johnson have never in the least abated, yet I 
have deferred for almost a year and a half to write to him." 

Johnson waited about two months and then wrote (20 June) : 

"DEAR SIR . . . I wished for your letter a long time, and when it 
came it amply recompensed the delay. I never was so much pleased as 
now with your account of yourself and sincerely hope that between 

20 BoswelFs Life, November ij6Q-March 1772 

public business, improving studies, and domestic pleasures, neither 
melancholy nor caprice will find any place for entrance. Whatever 
philosophy may determine of material nature, it is certainly true of 
intellectual nature that it abhors a vacuum^ our minds cannot be 
empty; and evil will break in upon them if they are not preoccupied 
by good. My dear Sir, mind your studies, mind your business, make 
your lady happy, and be a good Christian." 

During the summer, the Professor of Moral Philosophy at Aber- 
deen and author of a notable anti-Humean Essay on Truth published 
early in 1 770,* Mr. James Beattie, was on his way to London and car- 
ried with him from Boswell a note of recommendation to Johnson. 
"His genius and learning, and labours in the service of virtue and re- 
ligion" rendered him very worthy of it. The best time to find Johnson 
"at home," wrote Boswell to Beattie himself, "is about eleven o'clock 
in the forenoon.'* 

"Although you may not find him the first time you call, do not give 
up your purpose of waiting upon him. It was by much perseverance 
that I attained to that acquaintance with him which improved into an 
intimacy that I value very highly. ... I would suggest to you that 
it may be necessary for you to exert yourself when with Mr. Johnson 
to lead him to talk of such subjects as are agreeable. You must not be 
discouraged though he should appear reserved and wanting in some 
of the commonplace modes of making a stranger easy. Bring him upon 
something worthy of his abilities as soon as you can, and I will venture 
to promise you conversation superior to any you have ever heard." 

On the 3Oth of July this summer the poet Gray died, and Temple, 
who had known Gray well at Cambridge, concluded a letter of 3 Sep- 
tember to Boswell with a character of Gray which Boswell liked so 
well that he sent it to The London Magazine, where it was published 
without Temple's name in March 1 772. (Later this was picked up by 
William Mason for the conclusion of his Life of Gray his "Perora- 
tion," as Boswell said, an "apex upon the top of the monument of 

3 Boswell appears as yet to be unaware of Seattle's Spenserian poem, The 
Minstrel, which had appeared earlier this year and is today his principal claim 
on posterity. See below, p. 145. 

BoswelVs Life, November ij6g-March 1772 21 

Another event of the summer, Roswell's excursion with his wife to 
Newcastle in August, was not without its special literary opportunity. 
On the way home, they stopped at Alnwick, and Boswell sent over to 
the Castle a note to the "Rev. Mr. Percy who published the Reliques of 
Ancient English Poetry"* ("Reverend Sir, I have been taking a little 
jaunt in the north of England with my wife for her health, and am 
just arrived at Alnwick, where I am informed you now are. If you are 
at leisure, I should be very happy to have the pleasure of your com- 
pany at the White Hart.") Percy came and "sat an hour"* with them, 
giving Boswell "good accounts" of Johnson. 

The summer reached a climax when the hero of the Corsicans, 
General Pasquale de Paoli, visited Scotland in company with the Pol- 
ish Ambassador, Count Burzynski. From Tuesday 3 to Wednesday 1 1 
September, Boswell showed them Edinburgh and conducted them on 
a triumphal progress of the West: to the Carron Iron Works, to Glas- 
gow and the University, to Auchinlecfc, to Treesbank, to Loch Lo- 
mond. He kept hasty notes of a few conversations during this visit. He 
sent a flourished account to The London Magazine. Early in this year 
Mr. Charles Gascoigne of the Carron Works had been dunning Bos- 
well and his friend Crosbie for a sum of 514. 11. i which was still 
owed by a group of Scottish gentlemen who had sent cannon to the 
brave Corsicans a few years past. In BoswelTs London Magazine ac- 
count of Paoli's visit: 

"They . . . proceeded on the Falkirk road and viewed the great 
canal of communication between the eastern and western seas, which 
is without question one of the greatest works in modern times. They 

3 Not the direction on the letter but BoswelTs explanation in his letter to Grange. 

4 Percy's diary in the British Museum, 26 August, has inserted in a smaller hand- 
writing than the rest (perhaps at a later date): "I saw Mr. and Mrs. Boswell at 
the Swan." His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland had been visiting at 
Alnwick Castle for several days, making various trips around the country. This 
evening there was a "grand dinner, cards, etc." at the Castle, and Percy had to 
hurry back. On the morning of 27 August Percy set out with the Prince and 
others in ten carriages for Berwick-upon-Tweed, where the Corporation was to 
give a dinner and the Duke of Northumberland a ball. The Boswells were in- 
vited to the latter. But Boswell, sitting at the inn writing to Grange, decided to 
"shun" the crowd and confusion and shortage of horses and go home a quieter 
way. Meanwhile: "Monsieur Dutens, formerly resident at Turin and now an 

22 BoswelFs Life, November ijGg-March 1772 

then viewed the iron works at Carron, which are carried on at so prodi- 
gious an expense and have diffused so much opulence and such a spirit 
of improvement in that part of the country. General Paoli had a pe- 
culiar pleasure in viewing the forge where were formed the cannon 
and warlike stores which a society of gentlemen in Scotland sent to 
the aid of the brave Corsicans. They were elegantly entertained at 
dinner by Charles Gascoigne, Esq., of the Carron company, and while 
they sat at table all the vessels at Carron-shore, which were just in 
their view, had their flags displayed, a circumstance which led the 
general to speak with his usual esteem of the British hearts of oak" 

In a letter to Garrick, Boswell alludes to the Auchinleck stage of 
the tour. "I have just been enjoying the very great happiness of a visit 
from my illustrious friend Pascal Paoli. He was two nights at Auchin- 
leck, and you may figure the joy of my worthy father and me at seeing 
the Corsican Hero in our romantic groves." (Lord Auchinleck's well- 
enough-known characterization of Paoli as a "landlouping scoundrel 
of a Corsican" was later set down or invented by Sir Walter 
Scott) General Paoli spent his last night in Scotland at Boswell's 
house in Edinburgh, and on his departure next day Mrs. Boswell her- 
self gave him "a convoy as far as Haddington." 

Another part of Boswell's letter to Garrick calls attention to the 
three essays "On the Profession of a Player" in The London Magazine 
last year ("Pray have you read them?") . And Boswell makes the fol- 
lowing pregnant announcement: "I intend being in London next 
March, and promise myself much happiness with you and my other 
friends there." 

It seems characteristic of the complicated life which Boswell al- 
ways led that even so agreeable an event as the visit of Paoli could 
have uncomfortable consequences. Sir David Dalrymple, Lord 
Hailes, colleague of Boswell's father in the Court of Session, avuncular 
friend and antiquarian correspondent of Boswell, had a brother who 
was Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh. This Lord Provost for some 
reason failed to confer upon Paoli and the Polish Ambassador the free- 

English clergyman, who has been making the tour of Europe with Lord Algernon 
Percy, is left in the Castle. He showed us the inside of it, and an old porter showed 
us the outside." 

BoswelFs Life, November i 7&Q~-March 1 772 23 

dom of the city and failed also to entertain them. Boswell, in the gen- 
erously indignant but somewhat indirect manner which he often 
enough displayed, published two anonymous attacks upon the Provost 
in letters to the printer of The London Chronicle (24 October and 28 
November) , the second of these being an ironically pretended refuta- 
tion of the first: 

"I see, Sir, you do not know that our Provost is what is called a 
Luckenbooths Merchant, that is to say, is one who keeps a shop for re- 
tailing cloths, silks, and other materials for dress. Now, Sir, I desire to 
know what chance he could have of selling any goods either to General 
Paoli or the Polish Ambassador? . . . As to the expense of entertain- 
ing the strangers ... as they are both Roman Catholics, he could 
have invited them on a meagre day. . . Your correspondent says 
he has heard abundance of personal reflections! Our Provost's person, 
I am sure, cannot be reflected upon with any justice, unless being fat 
is to be held as a reflection." 

BoswelTs reward was a peppery letter from the Lord of Session: 

"DEAR SIR, Having^ long taken a sort of charge of you in vari- 
ous circumstances of life, I think it necessary to explain to you the 
reason of my putting a memorandum into your hands this morn- 
ing. . . . 

"I hope that because you was dissatisfied with his conduct in one 
particular, you did not insinuate that there were other unnamed cir- 
cumstances in his conduct which you could mention as blameworthy. 
I hope that while you attacked with a charge you did not stab with an 
insinuation. . . . in other words, I hope you are no* the author of the 
two articles in the London newspapers." 

Hailes docketed his copy of the letter: "No answer made to this: but 
he visited me no longer." 

Along with this letter from Hailes, we may note an exchange that 
had taken place between Boswell and another judge, Lord Kames, 
about a year earlier (6 and 13 October 1 770) . He wrote to Lord Kames 
putting a combined question of law and conscience. "You know it has 
been questioned by some nice philosophers whether the practice of 

24 BoswelTs Life, November 76g-March 1772 

the law be consistent with strict moral rectitude." This question had 
come home with peculiar force on BoswelTs looking up a principle in 
Raines's Dictionary of Decisions and then going down to the Advo- 
cates' Library to consult the original manuscript report on the six- 
teenth-century case cited in the Dictionary. He found that the latter 
was "totally different" from what the Dictionary said. "Now, my good 
Lord, what ought I to do? The Dictionary of Decisions is a book of au- 
thority in our Court ... I know your Lordship is not answerable 
for the exactness of every decision in the Dictionary, as you have told 
me a part of it was done by another hand." "Friend Boswell," wrote 
Kames in reply, "I have not been much accustomed to answer casuisti- 
cal queries, especially of such a squeamish nature. What business had 
your officious Honour to pry into secrets was not the Dictionary 
sufficient authority without going f arther? Take what you have got 
for your peeping." Then, relaxing, he went on to give Boswell some 
very good legal advice (perhaps what Boswell was in part angling 
for) and ended, "Yours affectionately, Henry Home. My hearty good 
wishes to your spouse, not forgetting, as the phrase is, my good brother 
and his lady." 

On the first day of the new year, 1772, Boswell began again to 
keep a condensed Journal, mainly notes of social engagements and 
law cases, with a gradual increase of miscellaneous comment as the 
Journal lengthened into the month of March. We learn that he was 
deeply absorbed in professional duties. On 7 February, for instance, 
"hard, hard work." One entry, that for 21 February, shows that rela- 
tions with the stepmother were not entirely ruptured. "My father and 
LadyAuchinleck . . . dined. Comfortable." 

Other entries in February allude to BoswelTs participation as 
counsel for the defence in a criminal trial. A certain George Mac- 
donald, alias Baddinoch, indicted at the instance of His Majesty's Ad- 
vocate for stealing an ox during the past summer in the county of 
Perth, and also for stealing seventeen sheep, and accused of "being 
habit and repute a thief," was tried before the Court of Justiciary on 
17 February. The examination of witnesses took all day, until eight 
o'clock at night, when the Solicitor-General, Henry Dundas, summed 
up for the Crown and Boswell for the accused "very ably." The 
jury next day found the sheep proved (though not the ox) and Mac- 

BoswelPs Life, November i j6$-March 1 772 25 

donald a person of suspicious character, even if not a thief by "habit 
and repute." He was sentenced to transportation for life, the first seven 
years of his service to be given to the contractor for carrying convicts. 
BoswelTs record of the trial day shows him well enough content 

[MONDAY] 17 [FEBRUARY], Up by four, busy preparing charge 
to jury for Macdonald. Fine and solemn. In court all day, felt manly 
and calm and bold. Home fine. 

BoswelPs return to London for the first time after his marriage 
was now close at hand. Certain letters to and from London immedi- 
ately preceded it. An exchange with Garrick at the end of February 
turned on the fact that word had come to Boswell that Garrick, per- 
haps through the carelessness of his maid, had lost BoswelTs letter of 
the preceding October. "I ought in law and justice to prevail in an ac- 
tion of damages against her, and should be allowed to make oath as to 
the pretium affectionis which I put upon a letter from Mr. Garrick. 
I need not tell you that I could very honestly swear to a very high 
value; probably to more than your maid could well spare. If your 
maid be handsome and I were not a married man, I would move that 
she should give satisfaction by delivery of her person to the plaintiff 
according to the maxim of the civil law, Qid non habet in aere luat in 
pelle"* And Garrick: "It gives me great pleasure with the rest of your 
friends to hear that you are so happy; it is an old observation, and may 
be a true one, that rakes make the best husbands; however, between 
you and me, I think there is some risk in the experiment, and I most 
sincerely wish your lady joy of her success in the trial." 

The proposed trip to London had a comfortable enough profes- 
sional excuse. This was the principal theme of an exchange between 
Boswell and Johnson. 

[Boswell to Samuel Johnson] 

Edinburgh, 3 March 1772 

MY DEAR SIR, It is hard that I cannot prevail with you to write 
to me oftener. But I am convinced that it is in vain to push you for a 
private correspondence with any regularity. I must therefore look 
5 He who does not have the price in coin shall have it taken out of his hide. 

26 BoswelFs Life, November i?6Q-March 1772 

upon you as a fountain of wisdom from whence few rills are communi- 
cated to a distance, and which must be approached at its source to par- 
take fully of its virtues. 

I fairly own that after an absence from you for any length of time 
I feel that I require a renewal of that spirit which your presence al- 
ways gives me, and which makes me a better and a happier man than 
I imagined I could be before I was introduced to your acquaintance. 

I am coming to London for some weeks this spring and hope to 
find you there and at length to fix our voyage to the Hebrides, or at 
least our journey through the Highlands of Scotland. I am to appear 
in an appeal from the Court of Session in the House of Lords. A school- 
master in Scotland was deprived of his office for being somewhat se- 
vere in the chastisement of his scholars. The Court of Session consid- 
ered it to be a very delicate matter to interfere between a master and 
his boys, and rather dangerous to the interests of learning and educa- 
tion in general to lessen the dignity of teachers and make them afraid 
of the resentment of too indulgent parents, instigated by the com- 
plaints of their children, and therefore restored him to his office. His 
enemies have appealed to the House of Lords, though the salary is 
only 20 a year. I was counsel for him here and am also to be so in the 
Supreme Judicature. I hope there will be little fear of a reversal. But 
I must beg leave to have your aid in my plan of supporting the decree. 
It is a general question and not a point of particular law. 

Lord Elibank" remembers you always with great respect. I believe 
he will be with us this spring in London. We must have some select 
meetings with him. 

I beg you may make my best compliments to Mr. Thrale's fam- 
ily, 7 and put my other friends in kind remembrance of me; and if you 
can without much trouble write me a few lines when you receive 
these, it will make me very happy. I ever am with unalterable respect 
and affection, my dear Sir, your much obliged humble servant, 


6 Patrick Murray, fifth Lord Elibank, advocate, soldier, and litterateur; patron 
and encourager of Scots men of letters. His country-seat was at Ballencrieff, 
near Haddington. He was some six years older than Johnson, who once assured 
him in a letter that he never met him without going away a wiser man. 
r Henry Thrale, wealthy brewer and M.P. for Southwark, and his wife Hester 
Lynch (later celebrated as Mrs. Piozzi). At their hospitable houses in South- 

BoswelVs Life, November ijdQ-March 1772 27 

[Received c. 22 March, Johnson to Boswell] 

[London] 15 March 1772 

DEAR SIR, That you are coming so soon to town I am very glad; 
and still more glad that you are coming as an advocate. I think noth- 
ing more likely to make your life pass happily away than that con- 
sciousness of your own value which eminence in your profession will 
certainly confer. If I can give you any collateral help, I hope you do 
not suspect that it will be wanting. My kindness for you has neither 
the merit of singular virtue nor the reproach of singular prejudice. 
Whether to love you be right or wrong, I have many on my side: Mrs. 
Thrale loves you, and Mrs. Williams 8 loves you, and what would have 
inclined me to love you, if I had been neutral before, you are a great 
favourite of Dr. Beattie. 

Of Dr. Beattie I should have thought much, but that his lady puts 
him out of my head: she is a very lovely woman. 

The ejection which you come hither to oppose appears very cruel, 
unreasonable, and oppressive. I should think there could not be much 
doubt of your success. 

My health grows better, yet I am not fully recovered. I believe it 
is held that men do not recover very fast after threescore. I hope yet to 
see Beattie's College and have not given up the western voyage. But 
however all this may be or not, let us try to make each other happy 
when we meet, and not refer our pleasure to distant times or distant 

How comes it that you tell me nothing of your lady? I hope to see 
her some time and till then shall be glad to hear of her. I am, dear Sir, 


Three entries near the end of BoswelPs brief Journal for the winter 
contain references to his wife and record a crisis. (The character n 
stands for "Peggie.") 

SATURDAY 28 FEBRUARY. Breakfasted with Grange between 10 
and 1 1 most comfortably. II ill. 

8 Anna Williams, the blind poetess, had been a friend of Johnson's wife and was 
now an inmate of Johnson's household. 

28 BoswelPs Life, November i/Gg-Marc/z 1772 

TUESDAY 3 MARCH. II very ill. Loss sustained. Digges dined with 
me tete--tete. Thought of old days. . . . [Letters from Temple of 26 
March and 3 April confirm the meaning. "It gives me much pain to 
hear so indifferent an account of Mrs. Boswell's health. Miscarriages 
are disagreeable circumstances. . . . "] 

FRIDAY 13 MARCH. . . . Dined father's. . . . Home and romp- 
ing like to have been fatal. II to part. I looked it in the face calm a little 
but soon grew uneasy. Made up again. 

He departed for London on the morning of 14 March, a day which he 
signalized by resuming his fully written Journal. 

(gr~ / rf^d & / 7 

journal of {dsvLu J-aunt to London 


ring 1772 


SATURDAY 14 MARCH. I was in a flutter to a certain degree at the 
thoughts of setting out for London, for which I have always had an 
enthusiastic fondness. I was at the same time seriously concerned at 
parting with my wife. Everything depends upon our ideas; and I 
could with truth describe what passed in my mind this day in such a 
manner as to furnish out a narrative like that of the Londoner in the 
Idler who gives a dreadful detail of the disasters which befell him on a 
jaunt into the country, such as rain falling upon him from the heavens 
and many other circumstances. 1 My parting with my wife this day 
would make just such a figure should I describe it as I really felt it; 
for to part with a valuable friend and constant companion and go four 
hundred miles from her, though but for two months, is something 
considerable to a domestic man who has any turn to anxiety of mind. 

I set out about four o'clock in the afternoon. Mr. William Wilson, 
Writer to the Signet, was my travelling companion. He gave me my 
first fee, which has made me ever since look upon him with particular 
regard. 2 He has indeed given me a great many more fees, which has 
served to keep alive the first impression made upon my hand, 
which, as a lawyer, is equivalent to making an impression on my 
heart. He will be sixty-two the 25 of April next but has nothing of an 
old man about him except experience, being healthy and cheerful 
though most laborious in his profession. We had along with us in an- 

1 Will Marvel in Idler No. 49. 

2 A fee of one guinea, received for a cause argued before the Justice-Clerk 
(Thomas Miller) on 29 July 1766, the day that Boswell put on the gown. On 27 
January 1786, Boswell, setting out for London in company with William Wil- 
son's son John, recalled once more that the father had given him his first fee. 


30 Edinburgh, 14 March 1772 

other chaise Mr. Home the coachmaker's son and a son of Mr. Cal- 
lander of Craigforth's. The first, being bred to his fathers business, 
was going to London for his improvement. The latter, a fine smart lit- 
tle fellow about seventeen who had already been three years in Amer- 
ica, was going out to the East Indies. The country was deeply covered 
with snow, and we were told we could not take the Blackshiels road; 
so we went by Haddington. We got to Dunbar at night. The house was 
dirty and confused. We were served by a lass who was both ugly and 
stupid. When Mr. Wilson asked if she could get him some oatmeal 
porridge, she answered, "Some oatmeal punch?" Had one of your 
Englishmen, well prepared to form strange notions of Scotland, heard 
this, it would have been enough for him to represent us as so devoted 
to oatmeal that we make our very punch with it. 

SUNDAY 15 MARCH. We went on very well, considering the deep 
roads. We resolved never to dine but only to take some cold meat at 
midday, which we did very heartily. We got at night to Alnwick. 

MONDAY 1 6 MARCH . Mr. Wilson and I studied law papers some- 
times during this our journey, and sometimes sang. It was curious to 
hear him sing the songs in The Beggar's Opera. He had a various read- 
ing of the line, "And turns our lead to gold." He sang: "And turns all 
our lead to gold," believing it to be the genuine text; and he insisted 
very strongly on the justice of the preference given to the highway- 
man's fire over that of the chemist, in this view: because the chemist's 
fire turns only a small proportion to gold. 8 1 gave him my explanation 
of a line which is by no means clear in its meaning to most people and 
may perhaps be mistaken by me. The line I mean is, "As men should 
serve a cucumber," It refers to the expression in the next line: "She 
flings herself away." Now the question is, why should men fling away 
a cucumber? My explanation is this. It is a common saying, "As cool 
as a cucumber," so that a cucumber is a cooling thing. Now Mrs. 
Peachum who sings the song was a woman of that genius that did not 
like men should be cool but on the contrary; and therefore she would 
have them fling away such frigorific stuff. 4 We got at night to Darling- 

* He was right as to the text (Beggar's Opera TL ii. Air XX), but not necessarily 
so in his explanation. 

* Beggars Opera I. viiL Air VII. In the Hebrides, 5 October 1773, Johnson would 
give Boswell the correct explanation: "It has been a common saying in England 

Darlington, 16 March 1772 31 

ton. I stopped about a quarter of an hour with my brother at New- 
castle; 5 and we were stopped a while by boating the river. It was ter- 
rible to see the ruins of the bridge.* 

TUESDAY 17 MARCH. Nothing material happened. We got at 
night to Doncaster. (I should have observed 7 that I paid a visit at 
Morpeth to Mrs. Collingwood, a widow lady, mother to a gentleman 
of a good estate in the neighbourhood, and aunt to my friend Temple's 
wife. I always pay her that compliment, unless when I pass through 
Morpeth in the night-time. She takes it very kind. Upon this occasion 
she said I showed her "such unparalleled attention.") 

I this day* paid a visit at Grantham to the Reverend Mr. Palmer, 
a clergyman who has a good living there. He was chaplain to Sir John 
Gust when Speaker of the House of Commons. He carried me upstairs 
to an elegant room ornamented with some fine prints, and as it was a 
beautiful forenoon, the sun shone brightly upon them. But I saw what 
I had never seen before: his spouse, a comely Vandyck figure, and his 
daughter, one of the loveliest figures I ever beheld. I cannot help being 
instantaneously affected by the sight of beauty. Mr. Palmer is a man 
of learning and worth, hospitable and decently social. He has a jolly 
appearance, not plump and sleek, but a fair well-kept skin, easy and 
happy. My being accustomed to the bar has made me callous to the 
most attentive looks of the ablest men. But a glance from a fine eye 
can yet affect my assurance. I felt this today. I compared myself to 
one of those animals who by their strong scales or tough skins are in- 
vulnerable by a bullet but may be wounded by the sharp point of a 
sword, which can pierce between the scales or hit some weak point of 
the skin. 

of every great physician, that he prescribed that a cucumber should be well 
sliced and dressed with vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.** 

5 BoswelTs brother John, a half-pay lieutenant in the Army, had for ten years 
been subject to recurring attacks of insanity, and was now under the care of a 
Dr. Wilson at Newcastle. 

6 The ancient stone bridge across the Tyne, dating from 1250, had been destroyed 
by a flood four months earlier. 

7 Under Monday 16 March. 

8 Rather, on Wednesday 18 March, for Grantham is fifty-two miles south of Don- 
caster. The manuscript shows a complicated confusion in the dating at this point. 

32 Doncaster, 17 March 1772 

We got at night to Doncaster. The English inns are indeed most 
admirable; and whenever a man has been some time without seeing 
them, he must be agreeably struck. 

WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH. Nothing worth recording was either 
said or done. But I shall here put down a simile which I made at Aln- 
wick on Sunday night. Mr. Wilson was observing what an advantage 
it was to a lawyer to have much practice. "Ay," said I, "he never 
knows law well till he has had it connected in his mind with facts, 
with particular causes. They are to principles of law like sticks to peas 
in a garden. Principles will lie sluggish in the mind by themselves. 
They will not rise vigorous -unless supported by real causes." This is 
a good idea; and upon some occasion when my imagination is warmer 
and my expression more fluent I may expand it. It is a bud which 
would have an excellent appearance if fully and beautifully blown. 
We got at night to Buckden. 

THURSDAY 19 MARCH. We breakfasted as Stevenage, where we 
shaved and dressed. Wilson, our barber there, had married a woman 
of Welwyn in Hertfordshire, six miles from this place, so knew or pre- 
tended to know the celebrated Dr. Young. He gave us a strange ac- 
count of him. He said his son had somehow offended him, and the 
Doctor would never be reconciled to him and would not so much as 
see him when on death-bed; that he put everything past him that he 
could; but that the son succeeded him in a pretty estate and then mar- 
ried the daughter of a clergyman in whose house he had lived and 
been supported during his father's displeasure. This implacability 
was not improbable in the dark and forcible spirit of the author of 
Night Thoughts. 9 But our barber gave us a more extraordinary anec- 
dote. He said the Doctor kept a mistress, a likely woman who lived 
with him till he died; that he left this woman all he could, and that 
their connexion was well known. I think it is Ranger who says, "Your 
grave men are always the greatest whoremasters." 1 The observation 
may be true. But Doctor Young was much more than a grave man; 

* Edward Young's The Complaint, or Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Im- 
mortality, a sombre poem of nine books in blank verse, appeared from 1742 to 
1 745 and was widely known both in England and on the Continent. It is remem- 
bered today most often in the line (1.392) : "Procrastination is the thief of time." 
1 Ranger is the principal character in Benjamin Hoadly's Suspicious Husband, 
a favourite role of actors in the eighteenth century. The quotation, slightly in- 
accurate, is from Act II, Scene 4. 

Stevenage, 19 March 1772 33 

he was a gloomy, a melancholy, a miserable man; a man to whom all 
Nature appeared under the darkest shade, a man of the deepest the- 
ology and most sublime ideas of futurity. That such a man should 
keep a mistress seems hardly credible. 1 Our barber however was very 
confident in his assertion. I humoured the fellow, and when a very 
pretty maid came into the room, "That," said I, "would do for Dr. 
Young." I have for some time thought of writing an essay on the 
genius and writings of Dr. Young. It seems his son now lives at 
Welwyn. I may contrive to get some authentic information with re- 
gard to his private life. 8 

The snow was now very thin and we found ourselves in a milder 
and more benign climate. I looked back on former parts of my life, 
and my present firmness and cheerfulness of mind had full value by 
comparison with the weakness and gloominess which I recollected. 
The very driving in the post-chaise was a considerable pleasure. We 
arrived in London about five o'clock, having just taken about five days 
to the journey, and indeed it cannot be performed in less with com- 
fort; that is to say, taking a moderate degree of the refreshments of 
eating, drinking, and sleeping, which one ought surely to do unless 
when some necessity obliges to hurry. There was a thick fog over 
London today, so that I did not get the view of it from Highgate Hill 
which used to elate me so highly. We stopped at the Lemon-tree Inn 
at the top of the Haymarket, a true Scots house, where Colin Donald- 
son lived many years and made much money. He gave up business 
some time ago and was succeeded by one Armstrong, who was just 
dead; so the house was in a state of viduity. It was as dirty and con- 
fused as any Scots inn can be, though in the middle of London. As it 
was the first house I was in when I came first to London, there was a 
certain curious pleasure in finding myself in it again. 

We eat a beefsteak and drank a glass of port and then every man 

2 See below, p. 64. Johnson also rejected the story. "I asked him if there was any 
improper connexion between them. 'No, Sir, no more than between two statues* ** 
(Hebrides, 30 September 1773). Miss Mary Hallows, daughter of a clerical 
friend of Young's, was about thirty-eight years old when she came to live with 
him as his housekeeper in 1748. On his death in 1765 at the age of eighty-two he 
left her 600. 

8 Bosweli, in Johnson's company, did visit Frederick Young at Welwyn, 2 June 
1781, and did succeed in obtaining from * some interesting details about the 
author of Night Thoughts, but the projected essay was never written. 

34 London, 19 March 1772 
went to his proper destination. General Paoli had invited me to come 
and lodge at his house, and I indeed reckoned upon being there. I 
immediately went to his house in Albemarle Street. I asked a chair- 
man which was General Paoli's. "What," said he, "the General who 
is married to Lady ?" (I did not hear what.) "No," said his com- 
panion, "the foreign gentleman." So little is the great Paoli known 
by some. I immediately after this dialogue perceived Giuseppe, the 
General's little Corsican servant, just before me. I called; he came 
running up and seized me by the hand, then hurried along to his 

Paoli embraced me with all welcome. Count Gentili was with him, 
a Corsican count long in the Austrian service, and who gave up his 
commission to go home and fight along with his countrymen, and 
then accompanied the General to England. The Count is a thin crea- 
ture with a sharp hooked nose and a voice like a fugie cock* like a 
crow screaming when pursued by a hawk. He was very happy to meet 
me again, but was rather a little troublesome, for it seems he had 
lodged eighteen months with two Miss Carnegies from Scotland 
settled in London and was very keen to speak Scots; and indeed he had 
made a good proficiency in it, though I had no pleasure in hearing 
him cry, "How's aw wi' ye? Will you sit into the fire?" And then he 
told that when the King asked the Duchess of Gordon how she liked 
London, she said, "It's frizzle-frizzling aw the morning and knock- 
knocking aw the neght" (night) , 5 This was natural enough for Jeanie 
Maxwell. But the Count's figure and sharp key of speaking and a 
broadness High German could not but disgust me. There was also here 
Signer Martinelli, an Italian letterato, an old man. He has written a 
history of England which the General praised. There was lying on 
one of the tables in the room a fine edition of Boccaccio, published by 
him with notes, at London, some years ago. He said he had lost 400 
sterling by it. I took this to be excessive exaggeration, to which such 
foreigners are much given. I was glad he had no Proposals to offer. In a 
little came in a Corsican abbe, the Abbate . 6 He had been of the 

4 A cock that runs away and will not fight. 

5 "You spend all the morning getting your hair dressed and all the evening 
bustling about." 

e Probably Andrei, whom Boswell meets, as a former acquaintance, at Paoli's 3 
April 1775. 

London, 19 March 1772 35 

party for the Genoese; T but having gone to Venice and studied, his 
mind opened and he became a zealous patriot. The conversation was 
of a political and literary kind; but as I had not yet recovered a readi- 
ness at following people speaking Italian, I made little of it 

When I made a motion to go away and told the General that I had 
not fixed my lodgings, he asked me to take a room in his house; but I 
could see that he did not think he had one sufficiently good, and be- 
sides that, as Count Gentili was now lodged with him, it would not 
be convenient that I should be with him too. I considered also that my 
being lodged there might give the Grub-street writers an opportunity 
of throwing out low abuse, and saying that he was pensioned by Brit- 
ish generosity and kept a Scotsman gratis in his house. 8 I therefore 
begged leave to decline accepting his invitation but said I should take 
lodgings near him. I then took my leave for that night and got into 
the street in a disagreeable uncertainty where I should sleep. I did 
not know but Mr. Billy's house might be full; and it was at a great 
distance from me now. 8 I had no small repugnance at the thought of 
sleeping at the Lemon-tree, but imagined I might be obliged to land 
there. As I walked up the Strand and passed through a variety of fine 
girls, genteelly dressed, all wearing Venus's girdle, all inviting me to 
amorous intercourse, I confess I was a good deal uneasy. My ideas 
naturally run into their old channels, which were pretty deeply worn, 
and I was indulging speculations about polygamy and the concubines 
of the patriarchs and the harmlessness of temporary likings uncon- 
nected with mental attachment. I was really in a disagreeable state 
and yet would not free myself from it by taking a coach. I resolved 
never again to come to London without bringing my wife along with 

I called and sat a few minutes with Mr. William Wilson, who had 
taken up his quarters at a friend's house, Mr. Murray's, bookseller in 
Fleet Street. 1 1 then called in Johnson's Court for my revered friend, 
Mr. Samuel Johnson. But he was at Mr. Thrale's in the Borough, and 

T The power against which the Corsicans under Paoli's leadership revolted. See 

Boswell on the Grand Tour: Italy, Corsica, and France, 1765-1766, pp. 143-144. 

s Paoli had received a large pension (1200 a year) from the civil list. For this 

there can be little doubt that BoswelFs book had been largely responsible. 

"Mr. Dilly" was Edward, senior member of the firm of Edward and Charles 

Dilly, who had published Boswell's Account of Corsica in 1768. 

1 Founder of the house of John Murray, Ltd. Byron's publisher was his son. 

36 London, 19 March 1772 

was not to be home till next day; and Mrs. Williams was out upon a 
visit I proceeded to the Poultry to Mr. Dilly's. Mr. Charles was at 
home and gave me a hearty welcome. I was pleased to find Mrs. Judd 
the housekeeper and James the servant both there. Mr. Charles was 
full of the history of Holland, the sheriff's officer who had been hanged 
the day before at Tyburn, 2 and our conversation was quite the London 
style the City style. 3 We sat down to a cold fowl and ham and tarts, 
and I also got a basin of excellent soup and felt myself quite comfort- 
able. In a little in came my friend Mr. Edward Dilly, as lively, as 
quick-speaking, and as cordial as ever, and much happiness did he 
show on seeing me. Along with him was Mrs. Knowles, famous for 
needlework. She did a head of the King for which the Queen made her 
a present of 800, but said her work was invaluable. Her husband was 
an apothecary; but upon his wife's getting thus a kind of interest at 
Court, bethought himself of commencing physician and is now ac- 
tually studying at Edinburgh in order to take his degrees. She was 
formerly a distinguished beauty and still looked very well, and was 
a clever agreeable woman. Mr. Dilly insisted on my lodging there. He 
wanted to have me altogether, but at any rate insisted I should stay 
that night, and whenever I was late in the City end of the town, should 
always come to my room there and consider it as my home. I felt my- 
self truly well, and only regretted that my dearest companion was 
not with me. 

FRIDAY 20 MARCH. While we were sitting at breakfast, in came 
my old friend Captain Hoggan,* one who under an external appear- 
ance of being very delicate and even a little foppish is a man of steady 
and generous friendship and has uncommon prudence and knowledge 
in the common affairs of life. He kindly offered to assist me in getting 

2 James Holland had started life as a short-weight butcher. He later turned 
sheriffs officer and blackmailed young men whom he arrested into securing on 
account from tradesmen large quantities of goods, to be brought to his house and 
sold. He was finally hanged for forging an endorsement on a note. The Gentle- 
man's Magazine for this month lists two book-length biographies of him. 

3 Boswell is distinguishing the mercantile style of the old City of London (the 
portion east of Temple Bar) from the fashionable or West End style of Albemarle 

4 It is not known when Boswell formed an intimacy with Captain James Hoggan, 
but they were already "old companions" when they met in Ireland in May 1769. 

London, 20 March 1772 37 

lodgings; and very luckily a Captain Boothby of his regiment, an ac- 
quaintance of ours, had that very morning left very good lodgings 
at Mr. King's, glover, corner of Conduit Street. We drove immediately 
in a hackney-coach to look at them, and they pleased me much; and 
not the less so that they were only a guinea a week, which, for a first 
floor in a centrical part of the town, is very reasonable. Laird Heron 
occupied them last year. I therefore without hesitation hired them, 
and was glad to be fixed in a home at once, without having any time 
to pass in a disagreeable state of doubt, like a bachelor who is deter- 
mined to marry but knows not on whom to fix. Lodgings are still more 
difficult to choose than wives; because it does not often happen that a 
man conceives a particular affection for one lodging more than an- 
other till he has lived a while in one and takes a kind of regard for it 
from habit. 

I then went and called for the Duke of Queensberry. 8 Old Quan, 
the porter, shook me by the hand and most cordially ushered me in. 
The Duke received me very civilly, and we had some conversation on 
the common topics of the times, when in came Captain Douglas of 
Kelhead. 6 After sitting a little, he and I went and called for DOUGLAS 
(the Laird) , T but he was not at home. I found David Kennedy at home 
and had a laugh with him. 8 

I find it would be very tedious and idle to put down every visit 
which I made, so I shall mark only what is of some consequence and 
not tell that I called at doors and did not find people at home. My 
views in coming to London this spring were: to refresh my mind by 
the variety and spirit of the metropolis, the conversation of my revered 
friend Mr. Samuel Johnson and that of other men of genius and learn- 

5 The patron of letters in the generation of Pope and Gay was now Keeper of 
the Great Seal of Scotland (since 1760) and Lord Justice-General (since 1763). 

6 Capt. (later Sir) William Douglas of Kelhead was a fairly close relation of 
Boswell's, his grandmother and BoswelTs mother being half-sisters. He was 
much more distantly related to the Duke, but was none the less in line for the 
Queensberry marquessate and earldom, to which his son succeeded in 1810. 

7 BoswelTs client and the victor in the celebrated Douglas cause in 1769, Archi- 
bald James Edward Douglas; he became first Baron Douglas in 1790. Boswell 
frequently writes GOD and DOUGLAS in large characters. 

David Kennedy, advocate and M.P., later tenth Earl of Cassillis, was a joker, 
as Boswell explains below (5 April 1773). 

38 London, 20 March 1772 

ing; to try if I could get something for myself, or be of service to any 
of my friends by means of the Duke of Queensberry, Lord Mount- 
stuart," or Douglas, all of whom had given me reason to expect their 
assistance; to be employed in Scotch appeals in the House of Lords, 
and also see how the land might lie for me at the English bar; and to 
endeavour to get my brother David well settled as a merchant in Lon- 
don. 1 There is business enough. 

I dined this day with General Paoli. Brompton the painter was 
there. He seemed to be a genteel, sensible man, and spoke Italian re- 
markably well. Our conversation was just on ordinary topics. In the 
afternoon I called on my friend Sir Alexander Macdonald and found 
him and my beautiful cousin, my Lady, 2 sitting by themselves in a 
very tolerable house in Cavendish Square, not magnificent but very- 
well. They were in great spirits at seeing me. I should have mentioned 
that I met his brother Archie in the forenoon and walked with him to 
his chambers in Lincoln's Inn, and was told by him that Sir Alexander 
was thinking to stand for Member of Parliament for the shire of Inver- 
ness. I also should have mentioned that I called at my old friend Mr. 
Love's of Drury Lane Theatre, whom I found very ill of a severe cough 
and looking as ill as ever he had pretended to do in any character upon 
the stage. I promised to see him sometimes. Sir Alexander Macdonald 
and I are always merry when we meet and always get into the humour 
of pinning and playing upon words, which I cannot help thinking 
very good amusement. Lady Macdonald said she was just going abroad 
to visit a lady who was lying in, and who was a great wit. "Ay," said I, 
"it seems she is a lady of a pregnant genius." The Knight and I went 
in his coach and called for my kinsman Mr. Bosville and for Mr. 

* BoswelTs companion of the Italian tour, son and heir of the great Lord Bute, 
would fail to justify present hopes. 

1 David, under the more acceptable name of Thomas (the name David aroused 
anti-Semitic responses among the Spaniards), was now a merchant at Valencia 
and through the efforts of Boswell's friend the Earl Marischal held a patent as 

2 Sir Alexander Macdonald of Sleat was a Highland laird with an Eton educa- 
tion. Lady Macdonald was daughter to Godfrey Bosville of Gunthwaite and 
Thorpe, the Yorkshire squire whom Boswell, on very tenuous evidence, accepted 
as his chief. She had at one time been on BoswelTs own list of matrimonial pos- 

London, 20 March 1772 39 

Dempster, but found neither. He went to a rout; and I strolled about 
awhile and then went home. 

The maid of the house was a pretty little black-eyed girl, and I was 
informed (as a secret) by Hoggan that Captain Boothby had found 
her to be very complaisant. This was rather a bad circumstance for 
me. Before I went to bed the gipsy came, and with a sweet English 
voice asked, "Do you want anything more tonight, Sir?" 

SATURDAY 21 MARCH. Captain Hoggan breakfasted with me. 
Joseph, my servant, whom I had left at Newcastle to come by sea if the 
wind was fair, and if not, by the fly, had arrived last night, but having 
forgotten the street where General Paoli lives, did not find me out till 
this morning. I was glad to see him; for I found myself not at my ease 
without him. 

I went to Johnson's Court, Fleet Street, and was happy enough to 
find Mr. Johnson at home. Frank, his black, who had left him for some 
years, was returned to him, and showed me up to his study. Frank and 
I were pleased to renew our old acquaintance. I waited a little and then 
heard the great man coming upstairs. The sound of his feet upon the 
timber steps was weighty and well announced his approach. He had 
on an old purple cloth suit and a large whitish wig. He embraced me 
with a robust sincerity of friendship, saying, "I am glad to see thee, I 
am glad to see thee. Come sit you down. You have not had my let- 
ter?" 8 "No, Sir." (I shall give what passed, as much as I can, in the 
way of dialogue.) "Well, I am glad you are come, and glad you are 
come upon such an errand" (meaning, to support the schoolmaster of 
Campbeltown in the House of Lords) .* "I hope, Sir, there will be no 
fear of him. It is a very delicate matter to interfere between a master 
and his scholars; nor do I see how you can fix the degree of severity 
that a master may use." JOHNSON. "No, Sir. Till you fix the degree of 
negligence and obstinacy of the scholars, you cannot fix the degree 
of severity of the master. Severity must be continued until obstinacy 

* See above, p. 27. BoswelTs Register of Letters fails to record the receipt of this 

4 See above, p. 26. The schoolmaster's name was John Hastie. Though the prin- 
cipal charge against him was brutality, the magistrates and council also alleged 
irregular attendance. He maintained that his office was not a public one and 
that the magistrates had no jurisdiction; furthermore that there was no reason- 
able cause for his dismissal. 

40 London, 21 March 1772 

be subdued and negligence cured." BOSWELL. 'To speak candidly, Sir, 
this man was rather too severe." JOHNSON. "Has he broke any bones?" 
BOSWELL. "No." JOHNSON. "Has he fractured any skulls?" BOSWELL. 
"No."* JOHNSON. "Then, Sir, he is safe enough. My master at Lich- 
field., Hunter, used to beat us unmercifully. He erred in not making a 
distinction between mistake and negligence; for he would beat a boy 
equally for not knowing a thing as for neglecting to know it. He would 
have asked a boy a question, and if he did not answer it, he beat him, 
without considering whether he had an opportunity of knowing how 
to answer it. Now, Sir, if a boy could answer every question, there 
would be no need of a master to teach him." 

By this time his levee was attended by the Reverend Mr. Stockdale, 
a strange mortal born at Berwick-upon-Tweed and an acquaintance 
of my worthy friend Temple's, by whose recommendation I had him 
once to breakfast with me as I passed through Berwick. He was once 
an officer in the army; then turned clergyman; then was guilty of 
irregularities, left an old woman whom he had married for money, 
and ran away to Prance with a young lady. The old woman having 
died, he came to London, married the young lady, commenced trans- 
lator and author, and is now curate of Ludgate and chaplain to the 
Fleet Prison. He is a profound admirer of Mr. Johnson's, who is very 
good to him. 6 The other attendant on the levee this morning was a 
Mrs. Desmoulins, the wife of a writing-master, who seemed to be an 

* He at least came close to it. "Scarce a day passed without some of the scholars 
coming home . . . with their heads cut and their bodies discoloured. ... He 
beat the pupils with wooden squares . . . and sometimes with his fists, and 
used his feet by kicking them. . . dragging them by the hair of the head" 
(Paton's Reports of Cases upon Appeal from Scotland, ii. 277, quoted by G. B. 
Hill, Life of Johnson, ii. i86rc.). 

The Reverend Percival Stockdale (1736-1811), miscellaneous journalist, poet, 
and eccentric, later thought himself badly used by the booksellers when they 
passed him over and chose Johnson to write the Lives of the Poets. In the Life 
of Johnson Boswell refers to a poem by Stockdale entitled The Remonstrance, 
published in 1770. This contains the memorable couplet (p. 31) : 

The frantic mother, and the weeping sire, 
Virgins deflowered, and property on fire! 

Stockdale had also written, in 1764, an Elegy on the Death of Dr. Johnson's 
Favourite Cat (Hodge). 

London, 21 March 1772 41 

old acquaintance of Mr. Johnson's, having been intimate with his 
wife. Stockdale and she did not much interrupt our conversation. 

I said, "Hunter is a Scotch name. So this master who beat you so 
severely has been a Scotsman. I can now account for your prejudice 
against Scotsmen." JOHNSON. "No, Sir, he was not Scotch; and, ab- 
stracting from his brutality, he was a very good master." 

We had before this when by ourselves talked of his 7 two political 
pamphlets The False Alarm and Thoughts respecting the Transac- 
tions concerning Falkland's Islands. JOHNSON. "Well, Sir, which 
of 'em did you think the best?" BOSWELL. "I liked the second best." 
JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, I liked the first best; and Beattie liked the 
first best. Sir, there is a subtlety of disquisition in the first that is 
worth all of the fire of the second." BOSWELL. "Pray, Sir, is it true 
that Lord North paid you a visit, and that you got 200 a year of 
addition to your pension?" JOHNSON. "No, Sir. Except what I had 
from the bookseller, I did not get a farthing by them. And between 
you and me, I believe Lord North is no friend to me." 8 BOSWELL. 
"How so, Sir?" JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, you cannot account for the 
fancies of men." BOSWELL. "But, Sir, don't you think him an able 
minister?" JOHNSON. "Yes indeed, Sir. Well, how does Lord Eli- 
bank? and how does Lord Monboddo?" BOSWELL. "Very well, Sir. 
Lord Monboddo 9 still maintains the superiority of the savage life." 
JOHNSON. "What strange narrowness of mind now is that to think the 
things we have not [known] are better than the things which we 
have known." BOSWELL. "Why, Sir, that is a common prejudice." 
JOHNSON. "Yes, Sir. But a common prejudice should not be found in 
one whose trade it is to rectify error." 

T Boswell pillaged this Journal extensively when he came to write the Life of 
Johnson, removing for copy most of the leaves which contained Johnsonian con- 
versations. All but one of the missing fragments having turned up when Bos- 
well's manuscript of the Life was unearthed at Malahide Castle in 1940, they 
are now printed for the first time as Boswell originally wrote them. The first 
of the recovered portions (eight pages of the manuscript) begins at this point. 

8 It is difficult to arrive at a confident interpretation of the fact that shortly after 
the publication of Johnson's Taxation No Tyranny in 1775, Lord North as Chan- 
cellor of the University of Oxford proposed the degree of Doctor of Civil Law for 

9 See below, p. 140. 

4.2 London, 21 March 1772 

Then came in a Mr who was to go out mate in the ship along 

with Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander. 1 Mr. Johnson asked what were the 

names of the ships which were to go upon the expedition. Mr 

said they were once to be called the Drake and the Raleigh, but now 
they were to be called the Resolution and the Adventure. JOHNSON. 
"Much better; for had the Raleigh 2 returned without going round the 
world, it would have been ridiculous. To give them the names of the 
Drake and the Raleigh was laying a trap for satire." BOSWELL. "Had 
not you some desire to go upon this expedition, Sir?" JOHNSON. "Why 
yes; but I soon laid it aside. Sir, there is very little intellectual in the 
course. Besides, I see but at a little distance. So it was not worth my 
while to go to see birds fly which I should not have seen fly, and fishes 
swim which I should not have seen swim." 

Mr. went away and Mr. Johnson left us for a little; when 

Stockdale and Mrs. Desmoulins (or DemwZZins as they call her in Eng- 
lish) began to open a little with me. I said I thought there was glory 
in Banks, a fine young fellow of 5000 a year, going out on so danger- 
ous an expedition from a thirst of knowledge. Stockdale contested this 
and said it was no more in Banks than a gratification of his particular 
passion instead of going to Newmarket or the like; that he thought it 
would be much more glorious for him to stay at home and employ his 
fortune in relieving indigent merit and doing good to numbers. That 
he thought a man's going on a dangerous expedition in order to make 
himself independent rather than lounge at home was glorious. Mrs. 
Desmoulins said she could not see how it was glorious in a man to do 
what he was driven to by necessity. I said, "I indeed cannot see that 
if the one is not glorious, the other should be it. There is surely no 
glory in a man's going out on an expedition to get his dinner. I know 
not but Mr. Banks may have been partly actuated by public spirit. 
But at any rate I think it is glorious for a young man of great fortune 
to have so noble a passion instead of those mean passions by which 
most of them are actuated." 

We talked of Dr. HawkesworthV being employed in writing an 

1 On Cook's second expedition, which sailed on 13 July 1772. Banks and Solander 

later changed their minds and made a tour to Iceland instead. 

* As Croker pointed out, Boswell should have written "Drake." 

3 John Hawkesworth, LL.D. (c. 1715-1773) had been the editor and one of the 

London, 21 March 1772 43 

account of the expedition which Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander have al- 
ready made, and that he would do it well. "Ay," said I, "he has formed 
himself upon the great model" (meaning Dr. Johnson). Stockdale 
said, "I have observed that Dr. Johnson's friends are like Alexander's 
courtiers, who imitated his wry neck. They imitate Dr. Johnson's 
weaknesses, if I may [say] so, or oddities." "Particularities if you 
please, Sir," said Mrs. Desmoulins. 

When Mr. Johnson returned to us, I told him we had been disput- 
ing whether Banks and Solander could be allowed to have glory from 
their expedition.* He said, "Why, Sir, it was properly for botany that 
they went out. I believe they thought only of culling of simples." 5 

I had thanked him for showing civilities to Beattie. "Sir," said he, 
"I should thank you. He's a fine fellow, Beattie. Mrs. Thrale says if 
ever she has another husband, she'll have Beattie. He sunk upon us* 
that he was married; else we should have shown his lady more civili- 
ties. She is a very fine woman. But how can you show civilities to a 
nonentity? I did not think he had been married. Nay, I did not think 
about it, one way or other; but he did not tell us of his lady till late." 

He then spoke of St. Kilda. 7 I told him I thought of buying it 

authors, along with Samuel Johnson, of The Adventurer, 1752-1754. In 1771 
upon Gar-rick's recommendation he had been appointed by the Admiralty to 
publish An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present 
Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere . . . Drawn up 
from the Journals Which Were Kept by the Several Commanders, and from the 
Papers of Joseph Banks, Esq. This work appeared in three volumes in 1773 and 
met with such severe criticism for inaccuracies and indecencies that Hawkes- 
worth's health was thought to have been affected and his end hastened. He died 
in November of that year. 

* That is, from Cook's first expedition, 1768-1771. The question is whether the 
scientific observers should share the glory of what was popularly thought of as 
a great feat of navigation. 

5 Romeo and Juliet, V. i. 40. 

6 "Suppressed the fact." Beattie was offended by this remark when it appeared 
in the Life of Johnson, and wrote a letter to Boswell which was printed as a note 
in the second edition. 

7 The chief islet of a rocky group lying in the Atlantic forty miles northwest of 
the northwest extremity of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Long the only in- 
habited island of the group, it has in recent years been evacuated. Johnson and 
Boswell had talked about St Kilda in the spring of 1768 and in July 1763. Its re- 

44 London, 21 March 1772 

"Pray do," said he. "We shall go and pass a winter amid the blasts 
there. We shall have fine fish, and we shall take some dried tongues 
with us and some books. We shall have a strong-built vessel and some 
Orkney men to navigate her. We must build a tolerable house. But we 
may carry with us a wooden house ready made and nothing to do but 
to put it up. I remember there was a gentleman going to North Amer- 
ica who had a curiosity to see me, and I gave him that advice, as he was 
going to a country where they cut down wood only to get rid of it. Con- 
sider, Sir, by buying St. Kilda you may keep the people from falling 
into worse hands. We must give them a clergyman, and he shall be 
one of Seattle's choosing. I'll be your Lord Chancellor or what you 
please." BOSWELL. "Are you serious, Sir, in advising me to buy St. 
Kilda? for if you should advise me to go to Japan, I believe I should do 
it." JOHNSON. "Why yes, I am serious." BOSWELL. "Why then I'll try 

I gave him an account of the two parties in the Church of Scotland, 
those for patronage and those against it.* He said it should be settled 
one way or other. He said he could not be for a popular election when 
he considered that it occasioned such unworthy courting of the people, 
such slandering by one party against the other, and other such disad- 
vantages; and that it was enough to allow the people to insist against 
the settlement of a minister for solid reasons (either of heresy or im- 
morality I suppose he meant) . 

He was engaged 9 to dine with Sir Joshua Reynolds; so I left him, 
and he bid me come again at nine in the evening. I called on Mrs. 
Williams for a little, and then went to Dolly's beefsteak house, where 
I dined very comfortably, meditating on old times when I used to dine 
there frequently 1 and was in a most dissipated and sickly state of 
mind, without any fixed rational purpose and being hardly able to ob- 
serve common decency of conduct. 

I entered into conversation with some gentlemen at the same 

moteness and mystery may be taken as a symbol of what they will seek in the 
Hebrides on their tour in the following year. 

8 On 17 April Boswell wrote an essay on this subject for The London Magazine. 
See below, pp. 126, 127. 

9 Here the first newly recovered portion of the text ends. See above, p. 4177. 7. 
a See, for example, Boswett's London Journal, 1762-1763, the entry for 15 De- 
cember 1762. 

London, 21 March 1772 45 

table. One of them showed me a pair of shoes he had on which he said 
cost him eleven shillings, having double soles made of the very choice 
part of the hide. Another had on a very handsome wig. I asked him 
who made it. "For," said I, "Sir, I have a wife who was very angry at 
me for cutting off my hair, and wants much I should at least have a 
genteel wig." He told me it was made by Howard in Leicester Fields. 
"Thank you, Sir," said I; "you will enable me to establish domestic 
tranquillity." There is an immense satisfaction in talking away freely, 
where one is not known. I observed that the greatest disadvantage of 
Dolly's was that a man had for most part no society but just eat his 
dinner by himself. The gentleman with the eleven-shillings shoes said 
that was not the case here. But, besides, he had often heard it observed 
that a man could not eat his dinner alone, but that he could not say 
he had ever experienced this. That it depended very much on a man's 
manner of life. That he (who it seems was an attorney), when tired 
with a long day's business in Westminster Hall, would have thought 
it a fatigue to have had anybody along with him at dinner; but would 
go home and sit down by himself and eat his dinner most heartily and 
comfortably. There was a true specimen of John Bull here. But I know 
not if in certain states of mind the doctrine may not be just 

I called at Dempster's. 2 He had an Indian lad and an Indian boy 
for his servants; and while I was writing a note to him in his room, 
as he was abroad, I was attended by a grave, decent-looking man 
whose office in the household I could not divine. He turned out to be 
a master who came in to instruct the two Indians. 

I strolled about and at half an hour past nine returned to Mr. 
Johnson's. We drank tea with Mrs. Williams. She told us a story of 
second sight which happened in Wales, her country. Mr. Johnson said 
he should like to have some stories as to that well authenticated. I told 
him the story of this Lord Eglinton and another officer having seen 
what we in Scotland call the wraith, that is to say, the appearance, be- 
fore he died, of a Captain Veal upon the Inch 3 at Perth at a time when 

2 George Dempster, M.P. and Director of the East India Company, a Scot a few 
years older than BoswelL, had been one of his closer associates in the years pre- 
ceding his marriage. 

3 Two public meadows or parks at Perth are called the North Inch (i.e. island) 
and the South Inch, from the fact that they were at one time insulated by the 
river Tay. The point is that Eglinton saw the wraith, not under extraordinary 
circumstances, but in a place of public resort 

46 London, 21 March 1772 

Captain Veal was on his death-bed. I had the story from the late Lord. 
But as one should always go to the fountain-head, I shall try to get 
this Lord to tell me it,* Mr. Johnson observed that in all supernatural 
appearances we could have no certainty of their truth unless some- 
thing was told us which we could not otherwise know or something 
done which could not be done but by supernatural power; that 
Pharaoh, in reason and justice, required such evidence. Nay, that 5 our 
Saviour said, "Unless I had done the things which never man did, you 
would not have had sin." (He gave the very words. I shall look them 
out.) * He had said in the forenoon that Macaulay's History of St. Kilda 
was very well written except some foppery about liberty and slavery. 
I told him that Macaulay told me he was advised to keep out of his 
book the wonderful story that upon the approach of a stranger all the 
inhabitants catch cold; but that he had it so well authenticated he 
determined to keep it in. "Sir," said Mr. Johnson, "to keep things out 
of a book merely because people tell you they will not be believed is 
meanness. Macaulay acted with more magnanimity." 7 

We talked of the Roman Catholic religion and how little difference 
there was in essential matters between ours and it. "True," said he. 
"All denominations of Christians have really little difference in point 
of doctrine, though they may differ widely in external forms. There 
is a prodigious difference between the external form of one of your 
Presbyterian churches in Scotland and a church in Italy; yet the doc- 
trine taught is essentially the same." 

I mentioned Purgatory, being very desirous to hear his ideas as to 

* Boswell records doing so in his Journal for 24 September 1 778. 
5 Ten more pages, removed by Boswell as copy for the Life, are here restored. 
See above, p. 41/2. 7. 

8 John 15. 24 (King James version): "If I had not done among them the works 
which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen 
and hated both me and my Father." 

T The Rev. Kenneth Macaulay's History of St. Kilda appeared hi 1764; his ac- 
count of the inhabitants' catching cold whenever a ship arrived had been dis- 
cussed by Johnson and Boswell in the spring of 1768. Johnson and Boswell vis- 
ited Macaulay at Cawdor 27 August 1773, and Johnson was persuaded from his 
conversation "that he had not written the book which goes under his name." 
Actually it had been revised and enlarged by a friend, Dr. John Macpherson. 
Macaulay was the great-uncle of the historian Thomas Babington Macaulay. 

London, 21 March 1772 47 

the particular state of souls after death. Lady Colville* bid me try to 
leam from him what I could upon that subject He avoided it. I must 
try at another time. 1 mentioned the petition for removing the sub- 
scription to the Thirty-nine Articles. Said he, "It was soon thrown 
out. 1 Sir, they talk of not making boys at the University subscribe to 
what they do not understand. But they ought to consider that our uni- 
versities were f ounded to bring up members to the Church of England 
and we must not supply our enemies with arms from our arsenal. No, 
Sir, the meaning of subscribing is not that they fully understand all 
the articles but that they will adhere to the Church of England. Now 
take it in this way, that they should only subscribe their adherence to 
the Church of England, there would be still the same difficulty, for 
still the young men would be subscribing to what they do not under- 
stand. For if you should ask them, 'What do you mean by the Church 
of England? Do you know in what it differs from the Presbyterian 
Church? from the Romish Church? from the Greek Church? from the 
Coptic Church?' they could not tell you. So, Sir, it comes to the same 
thing." BOSWELL. "But, Sir, would it not do to subscribe the Bible?" 
JOHNSON. "Why no, Sir; for all sects will subscribe the Bible. Nay, the 
Mahometans will subscribe the Bible; for the Mahometans acknowl- 
edge Jesus Christ as well as Moses, but maintain that God sent Ma- 
homet as a still greater prophet than either." 

I mentioned the motion to abolish the fast of the 30 of January. 8 

8 Lady Elizabeth Erskine, by her second marriage Lady Colville of Culross, was 
eldest daughter of the Earl of Kellie and a sister of BosweLL's early friend and 
correspondent Lieutenant Andrew Erskine. He had once thought of proposing 
marriage to her; she was now one of his favourite Edinburgh hostesses. See be- 
low, p. 215. 

9 Boswell had raised this topic with Johnson on 26 October 1769, and he returned 
to it again this year, on 28 March (see below, p. 72). Lady Colville, as a Scots 
Episcopalian, was probably sympathetic to the doctrine of Purgatory. In a codi- 
cil to his will, dated 30 May 1785, Boswell himself wrote: "Finally I request 
the prayers of all my pious friends for my departed soul, considering how reason- 
able it is to suppose that it may be detained some time in a middle state." 

1 The petition was presented in Parliament on 6 February of this year. By a ma- 
jority of 2 1 7 to 7 1 leave was refused for it to be brought up. 

2 The anniversary of the execution of Charles I. Dr. Nowell, the preacher of the 
fast sermon for this year, had offended the House of Commons by comparing its 
members to the opponents of Charles I. 

48 London, 21 March 1772 

"Why, Sir," said he, "I could have wished that it had been a tem- 
porary act, perhaps to have expired with the century. I am against 
abolishing it because that would be declaring that it was wrong to 
establish it; but I should have no objection to make an act continuing 
it for another century and then letting it go out," He disapproved of 
the Royal Marriage Bill; "because," said he, "I would not have the 
people think that the validity of marriage depends on the will of man, 
or that the right of a king depends on the will of man. I would not have 
been against making a royal marriage without the approbation of 
King and Parliament highly criminal." 3 

In the forenoon we had talked of old families and the respect due 
to them. "Sir," said he, "you have a right to that kind of respect and 
are arguing for yourself. I am for supporting the principle and am dis- 
interested in doing it, as I have no such right." BOSWELL. "Why, Sir, 
it is one more incitement to a man to do well." JOHNSON. "Yes, Sir, 
and it is a matter of opinion very necessary to keep society together. 
What is it but opinion by which we have a respect for authority that 
prevents us who are the rabble from rising up and pulling down you 
who are gentlemen from your places and saying, 'We will be gentle- 
men in our turn'? Now, Sir, that respect for authority is much more 
easily granted to a man whose father has had it than to an upstart, 
and so society is more easily supported." BOSWELL. "Perhaps, Sir, it 
might be done by the opinion of office, as among the Romans, where 
the dress, the toga, inspired reverence." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, we know 
very little about the Romans. But surely it is much easier to respect a 
man who has always had respect than to respect a man who we know 
was last year no better than ourselves and will be no better next year. 
In republics there is not a respect for authority but a fear of power." 
BOSWELL. "At present what seems to gain most respect is having 
riches." JOHNSON. "No, Sir, riches do not gain respect. They procure 
court being paid. A very rich man from low beginnings may buy the 

* This bill gave the King complete control over the marriages of members of the 
royal family under twenty-five and partial control over the marriages of those 
above that age. It had been introduced because of the marriage of two of the 
King's brothers (the Dukes of Gloucester and Cumberland) to ladies not of 
royal blood, and was at this moment the subject of lively debate in Parliament 
The King gave his assent on April i. 

London, 21 March 1772 49 

election of a borough. But cceteris paribus a man of family will be pre- 
ferred. People will prefer one for whose father their fathers have 
voted, though they should get no more money or even less. This shows 
the opinion to be real. If gentlemen of family would allow the rich 
upstarts to spend their money profusely, which they are ready enough 
to do, and not vie with them in expense, the upstarts would soon be 
at an end and the gentlemen would remain. But if the gentlemen will 
vie in expense with the upstarts, which is very foolish, they must be 

He said Dr. Burney was a very pretty kind of man; but he could 
not read through his book. 4 I asked him why. He said, "Because I 
could not read about fiddles and flddlestrings." I mentioned Foote's 
taking him off. "I thought," said he, "I had cured Foote of that." 5 
I gave him an account of Cullen's mimicry. 8 1 said, "Don't you think, 
Sir, it is a very mean thing?" JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, it is making a very 
mean use of one's powers. But to be a good mimic requires great 
powers, great acuteness of observation, great retention of what is ob- 
served, and great pliancy of organs, to represent what is observed. I 
remember a lady in this town, Lady Amelia Hervey, 7 who was a won- 
derful mimic and used to make me laugh immoderately. I have heard 

* The Present State of Music in France and Italy, 1771, a report on his travels, 
much of which Burney would subsequently repeat in his History of Music. In 
preparing the copy for the Life Boswell deleted this reference to Bumey entirely. 
5 Johnson, on hearing that Foote intended to take him off, had let it be known he 
was ready to purchase an oak stick. "Sir, fear restrained him; he knew I would 
have broken his bones" (19 October 1769). 

8 Robert Cullen, a son of the famous Scots physician William Cullen, was an 
advocate who later became Lord of Session with the title Lord Cullen. In the 
Life at this point he appears merely as "a friend of mine in Scotland." During 
Foote's visit to Edinburgh for the winter season of 1771, he had apparently been 
pitted against Cullen in some kind of contest of mimicry. "There is one of the 
most serious affairs to be decided this night here that ever happened in any 
country, between the Great Northern and Southern Potentates, Cullen and 
Foote ..." (Thomas Alexander Erskine, sixth Earl of Kellie, to Boswell, 
from Fortune's, Saturday evening, no date). 

7 The name is left blank in the Life but was correctly identified by Mrs. Piozzi 
in a marginal note to the 1816 edition. Lady Emily (Amelia Caroline Nassau) 
Hervey was a daughter of Pope's opponent Baron Hervey of Ickworth. Mrs. 
Piozzi adds: "She was never mad as I know of." 

50 London, 21 March 1772 

she is now gone mad." BOSWELL. "It is amazing how a mimic can not 
only give you the gestures and voice of a person whom he represents, 
but will even give you what a person would say on any particular 
subject" JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, you are to consider that the manner 
and some particular phrases of a person do much to impress you with 
an idea of him, and you are not sure that he would say what the mimic 
says in his character." BOSWELL. "I don't think Foote a good mimic." 
JOHNSON. "No, Sir, his imitations are not like. He gives you some- 
thing different from himself but not the character which he means to 
assume. He goes out of himself without going into other people. He 
cannot take off any person but who is very strongly marked, such as 
George Faulkner. He is like a painter who can paint a man who has a 
wen upon his face and who therefore is easily known. If a man hops 
upon one leg, Foote can hop upon one leg. 3 But he has not that nice 
discrimination which your friend Cullen seems to possess. Foote is 
however very entertaining, with a kind of conversation between wit 
and buffoonery." 

I told him of the renunciation which I granted to my father of 
my right to the family estate by my mother's contract of marriage, 
which I did about the time I became major from a generous principle 
of preserving the family, as my father threatened, while I was very 
dissipated and licentious, that he would sell Auchinleck. 9 JOHNSON. 
"Why, Sir, you did a very foolish thing." BOSWELL. "Last winter, Sir, 
I had the paper in my hand, my father having left open the bookcase 
in which it was lying; and I once thought of putting it into the fire, 
as it was a thing to which he had no right However, as I had once 

s The Dublin publisher George Faulkner had lost a leg; in 1766, Foote, who had 
long been mimicking him, lost one too. "Now," he exclaimed, "I shall take off 
old Faulkner indeed to the life!" 

9 There is among the Boswell papers at Yale a deed executed in the spring of 
1762 in which, in return for an unconditional grant of an allowance of 100 a 
year, Boswell consents to be put under trustees of his father's choosing in case 
he succeeds to Auchinleck. This, however, makes no mention of rights conferred 
by his mother's contract of marriage, and can therefore hardly be the renuncia- 
tion here referred to. Presumably Lord Auchinleck, having concluded that his 
son would turn out a hopeless wastrel, had previously extorted a more extreme 
concession from him, and still continued to hold it over his head. Boswell later 
became convinced that his father had never had the power to pass hi over as 
heir, and suspected that he had known it all along. 

London, 21 March 1772 51 

granted it to him, I had a scruple, and so laid it back again into its 
place." JOHNSON. "You did right, Sir. To take it and burn it would 
have been destroying a deed. We should have had you hanged, ha! ha! 
ha! No. You would not have been hanged, but you 1 might have been 
whipped, or transported, ha! ha! ha! However, Sir, your father did 
wrong to take it from you, and he ought to give it up to you. If you do 
not tease him, he will make no use of it and it can do you no harm; for 
a renunciation granted to him can avail no one else." BOSWELL. "He 
talks, Sir, of entailing his estate; but he carries on the representation 
of heirs male only to a certain length. Now, I have no idea of any rep- 
resentation of a family but by males. Don't you think it the true 
representation, Sir?" JOHNSON. "Why, yes, Sir." BOSWELL. "What 
makes me more anxious with regard to it in our family is a principle 
of good faith to one of my ancestors who gave the estate to his nephew, 
passing by his own daughters; and I therefore think that as we re- 
ceived it in trust as a male fee we are bound to continue it as a male 
fee. I am therefore determined to sign no more papers or give any 
consent to female succession." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, from what you 
have stated, your case is stronger than usual, and since you think it 
wrong to consent to such an entail as your father talks of making, you 
should not do it. But let him alone and he'll die without making any."* 

1 Here the second newly recovered portion of the text ends. See above, p. 4171. 7. 

2 The long and impassioned dispute between Boswell and his father over the 
entail of Auchinleck (expounded by Boswell himself at length in the Life of 
Johnson under 1776) had broken out first during the summer before Boswell's 
marriage. The purpose of an entail was to make an estate permanently unsalable 
and unattachable for debt and hence to protect family ownership against 
profligacy of the sort which now seemed to Lord Auchinleck all too likely if 
his son should succeed him. But Lord Auchinleck wished to entail the estate 
upon heirs whatsoever of his own body, "males and females indiscriminately." 
Boswell on the other hand defended a kind of feudal mystique, a "Gothic, Salic" 
faith in the transmission of family blood through males only. He had a "zealous 
partiality for heirs male, however remote" of the original Thomas Boswell, who 
had fallen along with his sovereign at the Field of Flodden in 1513. An entail 
on these lines would of course have extended the remote possibility of inherit- 
ance to some undistinguished branches of the family (such as that headed by 
a dancing-master named David Boswell). After a series of feverish changes of 
heart and belated qualms at the prospect of excluding his own daughters, Bos- 
well on 7 August 1776 went to his father's house and signed a compromise entail 

52 London, 21 March 1772 

BOSWELL. "Don't you think, Sir, that the deed which I granted might 

be set aside as granted by a young man under fear of his father, and 

to his very great prejudice?" JOHNSON. "Why, I don't know but it 


Thus have I collected this day's conversation, excepting only that 
I now recollect he advised me to go and see Cox's Museum, which he 
said for power of mechanism and splendour of show was a very fine 
exhibition. 8 He seemed happier to see me than ever. He said, "I do love 
thee. I do love thee"; and when I left him he said, "Good-night, dear 
Sir. I am glad to see you again, very glad to see you again." 

SUNDAY 22 MARCH. I breakfasted with Dempster, whom If ound 
as agreeable and as friendly as ever, improved much in speaking Eng- 
lish, and appearing to be as happy as I could wish him. Parliament 
and the East India Company had accustomed him to manly employ- 
ment, and I could see that he was really satisfied with his situation. He 
is conscious of acting with honour and fidelity and spirit, and he feels 
himself happy in having a share in the great deliberations both as to 
this nation and the empire in India. He said he would not give up the 
enjoyment of the two sessions which he had sat in Parliament for any 
consideration. I gave him some account of his old friends in Scotland. 
He said he thought with a pleasing regret of our parties with the 
Ladies of Kellie in which we were so happy. He said some good things, 

preferring all males descended from Lord Auchinleck's grandfather. (The danc- 
ing-master was still excluded.) And two years later Bos well succeeded in getting 
a sight of his mother's marriage contract and found that it had never been in 
his father's power ("even with my consent") to alter the destination to heirs 
male of his own body. 

3 "The objects that first strike the eye are two-and-twenty pieces of mechanism, 
some nine, some ten, some twelve, and some sixteen feet high, each blazing with 
a profusion of the most costly gems. . . . An elephant, richly caparisoned, sup- 
ports a pedestal on which is a triumphal car, drawn by four golden self -moving 
horses. . . . Another car is drawn by doves round a magnificent temple of 
mother-of-pearl. . . . Pagodas, pouring all Golconda upon the sight of the be- 
holder, rise to the music of their own chimes. . . . The various flowers of the 
year bloom in jewels. . . . Storks, dragons, lizards, dolphins . . . present them- 
selves ... in gold, silver, agate, amber, lapis lazuli, and aventurine ..." 
(Gentlemaris Magazine, March 1772). The Museum was in Spring Gardens, 
Charing Cross, admission half a guinea. 

London, 22 March 1 772 53 

which go down into my Boswelliana. Dempster said it would be the 
greatest treasure of this age. Indeed it will contain a rich collection 
of good things. I said I should have riders to go about and pick up good 
things for me, or have correspondents established in all the country 
towns. He kept out all company till we had taken a hearty draught of 
free and friendly conversation. But then I saw a specimen of his incon- 
veniencies; for in came Angus lairds, speaking with a most uncouth 
tone, and beings of other disagreeable kinds, to all of whom he was 
obliged to be very courteous. 

I then called on Sir Alexander Macdonald, and found him and my 
Lady by themselves; then paid a visit to Lady Margaret Macdonald, 
with whom I sat a good while. She revived in my mind lively ideas 
of the Eglinton family; and, by an association of ideas, had a kind of 
connexion with my dear cousin, now my wife, being a Margaret 
Montgomerie and properly of the same family. 4 I returned to Sir 
Alexander, and he and I walked about together, looking at Portman 
Square and other new buildings. The increase of London is prodi- 
gious. It is really become too large. The consequence is that people 
live at such a distance from each other that it is very inconvenient for 
them to meet, and are so crowded that they confuse one another; and 
it is easier for people who live ten or twelve miles from each other in 
the country to meet than it is for people who live a few streets from 
each other in London. 

I went to dine by invitation at my cousin or kinsman Mr. Bosville's 
in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury. It was a very bad day. There fell 
a very heavy rain and there was the loudest thunder I ever heard. As I 
was going along Great Russell Street it seemed to be just over my head. 
It was indeed very near; for not very far from where I then was it 
broke upon Tottenham Court Road Chapel and killed a man in the 
midst of Mr. Wesley's congregation. 5 Honest Mr. Bosville received me 
with his usual cordiality and his lady with her usual civil formality. 

* Lady Margaret Macdonald, before her marriage Lady Margaret Montgomerie, 
was Sir Alexander's mother, and sister to the tenth and eleventh Earls of Eglin- 
ton. A dowager well loved in the Isle of Skye, she had helped to harbour Prince 
Charles in the Isle after the battle of Culloden. 

5 "Mr. Goodson, a master tailor in Craven Buildings, being at the late Mr. White- 
field's chapel in Tottenham Court Road, was struck dead by a flash of lightning" 
(London Chronicle, 24 March 1772). 

54 London, 22 March 1772 

His daughter Miss Julia was grown the finest British woman I ever 
beheld, and his son Tommy was grown a stout young fellow, and was 
now entered to the business of a merchant in the city. There were with 
us his sister Mrs. Place, a widow lady, and her sister Miss Wentworth, 
and a Miss Jenkins, a little old crooked creature of great fortune. 
Nothing worthy of remark passed at dinner. After dinner Mr. Bosville 
read me some letters from his eldest son, the Captain, 6 who was now 
on his travels' in Italy. I was pleased with his remarks, which were 
sensible, short, and humorous. Mr. Bosville himself has a good deal of 
humour of a certain kind. Sir Alexander Macdonald told me that Mr. 
Bosville was reading one of his son's letters to a company, and when 
it was done, a person present asked, "What, is there no more, Sir?" 
"0 yes," said he: " *I am your dutiful son, William Bosville.' " Sir 
Alexander came and drank coffee with us. 

I then went to Sir John Pringle's, 7 who had asked me to dine with 
him. When I was last in London he was a little offended at some- 
thing about me, and we parted rather drily. I was anxious to meet him 
again, as he is a worthy, sensible, knowing man, an old friend of my 
father's, and has always been very kind to me. He received me with 
great affection, and I saw that any former dryness was at an end. He 
had with him Lord Lyttelton and several more gentlemen, in partic- 
ular the famous Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, whom I had a great 
curiosity to see. Mr. Banks was a genteel young man, very black, and 
of an agreeable countenance, easy and communicative, without any 
affectation or appearance of assuming. Dr. Solander, though a Swede, 
spoke English with more fluency and propriety than most natives. 

I then called at General Paoli's for a little; Count Gentili and the 

Corsican Abbe were with him. I should have mentioned that 

the day after I came last to London, I resumed to him his observation 
on painting, which he made to me while we were travelling on the 
banks of Loch Lomond: viz., that we seldom or never can know what 
is meant by an emblematical or historical picture unless we have some 
previous instruction to direct us. I gave him an excellent instance in 
confirmation of this. We all know immediately when we see a female 

e Of the Coldstream Guards, celebrated bon vivant and traveller. 

T Scotsman; physician to the Queen and (in 1774) to the King; President of the 

Royal Society. His house was in Pall Mall. 

London, 22 March 1 772 55 

figure holding a balance painted that it is Justice, because we are told 
beforehand that Justice is so represented. But my little niece Jeanie 
Campbell, 8 who as yet knows nothing of emblems, when she saw a 
print of Justice with the scales, cried out, "Eh! there a wife selling 
sweeties"; i.e. "There's a woman selling sweetmeats." The General 
was delighted with this instance. I was so sleepy from having sitten 
up so late with Mr. Johnson the night before that I hastened home and 
went to bed. I am sorry that I have not been at church today. 

MONDAY 23 MARCH. I breakfasted with Captain Hoggan, and 
then went to Mr. Johnson's, with whom I had an appointment to 
spend this day and consider the cause of the Campbeltown school- 
master. When I came into his study, he was busy preparing a new 
edition of his folio Dictionary, and had one Mr. Peyton writing to him 
and picking out words from Ainsworth.* I gave him a meaning of the 
word side which he had omitted; viz., father's or mother's side. He 
said he would put it in. I asked if civilization was a word; he said no, 
but civility was. I suggested humiliating. He said he had seen it fre- 
quently used but he did not know if it could be allowed to be English. 
With great deference to him, I should think civilization, from to 
civilize, a good word and better than civility in that sense, as it is bet- 
ter to have a distinct word for each sense 1 than one word with two 
senses, which civility is, in his way of using it. 2 

A Mr , a tall gentleman like a clergyman, just went out as I 

came in. He seemed busy about some sort of chemical operations. I 
was entertained to see how he sent Mr. Peyton an errand. "Mr. Pey- 
ton, Mr. Peyton, will you be so good as take a walk to Temple Bar? 
You will there see a chemist's shop; buy for me an ounce of oil of 
vitriol; not spirit of vitriol but oil of vitriol. 8 It will cost you three half- 

8 Mrs. BoswelFs sister's step-daughter: TreesbanVs daughter by his first wife. 

9 Robert Ainsworth, A Compendious Dictionary of the Latin Tongue, 1736. 

1 Here four pages, removed as copy for the Life, are restored. See above, p. 41/2. 7. 

2 BoswelTs meaning of side, with an illustration from the poet Pamell, appears 
as the eighth and last meaning of side in the fourth edition of Johnson's Dic- 
tionary, folio, 1773, but not in earlier editions. The Oxford English Dictionary 
quotes the passage of BoswelTs Life of Johnson corresponding to the present 
Journal passage for the earliest occurrence of civilization in BoswelTs sense. The 
same authority quotes humiliating from a newspaper passage of 1757. 

8 In modern nomenclature, concentrated (not dilute) sulphuric acid. 

56 London, 23 March 1772 

pence." Away went Peyton and returned with it, and told it cost but 
a penny. 

I then took out the Session papers in the schoolmaster's cause. I 
asked if I should read. "No, Sir," said he. "I can read quicker than I 
can hear." So he read to himself. 

After he had gone on a little way, in came a little brisk man, Mr. 
Kristrom or Christian, a Swede, who was tutor to some young gentle- 
men in the city. 4 He told me that there was a very good history of 
Sweden by Dalin. I asked Mr. Johnson if one might write a history 
of Sweden without going thither. He said, "Yes, one for common 

We talked of languages. Mr. Johnson observed that M. Leibnitz 
had made some progress in a work tracing them all up to the Hebrew. 
"Why, Sir," said he, "you would not imagine that the French /bwr, 
day, is derived from the Latin dies, and yet nothing is more certain, 
and the intermediate steps are very clear. From dies comes diurnus. 
Diu is, by inaccurate ears or inaccurate pronunciation, easily con- 
founded with giu; then the Italians form a substantive of the ablative 
of an adjective and thence giurno, or as they make it gzomo, which 
is readily contracted into giour or jour." 6 He observed that the Bo- 
hemian* language was true Slavonic. The Swede said it had some 
similarity with the German. "Why, Sir, to be sure," said he. "Such 
parts of Slavonia as confine with Germany will borrow German 
words, and such parts as confine with Tartary will borrow Tartar 

He said he never had it properly ascertained that the Scotch High- 
landers and the Irish understand each other. I told him that my cousin 
Colonel Graham of the Royal Highlanders, whom I met at Drogheda, 
told me they did. He said if the Highlanders understood Irish, why 
translate the New Testament into Erse, as was done lately at Edin- 

4 Pehr Christrom, mathematician and philologist, at this time sixty-six years 
old. He had been travelling tutor to the sons of a rich Jewish firmly named 
Salvador, and was now retired on a pension of 100 a year. 

5 Even for his time, Johnson was not a good etymologist, but he is here reason- 
ably near the facts as at present understood. Giorno and jour are independent 
developments from the accusative (not ablative) diurnum, of which the final m 
was lost at an early period. 

We would say Czech. 

London, 23 March 1772 57 

burgh? 7 1 said that although the Erse and Irish were both dialects of 
the same language, there might be a good deal of diversity between 
them, as between the different dialects in Italy. 

The Swede went away, and Mr. Johnson continued his reading of 
the Session papers. It was curious to see Mr. Samuel Johnson reading 
his papers like a Lord of Session. As he read Hay Campbell's Informa- 
tion, he said, "This is a bloody charge against us," and really took a 
strong interest for the schoolmaster. He laboured very patiently. I 
said, "I am afraid, Sir, it is troublesome to you." "Why, Sir," said he, 
"I do not take much delight in it; but I'll go through with it." He read 
Crosbie's and Hay Campbell's Informations, and my Reclaiming Peti- 

We went over to the Mitre and dined in the room where he and I 
first supped together, about ten years ago. He ordered some cod and 
some smelts and some roasted lamb. He eat heartily but drank only 
negus. He gave me great hopes of my schoolmaster. "Sir," said he, 
"the government of a schoolmaster is somewhat of the nature of 
military government; that is to say, it must be arbitrary according to 
particular circumstances. You must show some learning upon this 
occasion. You must show that a schoolmaster has a prescriptive right 
to beat, and that an action of assault and battery cannot be admitted 
against him unless there is some great excess, some barbarity. This 
man has maimed none of his boys. They are all 8 left the full exercise 
of their corporeal faculties. In our schools in England many boys have 
been maimed. Yet I never heard of an action against a schoolmaster. 
Puf endorf, I think, maintains the right of a schoolmaster to beat his 
scholars. Besides, Sir, we know not how ill the boys have behaved in 
this case, so cannot judge whether the degree of severity was proper 
or not." He promised to assist me by putting down some thoughts upon 
the subject. 

I had read in his library this forenoon the Dedication to Kennedy's 
Scripture Chronology, which I immediately knew to be his. I said, 
"You cannot deny it." He answered, "Why, I don't deny it" 8 * We 

7 The Reverend James Stuart's Gaelic translation of the New Testament ap- 
peared in Edinburgh in 1767. 

8 Here the third newly recovered portion of the Journal ends. See above, p. 41/1. 7. 
*Boswell apparently confuses the Reverend John Kennedy's Scripture Chro- 

58 London, 23 March 1772 

went home to his house and Mrs. Williams gave us some tea. This was 
his Club night So I left him. 

I called at General Paoli's. He had with him M. Dunant, a Swiss, 
formerly an officer in the Sardinian service and now seeking his for- 
tune in London, and Signor Poggi, a young painter, the son of a Corsi- 
can, of distinguished talents but little application. 

TUESDAY 24 MARCH. I called on Sir John Pringle for a little, and 
he asked me to come and sit with him in the evening. I then found 
DOUGLAS at home. His house, late Lord Egmont's in Pall Mall, was 
truly magnificent. He received me as usual, and presented me to Lady 
Lucy, whom I thought a pretty little smart lady. I was hurt to see her 
have that disagreeable distance, reserve, and, I cannot help thinking, 
absolute want of civility which your English women of fashion in 
general have. When I was introduced to her she should certainly have 
expressed some satisfaction at seeing so great a friend of her hus- 
band's; in place of which she just rose, curtsied, and said not a word. 
However, I made way for myself, took a most hearty breakfast and 
talked away, and forced her Ladyship to speak by asking her ques- 
tions. Charles Greville, Lord Warwick's son, was there. Douglas 
showed me his house, which is indeed magnificent; and so it may, for 
it cost him 13,000. I told him, "This will not do. You must come 
among us. It cost us too much trouble to make you a Scotsman to let 
you be an Englishman." He assured me he would be six months in 
Scotland next summer and have Lady Lucy along with him. 

I then went to Lord Mountstuart, who was living at his mother- 
in-law Lady Windsor's, his own house not being yet ready for him. 
He received me as if we had not been a day separated, showed me his 
eldest son, a fine boy, and told me he was always at home in the eve- 
ning when Parliament was not sitting, and would be happy to see me. 
John Ross Mackye 9 came in. I told my Lord about my schoolmaster. I 
said I was keen for him because I was sensible how much the better 
I myself had been of being heartily licked. My Lord, who has a talent 

nology with the same author's Complete System of Astronomical Chronology, 
1763, for which Johnson wrote the Dedication and the final paragraph of the text 
* M.P. for Lanark and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 1741-1768. His sociabil- 
ity at an advanced age is recorded by Boswell in his Journal for 23 November 

London, 24 March 1772 59 

for saying sly things, by the by answered, "I wish you had got a little 
more of it." I went down and saw a committee of the House of Com- 
mons sitting on a Merse road bill. 1 Rae* and Wight spoke as counsel 
while I was there. I was surprised to find a committee, of which I had 
heard so much, a very simple matter. 

I dined at General Paoli's, just he and I and the Count I shall al- 
ways mention them if there are any more. The General spoke much 
of Scotland; and, what gave me much pleasure, he commended highly 
my dearest wife, said she had something of the Italian manner, a 
frankness, an attention, and a politeness; and particularly remem- 
bered her giving him a convoy as far as Haddington. 

In the evening I went to Sir John Pringle's and found him alone 
with his nightcap, quite at ease. We had a little bowl of punch and 
some biscuits and were most comfortable. He told me he had a letter 
from my father in which my father expressed much satisfaction with 
me. I was sincerely happy at this; and I felt a manly consciousness of 
being improved when I felt that I could talk on a tolerable equality 
with Sir John Pringle, of whom I used to stand so much in awe. He 
agreed with me as to my notions of succession in our family and said, 
"No, no, the dancing-master must not be cut off, though his profes- 
sion need not be named." 3 1 had told him that my father had in the 
main the same notions with me and wished to entail his estate in the 
male line for many generations; but stopped at one of the branches 
of our family, who is a dancing-master, because his pride cannot bear 
it: without considering that it is a family's fault when their con- 
nexions fall low, and besides, that by the time the succession may 
open to them, the dancing-master's descendants may be greater than 
any of us. 4 Sir John however would not allow that there was any obli- 

1 See below, p. 130/2. 8. 

2 See below, p. 95. 

3 David Boswell at Leith, representative of the Craigston Boswells, first cousin 
of John Boswell (married to the heiress of Knockroon), and Lord AuchinlecVs 
cousin in the sixth degree. Considering the number of nearer male lines, Lord 
Auchinleck's caution seems pedantic. But the real reason for the exclusion, as 
Boswell proceeds to say, was pride. If Lord Auchinleck had included the Craig- 
ston line in the entail, he would have had to recognize the dancing-master so- 
cially; and this he was determined not to do. 

* It is not on record that the dancing-master's descendants did come up in the 

6o London, 24 March 1772 

gation upon us to prefer the male line because one of our predecessors 
did it; for he pleased his fancy, and so may another man please his. 
Said he: "Suppose a man should take a fancy to leave me an estate 
because I am marked with the smallpox; that would lay no obligation 
upon me to leave it to another man marked with the smallpox, in 
preference to my own near relations." I answered that his supposition 
was mere whim. But the preference given to male succession was a 

Sir John, I saw, had taken somewhat of a liking to your dissenters 
and what are called more rational Christians. He gave me a little 
penny pamphlet containing the trial of one Mr. Elwall for heresy and 
blasphemy, for denying the Trinity and several other orthodox prin- 
ciples, with remarks. 5 And he seemed to approve of a late publication 
attempting to prove the two first chapters of Matthew's Gospel spuri- 
ous. 6 He said, 4e You know the castor, the beaver, when he is pursued 
bites off and throws from him what he knows the hunters pursue him 
for. So this dissenting divine throws off those two chapters on which 
the Deists found so many of their objections." He said he was now 
come to give little faith to history, because he knew for certain that 
the Princess Dowager of Wales 7 had for these many years taken no 
share in politics and never had any improper connexion with Lord 
Bute; and yet she would go down to posterity as having managed all 
the affairs of this nation till her death and been concerned in a crimi- 
nal intercourse with Lord Bute. He said it would not be proper for him 
to mention them, but that his situation about the royal family gave 
him an opportunity of knowing circumstances that made it certain 
that the Princess was altogether free of both these concerns. He said 

world, but it is a pleasantly ironical circumstance that when Lord AuchinlecFs 
heir of line sold the estate, Auchinleck House was purchased by the representa- 
tive of John Boswell of Knockroon, whose father was a Craigston Boswell. 

5 Edward Elwall (1676-1744) published his True Testimony for God . . . 
against All the Trinitarians under Heaven in 1720 and was tried for heresy in 
1726. The pamphlet was reprinted by Joseph Priestley in 1772 and became a 
stock tract with the Unitarians. See below, p. 75. 

6 John Williams's Free Enquiry into the Authenticity of the First and Second 
Chapters of St. Mattheufs Gospel, 1771. 

T Augusta, daughter of Frederick II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha, married Frederick 
Louis, Prince of Wales, in 1736 and was the mother of George HI. She died 8 
2. See below. D. 86. 

London, 24 March 1772 61 

that when it was imagined there would be a long minority, the late 
King being very old and his grandson very young, a party of the great 
people about Court, apprehending that Lord Bute's intimacy with 
Frederick Prince of Wales might give him a great ascendancy over 
this King, formed the plan to raise a report of scandal between the 
Princess Dowager and Lord Bute; and he would do Mr. Fox, after- 
wards Lord Holland, the justice to say that he alone struck out against 
it. It was, however, put in execution, and was asserted with such 
effrontery that many who had occasion to know better believed it. He 
therefore could not regard history farther than just as chronology and 
relating certain facts which could admit of no falsifying, such as that 
a king reigned so long, a battle was fought, or such things. But as to 
accounts of characters, or the secret springs and motives of actions and 
events, he could not credit historians. This was really a good evening 
with my father's old friend. 

WEDNESDAY 25 MARCH. I breakfasted with Mr. Samuel Mitch- 
elson, Junior, 8 who was come up upon the Peerage of Caithness, and 
with him I kept myself in mind of business. I then called on Dempster 
and walked out with him. I observed that when a man comes to Lon- 
don as a stranger, he is confused and knows not well how to do; like 
one at a great table who is unaccustomed to it and whose attention is 
distracted by the variety of dishes. Whereas one settled in London is 
like a man accustomed to a great table, upon whom the variety of 
dishes makes no impression, and who singles out his piece of beef or 
mutton or any other particular dish which he likes without being in 
the least disturbed. 

I called on Sir Alexander Macdonald, who walked down with me 
to Westminster and showed me several committees of the House of 
Commons; and, as he knows almost every man of rank or distinction 
by face, pointed out to me Sir George Savile, Commodore Saunders, 
and many more of whom I had heard and whom I was curious to see. 9 
We then went into the House of Lords and heard an appeal from the 

8 A Writer to the Signet. Boswell's Fee Book often enters "S. Mitchelson Jun." 
as agent in cases where Boswell was advocate. 

9 Sir George Savile, one of the most respected of the Whig leaders, in the previous 
month had made an eloquent speech supporting the petition for relief from 
subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles. Johnson called him "a little dirty 
scoundrel" (Journal, 23 September 1777). Admiral Sir Charles Saunders was 
commander-in-chief of the fleet which supported Wolfe at Quebec. 

62 London, 25 March 1772 

Exchequer of England, Dunbar against Lem. We heard only one side. 
Mr. Thurlow, the Attorney General, 1 spoke in a deliberate, distinct, 
manly method, and Counsellor Ambler spoke with fluency and pro- 
priety. I was very curious to see the form of proceeding in the House 
of Lords in hearing causes, which I had never done before, having 
never been in London when the Parliament was sitting except when 
I had an aversion at everything that had the appearance of business. 
I went home with Sir Alexander to dinner. We had with us Captain 
MacLeod, late of the Lord Mansfield East Indiaman, his lady and 
daughter, Major Chisholm of Chisholm, and Archie Macdonald. We 
did very well. 

At night I went to Lord Mountstuart's. Lord Denbigh and John 
Ross Mackye were with him. Lord Denbigh is a droll genius. 2 He had 
in his pocket a petition to bring in my schoolmaster's cause on an 
early day. "Come," said he, "tell me about this schoolmaster's cause; 
for curse me if I judge of it." I gave him some account of it, and he 
swore and raved, but I do not remember in what terms. After he and 
Ross Mackye went away, my Lord and I chatted admirably. But I 
found that as when he knew me first in Italy I was very odd and ex- 
travagant, he could not yet have an idea of my being altered; so was 
playing foolishly as we used to do. This was a little troublesome. But 
I considered it would wear off. He said it was impossible to get any 
survivancy. 3 But he promised he would get me a gown in the Court of 
Session. He is truly an amiable young nobleman with very good, parts, 
and is only too indolent and cool till pushed. 

THURSDAY 26 MARCH. I breakfasted with Crosbie, 4 who told me 

1 Later Lord Chancellor. He had made his reputation on the side of Douglas in 
the appeal before the House of Lords in February 1769. 

8 Basil Feilding, sixth Earl of Denbigh (1719-1800), was Lord of the Bedcham- 
ber from 1763 to his death. He earned a reputation as a "droll genius" when 
under the Influence of the bottle. 

8 Nomination to an office to which Boswell would succeed upon the death of the 

4 Andrew Crosbie had assisted Boswell in his first criminal case (that of John 
Reid the sheep-stealer in 1766) and had become one of his closest friends; he 
was also joined with Boswell in the defence of Hastie the schoolmaster. He was 
generally granted brilliant parts, and no member of the Faculty had warmer 
friends, but his advocacy of unprofitable causes was winning >"'"? a reputation 
for being quixotic and erratic. 

London, 26 March 1772 63 

that he had full powers from the Laird of MacLeod to sell the barony 
of Harris; but that St Kilda was to be excepted, as it was so curious a 
piece of property. 9 1 called on Dr. Percy at Northumberland House. I 
had left cards for the Duke and Duchess, but had received neither visit 
nor message from them. It was agreeable to find Percy in a large room 
looking into the Strand, and at the same time his room as much a li- 
brary as crowded and even confused with books and papers as 
any room in a college. He showed me many curiosities; in particular, 
a collection of all the Spanish authors mentioned in Don Quixote; and 
he told me that a clergyman* down in the country, who has probably 
more Spanish learning than any Spaniard, was assisting him in find- 
ing out the various passages mentioned or alluded to, that he may 
make a kind of key to Don Quixote. This will be a work of universal 
curiosity. He showed me a very good translation of Homer into Latin 

verse by / a Hessian who lived in Erasmus's time, and on a 

blank leaf of it he had transcribed a very high character of this 

by Erasmus, saying that he alone was sufficient to give fame 

to all Germany. I observed how humbling it was to literary ambi- 
tion that this man who had so much merit and was so high in fame 
should now hardly be known. He showed me also a book which had 
belonged to the famous but foolish Earl of Pembroke, who had a 
custom of writing upon the margins of his books, not things which 
had any connexion with the text, but all sorts of things as they 
came into his head. This book was scribbled over with the strangest 
nonsense, as thus: "Take away the Castle and take away the Haven, 
and then where is my Lord of Castlehaven? Take away the Bridge and 
take away the Water, and then where is my Lord of Bridgewater?" 8 

5 In 1779 Captain Alexander MacLeod (with whom Boswell had dined on the 
day preceding this) purchased from the commissioners of the next Laird of 
MacLeod for 15,000 the barony of Harris, including Bernera, St. Kilda, and 
other small isles. 

6 The Reverend John Bowie, vicar of Idmiston in Wiltshire, whose edition of 
Don Quixote appeared in 1781. 

7 Helius Eobanus Hessus (1488-1540). 

9 Philip Herbert, fourth Earl of Pembroke (1584-1650), one of the "incompa- 
rable pair of brethren" to whom the first folio of Shakespeare is inscribed, was 
Lord Chamberlain of the household of Charles I and Chancellor of Oxford Uni- 
versity. He was famous and eccentric but apparently not foolish, even though he 

64 London, 26 March 1772 

It is hardly possible to conceive the variety of nonsense thus written. 
There are several of his Lordship's books in the British Museum. I 
told Dr. Percy of my barber at Stevenage's story of Dr. Young's keep- 
ing a mistress. He said it was mere scandal, just as one should say that 
Mr. Johnson keeps Mrs. Williams. He said he had just begun to form 
an acquaintance with Dr. Young; that he could not so much as say, 
Virgilium tantum vidif for that he had not seen him, but had one 
letter from him. 

Mr. Percy and I went together to General Paoli's. A curious cir- 
cumstance occurred. The General had read in a foreign journal that 
the late Dr. Brown had written a memorial in favour of the Corsicans. 
The journal said, "This famous scholar's death was a blow to the re- 
public of letters in general, and especially to the brave Corsicans, in 
whose favour he had written a memorial of such force that it would 
undoubtedly have made a great impression on all the ministries of 
Europe," 1 or words to that purpose. The General was very anxious to 
see this memorial, and Dr. Percy had been doing all in his power to 
get it from the Doctor's executors, but in vain; though he concluded 
that as he had heard it mentioned in England, and the General had 
read of it in a foreign journal, it must have existed, and he did not 
despair of finding it. While they were talking, I recollected that in the 
time of the Corsican war, when I used to keep the newspapers con- 
stantly warm with paragraphs about the brave islanders, I had among 
other things mentioned that "the late Dr. Brown had, before his death, 
written a memorial in behalf of the brave Corsicans, which was to 
have been published at Petersburg under the auspices of the Empress 
of Russia; and that it showed a wonderful political revolution when 
the strongest memorial in favour of Liberty was to have been pub- 

is well known to have had the habit of writing mysterious remarks in the mar- 
gins of his books. It is possible that the scribblings on Lord Castlehaven, at least, 
had a definite enough meaning. Castlehaven (the second Earl, 1593-1631) and 
Bridgewater were brothers-in-law, and Pembroke also was connected with them 
by marriage. Castlehaven, having been found guilty of sodomy and assisting at 
the rape of his own wife, was attainted of felony and on 14 March 1631 be- 
headed on Tower Hill. 

* "I no more than saw Virgil": Ovid, Tristia, IV. x. 51. 
1 Boswell actually writes this sentence in French, 

London, 26 March 1 772 65 

lished in the capital of Russia." 2 This was enough to make it be talked 
of in England; and the foreign journal had copied it from the news- 
paper. My telling this put an end to the search; and it made me have 
less literary faith, as Sir John Pringle has less historical faith; for this 
invention of mine will be handed down on the Continent wherever Dr. 
Brown is mentioned, unless I correct it in some publication. 

I dined by Sir John Pringle's invitation with the Club at the Mitre 
Tavern, all the original members of which are Fellows of the Royal 
Society. Burrow, who publishes the Reports' sat at the head of the 
table as vice-president. Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander and Mr. Whit- 
aker, the author of the History of Manchester, were there. There was 
little conversation that I could learn, from the company being nu- 
merous. I then went to Drury Lane to see Garrick play Bayes. In my 
way I called at Donaldson's* shop. He carried me upstairs, where he 
had Mr. Elphinston, who keeps an academy at Kensington, and trans- 
lates many of the mottoes of The Rambler, with him, and Mrs. El- 
phinston, and another gentleman. Mr. Elphinston it seems had a very 
great desire to be acquainted with me, and gave me more praise than 
even I could well take. However, it went down with me. I engaged to 
dine with him on Saturday sennight. By the time I got to the play- 
house, the crowd was such that after trying boxes, pit, and middle 
gallery, I found I could not get any kind of place. I then tried 
the one-shilling gallery, into which I just squeezed myself a little. 
The heat was intolerable and I was quite tantalized; for I saw very 
ill and could hardly hear at all, and yet I heard constant peals of 
laughter. I stayed three acts. 

I then went to the London Coffee-house on Ludgate Hill, to which 
the master of the late coffee-house in St Paul's Churchyard, where a 

2 London Chronicle, 9-11 October 1766, p. 360. (John Brown, author of An Esti- 
mate of the Manners and Principles of the Times, 1757, had committed suicide 
on 22 September 1766.) Boswell (who is quoting from memory) gives the sub- 
stance but does not reproduce closely the language of his own newspaper para- 

8 Sir James Burrow. He compiled Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in 
the Court of King's Bench during the Time of Lord Mansfield's Presiding, 1756- 

* BoswelTs friend and client Alexander Donaldson, the Edinburgh bookseller, 
was in partnership with his brother John at No. 195 in the Strand. 

66 London, 26 March 1772 

club of which I was admitted a member met every other Thursday, 
was removed. Dr. Franklin 5 had promised to meet me there tonight. 
But when I got thither, neither he nor any one else whom I knew was 
there. One of the members came out but could recollect nothing of 
me. This was very awkward. He however went in again to see if any 
one else could recollect me; and Dr. Kippis, a dissenting clergyman, 
did. 6 So in I went. There were very few there. The club is composed 
principally of physicians, dissenting clergy, and masters of acade- 
mies. Dr. Priestley 7 was there this night. I should not have known him 
by his works of religious controversy. They are in my opinion insolent; 
and he appeared to be very civil. He seemed happy in a story that a 
Methodist sailor who was along with Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander had 
brought several of the wild men to be pretty well disposed to Christi- 
anity; but whenever he showed them a print of Christ on the cross in 
his prayer-book and attempted to explain to them the doctrine of the 
Trinity, they all left him. Perhaps the story is not true. But suppose it 
true, it only proves that the Methodist sailor was a bad explainer of a 
mystery, or that the savages had not patience and humility sufficient. 
I entertained the club with my schoolmaster's cause. We broke up be- 
tween eleven and twelve. 

I must now remark that since I came last to London I have in- 
dulged myself with several interviews with women of the town, from 
a kind of inclination to entertain my curiosity, without deviating from 
my fidelity to my valuable spouse. This night completing a week in 
London, I solemnly resolved to indulge myself so no more; because I 
could learn nothing but what I had formerly heard over and over 
again, their stories being mostly the same; and because there was a de- 
gree of depravity in associating with them, and, as the idea of the dis- 

5 Benjamin Franklin, Colonial Agent in England for Pennsylvania, visited Sir 
Alexander Dick at Prestonfield about 1759 and if he did not meet Boswell then, 
had met him by 4 May 1768, when Sir John Pringle brought him to BoswelTs 
lodgings in London. 

6 Andrew Kippis was the editor of the second edition of Biographia Britcmnica, 

7 Joseph Priestley, scientist and Unitarian theologian, first described oxygen 
("dephlogisticated air") in a letter of 1772 addressed to Sir John Pringle and 
read before the Royal Society. In this year also he issued a reprint of the Trial 
of Edward Elwall referred to by Pringle (above, p. 60). 

London, 26 March 1772 67 

tance between me and them now was lessened by my seeing them 
familiarly, I might fall into an infidelity which would make me very- 
miserable. The heat of the theatre, eating and drinking a variety of 
things some of which had not suited my constitution, and the cold of 
the streets had made me ill, and when I got home I was very uneasy. 

FRIDAY 27 MARCH. I awaked exceedingly distressed. Captain 
Hoggan came in upon me before I got up. I rose but could hardly hold 
up my head. The day was dark and rainy, which made me worse. 
Honest Hoggan truly sympathized with me. I sent to General Paoli 
for his coach and Hoggan and I took a drive in Hyde Park. This did 
me good. But I was still in a sad state. I set Hoggan down at his lodg- 
ings and then drove to the House of Peers. I heard Lord Advocate 8 and 
Mr. Rae plead in the appeal, Willock, etc., against Ouchterlony.* It 
was encouraging to me to see the civility and mild attention with 
which the Chancellor 1 and Lord Mansfield behaved. I thought I 
should be under no uneasiness in pleading at that bar. I dined at Gen- 
eral Paoli's, but was not yet recovered. I was invited to a rout at Mrs. 
Bosville's this evening; but Joseph not having come in to get me things 
for dressing till it was rather too late concurred with my indisposition, 
and I stayed quietly at home writing this my JournaL 

SATU RDAY 2 8 MARCH . Mr. John Wright came to me in the morn- 
ing by appointment to settle his father's case in the appeal, Wright 
against Ure. 2 After so much variety, though I can hardly call it dissi- 
pation, I felt the force of Shakespeare's observation that "if all the 

8 James William Montgomery (created a baronet in 1801) was Lord Advocate 
of Scotland, 1766-1775. He will figure prominently in BoswelFs Journal for the 
summer of 1774. 

9 Like the cause of the Caithness Peerage mentioned above, p. 61, and like the 
appeals of Bruce of Kinross and of the Earl of Home which Boswell hears later 
this spring (below, pp. 92, 95, 99, 101, 102), Willock, etc., against Ouchterlony 
was a case which illustrated and tested the laws of succession and inheritance. 

1 Lord Apsley, later Earl Bathurst; he has been called the least competent Lord 
Chancellor of the century. 

2 This is probably John Wright, a teacher of law and mathematics in Edin- 
burgh, a man of "low origin," whom Boswell in 1781 supported in his getting 
admission to the Faculty of Advocates. On i May 1772 the House of Lords 
affirmed the decision of the Court of Session against Wright's father, Thomas, of 
Easter Glins, the appellant. He was ordered to pay the respondents 80 for costs. 

68 London, 28 March 1772 

year were holidays, to work would be to play." 8 Working at this case 
solaced me. As we were going on, in came Sir Alexander Macdonald 
and Major Craufurd of Craufurdland,* and they all breakfasted with 8 
me, I sitting in my nightcap, and they observing that I was like my 
father. I indeed felt myself very steady and very composed. The Major 
made me a very jenteel offer. He said if I would stand candidate for 
the shire of Ayr at next election, he would pass a charter 6 and give me 
his vote. He went away. Sir Alexander sat a little with Wright and me 
while we settled our case, and he helped us in correcting the English. 
He went away for a while. We finished it, and he returned and then 
he and I walked up to Mr. Johnson's. Mr. Johnson had said to me, "I 
should wish to be acquainted with Sir Alexander Macdonald." Every 
wish of Mr. Johnson's is watched by me, and my friend Sir Alexander 
was happy to be introduced to him. So away we went. 

Mr. Johnson received him very courteously. Sir Alexander, eager 
to show himself, began. SIR ALEXANDER. "I think, Sir, our chancellors 
in England are chosen from views much inferior to the office. They 
are chosen from temporary political views." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, in 
such a government as ours no man is appointed to an office because he 
is the fittest for it. Nor hardly in any other government; because there 
are so many connexions and dependencies to be studied. A despotic 
prince may choose a man to an office because he is the fittest for it The 
King of Prussia may do it." SIR ALEXANDER. "I mean, Sir, that chancel- 
lors must be subservient to the Court, and will be turned out if they do 
not acquiesce in everything." JOHNSON. "No, Sir. What chancellors 

9 1 Henry IV, I. ii. 228-229: 

If all the year were playing holidays, 
To sport would be as tedious as to work. 

4 A veteran of Dettingen, Fontenoy, and Quebec, promoted lieutenant-colonel 
later in this year. He is said to have been put at the bottom of the army list for 
having held one corner of the cloth that received the head of the Earl of Kil- 
marnock at his execution after the '45. 

5 Eight pages, removed for the Life of Johnson, are restored. See above, p. 4171. 7. 

6 Would take legal steps to qualify as a voter, which he had hitherto neglected 
to do. See below, pp. 201-202. In consequence of the severe limitation of the 
franchise, there were at this time only about one hundred registered voters in 
Ayrshire. How Boswell would have qualified as a candidate is not clear. His 
lands of Dalblair (purchased in 1767) did not carry a vote. 

London, 28 March 1772 69 

were turned out?" BOSWELL. "Why, Lord Camden, Sir." JOHNSON. 
"Lord Camden, Sir, is but a single instance; and besides a more worth- 
less fellow, take him out of his legal capacity, the earth does not bear. 
I believe he is a man of parts; but he is a man who courted the rabble 
to get into office, and when in office opposed the King. He did ill to get 
into office, and did ill after he was in office.*' SIR ALEXANDER. "I 
think it was wrong in him to sit to his picture, and have it put up in 
Guildhall." BOSWELL. "It was wrong in him to accept of applause for 
having given judgement in a manner agreeable to the people. Ap- 
plause ought only to be received for something which depends on the 
will. Now a judge ought to have no will in determining a cause. It is 
only a matter of judgement 1 ' 7 JOHNSON. "Sir, you understand the 
thing very well." SIR ALEXANDER. "I think, Sir, almost all great law- 
yers, such now as have written upon law, have known only law and 
nothing else." JOHNSON. "Why no, Sir. Judge Hale was a great law- 
yer and wrote upon law; and yet he knew a great many other things 
and has written upon other things. Selden too." SIR ALEXANDER. 
"Very true, Sir. And Lord Bacon. But was not Lord Coke a mere law- 
yer?" JOHNSON. "Why, I'm afraid he was. But he'd have taken it very 
ill if you had told him so. He would have prosecuted you for scandal." 
BOSWELL. "Pray, Sir, whether do you pronounce it Lord Coke or Lord 
Cooke?" JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, we pronounce it Lord Cooke." 8 BOS- 
WELL. "Lord Mansfield is not a mere lawyer." JOHNSON. "No, Sir. I 
never was in Lord Mansfield's company. But, Sir, Lord Mansfield was 
distinguished at the University. Lord Mansfield when he came first to 

7 Charles Pratt, Lord Camden, was a Whig, who before his first government ap- 
pointment had argued that juries were competent to determine law as well as 
facts in cases of seditious libel; while Attorney General he carried through the 
House of Commons a bill for extending the Habeas Corpus Act to civil cases. As 
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas he ruled, in the case of John Wilkes and oth- 
ers, that the Government's use of general warrants was unconstitutional, and 
when raised to the peerage spoke in the House of Lords against the Stamp Act 
and taxation without representation. He became almost as popular with the 
people as Wilkes himself. The Mayor and Corporation of London gave him the 
freedom of the City in a gold box and commissioned Reynolds to paint his por- 
trait. He became Lord Chancellor in 1766 on the formation of Chatham's second 
administration, and was turned out in 1770. Johnson's vigorous denunciation 
of Camden was omitted from the Life of Johnson. 

8 Coke is, in fact, merely an old-fashioned spelling for Cook. 

70 London, 28 March 1772 

town 'drank champagne with the wits,' as Prior says. He was the 
friend of Pope." SIR ALEXANDER. "The bar is not so abusive as it was 
formerly. I fancy they had less law long ago, and so were obliged to 
take to abuse to fill up the time. Now they have such a number of pre- 
cedents, they have no occasion for abuse." JOHNSON. "Nay, Sir, they 
had more law long ago than they have now. As to precedents, to be 
sure they will increase in course of time. But the more precedents 
there are, the less occasion is there for law; that is to say, the less occa- 
sion is there for investigating principles. Is it not so, Bozzy ? ' ' BOSWELL. 
"Certainly, Sir." SIR ALEXANDER. "I have been correcting several 
Scotch accents in my friend Boswell. I doubt, Sir, if any Scotchman 
ever attains to a perfect English pronunciation." JOHNSON. "Why, 
Sir, few of 'em do; because they do not persevere after attaining to a 
certain degree of perfection. But, Sir, there can be no doubt that they 
may attain to a perfect English pronunciation if they will. We find 
how far they attain to it; and there can be no doubt that a man who 
conquers nineteen parts of the Scottish accent may conquer the twen- 
tieth. But, Sir, when a man has got the better of nine tenths, he grows 
weary, he relaxes his diligence, he finds he has corrected his accent so 
far as not to be disagreeable, and he no longer desires his friends to 
tell him when he goes wrong; nor does he choose to be told. Sir, when 
people watch me narrowly, and I do not watch myself, they will find 
me out to be of a particular county. In the same manner Dunning may 
be found out to be a Devonshire man. So most Scotchmen may be 
found out. But, Sir, little defalcations do not hurt I never catched 
Mallet in a Scotch accent; and yet Mallet, I suppose, was past five- 
and-twenty before he came to London." 

BOSWELL. "It may be of use, Sir, to have a dictionary to ascertain 
the pronunciation." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, my dictionary shows you 
the accents of words if you can but remember them." BOSWELL. "But, 
Sir, we want marks to ascertain the pronunciation of the vowels. 
Sheridan, I believe, has finished such a work." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, 
will you consider how much easier it is to learn a language by the ear 
than by any marks. Sheridan's dictionary may do very well.* But you 

* Thomas Sheridan (1719-1788), actor, manager of the Theatre Royal in Dub- 
lin, lecturer on elocution, and author, was the father of the dramatist Richard 
Brinsley Sheridan. His General Dictionary of the English Language was an- 

London, 28 March 1 772 71 

cannot always carry it about with you; and when you want the word, 
you have not the dictionary. It is like a man who has a sword that will 
not draw. It is an admirable sword, to be sure. But while your enemy 
is cutting your throat, you cannot draw this sword. Besides, Sir, what 
entitles Sheridan to fix the pronunciation of English? He has in the 
first place the disadvantage of being an Irishman; and if he says he 
will fix it after the example of the best company, why, they differ 
among themselves. I remember an instance. When I published the 
Plan for my dictionary, Lord Chesterfield told me the word great 
should be pronounced so as to rhyme to state, and Sir William Yonge 
sent me word that it should be pronounced so as to rhyme to seat and 
that none but an Irishman would pronounce it grmt. Now here were 
two men of the highest rank, the one the best speaker in the House of 
Lords, the other the best speaker in the House of Commons, differing 
so widely." 

We talked of kelp. I have often observed that Mr. Johnson is very 
fond of talking of manufactures, or giving any instruction as to mat- 
ters of utility. He advised Sir Alexander to refine his kelp to such a 
degree, before putting it on board a ship, that it might be put up in 
hogsheads and so be much safer from damage and cost much less 

I went home with Sir Alexander to dinner. He observed that a 
man should never interrupt another in conversation; because the man 
who is interrupted will only wait with eagerness to get in again, and 
while the other is talking will be thinking of what he himself is to 
say, and consequently the interrupter will be talking to no purpose. 
This is a just and good practical remark. There was nobody at dinner 
but my Lady and he and I. After dinner he and I took a walk in the 
fields, and met a Colonel Donald 1 Campbell returned from the East 
Indies, where he had been twenty years, and had received twenty 
wounds. 2 

nounced in 1762 and published in 1780. He had tutored Boswell in pronuncia- 
tion. Johnson had a low opinion of him and was in the habit of alluding to him 
as "Sherry" and then as "Sherry deny." 

1 The fourth newly recovered portion of the Journal ends with this word. See 
above, p. 4172. 7. 

2 Colonel Campbell was of Glensaddell. Fourteen sword wounds and a musket 

72 London, 28 March 1772 

We called together at Dempster's, who was gone abroad and had 
left his dining-room in perfect Scotch confusion. Colonel Campbell 
had some drollery, and I made him dictate; and partly from his dic- 
tating, partly from my own observation, I wrote down the following 
inventary of a Scotch Member of Parliament's dining-room furniture: 
Upon one table a stone basin with dirty water; a china goglet, as 
Campbell called it, or water-bottle with water in it; a case of razors; 
a shaving-brush, shaving-box and soap-ball, a strap, and a tin jug for 
warming water in. Upon one chair a pair of ruffles, dirty. Upon an- 
other chair a pair of white stockings and a pair of black ditto, a stock, 
a clothes-brush, a towel, and a shaving-cloth, dirty. Upon the arms 
of two chairs placed close together a flannel waistcoat without sleeves. 
Upon another chair a dirty shirt Upon another ditto a black waist- 
coat and a grey frock with black buttons. Upon another ditto four 
combs, a pair of scissors, and a stick of pomatum. Upon the carpet a 
large piece of blue and white check spread out, a tea-chest, two shoes 
at a considerable distance from each other, a flannel powdering-gown, 
a pair of slippers. Upon the chimney-piece innumerable packets of 
letters and covers to be franked, a book, a pamphlet, some newspapers, 
and a snuff-box. Hanging upon brass nails two hats, a sword and belt, 
a belt without a sword. Standing in a corner a very long cane with a 
gold head. Dempster's eldest black 3 could not well understand what 
we were about. We drank tea at Sir Alexander's. I then went to Mr. 
Johnson's. He was not come home half an hour past nine. I walked 
on to Mr. Dilly's, sat with him half an hour or so, and eat a crust of 
bread and drank a glass of wine. 

I returned to Mr. Johnson about eleven. He was in excellent good 
humour and I ventured to lead him upon the subject of a future state, 
as to which Lady Colville and I have talked together of, having much 
curiosity to know his ideas. He said, "Why, Sir, the happiness of an 
unembodied spirit will consist in a consciousness of the favour of God, 
in the contemplation of truth, and in the possession of felicitating 
ideas." BOSWELL. "But, Sir, there is no harm in our forming to our- 

ball in the body, all received by him at the siege of Madura, 1763, are duly 
recorded by Major Sir Duncan Campbell of Barcaldine, Records of Clan Camp- 
bell in the Military Service of the Honourable East India Company 1600-1858, 
pp. 88-92. 
Here eight more pages, removed for the Life of Johnson, are now restored. 

London, 28 March 1772 73 

selves conjectures as to the nature and particulars of our happiness, 
though the Scripture has said but very little of it 'We know not what 
we shall be.* " JOHNSON. "Sir, there is no harm. So far as philosophy 
suggests, it is probable. So far as Scripture tells us, it is certain. Dr. 
Henry More has carried it as far as philosophy can. You may buy 
both his theological and philosophical works in two volumes in folio 
for about eight shillings.'* BOSWELL. "One of the most pleasing 
thoughts is that we shall see our friends again.'* JOHNSON. "Yes, Sir; 
but you must consider that when we are become purely rational, 
many of our friendships will be cut off. Many friendships are formed 
by a community of sensual pleasures. All these will be cut off. We 
form many friendships with bad men because they have agreeable 
qualities and they can be useful to us; but after death they can no 
longer be of use to us. We form many friendships by mistake, imagin- 
ing people to be different from what they really are. After death we 
shall see every one in a just light. Then, Sir, they talk of our meeting 
our relations. But then all relationship is dissolved; and we shall have 
no regard for one person more than another, but for their real value.*' 
I was struck with the novelty of the thought; it was at least new to 
me; and if one could separate the adventitious ideas of this transitory 
state from those which must endure for ever, the thought would ap- 
pear to be just "Sir," said he, "we shall either have the satisfaction 
of meeting our friends or be satisfied without meeting them." BOS- 
WELL. "Yet, Sir, we see in Scripture that Dives still retained an anxious 
concern about his brethren." 4 JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, we must either 
suppose that passage to be metaphorical or hold with many divines 
and all the Purgatorians that souls do not all at once arrive at great 
perfection." BOSWELL. "I think, Sir, that is a very rational supposi- 
tion." JOHNSON. "Why yes, Sir; but we are not told it is a true one. 
There is no harm in believing it But you must not compel others to 
make it an article of faith, because it is not revealed.*' BOSWELL. "Do 
you think, Sir, there would be any harm in a man's praying for the 
souls of his deceased Mends if he holds the doctrine of purgatory?" 
JOHNSON. "Why no, Sir." BOSWELL. "I have been told that in the 
liturgy of the Episcopal Church of Scotland there was a form of prayer 
for the dead." JOHNSON. "Sir, it is not in the liturgy which Laud 
framed for the Episcopal Church of Scotland. If there is a liturgy 
4 Luke 16. 19-28 ("Dives" is the Vulgate Latin for "rich man"). 

74 London, 28 March 1772 

older than that, I should be glad to see it" BOSWELL. "As to our em- 
ployment in a future state, revelation indeed says little. The Revela- 
tion indeed of St John gives us many ideas, and particularly mentions 
music." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, ideas must be given you by means of 
something which you know; and as to music, there are some philoso- 
phers and divines who have maintained that we shall not be spirit- 
ualized to such a degree but what something material though of 
matter very much refined will remain. In that case we may have 

BOSWELL. "I don't know if there are any well-attested stories of 
the appearance of ghosts. You know there is a famous story of the ap- 
pearance of Mrs. Veal prefixed to Drelincourt on Death." JOHNSON. 
"I believe, Sir, that is given up. I believe the woman declared upon 
her death-bed that it was a lie." 5 BOSWELL. "This objection is made 
against the truth of ghosts appearing: that if they are in a state of 
happiness, it would be punishing them to bring them to this world; 
and if they are in a state of misery, it would be giving them a respite." 
JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, as the happiness or misery of an unembodied 
spirit does not depend upon place but is intellectual, we cannot say 
that they are less happy or less miserable by appearing upon earth." 

We \yent down between twelve and one to Mrs. Williams's room 
and drank tea. I mentioned that we were to have the remains of Mr. 
Gray in prose and verse, published by Mr. Mason. JOHNSON. "I think 
we have had enough of him. I see they have published a splendid edi- 
tion of Akenside's works. One bad ode may be suffered; but a number 
of 'em together makes one sick." BOSWELL. "Akenside's distinguished 
poem is his Pleasures of the Imagination* But for my part I never 
could admire it so much as most people do." JOHNSON. "Sir, I could 

5 Defoe's True Relation of the Apparition of Mrs. Veal to Mrs. "Bar grave (appar- 
ently a journalistic rendering of a ghost story which was circulating in London 
in 1705) was prefixed to the fifth edition, 1707, of the English translation of 
Charles Drelincourt's treatise, The Christian's Defence against the Fears of 
Death. The two were published together during the rest of the century. 
Mark Akenside (1721-1770) became physician to Christ's Hospital in 1759 
and to the Queen in 1761. The best of his minor poems, Hymn to the Naiads, 
was published in Dodsley's Collection of Poems, 1758. His blank-verse The 
Pleasures of Imagination, 1744-1757, pursues themes of neo-Platonic, pictorial, 
and associationist aesthetics made current earlier in the century by Shaftesbury, 
Addison, and Hutcheson. 

London, 28 March 1 772 75 

not read it through." BOSWEIX. "I have read it through, but I did not 
find any great power or warmth in it." 

I mentioned Mr. Elwall, whose trial Sir John Pringle gave me. 
JOHNSON. "Sir, Mr. Elwall was, I think, an ironmonger at Wolver- 
hampton, and he had a mind to make himself famous by being the 
founder of a new sect which he wished much should be called Elwal- 
lians. He held that everything in the Old Testament that was not 
typical 1 was to be of perpetual observance; and so he wore a ribband 
in the plaits of his coat, and he also wore a beard. I remember I had 
the honour of dining in company with Mr. ElwalL There was one 
Barter, a miller, who wrote against him; and so you had *the contro- 
versy between Mr. Elwall and Mr. Barter/ To try to make himself 
distinguished, he wrote a letter to King George the Second, challeng- 
ing him to dispute with him, in which he said, 'George, if you be 
afraid to come by yourself to dispute with a poor old man, you may 
bring a thousand of your blackguards with you; and if you should still 
be afraid, you may bring a thousand of your red guards.' The letter 
had something of the impudence of Junius to this King.* But the men 
of Wolverhampton were not so inflammable as the Common Council 
of London, so Mr. Elwall 9 failed in his scheme of making himself a 
man of consequence." 

I regretted that sitting up late hurt my health; otherwise I would 
have continued much longer listening to Mr. Johnson, whose con- 
versation is truly admirable both for instruction and entertainment 
I got home about two in the morning. I got the watch to light me along 
the streets till I met with a hackney-coach. Saturday night is the worst 
for meeting bad company on the streets of London. 

SUNDAY 29 MARCH. Having received a kind invitation to break- 

7 Symbolic. 

8 "Junius" was the pseudonym of a political writer who contributed to The Pub- 
lic Advertiser from 21 January 1769 to 21 January 1772 a series of letters which 
aimed to discredit the ministry of the Duke of Grafton and to secure the return 
to power of the Earl of Chatham. In an artificial but vigorous style he poured 
vitriolic abuse on Grafton, the Duke of Bedford, Lord Chief Justice Mansfield, 
and King George HI himself. The author's own collected edition of the letters 
had just appeared. It seems highly probable that Junius was Sir Philip Francis 

The fifth of the newly recovered fragments of the Journal ends with this word. 
See p. 4172. 7. 

76 London, 29 March 1772 

fast with the Honourable Mrs. Stuart, an old and intimate friend of 
my wife's, 10 1 accepted it with pleasure. She lived in Queen's Street, 
Mayfair. Before she appeared, I looked out at the window and saw 
almost opposite the late Lord Eglinton's house in this street, where he 
lived when I came first to London, where I lived with him, and where 
I first learnt the knowledge of life in this metropolis. The many happy 
days which I have passed there and the recollection of his unhappy 
death affected me much as I mused by myself. 1 Mr. Stuart was in the 
country. Mrs. Stuart was in bad health but had a pleasing look, re- 
vived agreeable ideas of her as Peggie Cunynghame, and was very en- 
tertaining. She had two fine little girls for her children, who were 
brought into the room, I really believe more from real affection for 
them than to avoid any scandal by sitting alone with a gentleman. I 
don't remember how we introduced the subject of matrimonial in- 
fidelity. She candidly declared that from what she had seen of life 
in this great town she would not be uneasy at an occasional infidelity 
in her husband, as she did not think it at all connected with affection. 
That if he kept a particular woman, it would be a sure sign that he had 
no affection for his wife; or if his infidelities were very frequent, it 
would also be a sign. But that a transient fancy for a girl, or being led 
by one's companions after drinking to an improper place, was not to 
be considered as inconsistent with true affection. I wish this doctrine 
may not have been only consolatory and adapted to facts. I told her I 
was very happy; that I had never known I was married, having taken 
for my wife my cousin and intimate friend and companion; so that I 
had nothing at all like restraint. 

Mrs. Stuart has a great deal of lively humour. She gave me a most 
characteristical anecdote of an English pedant, Dr. Smith, the present 

10 A niece of BoswelTs friends the tenth and eleventh Earls of Eglinton, she was 
married to James Archibald Stuart, younger brother of Boswell's friend Lord 
Mountstuart. For reasons now unknown, Boswell had frowned upon his fian- 
ceVs intimacy with her. In later years he himself came to have a high senti- 
mental regard for her. 

1 See above, p. i. Though Boswell did not live in Eglinton's house during his 
second visit to London, he visited it many times. See BoswelFs London Journal, 
1762-1763. Eglinton was shot and killed by a poacher in October 1769. The in- 
cident was described for Boswell in a letter from his fiancee (Boswell in Search 
of a Wife, 1766-1769, 24 October 1769). 

London, 29 March 1772 77 

Head Master of Westminster School. Lady Percy* and she were going 
to see the procession of the Princess of Wales's funeral, and were to 
have places in Dr. Blair's, one of the prebendaries of Westminster, 
from whose windows they could see it well. There was so great a crowd 
that they could not get their carriage forward to Dr. Blair's. So they 
stopped at Dr. Smith's door, sent up their names, and begged leave 
only to walk through his house to Dr. Blair's. They heard him answer 
the servant, "It cannot be. I will not let them go through; I'll do 
nothing to oblige the Dean and Chapter." It would seem that there 
had been some quarrel between him and the Dean and Chapter. But 
his thinking of that, and conducting himself sternly with a view to it 
while two pretty, young, agreeable ladies were waiting with impa- 
tience for the favour only of being allowed to pass through his house 
and could not reasonably be supposed to have any connexion with the 
Dean and Chapter, was truly ludicrous. They persisted in their request 
till at last Dr. Smith himself came downstairs and opened his back 
door, saying, "Well, you may go through. But remember, 'tis not to 
oblige the Dean and Chapter." 

My old friend 3 Archie Stewart, Sir Michael Stewart's youngest 
son, came in; but was in a very bad state of health, having a rheuma- 
tism of a very violent kind. It had made one of his legs longer than the 
other, so that he was quite lame; and he was even bowed down to a 
great degree. He told me he had now got a fortune in Tobago* of about 
20,000. I understood too that he had been successful at play this 
winter. He showed us 800 which he had picked up the night before. 

1 dined with DOUGLAS. Castle Semple, 5 Laird Heron 6 and several more 

2 Her sister-in-law. Lady Anne Stuart, third daughter of the Earl of Bute, mar- 
ried (1764) Hugh Percy, later second Duke of Northumberland, but was di- 
vorced by him in 1779. 

3 The friendship dated back to 1763, when Stewart, who was then settled in Rot- 
terdam as a merchant, had been very kind to Boswell while Boswell was suffer- 
ing an attack of intense melancholy. 

* He was killed there in 1779 while repulsing some American privateers. 
William McDowall. 

6 Patrick Heron of Kirroughtrie had two months earlier (23 January) divorced 
Jean Home, daughter of Lord Kames. Heron was a chief promoter of the Doug- 
las, Heron, and Company Bank, the collapse of which during 1772 and 1773 
ruined so many shareholders, including Andrew Crosbie. See below, p. 222, 
for Heron's second courtship in the summer of 1774. 

7 8 London, 29 March 1772 

Scotch were there. We were elegantly entertained. I told him it made 
all a part of the general system with me who looked back on the Cause. 
He should look back too. It would do him good. T 

I went to Lord Mansfield's in the evening. Lord Mountstuart had 
told me that Lord Mansfield was so angry at me for having in some 
degree spoken well of Wilkes at his levee in spring 1 768, the last time 
I saw his Lordship, though Lord Oxford only was present, that he had 
declared he would never let me into his house again. This was not well 
in Lord Mansfield, if true; for I doubt Lord Mountstuart has been 
mistaken.* As it is of some consequence to counsel who are to appear 
at the bar of the House of Lords to be well with his Lordship, I resolved 
to try how he would receive me. He took me by the hand, and seemed 
as courteous as I could wish. LORD MANSFIELD. "How does your father 
do?" BOSWELL. "I thank your Lordship." LORD MANSFIELD. "How long 
have you been in town?" BOSWELL. "About a fortnight, my Lord. I 
should have been sooner to pay my respects to your Lordship, but was 
afraid of intruding upon you." LORD MANSFIELD. "Glad to see you, Sir, 
at all times." I think this was enough. 9 

Dr. Mounsey, our Scotch Russian, 1 and some other gentleman 
were in the room. By degrees there was a succession of people, mostly 
Scotch; the Duke of Queensbeny, Lord Adam Gordon, General Scott, 2 
Sir William Hamilton Ambassador to Naples, 3 Mr. Stewart Mon- 

r Douglas disliked all reference to the Cause which had called his filiation in 
question, and finally broke with Boswell when Boswell, in The Journal of a 
Tour to the Hebrides, published Johnson's sceptical comment on the matter, 

8 See Boswell in Search of a Wife, i?66-ij69, 22 May 1768. 

9 He later decided, however, that Mansfield really was angry. A copy of a letter 
to Mansfield among the Boswell papers at Yale, 14 February 1783, begins, "I 
reckon myself unlucky in having had less of your Lordship's attention than 
others not better entitled to it. I have been informed that I gave you offence 
several years ago by speaking too favourably in your presence of the gay and 
classical John Wilkes. Nihil est ab omni parte beatum [no situation in life is in 
all respects happy Horace, Odes, II. xvi. 27-28] . I regret never having been 
invited to Kenwood, or to share any of the social hours of Pope's Murray, which 
few could have relished more than myself." 

1 James Mounsey of Bammerscales had been physician to the Empress Elizabeth 

of Russia. 

* Major-General John Scott of Balcomie, M.P. 1754-1775, at this time for Fife. 

He was a noted gambler. 

3 Husband (1791) of Romney's famous friend and model and Nelson's mistress, 

William Murray, first Earl of Mansfield (i75-*793) 
an oil painting by John Singleton Copley, 1783, in 
the National Portrait Gallery, London 

London, 29 March 1 772 79 

crieffe, Sir James Steuart, 4 Solicitor Dundas,* etc. There were also 
some English. I could not but smile within myself when my Lord Ox- 
ford came in. e Lord Harrington was there. It was curious to see him 
and Lord Mansfield together, whom I have seen so much abused in 
the newspapers. A report of several people having been killed in a 
sort of mob in the north of Ireland was mentioned. Lord Mansfield., 
smiling and addressing himself to Lord Barrington, said, "This beats 
St. George's Fields all to nothing." What would Junius, what would 
the Patriots, as they call themselves, have said had they been present! 
The massacre of St. George's Fields 7 has been a bloody and terrible 
charge against Lord Harrington in particular, and much, too, against 
Lord Mansfield. Many of the English would suppose that the great 
culprits would grow pale at hearing the very name of St. George's 
Fields; and yet here were they making it a point, a j st, in conversa- 
tion. Satire is like a nettle. If you touch it gently and timidly, it will 
sting you. But if you come boldly up and seize it firmly, it is crushed 
and becomes quite harmless. 

After Mr. Moncrieffe went out, we talked of his sumptuous enter- 
tainments. "I hope," said Sir James Steuart, "he will never again ask 
me to dine with him. He asked me twice and both times I took the 

Emma. On his visit to England this year, Hamilton sold his collection of Greek 
and Roman antiquities to the British Museum for a Parliamentary grant of 

* Better known as Denham, the name which he assumed in 1773. A Jacobite 
who had received his formal pardon and had been received at Court in the 
preceding December; author of the first considerable work in English on eco- 
nomics, 1767. 

5 BoswelTs college-mate at Edinburgh, brother of the Lord President of the Court 
of Session and son of a former Lord President, had been appointed Solicitor- 
General for Scotland at the age of twenty-four. See below, p. 235/1. 2. 

* Possibly because Oxford had spread the story that Mansfield would never ad- 
mit Boswell again. 

T This occurred on 10 May 1768, when troops fired into a mob in St George's 
Fields who had gathered on a rumour that Wilkes was to be released from 
prison in order to be present at the opening of Parliament. Harrington was Sec- 
retary at War and publicly supported the action of the troops. Mansfield, Chief 
Justice of the Court of King's Bench, was very unpopular because he usually 
upheld the royal prerogative, and was much jostled by the crowd on his way 
to Westminster Hall on 8 June to decide the question of Wilkes's outlawry. His 
verdict in favour of a reversal was widely attributed to fear. 

8o London, zg March 1772 

gout, though I did not go to his entertainments/' "Sir James," said I, 
"you put me in mind of the man who had an antipathy at a cat and 
felt a horror as he passed under the sign of one, though he did not see 
it." The style of Lord Mansfield's levee was rather constrained. He 
himself sat with his tie-wig, his coat buttoned, his legs pushed much 
before him, and his heels off the ground and knocking frequently but 
not hard against each other, and he talked neatly and with vivacity. 
But the circle of company who sat around spoke little and low and I 
thought too obsequiously. Sir James Steuart alone spoke with freedom, 
I went and sat awhile with Lord Mountstuart. 

MONDAY 30 MARCH. I called on Mr. Foote at his house in Suf- 
folk Street, just as he got up. He was just the same man. He asked me 
to dine with him at North End on Thursday. He said Lord Mansfield's 
voice was a false one; that is to say, a voice which he has made to him- 
self. He said Garrick's was the same (taking him off), and that his 
brother George and his very servants all imitated it. "My master, Sir, 
is not at home" (taking them off) . Foote showed his usual inclination 
to attack Garrick. He took off his aw-aw-aw hesitating way of speak- 
ing, which is indeed strange, and added, "Sir, a man born never to 
finish a sentence." He said he lately made an extempore epigram upon 
him, as being perpetually playing a part: 

Garrick's the greatest actor of the age; 
For Garrick acts both on and off the stage. 

I breakfasted with Archie Stewart. I had an immense satisfaction 
in comparing myself now with the wretched being that I was when he 
entertained me most kindly and humanely at his house in Rotterdam. 
I was then so low-spirited, melancholy, hypochondriac, or whatever 
other name the affliction may have, that I was at times quite gone, 
and even when easy despaired of ever being well. 8 Now I am firm and 
cheerful and contented in general, and very rarely does a cloud darken 
my mind. Stewart carried me in his chariot to the House of Lords to 
hear the appeal, Willock, etc., against Ouchterlony. He left me there 
and I heard it out; and then had the pleasure of hearing Lord Mans- 
field speak, which I had never had before. He reversed the decree of 

8 See Boswell in Holland, 1763-1764, i August-8 September 1763. 

London, 30 March 1772 81 

the Lords of Session with an ease that gave me somewhat a disagree- 
able feeling of his supreme power over the property of Scotland. I was, 
however, charmed with the precision of his ideas, the clearness of his 
arrangement, the elegant choice and fluency of his language, and the 
distinct, forcible, and melodious expression of his voice. I recollected 
the excellent reversal of DOUGLAS, to comfort us under the idea of his 
supreme power; and, as an ancient Scotsman, it pleased me to see a 
younger son of the family of Stormont in so exalted a situation. The 
Chancellor did not speak. 

I dined at St. Clement's Coffee-house with my good friend Mr. 
William Wilson and Mr. George Urquhart, the solicitor. Mr. Urqu- 
hart spoke to me strongly to come to the English bar. I argued against 
it. But was pleased to hear him, because I really do often wish to do it. 
Mr. Johnson is not against it; and says my having any Scotch accent 
would be but for a little while. My only objection is that I have a kind 
of idea of Scottish patriotism that makes me think it a duty to spend 
my money in my own country. Auchinleck indeed is my great object; 
and I have a notion I might be as much there if I were at the English 
bar as I can be while I practise in the Court of Session. Business is be- 
come necessary for me; and I had better follow it where I can make a 
great fortune by it than where I can make but little. But then I should 
be leaving a certainty of tolerable business for an incertainty, the 
consequence of which might either be success or disappointment. In 
this manner do I meditate on the subject, without its having any real 
influence upon my conduct. I am however resolved to go through the 
form of being called to the English bar. I went home and wrote my 
Journal all the evening. 

TUESDAY 3 1 MARCH. I called on Mr. Garrick at his house in the 
Adelphi. I found him like a little minister of state, standing in the 
middle of a room, hurried and surrounded with several people, and 
among them old Cleland, in his youth the author of the Woman of 
Pleasure* that most licentious and inflaming book, and now the grave 
and prolix Parliamentarian in the newspapers. He is the son of Major 
Cleland, the Will Honeycomb of the Spectator. He is a fine sly mal- 
content. Garrick was talking vainly of his being appointed the ex- 
ecutor of a clergyman by "that great man, Lord Camden." "Not a very 
9 Better known as Fanny Hill 

8a London, 31 March 1772 

great man," grumbled Cleland. I saw Mr, Garrick was not at leisure, 

so I went and breakfasted at the Mount Coffee-house. 

I called on General Oglethorpe 1 and left a card telling him that 
Mr. Samuel Johnson and I were to dine at General Paoli's, where he 
would please send and let us know if he would be at home in the eve- 
ning, as we would in that case drink tea with him. I went and called 
on Mr. Johnson, and he and I came to General Paoli's in a hackney- 
coach. As we came along he said that the wonderful expedition with 
which houses were built was one of the things that struck him most 
on his coming to London. We were very happy at General Paoli's. 
There was nobody else there but Count Gentili, who is of his house- 
hold. It was no small disadvantage that the General did not well un- 
derstand Mr. Johnson and could not well answer him. However, by 
my aid as an interpreter, things did pretty well. 

We disputed if marriage was natural. The General maintained 
it was. "My dear Sir," said Mr. Johnson, "it is so far 2 from being easy 
and natural for a man and woman to live in a state of marriage that 
we find all the restraints and motives in civilized society are hardly 
sufficient to keep them together." The General said that in a state of 
nature a man and woman first uniting together would form a strong 
and constant affection by the mutual pleasure which each then re- 
ceived; and that they had not the causes of difference which occur be- 
tween husband and wife in civilized life. "Sir," said Mr. Johnson, 
"they would have differences, though of another kind. One would 
choose to go a hunting in this wood; the other in that; one would 
choose to go a fishing in this lake, the other in that; or perhaps one 
would choose to go a hunting when the other would choose to go a 
fishing; and so they would part. Besides, a savage man and a savage 
woman meet by chance; and when the man sees another woman that 
pleases him better, he would leave the first." 

This led into a disquisition on the dispute whether there is any 
beauty independent of utility. The General maintained there was not. 
Mr. Johnson maintained that there was; and he instanced a coffee- 
cup which he held in his hand, the painting of which was of no real 

1 General James Edward Oglethorpe (1696-1785), founder of the colony of 

Georgia, 1732, had introduced himself to Boswell in the spring of 1768. 

* Here six pages, removed by Boswell for the Life of Johnson, are now restored. 

London, 31 March 1772 83 

use, as the cup would hold the coffee equally well if plain; yet the 
painting was beautiful. The General spoke English much better than 
I imagined he could do. "Sir," said Mr. Johnson, "you must speak it 
before your friends, with whom you need not care though you spoil 
a thought" 

We talked of the practice of swearing. The General said that all 
barbarous nations swore from a kind of violence of temper that could 
not be confined to earth but was always reaching at the powers above. 
He said too that there was greater variety of swearing in proportion as 
there were among a people greater variety of religious ceremonies. 

Mr. Johnson went home with me and drank tea, as no message had 
come from General Oglethorpe. He said he thought General Paoli had 
lost somewhat of that grandeur in his air and manner which he had 
when he came first to England. The observation is just, and the fact 
is easily accounted for. When he came first here, he was just arrived 
from being at the head of a nation. Wherever he had passed, and even 
here, he was addressed in that high character. But after having been 
near three years just in the style of a private gentleman, much of the 
majesty of his deportment must insensibly be lost. 

Mr. Johnson said Goldsmith's Life of Parnell* was poor; not that 
it was poorly written but that he had poor materials; for nobody could 
furnish the life of a man but those who had eat and drank and lived in 
social intercourse with him. 

I have a constant plan to write the life of Mr. Johnson. I have not 
told him of it yet, nor do I know if I should tell him. I said that if it was 
not troublesome and presuming too much, I would beg of him to tell 
me all the little circumstances of his life, what schools he attended, 
when he came to Oxford, when he came to London, etc., etc. He did not 
disapprove of my curiosity as to these particulars, but said, "They'll 
come out by degrees." 

He censured Rutfhead's Life of Pope. "Sir," said he, "he knew 
nothing of Pope and nothing of poetry." He praised Mr. Joseph 

3 Thomas PameU (1679-1718), poet and friend of Swift and Pope, best remem- 
bered for his octosyllabic Night Piece on Death. Goldsmith's Life of Parnell 
appeared in 1770. Johnson, later writing a Life of Parnell for the edition of the 
English poets, confessed it was a task which he would "very willingly decline." 
"What such an author [as Goldsmith] has told, who would tell again? I have 
made an abstract from his larger narrative." 

84 London, 31 March 1772 

Warton's Essay on Pope, but said he would publish no more of it, as he 
had not been able to persuade the world to think of Pope as he did. 4 
"Sir," said I 3 "there is no matter. He is an ingenious counsel who has 
made the most of his cause; he is not obliged to win it." "But, Sir," 
said he, "there is a difference when the cause is of a man's own mak- 

I expressed how happy I was at having lived to make my father 
amends for what he suffered from my former folly and bad conduct 
"Sir," said he, "I am glad to hear you talk so." 

We spoke of the use to be made of riches. Said he, "If I was a man 
of a great estate, I would drive all the rascals whom I did not like out of 
the county at an election." 

I consulted him whether a man should lay himself out to show 
great hospitality. This was an important subject for me who would 
naturally go to an excess of hospitality, both from inclination and 
from a notion that it makes a man of great consequence. "Sir," said 
Mr. Johnson, "you are to consider that ancient hospitality of which 
we hear so much was in an uncommercial country, when men, being 
idle, were glad to be entertained at rich men's tables. But in a com- 
mercial country, a busy country, time becomes precious and therefore 
hospitality is not so much valued. No doubt there is still room for a 
certain degree of it; and a man has a satisfaction in seeing his friends 
eating and drinking around him. But promiscuous hospitality is not 
the way to make one's self of real influence. You must help some people 
at table, before 5 others. You must ask some people how they like their 
wine of tener than others. You therefore offend as many as you please. 

You are like , 6 who said when he granted a favour, Tai fait dix 

mecontents et un ingrat. 1T Besides, Sir, being entertained ever so well 
at a man's table impresses no lasting regard or esteem. No, Sir" 

4 The first volume of the Essay had been published in 1756, but the promised 
second volume did not appear until 1782. 

5 The sixth of the newly recovered portions of the Journal ends here. See above, 
p. 41^. 7- 

6 Louis XIV. In the Life Boswell filled the blank by "the French statesman." 

T "I have made ten malcontents and one ingrate." Dix is the reading of the 
Life; Boswell left a blank in the Journal. Voltaire, in his Siecle de Louis XJV 9 
and Johnson, in quoting the remark again in his Life of Swift, give cent (a 

London, 31 March 1772 85 

(speaking with a low and earnest voice) , '*you will make sure of power 
and influence by lending privately sums of money to your neighbours, 
perhaps at a small interest, perhaps at no interest, and always having 
their bonds in your possession." This is an excellent thought I am re- 
solved to practise it to a certain extent if it shall ever be in my power; 
and the scheme of securing influence in the country is so admirably 
adapted to my high feudal notions that I shall never forget this after- 
noon when it was suggested to me by the great Mr. Samuel Johnson. 
I am persuaded that in this late age it will supply the place of the old 

I told him that my father had never kept a hospitable house, that 
is to say, a house where people drank as much as they pleased and 
found themselves as at an inn. But, by his knowledge and good sense 
and prudence he had given so many people good advice and was still 
ready to do so, that he had much more influence in the country than 
those who were the immediate and temporary delight of visitors. 8 

I said I would employ part of my riches in educating young men 
of merit. "Yes, Sir,'* said he, "provided they fall in your way; but if 
you once have it understood that 9 you patronize young men of merit, 
you will be harassed with solicitations. You will have multitudes 
forced upon you; some will force them upon you from mistaken parti- 
ality and some from downright interest without scruple, and you will 
be disgraced. 

"I would propagate all kinds of trees that will grow in the open 
air. A greenhouse is childish. I would introduce foreign animals into 
the country; for instance, the reindeer." 

He said Bayes was a mighty silly character. If it was intended to 
be like a particular man, it could only be diverting while that man 
was remembered. But he questioned if it was like Dryden, as has been 
said, as we know some of the passages said to be ridiculed were written 
since The Rehearsal; at least a circumstance mentioned in the Pref- 
ace. 1 I maintained that it had merit as a general satire on the conceit 
of dramatic authors. But he held it very cheap. 

8 This allusion to Lord Auchinleck was omitted from the Life. 
* Here ten pages, removed for the Life of Johnson, are now restored. 
1 In his Life of Dryden, which was written some years after the date of this con- 
versation, Johnson states the view now generally accepted: that by Bayes ("the 

86 London, 31 March 1772 

While we were sitting, there came a card from General Oglethorpe 
that he would be glad to see us, he being just then come home; but 
we sent back that we were just going to the Pantheon. In a little, how- 
ever, the polite old gentleman arrived himself in a chair. It was most 
agreeable to find him as lively, as full of knowledge, and as full of 
spirits as ever. When I was last in London he and Mr. Johnson wished 
to meet, and I was to bring them together. But General Oglethorpe 
having gone to the country, I was disappointed of that pleasure. Gold- 
smith had brought them acquainted in my absence. "Who," said Gen- 
eral Oglethorpe to Mr. Johnson, "would have thought that you would 
go to worship the heathen gods?" (Alluding to our going to the Pan- 
theon.) After sitting a few minutes with the General, Mr. Johnson 
and I walked to the Pantheon, The coup d'oeil as the French say on 
first view of it did not strike us so much as Ranelagh. The truth is 
Ranelagh is of a more beautiful form; more of it, or rather indeed the 
whole rotunda, appears at once. It is better lighted. However, as Mr. 
Johnson observed, we saw the Pantheon in time of mourning, 2 when 
there was a dull unif oraiity, whereas we saw Ranelagh when the view 
was charmed with a gay profusion and variety of colours of the dif- 
ferent dresses. 8 Mrs. Bosville came up to us and had some conversation 
with us. Mr. Johnson said she was a mighty intelligent lady. My old 
mistress Miss Blair was here, to my great surprise; for I did not know 
she was in London. I felt a kind of consciousness that I had not be- 

laureate") Dryden [who became laureate in 1668] was principally intended, 
but that the character was in early drafts of the play aimed at Sir William 
D'Avenant and Sir Robert Howard. "The design was probably to ridicule the 
reigning poet, whoever he might be." Malone, in later editions of the Life, 
pointed out that additions were made to The Rehearsed after it was first printed 
in 1672. The play is anonymous, but is believed to have been written by the 
Duke of Buckingham, with help from Samuel Butler, author of Hudibras, and 
Martin Clifford, Master of the Charterhouse. 
3 For the King's mother. See above, p. 60. 

* Ranelagh Gardens, Chelsea, was a place of public amusement which boasted 
a rotunda 150 feet in diameter, with an orchestra in the centre and boxes 
around it. The Pantheon in Oxford Street, which was intended to be a "*winter 
Ranelagh," had opened in the preceding January. As BoswelTs remarks indi- 
cate, the chief feature of both buildings was a great rotunda in which people 

London, 31 March 1772 87 

haved altogether well to her. No man should trifle with young ladies 
who are candidates for matrimony. She however behaved at least as 
ill. So there's no harm done. 4 1 had great satisfaction in watchfully 
and respectfully attending my revered friend through the mazes of 
this magnificent place of entertainment. The grandeur of the pillars 
in imitation of marble, and the elegance of the finishing in every re- 
spect were well worth seeing. 6 

I said there was not half a guinea's worth of pleasure in seeing it. 
But Mr. Johnson observed that there was half a guinea's worth of in- 
feriority to other people (or some such phrase) in not having seen it. 
I said I doubted if there were many happy people there. "Yes, Sir," 
said he, "there are many happy here. There are many people here who 
are watching hundreds and who think hundreds are watching them.'* 

Sir Adam Fergusson 8 joined us. I presented him to Mr. Johnson. 
Sir Alexander Gilmour, Mr. Fordyce, and one or two more Scottish 
emigrants formed a circle round us. Sir Adam expressed some appre- 
hension that the Pantheon would encourage luxury. Mr. Johnson 
said he was a great friend to public amusements, for they kept people 
from vice. "You now (addressing himself to me) would have been 
with a wench had you not been here. Oh, I forgot you were mar- 

Sir Adam threw out an idea that luxury corrupts a people and 
destroys the spirit of liberty, so that they become enslaved. "Sir," said 
Mr. Johnson, "that is all visionary. I would not give half a guinea 
whether I should live under one form of government or another. It is 
of no moment to the happiness of each individual. Why there now, the 
question about general warrants made a prodigious noise, and yet had 

* The tale of BoswelTs backings and fillings in the pursuit of Catherine Blair, 
heiress of Adamton, fills many of the pages of Boswell in Search of a Wife, tj66- 
1769. His own summary here seems candid. At one point she told him she 
wished she liked him as much as she did Auchinleck. See above, p. 3. 

5 "It amazed me. . . . Imagine Baalbek in all its glory! The pillars are of arti- 
ficial giatto antico. The ceilings, even of the passages, are of the most beautiful 
stuccos in the best taste of grotesque. The ceilings of the ball-rooms and the 
panels painted like Raphael's loggias in the Vatican. A dome like the Pantheon 
[in Rome], glazed. It is to cost fifty thousand pounds" (Horace Walpole to Sir 
Horace Mann, 26 April 1771). 

6 See below, p. 202. 

88 London, 31 March 1772 

you gone through England you could not have collected a farthing a 
head from the people to ensure them that they should never suffer 
from general warrants. 7 Sir, the danger of the abuse of power is noth- 
ing to each individual. What Frenchman is prevented from passing 
his life just as he pleases?" SIR ADAM. "But, Sir, in the British Constitu- 
tion it is surely of importance to keep up a proper spirit in the people, 
so as to preserve a proper balance against the Crown." JOHNSON. "Sir, 
I perceive you are a vile Whig. Why all this childish jealousy of the 
power of the Crown? The Crown has not power enough. When I say 
that all governments are alike, I consider that in no government 
power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it. If a sovereign 
oppresses his people to a great degree, they will rise and cut off his 
head. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny that will 
keep us safe under every form of government. Had not the people of 
France thought themselves honoured as sharing in the brilliant ac- 
tions of the reign of Louis XIV, they would not have borne him; and 
we [may] say [the same] of the present King of Prussia's people." 
Sir Adam brought in the ancient Romans and Greeks. "Sir," said Mr. 
Johnson, "the mass of both of them were barbarians. The mass of 
every people must be barbarous where there is no printing and conse- 
quently knowledge is not generally diffused. Knowledge is diffused 
among our people by the newspapers." Sir Adam mentioned the 
orators, poets, and artists of Greece. "Sir," said Johnson, "I am talking 
of the mass of the people. We see even the Athenians, what strange 
work they made of it." Demosthenes' s orations were mentioned. "Sir," 
said Mr. Johnson, "the little effect those orations had upon them shows 
they were barbarians." He was very loud and violent. 

Sir Adam was unlucky in his topics; for he suggested a doubt of 
the propriety of bishops being peers. "How so, Sir?" said Mr. Johnson. 
"Who is more proper for having the dignity of a peer than a bishop, 
providing a bishop be what he ought to be; and if improper bishops 
be made, that is not the fault of the bishops but of those who make 

T The question had arisen when in 1763 John Wilkes, author of the attack on 
Lord Bute in The North Briton, No. 45, was arrested on a warrant which did 
not name him specifically or describe him with any precision. Chief Justice 
Pratt (Lord Camden) declared such a warrant to be "unconstitutional, illegal, 
and absolutely void." See above, p. 6971. 7. 

London, 31 March 1772 89 

them." He was disgusted by Sir Adam and called him to me a narrow 
Whig with just the commonplace arguments. I, however, told him 
afterwards that Sir Adam was a man who distinguished himself by 
his regard for religion, though his politics were bad. **0 Sir," said Mr. 
Johnson, "politics go but a little way with me in comparison of re- 
ligion. I forgive him his politics for his religion." 

Mr. Johnson and I drank some tea together. He then met with a 
Mrs. Horneck and a very pretty girl, a Miss Horneck.* They engaged 
to take care of him. I saw him fairly into their coach, and then I came 

WEDNESDAY i APRIL. I breakfasted at Lord Elibank's. He said 
Paterculus had well observed that Cicero and Virgil had spoiled or 
rather stopped oratory and poetry at Rome. So Shakespeare had put 
a stop to all great tragic poetry in England. The reason is when men 
of real genius see a thing carried to* the highest pitch of perfection, 
they think it is not worth their while to do anything, because fame is 
preoccupied. They cannot hope for distinguished excellence, so they 
leave the field to inferior geniuses who have not such high ambition. 
Mr. Johnson had said, "Sir, I never am with Lord Elibank but I learn 
something from him." I told my Lord this, and he was much pleased. 
I dined at Sir John Pringle's, just he and I and Duncan Forbes, 1 easy 
and comfortable. I drank tea at Mrs. Strange's, 2 and came quietly 

THURSDAY 2 APRIL. Mr. Archibald Macdonald breakfasted with 
me. Lord Eglinton and Major Hunter and Crosbie came and chatted 

8 Goldsmith's friends, and already old friends of Johnson's. Gibbon, writing to 
his friend Holroyd in 1774, speaks of their seeing Mrs. Horneck at the Pantheon. 

9 The seventh newly recovered fragment of the Journal ends here. See above, 
p. 4irc. 7. 

1 Surgeon to the Second Troop of Horse Guards. It was he who directed the 
clearing of Boswell's constitution before his marriage. 

2 Isabella Strange, besides being an extremely distant cousin of BoswelTs, was 
sister to his friend Andrew Lumisden, who was Secretary to the Old Pretender 
and had shown Boswell many kindnesses when he was at Rome. Her husband, 
the distinguished engraver Robert Strange (later knighted), had also been out in 
the '45. When soldiers searched for him in her home after Culloden (they were 
then affianced), she is said to have saved him by hiding him under her hoop- 

go London, 2 April 1772 

a little while. After they went, Sir Alexander Macdonald came, and 
he and I walked out together. Crosbie and Wight introduced me to 
Mr. Mayne, banker in Jermyn Street, who carried us in his coach to 
Mr. Foote's villa at North End, where we were invited to dine. Mr. 
Mayne was a genteel man. He told us that he rode in Hyde Park with 
Mr. Fitzherbert the day before he shot himself; and it being fine 
weather he observed to Mr. Fitzherbert that he had seen no accounts 
in the newspapers of anybody having hanged or drowned themselves. 
"Very true," said Fitzherbert, "I have not observed any." 8 

I walked a good deal at Mr. Foote's. He gave us a very elegant 
dinner, all served upon plate; and he did not say, "Gentlemen, there's 
Madeira and port and claret." But, "Gentlemen, there's all sorts of 
wine. You'll call for what you choose." He gave us noble old hock, of 
which he said he had purchased ninety dozen "the stock of an am- 
bassador lately deceased," as I said. It was indeed bought from an am- 
bassador. He gave us sparkling champagne, Constantia, and Tokay. 
When the latter was served round, he said, "Now you're going to drink 
the best wine in England"; and it was indeed exquisite. His claret 
flowed of course. There was nobody else here but Nabob Gray, who 
had been my schoolfellow at Mr. James MundelTs. 4 Foote entertained 

3 William Fitzherbert, M.P., of an ancient Derbyshire family, witnessed the 
execution of some convicts on the morning of 2 January 1772, and that after- 
noon went to his stable and hanged himself. As he was a man of wide acquaint- 
ance and esteemed as a wit, his suicide was much discussed. For Johnson's char- 
acter of him, see the Life of Johnson, 15 September 1777. Robert Mayne, who 
told Boswell this anecdote about Fitzherbert, committed suicide himself in 1782. 

4 George Gray, born in India c. 1738, the son of a surgeon, was sent back to Scot- 
land to be educated, and in 1744 entered James Mundell's school in the West 
Bow, Edinburgh. Since Boswell entered the school in 1746 and left it in 1748 
or 1749, his association with Gray had occurred when they were both children. 
Gray attended the University of Edinburgh, but by 1756 (when he was pre- 
sumably not more than eighteen) he was back in Bengal making his fortune. 
He was elevated to the Bengal Council, but engaged in questionable practices, 
and was sent home by Clive in 1766. In his India speech before the House of 
Commons three days before this dinner at Foote's, Clive had remarked that there 
had not been found among the "nabobs** a single one "sufficiently flagitious 
for Mr. Foote to exhibit on the theatre in the Haymarket." He spoke just in 
time, for Foote exhibited a satirical play, The Nabob, on 29 June 1772. Sir 
Matthew Mite, the hero of this piece, is a generic study, but besides embodying 

North End, 2 April 1 772 91 

us with taking off George Faulkner, who he said sorted his companies 
in the oddest way, and always characterized each guest on the cere- 
mony of introduction. As thus: **This is the ingenious Samuel Foote, 
Esquire, reckoned one of the best table-companions in Ireland; this is 
Mr. such-a-one, who has more wit than any judge now upon the 
bench; and this is Mrs. such-a-one, who has imported more of Dr. 
James's Powders into this country than anybody." 

He said Mr. Johnson had once a great inclination to become a 
Methodist. But changed his mind upon occasion of one of their preach- 
ers, whom the people drove out of Long Acre, saying he was perse- 
cuted by the Jacobites. He said Johnson told him as follows: " 'This 
fellow was preaching in Long Acre. The people in the neighbourhood, 
wanting to get rid of him, attacked him with tongs, with spits, with 
frying-pans, and other culinary instruments, and drove him away. 
The rascal said it was the Jacobites. Now, for my part, I cannot see the 
connexion between a frying-pan and a Jacobite.' 'Ay, Sir,* said I, 'but 
there's a connexion between a warming-pan and a Jacobite.* " 5 This 
story made us laugh heartily; but Mr. Johnson has since told me that 
it was not true, and that Foote had just made it to introduce his own 
saying. It was curious to see Foote showing his pedigree, the very thing 
for which he makes Cadwallader* so ridiculous. 

I came home in Nabob Gray's chaise and remained quietly at 
home. Corresponding with my dear wife is a great happiness to me. I 
need not write down that I retain a constant regard and even love for 
her; or that my mind, while I am thus absent, is sometimes clouded 
with anxiety and sometimes cheered and illuminated with the warm- 
est and brightest beams of gladness. 

traits from Clive and General Richard Smith, he may also glance at BoswelTs 
old schoolfellow. When Boswell once found fault with Foote for "indulging 
his talent of ridicule at the expense of his visitors," Johnson replied: "Why, 
Sir, when you go to see Foote, you do not go to see a saint: you go to see a man 
who will be entertained at your house and then bring you on a public stage; 
who will entertain you at his house for the very purpose of bringing you on a 
public stage" (26 October 1769). 

It was maintained at the time of the birth of Prince James Francis Edward 
(the Old Pretender) in 1688 that he was a supposititious child, introduced into 
the Queen's bed in a warming-pan. 
6 In his farce The Author. 

92 London, 3 April 1 772 

FRIDAY 3 APRIL. I breakfasted at home. Then was awhile at the 
House of Peers, hearing the appeal, Bruce Kinross 7 against Miss Bruce. 
I am now quite at home in the House, and take the Usher of the Black 
Rod's chair very regularly. 8 1 went up by water to Paul's Wharf and 
then walked on to my friend Mr. Billy's, with whom I had engaged 
to pass all this day and take a bed in his house at night. He and I and 

his brother dined comfortably. Then he and I went to the 9 Jews' 

synagogue, and heard Leoni, a fine singer; , a good strong one, 

and , a most admirable bass. It was curious to see the Jews talking 

and" laughing together, and no kind of solemnity in their counte- 
nances. It was just a plain religion. They executed so much, like a task, 
and like boys at a task looked off and intermixed other things. Mr. 
Farquhar Kinloch, my travelling companion to London in autumn 
1 769, was here. He went with me to Mr. Billy's, drank some coffee, 
and left us. 

In the evening came a company of literati invited for me: Br. 
Jeffries, Br. Gilbert Stuart, a Mr. Leeson, and Kenrick, now Br. Ken- 
rick, who once wrote an i8d. pamphlet against me, but principally 
against Mr. Johnson, though it was entitled A Letter to James Boswell, 
Esq. Kenrick was quite a different man from what I expected to see. 
His Epistles, Philosophical and Moral promised seriousness or rather 
profound gravity; and many of his other writings promised acrimony 
to a high degree. 1 But I found him a bluff, hearty little man, full of 
spirits and cheerfulness. He said devotion was not natural; that is to 
say, the devotion of the heart; that fear made people use ceremonies 
but did not inspire true devotion. He said he had a pronouncing dic- 
tionary almost ready, by which he hoped to fix a standard, as the 
varieties of pronunciation among people in genteel life were very few. 
He said he taught a man from Aberdeen to speak good English in six 
weeks. He said his great difficulty was to get him to speak at all. He 

7 James Bruce-Carstairs of Kinross. 

8 The chief usher of the Lord Chamberlain's department and usher to the House 
of Lords. He carries an ebony wand surmounted by a golden lion. Boswell could 
have sat on a bench within Black Rod's box but not in his official chair. 

* Ashkenazic or Dutch; the "Great Synagogue" in Duke's Place, Aldgate. 
1 He was no doubt the greatest scoundrel among the writers of the age. He had 
made gratuitous attacks on Johnson, Goldsmith, and Colman, and was in the 
following July to publish the vilest of the lot his libel on Garrick called Love 
in the Suds. 

London, 3 April 1 772 93 

told him, "Sir, you don't speak at all. You sing." We talked of my 
schoolmaster. "Sir," said he, "you have no chance; for, consider, the 
greatest part of the schoolmasters about London are Scotch. 'Now,' 
say we, *if he beats the children of his own countrymen so terribly, 
what will he do with ours?' You must call the boys blockheads, Sir; 
though then I fear some of our lords may have a fellow feeling with 
them." I remember little of what passed, though the evening went 
very well on. Joseph had brought me up a shirt, a nightcap, and slip- 
pers; so I was quite at home. 

SATURDAY 4 APRIL. Mr. Charles Dilly and I went to the 

Jews* and the Jews* (where I was last night the Dutch Jews*) 

Synagogues. 2 1 could not help feeling a kind of regret to see the certain 
descendants of venerable Abraham in an outcast state and sneered at 
and abused by every fool, at least to a certain degree. We came back 
to breakfast. I then walked with Mr. John Donaldson the bookseller 
and a Captain McCulloch out to Mr. Elphinston's, who keeps the 
academy at Chelsea. Mr. Hugh Buchan, the City Chamberlain of 
Edinburgh, and Mr. James Chalmers, Writer to the Signet, were 
there. I had just Scotch ideas. Mr. Elphinston is a worthy, hospitable 
man, but has an affectation, a pedantry, and an anxiety to please that 
make him in some measure disagreeable. He had a foolish laugh too, 
a made giggle. He took us and got us a sight of Kensington Palace. 
Some of the rooms are pretty good. But it is sadly stripped of its pic- 
tures. 8 We then drank tea with him, and Mr. Chalmers walked to town 
with me and my two companions out. 

SUNDAY 5 APRIL. I called at Mr. George Lewis Scott's, for whom 
I had called several times but never found him till today. He and I 
went and called for Sir James Steuart, with whom we sat awhile. At 
neither of these places did I breakfast. I went to Mr. Johnson's and 
found him and his old attendant Mr. Levett drinking tea. I took none, 
but just got some biscuit at a pastry shop. I went to St. Paul's and heard 
the latter part of an excellent sermon by Mr. Sturges, one of the preb- 
endaries. Then assisted at some prayers, stayed the communion, and 
received the Holy Sacrament in that grand edifice. I was elevated and 
bettered. I came back to Mr. Johnson. 

He said Elphinston had a great deal of good about him, but was 

a The blanks should be filled by "Sephardic" and "Ashkenazic" respectively. 
3 George HI had moved them to St. James's, Windsor, and Buckingham House. 

94 London, 5 April 1 772 

also very faulty in some respects. "His inner part," said he, "is very 
good. But his outer part is very faulty. You in Scotland do not arrive 
at that nice critical skill in languages which we get in our schools in 
England. I would not put a boy to Elphinston whom I intended for 
a man of learning. But for the sons of citizens, who are to learn a little, 
get good morals, and then go to trade, he may do very well." I men- 
tioned my cause before the General Assembly where a preacher was 
opposed in his settlement because he had been guilty, or was accused 
of having been guilty, of fornication five years ago. 4 "Why, Sir," said 
Mr. Johnson, "if he has repented of it, it should not be an objection. 
A man who is good enough to go to heaven is good enough to be a 
clergyman." I told him that by the rules 5 of the Church of Scotland, 
if a scandal, as it is called, is not insisted in for five years, it cannot 
more be insisted in unless it be of a heinous nature or again become 
flagrant So there was a great dispute whether fornication was a sin 
of a heinous nature. I maintained it was not, as it was not atrocious, 
was not one of those sins which argued very great depravity of heart; 
in short, was not in the general acceptation of mankind a heinous sin. 
"No, Sir," said he, "it is not a heinous sin. A heinous sin is that for 
which a man is punished with death or banishment." BOSWELL. "But, 
Sir, while we argued that it was not a heinous sin, an old clergyman 
rose up and repeating the text, 'Neither whoremongers, &c., shall enter 
into the kingdom of God,' asked if it would not now be called a heinous 
sin." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, observe the word whoremonger. Every sin 
persisted in will be heinous. Whoremonger is a dealer in whores, as 
ironmonger is a dealer in iron. But as you don't call a man an iron- 

* The case was Elders &c. of Portpatrick v. McMaster. William McMaster was 
presented to be minister of Portpatrick by Captain John Blair of Dunskey. The 
presbytery of Stranraer ruled that it could take no steps towards his settlement 
until his character had been cleared, and this action was affirmed by the synod 
of Galloway. The General Assembly (30 May 1771) reversed these sentences, 
but reserved the right of McMaster's opponents to give him "a libel in proper 
form,'* i.e. to attempt to prove their charges. Boswell received fees totalling four 
guineas in the case. His opponent was Henry Erskine. A year later (30 May 
1772) it was reported to the General Assembly that the presbytery had found 
McMaster guilty of **uncleanness, falsehood, subornation of falsehood, and dis- 
simulation,*' and had deprived him of his license. The Assembly ruled that the 
sentence was final and dismissed McMaster's petition. 
5 Two pages, removed by Boswell for the Life of Johnson, are here restored. 

London, 5 April 1 772 95 

monger for buying and selling his knife, so you don't call a man a 
whoremonger for getting one wench with child." BOSWELL. "Sir, his 
getting the woman to tell a He and say another man was the father of 
the child was worse than the fornication." JOHNSON. "Why yes, Sir. 
But you must say that argued his shame." 

I came upon the subject of the inequality of the livings of the 
clergy in England and the mere trifles which some of the curates have. 
JOHNSON. "Why yes, Sir. But it cannot be helped. You must* consider 
that the revenues of the clergy are not at the disposal of the State, like 
the pay of the Army. But different men have founded different 
churches, and some are better, some worse. The State cannot inter- 
fere and divide them equally. Now when a man has but a small living^ 
or even two small livings, he can afford but little to a curate." He said 
he went more frequently to prayers than to sermon, as the people 
required more example to go to prayers than to sermon; hearing ser- 
mon being easier to them than to fix their minds on prayer. 

I dined at Lady Margaret Macdonald's. Nobody but her son Archie 
was with us. All was in the most perfect neatness, I may say elegance. 
I was in admirable spirits, quite in the same humour as when the late 
Lord Eglinton was alive. 7 Archie went away. Lady Margaret and I 
had a great deal of common conversation. Sir John 8 and Lady An- 
struther came in. I supped at Sir Alexander Macdonald's, where was 
Mr. Mitchelson. It was strange to dine with the mother and sup with 
the son, and they not in speaking terms. 

MONDAY 6 APRIL. I breakfasted with Mr. Duncan Forbes, who 
keeps an admirable breakfast, bread and butter and marmalade. Then 
Crosbie and I went and saw Cox's Museum. The mechanism and rich 
appearance of the jewels were both very wonderful and very pleasing. 
We then went down to the House of Lords and heard Bruce against 
Miss Bruce. Mr. David Rae's English was terrible. I said that as people 
had a vanity in founding new sects, Mr. Rae had a mind to found a 
new language. 

6 Here the eighth of the newly recovered fragments of the Journal ends. See 
above, p. 41/2. 7. 

7 Lord Eglinton was Lady Margaret Macdonald's brother. See above, p. 53/2. 4. 

8 M.P. for Anstruther Easter Burghs. 

9 This leading Scots advocate, who in 1782 succeeded Lord Auchinleck in the 
Court of Session as Lord Eskgrove, had a notoriously thick and artificial pro- 

96 London, 6 April 1772 

I dined at Sir Alexander Macdonald's, where were Mr. Johnson 
and the Hon. Captain Thomas Erskine, Lord Buchan's youngest 
brother, a very pretty lad. 1 Mr. Johnson was very courteous to Lady 
Macdonald. He said, "I will go to Skye with this lady. I'll go any- 
where under this lady's protection." (By the by, he has told me that 
the language of conversation is somewhat different from the language 
of the pulpit. As, for instance, "I'll" for "I will," "receiv'd" for "re- 
ceived," 2 are used in conversation.) Lady Macdonald said Rasselas 
was the finest novel she had ever read. Fielding was mentioned. "He's 
a blockhead," says Mr. Johnson. BOSWELL. "My dear Sir!" JOHNSON. 
"What I mean by his being a blockhead is that he was a barren ras- 
cal." BOSWELL. "But, Sir, will you not allow that he draws very na- 
tural pictures of human life?" JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, it is of very low 
life. Richardson used to say that had he not known who Fielding was, 
he should have believed he was an ostler. Sir, there is more knowledge 
of the heart in one letter of Richardson's than in all Tom Jones. I in- 

nunciation. "Whenever a name could be pronounced in more ways than one, 
he gave them all; and always put an accent on the last syllable. For example, 
syllable he called syllabill. And when a word ended with the letter G, this 
letter was pronounced, and strongly. And he was very fond of meaningless suc- 
cessions of adjectives. A good man would be described as one excellent, and 
worthy, and amiabill, and agreeabill, and very good man. The article A was 
generally made into one, and he generally cut a word of three syllables into 
two separate words, the first of two syllables, and the last of one, and even 
divided a word of two syllables into two words. Thus, *I met a young friend as 
I was walking in the Canongate,' was converted by him into, *I met one youngg 
friend as I was walk-ing in the Canon-gate.' " (Henry Cockburn, Memorials of 
His Time, New York, 1856, p. ngrc.) 

1 He was twenty-two years old, had been midshipman and lieutenant in the 
Navy, and was now ensign in the Army. In 1775 ^ e s ld his commission to study 
law, matriculated at Cambridge and took an M.A. degree, was called to the 
bar in 1778, and stepped immediately into a large practice. He was especially 
famous as counsel for the defence in cases connected with the law of libel and 
treason; he defended Tom Paine, Home Tooke, and Thelwall. In 1806 he re- 
ceived the Chancellorship, and was raised to the peerage. (In 1786 he would 
be "leading counsel" on BoswelTs side in the latter's first case in the Court of 
King's Bench.) 

* This seems to mean that clergymen in the pulpit still used an archaic or litur- 
gical pronunciation: "re-cei-ved." 

London, 6 April 1772 97 

deed never read Joseph Andrews" Captain Erskine objected that 
Richardson was tedious. JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, if you were to read 
Richardson for the story, your impatience would be so much fretted 
that you'd hang yourself. But you must read him for the sentiment 
and consider the story as only serving to give occasion to the senti- 

A book of travels lately published under 3 the title of Coryate Jun- 
ior^ and written by Mr. Paterson, was mentioned. Johnson said this 
book was an imitation of Sterne and not of Coryate, whose name Pater- 
son had chosen as a whimsical one. "Tom Coryate," said he, "was a 
humourist about the court of James the First. He had a mixture of 
learning, of wit, and of buffoonery. He first travelled through Europe, 
and published his travels. 4 He afterwards travelled on foot through 
Asia and had made many remarks; but he died at Mandoa* and his 
remarks were lost." 

We talked of gaming, and animadverted on it with severity. JOHN- 
SON. "Nay, gentlemen, let us not aggravate the matter. It is not ro- 
guery to play with a man who is ignorant of the game while you are 
master of it, and so win his money; for he thinks he can play better 
than you, as you think you can play better than he; and the superior 
skill carries it" ERSKINE. "He is a fool, but you are not a rogue." JOHN- 
SON. "That's much about the truth, Sir." 6 BOSWELL. "So then, Sir, you 
do not think ill of a man who wins perhaps forty thousand pounds in 
a winter?" JOHNSON. "Sir, I do not call a gamester a dishonest man 
but I call him an unsocial man, an unprofitable man. Gaming is a 
mode of transferring property without producing any intermediate 
good. Trade gives employment to numbers, and so produces interme- 
diate good." 

Mr. Erskine told us that when he was in the island of Minorca he 

8 At this point six pages, removed by Boswell for the Life of Johnson, have not 

been recovered. The text continues from the published Life. 

*Coryats Crudities Hastily Gobled up in Five Moneths Travells in France, 

Savoy, Italy, London, 1611. 

5 He died at Surat, to which he is said to have walked, a distance of nearly 200 

miles, from "Mandoa" (Mandu, ancient capital of the kingdom of Malwa). 

e A short passage of the Life text here omitted was recorded as an afterthought 

by Boswell in his Journal, and hence appears farther on in the present text as 

the next to the last paragraph of this day's entry. 

98 London, 6 April 1 772 

not only read prayers but preached two sermons to the regiment. He 
seemed to object to the passage in Scripture where we are told that the 
angel of the Lord smote in one night forty thousand Assyrians. "Sir," 
said Johnson, "you should recollect that there was a supernatural in- 
terposition; they were destroyed by pestilence. You are not to suppose 
that the angel of the Lord went about and stabbed each of them with 
a dagger or knocked them on the head, man by man." 

After Mr, Erskine was gone, a discussion took place whether the 
present Earl of Buchan, when Lord Cardross, did right to refuse to go 
Secretary of the Embassy to Spain, when Sir James Gray, a man of 
inferior rank, went Ambassador. Dr. Johnson said that perhaps in 
point of interest he did wrong, but in point of dignity he did well. Sir 
Alexander insisted that he was wrong, and said that Mr. Pitt intended 
it as an advantageous thing for him. "Why, Sir,*' said Johnson, "Mr. 
Pitt might think it an advantageous thing for him to make him vint- 
ner and get him all the Portugal trade; but he would have demeaned 
himself strangely had he accepted of such a situation. Sir, had he gone 
Secretary while his inferior was Ambassador, he would have been a 
traitor to his rank and family." 

I talked of the little attachment which subsisted between near re- 
lations in London. "Sir," said Johnson, "in a country so commercial 
as ours, where every man can do for himself, there is not so much oc- 
casion for that attachment. No man is thought the worse of here whose 
brother was hanged. In uncommercial countries many of the branches 
of a family must depend on the stock; so, in order to make the head of 
the family take care of them, they are represented as connected with 
his reputation, that, self-love being interested, he may exert himself 
to promote their interest You have first large circles, or clans; as com- 
merce increases, the connexion is confined to families. By degrees, that 
too goes off, as having become unnecessary and there being few op- 
portunities of intercourse. One brother is a merchant in the city and 
another is an officer in the Guards. How little intercourse can these 
two have!" 

I argued warmly for the old feudal system. Sir Alexander opposed 
it, and talked of the pleasure of seeing all men free and independent 
JOHNSON. "I agree with Mr. Boswell that there must be a high satis- 
faction in being a feudal lord; but we are to consider that we ought 

London, 6 April 1 772 99 

not to wish to have a number of men unhappy for the satisfaction of 
one." I maintained that numbers, namely the vassals or followers, 
were not unhappy; for that there was a reciprocal satisfaction between 
the lord and them: he being kind in authority over them; they being 
respectful and faithful to him. . . . and 7 my superiors; or rather in- 
deed have felt them when abroad; for in this country ideas of rever- 
ence are much weakened. 

I should have remarked, when mentioning gamesters, that Mr. 
Johnson put his argument thus: "A man who only does what every 
one of the society to which he belongs would do, is not a dishonest 
man. In the Republic of Sparta it was agreed that stealing was not dis- 
honourable but only the being discovered. I do not commend a society 
where there is an agreement that what would not otherwise be fair 
shall be fair. But I maintain that an individual of that society who 
practises what is allowed is not a dishonest man." 

Mr. Johnson was pleased with this day's entertainment Sir Alex- 
ander sent his coach for him before dinner, and he set down Mrs. Wil- 
liams near the Middlesex Hospital; and in the evening Lady Mac- 
donald and he went in it and took up Mrs. Williams, my Lady was set 
down at a rout, and Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Williams took the coach 
home. So much attention was very pleasing to Mr. Johnson. There was 
a fine contrast between his robust and rather dreadful figure and that 
of the beautiful Lady. Sir Alexander went home with me, eat some 
oysters, and drank a little port. I really like the Knight 

TUESDAY 7 APRIL. I breakfasted with Lord Eglinton, who keeps 
the best breakfast of any man in London, a complete Union of the 
good things of Scotland and England: bread and butter and honey and 
marmalade of oranges and currant jelly and muffins, well buttered 
and comfortably toasted. The Earl is pleasant, but his conversation 
does not furnish my Journal as his brother's used to do. I went to the 
House of Lords and heard out the appeal, Bruce-Carstairs against Miss 
Bruce. Lord Mansfield had been shaken in his opinion during the 
hearing; and therefore, though he affirmed, he gave his reasons, and 
indeed spoke in a most masterly manner. I dined at Mr. Bosville's. 

7 Here the text is resumed in the manuscript Journal. The first part of this sen- 
tence, which may be all that is missing, probably ran somewhat as follows: "I 
have often experienced such feelings of satisfaction between myself . . . " 

too London, ^ April 1 772 

There was nobody there but Miss Wentworth. We were plain and 

In the evening I met at the Queen's Arms in St. Paul's Churchyard 
with the rest of the partners of The London Magazine.* It was truly 
satisfactory to me to find myself the only Scotsman among a company 
of English, and at the same time the distinction quite forgotten from 
our union of interest and from my perfect art of melting myself into 
the general mass. Most individuals when they find themselves with 
people of a different country cannot get free of their own particular 
national distinction. The individual, instead of being melted down, 
as I have remarked of myself, remains as hard as a piece of iron in a 
crucible filled with lead or silver. I should not wish to be melted so as 
not to be again separated from the mass. But when the heat is over, I 
gather myself up as firm as ever, with perhaps only a small plate or 
thin leaf of the other metal upon me sufficient to make me glitter, and 
even that I can rub off if I choose it. Our consultations this evening for 
the good of our magazine, with every monthly publication lying on 
the table before us, was quite in the style of London editors. I delighted 
in looking through our record, seeing the succession of proprietors and 
conductors, the rises and falls of our magazine in peace and in war, in 
short the whole circumstances of an undertaking which for so many 
years has entertained the public. I had more enjoyment in thinking 
of my share of the profits of this than if I had been to draw ten times 
the sum out of an estate. We had an admirable supper. Our first toast 
was "The London Magazine" in a bumper, and every partner present 
had a crown given him for his attendance by our Treasurer and Sec- 
retary. I had not been at a meeting for two years and a half, having 
been dose in Scotland. I was a man of considerable consequence. The 
place of our meeting, St. Paul's Churchyard, the sound of St. Paul's 
dock striking the hours, the busy and bustling countenances of the 
partners around me, all contributed to give me a complete sensation 
of the kind. I hugged myself in it. I thought how different this was 
from the usual objects of a Scots laird. I had a joy in indulging my 
own humour. I drank more than I had done since I had come last to 
London, though not to excess. I was however heated a little; and Tom 

s See above, p. 16. The other partners included Edward Dilly, John Rivington, 
Richard Baldwin, and Thomas Becket 

London, 7 April 1 772 i o i 

Becket the bookseller would fain have had me along with him, I sup- 
pose to stop by the way at another tavern, for Tom is too much given 
to his cups. However, my good friend Mr. Dilly insisted on my going 
home with him, which I did. 

WEDNESDAY 8 APRIL. I got up early and was at Crosbie's lodg- 
ings in Suffolk Street, to breakfast and get him to assist me in drawing 
the case for Hastie the schoolmaster. He attended to it a little but was 
so miserably dissipated that I could not get him to fix to it for any 
time. I went a little to the House of Lords and heard the Earl of Home's 
appeal 9 against Mr. William Wilson. 

I dined at General Paoli's. He took notice of that speech in Shake- 

If any spark of life should yet remain, 

Down, down, to hell, and say I sent thee thither. 1 

He admired the force of it Count Gentili plagued us by disputing 
against it. Poor man! he is very troublesome to the General, who is 
very good to him. The General says the Count knows little but has 
great vanity, and will dispute upon all subjects. He is an odd mixed 
character. He is Corsican born, and his family, from being rich and 
distinguished, fell low; and he has been long in the German service. 
As a German, he is the openest kind-hearted fellow imaginable. But 
sometimes he becomes the discontented Corsican and his moroseness 
is visible. He has little true politeness, that is to say, little compliance 
or softness of manners, by which he offends the English. He is dog- 
matical in his little opinions too. He will tell you that there are no 
good soldiers in England because he sees that their hats are not cocked 
in the German fashion; and he will maintain that there is not a gen- 
eral in England fit to command because he sees no rodomontade, no 
roughness of manner. One day he will deny the being of a God. The 
next he will argue for implicit faith in the Pope. With all this, he has 
a good natural disposition ( un bon natural) , so that he is worth being 
indulged. Such is the character which the General draws of Count 
Gentili. He has got 200 a year pension from the British Court. I went 
home, and wrote all the evening. 

9 The case concerned a debt inherited by the ninth Earl of Home from the third 
1 3 Henry V1 9 V. vi. 66-67 (slightly misquoted). 

iO2 London, g April 1 772 

THURSDAY g APRIL. I breakfasted with my old friend Mr. Clax- 
ton of Lincoln's Inn. 1 1 liked to see him just as formerly in his cham- 
bers. He was sensible and unaffected as usual, and asked me to dine at 
his house in Great Ormond Street next Monday; for although he lives 
in chambers, yet he has a house where his sister resides. I then called 
on Mr. Charles Fergusson and had a full conversation with him about 
my brother David, whom I am anxious to have settled in London. Mr. 
Fergusson was very friendly, promised to look out for an opening, and 
I believe said with great justice that any young man who comes to 
London with a knowledge of business, diligence, and a pretty good 
stock, may do very well. I went to the House of Lords and heard out 
the Earl of Home's appeal. 

I should have dined at the Mitre with Sir John Pringle's club, but 
was too late; so I went to Mr. Johnson, but he would not go out and 
dine anywhere. He asked me to drink some tea. I insisted then to have 
some bread to it So we went down to Mrs. Williams's room and had 
our tea, and something like what are called Yorkshire cakes. Mr. John- 
son was gloomy today. 

I introduced the subject of prayer, and the different notions of it in 
the writings of Abernethy and Ogden. 8 He had not read the last. The 
different notions of it are that the greatest number of the orthodox di- 
vines, or rather indeed all of them who reason philosophically, con- 
sider the effect of prayer to be merely as it improves the mind of him 
who prays, whereas others consider it as actually influencing the Su- 
preme Being. "Sir," said Mr. Johnson, "to reason too philosophically 
about prayer does no good. To be sure, you cannot think that it makes 
GOD alter his purposes. But by producing good effects on the mind of 
him who prays, it disposes the mind in such a manner that the thing 
prayed for is insensibly attained." To this purpose did he reason, and 
showed me how the greatest powers may be enfeebled and cramped 
when confined by a system of orthodoxy. Undoubtedly, while the uni- 
versal prescience of GOD even as to the operation of the human mind 

* Lawyer, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, later owner of an estate at Shir- 
ley, near Croydon; originally a Cambridge friend of Temple, who introduced 
him to Boswell in London in 1763. He named Temple and Boswell his executors 
in 1773, and in 1776 Temple gave his fourth son the names John James after 
Claxton and Boswell. 
8 Boswell was to carry Ogden's Sermons on Prayer to the Hebrides. 

London, 9 April 1772 1 03 

is supposed, prayer is to be held as in reality of no avail. It is only a 
link in the chain of things. 

We talked of ghosts. Mrs. Williams said it was not true that Mrs. 
Bargrave* had declared upon death-bed that the story of the appari- 
tion prefixed to Drelincourt upon Death was not true; for she had in- 
deed said nothing of it then; but Mrs. Williams knew Mrs. Bargrave's 
daughter, who said it was true. Mr. Johnson said he knew one man 
who was an honest man, and a sensible man, who told him he had 
seen a ghost. This was old Mr. Edward Cave, the printer at St. John's 
Gate. Mr. Johnson said that Mr. Cave did not like to talk of it, but 
seemed to be in great horror when it was mentioned. BOSWELL. "Pray, 
Sir, what did he say it appeared to be?" JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, some- 
thing of a shadowy being." 

I mentioned witches and asked what they properly meant. JOHN- 
SON. "Why, Sir, they properly mean those who make use of the aid of 
evil spirits." I said I believed their having existed, as there was a gen- 
eral report and belief of it. JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, you have not only the 
general report and belief, but you have the confessions of many of 
them." BOSWELL. "Yet, Sir, it is said that, so soon as an Act of Parlia- 
ment against prosecuting them was made, they ceased." 5 JOHNSON. 
"Sir, they ceased before that." 

I went to my club at the London Coffee-house. Dr. Priestley read 
us Corsica^ a poem by Miss Aikin* of Warrington. We were very well. 

FRIDAY 10 APRIL. I breakfasted with Dempster. He had carried 
his election as one of the East India Directors; 7 so was surrounded with 
people congratulating him, and among others he had at his levee 
Count Lauraguais, 8 whom I could not bear, he seemed to be so very a 
Frenchman, and that too of the priggish style, speaking French as an 

4 Here, and below, this name has been supplied by the editors. 
8 The Act of 1603 against witches was repealed in 1736. 

6 Name supplied by the editors. Anna Laetitia Aikin is better known as Mrs. 
Barbauld, author of Hymns in Prose for Children. Corsica contains a very flat- 
tering passage about Boswell himself. 

r Dempster had been an East India Director in 1769 but had not been re-elected 
in 1770 or 1771. 

8 After distinguishing himself in the Seven Years' War, he helped to introduce 
English gardens and horse-races to France. He was the first to show Parisians a 
race on the pladne des Sablons with English horses and jockeys. 

104 London, 10 April 1772 

Englishman who what we in Scotland call knaps (speaks) English. 
The a which ought to be broad he pronounced as the English do in 
mamma? I could get no good of Dempster. 

I should have mentioned that I called on Mr. Murphy yesterday 
morning. He owned to me that writing in verse was very much a mat- 
ter of habit That his Grecian Daughter 1 had been written some years 
ago. That he had not written any verses for some years; and that when 
Mrs, Yates last winter prevailed with him to write an epilogue for her, 
he found he went about it very awkwardly. Murphy has admirable 
chambers in Lincoln's Inn. He has a very good collection of books, and 
they are all elegantly bound and gilt, an expense which I really think 
is well bestowed, as it makes a man read with more pleasure and con- 
sequently with a mind better disposed to receive benefit. 

I this day heard the appeal between the magistrates of Edinburgh 
and the feuars* in the New Town. Lord Mansfield spoke as well as I 
could conceive any man to do. It was really a feast to hear him. 

I dined at General Oglethorpe's, at his house in Lower Grosvenor 
Street His lady, whose fortune is his support while our court shame- 
fully neglects him, was a good civil old lady, with some affectation of 
wit, with which, however, she troubled us but little. Mr. Johnson and 
Dr. Goldsmith and nobody else were the company. I felt a completion 
of happiness, I just sat and hugged myself in my own mind. Here I 
am in London, at the house of General Oglethorpe, who introduced 
himself to me just because I had distinguished myself; and here is Mr. 
Johnson, whose character is so vast; here is Dr. Goldsmith, so distin- 
guished in literature. Words cannot describe our feelings. The finer 
parts are lost, as the down upon a plum; the radiance of light cannot 
be painted. 

We talked of armorial bearings. Mr. Johnson told us a circum- 
stance which I doubt has not been observed by any herald: viz., that 

Boswell presumably means that Lauraguais substituted the vowel of mal [a] 
for that of pa$ [a], [a], which cannot be unambiguously illustrated by any 
Eoffliili word, is "Harvard a" or the vowel used by fashionable English speakers 
when they pronounce flower as flah. 

* Km acted 26 February 1 773, 

" Penom who had subscribed for tracts of land in the extension of Edinburgh 
mm the North Loch proposed by the magistrates and council of Edinburgh 
and were now protesting against certain unwelcome changes in the plans. 

London, 10 April 1772 105 

armorial bearings were as ancient as the siege of Thebes. This he 

proved by Euripides, who in his tragedy mentions * 

I started the question if duelling was lawful. The brave old Gen- 
eral at once fired at this and said that undoubtedly a man had a right 
to defend his honour. Goldsmith said, 14 I ask you first, what you would 
do if you was affronted?" I answered., "No doubt I would fight." "Why 
then," said Goldsmith, "that solves the question." "Nay, Sir," said 
Mr. Johnson, "it does not follow that what a man would do is there- 
fore right." I said I wanted to know if duelling was consistent with 
Christianity. Mr. Johnson took up the question and indeed* treated it 
in a masterly manner; and so far as I have been able to recollect,* his 
thoughts were these: "Sir., as men become in a high degree refined, 
various causes of offence arise which are considered to be of such im- 
portance that life must be staked to atone for them, though in reality 
they are not so. A body that has received a very fine polish may be 
easily hurt. Before men arrive at this artificial refinement, if one tells 
his neighbour he lies, his neighbour tells him he lies; if one gives his 
neighbour a blow, his neighbour gives him a blow; but in a state of 
highly polished society, an affront is held to be a serious injury. It 
must, therefore, be resented, or rather a duel must be fought upon it; 
as men have agreed to banish from their society one who puts up with 
an affront without fighting a duel. Now, Sir, it is never unlawful to 
fight in self-defence. He, then, who fights a duel does not fight from 
passion against his antagonist but out of self-defence; to avert the 
stigma of the world and to prevent himself from being driven out of 
society. I could wish there was not that superfluity of refinement; but 

8 Boswell neglected to fill these blanks, and in the Life saved himself labour 
by altering the sentence to read, "proved by a passage in one of the tragedies of 
Euripides.** James Boswell the younger in the fourth edition (1804) conjec- 
tured that Johnson's reference was to The Phoenician Maidens, L i lao (11. 1 106- 
1140 of a modern text). This may be right, but Aeschylus had already given a 
much longer and more striking version of the same material in The Seven 
cgainst Thebes, 11. 375-652. In any case it is strange that Johnson should have 
maintained that a play of the fifth century proved anything about the siege of 

4 Here four pages were removed by Boswell for the Life of Johnson, and have 
not been recovered. The text is continued from the printed Life. 
* A notice that his record in the Journal was brief and that he is expanding it 
from memory at a distance of fifteen years or more. 

io6 London, iu /i/// u, * / / * 

while such notions prevail, no doubt a man may lawfully fight a 


Let it be remembered that this justification is applicable only to 
the person who receives an affront All mankind must condemn the 

The General told us that when he was a very young man (I think 
only fifteen) serving under Prince Eugene of Savoy, he was sitting in 
a company at table with a Prince of Wurttemburg. The Prince took 
up a glass of wine, and, by a fillip, made some of it fly in Oglethorpe's 
face. Here was a nice dilemma. To have challenged him instantly 
might have fixed a quarrelsome character upon the young soldier; to 
have taken no notice of it might have been considered as cowardice. 
Oglethorpe, therefore, keeping his eye upon the Prince and smiling 
all the time, as if he took what his Highness had done in jest, said, 
"Mon Prince," I forget the French words he used; the purport how- 
ever was, "That's a good joke; but we do it much better in England"; 
and threw a whole glass of wine in the Prince's face. An old general 
who sat by said. "II a bien fait, mon Prince; vous Pavez commence":* 
and thus all ended in good humour. 

Dr. Johnson said, "Pray, General, give us an account of the siege 
of Belgrade." Upon which the General, pouring a little wine upon the 
table, described everything with a wet finger: "Here we were, here 
were the Turks," etc., etc. Johnson listened with the closest attention. 

A question was started how far people who disagree in any capital 
point can live in friendship together. Johnson said they might. Gold- 
smith said they could not, as they had not the idem velle atque idem 
nolle? the same likings and the same aversions. JOHNSON. "Why, 
Sir, you must shun the subject as to which you disagree. For instance, 
I can live very well with Burke: I love his knowledge, his genius, his 
diffusion and affluence of conversation; but I would not talk to him of 
the Rockingham party." GOLDSMITH. "But, Sir, when people live to- 
gether who have something as to which they disagree and which they 

6 When BoswelTs eldest son, Alexander, was killed in a duel with James Stuart 
in 1822, Francis Jeffrey, Stuart's counsel, read to the jury this passage and others 
in the Life of Johnson in which duelling is defended. Stuart was acquitted. 
T "Good for him, your Highness; you started it" 
Sallust, Catilina, xx. 4. 

London, 10 April 1772 107 

want to shun, they will be in the situation mentioned in the story of 
Bluebeard: 'You may look into all the chambers but one.' But we 
should have the greatest inclination to look into that chamber, to talk 
of that subject." JOHNSON (with a loud voice) . "Sir, I am not saying 
that you could live in friendship with a man from whom you differ as 
to some point: I am only saying that I could do it." s 

Goldsmith told us that he was now busy in writing a Natural 
History, and, that he might have full leisure for it, he had taken lodg- 
ings at a farmer's house near to the six-mile stone on the Edgeware 
Road, and had carried down his books in 1 two post-chaises (I suppose 
two return ones, as the cheapest mode of conveyance) , and he was 
admirably situated for study. I promised to go and visit him. 

We talked of ghosts. General Oglethorpe said he neither believed 
nor disbelieved apparitions. I boldly avowed my belief. Then Mr. 
Johnson mentioned his having heard a man of sense and veracity 
[say] he had seen one (viz., the story he told me of Mr. Edward 
Cave) . Dr. Goldsmith said he also was told by his brother, the Rev- 
erend Mr. Goldsmith, that he had seen one. (I forgot to mention that 
when Dr. Goldsmith declared he could not live in friendship with a 
man from whom he differed in some considerable point, Mr. Johnson 
said, "You put me in mind of Sappho in Ovid.") * 

We talked of my schoolmaster's cause. Dr. Goldsmith said that 
its consequences spread wide, and was for him, upon my state of the 
affair. We sat till past eight, only sipping a little wine; that is to say, 
the General and Goldsmith and I; for Mr. Johnson never tastes wine 
now but drinks only lemonade. I had a full relish of life to^lay. It was 
somehow like being in London in the last age. I felt myself of some real 
personal consequence while I made one of such a company; and noth- 
ing was wanting but my dearest wife to go home to, and a better for- 
tune in the mean time to make her live as she deserves. 
9 A sentence which comes in the Life at this point (see n. 4 above) is here omitted 
because it occurs below in the Journal. 

1 Here the text is resumed in the manuscript Journal. 

2 Boswell left a blank for the quotation but never filled it. Sappho in Ovid's 
epistle Sappho to Phaon affords a sort of negative analogy to Goldsmith. She 
pleads that a dusky maiden can seem bright to the eyes of a lover. "Turtles and 
doves of different hues unite, And glossy jet is paired with shining white" 
(Pope's version, 11. 43-44). 

io8 London, 10 April 1772 

I supped at Mr. Spottiswoode the solicitor's. His wife was a good- 
looking woman. He had a kind of company of Jews and Portuguese. 
There was a Portuguese gentleman with an English wife and a Portu- 
guese lady with an English husband. We had singing and laughing. 
Whether I was the unlucky cause of it, as being thought a wit, I know 
not; or whether [Spottiswoode] is usually in that style when he is gay, 
I know not; but I was surprised and plagued with a kind of punning 
and playing upon words with which he persisted to entertain us aU 
the evening, instead of being the sensible man of business that I had 
been accustomed to see him. 

SATURDAY i APRIL. Sir Alexander Dick 3 had given me a letter 
of recommendation to Dr. Lowth,* the Bishop of Oxford. I had called 
for him and left it, and he had called for me when I was abroad. I 
called again this morning and found him at home in his house in Duke 
Street, Westminster. He seemed to be a neat, judicious little man in 
his conversation with me. His abilities as a writer are well known. I 
went with Mr. Spottiswoode to young Strahan's printing-house upon 
Snow Hill, where Hastie's case was printing. I made several additions, 
having carried up Mr. Johnson's Corpus Juris with me. Spottiswoode 
said it was the best case that had been drawn this winter, and he was 
confident that we would win our cause and get 100 costs. Strahan 
made us take beefsteaks and porter and a bottle of port with him. I 
said he should be called the hospitable printer, which was a much bet- 
ter title than the patriotic one. 5 

Spottiswoode went home; but as Mr. Johnson had promised me 
his assistance and said he would be at leisure this evening, I was 
anxious to get our case as soon done as possible, as I could not get a 
copy of the case for the other side till we exchanged ours with theirs; 

* One of BoswelTs closest Mends of the older generation. Sir Alexander was a 
physician, who, upon inheriting a baronetcy and a competency, had retired 
to his elegant mansion of Prestonfield near Edinburgh, and there indulged his 
tastes for the classics, agriculture, and a hospitable table. 

4 Professor of Poetry at Oxford 1741-1750, author of Lectures on the Sacred 
Poetry of the Hebrews, originally published in Latin in 1753 of which John- 
son said all Scotland could not muster learning enough for them. 
8 It was his father, William Strahan, Benjamin Franklin's friend, who was the 
"patriotic" printer. Spottiswoode's s6n John married the elder Strahan's daugh- 
ter Margaret; their sons Andrew and Robert carried on the elder Strahan's 
printing business. 

London, 11 April 1772 109 

and Mr. Johnson had told me that he could not make his remarks till 
he had seen their case. I waited patiently till past ten o'clock at night, 
when I got our case. I then hasted away, took a coach at Fleet Ditch, 
called at Mr. Johnson in passing and told him I should soon be back 
with the appellants' case, 6 drove to Spottiswoode's and got it, and then 
returned and got it fairly tabled before the great man. I got him to 
read the Reasons, and then said I hoped he would write down his 
thoughts upon the subject. Said he: "There's no occasion for my writ- 
ing. I'll talk to you." I then proposed he should dictate and I would 
write. To this he agreed. I therefore sat with most assiduous care and 
eagerness, and he dictated to me a noble defence, which I preserve. 7 
This lasted till after one in the morning. It was the only time that I 
ever did anything in a cause upon Sunday, except a criminal cause. 
This indeed might be considered as one, as the schoolmaster was stand- 
ing trial for his all and for his character. Besides, writing down Mr. 
Johnson's observations was not properly working at my business. I 
could perceive that what he threw out upon the subject in conversa- 
tion was stronger and had more fire than what he dictated. 

I forgot to put down that last Sunday, when I was with him, the 
barber came in to shave him, when he said, "Come away, barber; 
you know I seldom give you this trouble on a Sunday." I said I had 
no scruple to be shaved on a Sunday. "Why no, Sir," said he, "if you 
shave yourself or your servant does it. But if you employ a barber, and 
every one else employs him, the barber will have as much work to do 
on Sunday as on any other day." He said he approved of the custom 
some people had of having baked meat, a pie, on Sunday, as it could be 
baked on Saturday and might be eat cold or needed only to be warmed 
on Sunday, so that a servant was not kept from church. 

This night we went to tea with Mrs. Williams between one and 
two. Mr. Johnson observed that Goldsmith had spoken at General 
Oglethorpe's without thought, as he often does, to keep you in mind of 
him, for fear you should forget he is there. BOSWELL. "Yes, he stands 
forward." JOHNSON. "True, Sir, but if a man is to stand forward, he 
would choose to do it not in an awkward posture, not in rags." BOS- 

6 A number of copies of both the appellant's and respondent's cases, printed 
and bound at the expense of the appellant, had to be lodged in the office of the 
House of Lords. See Appendix B. 
T See the Life of Johnson under this date. 

no London, 11 April 1772 

WELL. U I like very well to hear honest Goldsmith talk away care- 
lessly." JOHNSON. "Why yes, Sir; but he should not like to hear him- 
self." It was near three in the morning when I got home. 

I should have mentioned that I this morning (Saturday) break- 
fasted with Mr. Campbell in Northumberland Street, one of the con- 
tractors for paving the streets of London. He is brother to Glenure, 3 
and his nephew, Mr. Alexander Campbell, my brother advocate, in- 
troduced me to him. I had heard he had been a scholar of my client 
Hastie's and that he spoke well of him. But I was misinformed, for 
[he] had never been at his school. 

SUNDAY 12 APRIL. Sir Alexander Macdonald called upon me 
and carried me to breakfast with him, after which we went together 
to Westminster Abbey. The solemnity of the grand old building, the 
painted glass windows, the noble music, the excellent service of the 
Church and a very good sermon, all contributed to do me much good. 
We surveyed some of the monuments. I particularly observed the 
tomb of Dr. Busby, the famous Master of Westminster School, whose 
severity was great, as well as his merit. I felt some enthusiasm for 
supporting my schoolmaster's cause, and the image of Busby served 
to inspire me with more. Wherever I can find a good opportunity for 
superstition or enthusiasm, I always indulge it. The warmth of my 
soul delights to expand itself. I should have been born in old times; or 
rather the expression should be "in early times." Or I should have been 
born in Spain. 

I went and paid a visit to Dr. Campbell in Queen's Square. He has 
perhaps written as much as any man, and to very good purpose. He 
received me with the same cordiality as formerly. He has a manliness 
and a courteousness about him that I seldom observe. I take it the last 
age had more of it than this has. I ventured to ask him when his great 
work, Britccnnia Elucidata, would be published, as there have been 
great complaints of his delay. He assured me he was within a few 
sheets of being done; and he observed that it had ruined his health. 
Indeed, the close confinement and intense labour necessary for it must 
have been very prejudicial to him. 9 He said to me, "I have none of that 

* Duncan Campbell. 

* It was published in 1774 under the title A Political Survey of Britain, and is 
said to have had a rather disappointing reception, many of the original sub- 
scribers having died during the course of its composition. 

London, 1 2 April 1 772 1 1 1 

fondness for literary fame which you profess." 1 He spoke strongly of 
the degeneracy of the age in point of reverence for Government. I 
mentioned to him my schoolmaster's cause. "You'll lose it," said he. 
"The House of Lords have not force enough to venture to support any 

When I came home, honest Mr. William Wilson called upon me 
and sat awhile. I have seen him at all the appeals in the House of 
Lords, and have sometimes called on him at Mr. Murray's, bookseller 
in Fleet Street, where he lodged. I dined at Lord Advocate's. Crosbie 
was rather too late. When he appeared, I cried, "There comes Serjeant 
Crosbie." "I'm sure," said Miss Barbara Montgomery, 2 "he's not an 
orderly sergeant." This was quite an Edinburgh dinner, a number of 
Scots advocates assembled; so the conversation, though it served to 
fill up time and help digestion, made no impression on my memory. 

Lord Advocate was to have carried Crosbie and me this evening to 
the Lord Chancellor's. But the Chancellor was so ill he did not see 
company. So Crosbie, Wight, Sandy Fergusson* and I took a hackney- 
coach and drove to Lord Mansfield's. We talked of their victory in 
their appeal over the Corporation of Edinburgh. By the by, I have not 
given myself credit yet for some good pleasant remarks on that oc- 
casion. I said to Sandy Hart, who, it was believed, was sent up by the 
town to attend the appeal, "Lord Mansfield will reverse, Sir." "Will 
he?" said he. "How will he do it?" Said I: "By sleight-of-hand, like 
Jonas or Breslaw. 4 He won't tell you how he does it. But he'll let you 
see him do it." Hart stared and did not know what to think of this. 
After Lord Mansfield had made his fine speech for reversing, I said, 
"He has not only done it. But he has shown how he did it. The cause 
was like a great piece of veal or other meat. The Court of Session could 
not find the joint. It was handed about through the fifteen and they 
tried at it; but it would not do. Lord Mansfield found the joint at once 
and cut it with the greatest ease, cleanly and cleverly." I said that he 

1 "For my part, I should be proud to be known as an author; and I have an 
ardent ambition for literary fame; for of all possessions I should imagine liter- 
ary fame to be the most valuable" (Preface to An Account of Corsica, 1768). 

2 The Lord Advocate's daughter. 

3 Laird of Craigdarroch, noted for his convivial habits, winner in the contest 
celebrated by Burns in the song of The Whistle. 

4 Jonas and Breslaw were professional jugglers and magicians. Boswell saw 
Breslaw perform twice at Edinburgh in October 1774. 

112 London, 1 2 April 1772 

put me in mind of Raphael's cartoon of Paul preaching at Athens. 8 
Here was Hugh Buchan, the Town's Chamberlain, like one astonished 
and confounded philosopher. Here was Sandy Hart grinning like an- 
other. Here was the Solicitor appearing to be converted. Here was Mr. 
David Rae stupefied and become silly. We advocates were diverted at 
a coachful of us going to Lord Mansfield's. The rout was in the same 
style as usual. My Lord spoke more to Crosbie and Wight, who sat 
near him, than to anybody. He said flattering things of the Scots 
lawyers, observing that many of them wrote very well. He was clearly 
currying favour with our fraternity. 

Douglas had called on me this morning, when I was abroad, and 
begged I would sup with him. I did so. Lady Lucy did not come in 
till about eleven; so we supped very late. Mr. Graham of Balgowan 6 
was there. 

MONDAY 13 APRIL. I dined at Claxton's. His sister was a plain, 
easy, cheerful girl. She will be of use to my wife when I bring 
her to London. I am resolved to bring my wife with me next year, and 
I am constantly considering and looking out in that view. A Mr. Haist- 
well dined with us and Mrs. Browne, the widow of Isaac Hawkins 
Browne, best known by his imitations of different poets in his Pipe of 
Tobacco in Dodsley's Collection? She seemed to be a genteel well-bred 
woman; but I could perceive no impregnation of genius, and I was 
not well enough acquainted with her to ask her as to minute particu- 
lars concerning her husband, which I wished to do. I have really a 
genius for particular history, for biography. 

At seven I went to Crosbie's and consulted as to our plan of plead- 
ing Hastie's cause, which was to come on next day. I could not help 
being under considerable anxiety, partly for fear of my client, whom 
I had saved in the Court of Session, partly on account of myself, as I 

* Among the pictures moved from Hampton Court to Buckingham House in 
1764. See above, p. 93. 

Thomas Graham, later Baron Lynedoch of Balgowan. His distinguished mili- 
tary career did not begin until after the death of his wife, about 1791. He was 
one of the few men actually present at the death of Sir John Moore at Corunna. 
T Browne's Pipe of Tobacco was first published as a pamphlet in 1736 and then 
in the second volume of Dodsley's Collection of Poems, 1748. The poets imi- 
tated are Colley Gibber, Ambrose Philips, James Thomson, Edward Young, 
Pope, and Swift 

London, 13 April 1 772 113 

considered my first appearance at the bar of the House of Lords to be 
an important era in my life, on which my reputation as a speaker in 
this part of the island might depend. I called a little at Sir John Prin- 
gle's, with whom I had left a copy of our case, and talked a little on the 
subject with him. As it was a general question of police* and expedi- 
ency, I thought everybody might assist me somewhat. I went home 
and studied my speech, introducing into it the great thoughts and 
masterly expressions which Mr. Johnson had given me. I did not take 
all that he gave me, but interwove a good deal as I wrote out my ora- 

TUESDAY 14 APRIL. General Oglethorpe, with the activity of a 
young soldier and the zeal of a warm friend, was with me this morn- 
ing by eight o'clock. I had sent him the cases the day before. He said 
the time was so short he could furnish me nothing. But bid me in gen- 
eral insist on the dangerous consequences of lessening the authority 
of a schoolmaster, and that the Court of Session had pronounced a 
most equitable judgement, not indulging the evil passions of deluded 
men. I had yesterday sent a copy of our case with a respectful card to 
Dr. Smith, the Head Master of Westminster School, who has been 
mentioned rather as an odd character in this my Journal, page 76. 
I thought that the master of so celebrated a school might very prop- 
erly be consulted on such a question. Joseph had called in the evening 
for an answer; and the Doctor returned the case with only a verbal 
message that they did not correct in England as my client had done, 
and that he was no judge as to other points how far the sentence was 
just or not. Sending no written answer looked as if the Doctor was 
really as rough as Mrs. Stuart supposed him. But this morning I re- 
ceived a very polite card from the Doctor, in which he indeed gave an 
opinion against my client, but offered to answer any questions upon 
the subject that I might have to put to him. It was now too late; but I 
was pleased with his civility, and resolved to wait upon him. 

Sir Alexander Macdonald sent to me that he would carry me to the 
House of Lords in his coach. He accordingly came. This mark of re- 
gard from the Chieftain pleased me much, and I thought I should al- 
ways remember it and speak of it We stopped at Mr. Crosbie's, where 
I put on my gown and (for the first time) a band. Crosbie assured me 
* An equivalent, now obsolete, of "policy.** 

H4 London, 14 April 1772 

that I had nothing to fear, and that we should prevail. But I was anx- 
ious and uneasy, and took an advice which Sir John Pringle gave me 
last night, which was to drink some wine. I drank a couple of large 
bumpers of white wine. It did me no good. It confused me without *n- 
spiriting me. When we got to Westminster Hall, I grew better I 
amused my mind, sometimes with the idea of my being an English 
counsellor, sometimes with the idea of my being a Scots lawyer come 
up to plead one of the appeals from the court of his country, which was 
the truth. Before we were called in, Lord Advocate said to me he be- 
lieved the House of Lords might let my schoolmaster stay where he 

EDITORIAL NOTE: The reader will better understand what follows 
if he pauses to read Appendix B, or at least as much of it as relates to 
Scots appeals to the House of Lords. No eighteenth-century print 
showing the Lords sitting as a court of appeal appears ever to have 
been issued, but the engraving reproduced opposite will furnish a 
trustworthy basis for an imaginative construction. Imagine most of 
the figures in the engraving eliminated. The throne is empty, the dais 
cleared. The woolsack (a sort of ottoman upholstered in crimson) 
stands at floor-level in front of the throne. Three clerks sit at the clerks' 
table. Scattered along the side benches are perhaps a dozen or fifteen 
peers and a bishop or two. They all wear ordinary morning dress. 
Most, if not all, of the cross-benches have been removed. At eleven 
o'clock Lord Chief Justice Mansfield in his flowing scarlet robe and 
full-bottomed wig enters the chamber, preceded by the Serjeant-at- 
Arms bearing the mace on his shoulder. Lord Mansfield (who is 
deputizing for the Lord Chancellor) takes his seat on the woolsack, 
and the mace is laid on a table behind him to show that the House is 
sitting. One of the bishops reads prayers, and the business of the day 
begins. The clerk reports that an answer in another appeal has been 
brought in, and then reads the title of the case we are concerned with: 
"Campbell et al. against Hastie." "Call in the parties," says Lord 
Mansfield to the Yeoman Usher, and the doors are thrown open. The 
lawyers and visitors assemble at the bar. After putting the formal 
questions from the woolsack, Lord Mansfield comes forward to a chair 
nearer the bar, and presides over the hearing from there. 9 
9 This note combines information from the Journals of the House of Lords:, 

The House of Lords in 1742, from an engraving (1749) by John Pine. 
See p. vii. From an original in the Yale University Art Gallery 

London, 14 April 1772 115 

TUESDAY 14 APRIL [continued]. When the counsel were called 
in, I had a satisfaction in the solemnity and form of making three 
bows: one when we entered the door, one after advancing some steps, 
and one when we came up to the bar, we being all in a line, too, while 
making those bows, and nobody but peers being allowed to be in the 
House till we had reached the bar. The respondents are entitled to 
the right hand of the chair. Lord Advocate and our Solicitor-General, 
as being King's Counsel, had taken it, and took Sir John Dalrymple 
with them. Lord Mansfield corrected this error, saying, "Gentlemen, 
you have mistaken your sides." This piece of pleasantry helped my 
spirits. The Duke of Argyll was there, and more lords than usual. 
Lord Lyttelton attended at my request, and so did my friend my Lord 
Mountstuart. Without the bar there was an audience uncommonly 
numerous. 1 General Oglethorpe was there, and so was Mr. Ganick, 
and with him a conseiller du Parlement de Paris. 

I was in a flutter till it was my turn to speak. When Lord Mans- 
field called out, "Mr. Boswell" and I mounted the little elevation on 
which the counsel who speaks is placed, 2 1 felt much palpitation. But 
I knew I was master of my cause, and had my speech in writing. I had 
seen that Lord Mansfield was against us, which was discouraging. 
My client was now no longer at stake. I had only my own reputation 

Michael Macdonagh, The Book of Parliament, 1897; and letters from Mr. 
C. S. A. Dobson, Librarian of the House of Lords. 

1 The Journals of the House of Lords show that two bishops and twenty-three 
temporal peers (including Lord Mansfield) were in attendance on 14 April 
1772, but a good part of this number no doubt came in after the Hastie appeal 
had been disposed of. The roll: the Bishop of Worcester, the Bishop of Lichfield 
and Coventry; Earls Gower, Denbigh, Westmorland, Sandwich, Doncaster, 
Abercorn, Marchmont, Rosebery, Oxford, Hchester, and Northington; Viscounts 
Montagu and Weymouth; Barons Le Despencer, Paget, Sandys, Bruce, Walpole, 
Mansfield, Lyttelton, Scarsdale, Boston, and Sundridge. The Earls of Abercorn, 
Marchmont, and Rosebery were Representative Scots Peers. "Lord Sundridge" 
is the Duke of Argyll; he was not a Representative Peer and his Scots dukedom 
did not entitle * to a seat in the House of Lords, but his barony in the peerage 
of Great Britain did. Similarly "the Earl of Doncaster" is the Duke of Bucdeuch. 
Lord Mountstuart's name does not appear in the roll because he was a com- 
moner. As M.P. for Bossiney he may have been sitting in a section of benches 
not properly within the bar. 

Presumably the octagonal platform on which our illustration chows the 
Speaker of the House of Commons standing. 

London, 14 April 1772 
to mind. I begun with a very low voice and rose gradually; but re- 
strained myself from appearing anyhow bold or even easy. I spoke 
slowly and distinctly, and, as I was told afterwards, very well. I in- 
dulged only one sally of wit, or whatever such a sally as follows may 
be called. "My Lords," said I, "I speak with warmth for this school- 
master who is accused of too much severity. I speak from gratitude, 
for [I] am sensible that if I had not been very severely beat by my 
master, I should not have been able to make even the weak defence 
which I now make for this schoolmaster." 3 Lord Mansfield smiled. 
Lord Gower and some other Lords called out, "Bravo!" Lord Mans- 
field was so much against my client that in the course of his questions 
during Mr. Crosbie's pleading he interpreted the evidence as if Mr. 
Hastie had given his scholars the play (or a holiday, as they say in 
England) every Friday. I had a satisfaction in obviating this, saying, 
"With the greatest submission, I cannot understand this holiday given 
on Friday as a general practice; for the evidence says, 'That Friday 
was given,' etc., which points out a particular single Friday." His 
Lordship made a very fine speech for reversing, of which I and Long- 
lands the solicitor together are to make out a copy. When he came to 
the Friday, he smoothed it over and said there was an ambiguity in 
the evidence. I should have mentioned that Dr. Smith, the Head 
Master of Westminster School, attended. So did my friend Archie 
Stewart, Mr. Dilly, Messrs. Strahan printers, elder and younger, and 
indeed a number of people who would hardly attend a Scotch appeal. 

* If it were not for this statement and a similar one made earlier by Boswell 
in connexion with his client Hastie (above, p. 58), one might have con- 
cluded that he entirely escaped the drubbings which were the general lot of 
eighteenth-century schoolboys. In the Sketch of his life that he wrote for Rous- 
seau he says that as a small child he was considered too delicate for corporal 
punishment, and he records only one instance of parental chastisement: his fa- 
ther beat him heartily at an early age for telling a lie. But there is no reason to 
suppose that James Mundell's private school, which he attended from the age 
of five to the age of eight, though "advanced" in some respects, was any more 
sparing of the rod than other schools. Indeed, BoswelTs intense dislike for the 
school which the Sketch records may have been due in large part to the punish- 
ments he now professes to approve of Mr. Dun and Mr. Fergusson, who had en- 
tire charge of his education from the age of eight to the age of thirteen, would 
pretty certainly have had the power of the rod, but one gets no feeling from 
BoswelTs many references to them that they ever availed themselves of it 

London, 14 April 1772 117 

I was set down at home by Sir Alexander Macdonald, changed my 
wig, and then got a hackney-coach and drove to the celebrated Mrs. 
Montagu's. I had seen her in Scotland at Dr. Gregory's,* but did not 
think this entitled me to visit her in London. The Doctor had promised 
me a letter to her, but had forgot it. General Paoli had informed her 
that I was in town; so she sent me a card to meet him with her this day 
at dinner. There was he, Lord Lyttelton, 5 the Archbishop of York and 
his two eldest sons, and Mr. Anson of Staffordshire.* Whether Mr. 
Montagu was in town or not, I know not. We heard nothing of him. 
The house was grand and as elegantly finished and furnished as I 
can imagine. We had a fine dinner and dessert, Burgundy, cham- 
pagne, sweet, and in short a rich variety of wines. Seven or eight serv- 
ants attended us. I was introduced to the Archbishop and to Mr. An- 
son. The latter said little. The former was one of the pleasantest men 
I ever saw. Lord Lyttelton told me Lord Mansfield had said to him I 
spoke very well, adding, "Mr. Boswell is too good a counsel; for in 
order to assist his client he would give us a bad impression of his own 
character, when he tells us that when he was at school he would have 
done his master a mischief if he could." Lord Lyttelton said of me to 
the company, "He has been pleading for tyranny, a thing he never did 
before, nor never will do again." Mrs. Montagu got a great packet 
about her husband's coal-work, which is a considerable part of their 
riches. Lord Lyttelton joked, calling her "you cinder-wench." She 
found fault with some kind of husbandry where they sow wheat and 
barley, as I think, together. "Because," said she, "they are not ripe 
at the same time." Said the Archbishop, "We see many such kind of 
marriages." The truth is, Mrs. Montagu's own marriage was of that 
kind. Her husband is much older than she. They have not been ripe 

* See below, p. 16477. 4. 

5 Lyttelton, who had been the friend of Pope and Thomson and enjoyed a con- 
siderable reputation himself as poet and statesman, had given Boswell praise 
and encouragement on the publication of An Account of Corsica. Mrs. Eliza- 
beth Montagu, "the Queen of the Blues," was pre-eminent as hostess for the in- 
tellectual society of London. She had long been a close friend of Lyttelton's, and 
had contributed three dialogues to his Dialogues of the Dead (1760). 

6 The Archbishop was Robert Hay Drummond; his sons, Robert Auriol, who in 
1787 succeeded his uncle as tenth Earl of Kinnoull, and Peter Auriol, who died 
in 1773. Thomas Anson of Shugborough was elder brother to the great Admiral. 

1 1 8 London, 14 April 1 772 

at the same time. The Archbishop spoke Italian with a fluency and a 
perfection of accent that was wonderful, though he had been but fif- 
teen months in Italy and that a great many years ago. His Grace told 
me he was very happy to be acquainted with me, and asked me dine 
with him on the Saturday sennight. I was quite easy and happy today, 
and felt how excellent a place London is when one is in real good com- 
pany. General Paoli was so good as to accompany me in his coach all 
the way to Great Russell Street to my friend Mr. Bosville's, where I 
was engaged to sup. There was nobody there but Sir Alexander and 

Lady Macdonald and a Mr. . Sir Alexander sounded my praises. 

We had a good social evening. 

WEDNESDAY 15 APRIL. I breakfasted by appointment with Mr. 

Garrick. He had there Mrs. , a fat sensible woman, and Mr. 

Pingo, the medal and bust maker. He and Mrs. Garrick were as agree- 
able as ever. By and by came in Mr. Smith, a , and Mr. O'Brien, 

formerly the player, who since his marriage with Lady Susan Strang- 
ways is quite the fine man about town. 7 1 thought him agreeable. His 
foppishness appeared to be only vivacity and neatness. He told us that 
Fitzherbert was at Mr. Thrale's in Southwark, where Mr. Johnson 
lives so much, and being shown the brewery, particularly the great 
tub y he asked, "But where's Diogenes?" (Meaning Mr. Johnson.) Mr. 
Ganick complained of a passage in Mr. Johnson's preface to his 
Shakespeare, in which he insinuates that Mr. Garrick (for he chiefly 
has the old editions of Shakespeare) was not very ready to communi- 
cate them. "Now," said he, "not only did his black get any old plays 
that he sent for, but the key of them was left with the maid, with 
orders to have a fire and every convenience for Mr. Johnson." I was 
sorry to find any coldness between Mr. Johnson and Mr. Garrick. 
They had misunderstood one another. Mr. Garrick had imagined that 
showing his old plays was a favour. I have since learnt from Mr. John- 
son that his idea was that Garrick wanted to be courted for them, and 
that on the contrary he ought rather to have courted him and sent him 
the plays of his own accord. He denied that his black ever got any of 

T The marriage, which had been contracted in 1764 without the consent or 
knowledge of Lady Susan's father, the Earl of Ilchester, had caused a great deal 
of talk. O'Brien had retired from the stage, and had held various appointments 
in America. 

London, 1 5 April 1772 119 

them. Mr. Johnson may perhaps be insensibly fretted a little that 
Davy Garrick, who was his pupil and who came up to London at the 
same time with him to try the chance of life, should be so very general 
a favourite and should have fourscore thousand pounds, an immense 
sum, when he has so little. He accordingly will allow no great merit 
in acting. Garrick cannot but be hurt at this, and so unhappily there 
is not the harmony that one would wish. 

I entertained them with an anecdote which I have omitted to put 
down in its proper place. Some evenings ago when I was at Mr. John- 
son's, I took up The London Chronicle? in which was an extract from 
a new book called Theatrical Biography. I read some of Mr. Garrick's 
Life aloud. At last I came to a sentence where the author says that 
so much having appeared about Mr. Garrick already he could say 
nothing new, but would only give some original retouches. I stopped 
at this strange expression, and asked, "Pray, Sir, what does he mean 
by original retouches?" Mr. Johnson, who was heartily weary of my 
reading aloud what he did not care for, answered, "What does he 
mean? Why, Sir, how can you ask what such a fellow means? Sir, if 
you were to ask himself, he can't tell what he means." The phrase was 
a true bull; and Mr. Garrick told me the book was said to be written 
by one Cooke, 9 an Irishman. 

I pressed Mr. Garrick to come to Scotland, and said we had a right 
to a visit from him; that he had favoured Ireland with his presence, 
and why not Scotland? "Sir," said he, "when I went to Ireland, I went 
to get money. It was harvest time then with me. But when the barn's 
full" (stretching himself in his chair) "one grows lazy." "Well, Sir," 
said I, "but you have not yet had the harvest of oats. You must come 
and get that." He had lately had a correspondence both in prose and 
verse with Lord Chatham. I was astonished at the beauty of Lord 
Chatham's verses which Mr. Garrick read to us; 1 and in one of his 

8 7-9 April 1772, p. 337- 

9 Perhaps William Cooke, later known as "Conversation Cooke," after a poem, 
Conversation, published in 1790. He was the anonymous author of the Life of 
Johnson published by Kearsley in 1785. 

1 Garrick and the celebrated statesman had during the winter and the 
spring of this year exchanged various compliments and flowery verses, which 
had been the subject in turn of further, anonymous, verses in The London 
Chronicle, copied in The Gentleman's Magazine. "More inquiries,** wrote Gar- 

120 London, 15 April 1772 

Lordship's prose letters there was a sentence to this purpose: "I think 
we are indebted to you not only for entertainment but for instruction; 
and I should have been very sorry not to contribute my mite towards 
discharging this favourite branch of the national debt." I thought this 
an excellent compliment from an did minister. Mr. Johnson, to whom 
I afterwards mentioned it, said it was pedantry, as it is pedantry in any 
man to introduce allusions to his own employment There was a card 
which Lord Chatham had written to Mr. Berenger about Mr. Garrick, 
in which were words to this purpose: "Illustrious Shakespeare! but 
more illustrious Garrick! for the first sometimes goes out of Nature. 
The other never does." Garrick had written on the back of this card: 
"Rich and exquisite flattery!" It is fine when one enjoys flattery know- 
ing it to be so. The card having been worn, 2 a piece of paper had been 
pasted on the back of it; so that it had just the appearance of a pass 
such as an old soldier or a man taken by the Turks carries about with 
him. I said it was Mr. Garrick's pass to fame. That he went about say- 
ing, "Lord bless your Honours; here is my pass." Mr, Garrick said I 
had done very well in the House of Lords, only might have been a 
little more animated. "But," said he, "you considered that they would 
be expecting to see the bold Boswell, and so you restrained yourself." 
This was really the case. 

I went to the House of Lords and heard so much of the appeal, 
Innes against Gibson and Balf our; but I was too late to hear Dunning, 3 

rick to Chatham on 26 February, have been "made after the verses addressed to 
me than after Lear or Macbeth." The following lines from Chatham's effort of 
3 April, "To Mr. Garrick, in Answer to His Verses from Mount Edgecumb," are 
perhaps a fair sample: 

Leave, Garrick, the rich landscape, proudly gay, 

Docks, forts, and navies, brightening all the bay: 

To my plain roof repair, primeval seat! . . . 

Come then, Immortal Spirit of the Stage, 

Great Nature's proxy, glass of every age, 

Come, taste the simple life of patriarchs old, 

Who, rich in rural peace, ne'er thought of pomp or gold, 

1 Boswell clearly wrote ivord, and it is perhaps not quite certain what he meant. 
Wore as past participle of wear was in good usage in the eighteenth century, 
but wared seems not to occur after the fifteenth century. 
1 John Dunning, first Baron Ashburton (1731-1783), became in 1768 Solicitor- 

London, 15 April 1772 121 

which I regretted much. I dined with Mr. Ross, the royal patentee of 
the Edinburgh Theatre, whom I must do the justice to say that he 
never forgets his obligations to me, in writing for him the Prologue 
which he spoke at the opening of our theatre and befriending him as 
far as I could. The party was just he and I, Mrs. Ross, and Walter Ross 
the Writer to the Signet, a forward creature and one of whom I have 
no favourable opinion. I did not like his being there. It was curious to 
see the celebrated Fanny Murray 4 as decent a lady at her own table 
as anybody. 

In the evening I called at Mr. Johnson's. Mrs. Williams told me 
that Mr. Langton was in town and that Mr. Johnson was to sup with 
him at the Crown and Anchor, with his brother-in-law, Lord Binning. 5 
I went to the Crown and Anchor and found Langton, whom I had not 
seen since his marriage and having a son to keep up the ancient family 
which his is, and which is a thing that becomes very rare amongst 
either Engish or Scots gentlemen. 6 He had with him Lord Binning, 
who was just setting out for Utrecht with his tutor, Mr. Oliphant; 

Mr , a young gentleman of Eton, and Mr. Johnston of Lincoln's 

Inn, son to Mr, Johnston of Carnsalloch. 

In a little came Mr. Johnson. They were all afraid to venture forth, 
I as usual risked boldly in order to get him to speak. I observed that 
although he had been confident of my schoolmaster's success and done 
him all the service he could and still thought he should not have been 
turned out, he would nevertheless have a joke against him. It was in- 
deed pretty clear that the schoolmaster did not open his school so many 
hours as he ought to have done. So when I again talked this night of 
his severity, "Why, Sir," said Mr. Johnson, "he had time for nothing 
more." Dr. NowelL was mentioned; and I spoke of him with applause 

General in the Graf ton administration but resigned the office in 1770. He was 
one of the most powerful orators of the day. Boswell did not hear him speak 
until 16 April 1776. 

4 Celebrated, before her marriage to Ross, as a courtesan; probably the fashion- 
able and frail beauty to whom the indecent burlesque An Essay on Woman, by 
Potter and Wilkes, had been addressed. 

5 Charles Hamilton (1753-1828), styled Lord Binning, was son and heir of the 
seventh Earl of Haddington and half-brother of Langton's wife. 

6 Boswell and Johnson had supped at the Crown and Anchor with this learned 
gentleman and original Club member on 7 June 1768. On 24 May 1770 Langton 
had married the widow of the ninth Earl of Rothes. 

122 London, 15 apm iyy* 

for preaching his high Tory sermon on the 30th of January last. But 
I tried to say something against his expulsion of the six students from 
Oxford some years ago because they were Methodists, and would not 
desist from praying and exhorting. 7 JOHNSON. "Sir, that expulsion 
was extremely just and proper. What had people to do in an university 
who were not willing to be taught, but who would insist to teach? 
Where is religion to be learned but in an university? Sir, they were 
examined and found to be mighty ignorant fellows." BOSWELL. "But, 
Sir, was it not hard to expel them, for I believe they were good be- 
ings?" JOHNSON. "Yes, Sir. I believe they might be good beings. But 
they were not fit to be in the University of Oxford. A cow is a very good 
animal in the field. But we turn her out of a garden." 

I would needs defend drinking, although Mr. Johnson looked very 
awful and cloudy upon me for doing so. "Sir," said I, "you know the 
maxim in vino veritas: a man who is warmed with wine will speak 
truth." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, that may be an argument for drinking 
if you suppose men liars; but, Sir, I would not keep company with a 
fellow who lies as long as he is sober and whom you must fill drunk 
before you can get a word of truth out of him." BOSWELL. "But, Sir, 
you know all mankind have agreed in esteeming wine as a thing that 
can cheer the heart, can drive away care; in short, the common phrases 
used with regard to it prove it to be a good thing. Would not you, Sir, 
now, allow a man oppressed with care to drink and make himself 
merry?" JOHNSON. "Yes; if he sat next you." This was one of his great 
broadsides. 8 Langton, who is a timorous man, said, "I saw that you 
would bring something upon yourself." 9 1 never was disturbed. I know 
Mr. Johnson so well and delight in his grand explosions, even when 
directed against myself, so much that I am not at all hurt 

Langton said he was just establishing a school upon his estate; but 
he expressed doubts which had been suggested to him that it might 
have a tendency to make the people less industrious. "No, Sir," said 
Mr. Johnson. "While learning to read and write is a distinction, the 
T See above, p. 470. 2. Nowell did not expel the Methodists himself, but he wrote 
a pamphlet defending their expulsion by the Vice-Chancellor and as a result 
was the target of several published replies. 

In the Life of Johnson, the broadside is removed from its context and put with 
undated material of 1772, where Boswell becomes simply "a gentleman," 

* See below, p. 187. 

London, 15 April 1772 123 

few who have that distinction may be the less inclined to work. But 
when everybody learns to read and write, it is no longer a distinction. 
A man who has a laced waistcoat is too fine a man to work. But if 
everybody had laced waistcoats, we should have people work in laced 
waistcoats. There are no people more industrious, none who work 
more, than our manufacturers. Yet they have all learnt to read and 
write." He said before this, "Sir, you must not omit doing a thing im- 
mediately good for fear of remote consequences of evil, for fear of its 
being abused. A man who has candles may sit up too late, which he 
would not do had he not candles; but nobody will deny that the art of 
making candles, by which light is continued to us beyond the time 
that the sun gives us light, is a valuable art and ought to be preserved." 
BOSWELL. "But, Sir, would it not be better to follow Nature and go to 
bed and rise just as Nature gives us light or not?" JOHNSON. "No, Sir; 
for then we should have no kind of equality in the partition of our time 
between sleeping and waking. It would be very different in different 
seasons, and in different places. In some of the northern parts of Scot- 
land how little light is there in some parts of the winter! " 

We talked of Tacitus. I ventured to say that I did not think him a 
good historian; that he had admirable sense and elegant sentences, 
but was too compact, had not sufficient fulness. This was risking pretty 
far. But to my great joy Mr. Johnson gave me his countenance. Said 
he: "Tacitus rather appears to have put down notes for writing a his- 
tory than to have written a history." Although it was twelve o'clock 
at night when we parted, I went home with Mr. Johnson, and Mrs. 
Williams made tea for us. I told him what had been said of my ap- 
pearance in the House of Lords. "Well," said he, "that was worth com- 
ing to London for." 

THURSDAY 16 APRIL. Mr. Mictte, the author of that beautiful 
moral poem The Concubine, breakfasted with me. He was very anx- 
ious about a tragedy he had written and which I had recommended 
warmly to Mr. Garrick. I told him that Mr. Ganick had said to me 
yesterday that he was engaged to as many plays as would fill up two 
years, but that if Mr. Mickle's play was altered so as to do for the 
stage, it should have its place. "At the same time," said he, "let Mr. 
Mickle try if Mr. Colman will take it I know he is not full. If Colman 
takes it, good and well. If not, his refusing it would be no objection 

1 24 London, i 6 April 1772 

to me. My refusing a play would be an objection to him. I mean now 
my having had the first offer. But that, I say, is no objection to me; 
and were it one, I would get over it for a friend of yours." Mickle is but 
a silent man. It was rather a burthen to me to be obliged to entertain 
him, for I have not that perennial flow of spirits which Garrick has. 1 
I shall here put down some scraps of Garrick which I have omitted 
in my account of yesterday. He was strong against my schoolmaster 
and said he should have been whipped out of the town of Campbel- 
town. He told me he was now reconciled to Dr. Armstrong; but justly 
complained of Armstrong for insidiously giving him his tragedy to 
read as the production of a young man, and under that disguise get- 
ting Mr. Garrick's free opinion against it and then abusing him. 1 
"Ah," said Garrick, "these geniuses are no better than other men. 
They are pulvis et umbra. 993 He praised Beattie highly and said he 
would ride to Edinburgh to serve him. He said Dr. Robertson's per- 
secuting Beattie for having attacked Hume had hurt the Doctor's 
character a good deal in England. "What?" said he, "here is a writer 

1 William Julius Mickle (1735-1788) is probably best known today for his 
ballad Cumnor HalL As a young man in Edinburgh he had, like Boswell, con- 
tributed to Donaldson's Collection of Poems. After operating unsuccessfully a 
brewery inherited from his father, he became in 1765 corrector to the Clarendon 
Press. His Spenserian imitation The Concubine appeared in 1767, and in 1771 
he published the first book of his magnum opus, a translation of The Lusiad 
of Camoens. Boswell, who had a sincere admiration for his talents, solicited 
subscriptions in Scotland for The Lusiad, and pushed the tragedy Chateaubri- 
ant (afterwards called The Siege of Marseilles) with Garrick. Mickle was 
touchy and resentful, interpreted as a personal affront Garrick's final rejection 
of the play (which happened later in this year), and saw sinister motives in a 
contretemps involving Garrick's subscriptions to The Lusiad. In spite of Bos- 
weirs tactful and patient counsel, Mickle wrote violent letters about Garrick 
and reflected on him in an angry note in The Lusiad. Boswell, caught in the 
middle, managed to keep on friendly terms with the furious poet and the con- 
temptuous manager. 

* John Armstrong's tragedy The Forced Marriage was written in 1754 and pub- 
lished in his Miscellanies in 1770, whereupon David Hume wrote to William 
Strahan: "It is certainly one of the worst pieces I ever saw. . . . He keeps an 
anger against Garrick for above twenty years for refusing to bring it upon the 
stage; and he never since would allow him to be so much as a tolerable actor*' 
(13 March 1770). 

* "Dust and a shade": Horace, Odes, IV. vii. 16. 

London, 16 April 1772 125 

who is throwing loose those moral ties by which men are restrained 
from cutting one another's throats or picking one another's pockets" 
(acting it admirably all the time) . "There comes another writer who 
attacks him. And shall a reverend clergyman persecute that writer 
who stands boldly forth on the side of religion?" It was really pretty 
to hear Mr. Garrick talk thus. 

I called a little on Sir John Pringle, who told me he heard I had 
done well in the House of Lords, reminded me of his encouraging me 
to be a lawyer by saying I should come to London every spring for 
appeals, and was much pleased. I dined at General Paoli's; only 
Count Gentili there. The General said that Cato was a Tory and 
Caesar a Whig. The former was anxious to support the fixed govern- 
ment of his country. The other was for overturning it. I spoke of his- 
torians, and particularly praised Lord Lyttelton because he gives us 
what is said on both sides, balances, and draws a conclusion the justice 
of which he submits to his readers. I said no historian who relates 
transactions or draws characters which existed in times which he 
never saw, has a right to give us a flowing confident narration, with- 
out telling us why he has such ideas of men and things. Most of them 
do so. But Lord Lyttelton is like a judge who sums up the evidence 
on both sides. The weather was wet and gloomy. I sat the evening 
at home. 

FRIDAY 17 APRIL. This being Good Friday, I was in solemn 
frame. Absolute fasting would have hurt me. By way of penance, and 
upon honour seriously so, I went and breakfasted with Mrs. Christian 
Macdowal.* I then called on Lord Lyttelton. I told him my compli- 
ment to him as an historian, which pleased him. He talked very pret- 
tily on gardening. He said he had a wild imagination, I answered, 
"Your Lordship has taken a good bit to curb it with, by applying to 
history." I was hurt at two things. He talked of Mr. Mickle as of one 
whom he had never seen, when I am sure Mickle is acquainted with 
him and has had a good deal of literary intercourse with "hfrn. And 
notwithstanding his high letter to Miss Marshall on her comedy, he 
talked of it very lightly. 5 

* Mrs. Macdowal is mentioned three times in Boswell's condensed journals, but 
without any indication why calling on her could be counted an act of penance. 
8 Jane Marshall published her comedy, Sir Harry Gaylove, by subscription this 

1 2 6 London, 1 7 April 1 772 

I called on Mr. Johnson, whom I found with a large f olio Greek 
New Testament (at least so it was to the best of my remembrance) 
lying open on his table; and sometimes he would read a little with a 
solemn hum, and sometimes talk to himself, either as meditating or 
as praying. I would not disturb him on this day. I went in search of 
a church, to hear prayers, or say prayers rather. It was now past three 
in the afternoon, and I could find no church in the City but where 
prayers were over. So I had only silent devotion. I had passed St. 
Paul's from a desire to satisfy my curiosity by attending worship in 
some other church, and so I missed every place of prayer. 

I drank tea at Mr. Billy's; then drank tea a second time at Mr. 
Henry Baldwin's, our printer of The London Magazine. His wife was 
a pretty little genteel woman and his house in very good order. I then 
called for Mr. William Wilson. He carried me into his landlord 
Mr. Murray's, where was a company sitting after dinner, Sir John 
Dalrymple 6 and others. I took a glass or two of wine, and then went 
home. As I had promised something for The London Magazine next 
day and had fallen behind in my Journal, I resolved to sit up all night 
and write. I accordingly did so. The time was when I have sitten up 
four nights in one week in London. But I found this night very hard 
upon me. 

I should have mentioned that I called this day on Langton, who 
joined me in complaining that Mr. Johnson was deficient in active 
benevolence; for instance, we could not mention any one whom he 
had introduced to another. Mr. Langton told me that Mr. Topham 
Beauclerk, 7 another of Mr. Johnson's great friends, had also com- 
plained of him and said that he thought he could not perceive any 
difference in his taking leave of one when going to the East Indies 
or when going to ever so small a distance. I should have mentioned 
too that I met at Mr. Billy's my old acquaintance Br. Gibbons, 8 dis- 

year. Boswell himself had got a subscription for her on 26 February. In June 

1769 he had read the play, and on 10 September 1769, en route back to London 

from the Stratford Shakespeare Jubilee, he had tried unsuccessfully to promote 


e See below, p. 159. 

7 See below, p. 165. 

Thomas Gibbons (1720-1785), minister of the Independent Church at Haber- 

London, 17 April 1772 127 

senting clergyman in London. We talked of George Lewis Scott, who 
published the continuation of Chambers's Dictionary, and of his sep- 
aration from his wife (Mrs. Montagu's sister), who writes novels. 9 
Said I: "She writes novels, and she married a dictionary-maker. It 
seems she can do without a dictionary." 

SATURDAY 1 8 APRIL. Captain Hoggan breakfasted with me, and 
then he and I went and called at Sir Alexander Macdonald's. I was 
cold, and had a headache from my last night's sitting up. I strolled 
about in the forenoon, and dined at Clifton's Chop-house in Butcher 
Row, the place where my friend Temple and I used to dine when I 
lived in the Temple. I drank tea at Mr. Henry Baldwin's and de- 
livered him the copy 1 which I had promised, and was quite a laborious 

I called on Mr. Johnson, and found him in solemn mood, with the 
great New Testament open again. I have had a fondness for Sir Francis 
Osborne's 2 works, and was thinking to publish an edition of him with 
his life. I asked Mr. Johnson what he thought of Osborne. He an- 
swered, "A conceited fellow. Were a man to write so now, the boys 
would throw stones at him." I consulted him as to my applying for 
the Sheriffship of Ayrshire, and securing it by undertaking the office 
just now and engaging to let Mr. Duff have the salary for life. He said, 
"I would take it if I could get it when the old man dies. But not now 

dashers' Hall and a tutor of the Dissenting Academy at Mile End, was made 
D.D. by the University of Aberdeen in 1764. Boswell heard him preach in Edin- 
burgh 23 July 1769, and had him to dinner about the same time. 
9 Ephraim Chambers (c. 1680-1740) published in 1728 in two folio" volumes 
the first edition of his Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sci- 
ences. Materials which he left for a supplement were committee! to the mathe- 
matician George Lewis Scott (1708-1780), and two more volumes appeared in 
1753. Scott*s estranged wife, Sarah Robinson, a sister of the bluestocking Mrs, 
Elizabeth Montagu, was an industrious but dull writer of books of history and 
romance, all published pseudonymously or anonymously. 

1 "A Sketch of the Constitution of the Church of Scotland . . . with Specimens 
of the Oratory of some of the most distinguished Members of that Church," in 
The London Magazine for April and May of this year. The "specimens of ora- 
tory" were an extended report of the debate in a case on patronage in the Gen- 
eral Assembly of 1771 (see above, p. 13) in which he himself had been em- 
ployed as counsel. 

2 Not "Sir," though Boswell here and elsewhere styled him so. See below, p. 141. 

12 8 London, 18 April 1772 

on the terms you mention. That would be confining yourself the best 
years of your lif e for nothing. Your vacation of three months at a time 
is a good thing. You can come here; you can go to France; you can go 
to Italy." I have omitted to mention that one day since I came last 
to London, I spoke to Mr. Johnson of the good that following the law 
had done me by filling up my time and preventing me from being 
listless and unhappy. But that I thought a country gentleman might 
contrive to pass his life very agreeably. "Why, Sir," said he, "y u 
cannot give me an instance of any man who is left to lay out his own 
time contriving not to have tedious hours." 

I supped tonight at Sir Alexander Macdonald's, where were Mr. 
and Mrs. Bosville and Miss Bosville and Tommy. The Knight thought 
fit before supper to read aloud from some of the books of peerage 
a great deal of the history of the Wentworth family. 8 1 was drowsy 
and could hardly keep up my eyes, and the lecture did not help to 
keep me awake. 

SUNDAY 19 APRIL. It being Easter day, I was in an unusually 
good frame. I breakfasted on chocolate and sweet biscuits at General 
Paolf s. He then carried me in his coach to the Sardinian Minister's 
Chapel in Lincoln's Inn Fields.* He left me there, as he went to the 
Polish Minister's Chapel to hear a private mass. 5 There was a great 
crowd. But I was happy enough to be conducted by a person in the 
Ambassador's livery to a seat just before the organ and fronting the 
altar. The solemnity of high mass, the music, the wax lights, and the 
odour of the frankincense made a delightful impression upon me. 
I was divinely happy. General Paoli was ready to receive me when 
mass was done. We drove to Mr. Johnson's. He was not come home 
from church. I asked Mrs. Williams to come upstairs to us, as she was 
very desirous to be in the General's company. She accordingly sat 
with us awhile, and was charmed with the General's attention and 
affability. She left us when Mr. Johnson came in. 

We talked of the blind being able to distinguish colours by the 

* Mrs. Bosville was a Wentworth. 

* The Gordon riots of 1780 commenced with the demolition of this chapel. It 
was rebuilt, and here Fanny Burney was married to General D'Arblay, i August 

9 The Polish Envoy Extraordinary Count Burzynski was a friend of Paoli's and 
had come with him on the visit to Scotland in August 1771. See above, p. ai. 

London, 19 April 1772 129 

touch. Mr. Johnson said that the great Saunderson mentions his hav- 
ing attempted to do it; but that he found he was aiming at an impos- 
sibility. 6 That to be sure a difference in the surface makes the differ- 
ence of colours. "But that difference," observed Mr. Johnson, "is so 
fine that it is not sensible to the touch." The General mentioned 
gamesters and jugglers who could know cards by the touch. Mr. 
Johnson said that those cards must not have been so well polished 
as ours are. 

We talked of sounds. The General said no simple sound was pretty, 
but only a harmony of sounds. I ventured to differ from this and men- 
tioned the sound of a fine woman's voice. "No, Sir," said Mr. Johnson, 
"if a serpent or a toad uttered it, you would think it ugly." BOSWELL. 
"So you would think, Sir, were a fine tune to be uttered by one of those 
animals." JOHNSON. "No, Sir, you'd say 'twas well. We've seen fine 
fiddlers whom we liked as ill as toads, ha! ha! ha! " 

He said difference of taste, with respect to its being a good or bad 
taste, was just difference of skill. "But," said I, "for instance, we find 
people differ much what is the best style of the English language. 
Some tell you Swift's is the best; others that a fuller and grander way 
of writing is the best." JOHNSON. "Sir, you must first define what you 
mean by style before you can judge who has a good taste in style and 
who has a bad. Those of the two tastes whom you have mentioned 
don't differ as to good and bad. They both agree that Swift has a good 
neat style. But one loves a neat style; another loves a style of more 
splendour. One loves a plain coat; another loves a laced coat; but 
neither will deny that each coat is good of its kind." The General 
pressed Mr. Johnson to come often to see him, without waiting for an 
invitation. Mr. Johnson said, "I will come with my friend Boswell, 
and so I'll get a habit of coming." 

The General was good enough to drive me about till dinner-time, 
down Snow Hill, all the length of Holborn and Oxford Street, down 
Park Lane and along Piccadilly. He said of the Roman Historians, 
"Livio un dio, Tacito un uomo di buon senso, Sallustio filosofo" 7 1 
dined at Sir John Pringle's. Colonel Pringle and his lady, Willy Hall, 

6 Nicholas Saunderson, blinded by smallpox at the age of twelve months, be- 
came in 1711 fourth Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. His 
Elements of Algebra, 1740, contains the disclaimer to which Johnson refers. 
T "Livy is a god, Tacitus a man of good sense, Sallust a philosopher." 

130 London, 19 April 1772 

and Mr. John Pringle, Lord Alemoor's brother, were there. 8 The latter 
controverted the common principle which sticks much with me; viz., 
that it is a great loss to the country that the people of estates carry 
their money to the Capital. He said it naturally returned again to the 
country; and that there was no benefit to the country in having more 
money than what was sufficient to pay labourers, so that the people 
should never want work, which he observed was the case even now 
when such complaints are made of people carrying their money out 
of the country. I am no profound calculator or politician. But I cannot 
help thinking that the country must be in a much happier state when 
people of fortune live at home and make their rents circulate in the 
neighbourhood. At any rate, I am clear that the men of fortune who 
do so are happier. 

We talked of the change to the worse on 9 the manners of Edin- 
burgh; that now the gentlemen drink so constantly that the ladies are 
neglected, and you do not find gentlemen in the drawing-room and at 
the tea-table, which was formerly the mode. For my part I am de- 
termined to try to revive it. In the evening I went and sat awhile with 
Lord Mountstuart. Our conversation was rational and calm. 

MONDAY2OAPRIL. Captain Hoggan breakfasted with me. I then 
had General Paoli's coach and drove to the City, as my most attentive 
and indefatigable friend Mr. Dilly had procured me a ticket to my 
Lord Mayor's dinner and ball at the Mansion House. I called for Mr. 
William Wilson and wished him a good journey. I called at Mr. 
Waugh's in Sion Garden, Aldermanbury; but he was not at home. 1 1 
found Mrs. Waugh and sat a little with her, and then Mr. Dilly and I 
went to the Mansion House in General Paoli's coach, the General's 
coachman and Swiss footman in silver-laced liveries, and Joseph my 

8 Colonel James Pringle (later Sir James Pringle of SticheU) and William Hall 
were nephews of Sir John. They were also connected with the "Merse" Road 
Bill which Boswell mentions on 24 March: Colonel Pringle (M.P, for Berwick- 
shire) being spokesman of the Committee which brought in the bill, and Hall, 
as heritor of the county, a petitioner for certain changes in it. John Pringle of 
Hauling, some kind of remote cousin of Sir John's, was M.P. for Selkirkshire. 
* Quite clear in the manuscript, although apparently it cannot be explained as 
a Scotticism. 

1 John Waugh is listed in the directory as '"merchant"; the reason for BoswelTs 
interest in him is not known. 

London, 20 April 1772 131 

servant also, mounted behind for the sake of grandeur. I should have 
mentioned that I saw from Mr. Dilly's windows the procession of the 
children belonging to the hospitals in their way to St. Bride's Church, 
and the procession of the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs in then- 
coaches.* We went to the Mansion House about three o'clock, accord- 
ing to invitation, but we had a long time to wait. There being such a 
crowd of carriages, it took a long time for the company to get in. The 
ladies were all in one room and the gentlemen in other two rooms be- 
fore dinner. The Lord Mayor drank our healths in a glass of white 

wine, which was formally proclaimed by , who began, "My Lord 

Bishop of Peterborough," and so naming down the other people of 
distinction, and then I remember this: "My worthy masters, the Al- 
dermen, Knights, Squires, and Gentlemen all, the Lord Mayor drinks 
your health." Mr. Dilly was acquainted with the Lord Mayor (Nash) 
and introduced me to him. He was a big comely man, without any 
pride of office. As I was acquainted with Mr. Wharton, whom his 
Lordship's interest had promoted to be a Commissioner of Excise in 
Scotland, I had some conversation with the Lord Mayor. Before din- 
ner, Mr. Dilly and I went in to the Egyptian Hall and viewed the 
tables, which were indeed grand. We then waited at the door and saw 
dinner carried in. The review of dishes was prodigious. Everybody 
was kept out of the hall till dinner was set, the door being guarded by 
men with great staves, I suppose City officers. Then the Lord Mayor 
and Aldermen and ladies and their attendants or partners went in, 
and then the door was left free. As there were a good many more 
tickets given out than there were places in the hall, there was a terri- 
ble struggle who should get in first among us who had to shift for our- 
selves. I was sadly squeezed and not a little concerned lest I should 
lose Dilly, he being a very little man. However he and I got in soon 
enough to get good places. It was truly a superb entertainment, and 
made the metropolis of Great Britain appear in a respectable light. 
There was a great number of foreigners of distinction there. We had 
everything in the way of meat and drink that could be found, fruits, 
confections, ices in perfection. Burgundy and champagne were called 
for as we pleased. I had before me a bottle of each. During our enter- 

2 To hear the famous Easter Monday charity sermon, known as the Spital Ser- 
mon. The preacher this year was John Hinchcliffe, Bishop of Peterborough. 

132 London, 20 April 1772 

tainment a band of music played, and from time to time the crier 
announced a toast. There were three tables with about a hundred 
people at each. The Lord Mayor sat at the table in the middle. The 
company retired just as they chose, without any order. 

The Lord Mayor and Aldermen and a select party adjourned to 
another room, where were a couple of long tables, with a range of 
bottles. I had not met with John Wilkes since I left him at Paris in 
spring 1 766. 1 thought this a good opportunity to do it accidentally. 8 
So when Dilly and I came into this room, I said with an audible voice, 
"This is excellent; this is like ourselves, quite Scotland." Wilkes 
turned about, and seeing me, we instantly shook hands. "Well," said 
I, "only think of me, comparing the grandeur of the Lord Mayor and 
Aldermen to Scotland." As we were sitting down, Wilkes said, "Don't 
sit by me or it will be in The Public Advertiser tomorrow." However, 
the Recorder 4 very genteelly made way, and down I sat with Mr. Al- 
derman Trecothick on my one hand and Mr. Wilkes on the other. 
"Well," said Wilkes, "Boswell, you was a pleasant fellow when I knew 
you. But now you're grown the gravest of grave mortals. You should 
have come and seen a friend in gaol." Said I: "I do assure you I am 
glad to meet with you, but I cannot come to see you. I am a Scotch 
laird and a Scotch lawyer and a Scotch married man. It would not be 
decent" 5 "Do you remember," said he, "how melancholy you was at 
Paris, when the news came of the Old Pretender's death? I kept your 
secret" 6 "Upon my word," said I, "y u ^ a ^ a grand entertainment 

Since 1766 BoswelFs dealings with Wilkes had been unattractively correct. 

He had associated freely with the fascinating demagogue in Italy and France, 

though Wilkes was then under sentence of outlawry for declining to give him- 

self up on a conviction for obscene and seditious libel. But in the London jaunts 

of 1768 and 1769, though Wilkes was then in London the second time in gaol, 

serving his sentence Boswell had deliberately avoided him. Wilkes had been 

elected M.P. and expelled the House; he had also been elected Alderman of 

London, and was now Sheriff. 

* (Sir) James Eyre. 

B He did not, in fact, resume easy relations with Wilkes until 1775, by which 

time Wilkes was Lord Mayor of London and had been allowed by the Govern- 

ment to take the seat in Parliament from which he had been repeatedly 


Boswell learned of the death of the Old Pretender 24 January 1766. ("Was 

dull a little. 1 ') Two days afterwards, at Wilkes's, he saw in The St. JameSs 

London, 20 April 1772 133 

here today." Said he, "You did not see the sheep's-head. You did not 
see the haggis." 7 1 said to . . . 

EDITORIAL NOTE: The full Journal breaks off here at the foot of a 
page with a blank reverse, indicating that it was never carried further. 
The remainder of the London record for this year consists of rough 
notes. Later, when Boswcll was w*riting the Life of Johnson, he seems 
not to have found the notes until after he had written the correspond- 
ing portion of the Life, and then to have used them with unusual care- 
lessness. They show, for instance, that he was mistaken in the passage 
of the Life where he says that he first met Edmund Burke on the night 
of his own admission to the Literary Club in 1 773; he was present with 
Burke, Goldsmith, and Beauclerk at a dinner given by Sir Joshua 
Reynolds on 6 May 1 772, was struck with Burke' s amiable conversa- 
tion, and recorded two of his puns. 

On 8 May Boswell had a specially fine conversation with another 
Club member. "Garrick called on me ere dressed. He had called be- 
fore and left [his name as] 'Rantum Scantum.' 8 Entered again: 
'Here's Rantum Scantum.' Took me out to walk in St. James's Park. 
Fifteen guineas to Gentleman. 9 Took off Johnson: 'Davy is futile.' 
Then on Thames, when we talked of language, repeated, 'Hast chou 
a medicine for a mind diseased,' from Macbeth, ending, 'Throw 
physic,' etc. 1 Great." Almost a year later, in a letter written to Garrick 
shortly before the next London jaunt, Boswell waxed reminiscent. "I 
must beg and entreat that you will play Macbeth while I am in Lon- 
don. You may remember what an impression you made upon me by 
repeating only a few lines of it while we walked one morning last 
spring on the banks of the Thames near the Adelphi." 

Chronicle a notice of the death of his mother. Wilfces made a very kindly at- 
tempt to console him for his loss. 

7 Sheep's or calf s heart, lungs and liver, minced, mixed with oatmeal, seasoned 
and boiled in the maw of the animal. This and the sheep's-head were considered 
especially Scotch. 

g A traditional phrase indicating nonsense or disorder ("harum-scarum")- 
9 See above, p. 17 and below, pp. 167, 235, 236. 

1 Macbeth, V. iii. 4off ., quoted somewhat inaccurately. Garrick had first acted 
Macbeth in 1744, reviving the authentic text. Arthur Murphy in his Life of 
David Garrick, 1801, cites this passage to illustrate how much Garrick had done 
for the play by his restorations. 

134 London, g May 1772 

On 9 May Boswell had an audience with Lord North, apparently 
his only meeting with that unpopular statesman. "Breakfast Mr. 
Billy's. Then coach and away to Lord North's. Waited. . . . Called 
in. Spoke well. Father's joke as to juries on rebels." 

During this jaunt Boswell, who had left home on 14 March, sent 
letters to his wife on six days in March; on twenty-one days in April; 
and on eight days in May before setting out for home on the twelfth. 
At the end of April he was "uneasy at valuable friend's complaints. 
Gloomy fate, or doubts as to it, clouded me." He was "hypped black." 
But on the next day: "Home evening. Good letter revived [me] ." And 
two days later: "Drank hard. . . . These two nights went with bad 
women a little." At Mrs. Stuart's he had a "fine conversation on gal- 
lantry and love . . . and no second marriage." She had said to him 
on an earlier visit: "If all husbands here [were] like you, wives 
[would] not wish to go to heaven." On the day before he left London, 
he called on Mrs. Thrale and received her "kind invitation" to bring 
his "wife . . . next year." At Johnson's house late on the night before 
departure, they talked of their friends and the writing of biographies. 
"I hope you'll write all their lives," said Johnson. "Farewell. God bless 

TUESDAY 12 MAY. After about two hours sleep Hoggan arrived 
obliged to get up before five. Mr. Dilly had chocolade. I had every- 
thing (almost) well settled. But still, as at death, some things re- 
mained. Took leave of Joseph.* Poor man! Tears and kissed hand. 
Leave of both Messrs. Dilly. Was a little in flutter. Out by Islington. 
Away bySt.Albans. . . .* 

'Joseph was presumably to return by water, as lie had come down (above, 
p. 39), and was not too confident of reaching his destination. 
8 He returned by the west road (Leicester, Loughborough, Derby, Manchester, 
Kendal, Snap, Carlisle, Langholm, Hawick), a route which he had perhaps not 
travelled since 1760. 

well did most things eagerly. Eager to set out on his London jaunt in 
March 1772, he was, as the time approached, eager, if not to return 
home, at least to accomplish the journey with a maximum of satis- 
faction. It was always important to his happiness to have company. 
On Saturday 9 May, three days before his departure, he was writing to 
Johnston of Grange that Hoggan would be his companion on the west 
road by Carlisle and Langholm, would give him "a convoy as far as 
Hawick. I hope my wife will meet me there. You must be kind enough 
to be at Langholm on Friday forenoon, and meet us there, and go with 
us to Hawick. It will be an admirable friendly meeting." Despite sev- 
eral appeals from Temple, Boswell had no plans for seeing him. The 
trip from London to Mamhead was long and expensive. Boswell had 
made it in 1769. Perhaps we can forgive him if consciously or un- 
consciously he decided this year that the "conversation of the first 
geniuses" was more important than that of his old friend. Already 
Boswell had formed an "intention of coming to London every spring." 
"The House of Lords," wrote Temple, "will be a fine theatre for your 
talents. As you say, it will also afford you an opportunity of keeping 
up your acquaintance with those great folks who may be of use to you 
in your hopes of preferment." Another hope, that of coming to the 
English bar (years later so fruitlessly to be realized), had begun to 
form as early as the summer of 1 769 or perhaps even during his Lon- 
don visit in the spring of 1 768. But these practical aspects of the Lon- 
don plans could only somewhat extenuate the aspect of extravagance 
and guilt in them. In the letter to Grange he wrote: "I only regret that 
my valuable spouse and I have been separated, which has given con- 
siderable anxiety and uneasiness to both of us, and which therefore I 
am resolved shall never again happen for so long a time while we are 
in this world." 


1 36 BoswelVs Life, May i jT*-March 1 773 

"Worthy" Grange in a letter written three weeks before BoswelTs 
reply had described both his own state of nervous weakness (follow- 
ing his escape from some kind of amorous connexion) and the im- 
proved health of Mrs. Boswell. 

*'I have seen Mrs. Boswell frequently. She is pretty well, and by 
the time you return, I hope you'll find her perfectly recovered. I was 
blaming her for being so much alone; indeed she has not many people 
here at present that she can be quite easy with, and those you know are 
the only company that are agreeable to a person recovering from any 
illness. I saw her last night. She was anxious anent your appearance 
in the House of Lords." 

Grange was a good friend, but for some reason because he was 
back in the country and did not receive the letter in time or because of 
his neurosis ("still . . . very uneasy, and incapable of fixing my at- 
tention on any particular subject") he failed to keep the rendez- 
vous at Langholm, as Boswell had "flattered" himself he might. "I 
went to the post-house there; but could get no intelligence about you." 
We have no evidence either that Mrs. Boswell went so far as Hawick 
in order to support the latter stages of the journey. Boswell at any rate 
got home and plunged into business. By the third of June he had "just 
got free from the Church Court" and had by it "cleared" his "house- 
rent, and five guineas into the bargain." Nevertheless, he planned to 
ask Grange for a loan of 250 on his personal bond. The London jaunt 
had scarcely put money in his pocket. 

A notable event of the summer was a visit to Edinburgh by Sir 
John Pringle. Boswell offered him an apartment in his own house. 

"I am much obliged to you for the kind offer . . . which perhaps 
I should have accepted of had I been to come single to Edinburgh; but 
as I carry a lady with me (sub rosa sit) and thereby make a sort of 
family, you see I can give no private house the trouble of my accom- 
modation. 1 But I will still avail myself of your friendship, and beg of 
1 This should probably be set down as one of Sir John's jokes, for the circum- 
stances are against the obvious interpretation. He was writing from Stichell, 
the house of his brother, Sir Robert Pringle, and though Sir Robert was a wid- 
ower, it does not seem as though Sir John would have "carried" a kept mistress 
to the ancestral seat Boswell devotes many pages of his Journal to Sir John, but 
aero- refers to a mistress, and he was not likely to overlook such frailty on the 

BoswelPs Life, May if72-~March 1773 *37 

you to send one of your servants to bespeak a lodging for me ... 
consisting of two bedchambers and a dining-room, and a room for a 
manservant. Let the lodging be as handsome as shall become a friend 
of yours and as airy as you can get it" 

Pringle stayed perhaps through a good part of the summer; he en- 
gaged in a grandfatherly flirtation with Mrs. BoswelTs little niece 
Jeanie Campbell of Treesbank (who was on a kind of extended loan 
to the Boswell household) ; and although he must have left at about 
the moment when Boswell decided to attempt to remedy a certain 
long-standing cause of dissatisfaction in his relations with his father, 
he continued to furnish sober counsel. 

"I was sorry to find you had made an unsuccessful attempt about 
recovering that deed you mention; but I must blame you for refusing 
your father's invitation to Auchinleck, which certainly you ought to 
have accepted, as I know he would have taken it well; and I even con- 
jecture that if you had gone and shown no resentment at the refusal, 
he might of himself afterwards [have] done what you required of 
him. As things now stand, he sees that you have taken pet, a circum- 
stance that ought never, and I dare say in this case never will, gain 
favour. I therefore take the liberty to advise you speedily to correct 
this faux pas, by going to your father's house, either without any 
annunciation, or, which I should like better, by writing a letter apolo- 
gizing in some manner for what you had done and desiring leave to 
come to him if convenient for him. There I would have you stay till 
he went to Edinburgh, or as long as you found it agreeable to him, 
cheerful in his presence, attending him in his walks, and at other 

part of a man who was always lecturing him for irregularities. In memoirs of 
Sir John which he wrote for Dr. Andrew Kippis he says, "What David Hume 
boasts in the panegyric on himself which he calls his life that his company 
was very acceptable to modest women was true of Sir John." Furthermore, as 
we know from the Edinburgh Directory for 1773-1774* Pringle took lodgings in 
James's Court, so that he could not really have meant that he wanted his ar- 
rangements kept sub rosa. BoswelTs records tell us nothing whatever about Sir 
John's household in London, but as a physician he would probably have needed 
a housekeeper, and he may have been so dependent on her that he took her with 
him when he made extended visits. He had been briefly and unhappily married, 
but had been a widower for almost twenty years. 

1 38 BoswelFs Life, May 1 7?2-March 1 773 

times applying yourself to those studies in which, you may remem- 
ber, he told me he believed you to be deficient. If you will comply with 
this hint from me at this time and any other which I shall find neces- 
sary for preparing matters for my interfering, be assured that I will 
exert myself to the utmost in this affair. The world will do your father 
the justice to think that when he exacted that deed from you, he did 
wisely and equitably for his family; but at what time the same deed is 
to be given up and you restored to what you call your birthright, may 
be a disputable point. You were several years in sowing your wild 
oats, and therefore, though there is all the appearance of your having 
exhausted that unprofitable grain, yet the same world will want to be 
sure, and perhaps demand a trial of you for as many years in the good 
husbandry as were employed in the bad. . . . 

"Remember me ... to my little rustic favourite, whom at my 
return to Edinburgh I shall expect to have made great progress in 
English manners. Let your next letter be dated from Auchinleck." 
PRINCLE, 19 September. 

And a few days later, Boswell received similar admonishment from 

* 4 Why not agree to such a settlement as your father desires? Your 
attachment to the family of Auchinleck is laudable, but you ought in 
the first place to consider yourself and Mrs. Boswell. It seems indeed 
the enthusiasm, or rather bigotry, of this passion, to sacrifice your own 
happiness and that of her you ought and profess to love more than 
yourself to a distant posterity who it is possible may have neither 
virtue or merit Comply with your father's request, and I dare say he 
will make a settlement on Mrs. Boswell and do everything else to 
make you easy. 

"I am sorry you did not go to Auchinleck. I would never appear to 
doubt of its being mine. The very apprehension in you may tempt to 
the reality in him. . . . Why imagine that lady ill-disposed towards 
you? Only both of you show her the respect and attention that is really 
due to her, and I dare say she will give you no reason for dissatisfac- 
tion. How could John be such a goose as to differ with her? "* 
'Boewell's "strange" brother, Lieutenant John, had recently had a rift with 
Lady Aurlrinlurl: and had returned to his former retreat with Dr. Wilson at 

BoswelVs Life, May i n^-March 1 773 ^ 139 

Subsequent letters from Pringle trace the continuation of Bos- 
well's trouble. 

"I should believe, dear Boswell, that you had quarrelled with me, 
considering the date of my last letter to you, an age ago, and to which 
you have never given an answer. The subject was finding you in the 
wrong and exhortation to act otherwise than you proposed to do at the 
time. On that condition, you know what I undertook to do for 
you. . . . 

"I add my compliments to your little charge." i December. 

"I have not forgotten my engagement. ... I mean I have writ- 
ten about that affair to your father and have received a favourable 
answer. ... I cannot however approve of your taking pet last au- 
tumn. . . . Remember in all cases of opposition, I shall be of the 
ministerial side; I mean on that of your father's, my oldest and best 
friend. You may inherit after him (if I should survive him) my first 
affections, but they cannot be alienated during his life. . . . 

"Love to little Campbell." 4 March 1 773. 

About the time when Boswell "took pet" with his father, or early 
in August 1 772, he began once more to keep a brief Journal. One early 
page, now partially destroyed by damp, seems to preserve a fragment 
of an entry (11 August) concerning that disagreeable incident. "(He 
offered to take) me west I told him that in the way I was in, I could 
not think of it. Parted having the advantage of him." 

The Journal runs nearly to the end of January in the next year, 
giving us crowded hints of conviviality and business during an au- 
tumn recess and a winter session. Early in the autumn Thomas Pen- 
nant the traveller, topographer, and antiquary passed through Edin- 
burgh, and Boswell had tea with this "neat little man." Somewhat 
later, Bennet Langton, the Lincolnshire squire and friend of Johnson's 
with whom Boswell had renewed his acquaintance in London the 
previous April, arrived with his wife, Lady Rothes, and they stayed 
in town until mid-December. On twenty-one days BoswelTs Journal 
refers to engagements with Langton. He visited Auchinleck. Two 
other visitors to Edinburgh, during the first half of November, were 
BoswelTs London acquaintances the South-Sea explorers and natu- 

140 BoswelFs Life, May t fix-March 1 773 

ralists Banks and Solander. When these empiricists came into contact 
with the learned and philosophic farmer and jurist Lord Monboddo, 
a notorious theorist about human kinship with the orang-outang, 
conversational results were worth a longer entry than usual. "Went 
with Dr. Solander and breakfasted with Monboddo, who listened with 
avidity to the Doctor's description of the New Hollanders, almost 
brutes but added with eagerness, 'Have they tails, Dr. Solander?* 
'No, my Lord, they have not tails.' "* 

Business was good. Boswell was now one of the examinators of the 
Faculty of Advocates. (On 27 November he examined the historian 
of Edinburgh, Hugo Arnot.) He records a week (Saturday 12 Decem- 
ber) in which he drew twenty-three guineas in fees two guineas 
more than in any week since he came to the bar. He had been a Mason 
since his nineteenth year, had in fact served as Junior Warden and 
Depute Master of Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, and he now for the 
first time begins to mention Masonic activities in his notes. At the 
same time the record is streaked with some darker themes. He was 
drinking more heavily, and he began to yield to a periodic appetite 
for nocturnal gaming. Ten entries during November, December, and 
January refer to whist. On 6 January he had a card table for "the first 
time" in his own house. 

He seems to have had, during the autumn, a first momentary re- 
lapse in the direction of his pre-marital promiscuity. Mrs. Boswell, 
after a slow recovery from her miscarriage of the previous winter, 
was pregnant once more. In a series of guarded phrases and cryptic 
symbols, Boswell confesses his malaise under the restraints now neces- 
sary (19-20 September), his resort, after "too much wine," appar- 
ently to a woman of the town (27 October), and later his "dire uneasi- 
ness," his "dreary fears" of the consequences. His "valuable n" knew 
all and made him send for the doctor. "She is my best friend, and the 
most generous heart" 

Monboddo "inquired for these long-tailed men of Banks and was not well 
pleased that they had not been found in all his peregrination" (Samuel Johnson 
to Mrs. Thrale, 25 August 1773). Monboddo had first announced his pre-Dar- 
winian ideas in his preface to An Account of a Savage Girl, 1768, translated 
under his supervision from the French of La Condamine. He returned to the 
theme in the first volume of The Origin and Progress of Language, published 

BoswelFs Life, May i jjz-March 1 773 141 

A minor document of the period, BoswelTs notes on his reading of 
a book by the seventeenth-century gentleman-philosopher Francis Os- 
borne, his Advice to a Son (1656), consists of page numbers and topi- 
cal headings in Boswell's own words (more revealing than the actual 
text) for passages which impressed him. Among others: "Buy a house 
rather than build," "Marriage and polygamy," "Want of children 
no evil." 

The return to London had perhaps done something if some- 
thing were needed to revive his passion for authorship. His 
"Sketch" of the poet Gray, with Temple's "character" of Gray, in The 
London Magazine for March 1772, had been followed in the April 
and May issues by "A Sketch of the Constitution of the Church of 
Scotland . . . with Specimens of the Oratory of Some of the Most 
Distinguished Members of that Church," the first instalment of 
which we have seen him writing on 17 April while in London. His 
first act upon arriving in Edinburgh on 18 May was to post back to 
Dilly "two sheets" for The London Magazine^ no doubt his second 
instalment. In June he followed these with an anonymous self- 
critique or "Sceptical Observations" upon a passage of his first instal- 
ment. He had promised Dilly a series of monthly essays for The Lon- 
don Magazine to be entitled "The Hypochondriack." But this effort 
was apparently too much for the present inspiration. During the au- 
tumn he made some abortive attempts to produce a first number, then 
postponed the scheme. 

Immediately after the rising of the Court of Session, he was almost 
daily in the Laigh Parliament House reading the old records of the 
Privy Council of Scotland and copying "curious passages" with a view 
towards publishing a volume of extracts. This pleasant labour was to 
continue during several years, but nothing would come of it. It gave 
Boswell a bad conscience ("Records. Uneasy to think that this was the 
only thing that I really minded at present") . His friend Temple, how- 
ever, wrote to him approvingly of the project and drew a contrast 
which reminds us of one sort of conflict which authorship might en- 
tail for the gentleman of that day: 

"I am glad to find you have thoughts of publishing again. Such a 
work as you propose cannot but be curious. . . . Age makes every 
event and every character venerable. . . . You know neither Mrs. 

1 4 2 BoswelVs Life, May i jit-March 1 773 

Boswell nor I ever liked your engaging in the magazine. Anything 
you write there will never be read by anybody but shopkeepers and 
farmers. Is it not surprising that the Baron of Auchinleck, the friend 
of Paoli, the author of the Account of Corsica, should be flattered with 
the admiration of hucksters and pedlars!" 

The country was suffering from a widespread financial depres- 
sion,* said to have been the worst since South-Sea days. There is no 
reason to believe that Boswell had any special knowledge of finance, 
but in November he felt moved to write and publish anonymously the 
first of the series of "characteristical pamphlets" in which from time 
to time he was to proffer advice to the nation. This was entitled Re- 
flections on the Late Alarming Bankruptcies in Scotland, The deplora- 
ble state of public affairs seemed to him to be somehow due to those 
features of contemporary Scottish life which generally annoyed and 
depressed him (and which occasioned perhaps some of his own most 
troublesome temptations). "For some years past there has been in 
Scotland an abominable spirit of levelling. . . . Ever since the seat 
of government has been removed from among us, we have been in- 
creasing in riches and barbarity. . . . Interest or amusement draw 
the greatest number of our people of fashion up to London. . . . 
There is no distinction of tables, as there is no distinction of ranks; all 
must have an equal number of dishes, all must have wines equally 
costly, as all think themselves equally gentlemen. . . . One great 
source of extravagance ... is the practice of extensive and indis- 
criniinate entertaining. . . . There is ... more hard drinking in 
Scotland tiban in any other country in Europe. , . . Every drawing- 
room is like a nunnery, and the ladies hardly see the gentlemen. . . . 
We are shamefully deficient in dress, which is the least hurtful mode 
of expense." Boswell concludes with the hope that the late bankrupt- 
cies may have at least the effect of "restoring just notions of subor- 
dination" and "frugality." He was himself very likely the author of 
the favourable review in The Edinburgh Advertiser for 20 November. 
Otherwise the pamphlet seems to have attracted no attention what- 

A letter written to Boswell by tiie actor-manager James Love from 
London on 19 November recommended a young visiting player to Bos- 
4 See above, p. 7771. 6. 

BoswelPs Life, May iffz-March 1773 143 

well's "protection" and made apologies for intruding. *The hurry of 
business and necessary attention to matters of higher moment no 
doubt sufficiently tend to obliterate the traces of your former less im- 
portant connexion. ... If you have not entirely sunk all theatrical 
matters in more elevated pursuits. ..." But the apprehension was 
by now perhaps ill-founded. 

BoswelTs relations with London seem scarcely interrupted during 
the year between his visit of 1772 and that which all along he must 
have been planning for the very next spring. Letters from Percy and 
Johnson 5 at the end of August gave him the inspiration for one to 
Garrick a composition at once facetious and informative which 
deserves to be inserted here in its entirety. 

[Boswell to David Garrick] 

Edinburgh, 10 September 1772 

DEAR SIR, Let me in the first place thank you for the obliging 
care which you took before I left London to have my head externally 
improved by the addition of a handsome wig made by your own op- 
erator. Mr. Gast acquitted himself to admiration. The wig which you 
bespoke for me arrived in good time and, if I may play on words, has 
made me look the reverse of aghast, giving me indeed an air much 
superior to what any other wig did, even those which I had from the 
celebrated Courtier. 6 1 have not failed to do justice to Mr. Gast and at 
the same time have vaunted my being equipped by Mr. Garrick's wig- 
maker. This having given occasion to some pleasantry in divining for 
what character my wig was fashioned, my friend Captain Erskine ob- 
served, "To be sure for Benedict the married man" My wife, how- 
ever, cannot be reconciled to my wearing a wig, let it be ever so well 
made. I know not why it is, but women in general do not like wigs. 
Did every man's strength lie in his hair as Samson's did, the motive 
would be obvious and natural. 

I have delayed writing to you till I should have it in my power to 
comply with your desire of having a copy of the catalogue of Mr. 
Samuel Johnson's writings drawn up by Dr. Percy. As the catalogue 

5 "Poor Hastie, I thinV, had but his deserts." 
8 This allusion remains obscure. 

144 Boswelfs Life, May i j^t-March 1 773 

was communicated to me by Percy as a favour, I could not give a copy 
of it without his permission. This I asked by a letter to him before I 
left London; but I did not get his answer till the other day. He how- 
ever freely consents to my letting you have a copy of the catalogue. 
He even says that as I contributed to its formation, I have all the right 
of an author over it. I therefore now send you a copy, and I beg that 
you may be good enough to give me any additions that you know. I 
can mention two: the epigram on Gibber's Birthday Odes, "Great 
George's praise let tuneful Gibber sing," and the original epitaph on 
Qaudy Phillips which gave occasion to Mr. Johnson's fine one which 
I heard you repeat at the Archbishop of York's, and which I find is 
published in Mrs. Williams's Miscellanies. I wish to have the original 
one as a foil and to show how poor a hint was the occasion of a very 
bright sally which was in a manner extempore as Mr. Johnson and 
you sat at breakfast: "Davy, I can make a better." 

I know you will give me your kind assistance in collecting every- 
thing that may be had with regard to your old preceptor, of whom 
you always entertain a high idea, notwithstanding the hiatus valde 
deflendits* in the Preface to his Shakespeare, for which I have often 
sincerely felt If I survive Mr. Johnson, I shall publish a Life of him, 
for which I have a store of materials. I can with pleasure record many 
of his expressions to your honour; and I think I can explain with truth, 
and at the same time with delicacy, the coldness with which he has 
treated your public merit. 8 I had a letter from him a few days ago, 
informing me that he cannot come to Scotland this autumn; but he 
7 Omission greatly to be regretted. 

Boswell and others thought that Carriers signal services in reviving Shake- 
speare on the stage and in bringing Shakespeare's own texts back into acting 
use deserved some mention in an historical introduction to Shakespeare such as 
Johnson's Preface. Johnson's defence (Life, 19 October 1769) had been couched 
in somewhat splenetic language: that Garrick was admirable only as an actor, 
** *a poor player, who frets and struts his hour upon the stage' ... a shadow." 
Later, in the Hebrides (23 September 1773), Johnson was to assert that Garrick 
had "been liberally paid for mouthing Shakespeare"; that he had "not made 
Shakespeare better known." The reader will remember that during the previous 
spring in London (above, 15 April 1772) Boswell had discussed with both Gar- 
rick and Johnson the even more delicate subject of Johnson's covert rebuke of 
Garrick for not being more forward in lending him his old editions of Shake- 
speare for collation. 

BoswelFs Life, May 1 772-March 1 773 145 

says, "I refer my hopes to another year; for I am very sincere in my 
design to pay the visit and take the ramble," 

I send you a catalogue of books on sale here just now. Whatever 
other catalogues come out shall be sent to you; and I shall be happy 
to execute any commissions which you may have. 

I had a letter the other day from Mr. Mickle. His tragedy in its 
improved state is I understand now with you. I heartily wish that it 
may be accepted. 9 

I offer my best compliments to Mrs. Garrick, and I ever am with 
sincere regard, dear Sir, your obliged friend and humble servant. 


A letter from Boswell to the moral philosopher and poet James 
Beattie written at the end of October encourages Beattie to continue 
his Spenserian narrative poem The Minstrel, transmits some words 
of praise which Johnson had sent concerning Beattie's Essay on Truth, 
and concludes with a long essay paragraph arguing against the Ho- 
ratian thesis that middling poetry ought not to be tolerated (medio- 
cribus esse poetis) . Garrick replied to Boswell about the list of John- 
son's writings in November, and on Christmas day Boswell celebrated 
by writing letters to both of the London celebrities. To Johnson: "I 
communicated to Beattie what you said of his book." Beattie had 
been delighted and would find "a perpetual source of pleasure" in 
recollecting Johnson's "paternal attentions." To Garrick: "Your kind 
attention to me from the first hour of our acquaintance has been re- 
markable. I am much flattered by it and always retain a warm grati- 
tude." Johnson's "noble" Drury Lane Prologue had been omitted from 
the list sent to Garrick simply by a mistake in transcription. "It is a 
chef d'ceuvre and does great honour to our illustrious friend. When 
we meet, I shall without ceremony trouble you to give me all of him 
that I want." 

A notable event in the life of Edinburgh during January 1 773 was 
a masquerade given by BoswelTs "cousin," the beautiful Lady Mac- 
donald. In the Edinburgh and London newspaper accounts, which 
seem to have their source with BoswelL, the affair is celebrated as the 
first of its kind ever given in Scotland. It seems to have been quite in- 

9 It never was. See above, p. 1247:. i. 

146 BoswelFs Life, May i jjz-March 1 773 

sipid. BosweU himself attended as a dumb conjuror. "It was regretted 

that this facetious gentleman's talents were locked up in dumb show." 

FRIDAY 15 JANUARY. Digges obligingly called to settle with me 
about going to Lady Macdonald's masquerade. I was so ill I had great 
reluctance to go, but was afraid of offending her Ladyship. I went to 
the theatre at six. Digges and Yates assisted me to dress. Digges and I 
went together. It did pretty well. I came off early. 

Samuel Johnson, who apparently read about the masquerade in 
The Gentleman's Magazine, made it the occasion of a pleasantly cool 
and philosophic reprimand in his next letter. 

"I have Jieard of your masquerade. What says your synod to such 
innovations? I am not studiously scrupulous, nor do I think a masquer- 
ade either evil in itself or very likely to be the occasion of evil; yet as 
the world thinks it a very licentious relaxation of manners, I would 
not have been one of the first masquers in a country where no mas- 
querade had ever been before." 

Certain events of this winter curiously illustrate how BoswelTs 
professional, and sometimes more than professional, interest in crim- 
inal trials could alternate rapidly with other kinds of excitement. In 
January occurred the notable trial of Alexander Murdison, a farmer 
of Peeblesshire, and John Miller his shepherd, for stealing sheep and 
reselling them with new markings. This gruelling trial continued 
steadily from eight in the morning of Friday 8 January throughout 
that day and night and all day Saturday until eleven at night. The 
jury sat until five on Sunday morning and returned its verdict of guilty 
on Monday. Boswell himself was not involved as counsel, but some 
of his close friends were Alexander Lockhart, for instance, being so 
exhausted on Saturday evening that he was unable to speak for Murdi- 
son. Boswell's brief Journal for Friday seems to insert between refer- 
ences to the trial a confession of some kind of adventure apparently 
one more lapse of the kind we have already alluded to for the previous 

PBIDAY 8 JANUARY. . . . Dined. It was a jolly meeting of 
friends; but I drank too much and was greatly heated. We played a 
rubber at whist . . I had been in the morning for a little at the trial 

BoswelPs Life, May 1 7j2-March 1 773 147 

of Murdison and Miller for sheep-stealing. I went out to go again to it 
for a little. In my way complete for the first and I fancy last 
time. Trial a few minutes. Home. . . . 

SATURDAY 9 JANUARY. Went to trial at ten o'clock. Jury, coun- 
sel etc. (li)ke ghosts like Priam's judges. 10 Dined home. Evening 
heard Crosbie charge jury with manly ability for Murdison, Rae with 
fluency for Miller, but he was worn out. 

Eight days later Boswell sent for his surgeon, Mr. Wood, and after 
another six days was "still much indisposed." "My wife's kind atten- 
tion about me wonderful." 

About the middle of March, in three of the busiest and most dis- 
tracted days of his life, Boswell appeared as counsel for the defence in 
two of the trials resulting from the alarming "meal riots" that had 
broken out in Perth and Dundee in the previous December and Janu- 

The cost of oat and barley meal (the staple of life for all but the 
well-to-do in Scotland) was at this time being artificially sustained by 
export bounties and the control of imports. As a result, the numerous 
and growing class of artisans, who had no stake in agriculture and 
no influence in politics, rose in mobs to punish and intimidate export- 
ers and either to destroy stores accumulated to be sent out of the coun- 
try or to force sale on a free market. The local authorities were over- 
whelmed, the military was called out, and country gentlemen had to 
organize their tenants and labourers in self-defence. Public feeling 
among the agricultural interest was violent against the rioters. 

The first of the trials in which Boswell appeared was that of Rich- 
ard Robertson, a sailor from Dundee, who was indicted, along with 
five others who had absconded, for joining mobs that carried off grain 
from a warehouse and a vessel and pillaged the houses of merchants 
in West Muir of Fintry and at Mylnefield. This trial was set for eight 
in the morning of Monday 15 March. Some time in the previous eve- 
ning Mrs. BoswelTs labour pains began and her doctor was sent for. 
The pains continued all night, but in the morning the birth did not 
seem imminent. Boswell went to Court, probably after little or no 
sleep. As very little direct evidence could be adduced, the prosecution 

10 The reading is uncertain and the meaning doubtful. 

148 BoswelFs Life, May i jj^-March i 773 

dropped all the charges against Robertson except that of his having 
joined in the riot at Mylnefield. Boswell got through addressing the 
jury and hurried home about four: "No hopes yet." He had to go at 
once to a consultation on the next trial, that of two men also from 
Dundee, Malcolm Cameron and Peter Tosh, which was set for next 
morning. "Between six and seven met Joseph safe. Home; fine lit- 
tle thing, etc." In such terse and indirect fashion did he record the 
event he had so long yearned for: the beginning of a family of his own. 
Robertson's jury found unanimously that it was proven that he had 
engaged in the riot at Mylnefield, but that it was not proven that he 
had had any hand in destroying house or furniture. 

On the next day, in the defence of Cameron and Tosh, Boswell en- 
joyed a complete victory. These two men were accused of having been 
in a mob that broke into, pillaged, and generally demolished the house 
of a grain-exporter at Elcho. The prosecution admitted, however, that 
there was no proof that the accused had joined in any of the acts of 
violence committed by the mob. Boswell and his colleague Alexander 
Lockhart spoke at the conclusion of the evidence. The jury next morn- 
ing brought in a unanimous verdict of not guilty. 

But on that same day, Wednesday, Boswell remained in court to 
plead the "import" of the equivocal verdict delivered Monday against 
Robertson. The prosecution having granted that a capital sentence was 
impossible, but having asked the judges to impose "the next highest 
punishment which their Lordships could inflict," Boswell demanded 
a dismissal on the ground that since the jury had not found the accused 
engaged in the riot in a criminal manner, and had not specified the 
extent of his being engaged, "the fair and natural presumption" was 
that he had joined it actually in order to be of service to the merchant 
at Mylnefield whose house had been attacked for instance, by giv- 
ing him "timely notice of their approach" or by directing them in 
such a way as to prevent mischief. "The counsel enforced his argu- 
ment by ingeniously observing that their Lordships had the day be- 
fore two instances before them of persons being [thus] laudably en- 
gaged in mobs." The Lords, after an adjournment to think things over, 
came back, expressed their horror of "the licentious practice of mob- 
bing" and unanimously sentenced Robertson to transportation for 
life, the first seven years of his service to go to the contractor for trans- 
porting felons. 

BoswelVs Life, May iffi-March 1773 149 

"Upon sentence being passed, the panel made a short speech in- 
forming the Court that he had a wife and children whose subsistence 
depended entirely on him, that though he did not acknowledge him- 
self guilty of any crime, yet he was willing to undergo whatever pun- 
ishment the Court should inflict upon him, however severe, if they 
would allow him to remain at home with his family; and concluded 
by saying that if they did not change his sentence from perpetual 
banishment, he would much rather be hanged than submit to it," 1 

Though Boswell's plea concerning the reason for Robertson's pres- 
ence in the mob was probably more ingenious than plausible, the case 
was clearly one of hardship. Everybody knew that scores of people had 
been engaged in the riots, that the ringleaders had evaded arrest or 
had escaped from custody, and that only a handful of wretched people 
on the fringes had been swept up and put to the bar. Most of the wit- 
nesses against Robertson showed great reluctance to testify, and one 
of them was on the following day committed to the Tolbooth "for one 
month for having been guilty of prevarication upon oath and refusing 
to answer necessary interrogatories put him by the Court." The trial 
was fully reported in The Caledonian Mercury for 1 7 March, proba- 
bly by Boswell himself. That evening at six his new-born daughter 
was baptized, receiving the name of her great-great-grandmother, 
Veronica van Aerssen van Sommelsdyck, Countess of Kincardine. 

Murdison and Miller, the sheep-stealers, had appealed against 
their sentence to the House of Lords, but a Committee of the Lords had 
ruled that the House of Lords was not competent to receive appeals 
from the Court of Justiciary. On Saturday 20 March Boswell went to 
the prison and "heard Murdison pray." On 24 March Murdison, 
Miller, and a housebreaker named John Watson were hanged in the 
Grassmarket. BosweU's note reads, "The execution of three criminals. 
Effect diminished as each went." 

Boswell's friendly advisers were voluble on the subject of his 

"I did not much mind the sex at this time, the great point being 
the mother's going out her full reckoning and bringing into the world 
a healthful infant: c'est nequele premier pas qu'y coitte* Providence, 

1 Scots Magazine xxxv (June 1773)- 33* 

2 The first step is the hardest 

1 50 BoswelFs Life, May i f^-March 1 773 

it seems, wants to deal out its blessings to you little by little, finding it 
not convenient for you to make you too happy at once. . . . You have 
reason to believe that considering how well Mrs. Boswell has per- 
formed her part this time, you will have sons in plenty, and possibly 
anxiety enough about disposing of them. I should flatter myself that 
this circumstance of your becoming a father yourself will incline you 
more and more to give such attentions to the person who gave you 
being as perfectly to reconcile him to you, if anything then be yet 
wanting. I should imagine that upon an event (which must co*me, but 
which you piously wish may happen late) you'll find nothing to re- 
volt you, but on the contrary everything consistent with the character 
of an indulgent as well as a prudent parent . . . 

"Remember me ... affectionately to Jeanie and tell her that I 
am much flattered with her constancy and the preference she gives 
me to such a person as the Baron."* PRINGLE, 25 March. 

Veronica, we trust, is but an earnest of many more of each sex, 
and that the race of Boswell is now to diffuse itself in wide and various 
branches. The event must be highly pleasing both to my Lord and 
Lady and will naturally be the means of removing all reserves and 
coldnesses. It was very well judged to baptize her according to the rites 
of the Church of Scotland. 

"I am already dead; I am buried alive." TEMPLE, 30 March. 

On the first of March Boswell had written to Percy in London: 
"My wife is to lie in this month. If it shall please GOD to grant her a 
good recovery, I intend being in London by the first of April, when I 
shall have the pleasure of meeting you." The most exciting business 
of the season in London waiting BoswelTs arrival was Goldsmith's 
play She Stoops to Conquer. In his February letter containing the re- 
buke on the masquerade, Johnson had also written this pregnant 
proto-criticism of the play: "Dr. Goldsmith has a new comedy, which 
is expected in the spring. No name is yet given it. The chief diversion 
arises from a stratagem by which a lover is made to mistake his future 

* Possibly a jocular reference to Boswell himself (see above, p. 142). If the title 
is meant literally, the person is probably Robert Ord, Chief Baron of the Ex- 
chequer, whom Boswell, in The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, praises for 
splendid hospitality. 

BoswelPs Life, May iffi-March 1773 151 

father-in-law's house for an inn. This, you see, borders upon farce. 
The dialogue is quick and gay, and the incidents are so prepared as 
not to seem improbable." 

On the day before his departure for London Boswell wrote no 
fewer than eleven letters, his general purpose being to announce the 
birth of his daughter. Two of the letters combine the announcement 
with a reference to She Stoops to Conquer, an obvious association be- 
cause the play had opened on the same evening as that on which 
Veronica was born. To Garrick he wrote: "Your prologue to She 
Stoops to Conquer is admirable. ... I hope to be with you for some 
time this spring." Boswell was not in the least uncertain as to when he 
was going to be in London; he had booked a place in the Newcastle 
fly for three o'clock the next morning and would arrive on the heels 
of his letter. But if he said so, Garrick would not write an answer, and 
an opportunity for securing a fine item for the archives at Auchinleck 
would be wasted. His letter to Goldsmith employs the same innocently 
unscrupulous tactics, and is in other respects one of the most success- 
fully artificial that he ever wrote. He warms Goldsmith up by giving 
him back a flattering reflection of his own ideas and style. More than 
a decade earlier Goldsmith had declared war on the prevailing senti- 
mental mode in English comedy, attacking it in The Present State of 
Polite Learning (1759) and in the preface of his first comedy, The 
Good Natured Man ( 1 768) . Up to 15 March 1 773 the battle had gone 
against him. The Good Natured Man, produced by Colman, had been 
dubiously successful, while Hugh Kelly's False Delicacy, a sentimen- 
tal comedy produced simultaneously by Garrick, had been a smash 
hit. Colman had been most reluctant to proceed with She Stoops to 
Conquer, and Johnson had had to use "a kind of force" to get him to 
put it into production. While the manager was vacillating, Goldsmith 
published in The Westminster Magazine (December 1 772) An Essay 
on the Theatre, or a Comparison between Laughing and Sentimental 
Comedy. "Humour," he said, "at present seems to be departing from 
the stage, and it will soon happen that our comic players will have 
nothing left for it but a fine coat and a song. It depends upon the audi- 
ence whether they will actually drive those poor merry creatures 
from the stage, or sit at a play as gloomy as at [Whitefield's] Taber- 
nacle." Boswell plays variations on the theme. 

1 53 BosweWs Life, May 1 772-March 1 773 

[Boswell to Oliver Goldsmith] 

Edinburgh, 29 March 1773 

DEAR SIR, I sincerely wish you joy on the great success of your 
new comedy, She Stoops to Conquer, or The Mistakes of a Night. The 
English nation was just falling into a lethargy. Their blood was thick- 
ened and their minds creamed and mantled like a standing pool;* and 
no wonder when their comedies which should enliven them, like 
sparkling champagne, were become mere syrup of poppies, gentle 
soporific draughts. Had there been no interruption to this, our audi- 
ences must have gone to the theatres with their nightcaps. In the opera 
houses abroad, the boxes are fitted up for tea-drinking. Those at Drury 
Lane and Covent Garden must have been furnished with settees and 
commodiously adjusted for repose. I am happy to hear that you have 
waked the spirit of mirth which has so long lain dormant, and revived 
natural humour and hearty laughter. 5 It gives me pleasure that our 
friend Garrick has written the prologue for you. It is at least lending 
you a postilion, since you have not his coach; and I think it is a very 
good one, admirably adapted both to the subject and to the author of 
the comedy. 

You must know my wife was safely delivered of a daughter, the 
very evening that She Stoops to Conquer first appeared. I am fond of 
the coincidence. My little daughter is a fine, healthy, lively child and, 
I flatter myself, shall be blessed with the cheerfulness of your comic 
muse. She has nothing of that wretched whining and crying which 
we see children so often have; nothing of the comedie larmoyante. I 
hope she shall live to be an agreeable companion and to diffuse gaiety 
over the days of her father, which are sometimes a little cloudy. 

I intend being in London this spring and promise myself great 
satisfaction in sharing your social hours. In the mean time, I beg the 
favour of hearing from you. I am sure you have not a warmer friend or 
a steadier admirer. While you are in the full glow of theatrical splen- 
dour, while all the great and the gay in the British metropolis are 

4 Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, I. i. 89. 

* This anticipates Johnson's famous remark on the play (29 April 1773) : "I know 
of no comedy tor many years that has so much exhilarated an audience, that 
has answered so much the great end of comedy, making an audience merry." 

BoswelVs Life, May \rji-March 1 773 153 

literally hanging upon your smiles^ let me see that you can stoop to 
write to me. I ever am with great regard, dear Sir, your affectionate 
humble servant, 


[Written on wrapper] Pray write directly. Write as if in repartee. 
My address is James's Court, Edinburgh. 

The stratagem failed with Garrick but succeeded with Goldsmith, 
perhaps even beyond BoswelTs expectations. Goldsmith, a man who 
grudged any writing that he was not paid for, did write "directly . . . 
as if in repartee," producing one of the best of the few letters that sur- 
vive from his pen. This was the first document which Colonel Isham 
acquired from BoswelTs great-great-grandson Lord Talbot de Mala- 
hide in 1926, thus initiating the recovery of the "archives." One won- 
ders whether Goldsmith would have been amused or vexed if he could 
have known that a century and a half later a letter of his would fetch 
a sum about equal to his total stage earnings from She Stoops to 
Conquer. Presumably the letter went to Edinburgh and was sent back 
to London, where Boswell received it a week after he and Goldsmith 
had met 

[Received 14 April, Goldsmith to Boswell] 

London, Temple, 4 April 1 773 

MY DEAR SIR, I thank you for your kind remembrance of me, 
for your most agreeable letter, and for your congratulation. I believe 
I always told you that success upon the stage was great cry and little 
wool. It has kept me in hot water these three months, and in about five 
weeks hence I suppose I shall get my three benefits. I promise you, 
my dear Sir, that the stage earning is the dirtiest money that ever a 
poor poet put in his pocket, and if my mind does not very much alter, 
I have done with the stage. 

It gives me pleasure to hear that you have increased your family, 
and I make no doubt the little stranger will one day or other, as you 
hint, become a CONQUEROR. When I see you in town, and I shall take 
care to let Johnson, Garrick, and Reynolds know of the expected hap- 
piness, I will then tell you long stories about my struggles and escapes, 
for as all of you are safely retired from the shock of criticism to enjoy 

154 BoswelPs Life, May 1 7?2-March 1 773 

much better comforts in a domestic life, I am still left the only poet 
militant here, and in truth I am very likely to be militant till I die, nor 
have I even the prospect of an hospital to retire to. 

I have been three days ago most horridly abused in a newspaper, 
so like a fool as I was I went and thrashed the editor.* I could not help 
it. He is going to take the law of me. However, the press is now so 
scandalously abusive that I believe he will scarcely get damages. I 
don't care how it is, come up to town, and we shall laugh it off whether 
it goes for or against me. I am, dear Sir, your most affectionate humble 


P.S. Present my most humble respects to Mrs. Boswell. 

On the morning of 30 March Boswell set out on his six-weeks' jaunt 
to London. Once more he marked his departure by the commence- 
ment of a fully written Journal. 

An author signing himself "Tom Tickle," generally thought to be Kenrick (see 
above, p. 92), had written in The London Packet a grossly insulting letter 
comparing Goldsmith to an orang-outang and sneering at his affection for Mary 
Homeck, "the Jessamy bride," the "very pretty girl" whom Boswell had met 
at the Pantheon the previous year (above, p. 89). See also p. 158/1. 6 below. 

ournal in 


TUESDAY 30 MARCH. Being to set out very early for London in 
the Newcastle fly, my clerk, Mr. Lawrie, 1 had sat up all night in the 
dining-room to be ready to call me at three in the morning, which he 
did, and made tea for me. He is a sober, diligent, attentive lad, very 
serviceable to me and I believe very sensible of my kindness to him. 
He goes to church regularly, which is rare in this loose age amongst 
young men of his profession. I had felt a kind of dreary reluctance the 
night before when I looked forward to the fatigues of my journey, 
especially the little sleep which one is allowed when travelling by the 
fly. But the agreeable prospect of being in London, which includes so 
many interesting and favourite objects, prevailed over the mists of 
apprehension; though I had still the awful thought that I might never 
return to Scotland and meet my dearest wife. Either of us might die 
during our separation. This thought, when it presses strongly upon 
the rrnn^ is terrible. It is enough to make one never separate from a 
valuable spouse. Yet how weak would it be to be so influenced. I can- 
not explain how the mind takes different degrees of firmness and 
vigour at different times. I walked down the High Street of Edin- 
burgh, which has a grand appearance in the silence and dusky light 
of three in the morning, and felt myself like an officer in a campaign. 
When the fly had rumbled me a mile or two, rational and manly sen- 
sations took the place of tender and timid feebleness. I considered that 
I had left my wife and little daughter well. That I was going to Lon- 
don, whither so many Members of Parliament, lawyers, merchants, 
and others go and return in safety to their families. I saw nothing 
dangerous, nothing melancholy. I had taken leave of my wife last 
night, which had affected my spirits a good deal She is of an anxious 

1 See below, p. 273. 


1 56 Edinburgh, 30 March 1 773 

temper at all times; but being not yet fully recovered from child- 
birth, she was more anxious than usual. Luckily she did not wake 
when I set out this morning, so that we had not a second farewell 


The company with me in the coach were my brother John, who 
was going to Newcastle, an English buck who I suppose was a rider, 2 
and a Scotchwoman who I suppose was a servant-maid. The buck said, 
"I have to go on horseback to Duns; and I am a Dunce for my pains"; 
upon which the Scotchwoman observed, "The Lads o' Duns is a bonny 
spring." 1 He and she went no farther than Kelso. John and I dined at 
Wooler. We had the coach to ourselves till we had passed that stage a 

good way, and then were joined by Mr. , steward to Lord Tanker- 

ville. At Newcastle we had Dr. Wilson 4 to sup with us; and after 

supper Mr. , who was to go on so far in the London fly next day, 

drank a glass with us. John and I had not exchanged many words. 
He is of a most unlucky frame. 

WEDNESDAY 3 1 MARCH. I left John sound asleep in another bed 
in the room where I lay. He had not so much as bid me farewell. He 
has bad health, which, I take it, produces that sullen pride and un- 
social obstinacy which he has. I find it in vain to try to have the com- 
fort of a brother or a companion from him. I shall study to make him 
easy, but will not submit to take the load of him upon myself. It is 
difficult to describe how very heavy his disagreeable behaviour is to 
those with whom he lives. He is incapable of being pleased by them. 
Never was there a greater difference between human beings than be- 
tween him and my brother David and me. Mr talked to me of 

the advantage of large farms: how easy it was for a steward to receive 
rents from men always able to pay; how they could make land pro- 
duce much more than tenants could do who had but small stocks; and 
how tenants with small stocks were always unhappy, and were much 
better as servants to great farmers. He left me at Darlington. From 
thence I travelled alone to Wetherby, where the fly put up that night. 

1 A commercial traveller. 

* A "spring** is a lively dance-tune. The rider's pun was better than most: a 

dunce was originally a Duns man, a follower of John Duns Scotus, who took his 

name from the place of his birth, 

4 In whose care John was to stay. 

Wetherby, i April 1 773 157 

THURSD/ sr i APRIL. I travelled alone all this day, except for 
about half a stage when I had for my companion the chambermaid of 
the inn at Tuxf ord, who was returning home from a visit to her rela- 
tions, and about the third of a stage when I had a good gentlewoman 
who was going to Newark. I remember the time when my mind was 
in such a state of fermentation that whenever the lid put upon it by 
the restraint of company was removed, it was like to boil over, or 
rather, to use a better metaphor, when not stirred by company but 
left to stagnate in solitude, it soon turned upon the fret. But now it has 
wrought itself into such a sound state that it will keep for a long time. 
The satisfaction which I feel from the comparison of my present with 
my former self is immense; though I must own that during my fer- 
mentation there were grand ebullitions and bright sparkles which I 
can no longer perceive. I came at night to Grantham. One Anderson, a 
Scotch tailor, had just married the widow of H. Crabtree, who kept 
the Angel Inn and who left her all he had. It seems she was a Scotch- 
woman, and had been first of all married to a tailor; so, when on a 
visit to her relations at Edinburgh, she had resumed in one sense her 
first love. 

FRIDAY 2 APRIL. There came into the fly this morning Mr , 

who had been a strolling player, and Master , a young gentleman 

at Grantham School, who was going to London to see his father and 
mother during the holidays. The former soon opened, told me he had 
been bred a coach-painter in Long Acre, London. But having always 
a violent inclination for the stage, he went upon it, as he said, with 
design to be cured of his fondness for it. He had now given it up, and 
was to settle in business as a grocer. He lived near Biggleswade, and 
told me that he had many Roman coins found in that neighbourhood. 
He promised to send me some to Donaldson's shop in London. He went 
out at Biggleswade. The young scholar was very silent. It was dis- 
agreeable going from Barnet to London at that time of the evening 
when robberies are committed. However, we got safe to our inn in 
Holborn; and I do maintain that for a man in good health who just 
wants to be conveyed from Edinburgh to London, the fly is an excel- 
lent method; better than going with a companion in a post-chaise such 
as chance supplies. 

I got a hackney-coach and drove to Mr. Billy's, where I always 

1 58 London, 2 April 1 773 

land in London and take up my residence till I have looked out for 
lodgings to my mind, I found here Herries the orator 5 and his wife, 
and Dr. Wharton, rector of Bridgetown, Barbados, and his lady: a kind 
of a bishop of the island. I supped comfortably, and went to bed, quite 
at home. 

SATUKDAY3 APRIL. Luckily my servant Joseph, who had gone 
from Leith by sea, arrived this very morning. After breakfast I took 
him along with me till I should fix on lodgings. I went immediately 
to General Paoli's, who now lived in Jermyn Street, St. James's. He 
received me with open arms as usual, and asked me to dine with him 
this day and every other day when I was not otherwise engaged. I 
tried to get lodgings in the same street with him; but I make it a rule 
never to give more than a guinea a week, and could find no good ones 
there at that price. I went to the next nearest street to him, Piccadilly, 
and got a very pleasant apartment at the milliner's opposite Mel- 
bourne House. I dined at Paoli's after having sauntered about all fore- 
noon, I know not how. I am writing this Journal on the 20 April from 
memory; so it must be very imperfect. 

I shall make a transition to Mr. Samuel Johnson's, where I went 
between ten and eleven at night He was not come home. I found 
Frank, his black, my old acquaintance, who showed me into Mrs. 
Williams's room. I am a favourite with Mrs. Williams. I read to her 
from The London Chronicle Dr. Goldsmith's apology for beating 
Evans the publisher,* I thought when I saw the story in the news- 
papers that it had been an invention, like Pope's stories of Curll, but 
on my coming to town I found it to be very true; and I was diverted 
to find my friend Dilly so keen on the side of the publisher, not only 
maintaining that Goldsmith had been guilty of a great outrage and 
ought to be punished by criminal justice, but believing that Evans 

* Rev. John Herries, MA. (d. 1781), author of The Elements of Speech, 1773. 

A military friend of Goldsmith's having stirred him up to "resent" the libellous 
letter in The London Packet (above, p. 154), Goldsmith went to the shop of the 
publisher of the paper, Thomas Evans, and struck him with his cane. A scuffle 
ensued, and the combatants were separated by Kenrick, the editor and probably 
the author of the libel The newspapers, after their wont, shrieked at Goldsmith 
for infringement of the freedom of the press. His "apology" was a dignified and 
manly reply to this criticism. He finally compromised Evans's action for assault 
by paying 50 to a Welsh charity. 

London, 3 April 1 773 159 

had beat him black and blue. Goldsmith's apology was written so 
much in Mr. Johnson's manner that both Mrs. Williams and I sup- 
posed it to be his. When Mr. Johnson came home he embraced me 
with sincere cordiality, saying, "I'm glad you're come." He said to 
Mrs. Williams, "Dr. Goldsmith's manifesto has got into your paper," 
meaning The London Chronicle. I asked him if Goldsmith writ it, 
with an air that made him see I suspected he had done it. "Sir," said 
he, "Dr. Goldsmith would no more have asked me to write such a 
thing as that for him than he'd have asked me to feed him with a 
spoon, or to do anything else that argued his imbecility. I as much be- 
lieve that he wrote that as if I had seen him do it. Sir, had he shown 
it to any one friend, he would not have been allowed to publish it. He 
has indeed done it well; but 'tis a foolish thing well done. I suppose 
he has been so much elated with the success of his new comedy that 
he has thought everything that concerned him of importance to the 
public." I said, "I suppose, Sir, this is the first time that he has been 
engaged in such an adventure." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, I believe it is 
the first time he has beat He may have been beaten before. No, Sir, 
'tis a new plume to him." 

I mentioned Sir John Dalrymple's Memoirs and his discoveries 
against Russell and Sidney. 7 JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, everybody who had 
just notions of government thought them rascals before. It is well that 
all see them to be so." BOSWELL. "But I can imagine all that is said of 
them to be true without their being rascals." JOHNSON. "Sir, will you 
consider, would any of them [have] had it known that they intrigued 
with France? Depend upon it, Sir, he who does what he is afraid 
should be known has something rotten about him. This Dalrymple 
seems to be an honest fellow, for he tells equally what maltes against 
both sides. But nothing can be poorer than his writing; 'tis the mere 
bouncing of a schoolboy: 'Great he, but greater she,* and such stuff."* 
We drank tea and sat till near one in the morning. 

7 See above, p. 115. Dalrymple's Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland drew on 
unpublished documents in the Depot des Affaires Etrangeres at Versailles to 
argue that Algernon Sidney and Lord Russell, champions of the popular party 
against Charles II and both executed after the Rye House Plot of 1683, had been 
acting under French influence. 

8 "He great in this last act of his life, but she greater" (Dalrymple's description 
of the parting of Lord and Lady Russell). Johnson returned to the burlesque of 
Dalrymple's style on a later occasion (Hebrides, 20 November 1773). 

i go London, 4 April 1 773 

SUNDAY 4 APRIL. I drank chocolate at General Paoli's; then 
found Sir John Pringle, whom I had missed yesterday; by the by, I 
found Dempster yesterday, quite in spirits. I found Sir Walter Mont- 
gomerie-Cuninghame. 9 Time passed till it was too late for church. 
I dined at my worthy kinsman's, Mr. Bosville's. Sandy MacLeod, who 
was out in the year 1745 but has been allowed to come home, was 
there. I had never been in company with him before. I met Captain 
Bosville, whom I had not seen for several years, as he had been 
travelling. He still had no aptitude to speak. When I came home I 
found a kind card from the Hon. Mrs. Stuart, regretting that she had 
not seen me when I called in the morning and begging I might come 
as soon as I could. As she is my wife's most intimate friend, I went 
directly and drank tea with her and her husband. They now lived in 
Hanover Square. I came home at ten and went to bed early. I should 
have been at my Lord Mansfield's rout. But unluckily my servant had 
forgot to put up the breeches of my full-dress suit; so when I was 
going to dress, I found a deficiency that could not be supplied. When 
I told the story to Spottiswoode the solicitor, he laughed and said that 
I might have gone to wait on the Scotch Lord Chief Justice without 

MONDAY 5 APRIL. I know not how it is, but I am less anxious in 
being absent from my valuable spouse this year than I was last. 1 Per- 
haps her having a little daughter to amuse her makes the scene more 
lively to my imagination; but then ought I not to feel a double anxiety 
this year, when I am absent both from a wife and a child? In whatever 
way it is to be explained, I have mentioned the fact. Yet I am certain 
that I am as fond of my wife as I was last year; nor do I know that my 
mind is become more rational so as to throw off any vain fears that 
may arise, as sparks 2 of water are thrown from a grindstone. I wish I 
may continue as I am while absent from my family. 

* The oldest of the Lainshaw children, Mrs. BoswelTs nephew. He had succeeded 
his grandfather in 1770 in the baronetcy of Corsehill. 

1 During this jaunt Boswell sent letters to his wife on 30 and 31 March and 
thirteen times in April up to the twenty-second. On 24 April he entered in his 
Register of Letters: "and during the rest of the month many to my wife." He 
received four letters from her up to 17 April and on 28 April entered the note: 
"and during the rest of the month many from my wife." 

* U A spirt, jet; a small spot of dirt or liquid mud; a small quantity of liquid" 
(English Dialect Dictionary: a Scotticism). 

London, 5 April 1 773 161 

I breakfasted with Mr. Spottiswoode. The appeal concerning the 
estate of Linplum 3 was to come on before the House of Lords today; 
but as Dempster had told me that there was to be a grand debate in 
the House of Commons upon East India affairs and that Lord Clive 
was to pronounce an oration in defence of all his conduct, I chose to be 
there rather than in the House of Lords. I called on Mr. David Ken- 
nedy, and found him the same joker as formerly and nothing more. 
It struck me a little to think that the gentlemen of Ayrshire should 
be represented in Parliament by a good, honest, merry fellow indeed, 
but one so totally incapable of the business of legislation, and so de- 
void of the talents which distinguish a man in public life. 4 1 threw my- 
self into the humorous rattling style and plagued him with a new- 
invented dialogue between his brother, Lord Cassillis, and him when 
setting out for London. "My Lord, provisions are grown dearer, you 
must allow me a little more." "Davy, you have very well already." 
"But, my Lord, I have learnt to drink porter in London." '*Well, 
Davy, you shall have another 100." Kennedy took me into the House 
of Commons. Captain Robert Preston 5 came in. He and I and a Cap- 
tain Thomson in the India service sat together. Lord Clive did not 
open. 6 We had not the great boar, but we had exceeding good hare- 
hunting. I heard Dowdeswell, Jenkinson, Stanley, Dyson, Thurlow, 
Pulteney, Governor 7 Johnstone, and my friend Dempster speak. But I 
was also fortunate enough to hear Mr. Edmund Burke speak twice. It 
was a great feast to me who had never heard him before. It was aston- 
ishing how all kinds of figures of speech crowded upon him. He was 
like a man in an orchard where boughs loaded with fruit hung around 
hirn^ and he pulled apples as fast as he pleased and pelted the Min- 
istry. It seemed to me, however, that his oratory rather tended to 
distinguish himself than to assist his cause. There was amusement in- 

8 This cause, like some of those heard by Boswell during his London visit of 
1772, concerned a Scottish inheritance. 
* See above, p. 37 and below, p. 201. 

5 Boswell's cousin; third son then living of Sir George Preston of Valleyfield. 
He commanded the Asia in the East India Company's service. 

6 His speech, which Chatham thought one of the finest he had ever heard, was 
made on 3 May. On that day Boswell went to the House of Lords to hear a poor 
lieutenant in the Army, John Maclellan, establish his claim to the Kirkcud- 
bright peerage. 

7 Of West Florida, 1765. 

162 London, 5 April 1 773 

stead of persuasion. It was like the exhibition of a favourite actor. But 
I would have been exceedingly happy to be him. Lord North spoke 
a considerable time with calmness, perspicuity, and sufficient ele- 
gance. Speaking in Parliament appeared to me to be not very difficult 
If a man knows pretty well the subject of debate and has good animal 
spirits, he may make a very good appearance. Preston and Thomson 
and I went and dined together, or supped rather (as it was between 
eight and nine) at the Piazza Coffee-house. 

TUESDAY 6 APRIL. I breakfasted at Harry Davidson's, and after 
leaving cards at several doors, I went to the House of Lords and heard 
Forrester speak in the Idnplum cause. I never heard him before. I 
liked his manly manner, with something of that air of business as a 
lawyer which I have figured in my imagination, seldom see, and can- 
not describe. Lord Advocate also spoke, very tediously. I had heard 
Counsellor Bearcroft speak in a question about a bill of divorce before 
they began. 8 1 am now a kind of enthusiast in my profession and have 
great pleasure in observing different specimens of it. Lord Mansfield, 
though he affirmed the decree, made a speech on the cause, as it was a 
singular one, where it was argued that the meaning was different 
from the words. He observed that where there was any principle in a 
settlement, either that of justice or that of family, there was room to 
conjecture a man's meaning from circumstances; but in a settlement 
made from whim only, how could meaning be conjectured? and 
therefore he must take the words simply. I relished highly hearing 
him again; that full, easy, and choice expression of which he is pos- 
sessed is truly admirable. I met here my cousin Claud, who was now 
in London for the first time. He preserved the manners of Scotland 
pure, and his engagements lay in a different channel from mine. 9 Sir 

9 Philip Cade was suing for divorce from his wife, Catharine Whitworth Cade, 
for adultery with Lord Aylmer, who had already had judgement passed against 
him for criminal conversation with Mrs. Cade. The divorce was granted, and 
Lord Aylmer married the lady. Their daughter was Landor's Rose Aylmer. 
9 Though Claud Boswell was two years younger than James Boswell, his father 
and Boswell's grandfather were brothers. In 1799 he succeeded Lord Monboddo 
in the Court of Session, with the title Lord Balmuto. On the jaunt to Ireland, 
29 April 1769, Boswell told Margaret Montgomerie that Claud Boswell had nar- 
row views. "He had thick high stone walls . . . except when I surprised him 
by sometimes taking a hammer and beating a hole in his walls so as to give him 
a pe*p of the fields of fancy, which made him caper.'* 

London, 6 April 1 773 163 

Walter and I dined at the Hon. James Stuart's. We were hospitably 
treated with a family dinner, and I was glad to find Mr. Stuart become 
sedate and informing himself as to Scotland. 

This was the monthly meeting of the partners of The London 
Magazine, at the Queen's Arms in St. Paul's Churchyard. Whoever 
is there before a quarter after eight by St. Paul's clock receives a 
crown. I was too late at one of the meetings last year. So I was resolved 
to be up in time tonight. I said I had run for the plate and won it 
Indeed it cost me very hard running from Mr. Stuart's. But I would 
rather have had that crown than a guinea. I have a happy talent at 
making myself interested and pleased with small things. The partners 
were all glad to see me. We have always a good supper, and, besides 
Madeira, our landlord Betts's excellent old port at half a crown a 
bottle. He is a jolly fellow, and it is said is worth 20,000. As he had 
been much obliged to the Stationers' Company, he always attends 
himself upon the partners of The London Magazine. He told me he 
had eight hundred dozen of that port. Our editor 1 supped with us. This 
is a new custom, which I do not much like; it is a kind of restraint 
upon us. I went home with Mr. Dilly at twelve, as I always do upon 
these occasions. John Rivington rises the moment that twelve strikes, 
and Dilly and I follow his example. 

I neglected to mention that this forenoon I waited on Lord Lyttel- 
ton. He had known Lord Chesterfield long. 2 He said that Lord Chester- 
field had admirable parts so far as they went. That he was not fit to 
be Prime Minister, but he was very fit to be a Secretary of State. That 
his judgement in planning was not great, but that he was exceedingly 
capable in execution. That he could not determine whether it was 
proper to make a peace. But that no man could make it so well. That 
he was a believer in God and a future state, though in no fixed mode. 
In the younger part of his life he indulged himself, as was the fashion 
of wits, in sallies against revelation, but as he grew older he treated it 
with more reverence, though he never was properly a Christian. That 
after he was forty, he went through the Roman classics under Lord 
Lyttelton's direction, having neglected them when young. That he at 

1 Unidentified. On 4 April 1775 Boswell gives the editors as Henry Mayo and 
Captain Edward Thompson, but speaks as though they had been appointed since 
he had last been in London. 

2 Chesterfield had died only a few days before: 24 March 1773. 

1 64 London, 6 April 1 773 

first submitted to the trouble of consulting a dictionary, till by degrees 
Latin became easy to him. That he was quite master of French and 
Italian, particularly of French, which he spoke in perfection. Count 
Guerchy paid him a very handsome compliment upon it. After they 
had conversed some time in French, he stopped him on a sudden: 
"Pardonnez-moi, Milord. Parlez-vous anglais?" That he was con- 
stantly saying witty things even to the last. Speaking of his old friend, 
Lord Tyrawley, he said, "Tyrawley and I have been dead this twelve- 
month, though we have chosen to keep it a secret." 8 Tall Sir Thomas 
Robinson was very ill, and somebody told Lord Chesterfield he was 
dying by inches. "So am I," said he. "But as Sir Thomas has a great 
many more inches in highth than I have, he will take longer time to 
die." I observed that Lord Chesterfield had been happily placed in 
situations just suited to his abilities. I thought the first bon mot true 
wit; the last only a conceit. Lord Lyttelton and I joined in lamenting 
the death of Dr. Gregory. 4 I observed that few men are missed when 
they die. They are like trees cut down in a thick forest. We do not per- 
ceive the blank. But that Gregory was a distinguished tree, as the apple 
tree among the trees of the wood. "Ay," said Lord Lyttelton, "and a 
tree whose shade had no noxious effect, but was benign to all around 

I have omitted to mention that on Sunday forenoon I called on 
General Oglethorpe, and found him in his usual spirits. He had a 
Bible lying upon the table before him. Whenever 6 I appeared, "My 
dear Boswell," cried the fine old gentleman, and pressed me in his 
arms. I value his acquaintance very highly and it is the more pleasing 
to me that I owe it entirely to my own merit; for he came and intro- 
duced himself to me at my lodgings in Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, 
the spring when my Account of Corsica came first out. 

WEDNESDAY 7 APRIL. After breakfasting at Mr. Dilly's I walked 
down to the Adelphi and called on Mr. Ganick. His coach was at the 
door to carry him into the country; so I just had time to shake hands 

* Tyrawlcy died 14 July 1773. 

4 John Gregory (1724-1773), M.D., Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh Uni- 
versity, had practised for some years in London, where he had been an acquaint- 
ance of Lyttelton's. 

* Lyttelton himself died only four months later, aa August 1773. 

* As soon as. 

London, 7 April 1773 165 

with him and make a bow to Mrs. Garrick, who was seated in the 
coach. Mr. Garrick, however, had time to tell me that he now admired 
Mr. Johnson's conversation more than ever; expressing himself in a 
strong picturesque manner the particular phrases of which have es- 
caped my memory. I then called on the Hon. Topham Beauclerk, who 
has also a house on the terrace of the Adelphi. I was shown into a very 
elegant parlour. I liked his large gilded lion, a cast from the antique, 
supporting his sideboard. He received me politely but not with so 
much ardour as I wish to find. However, the truth is, I never was in 
company with Beauclerk but twice once dining at Sir Joshua Reyn- 
olds's, and once supping at Garrick's when I was last in town. 7 He then 
invited me to see him when I should return; and Langton told me 
that my open downright manners had pleased him, and he had said, 
"I do love Boswell monstrously." Beauclerk's high-bred behaviour 
may have been construed by me as distant coldness. His great venera- 
tion for Mr. Johnson and Johnson's love for him are enough to make 
me value him; and from what I have seen of him he appears to be a 
man of wit, literature, and fashion in a distinguished degree. 

He said Mr. Johnson was grown much better-natured of late and 
would bear a great deal more than he used to do. That Goldsmith was 
talking of there being a playhouse for the representation of new plays 
solely, as a scheme to relieve authors from the tyranny of managers. 
That Mr. Johnson opposed the scheme. Upon which Goldsmith said, 
"Ay, it may do very well for you to talk so, who have sheltered your- 
self behind the corner of a pension"; and that Mr. Johnson bore this 
and said nothing severe to Goldsmith that evening. Beauclerk said he 
always expected it would come; for that Mr. Johnson could delay his 
vengeance for a considerable interval. As an instance of which, Mr. 
Johnson dined with him one day when there was a Captain Brodie in 
the company who had married a relation of Beauclerk's. 8 That after 
dinner Mr. Johnson rose and walked to the end of the room in a fit of 
meditation and threw himself into some of those attitudes which he 

7 This dinner, on Wednesday 6 May 1772, was the one at which Boswell met 
Burke also for the first time. See above, p. 133. The supper at Garrick's occurred 
three days later. 

8 Captain David Brodie, R.N., had lost his right arm. He was a Scotsman and 
a relative of Lady MacLeod. His wife was the Mary ("Molly") Aston whom 
Johnson thought the loveliest creature he ever saw; she was first cousin to Beau- 
clerk's mother. 

166 London, 7 April 1773 

does when deep in thought. Brodie, who knew nothing of his character 
but was just a jolly sea-officer, a blunt tar who wished to put the bottle 
about and did not like to see a man who did not drink as the rest of the 
company did, turned to Mr. Johnson and said, "Sir, if you be for danc- 
ing a minuet, had not you better go to the ladies?" Brodie had no bad 
intention. But it may be well conceived what a shocking speech this 
was to the majestic Rambler. A dreadful explosion was to be expected. 
Mr. Johnson took no notice whatever of the speech for a good while. 
At last he came and sat down, and all at once turning to Mr. Beau- 
clerk, said, "Don't you think this Brodie a very coarse fellow?"* 

I said Mr. Johnson's accepting a pension from a prince whom he 
had called an usurper was a circumstance which it was difficult to 
justify with perfect clearness; and that if I had been rich enough, I 
would rather have paid it myself than that he should have accepted 
of it; "though indeed," said I, "he may look upon it as a tribute due 
to him from the nation and only conveyed to him by the hands which 
have the custody of the nation's money." "Yes," said Beauclerk, "the 
King has so much money allowed him for pensions to men of genius 
and literature; and accepting of such a pension has nothing to do with 
the right of the King. He accepts it as a literary man. An ingenious 
Roman Catholic may accept a pension in that way without any injury 
to his principles." "Why," said I, "though Mr. Johnson has been rep- 
resented as a violent Jacobite, I have heard him say that if holding up 
his hand would have made Prince Charles's army prevail, he would 
not have done it. Nothing can be more moderate than that; but indeed 
it was after he had his pension that I heard him say so. I was not ac- 
quainted with him sooner." "But," said Beauclerk, "I heard him say 
so before he had his pension." 

Just as I came out of Mr. Beauclerk's I met Dr. Percy. He had Sir 
John Hawkins 1 with him, to whom he introduced me. He carried us 
to his study at Northumberland House to show us a picture of Cleve- 
land the poet, his relation, which he had bought at Mr. West's sale.* 
I drank a dish of chocolade here, and resting myself after much hard 

* Brodie's encounter with Johnson was omitted from the Life of Johnson. 
1 Later to be BoswelTs chief rival as biographer of Johnson, 
Percy was great-grandson of William Cleveland, younger brother of John 
Cleveland, the poet He had acquired the portrait (which was by Isaac Fuller) 
very recently. The sale of the pictures of James West, the great antiquary, had 
fcftflrun on *i March 177*. 

London, 7 April 1773 167 

walking, I listened with pleasure to Percy's active schemes of curious 
and amusing literature. 

I had called on Dr. Goldsmith at his chambers in Brick Court in 
the Temple as I passed along in the morning. He was not up, and I 
was shown into his dining-room and library. When he heard that it 
was I, he roared from his bed, "Boswell!" I ran to him. We had a 
cordial embrace. I sat upon the side of his bed and we talked of the 
success of his new comedy, which he saw that I sincerely enjoyed, and 
of his beating Evans the publisher. He said there was no other method 
left; and he was determined to follow it. He showed me in some news- 
paper two paragraphs of scandal about Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale. 
How an eminent brewer was very jealous of a certain author in folio, 
and perceived a strong resemblance to him in his eldest son. "Now," 
said he, "is not this horrid?* 1 "Why," said I, "no doubt though to us 
who know the characters it is the most ludicrous nonsense, yet it may 
gain credit with those who do not. The assertions of a newspaper are 
taken up insensibly. I long believed Burke to be a Jesuit." I went into 
the dining-room. He rose and came to breakfast, and I sat by him. He 
is the most generous-hearted man that exists; and now that he 
has had a large supply of gold by his comedy, all the needy draw upon 
him. I found on his table a letter full of gratitude to him from his 
countryman, poor Francis Gentleman, with a promissory note for 
fifteen pounds. 3 

I dined at Sir John Pringle's. He was indisposed; and though he 
sat with the company in very good humour, he was not able to act as 
master of the house, but deputed me. Mr. Pennant, author of the Tour 
to Scotland, was there. I had just seen him at Edinburgh and was glad 
to see more of him. Mr. Johnson told me he had read his Tour all 
through and was well entertained with it. He is a neat, lively man. 
Mr. John Pringle and some other Scotch gentlemen were there. We 
were very social, though I remember little of what passed. I only re- 
member a remark of my own on Sir William Chambers's Oriental 
Gardening, which the Heroic Epistle* to him had made an universal 
topic of conversation. He talks most seriously of introducing terrible 
objects into a garden. I said this put me in mind of a paragraph in 
Faulkner's Dublin Journal which in describing some fine place in Ire- 

8 See above, p. 133, and below, pp. 233, 236. 

4 An anonymous satire by the poet of The English Garden, William Mason. 

1 68 London, 7 April 1 7 73 

land mentioned the prodigious rocks impending over one's head, so as 
that the delighted spectator imagines every moment that they are to 
fall down and crush him to pieces. 5 

Between seven and eight, I set out for Mr. Thrale's in Southwark, 
where Mr. Johnson now was. I intended waiting upon that family in 
the morning, but was prevented by the several interruptions which 
I have marked above. I am much obliged to them. I went to Hunger- 
ford Stairs and got a boat to take me over the river. None of the water- 
men would go farther.* It was a fine moonlight, and it was very agree- 
able to be on the Thames. After being landed, I walked along the 
shore till I came to Mr. Thrale's. I found Mrs. Thrale and Mr. Johnson 
and another gentleman at tea. The gentleman soon went away, and 
then we were quite well. 

I repeated the stories of Lord Chesterfield which Lord Lyttelton 
had told me. Mr. Johnson said most of Lord Chesterfield's witty say- 
ings were puns. He however allowed his saying of himself and Lord 
Tyrawley to be good wit. Everybody has heard that Mr. Johnson had 
a difference with Lord Chesterfield, that he broke off all communica- 
tion with him, and wrote a most severe letter to him on the occasion. 
It is curious to find how a story that has no foundation may be con- 
fidently told for years, gain credit without hesitation, and even appear 
to be well vouched. As an instance of this, it has always been said that 
the occasion of the difference between Mr. Johnson and the Earl was 
that Mr. Johnson was one day kept waiting two hours in his ante- 
chamber and then Colley Gibber came out from the Earl; and that 
this provoked Mr. Johnson so much that he should be kept waiting 
for a player that he went off in a great passion. Lord Lyttelton, a 
great friend of Lord Chesterfield's, spoke of this as of a thing well 
known. Nay, in justifying Lord Chesterfield, he even explained the 

8 Compare Richard Payne Knight, Principles of Taste, 1805, and Thomas Love 
Peacock, Headlong Hall (1816), Chapter VI: "Here is the same rock, cut into 
the shape of a giant In one hand he holds a horn, through which that little 
fountain is thrown to a prodigious elevation. In the other is a ponderous stone, 
so exactly balanced as to be apparently ready to fall on the head of any person 
who may happen to be beneath; and there is Lord Littlebrain walking under it." 
*From Hungerford Stairs to the landing in Southwark nearest the Thrales's 
was over a mile by water. The watermen probably did not wish to go so far at 
night, with the risk of not picking up a return fare. 

London, 7 April 1773 169 

particulars. "I suppose," said he, "Lord Chesterfield was very busy 
when Mr. Johnson called. And you are not to imagine that Gibber had 
been all the time with my Lord. He was his old acquaintance, and had 
been introduced by a back stair, perhaps only ten minutes before, and 
Mr. Johnson was too hasty." Now Mr. Johnson told me this evening 
that he never was kept waiting while Gibber came out; so that the 
story has not the least basis. 

I gave an account of Burfce's speaking on Monday last, and nat- 
urally used some action. Mr. Johnson fell into his usual paradoxical 
argument that action can have no effect upon reasonable minds. "Ac- 
tion," said he, "may enforce noise but never can enforce argument. 
If you speak to a dog, you use action; you hold up your hand thus, 
because he is a brute; and in proportion as men are removed from 
brutes, are reasonable beings, action will have the less influence over 
them." Said Mrs. Thrale, "What then becomes of Demosthenes's say- 
ing, 'Action, action, action'?^ JOHNSON. "Why, Demosthenes spoke 
to an assembly of brutes, to a barbarous people." I saw Mrs. Thrale 
did not agree with him any more than I did. It is truly amazing that 
this great master of human nature should deny the power of action 
over reasonable beings, when it is certain and proved by innumerable 
facts that its influence has been very great. Reasonable beings are not 
solely reasonable. They have fancies which must be amused, tastes 
which must be pleased, passions which must be roused. May I venture 
to think that Mr. Johnson's opinion as to action proceeds from some 
defect in the finer parts of capacity in the powers of delicate per- 

He talked of Percy's intended edition of The Spectator , with notes, 
of which Percy has done a part himself, and committed the care of 
the rest to one whom he superintends. 7 Mr. Johnson observed that all 
works which describe manners require notes in sixty or seventy years 
or less. He said he had told Percy what he knew, and others had told 
him what they knew. He spoke of Addison's Sir Andrew Freeport, a 
true Whig who argued against giving charity to beggars, and such 
topics; but that Addison thought better, and made amends by making 
him found an hospital for decayed farmers. 8 He made me take down 

T Dr. John Calder, secretary to the Duke of Northumberland. 

8 Spectator No. 549, by Addison. Sir Andrew's argument against giving charily 

to beggars is in Spectator No. 232, which, however, is not by Addison. 

170 London, j April 1773 

the volume in which that is told, and he read it to us. To hear him read 

is fine. 

Since I have mentioned Percy, I may here remark that in my last 
year's Journal I have given a bad edition of Mr. Johnson's lines in 
ridicule of The Hermit of Warkivorth.* I had them so from Garrick. 
But when I repeated them as from him this year, Mr. Johnson said, 
"Then he has no ear'*; and he gave me them right, as thus: 

I put my hat upon my head 

And walked into the Strand, 
And there I met another man 

Whose hat was in his hand. 

I mentioned Burkc's using Scripture phrases; such as, in describ- 
ing that the same sentiment will have quite a different effect when it 
comes from the Treasury bench from what it has when it comes from 
the side of Opposition, he said when I heard him, "It is sown in weak- 
ness here; it is raised in power there." 1 Mr. Johnson said, "I'm afraid 
Burke sacrifices everything to his wit. Tis wrong to introduce Scrip- 
ture thus ludicrously." I have a difficulty upon this head. I am not 
clear that Scripture is hurt by being introduced in the manner that 
Burke did it here. It is like using a highly classical phrase. It has its 
effect at once; and very good Christians have not scrupled to use Scrip- 
ture phrases so. It is not throwing ridicule upon them. I own it should 
be done with reserve; and it is hard to make a proper distinction. 
When a wit, who is said to have been Dr. Pitcairne, remarked, on a 
poor mason's falling from a high house and part of what he was build- 
ing falling after him, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; 
they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them," 2 there 
was both inhumanity and impiety. Mr. Thrale came home. I sat here 
till one in the morning, got a hackney-coach, and drove home. 

THURSDAY 8 APRIL. I breakfasted with Mr, Crosbie. I dined at 
General Paoli's. Situation has a great share in the production of every 
character. While I was with the General at the head of his nation in 
* In his Notes for 9 May 1 772. 
1 1 Corinthians 15. 43. 

See Revelation 14.13. Archibald Pitcairne (1652-1713) was a Scots Jacobite 
physician with a considerable reputation for Latin verse. He was grandfather to 
BosweH's friends Lady ColviUe and the Hon. Andrew Erskine. 

London? 8 April 1 773 1 71 

Corsica, I could collect many memorabilia. Now I cannot recollect 
anything that passed this day. (Indeed I am now writing in the night 
between the soth April and ist May.) I drank tea at my old acquaint- 
ance Love's, of Drury Lane Theatre. I then went to Mr. Johnson's and 
sat with him a good while, though he hardly spoke at all. 

I observed Burnet's History of His Own Times in Mr. Johnson's 
library. I was curious to hear his opinion of it. He said it was very 
entertaining; that the style was mere chit-chat (I think) ; that he did 
not believe Burnet intentionally lied, but that he was so prejudiced 
that he did not try to find out the truth. He was like a man who re- 
solves to regulate his time by a certain watch, but will not inquire 
whether the watch is right or not. 8 1 can remember no more of this 
night, but only that when I said, " Tis twelve o'clock," he said, 
4C What's that to you and me?" and bid Frank tell Mrs. Williams that 
we were coming to drink tea with her, which we did. I was very de- 
sirous of seeing Mr. Johnson at church and could not get a better op- 
portunity than the Holy Week; so I told him I would come and go to 
church with him tomorrow. He allowed me. 

FRIDAY 9 APRIL. This morning being Good Friday, I went in 
good frame to Mr. Johnson's. Frank said there was nobody with him 
but Dr. Levett. 4 I never knew till now that Levett had that title, or 
rather took it. We had good tea and good cakes, I think cross-buns. I 
then accompanied Mr. Johnson to St. Clement's Church in the Strand. 
He was solemn and devout. I went home with him after. We did not 
dine on this venerable fast. He read to himself the Greek New Testa- 
ment. I looked at several books, particularly Laud's Life by I 

observed a saying of King Charles n which I may introduce into my 
essay on the profession of a lawyer, viz., that he could not be one be- 
cause , 8 Mr. Johnson said it was false reasoning, because every 

8 Gilbert Biraet (1643-1715) was a Scot who became Bishop of Salisbury and 
a favourite adviser to King William. His History of My Own Times was pub- 
lished posthumously, 1724-1734, Johnson's objections to it relate to the fact 
that Burnet was a Broad Churchman in both politics and religious doctrine. 
4 "Dr." Robert Levett was a self-taught practitioner of humble origin who lived 
with Johnson and sometimes prescribed for the members of his household. 
8 Boswell filled the blank in the Life: "I cannot defend a bad, nor yield in a good 
cause." The saying (which was uttered not by Charles n, but by Charles I, 
before he came to the throne) is quoted from Laud's diary for i February 1623/4. 

1 72 London, 9 April i 773 

cause has a bad side; and a man is not overcome though the cause 

which he has pleaded is decided against him. 

He spoke of a gentleman who has an estate being called in duty 
to reside so much upon it, and do good there. He observed strikingly 
to me that whoever comes and settles in London in any capacity will 
have his children English and quite strangers to his estate, as much 
as Frenchmen, and that one of the great disadvantages of plunging 
into the ocean of life (or dissipation) here is that almost every man 
runs out his fortune. He said if he were Langton, he would go reso- 
lutely to France and live on 1 oo a year rather than sell a mass of land 
which his family could never get back. 

I told him how Goldsmith said to me the other morning, "As I take 
my shoes from the shoemaker, and my coat from the tailor, so I take 
my religion from the priest," and I was regretting this loose way of 
talking. "Sir," said Mr. Johnson, "he knows nothing. He has made up 
his mind about nothing." 

To my astonishment Mr. Johnson asked me to dine with him on 
Sunday. I never supposed he had a dinner at home. "Sir," said he, "I 
generally have a pie on Sunday." I most readily accepted the invita- 
tion. We went back to St. Clement's in the afternoon. There was ser- 
mon both forenoon and afternoon, by different clergymen; but what 
they were I cannot say. They must indeed have been remarkable dis- 
courses that the very shadow of the great mind of Johnson would not 
have obscured; that the very idea of his power would not have anni- 
hilated. I may be on stilts, but my mind has sprung up and lights upon 
anything she first meets. I saw him to his door after sermons. I then 
went and drank tea at Mr. Dilly's. Mr. Mayo, the dissenting minister, 6 
was there. I called at Woodfall's, who directed me to the Chapter 
Coffee-house to find books of The Public Advertiser. I found there my 
old essays. 1 

Boswell was probably reading Henry Wharton's History of the Troubles and 

Tryal of the Most Reverend Father in God and Blessed Martyr, William Laud, 

to which Laud's Diary is prefixed. The essay on the profession of a lawyer was 

never written. 

* Johnson's antagonist in the long argument about toleration at Dilly's on 7 May 

of this year. 

T Three essays published by Boswell in The Public Advertiser before this date 

London, 10 April 1773 173 

SATURDAY 10 APRIL. I breakfasted I dined at Mr. Bos- 

ville's. More I cannot recollect. 

SUNDAY 11 APRIL. This being Easter day, I found myself in such 
a frame as I could wish. I breakfasted at the Chapter Coffee-house, 
which I had last night 7 * found to be an excellent place, and a little 
after ten went to St. Paul's. I made myself be shown into a seat just by 
Mr. John Rivington. He invited me to his family dinner, a fillet of veal 
and a pudding, but I told him I was engaged with Mr. Johnson; but I 
promised to drink tea with him, and go with him to hear music and 
see the children sup at Christ's Hospital. 8 Mr. Wilson, a residentiary, 
preached to us on this text: "But we trusted that it was he who should 
have redeemed Israel." 9 He gave us a neat and clear deduction of the 
evidence of Christianity. I was struck and elevated as usual by the 
service, and though I did not feel that firm conviction which I have 
done at different periods of my life, owing I believe to an indolence of 
mind making me not recollect or feel the importance of settling the 
truth one way or other, yet my heart and affections were pious, and I 
received the Holy Sacrament with considerable satisfaction. I was 
above three hours in church today. 

When I came to Mr. Johnson's, he was not yet come home. By and 
by he arrived. I had gratified my curiosity much in dining with 
Rousseau, and I thought it as curious to dine with Mr. Johnson. I sup- 
posed we should hardly see knives and forks, and only have the pie 
which he mentioned. But to my surprise I found everything in very 
good order. He and I and Mrs. Williams and a Miss * were the 

are known through their inclusion in The Hypochondriack (Nos. XLVII, XLIX, 
LXVIII) . Another series, as yet uncollected, was published there over the pseudo- 
nym "Rampager." The earliest reference to these yet noted occurs in a letter of 
Temple to Boswell dated 5 July 1770. See also BoswelTs remark in the Journal, 
below, 24 August 1774. Henry Sampson Woodfall was the publisher of The 
Public Advertiser. 

7a Either this should read "Friday night" or the last sentence of the entry for 
Friday (a crowded interlinear addition) should have been entered under 

8 Rivington was a governor of Christ's Hospital. 

9 Luke 24. 21. 

1 Mrs. Piozzi says that this was "Poll" Cannichael, but she was probably only 

1 74 London, 1 1 April 1 773 

company. We had a very good soup, a boiled leg of lamb and spinach, 
a veal pie, an excellent rice pudding, pickled walnuts and onions, 
porter and port wine. I dined as well as ever I wish to do. The lamb 
made him tell me a joke. He said Mr. Thrale's sister, Lady Lade, when 
she saw Sir George Colebrooke in a white waistcoat and green coat, 
said he was like a leg of lamb and spinach. 2 

We spoke of Dr. Campbell, author of The Lives of the Admirals. 
He said he was a very inquisitive and a very able man, and a man of 
good principles, though he has been deficient in practice. "Campbell," 
said he, "has not been within a church for many years; but he never 
passes by one but he pulls off his hat. This shows the man to be radi- 
cally right, and we may hope it will some time or other produce a right 

He owned Hawkesworth was his imitator, but did not think that 
Goldsmith was. BOSWELL. "Sir, everybody thinks so." JOHNSON. "Sir, 
he has great merit" BOSWELL. "Yes. But he owes his getting so far up 
much to you." JOHNSON. "Perhaps he has got sooner to it by that" 

Mr. Johnson observed that the books printed in Scotland before 
the Union were very few; that he had seen a collection of all of them 
at the Hon. Archibald Campbell's, a relation of the Duke of Argyll's, 
and they were very few. He asked me what books of religion our clergy 
recommended to the common people. I was at some loss to tell him, 
but mentioned Henry On Prayer Guthrie's Trial of a Saving Inter- 
est in Christ The Life of God in the Soul of Man? I spoke of my 
scheme of writing Ruddiman's Life. 4 He said he'd be glad in helping 
me to do honour to him, but that his farewell letter to the Faculty of 
Advocates might have been written in Latin. 

He told me he had twelve or fourteen times attempted to keep a 
Journal, but never could persevere. "The great thing," said he, "is the 
state of your own mind; and you ought to write down everything that 
you can, for you cannot judge at first what is good or bad; and write 
immediately while the impression is fresh, for it will not be the same 
a week after." I told him how uneasy I was at having lost eight hun- 

* The MS reads "Lady .** Sir George was at the moment involved in spec- 
tacular bankruptcy . 

* By Henry ScougaL 

* Boswell, Erst and last, entertained some forty similar "schemes" which came 
to nothing. Thomas Ruddiman (d. 1757) was a distinguished Scottish philolo- 

London, 1 1 April 1 773 1 75 

dred pages* of my Journal, which were sent from Utrecht where I had 
left them, and that I was chiefly uneasy for fear that somebody had 
them, as they really contained a full state of my mind when in a deep 
melancholy. He comforted me by saying that probably they had fal- 
len into the hands of somebody who could not understand them, and 
would be destroyed as waste-paper. I am, however, much vexed at this 
loss, and at the apprehension that they may be lying concealed. 

I asked him if he could tell when he was born, when he came to 
London and such things. Said he, "You shall have them" (or "I'll give 
you them") "all for twopence. I hope you shall know a great deal 
more of me before you write my Life." He said Dame Oliver's giving 
him gingerbread (for which see my last year's Journal) ft was as high a 
proof of merit as he could conceive. That she read the black letter and 
asked him to borrow her from his father a Bible in that character. That 
he next went to an English master, Tom Brown, who wrote an English 
spelling-book and dedicated it to the Universe; but that he feared no 
copy of it could now be had. That his father knew Latin pretty well 
but no Greek; that he did not read so much as he might have done, and 
was rather a wrong-headed man. That the sale of books at Lachfield 
was not sufficient to procure a livelihood, and that he used to have 
shops or places for sale in different towns whither he went to the fairs, 
and would even carry books in his saddle-bags to these places, or take 
them home to those who commissioned them; and had a great deal of 
bodily activity. I talked of going to see the Reverend Mr. Adams at 
Shrewsbury, who was Mr. Johnson's tutor at Oxford. 7 "Sir," said he, 
" 'tis not worth while. You know more of me than he does." 

I drank tea at Mr. John Rivington's. I had the full impression of 
an eminent London bookseller a governor of Christ's Hospital 
being in the very middle of Si Paul's churchyard on a Sunday. I was 
pleased to see him so comfortable with his wife and family. We went 
to Christ's Hospital. There was a great crowd of company there. It 
was truly agreeable to hear prayers read by one of the boys; to see 

* Boswell probably exaggerates unconsciously. The first page surviving beyond 
the hiatus in his Holland Journal of 1763-1764 is numbered 537. 

* His Notes for 24 April 1772. 

T Dr. William Adams, who became Master of Pembroke College in 1775, would 
have been Johnson's tutor had Johnson returned after December 1729. In 1776 
Adams told Boswell: "I was his nominal tutor j but he was above my mark." 
"That," said Johnson, "was liberal and noble." 

176 London, 11 April 1773 

them all take their wholesome frugal supper, bread and butter and 
beer, and then walk in procession and bow to the governors, each di- 
vision with a nurse who takes care of them. I was particularly pleased 
to see the Steward, a steady man as advertisements say, who had been 
a boy in the Hospital himself, and now had authority over them all, 8 
We had lastly an anthem sung, the organ accompanying it. Copies of 
the anthem were put into the hands of the company, written by the 
boys, with the name of the writer at each. They were generally taken 
back. I kept my copy. It was very well transcribed. I shall endeavour 
to learn what becomes of the writer. 9 The celebrated Richardson was 
brought up here. Mr. Rivington showed me the different wards. It is 
indeed a noble charity. 

I ran home, dressed, and went to Lord Mansfield's. Jenkinson was 
with him, Jut went away just as I came. My Lord and I were then 
left t&e-a-tete* His cold reserve and sharpness, too, were still too much 
for me. It was like being cut with a very, very cold instrument I have 
not for a long time experienced that weakness of mind which I had 
formerly in a woeful degree in the company of the great or the clever. 
But Lord Mansfield has uncommon power. He chills the most gener- 
ous blood. 

I spoke of the coal cause, Alexander against Montgomery, where 
a rare event happened that the House of Lords divided. 1 Lord Mans- 
field took care to mention that he was not there, to keep me in mind 
that if he had, the division would not have happened. I mentioned to 
him that when it was first determined in Scotland, my father and 
Lord Kames could form no opinion. At the second determination they 
did form an opinion, and the President and two lords altered their 

8 John Perry, steward 1761-1785. He is the "old and good steward," so much 
beloved of the boys, whose death is recorded in Charles Lamb's "Recollections 
of Christ's Hospital.'* In "Christ's Hospital Five-and-Thirty Years Ago" (which 
deliberately presents the other side of the picture) Perry's administration is 
charged with some laxity. 

* Boswell's copy survives. The transcriber's name was Joseph Allen. The name 
of the poet does not appear. The music was by Robert Hudson, music master at 
the Hospital and at St. Paul's Cathedral. 

1 All members of the House of Lords had the right to vote when the House was 
sitting as a court of appeal, but as a general thing decisions were left to the law 
lords. Lord Mansfield alone had reversed Hastie's case in the previous year 
(above, p. 116). 

London, 1 1 April 1 773 1 77 

opinions, one the one way, one the other; and then I said, "It was a 
cause which any man might have determined." Here was a piece of 
tourderie which laid me fairly open; and Lord M., who had observed 
that it would be very dangerous if a division should often happen, did 
not miss me. "What!" said he, "was a cause in which your father and 
Lord Kames could at first form no opinion, and as to which the Presi- 
dent and other judges altered their opinions, one that any man might 
determine?" I, however, recovered: "I mean, my Lord, a cause of fact 
in which there was no law; where the question was merely whether 
there was a bargain between man and man a cause to be deter- 
mined by a jury." MANSFIEU>. "Yes, a jury if directed." BOSWELL. "Do 
juries always take direction, my Lord?" "Yes, except in political 
causes, where they do not at all keep themselves to right and wrong." 
I obliged hiTn to laugh by telling frfrn that from our custom in Scot- 
land of trying to account for decisions by extraneous circumstances, 
we had observed that the peers who were for fixing the coal contract 
were all the coal-masters: the Lords Abercorn, Cathcart, and Rose- 
bery; whereas Lord Marchmont, 2 who had only a large peat-moss, 
was for setting the parties free. 3 Lord Mansfield laughed pretty heart- 
ily, crying, "Did ye?" 

8 All four were Representative Peers of Scotland in the House of Lords, 
3 Robert Alexander had discovered coal on his estate of Blackhouse, near Ayr, 
but before sinking capital in the development had tried to enter into an agree- 
ment with a neighbouring colliery at Newton for the sale of a fixed annual 
quantity of his coal at a stipulated price. On Alexander's refusal to restrict his 
output to the quantity which the colliery agreed to buy and thus to protect them 
from competition in the local market, the agreement fell through. Alexander, 
alleging that on the faith of an exchange of letters, he had taken measures to 
work the coal, then brought suit for implement of the agreement. On 26 June 
1771 the Lord Ordinary pronounced an interlocutor in favour of the colliery; 
the Inner House reversed this on 21 November 1771; but on a second re- 
claiming petition the Court reversed its own ruling on 6 March 1772. Alexander 
then appealed to the House of Lords, and the Lords dismissed the appeal. Bos- 
well's remark that "any man might have determined" the cause was not so silly 
as might appear. The determination whether an exchange of letters constitutes 
a contract is not so much a matter of law as of common-sense construction of 
the meaning of the English language. The account of this case in Thomas S. 
Paton's Reports of Cases Decided in the House of Lords upon Appeal from Scot- 
land from 1 757 to 1784 ends with this note: "The judges in House of Lords seem 
to have been as much divided in this case as the judges in the Court of Session. 
After the debate the votes of the Lords were equal four for reversing and four 

1 78 London, 1 1 April 1 773 

I then resolved to satisfy my curiosity whether Andrew Stuart's 
letters had made any impression on him. 4 So I added, "This is as good 
reasoning as Andrew Stuart's Letters. They are very well written. I 
got your sister Mrs. Murray to promise to read them. I told her she'd 
be very angry, but that they were worth reading" (or words to that 
purpose) . I looked steadily at him during all this, and he was not a bit 
affected. He said nothing. I said, " Tis a cruel thing on poor Douglas, 
now that he's settled and the question over so long ago." MANSFIELD. 
" Twill do him no harm. 'Twill not take the estate from him." I also 
made him laugh by telling him that I had met the new schoolmaster 
at Campbeltown, who told me that the boys were beginning to be re- 
bellious and to talk of the reversal of the decree in Hastie's case, but 
that I told him 772^0 periculo* "Don't spare them. Lord Mansfield al- 
lows you to whip them with a rod or taws (the loose leather you know, 
my Lord) as much as you please; but don't take improper modes of 
correction." MANSFIEID. "Nor correct in passion. You said right" 

I had plucked up enough of resolution by this time, and perhaps 
had probed his Lordship more than was proper. He is all artificial. He 
affected to know little of Scotch appeals when over. I catched him, 
though! I spoke of the one, Parkhill against Chalmers, in a way that 
showed him I did not think the judgement a good one. Said he, "Were 
there not particular circumstances there?" I bowed without answer- 
ing and let him take his own way; upon which he went on, "Ay, there 
were so and so" and showed that he well remembered what he 
affected not to remember. 5 It is unpleasant to see so high an admin- 
istrator of justice such a man. I mentioned Mr. Johnson. He said he 
was a man of great learning and abilities. I told him I had a mind to 
try the law of vicious intromission 6 by agreement between the parties. 

for affirming, whereupon it was determined that the interlocutor should not be 
reversed. It would seem from this that the lay lords joined in the voting." 
* Stuart had been agent for the Duke of Hamilton in the Douglas Cause. In his 
Letters to the Right Honourable Lord Mansfield, privately printed in January of 
this year, he had attacked Mansfield for partiality in the Cause. 
The House of Lords had upheld the decision of the Court of Session on 12 Feb- 
ruary of this year. 

An old principle of Scots law that "whoever intermeddled with the effects of 
a person deceased, without the interposition of legal authority to guard against 

London, 11 April 1773 179 

He said if collusion was suspected, the House would not hear a cause, 
because it would not be fairly pleaded and the country might have 
bad law established, I told him of my debates in the Justiciary Court 
on the Mob Act being only in cases of sedition or rebellion, and that 
carrying off furniture by a mob was not robbery. 7 He agreed with the 
Court of Justiciary's interlocutors on both questions. I then called at 
Sir John Pringle's, where I found Captain Constantine Phipps 8 and 
some more company. 

MONDAY 12 APRIL. The celebrated female historian, Mrs. Cath- 
arine Macaulay, 9 her brother the Rev. Mr. Sawbridge, and another 
gentleman, had 10,000 lent on the estate of the Laird of MacLeod, 1 
and for two years had received no interest. My good friend Dilly had 
directed them to me for advice; so their attorney, Mr. Heaton of Lin- 
coln's Inn, was to retain me. In the mean time I engaged to breakfast 
with Mrs. Macaulay this morning and look at her securities. I first 
drank a dish of tea with Dempster, who I regretted was so busy that I 
could see little of him. Mrs. Macaulay and I had a very cordial, polite 
meeting, and she gave me a good breakfast, like any other woman. I 
looked at her securities and found them good. I dined at Mr. Bosville's. 
At night I went to Covent Garden and saw She Stoops to Conquer, the 
author's second night. I laughed most heartily, and was highly pleased 
at once with the excellent comedy and with the fame and profit which 
my friend Goldsmith was receiving. It was really a rich evening to 

embezzlement, should be subjected to pay all the debts of the deceased." The 
Court of Session, continues Boswell in the Life of Johnson, "had gradually re- 
laxed the strictness of this principle, where the interference proved had been 
inconsiderable. In a case which came before that Court the preceding winter, I 
had laboured to persuade the Judges to return to the ancient law." Before leav- 
ing London in May 1772 Boswell had succeeded in getting Johnson to dictate a 
long argument on this characteristically Boswellian legal theme. 
T The "debates" must have occurred in the trials of the "meal rioters" just before 
Boswell came to London. See above, pp. 147-149. 

Phipps, later second Baron Mulgrave (1744-1792), was M.P. for Lincoln in 
1773. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries; 
he owned the best nautical library in England. 
9 Her History of England appeared in eight volumes, 1763-1783. 
1 Norman MacLeod, Chief of the clan, the "old Laird of MacLeod" of BoswelTs 
Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, had died in the previous year, much in debt, 
and had been succeeded by an eighteen-year-old grandson. See above, p. 63. 

t8o London, 12 April i/73 

me. I would not stay to see the farce. 2 1 would not put the taste of Gold- 
smith's fruit out of my mouth. Sir Walter, who was to set out for his 
regiment at Minorca next day, and his brother Sandy, who was at an 
Academy at Kensington,* eat some cold beef at my lodgings and drank 
a parting glass. I could not forget their father, the honest Captain. 

TUESDAY 13 APRIL. Longlands the solicitor breakfasted with 
me, and we revised Lord Mansfield's speech in the appeal, Campbell 
against Hastie. 4 Mr. Johnson and Dr. Goldsmith called on me and we 
went to General Oglethorpe's, where we were engaged to dine. Last 
year we had a noble day there. I was anxious a little lest this should 
fall far short, but it did not. There was nobody there but ourselves, a 
Miss Lockwood, a 5 very well-behaved woman, 6 and a fine girl, a Miss 
Scott, a natural daughter of the late Duke of Buccleuch as the world 
has it; but General Oglethorpe maintains that her mother was mar- 
ried to the Duke. The General produced before dinner a glass of what 
he called palm wine, the true canary; indeed truly rich. It seems the 
grape of that wine is the Rhenish vine transplanted into the Canaries. 
The General also called it sack; but Mr. Johnson told us it was not the 
sack which FalstafE drank, which was a sherry sweetened with sugar. 

Goldsmith took up the common topic that the race of our people 
was degenerated and that this was owing to luxury. "Sir," says Mr. 
Johnson, u in the first place, I doubt the fact. I believe there are as 
many tall men in England now as ever there were. But, secondly, 

* The play had opened on 15 March and played for the twelfth time on 31 May, 
the closing night of the season. This was Boswell's first opportunity to see it 
Goldsmith's profit for the evening was 171. 17. o. The afterpiece with Bos- 
well would not stay to see was The Apprentice, by another acquaintance of his, 
Arthur Murphy. 

Perhaps Elphinston's. See above, pp. 65, 93. 

* That is, revised the report of the speech which both of them had taken down 
at the trial the year before. British courts did not yet make official stenographic 
reports of their proceedings. 

8 Boswell here removed five pages to use as copy for the Life of Johnson. They 
were not recovered till 1940, and are now printed for the first time as Boswell 
originally wrote thftm. See above, p. 41/2. 7. 

e Mis* Lodcwood was present, along with Goldsmith, at Oglethorpe's again on 
Thursday 29 April. Apparently some sort of benevolent plot was on foot to bring 
the two together. See below, p. 206. 

London, 13 April 1773 181 

supposing them grown less, that is not owing to luxury; for, Sir, con- 
sider to how very small a proportion of our people luxury can reach. 
Our soldiery surely are not luxurious, who live on sixpence a day; and 
so you may take other classes. Luxury so far as it reaches the poor will 
do good to the race of people. It will increase them. Sir, no nation was 
ever hurt by luxury; for, as I said before, it can reach but to a very 
few. Sir, I admit that the great increase of commerce and manufac- 
tures hurts the military spirit of a people; because it gives them a com- 
petition for something else than martial honours, a competition for 
riches. It also hurts the bodies of the people; for you will observe there 
is no man who works at any particular trade but whom you may know 
from his appearance to do so. One part or other of his body by being 
more used than the rest deforms in some degree his body. But, Sir, 
that is not luxury. A tailor sits cross-legged, but that is not luxury." 
GOLDSMITH. "Come, you're just going to the same place by another 
road." JOHNSON. "Nay, Sir. I say that is not luxury. Let us take a walk 
from Charing Cross to Whitechapel, through I suppose the greatest 
series of shops in the world. What is there in any of these shops (if 
you except gin-shops) that can do any person any harm?" GOLDSMITH. 
**Well, I'll take you. The very next shop to Northumberland House 
is a pickle-shop." JOHNSON. "Well, Sir. Do we not know that a maid 
can in one afternoon make pickles sufficient to serve a whole family for 
a year? Nay, that five pickle-shops can serve all the kingdom? Be- 
sides, there is no harm done to anybody by the making of pickles or 
the eating of pickles." 

We drank tea with the ladies, and Goldsmith sung Tony Lump- 
kin's song and a very pretty one to the tune of Balamagairy which he 
had designed for Miss Hardcastle; but as Mrs. Bulkeley, who played 
the part, could not sing, it was left out 7 

Mr. Johnson and Dr. Goldsmith walked home with me. I have 
forgotten much of this day's conversations. Goldsmith went away. 
Mr. Johnson drank some tea with me. I told him that Mrs. Macaulay 
said she wondered how he could reconcile his political principles with 
his moral, his notions of inequality and subordination with wishing 
well to the happiness of all mankind, who might live so agreeably had 
they all their portions of land, and none to domineer over another. 
T "Ah me! when shall I marry me?" See below, p. 208. 

1 82 London, 13 April 1 773 

"Why, Sir," said he, "I reconcile my principles very well, because 
mankind are happier in a state of subordination. Were they to be in 
this pretty state of equality, they'd soon degenerate into brutes, they'd 
become Monboddo's nation. Their tails would grow. Sir, all would be 
losers were all to work to all. They'd have no intellectual improve- 
ment. All intellectual improvement arises from leisure. All leisure 
arises from one working for another." 

Talking of the family of Stuart, he said it would seem that this 
family had now established as good a right as the former family by 
the long consent of the people, and that to disturb this right might be 
considered as culpable. At the same time he owned that it was a very 
difficult question when considered with respect to the House of Stuart 
That he thought to oblige people to take oaths as to the disputed right 
was wrong. That he knew not if he could take them. But he did not 
blame those who did. So conscientious, so delicate, and so mild is he 
upon this subject as to which so much noise has been made against 

Talking of law cases, he said the English reports were very poor: 
the half of what has been said taken down, and of that half much 
mistaken. Whereas in Scotland, the arguments on each side were de- 
liberately put in writing to be considered by the Court; and he thought 
a collection of our cases upon subjects of importance, with the opinions 
of the judges upon them, would be valuable. Said he, "You have not 
had time yet to have a volume. But you may be collecting." 

WEDNESDAY 4 APRIL. I should have marked yesterday that Mr. 

, the * of Mr. Heaton, called on me and gave me a retainer 

for Mrs. Macaulay's . . . 

EDITORIAL NOTE: The Journal ends at the bottom of a full page, 
with a catchword; as the reverse is blank, it was probably not carried 
further. But Boswell continues the story of his jaunt, in rough notes 
and separate papers, until the end. 

The crowded days went whirling by. Small wonder if he did not 
find time to keep more than notes. " . . . Lord Mountstuart, supped." 
"Dined Paoli V "Foote's puppets. Supped with him." "Called Percy." 

This blank should probably be filled by some such word as "partner^ or 

London, 18 April 1773 183 

"... Mrs. Montagu's." "Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Williams ... in 
Strahan's coach and took me." "Dined Mr. Thrale's." "Goldsmith at 
home." "Away to Drury Lane. . . . Garrick lively and fine." 

TUESDAY 27 APRIL. Breakfast Garrick's. . . . Then Beauclerk's. 
Shown up to drawing-room. Very elegant Lady Di comely and well 
behaved. . . . We talked of hanging. ... As we walked up John- 
son's Court, I said, "I have a veneration for this court." BEAUCLERK. 
"So have I." Found him alone. . . . Talking of Goldsmith, Johnson 
said, "He should not attempt as he does, for he has not [the] temper 
for it. He's so much hurt if he fails. Sir, a game of jokes is partly com- 
posed of skill, partly of chance. A man may be beat at times by one 
who has not the tenth part of his wit . . . "We came away. 

THURSDAY 29 APRIL. . . . Mr. Johnson was waiting for me. He 
and I went for General Oglethorpe's on foot. In Berkeley Square [we 
were] called to and taken up by Sir Joshua and Goldsmith. They told 
[us] they were at [a] loss where to go. "So," said I, "you took us as 
guides." JOHNSON. "I wondered, indeed, at their great civility." 

A grand moment, towards which Boswell must have manoeuvred 
with some care and some genius came at the end of April in his 
admission to the Literary Club. ("Sir," said Johnson a few months 
later, "you got into our Club by doing what a man can do." "I suppose 
Dr. Johnson meant," adds Boswell, "that I assiduously and earnestly 
recommended myself to some of the members, as in a canvass for an 
election into Parliament.") On Friday 16 April Boswell sent a note to 
Percy: "I hope you will remember me at the Club tonight Sir Joshua, 
Mr. Johnson, and Dr. Goldsmith have obligingly engaged to be for 
me. They are all to dine at my lodgings on Saturday sennight, the 
24th April. May I beg you will do me the favour to join us?" On Friday 
23 April Johnson wrote to Goldsmith, who was chairman at the Club 
that evening, "I beg that you will excuse my absence to the Club. I 
am going this evening to Oxford. I have another favour to beg. It is 
that I may be considered as proposing Mr. Boswell for a candidate of 
our Society, and that he may be considered as regularly nominated." 
In his diary entry for that day Percy recorded: "At the Club: Mr. Bos- 
well proposed." 

The following Friday produced Notes which Boswell later de- 
veloped in a first draft of the Life of Johnson thus: 

1 84 London, 30 April 1 773 

[Manuscript of the Life of Johnson]* 

On Friday 30 April I dined with him at Mr. Beauclerk's, where 
were Lord Charlemont, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and some more com- 
pany. . , . 

The gentlemen went away to their Club, and as one black ball 
could exclude, I sat in such anxious suspense as even the charms of 
Lady Diana Beauclerk's conversation could hardly relieve. Mr. Beau- 
clerk's coach returned for me in less than an hour with a note from 
him that I was chosen. . . . I hastened to the Turk's Head in Gerard 
Street, Soho, and was introduced to such a society as can seldom be 
found: Mr. Edmund Burke, Dr. Nugent, Mr. (now Sir William) 
Jones. There were also present, I remember, Mr. Garrick, Dr. Gold- 
smith, and the company with whom I had dined. [Upon my entrance, 
Johnson . . . placed himself behind a chair, on which he leant as on 
a desk or pulpit, and with humorous formality gave me a charge^ 
pointing out the duties incumbent upon me as a good member of the 
Club.] 1 

(**They were afraid of you, Sir," said Boswell on the Hebrides 
tour, "as it was you who proposed me." "Sir," replied Johnson, "they 
knew that if they refused you, they'd probably never have got in an- 
other. I'd have kept them all out") 

FRIDAY 30 APRIL. . . . Fixed with Johnson [to] dine Mitre next 
day alone. Home in high spirits. Resolved [to] sit up and journalize. 
Did so. Not able as formerly, but wrote twenty-six pages. 

SATURDAY i MAY. To Dempster's and breakfasted. Was ill. Con- 
versation a fatigue; inclined to go to bed again, but resolved not. 
Dempster and I sallied out Called Burke's, after having walked in 
Park; not in. Then he took me to walk on Thames a kind of philo- 
sophical saunter. I had a strange thought on fate. . . . Went to Mr. 

The manuscript of the Life of Johnson now at Yale shows the book in all the 
stages of its composition. BoswelTs first draft (with the single exception indi- 
cated in the next foot-note) serves as the text for this and later passages. 
1 The passage in brackets was added in a revision of the first draft of the Life. 
The Notes of 1773 have the detail: "In flutter prayed in coach." 

London, i May 1 773 185 

In the course of a relaxed and desultory conversation Boswell re- 
ceived what he must have prized as one of the highest compliments 
Johnson could pay him. "We dined by ourselves," he wrote in the 
Life manuscript, "at our old rendezvous the Mitre Tavern. He was 
placid but not much disposed to talk. He observed that the Irish mixed 
more with the English than the Scotch did; that their language was 
nearer to English, as a proof of which they did very well as players, 
which Scotchmen could not. Then, Sir, they have not that extreme 
nationality which we find in the Scotch. Sir, I will do you the justice 
to say that you are the most unscottified of your countrymen. You are 
almost the only instance of a Scotchman that I have known who did 
not at every other word bring in some other Scotchman.* " 

On Saturday 7 May Boswell "settled all at lodgings. Was really 
calm. Left Joseph to set out. Took boat to Borough." At breakfast with 
the Thrales occurred a conversation in which Boswell, retrospectively 
"seduced, perhaps, by the charms" of his hostess on the evening of 
his uneasy wait for the note from the Club, attempted now to vindi- 
cate her divorce by Act of Parliament from Viscount Bolingbroke and 
her present marriage to their friend Beauclerk. Johnson was "angry." 
"Go to Scotland! Go to Scotland! I never heard [you] talk so fool- 
ishly." For which Boswell in the Life manuscript has Johnson say: 
"My dear Sir, never accustom your mind to mingle virtue and vice. 
The woman's a whore, and there's an end on't." 2 

Temple had come to town, and Mrs. Temple. On first seeing his 
"old friend and spouse" together this afternoon Boswell was "hurt a 
little" at their "appearance." But a grand dinner-party was arranged 
at Billy's in the Poultry. Temple and Claxton were there. Goldsmith 
and Langton, and two clergymen, the dissenting Dr. Mayo and the 
hymn-writer Mr. Toplady. "[The subject of] toleration was intro- 
duced by me, I know not how." The energetic argument which fol- 
lowed between Johnson and the liberal Dr. Mayo gradually squeezed 

2 Boswell in writing up his Notes for the Life often remembers details for which 
the Notes have no equivalent. It seems very likely that Johnson made both 
these remarks on the morning of 7 May, or perhaps he delivered his crushing 
characterization of Lady Di at some other time when the conversation was on 
the same topic. Boswell's Notes, by his own definition, are not so much minutes 
as hints for remembering, and he admits to occasional conflations. 

1 86 London, 7 May 1 773 

out the less authoritative voice of Goldsmith, until there came one of 

those junctures for which Goldsmith was so unhappily noted. 

[7 May, Manuscript of the Life of Johnson] 

During this argument Goldsmith sat in great agitation from a 
wish to get in and shine. Finding himself excluded, he had taken his 
hat to go, but remained for some time with it in his hand, like a game- 
ster who at the close of a long night waits for a little while to see if he 
can have a favourable opening. Once when he was beginning to speak 
he found himself overpowered by the loud voice of Johnson, who was 
at the opposite end of the table and did not perceive Goldsmith's at- 
tempt Thus disappointed, Goldsmith in a passion threw down his hat, 
crying in a bitter tone, "Take it." When Toplady was going to speak, 
Johnson uttered some sound which Goldsmith supposed to be begin- 
ning again and taking the word from Toplady. Upon which he seized 
this opportunity of venting his own spleen under pretext of support- 
ing another person. "Sir," said he to Johnson, "the gentleman has 
heard you patiently for an hour. Pray allow him to speak." JOHNSON 
(angrily) . "Sir, I was not interrupting the gentleman. I was only giv- 
ing him a signal of my attention. Sir, you are impertinent to me." 
Goldsmith made no reply but continued in the company for some 

SATURDAY 7 MAY. . . . Langton, who was so quiet and so pru- 
dent said, "Is there not a difference between opinions that lead to ac- 
tion and opinions merely speculative for instance, [the] doctrine 
of [the] Trinity?" JOHNSON. "Sir, I'm surprised that a man of your 
piety [can introduce this subject here]." LANGTON (timorous like [a] 
ghost). "I only hinted [at the question from a desire to hear your 
opinion upon it] ." 3 JOHNSON. "Well, then, Sir, I think that permitting 
to teach any opinion contrary to established doctrine of [the] church 
is so far to permit the forces of that religion to be weakened." LANG- 
TON. "[The] question may be whether [it is] most politic to tolerate 
or not" JOHNSON. "We have been talking of right. This [is] another 
question. I think [it is] not politic to tolerate." 

* The extended passages in brackets are supplied (the second with some adapta- 
tion) from the Life manuscript 

London, 7 May 1 773 187 

[7 May, Manuscript of the Life of Johnson, continued] 

He and Mr. Langton and I took a coach together to the Club, 
where we found Mr. Burke, Mr. Garrick, and some other members, 
and amongst them our friend Goldsmith, who sat silently brooding 
over Johnson's having called him impertinent. Johnson perceived 
this and said aside to some of us, "I'll make Goldsmith forgive me," 
and then called to him in a loud voice: "Dr. Goldsmith, something 
passed today where you and I dined. I ask your pardon." Goldsmith 
answered placidly: "It must be much from you that I take ill." And 
so at once the difference was over, and they were on as easy terms as 
usual, and Goldsmith rattled away. 

[SATURDAY 7 MAY, continued] . . . Johnson went out. Lang- 
ton told of Goldsmith, and he of Langton. I said, "I'd [have] given 
five guineas rather than not [have] seen that exhibition. I so often 
tossed, and he laughing to see his long legs in [the] air!" 

In August Boswell would write to Langton: "I cannot help having 
a kind of joy in recollecting that you with all your timid caution got 
a drubbing at Dilly's. The truth is, it was observed when you was here 
that you assumed a kind of superiority over me, as if you was never 
touched by that awful rod which has been so often applied to my back. 
It is natural then for me to feel some satisfaction in thinking that you 
had your share." 

At breakfast with Langton on 10 May Boswell learned something 
which displeased him much. Langton was on his way to his lawyer, 
Robert Chambers, to make a will devising his estate to his three sisters 
in preference to a remote male heir. This plan, so strongly antipa- 
thetic to Boswell's feudal inclinations, was the occasion of that grotes- 
quely hilarious farewell hour with Johnson which found its way, only 
a little muted, though without Langton's name, into the Life. For it 
was at Chambers's house in the Temple that Johnson appointed Bos- 
well to meet him that evening, and there Johnson, after recovering 
from an attack of "some violent internal complaint," launched with 
"noble enthusiasm" into a discourse on "keeping up the representa- 
tion of respectable families. . . . He maintained the dignity and pro- 

1 88 London, i o May 1 773 

prioty of male succession in opposition to Langton." (Boswell had 

presumably let out the news.) He called Langton's sisters "three 


[ i o May^ Manuscript of the Life of Johnson] 

He said with as stately a spirit as the boldest baron in the most 
perfect days of the feudal system, "An ancient estate should always go 
to males. It is mighty foolish to let a stranger have it who marries 
your daughter and takes your name. I would not let a rascal take my 
name. As for an estate newly got by trade, you may give it if you will 
to the dog Towser and let him keep his own name." 

I have known him at times exceedingly diverted at what seemed 
to others a very small sport. He now laughed immoderately at Lang- 
ton's making his will, called him Langton the testator and added, 
"I dare say he thinks he has done a thing, a mighty thing. He won't 
stay till he gets home to produce this wonderful deed. He'll call up 
the landlord of the first inn on the road, and after a suitable preface 
upon mortality and the uncertainty of life will tell him that he should 
not delay making his will. 'And here, Sir,' will he say, 'is my will, 
which I have just made with the assistance of one of the ablest lawyers 
in the kingdom.* And he will read it to him" (laughing all the time) . 
"He believes he has made this will, but he did not make it. You made 
it for him. I hope you had more conscience than to make him say, 
'being of sound understanding.' Ha, ha, ha! I hope he has left me a 
legacy. He should leave hatbands and gloves to all the Club. I'd have 
his will turned into verse like a ballad." In this manner did he run 
on, as full of drollery as a man could be, but surely such drollery as 
one should never expect from the author of The Rambler. Yet it must 
be very amusing and please us in a high degree to find that our mighty 
moralist and philologist could be so playful. Chambers did not by 
any means relish this jocularity upon a matter quorum pars magna 
fuit and seemed impatient till he got us out of his chambers. Johnson 
could not stop his merriment but continued laughing all the way till 
we got without the Temple Gate. I cherished it, calling out, "Langton 
the testator, Langton Longshanks." This tickled his fancy so much that 
he roared out, "I wonder to whom he'll leave his legs?" And then 

London, 10 May 1773 189 

burst into such a fit of laughter that he seemed almost in a convul- 
sion; then in order to support himself he laid hold of one of the posts 
which were then at the side of the pavement and bellowed forth such 
peals that in the dark silence of the night his voice resounded from 
Temple Bar to Fleet Ditch. 

This most ludicrous scene of the awful and melancholy Johnson 
happened well to counteract the feelings of sadness which I used to 
experience when parting with him for a considerable time. I accom- 
panied him to his door, where he gave me his blessing.* 

In the Notes of 1773 Boswell wrote: "I got to Mr. Dilly's between 
one and two, raised him, and got all ready. Took leave, and James 
carried my portmanteau to the inn. " 

* After the phrase "rascal take my name," the Notes add: "(I'm not quite sure 
of this.)" The same version has: "Chambers accompanied us to the Temple 


JUNE 1774. BoswelTs friend Temple, feeling no doubt that he had 
been neglected by Boswell at the end of the 1772 jaunt, had this year 
taken pains to prevent a similar occurrence. Even before Boswell set 
out for London, Temple had sent him advice where to lodge, with a 
suggestion that the Temples might join him to make up a friendly 
household and later travel north with him. Temple experienced a few 
days of panic at the thought that an impending visitation by his arch- 
deacon might prevent his escape, and he had qualms about the expense 
of the trip proposed. But Temple and Mrs. Temple, as we have seen, 
did arrive in London, and they set out with Boswell on 1 1 May for the 
journey north, as far as ComhilL, a village just south of Berwick. At 
Morpeth the three dined with Temple's aunt Mrs. Collingwood. 
"Temple and I in the garden there as happy as ever; our college ideas 
quite lively." They had a good night at Wooler Haugh Head. "A fine 
trout and negus. Just we three, calm and fine." The disagreeable oc- 
currence which might have been feared from BoswelFs earlier opinion 
of Mrs. Temple took place next day during the breakfast stop at Corn- 
hill. Boswell's Notes for the day and a periphrastic retrospect by 
Temple written at Gainslaw in June suggest that the three became 
involved in a more and more animated discussion about principles of 
government, feudalism, aristocratic privilege, and "subordination." 
Boswell apparently undertook to defend his usual allegiances in a 
style which he imagined Samuel Johnson might have used with the 
egalitarian Mrs. Macaulay in London. "I was rough to Mrs. Temple 
about her children being clerks, stewards to noblemen, etc. I was 
wrong." Temple replied: "You certainly were indelicate. . . . You 
should not . . . have been so severe and rough with your friend. The 
tears she shed were bitter ones. She says she forgives you, but I fear I 
cannot persuade her to pay you a visit" Boswell arrived home from 


Boswelfs Life, May 1 7 j^-June 1 7 74 191 

his trip late at night on 15 May "very ill with a cold. Could not 
speak to be rightly heard." During his absence his wife had sublet 
Hume's apartment where they had been living and had moved down- 
stairs into a "large new house" "very handsome and spacious 
rooms" in the same building. (This was level with the ground on 
the side fronting the Lawnmarket, but four fiats up on the steep north 
side.) Boswell wrote soon to Temple, two letters before he was an- 
swered offering his apologies for the "tears at Cornhill." 

Temple came on to Edinburgh alone and stayed eight days. 
("Friday 9 [July]. Tea at D. Hume's with Mr. Temple.") Other 
visitors during the summer were Edward Dilly (in town about six 
weeks), Pringle (at least a month), Percy, and the Jacobite partisan 
Andrew Lumisden, who had been so kind to Boswell in Rome now 
pardoned and back in Scotland after an exile of more than twenty-five 
years. In The London Magazine during this spring and summer, Bos- 
well was demonstrating his powers as a reporter in a series of "De- 
bates in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland." On St 
John Baptist's Day (24 June) he was elected Master of Canongate 
Kilwinning Lodge. The honour was to be conferred on him again in 
1 774 and 1 775. The summer was a busy one, with many cases before 
the General Assembly and the Court of Session. In July, before the 
Court of Session, he won his highly important cause concerning lit- 
erary property, his friend and client Alexander Donaldson's pioneer 
fight against the London booksellers for the right to publish freely 
books not protected by the express terms of the Copyright Act, and 
hence in effect for the right to publish cheap reprints of the English 

During thfe summer Boswell was also engaged for the defence, 
concurrently, in two conspicuous criminal trials. In one of these his 
client was a pathetic victim of circumstance and apparently suffered 
a considerable injustice; in the other, a pair of clients got what they 
deserved. Thomas Gray, a poor Chelsea Pensioner who lived in the vil- 
lage of Fisherrow, had a quarrel one night in January of this year 
with his wife, and as a result was beset by a mob of young persons 
teasing and baiting him; these went so far as to climb on his roof, 
break a hole in it, and throw in sticks and stones. In a sudden frenzy 
he ran out and stabbed a man who was passing (his best friend, as it 

iQ2 BoswelFs Life, May 1 773~June i 774 

happened) and killed him. Gray was brought to trial on 26 July, and 
Boswell., opposing Solicitor-General Henry Dundas, argued at length 
mn\ eloquently that his client was of "weak intellects," that he had 
been under the influence of liquor and had been emotionally upset 
to the point of not being able to judge between right and wrong, that 
the stabbing of his friend could hardly have been premeditated. The 
jury "with one voice" brought in a verdict of guilty. Boswell and Cros- 
bie, on the tardy plea that Gray was now actually insane, had the 
minor consolation of getting the pronouncement of sentence delayed 
until the autumn. Search in the Register House has not yet revealed 
his fate, but has unearthed a grim memento: the actual knife which 
did the deed, tied up in the bundle of papers forming the process. 

On 9 August Boswell briefly records witnessing the conclusion of 
a trial in which he must have taken a specially keen technical inter- 
est. Callum McGregor, charged with having committed a murder in 
Abergairn twenty-six years earlier, was acquitted on a plea of "pre- 
scription" that is, in virtue of the length of time elapsed between 
the crime alleged and the trial. Lord Auchinleck spoke in approval of 
the plea. The case seems to have set a precedent in Scots jurispru- 
dence for more than a century being cited, though without suc- 
cess, as late as 1934. 

In the other trial where Boswell himself was engaged it ended 
on 1 1 and 1 2 August in a session lasting through the night to four in 
the morning Boswell and Crosbie and Henry Erskine, opposing the 
Lord Advocate and the Solicitor-General, defended two tinkers who, 
in company with three girls, had called one night at the lonely hut of 
a rag-gatherer on the Carnwath moorland to inquire their way, had 
found him defenceless with his wife and daughter, had knocked him 
down, inflicting an injury from which he died, and had plundered the 
place before leaving. John Brown and James Wilson were a pair of 
sturdy young ruffians: one night in June before the trial began they 
broke out of "cage" and stocks in the Tolbooth, cut through a floor, 
and reached the roof on which they were then recaptured. Boswell 
and his colleagues can scarcely have conducted this trial with very 
high hopes. After a month on bread and water in the Tolbooth, Brown 
and Wilson were hanged on 1 5 September in the Grassmarket 

But by that time Boswell was many miles away, in the Isle of 
Skye, Bappy in the realization of a long-cherished dream. 

BoswelVs Life, May 1 7 7$~June 1 7 74 1 93 

For about ten years, or ever since their early acquaintance in 
London during the spring and summer of 1 763, Boswell had enter- 
tained and had been encouraged in a plan of getting Samuel Johnson 
to Scotland, and to the Hebrides. In London during the past spring 
he had industriously thickened the plot. Letters to the historian 
Robertson, to the moralist Beattie, to the elegant amateur of letters 
Lord Elibank put them up to writing back in terms that could be read 
to Johnson as further encouragements to the adventure. "Express 
yourself ... so ... as to operate strongly upon him." "Write to 
me . . . that I may read it to the mighty sage." "Send me an epistle 
full of insensible attraction for Mr. Johnson." From Edinburgh at the 
end of May, he wrote back to Johnson, urging him to "persevere in his 
resolution." "Let me know," replied Johnson, "the exact time when 
your courts intermit." "I am in high spirits at present," wrote Boswell 
to General Oglethorpe on 14 August. "Mr. Johnson is actually come as 
far north as Newcastle, and I expect him here this evening." "I am in 
very high spirits at present," he repeated to Langton in another letter 
written on the same day. "Mr. Johnson is actually come as far north 
as Newcastle; and I expect to have him under my roof this night." 

Johnson got out of his post-chaise at Boyd's Inn in the Canongate 
on the evening of Saturday 14 August, three days after the rising of 
the Court of Session. ("Mr. Johnson sends his compliments to Mr. 
Boswell, being just arrived at Boyd's.") He stayed three days at 
BoswelTs house in James's Court, receiving the homage of the "great, 
the learned, and the elegant" at breakfasts, dinners, teas, and suppers. 
(Mrs. Boswell "had tea ready for him" on his arrival and "insisted 
that, to show all respect to the sage, she would give up her own bed- 
chamber to him and take a worse.") 

On Wednesday 18 August Boswell and Johnson, accompanied by 
BoswelTs Bohemian servant, Joseph Ritter, set out They travelled by 
post-chaise for twelve days, up the east coast of Scotland, by St. 
Andrews and Aberdeen, and then along the north coast to Inverness, 
and thence by horseback ("equitation") to Glenelg and by boat to 
the Isle of Skye. For seven weeks of September and October they 
moved about through the inner Hebrides by horse, by "little" 
horse or island "sheltie," and by foot in the roughest places, by long- 
boat and oars, by small sail-boat, by a "vessel of twelve tons" and by 
another apparently somewhat larger. They stayed on Skye, on 

1 94 BoswelPs Life, May 1 7 j^-June 1 774 

Raasay, on Coll, on Mull, Ulva, Inchkenneth, and lona. On 22 Octo- 
ber they reached the mainland once more at Oban in Argyllshire and 
were a few days later once more "in a country of bridles and saddles" 
and then of "post-chaises." Almost everywhere it rained (all but one 
and a half days of a solid month), and they were kept indoors, or at 
least prevented from travelling forward, during long periods when 
they had to impose on the patience of their island hosts. They had 
gone to the Hebrides in search of something primitive in order to 
"contemplate a system of life almost totally different ... to find 
simplicity and wildness, and all the circumstances of remote time or 
place." They had found some wildness, some rudeness and squalor, 
and they had been accordingly disgusted and depressed. At times 
they had yearned to be home. Boswell had often worried about the 
long separation from his wife. On the other hand, they had found 
moments, even extended spells, of "civilization" and elegance, and 
almost always a warm-hearted, open-handed and touching feudal 
hospitality. They had talked and eaten their way through the 
country-side (Boswell had also danced, sung, and drunk) , entertained 
and attended on all sides by lairds and their ladies, by their families, 
tenants, factors, and retainers, by innkeepers, by the clergy, by 
doctors and soldiers. On the mainland they were received by the mili- 
tary governors of two forts. Intervals of notable felicity were the four 
days spent early in the tour with John MacLeod and his family of ten 
lively daughters and three sons on the island of Raasay and the week 
spent at the castle of Dunvegan, the seat of MacLeod of MacLeod, in 
Skye. A notable instance of displeasure came with their first landing 
on Skye and their uncouth and parsimonious entertainment by Bos- 
well's friend Sir Alexander Macdonald and his beautiful but "in- 
sipid" lady, BoswelTs "cousin." (BoswelTs record of this incident, 
even when severely pruned for publication in 1 785, was so offensive 
that it came close to causing a duel.) A notable instance of humble 
and rough hospitality and of prolonged imprisonment by bad 
weather, endured with honour on both sides, was the nine days spent 
after being driven by a tempest to the outlying island of Coll. The 
most deliberate rendezvous with romance was the night spent in Skye 
at the farm of Kingsburgh, where the mistress was Flora Macdonald, 
the heroine who had sheltered Prince Charles after the '45. ("Each 

BoswelFs Life, May i jf$June 1 774 195 

bed had tartan curtains, and Mr. Johnson's was the very bed in which 
the Prince lay,") 

The moment of greatest solemnity carefully worked up to, 
though at the end almost missed through loss of time and failure of 
nerve came when after a forty-mile trip by long-boat along the 
shore of Mull and an overnight encampment in a barn on lona, they 
stepped out at morning among the ruins of the cathedral and mon- 
astery, the sepulchre of many ancient Irish, Scottish, and Scandi- 
navian kings. ("We were now treading that illustrious island which 
was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage 
clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge and the 
blessings of religion.") 

On the mainland, the last important stop was for six days at 
Auchinleck, where BoswelTs "honoured father" and his "respected 
friend" only momentarily forgot themselves and "came in collision," 
staging a contest of "intellectual gladiators" which Bos well, in his 
public account of the affair, decided would be unbecoming in fr 
to "exhibit . . . for the entertainment of the public." 1 

At Inverness, on the way out, Boswell had written to Garricfc. 
It was an elaborate literary letter, rich with allusions to Macbeth: 
to Forres (where they had passed a night), to the heath, the witches, 
the castle. At Inveraray, on the way back, tasting once more the lux- 
uries of civilized life, he had found "one of the most elegant" of such 
luxuries in Garrick's reply, "a pineapple of the finest flavour." At the 
beginning of the adventure Boswell had taken advantage of the surge 
of good feeling generated by Johnson's presence in Edinburgh to 
renew friendly relations with Lord Hailes. At Auchinleck he now 
assumed the office of peacemaker in a letter to Langton, informing 
him that Mr. Johnson seemed to "imagine" that the rough work of 
last spring had been taken too seriously. "It seems you left London 
without calling for him." 

The travellers arrived in Edinburgh on 9 November, having been 
absent for eighty-three days of the most "vigorous exertion." "For 
five weeks together, of the tempestuous season," nobody at home had 

1 He put some of the repartee into his copy for the printer, however, and did not 
strike it out till the stage of proofs. See the forthcoming edition of the Hebrides 
in this series. 

1 96 BosweWs Life, May i j7$-~June 1 774 

received any word of them, Boswell almost immediately had to take 
up his work during the mornings before the Court of Session. But 
Johnson stayed on for ten days more of breakfasts, dinners, teas, and 
suppers, receiving the homage of the Edinburgh literati. "On the 
mornings when he breakfasted at my house, he had from ten o'clock 
till one or two a constant levee of various persons. . . . My wife was 
so good as to devote the greater part of the morning to the endless 
task of pouring out tea for my friend and his visitors." 

During almost the entire journey Boswell had kept writing up 
his Journal, showing it in instalments to Johnson, who was highly 
pleased. Boswell now had two large notebooks and a smaller one and 
some sheets of loose paper all filled with the narrative. This was the 
record which after Johnson's death Boswell would with the help of 
Edmond Malone trim more or less discreetly as the first instalment 
of his biography of Johnson, The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 

On 20 and 21 November Boswell accompanied Johnson as far 
south as Blackshiels, fourteen miles on the road to London, and saw 
him into the fly for London on the next morning. "I came home last 
night," wrote back Johnson on 27 November, "without any incom- 
modity, danger, or weariness. ... I know Mrs. Boswell wished me 
well to go." "In this," wrote Boswell much later in a note to the Life 
of Johnson, "he showed a very acute penetration. My wife paid him 
the most assiduous and respectful attention while he was our guest; 
so that I wonder how he discovered her wishing for his departure. 
The truth is that his irregular hours and uncouth habits, such as turn- 
ing the candles with their heads downwards when they did not burn 
bright enough, and letting the wax drop upon the carpet, could not 
but be disagreeable to a lady. . . . And what was very natural to a 
female mind, she thought he had too much influence over her 

Before their descent upon Auchinleck in October, Boswell had 
elicited from Johnson a promise to avoid talking with Lord Auchin- 
leck on three topics: "Whiggism, Presbyterianism, and Sir John 
Pringle." From the point of view of Boswell's domestic life, the best 
tail-piece to the Hebrides episode is perhaps a sportive letter of the 
following Christmas season from Sir John Pringle to his sweetheart 
in the Boswell household, Jeanie Campbell. 

BoswelVs Life, May i jj$-June 1 774 197 

MY DEAR JEAN IE, As there is some difference between your 
uncle and me in point of ceremony, whether he ought to write me 
first or I to him, till that be settled you will forgive me for giving you 
this trouble, to tell him that I congratulate his safe, though I cannot 
say speedy, return from his western expedition. Indeed he was so long 
away that I began to apprehend that instead of his having conducted 
his companion to the Isle of Skye, the Doctor had carried him to the 
island of Utopia or that other of Prince Rasselas I have forgot the 
name of it, but you will help me out, as I dare to say you are now 
well acquainted with it and all Dr. Johnson's geography. . . . 

I have been (you must know) very jealous of Dr. Johnson, lest he 
should have gained your affections and made you forget others who 
had a prior right. His genteel manner and polite conversation made 
me very anxious about the impression that might be made upon a 
heart so young and tender as yours, and especially in absence of one 
of so opposite a character. If so matters be as I suspect and that the 
Doctor is now the happy man, all I beg is that you would at least 
continue my friend and speak betimes a good word for me with 
Veronica. . . . Adieu, my good girl, and learn fast the London 
manners, whether to please Dr. Johnson or me. 


In the following June, beginning once more a daily record of his 
life with the opening of the summer session at Edinburgh, Boswell 
looked back and recollected: 

Review of My Life for Some Time Previous to This Period 

After Mr. Samuel Johnson left me, which was on Monday the 22 
of November, when we parted at Blackshiels, I was long in a state 
of languor. My mind had been kept upon its utmost stretch in his 
company. I had exhausted all my powers to entertain him. While 
he was with me, his noble exuberance of genius excited my spirits to 
a high degree, so that I did not feel at the time how much I was 
weakened. I was like a man who drinks hard and is kept in high glee 
by what is wasting his constitution, but perceives its enfeebling 
effects as soon as he lives without it. I was not, however, in a state of 
despondency. I waited patiently till my force should be restored. 
From the confusion of credit and scarcity of money, there was less 

ig8 BoswelFs Life y May i jj^-June 1 774 

business done in the Court of Session, Winter Session 1 773-1 774, than 
almost ever was known. I had not near so much practice as in former 
winters, which happened well for my indolent and listless state. I 
wrote few papers, and never was up any one morning before eight. 
Yet there was no great deficiency in the amount of my fees. I got one 
hundred and fifty guineas. I was engaged in several criminal trials: 
that of Cant and Muir for wilful fire-raising, in which a number of 
lawyers appeared, all gratis except Mr. Lockhart,* who spoke with as 
much spirit as ever upon the relevancy. I did not speak at all. Informa- 
tions were ordered. But the matter was compromised, and they were 
banished. I charged the jury in three other trials: those of Margaret 
and Agnes Adams 3 for murder (I charged for Margaret); James 
Brown for . . . 

There Boswell breaks off. Surely one of the causes operating to 
produce his slump of spirits during the winter of 1 774 must have been 
the unusually crowded procession of his unhappy criminal clients. 
A comic poem by his witty fellow advocate Henry Erskine, Patrick 
O'Connor's Advice to Henry McGraugh, shows that by the summer 
of 1774 his reputation for quixotic and unprofitable defences was 
hardly less than Crosbie's. McGraugh was a destitute Irishman who 
had been sentenced to public whipping because he had gone into 
taverns and ordered meals which he could not pay for. At the very 
time when Boswell was making his great effort for the sheep-stealer 
John Reid, he looked McGraugh up in the Tolbooth and wrote a bill 
of suspension that saved him from his ignominious sentence. "Patrick 
O'Connor's advice" to McGraugh was that he become a bailie. 

Then each day you may guzzle, at the city's expense, 
Without Crosbie or Boswell to plead your defence. 4 

The experiences which had established this reputation were, however, 
far from comic. On 24 January of this year Boswell appeared in court, 
against the Solicitor-GeneraL, Henry Dundas, in defence of two girls, 

1 See below, p. 2 ign. 4. 

'That is, Margaret Adam and Agnes Adam. Scots usage assigns plurals to 
proper names. 

4 Erskine's poem is collected in James Maidment's The Court of Session Gar- 
land, 1839. 

BoswelPs Life, May i n^-June 1 774 199 

Margaret Adam, aged twenty-two, and her sister Agnes, not yet 
sixteen. They were charged with the robbery and murder of a 
woman who kept a huckstery shop in Glasgow. If we may suppose 
a degree of truth in the last statement of Margaret, some sort of 
drunken party and brawl had occurred inside the shop when the 
girls retreated there from the attentions of "some worthless fellows 
of their acquaintance." The fellows made a noise at the door. Mrs. 
Mclntyre "would have" the girls go away. "She threw a glass of 
spirits upon them. . . . Margaret . . . gave her a sudden thrust 
away from her. ... In her fall her hind head struck against a 
stone wall, and she never stirred." Boswell spoke at length and elo- 
quently, moving a separate trial for Agnes (so that her sister could 
appear as a witness in her defence), and he charged the jury for 
Margaret. Next day the girls were sentenced to be hanged in the 
Grassmarket and their bodies to be given to Dr. Alexander Monro, 
professor of anatomy in the University, for dissection. Agnes got a 
reprieve during the King's pleasure. BoswelTs Journal for 2 March 
has the brief entry: " At M. A. *s execution." 

Again, on 7 and 8 February, Boswell was in court addressing the 
jury for a Glasgow carter, James Brown, accused of horse-stealing. 
Despite a petition by the defence for a sentence only of banishment, 
"on account of several alleviating circumstances . . . such as his 
having an aged mother to support, with a wife and five children," the 
Solicitor-General won from the jury a unanimous verdict of guilty. 
They recommended mercy, however, and after being sentenced to be 
hanged in the Grassmarket, Brown received a pardon on condition of 
transporting himself. 

And once more, on 14 March, Boswell was in the Justiciary Court, 
this time representing five clients, in two separate trials relating to 
two different forms of the crime of arson ("fire-raising"). John 
Andrews, William Wilson, and William Love were accused of break- 
ing into, burgling, and attempting to set fire to a warehouse at Pais- 
ley. In a trial that lasted through the day until three o'clock the next 
morning, Boswell and Crosbie and two associates, by impugning the 
reliability of two key witnesses, won a perhaps hardly expected vic- 
tory in a unanimous verdict of "not proven." On the very same day 
was concluded another trial in which Boswell had participated, 

200 BoswelFs Life, May i TT$-]une 1 774 

though without speaking, during the past December. A pair of 
wrights, Thomas Muir and James Cant, were tried on an indictment 
at the instance of the Sun Fire Office of London for setting fire to their 
own property in Leith Walk. Boswell's "Review" of his life for these 
months, which we have already quoted, records the result: "The 
matter was compromised, and they were banished.*' 

Boswell's slump in spirits during the winter of 1 773-1774 his 
first serious fit of depression since his marriage and a decidedly 
ominous experience was not something which he tried to conceal 
from his friends. "Your writing law papers and pleading causes with 
such attention," wrote Temple, "does not seem very consistent with 
the languor and indolence of which you complain." "An interruption 
of business and some degree of disappointment has given a faint idea 
of that state of melancholy and despondency under which I almost 
continually suffer. ... I suppose you'll plead your little practice 
as an excuse for not seeing Mamhead." (Temple's own troubles con- 
tinued, of course, unabated. His special effort had recently been An 
Essay Concerning the Clergy, in eleven chapters. This inevitably had 
to be submitted to Mr. Hume. And Mr. Hume inevitably did not care 
much for it and sent back through Boswell his definition of a clergy- 
man echoed in Temple's letter to Boswell: "A person appropriated 
to teach hypocrisy and inculcate vice. How ungenerous, how un- 

Among the sources of uneasiness and despondency for Boswell that 
winter, the old domestic ones persisted strongly enough. Pringle 
wrote in February to admonish him : 

"I was sorry to find that you should so obstinately continue Goth 
and Vandal with regard to your feudal system. I was in hopes that 
more reflection, your attachment to English manners, and parental 
affection would have by this time conquered those prejudices which 
none should preserve but a Parliament House agent. 5 How will it 

5 A Parliament House agent was what Boswell would have called a writer, 
and the English a solicitor: a lawyer not admitted to the bar who manages law 
cases and draws wills, deeds, entails, and the like (see above, p. 6n. 2). Pringle 
seems to intimate that lawyers of that sort would be in favour of feudal preju- 
dices because they make more complicated settlements and hence more work 
for lawyers. An advocate should be more liberal. 

Bos well 9 s Life, May ifi^-June 1 774 201 

sound a hundred years hence in the annals of these times 'that J.B. of 
A. after making his tour through Europe, being the friend of Paoli 
and of Johnson and a member of the wits' club at the Turk's Head, 
should have left his estate to the son of a dancing-master of his own 
name, in preference to his own daughter, a dutiful child, married to 
a gentleman of character and the mother of a fine family of children, 
and of that number, three boys of the greatest hopes.' " 6 

And Boswell's other most faithful critic: 

"Nothing but your own conduct can prevent your succession to 
the estate and influence of your family. But was ever anything so 
imprudent, so disrespectful, as to engage your interest without your 
father's approbation? ... I am sorry Lord Auchinleck should talk 
with such contempt of Mr. Johnson. . . . 

"Your unhappy brother John! Boswell, how fatal those sort of 
reflections are to the veneration and love we owe the Parent of Nature! 
Disease, folly, melancholy entailed on families!" 

The single phrase of Temple's letter referring to Boswell's engag- 
ing his interest without his father's approbation is our only clue to an 
early stage in one of Boswell's most bitter experiences of this period. 
The right to vote for a Member of Parliament to represent a Scots 
county was in the eighteenth century severely restricted: a voter must 
hold land of the King and that land must further meet certain require- 
ments (sometimes complicated and technical) as to assessed value. In 
the General Election of 1 768, by pooling their "interest" (the votes of 
the friends, dependants, and acquaintances whom they could persuade 
or could control by patronage) two large land-holders of the County 
of Ayr, the Earls of Loudoun and Cassillis, had secured the election as 
M.P. of Lord Cassillis's younger brother, that "joker" David Kennedy 
whom Boswell in the spring of 1773 had declared "totally incapable 
of the business of legislation." 7 In the General Election of 1774, the 
same coalition, now strengthened by the adherence of the Earl of 
Eglinton, proposed to re-elect Kennedy. But a group of landed gentle- 
6 See above, pp. 51/1. a, 59/1. 3. 
T Above, p. 161. 

202 BoswelPs Life, May i fi^-June 1 774 

men of the County, restive, as they said, at having the representation 
dictated by a coalition of peers and certainly restive against the coali- 
tion in power, banded together with the Earls of Glencairn and Dum- 
fries in opposition and put up as their candidiate that Sir Adam Fer- 
gusson of Kilkerran whom we have seen Boswell introduce to Johnson 
in March 1772. ("Sir, I perceive you are a vile Whig.") 8 They also set 
themselves vigorously not merely to the reviving of dormant votes, but 
also to the creation of votes of a kind that Lord Auchinleck had taught 
Boswell to abhor as "nominal and fictitious." 8 * 

Though Boswell himself did not possess the qualifications of a 
voter in Ayrshire, he threw himself into this struggle with character- 
istic energy. As would have been expected, he put allegiance to feudal 
principle before candidate and came out on the side of the "old inter- 
est," the "noble association." He had previously expressed even ex- 
travagant admiration for Sir Adam Fergusson, but was now deeply of- 
fended with him because Fergusson thought himself not bound to pay 
a Corsican subscription for which Boswell and Crosbie had advanced 
the money. Boswell also held the "independent gentlemen" in disap- 
probation because of their aggressive policy of making votes. Lord 
Auchinleck had not engaged in politics for many years. Boswell prob- 
ably assumed most rashly that his father would allow him to 
organize the Auchinleck "interest" and deliver it to the "noble associ- 
ation." And then came the grievous affront. Lord Auchinleck, surely 
not unhappy at a chance to slap down a young laird who was showing 
too great independence, yielded to the solicitations of the Lord Presi- 
dent of the Court of Session, Robert Dundas, and not only promised his 
interest to Fergusson, but even made for him a number of the "faggot 
votes" which he had previously inveighed against. Thus, to use Bos- 
well's passionate and deeply partisan language, the house of Auchin- 
leck had joined in an odious combination by which the interest of "the 
old families in the County" was to be "defeated by an upstart," "the 
great-grandson of a messenger." (His gibe at Sir Adam's ancestry has 
never been substantiated. The Fergussons of Kilfcerran, by all ac- 
counts, were an older family than his own.) But remarks uttered in 
the heat of politics are not made upon oath. He was deeply hurt botib 

8 Above, p. 88. 

8 * See below, p. 258^ 8. 

BoswelFs Life, May i Ti^-June 1 774 203 

by this threat to the "old interest in elections" and by the frustration 
of his own hopes of playing a political role in the county. His father 
had thwarted, had "crossed" him, had rendered him insignificant in 
his "own county" in short, had reduced Boswell to a "cipher." On 
6 August of the coming summer he would firmly refuse an invitation 
to dine with the Lord President at Lord Auchinleck's house. This un- 
happy relation with his father was no doubt further aggravated dur- 
ing this winter by the fact that notions about a London career were 
now steadily enlarging in BoswelTs mind. Thus Pringle: 

* e l still find you set upon fixing here. Possibly it may answer, but 
the hazard I should think would be too great for a man with a wife 
and a growing family of children. The person you quote for favour- 
ing the scheme has certainly wit, 9 but it is wisdom that is wanted in a 
counsellor on this occasion. I shall keep your secret, and I would 
advise you to tell it to as few as possible, because if people get a notion 
that you are so unsettled, they will become shy of employing one 
whose head, they will imagine, is turned upon other subjects. But of 
all things obtain your father's consent, for possibly he may have 
reasons for going into the scheme, and if so, you will have the world 
on your side in going, and a good apology for you if you should go 
and fail." 

In the background, then, appear BoswelTs ultimate plans for 
attaining the metropolis. More immediately, the question whether he 
could persuade himself that he ought to indulge in his annual spring 
jaunt. Before Christmas he seems to have thought he might well make 
it In February Johnson concluded a letter: "Let me know . . . how 
fees come in and when we are to see you." But there were serious 
obstacles, among them the fact that Mrs. Boswell was once more in 
an advanced stage of pregnancy. On 5 March Boswell tried to balance 
his reasons in a letter to Johnson. "I wrote to him," he says in the 
Life, "requesting his counsel whether I should this spring come to 
London. I stated to him on the one hand some pecuniary embarrass- 
ments which, together with my wife's situation at that time, made 

8 See above, p. 81, BoswelTs encouragement from a solicitor named Urquhart 
and possibly from Johnson. Pringle, who thinks of the Club at the Turk's Head 
as "the wits' club" (see above, p. 201) may now be referring to Johnson. 

204 BosweWs Life, May i jj^-June 1 774 

me hesitate; and on the other the pleasure and improvement which 
my annual visit to the metropolis always afforded me; and particu- 
larly mentioned a peculiar satisfaction which I experienced in cele- 
brating the festival of Easter in St. Paul's cathedral; that to my fancy 
it appeared like going up to Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover, 
and that the strong devotion which I felt on that occasion diffused its 
influence on my mind through the rest of the year." 

The appeal was well enough calculated to elicit from Johnson 
some word of sanction that would incline the hesitating conscience 
in the desired direction. But Johnson's answer was the death-knell 
of the year's hopes. 

*'I think there is no great difficulty in resolving your doubts. The 
reasons for which you are inclined to visit London are, I think, not 
of sufficient strength to answer the objections. That you should delight 
to come once a year to the fountain of intelligence and pleasure is 
very natural; but both information and pleasure must be regulated 
by propriety. Pleasure which cannot be obtained but by unseasonable 
or unsuitable expense must always end in pain; and pleasure which 
must be enjoyed at the expense of another's pain can never be such 
as a worthy mind can fully delight in. 

"What improvement you might gain by coming to London you 
may easily supply, or easily compensate, by enjoining yourself some 
particular study at home or opening some new avenue to information. 
Edinburgh is not yet exhausted; and I am sure you will find no 
pleasure here which can deserve either that you should anticipate 
any part of your future fortune, or that you should condemn yourself 
and your lady to penurious frugality for the rest of the year. 

"I need not tell you what regard you owe to Mrs. Boswell's en- 
treaties; or how much you ought to study the happiness of her who 
studies yours with so much diligence, and of whose kindness you 
enjoy such good effects. Life cannot subsist in society but by reciprocal 
concessions. She permitted you to ramble last year, you must permit 
her now to keep you at home. 

''Your last reason is so serious that I am unwilling to oppose it. 
Yet you must remember that your image of worshipping once a year 
in a certain place in imitation of the Jews is but a comparison, and 

BoswelVs Life, May 1 77^-June 1 774 205 

simile non est idem. 1 If the annual resort to Jerusalem was a duty to 
the Jews, it was a duty because it was commanded; and you have 
no such command, therefore no such duty." 

Among BoswelPs consolations this winter, a chief one was the 
decision in the House of Lords concerning the question of literary 
property. After his victory for Alexander Donaldson the previous 
July in the Court of Session, Boswell had shown Johnson his notes 
on the case eliciting of course only a very limited appreciation 
from this sturdy champion of the London booksellers. Towards the 
end of December, however, Boswell began to get these notes in shape, 
and about the end of January, Donaldson brought out in both Edin- 
burgh and London The Decision of the Court of Session upon the 
Question of Literary Property . . . Published by James Boswell, 
Esq., Advocate, One of the Counsel in the Cause. In 1 769 Donaldson 
had had judgement passed against him regarding literary property in 
the Court of King's Bench in London and was now appealing that 
decision to the House of Lords. It was important that BoswelTs 
pamphlet, containing the opinions delivered by the Scots judges, 
should be out in time to be read before Donaldson's appeal came on 
(4 February) . On 26 February Boswell learned the "great news" that 
Donaldson had won without a division and went at once to drink "tea 
with Lord Monboddo to triumph over him," Monboddo being the 
only member of the Court of Session who had voted against his client 
in the Edinburgh trial. Donaldson v. Becket 2 is still the basis of all 
English and American copyright acts. 

The year was punctuated by letters to Boswell from island lairds 
and antiquaries (Maclean, Lochbuie, Macqueen, Kingsburgh) ask- 
ing help or offering information. And Boswell carried on a brisk 
exchange of short notes with Johnson and the Thrales. He plied John- 
son with information, reminders, and promptings; he sent him his 
"box'* of collected curiosities. Even before reaching the Hebrides (on 
the mainland, sitting on a green bank in Glen Clunie) , Johnson had 
begun to think that he might turn his memories (and perhaps his 
long letters to Mrs. Thrale) into A Journey to the Western Islands of 
Scotland. By January he was "seriously engaged" in exploiting this 

* Things may be like without being the same. 

2 One of BoswelTs co-partners in The London Magazine: see above, p. 101. He 

was not the pursuer in the Edinburgh trial. 

206 BoswelVs Life, May i ^T* ^ ]une 1 774 

opportunity. "You must make haste and gather me all you can, and 
do it quickly, or I will and shall do without it." In May Boswell found 
himself in the position of double "negotiator" between Johnson and 
Lord Hailes on the one hand asking Hailes about the meaning of a 
Highland institution of cattle dowry, and on the other sending on for 
Johnson's criticism some specimens of Hailes's work in progress, 
Annals of Scotland from the Accession of Malcolm ///, Swrnamed 
Canmore, to the Accession of Robert I. On 2 1 June Johnson had sent to 
the press the first sheets of the Western Islands, committing to print in 
the first paragraph a passage which it would give Boswell much pleas- 
ure to discover. 8 

On 9 April Boswell received the shocking news that five days be- 
fore Goldsmith had died. He had been carried off, in his early forties, 
apparently by a kidney infection, his resistance, as Johnson believed, 
having been weakened by worries induced through his habitual im- 
providence. During the autumn of the previous year letters between 
Boswell and General Oglethorpe had lamented the failure of a kind 
of plot to get Goldsmith, "the Unfortunate Knight of Parnassus," to 
Cranharn Hall at the right moment for bringing about a marital 
alliance with a certain wealthy "nymph"* and thus rescuing him 
from his financial distresses. The first effect on Boswell of learning 
about Goldsmith's death was a suddenly awakened sense of distance 
from other, still living, members of the Club, a feeling of oppor- 
tunity neglected, of guilt in letting his correspondence go unat- 
tended to. On 10 April he wrote to Langton: 

"The death of one friend endears to us still more those who sur- 
vive. I got the news yesterday that we have lost Goldsmith. It has 
affected me much, and while I lament his departure and am warmly 
impressed with affection and regard to you who are one among the 
few whom I highly value, it gives me much pain to reflect that I 
have been so many months indebted to you for an excellent letter 
without acknowledging it. The same tenderness of disposition which 
makes me feel my being in the wrong to you with extraordinary 
sensibility makes me at the same time comfort myself with a kind 
sympathetic feeling that you will readily forgive me." 

8 See below, p. 216. 4 The Miss Lockwood mentioned above, p. 180. 

BoswelFs Life, May i ^^'* ^ ]une 1 774 207 

On the next day (11 April) Boswell thought of Garrick's letter 
which had reached him in the previous autumn at Inveraray, and 
now he answered that too: "That I have not thanked you for it long 
ere now is one of those strange facts for which it is so difficult to 
account that I shall not attempt it ... Dr. Goldsmith's death 
would affect all the Club much. I have not been so much affected 
with any event that has happened of a long time. I wish you would 
give me who am 5 at a distance and who cannot get to London this 
spring some particulars with regard to his last appearances." The 
most ambitious appreciation of Goldsmith which Boswell received 
from any of his friends was written by Oglethorpe "immediately" 
after Goldsmith's death, though it was not posted until 15 June. 

"Our Goldsmith is no more! I was with him Easter Sunday. He 
was then light-headed with a fever and died next day. When John- 
son dined here with us, Mrs. Oglethorpe and the ladies joined Gold- 
smith in persuading Johnson to publish his delightful ramble to 
UltimaThule. (Goldsmith was then in high health.) . . . 

"I dined with Garrick and his Club about fourteen days before 
the catastrophe, when Goldsmith shined and by the command of the 
monarch of the stage pronounced excellent laughing epitaphs in 
rhyme on all of the Club. The members little thought then he should 
so soon want a serious one." 

Garrick's now well-known account of the matter was that Gold- 
smith's epitaphs were written as a reply to one produced by himself 
extempore at an earlier gathering: 

Here lies Nolly Goldsmith, for shortness called Noll, 
Who wrote like an angel but talked like poor Poll. 

For this Garrick had received at least as good as he gave. 

He threw off his friends like a huntsman his pack, 

For he knew when he would he could whistle them back. 6 

5 The original letter in the Hyde Collection and Lawrie's copy at Yale both 
read ore. 

6 The epitaphs made up Goldsmith's unfinished anapaestic poem Retaliation. 
See below, p. 229. 

208 BoswelVs Life, May i fi^-June 1 774 

In The London Magazine for June Boswell published a finely 
turned tribute to Goldsmith a grace-note to public mourning 
of a kind which he was uniquely well prepared both by his habits 
as collector and chronicler and by sympathetic temperament to ex- 

[Boswell to the Editor of The London Magazine'} 

SIR, I send you a small production of the late Dr. Goldsmith 
which has never been published and which might perhaps have been 
totally lost had I not secured it. He intended it as a song in the char- 
acter of Miss Hardcastle in his admirable comedy She Stoops to Con- 
quer. But it was left out, as Mrs. Bulkeley, who played the part, did 
not sing. He sung it himself in private companies very agreeably. 7 
The tune is a pretty Irish air called The Humours of Balamagcdry, 
to which, he told me, he found it very difficult to adapt words. But 
he has succeeded happily in these few lines. As I could sing the tune 
and was fond of them, he was so good as to give me them about a 
year ago just as I was leaving London and bidding him adieu for that 
season, little apprehending that it was a last farewell. I preserve this 
little relic in his own handwriting with an affectionate care. I am, 
Sir, your humble servant, 

Song by Dr. Goldsmith 
Ah me! when shall I marry me? 

Lovers are plenty but fail to relieve me. 
He, fond youth, that could carry me, 
Offers to love but means to deceive me. 

But I will rally and combat the miner; 

Not a look, not a smile shall my passion discover. 
She that gives all to the false one pursuing her 

Makes but a penitent, loses a lover. 

BoswelTs second daughter, Euphemia, was born on 20 May. As 
the opening of the summer session on 14 June approached, he began 
but did not go far with the "Review of my Life for Some Time Previ- 
ous to This Period" which we have already quoted. On the first day of 
the session, he again resumed his fully written Journal. 
T See above, p. 181. 



A song by Goldsmith, originally intended for inclusion in Ste 

Stoops to Conquer; with heading written by James Boswell. 

From the original in the Yale University Library 

journal ^/aeginning f4*sune 1774 
& & & & 

TUESDAY 1 4 JUNE . I began to rise at seven. This day I got home 
another servant, James Dalrymple, a young man from Dumfriesshire 
who had been with Dr. Hunter at Moffat. He had a wife and two chil- 
dren in Edinburgh. Seemed to be clever and obliging. Between nine 
and ten called on my father, who had come from Auchinleck in one 
day and arrived late the night before. The Court of Session seemed to 
be crowded. I said, "There must be carrion in the wind when there's 
so many of us." The President was ill. Cosmo Gordon 1 affected much 
concern, and perhaps felt some. I neither felt nor affected any. 
"Cosmo," said I, "upon this subject you and I are Heraclitus and De- 
mocritus, the weeping and laughing philosophers." "And," said Mac- 
laurin, 2 "I am the Stoic between you." I was in good sound hearty 
spirits, and found many of my brethren at the bar in the same humour. 
The Outer House is a scene of unbounded conversation and merriment. 
Everything is thrown out, and amongst such a quantity of stuff some 
good things cast up. I have marked some of this day in my Boswel- 
liancu* I dined quietly at home. Nobody with us but Mrs. Mont- 
gomerie. 4 My father, Lady Auchinleck, and Dr. Young 5 drank tea. My 
father was pleased with Veronica, who applied to him for raisins 
which he had for her. 

WEDNESDAY 1 5 JUNE. We dined at my father's. George Frazer, 
George Webster, and Claud were there.* At five I was at the Solicitor's 

1 Baron of Exchequer, 1777. 

3 He became a judge in the Court of Session as Lord Dreghorn in 1788. In 1776 

he collaborated with Boswell and others in composing The Justiciary Garland, 

comic verses in "the Form of Trial before a Criminal Court" 

8 The discussion turned mainly on the absence of the President. 

* Mrs. BoswelTs widowed sister-in-law had arrived on 3 May. 

* Professor of Midwifery at the University, Mrs. BoswelTs obstetrician. 

6 George Frazer was an excise officer; George Webster (the son of Dr. Alex- 
ander Webster; see below, p. 213?*. 4) was a cousin of Boswell's. 


210 Edinburgh, 1 5 June 1 774 

for my first consultation this session. I have at the beginning of sev- 
eral sessions felt a peculiar cast of ideas by which I could distinguish, 
in my own mind, one session from the rest This came on quite simple. 
It was just the Summer Session 1 774 without any other perceptible 
mark. I began to receive my fees this session, as I begin to eat my two 
eggs on any night, with a pure sameness. I called on Maclaurin as I 
returned and drank tea with him. I should have observed that as I was 
walking out to the Solicitor's with Taylor, Sandy Mackenzie's clerk 
the consultation being on the cause, Ross of Auchnacloich against 
Mackenzie of Ardross Taylor said we would not be the worse of 
the President's being present; that both he and Gardenstone were good 
friends to Ardross. 7 1 said there was now very little to be expected on 
the bench from private regard. It is true. For in the first place, the na- 
tion is more civilized and judges have better notions of justice. But, 
secondly, there is actually not such strong friendships or family at- 
tachments 8 as were long ago. I do not blame our judges of the last age 
so much as many people do, because at that time there were many of 
them plain country gentlemen, not lawyers at all, and because the 
warmth of their hearts gave them a considerable imperceptible bias 
to one side. And it must be owned that of the many causes that come 
before the Court of Session there is a good proportion such as the judges 
will differ upon merely in cool opinion. No wonder then that regard 
casts the balance without their knowing it. Maclaurin and I sat an 
hour very socially. I had a consultation on Earl Fife's politics 9 at eight, 
and the session opened well. 

T This case was a phase in a long series of suits concerning the reversion of some 
mortgaged lands of the Ross estate of Tollie. Boswell had been engaged in the 
case at least since the previous summer. Francis Garden, Lord Gardenstone, was 
a Lord of Session. 

8 Scots grammar in the present tense of the verb employs a form that looks like 
the third person singular for all three persons and both numbers unless the sub- 
ject is a personal pronoun immediately preceding. Boswell rarely uses this con- 
struction; Mrs. Boswell, frequently. 

"Evening, consulted Lord Fife's politics. My getting into them was a great 
prize in the lottery of business. I was suggested by James Hay, my friend 
Charles's brother" (Journal Notes, 10 December 1772). James Duff, Earl Fife, 
was struggling with the Duke of Gordon for control of the counties of Banff and 
Elgin. Both sides were "making" as many votes as they could, while contesting 
those made by the other. Henry Dundas was among the lawyers of the opposi- 

Edinburgh, 1 6 June 1 774 211 

THURSDAY 1 6 JUNE. After the House rose, I walked half round 
the Meadow with Lord Monboddo, He talked to me of the severe stroke 
of his son's death. 1 But I saw he bore it with philosophical composure. 
His conversation was manly; and, while he discussed his favourite 
subject of language, I felt my own inferiority to him in knowledge 
and precision of ideas. But we are so formed that almost every man 
is superior, or thinks himself superior, to any other man in something; 
and, fixing his view upon that, he is in good temper with himself. I 
was busy with session papers till near nine o'clock, when the Hon. 
Sandy Gordon 2 called on me to go and walk. I was sitting with my 
escritoire open. He saw the word Milton^ which began a copy of verses, 
and his curiosity was attracted. I indulged his curiosity and my own 
vanity by reading a good deal to him both of my Boswelliana and my 
"Ten Lines." 3 Nairne 4 called, and Gordon and he and I walked round 

1 Arthur Burnett, whom Johnson had examined in Latin at Monboddo, on the 
way to the Hebrides, died at Edinburgh on 27 April of this year at the age of 
eleven. He was Lord Monboddo's only son. 

2 He was a younger son of the Earl of Aberdeen and about three years older 
than Boswell; he became Sheriff-Depute of Kirkcudbrightshire in 1764, and a 
judge in the Court of Session as Lord Rockville in 1784. 

8 On i May 1774, Boswell, after an interval of nine years, had resumed his old 
exercise in self-discipline; he kept it up until 14 July. The lines on Milton 
were his task for 15 June. The lines for 30 May may be cited as a better speci- 
men, both as verse and as biography: 

Extremely wretched sure all men must think 
A virtuous man who is inclined to drink; 
Who feels an inward suction in his breast, 
A raging vortex which is ne'er at rest. 
Such is my woeful state; for I require 
No jovial fellows to excite the fire. 
It burns spontaneous in my vital parts, 
And to my throat the keenest thirst imparts. 
Mere love of liquor, and not social glee, 
To drunken meetings leads unhappy me. 

* William Nairne, John Maclaurin, and Andrew Crosbie were in the long run 
BoswelTs closest associates in the Faculty of Advocates. At the start of the tour 
to the Hebrides, Nairne had accompanied Boswell and Johnson as far as St. An- 
drews. In 1786 he rose to the bench as Lord Dunsinnan. 

212 Edinburgh, 1 6 June 1 7 74 

the Meadow. We met Macqueen walking, which I said was an em- 
blem of idleness, as grass growing at the Cross of Edinburgh was an 
emblem of desolation. 5 Gordon came home with me and took a little 
supper and some port negus. 

FRIDAY 1 7 JUNE. Lady Preston and Miss Preston Sir George 6 
being somewhere else dined with us; as did the Reverend Mr. Wil- 
liam Macqueen, minister of Snizort in the Isle of Skye and brother to 
Mr. Donald Macqueen, who was so obliging to Mr. Johnson and me. T 
I was happy in being civil to him. In the evening I went to Mr. Stewart 
Moncrieffe's. 8 I played at sixpenny brag, and found I was as keen as 
ever. Luckily I lost only eight shillings. I was in excellent spirits for 
that kind of club. 

SATURDAY 18 JUNE. I walked out to Prestonfield, 9 and was in 
the same social pleasant humour that I always am there. There was 
nobody there but the eldest Miss Keith 1 and Mr. Andrew Bennet, 
nephew to the minister. After dinner Sir Alexander and he and I and 
Mr. Sharp, the tutor, had a stout match at the bowls. Miss Keith and 
I had a dispute as to the preference of sons over daughters. She said, 
"I would not prefer sons as sons to daughters as daughters, as neither 
of them make themselves." I answered, "We prefer a man to a dow 
(dove), and yet neither of them make themselves." I had very near 
said a man to some other animal, I forget which. But the remark would 
have been rude; whereas by choosing so delicate and pretty a creature 
as a dove no offence could be taken; and the comparison was very just. 
Said I, "We do not give an estate to a dove." 

* Robert Macqueen, who next to Alexander Lockhart enjoyed the greatest prac- 
tice at the Scots bar, rose to the bench as Lord Braxfield in 1776; in 1780 he 
succeeded Lord Auchinleck as Lord of Justiciary and in 1788 became Lord Jus- 
tice-Clerk in place of Sir Thomas Miller. He served in some degree as model for 
Stevenson's Lord Hermiston in Weir of Hermiston. 

e Baronet of Valleyfield. His wife was Boswell's mother's aunt. Sir George and 
Lady Preston supplied to a considerable extent the warmth of parental affection 
which Lord Auchinleck could not give. 

7 Clergyman and antiquarian, defender of Macpherson's Ossian, he accom- 
panied Boswell and Johnson for eighteen days on their tour on Raasay and Skye. 

8 This elderly and not distinguished advocate lived in the Horse Wynd and had 
a fancy garden at his estate of Moredun. He was noted as "a maker of great 

9 See above, p. io8rc. 3. 

1 Daughter of the retired ambassador Robert Keith. 

Edinburgh, 1 9 June 1 7 74 213 

SUNDAY 1 9 JUNE. I was at the New Church 2 both forenoon and 
afternoon. Dr. Blair 3 and Mr. Walker preached. I dined at my father's 
between sermons. In the evening I read several of Ogden's sermons 
to Mrs. Montgomerie. She and I supped at Dr. Webster's.* Nobody 
there but Lieut. Wellwood. George rather merry. Had the usual ideas 
of prayers there looking to Heriot's Hospital, 5 Lady Mary Coch- 
rane's picture and all the associations. 6 Drank wine and water and 
came home calm. 

MONDAY 20 JTU.NE. It was wet. I was at home all day writing law 
papers, except being at a consultation from four to six at Mr. Rae's on 
Earl Fife's politics, where we had a tedious reading of papers, which 
is really an irksome operation. I observed Rae 7 pretty sound asleep at 
one time; and I myself was once or twice in that drowsy nodding state 
which is very disagreeable. How much attention a lawyer ought to 
give to the causes in which he is employed is not easy to say. But it is 
certain that when there are many lawyers employed in the same cause 
not one of them gives as much attention as he would do were he single. 
In the evening I received a long letter from General Oglethorpe. 8 It 
stirred my mind, revived my idea of my own consequence in London, 

* "We next went to the great church of St. Giles, which has lost its original 
magnificence in the inside by being divided into four places of Presbyterian 
worship. . . . We entered that division which was formerly called the New 
Church and of late the High Church, so well known by the eloquence of Dr. 
Hugh Blair" (Hebrides, 16 August 1773). 

8 Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the University of Edinburgh, and 
one of the most admired preachers in the Church of Scotland. Johnson liked 
his sermons and recommended their publication to Strahan. 

* Dr. Alexander Webster, BoswelTs uncle by marriage, was one of the best- 
known figures in Edinburgh, a five-bottle consumer of claret ("Dr. Bonum 
Magnum") and a leader of the fundamentalist party of the Church of Scotland. 
See below, pp. 232, 259. 

9 The hospital or school for fatherless boys founded in 1623 by the royal jeweller 
George Heriot The seventeenth-century structure, now a famous day school, 
could be seen from the windows of Webster's house, on the Castle Hill. 

A family party. Lady Mary Cochrane was great-grandmother to Boswell, 
George Webster, and Lieut Robert Wellwood (Sir George Preston's daughter's 

7 See above, p. 9572. 9. 

8 See above, p. 207. 

214 Edinburgh, 20 June 1 774 

and made me impatient to be there and not lost in this provincial cor- 
ner where I find nothing to engage me warmly. 

TUESDAY 21 JUNE. Still wet. Mrs. Montgomerie and I went in 
a chaise to Bob Chalmers's country-house on the seaside, near Mussel- 
burgh, to eat a fish dinner. My wife would not venture out, the day 
was so bad and she was but a month and a day brought to bed. I know 
not how it has happened that we have had no intercourse since our 
marriage with Bob Chalmers's family; though, before that, both of us 
used to visit and be well entertained there. 9 We had refused several 
invitations from them and never asked them again. These cessations 
of acquaintance will happen unaccountably. Mrs. Montgomerie's 
being with us renewed the intercourse, and it was this day renewed as 
to me very effectually; for I eat of nine kinds of fish and drank various 
drams and a great deal of port, and was really much intoxicated. Mr. 
Baron Mure, 1 his lady, and Miss Annie were there. With them, too, I 
have had no intercourse, though invited, and though he is so much 
connected with Lord Mountstuart, my cams Maecenas, and is a 
friendly, sensible, agreeable man. However, things are put to rights 
at once by some happy occasion. I engaged him, his lady, and daugh- 
ter to dine with us on Friday, and at the same time Mr. and Mrs. 
Chalmers; and I engaged that we should dine at the Baron's the week 
after. I was talkative and vociferous from the liquor which I had 

I supped at Sir George Preston's with my wife and Mrs. Mont- 
gomerie. Dr. Webster was there with his son Jamie, now Colonel 
Webster, just arrived from Ireland. I was by this time outrageously 
intoxicated and mould drink a great deal of strong port negus, which 
made me worse. After I got home, I was very ill; not sick, but like to 
suffocate a dangerous state and my valuable spouse was much 

WEDNESDAY 22 JUNE. I had a miserable headache and in plead- 
ing a short cause before Lord Elliock I felt myself incapable of any 
distinctness. I was vexed at my conduct. 

THURSDAY 23 JUNE. Young Cowhill 2 and McGeorge of Cock- 

9 Chalmers was a "writer" (solicitor). 

1 William Mure of Caldwell, Baron of Exchequer. 

* Charles Maxwell of Cowhill. 

Edinburgh, 23 June 1774 215 

lick, two of my clients, and Grange and Adam Bell 8 dined with me. I 
was in a tolerable frame. 

FRIDAY 24 JUNE. Baron Mure, his lady and daughter, and Bob 
Chalmers dined with us. Sandy Gordon, who was engaged also to come 
but had sent an apology, came to us after dinner. We were cheerful 
and easy. Mrs. Chalmers was not well, so could not come. We did not 
drink much. The Baron and Mr. Chalmers and I drank tea calmly. I 
then went to St. John's Lodge, it being St. John the Baptist's day, on 
which the election of officers is made. I was chosen Master for the 
second year. Dr. Cairnie* was there for the first time for, I believe, 
some years. I was but moderately in Mason humour; though I have 
associated ideas of solemnity and spirit and foreign parts and my 
brother David with St. John's Lodge, which makes it always pleasing 
to me. Such agreeable associations are formed, we know not how, by 
a kind of chance, as the foam of the horse was by the dashing down the 
painter's brush on the canvas. I suppose the picture might be easily 
washed off. But it would be losing a satisfaction which perhaps we 
cannot equal by design. 

SATURDAY 25 JUNE. Mr. Samuel Johnson has often recom- 
mended to me to keep a Journal, of which he is so sensible of the util- 
ity that he has several times tried it, but never could persist. I have at 
different periods of my life persisted a good time, and I am now hope- 
ful that I may continue longer than ever. I shall only put down hints 
of what I have thought, seen, or heard every day, that I may not have 
too much labour; and I shall from these, at certain periods, make up 
masses or larger views of my existence. Mr. Johnson said that the great 
thing was to register the state of my mind. 5 

I went out today to Lady Colville's, and had a most agreeable walk 
with her Ladyship and Lady Anne and Captain Andrew before din- 
ner. My mind has of late years been so sound that I can assure myself 
of being suitably affected by certain objects. At Lady Colville's I am 
always soothed, comforted, and cheered. 6 The cares of life are taken 
off with a velvet brush. I observed to Captain Andrew that we never 

* Like Grange, a writer. 

4 Dr. John Cairnie had helped Boswell manage the affairs of his illegitimate 
infants Charles and Sally in 1762 and 1769. 

5 See above, p. 174. 

6 The co-author of the facetious Letters between the Honourable Andrew Erskine 

2i6 Edinburgh, 25 June 1774 

have a long continuation of agreeable life. It is frequently interrupted. 
A company who have been very happy together must have the pain 
of parting. After every enjoyment comes weariness or disgust We 
never have a large lawn of agreeable life. It is cut to pieces with sunk 
fences, ha-has, even where it is smoothest. Captain Erskine always 
revives notions of family and antiquity and Toryism in my mind. 
There was nobody there today but one young lady who was quiet and 
inoffensive. So we were quite in our own style. I drank hardly any; so 
was undisturbed. After tea Captain Andrew walked into town with 

I f ound a letter from Mr. Samuel Johnson, informing me that the 
first sheets of his Journey to the Hebrides were sent to the press. This 
gave me a lively joy; and I was much elated by his writing, "I have 
endeavoured to do you some justice in the first paragraph." 7 One must 
pause and think, to have a full feeling of the value of any praise from 
Mr. Johnson. His works and his majesty of mind must be kept in view. 
I had the same sensation tonight as on hearing from General Ogle- 
thorpe: that it was hard that I should not be in London. It is true 
Hume, Robertson, and other greater geniuses than I am prefer Scot- 
land. But they have neither that peculiar and permanent love of Lon- 
don and all its circumstances which I have; nor are they so much in 
unison with the English as I am, which I have clearly perceived, and 
of which Mr. Johnson has assured me. I supped at Sir George Preston's 
with my wife and Mrs. Montgomerie. 

SUNDAY 2 6 JUNE. Was all day at the New Church; Dr. Blair in 

the forenoon, in the afternoon. At my father's between sermons. 

Dr. Webster, the Colonel, and George there, as also my wife and Mrs. 
Montgomerie. In the evening sauntered with my wife and Mrs. M, 

and James Boswell, Esq., 1763, had sobered with the years. But Boswell had af- 
fectionate memories of him and of his sisters ("The ladies of Kellie," above, 
pp. 47/2. 8, 52). Captain Andrew (a suicide by drowning in 1793 after losses at 
whist) and his twice-widowed sister, Elizabeth Lady Colville, lived together 
for many years at Drumsheugh House. 

T "I . . . was in the autumn of the year 1773 induced to undertake the journey 
by finding in Mr. Boswell a companion whose acuteness would help my in- 
quiry, and whose gaiety of conversation and civility of manners are sufficient 
to counteract the inconveniencies of travel in countries less hospitable than we 
have passed." Boswell received a copy of the book from Johnson in January. 

Edinburgh, 26 June 1 774 217 

with intention to go to the Methodists' meeting or Lady Glenorchy's 
Chapel 8 to hear some remarkable evening sermon. They went to the 
latter; I went in only for a little, and heard a Mr. Davidson from Eng- 
land. Then went home by myself. It is amazing how all impressions 
of gloom upon a Sunday evening, which used formerly to hang so 
heavy on my mind, are quite effaced. We supped at Dr. Webster's, 
and were in an extraordinary flow of spirits. 

MONDAY 27 JUNE. I went to see the foundation-stone of the 
Register Office 9 laid. I was very angry that there was no procession, no 
show or solemnity of any kind upon such an occasion. There was a fine 
sight both of well-dressed people and mob, so that there was spirit 
enough in the country to relish a show; and such things do good. It 
should have been laid either privately in the morning, or with some 
dignity. But cards were sent to all the judges as private men, and they 
accordingly dropped in, one by one, without their gowns and several 
of them with bob-wigs. The Lord Provost 1 too was there as a private 
man. To appear so at noon before a crowd of spectators was very poor. 
I was for satirizing the Lord Register, who tripped about delicately. I 
would not just have hewn him like King Agag, but would have lashed 
him smartly "Lord Freddie with a foolish face." 2 

8 Very recently opened (8 May 1774); a large church built at the expense of 
a pious young noblewoman for the preaching of "pure evangelical doctrine" 
and to provide free seats for the poor. The Rev. Robert Walker (above, p. 213) 
preached the opening sermon. 

9 The Register House, designed by Robert Adam, was and remains one of the 
noblest monuments of the expansion of Edinburgh that followed rapidly on the 
opening of the North Bridge in 1772. At the time of its erection it stood isolated 
at the east end of Princes Street. 

1 Gilbert Laurie, Esq. 

2 The Lord Clerk Register was Lord Frederick Campbell, brother of the Duke of 
Argyll. He was accompanied in this ceremony by the Lord Advocate and the 
Lord Justice-Clerk. Agag, king of the Amalekites, came delicately before 
Samuel, who hewed him to pieces before the Lord (see i Samuel 15). Sir James 
Fergusson writes to the editors: "Lord Frederick Campbell receives less than 
justice from Boswell. It was largely owing to his persistent efforts that the 
building of the Register House was at last begun (nine years after the Royal 
Warrant for it had been granted), with the Adams as architects, and he rendered 
great public services in recovering missing records and encouraging the arrange- 
ment and cataloguing of the whole national archives. Incidentally, he was con- 
sidered, both in youth and old age, one of the handsomest men of his time." 

2 1 8 Edinburgh, 2 7 June 1 7 74 

We dined at Dr. Grant's 8 with a large company, amongst whom 
was Captain Schaw of the 66 regiment, and his lady, my old acquaint- 
ance Miss Thomson. 4 They had taken the house under us, and I had 
paid them a visit this forenoon, my wife and I having missed them 
last week and had our visit returned the same day. I had a consulta- 
tion at four on Earl Fife's politics and returned to tea. 

TUESDAY 28 JUNE. The President was in the chair. His animal 
spirits made the court seem more alive. It was like ringing the glasses 
at a drinking bout, or striking a shuttlecock with a sounding battle- 
dore. Balbarton 5 dined with us. I was a plain, good-humoured, hospita- 
ble kinsman to him. It is comfortable to be in that state. M. Dupont 6 
drank tea with us, as did two sons of Dr. Wilson's at Newcastle. 

WEDNESDAY 29 JUNE. We dined at Baron Mure's, where was a 
kind of second-rate grandeur but much cheerfulness. I sat by Miss 
Campbell of Carrick. Sandy Gordon was there, and Bob Adam 6a the 
architect, who was lively enough, though vain, for which I forgave 
him. I drank rather too much. I drank tea there too. Then called for a 
little at Lady Mary Cunynghame's. 7 We all supped at Sir George 

THURSDAY 30 JUNE. Captain and Mrs. Schaw and their daugh- 
ter, Dr. Grant, Colonel Webster, Miss Webster, Fairlie, 8 Matthew 
Dickie, and Mr. George Haldane 1 dined with us. I was in as calm a 
frame as I ever remember; did not speak much and drank port and 
water, yet contrived that the company was very social and had five 

8 Dr. Gregory Grant, celebrated for his "musical suppers," lived in James's 
Court on the fourth floor of the same entry as Boswell. 

* In 1761-1762 Isabella Thomson had stood high on Boswell's list of matri- 
monial candidates. She had now been married to Captain Frederick Bridges 
Schaw for some twelve years. 

5 Another James Boswell, an elderly distant cousin. 

6 Rev. Pierre Loumeau Dupont, minister of the Huguenot congregation. 

64 Boswell rather surprisingly wrote "Adams," both here and in the entry for 
i July. 

7 Sister to the Earl of Eglinton and mother to the Hon. Mrs. Margaret Stuart 
(see above, p. 76). 

8 Alexander Fairlie of Fairlie, an Ayrshire neighbour. 
3 See below, p. 273. 

1 An advocate. 

Edinburgh, 30 June 1 774 219 

bottles of claret I rose from table quite cool and several of us drank 
tea with the ladies. This was an inoffensive day. 

FRIDAY i JULY. I dined at Lord Monboddo's, where we had Miss 
Fletcher, Baron Winn, 2 Crosbie, Maclaurin, Sandy Gordon, etc., 
and Bob Adam. We were sufficiently jovial. To go home to busi- 
ness seemed dull. However, after drinking tea (the only man except 
my Lord himself), I did go home and had a short consultation; and 
was pleased that Mr. Lawrie was out of the way, so that it was not 
my fault that I was idle. I supped at the Horse Wynd Tavern and 
drank my bottle of old hock, which did me no harm. There was but 
eight of us. Lord Monboddo was one. 

SATURDAY 2 JULY. Dined at Craighouse, 8 and had a party at 
bowls both before and after dinner. It was wonderful to see Mr. Lock- 
hart, 4 who has now stood fifty-two years at the bar, playing with all 
the keenness of a young man. Maclaurin and I led one another on to 
bet and I lost thirteen shillings. To play for a crown, as we did, is in- 
congruous with the healthful field-sport of the bowls. It poisons it 
with a certain degree of avaricious anxiety. I resolved never to play 
for more than a shilling. 

SUNDAY 3 JULY. Was at New Church in the forenoon. The Rev- 
erend Dr. Ewing of Philadelphia 5 preached admirably on "My ways 
are not as your ways," etc. At my father's between sermons. After- 
noon, Tolbooth Church; heard Dr. Webster, as well as ever. We all 
again took our Sunday's supper with him. We were comfortable and 
more quiet than last Sunday. I was for setting up a hogshead of wine 
as a Lord of Session in place of a drunken judge. Dr. Webster said it 
was a good thought; and let the parties or their agents take glass 
about, and he who happened to get the last glass win the cause. This 
he said would be cheaper than giving a salary to a judge and feeing 

2 George Winn, Baron of Exchequer. 
8 Alexander Lockhart's seat 

* Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and head of the bar in respect of practice. 
His elevation to the bench having been long delayed because of his Tory (not 
to say Jacobite) politics, he was made a Lord of Session in 1775 as Lord Coving- 
ton. He was then seventy-five years old. 

5 John Ewing, D.D., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia and 
(later) first provost of the University of Pennsylvania. He had come to Britain 
to solicit funds for an academy in Delaware. 

220 Edinburgh, 3 July 1774 

lawyers. It is curious how a thought once started may be pursued. 
A reclaiming petition would come in against an interlocutor of 
Vintage 1 754, Ordinary. Parties might agree before the hogshead was 
drank out, 

MONDAY 4 JULY. Was busy all day. I had a consultation at seven 
in the morning "Sub galli cantum consultor ubi ostia pulsat" 6 
to draw a bill of suspension, which was done by eleven. Dr. Wilson's 
sons dined with us. I finished a long memorial before night. Andrew 
Stewart, Junior, drank tea with us. 

TUESDAY 5 JULY. Dined at Charles Hay's with Mr. Rose, Lord 
Fife's factor, and some others. We were social enough, without any 
rioting. Dr. Webster and Miss Webster came at night and supped 
with us. 

WEDNESDAY 6 JULY. My wife, Mrs. Montgomerie, and I dined 
at Sandy Gordon's. Lord Monboddo, Crosbie, Stewart Moncrieffe, 
Cosmo Gordon, etc^ etc., were there. Crosbie was obliged to go to the 
Commissary Court immediately after dinner to attend a process of 
divorce. I said it was a severe divorce to him to dissever him from us. 
It was a separation a mensa? Monboddo was in excellent spirits and 
did not seem inclined to rise. Cosmo Gordon and I sat to cherish his 
festivity, and we were really joyous. I repeated my ballad, The Boston 
Bill. 9 Lord Monboddo said it would do well in America. It was better 

6 "When at cock-crow a client knocks at the door" Horace, Satires, I. i. 10. 

7 "From table," alluding to the legal phrase divortiwn a mensa et thoro, sep- 
aration from bed and board. 

8 On 16 December 1773 had occurred the Boston Tea Party. The Government 
in retaliation passed the Boston Port Bill, which closed Boston Harbour. Boswell 
from the first sympathized with the Americans. His "ballad" may be found in 
The London Chronicle for 21-23 July 1774. Three stanzas of eight (the third, 
fifth, and last) will be an ample specimen: 

The blade of Burke and Dempster's dirk, 

From Irish bog and Scottish hill, 
Were brandished bright, in the Court's sight, 

In vain against the Boston Bill. . . . 

To the Upper House it went up souse, 

Of no effect was Chatham's will; 
His quivering crutch could hardly touch 

The borders of the Boston Bill. . . . 

Edinburgh, 6 July 1774 221 

than Lilliburlero, which brought about the Revolution; and Cosmo 
Gordon said it was equal to anything of Sir Charles Hanbury Wil- 
liams. I had drank rather too much and was a good deal heated, and 
at the same time had several papers to write which hung heavy upon 
my mind. One representation was to be done this very night I did it, 
however; though to be sure not very sufficiently. Social dinners and 
the practice of the law are really incompatible. I must restrain myself 
from them; and yet there is not company here to make them but in 
session time, and life must be enjoyed 

Think, O think it worth th' enjoying.* 

I was this night firmly resolved to go to the English bar if ever I should 
be quite my own master; or at any rate to pass half my time in 
London, where my talents have their full value. 

THURSDAY ^ JULY. Many of my brethren in the House asked 
to hear The Boston Bill, which I repeated with excellent applause. I 
lost two causes in the Inner House, I thought unjustly; and I spoke in 
both with a manly ease. Mr. MacLeod, brother to Raasay, 1 Mr. Banna- 
tyne MacLeod, 2 the Reverend Mr. William Macqueen and his 
nephew (son to Mr. Donald), and Dr. Grant dined with me. I was 
quite in the Highland humour. We sang "Hatyin fome eri." 8 Adam 
Bell joined us, and then consulted me. I then was at a consultation at 
Mr. flay Campbell's; 4 then at St. John's Lodge, where were but six 
present. But my spirits made a choice meeting. 5 

Come let us sing long live our King, 

For we are sure he means no ill, 
And hope the best for the oppressed 

By the unhappy Boston Bill. 
9 Dryden, Alexander's Feast, 1. 104. 

1 Host to Boswell and Johnson 8 to 12 September 1773. 

2 An Edinburgh advocate. 

3 BoswelTs English phonetics for the Gaelic refrain of a Jacobite song which he 
had learned in the Hebrides: Tha tighinn fodham eiridh ("It comes upon me 
to arise"). 

4 A leading counsel for Douglas in the Douglas Cause, he was later to be Solici- 
tor-General, Lord Advocate, M.P. for the Glasgow burghs, and in 1789, President 
of the Court of Session. In 1808 he was made a baronet. 

5 The minute of this meeting, still preserved, is entirely in BoswelTs hand: "The 

222 Edinburgh, 8 July 1774 

FRIDAYS JULY. Lord and Lady Dundonald and Lady Betty 
Cochrane, Mr. Heron of Heron, 6 and Dr. and Mrs. Hunter dined with 
us. It was a substantial creditable dinner, without my being obliged 
to drink any. It was curious to see Lord Dundonald, 7 at the age of 
eighty-three, stout and fresh, with a flow of spirits. The tide, to be 
sure, appeared to be out. But there was a high sea. In the evening, after 
a long consultation on two causes of Colonel Rickson's widow, I felt 
myself in a pleasing indolence. I yielded to it and went early to bed. 

SATURDAY 9 JULY. The state of my mind must be gathered from 
the little circumstances inserted in my Journal. The life of every man, 
take it day by day, is pretty much a series of uniformity; at least a 
series of repeated alternations. It is like a journal of the weather: rainy 
fair fair rainy, etc. It is seldom that a great storm or an abun- 
dant harvest occurs in the life of man or in the progress of years. Of 
this week I can observe that my mind has been more lively than usual, 
more fertile in images, more agreeably sensible of enjoying existence. 

An important part of my life should be my practice as a lawyer. 
I must record an anecdote. The Reverend Mr. William Macqueen 
had a legacy of two thousand merks Scots left to him by a testament 
subscribed in the Isle of Skye by one notary and two witnesses. He 
consulted me to know if it was good. I gave him my advice as a friend, 
and was of the opinion that it was not good, as the Act of Parliament, 
, 8 requires the subscription of two notaries and four witnesses to 

Lodge having met, although there were very few brethren present, for which 

those who were absent should be reprimanded, the evening was passed in most 

social glee, every brother having sung (though not as a precedent), and the 1 

Lodge was adjourned to the first Thursday of August next." "These indications 

of social glee," says Dr. John Murray, who was generously allowed to examine 

the record, "are reinforced by a large splash of claret on one of the pages of 

the Minute Book." 

6 Patrick Heron was perhaps already courting Lady Betty, whom he married 

at the end of the next year. See above, p. 7771. 6. 

T Army Captain in 1716, M.P. in 1722, Commissioner of Excise in 1730, the eighth 

Earl was brother of Euphemia Cochrane, BoswelFs grandmother, father of 

Lady Betty and of Major Charles Cochrane (below, p. 225), brother-in-law of 

Sir George Preston (above, p. 21 an. 6) and brother of Commissioner Basil 

Cochrane (below, p. 318). 

8 Act of 1579, c - *8 (Acts of Parliament of Scotland, iii, 1814, p. 145). 

Edinburgh, 9 July 1774 22 3 

all deeds concerning heritage, and to all deeds of importance, i.e., 
which convey 100 Scots. At the same time, I said I had some faint 
idea that there was an exception as to a testament; and I should think 
of the subject. I talked with some of my brethren. Sandy Murray 9 said 
it would not do; and that there was no hardship upon people in remote 
countries where it was difficult to get two notaries, as clergymen were 
held as notaries in the case of testaments. Crosbie was clear it would 
not do. He said the Act was express; and how absurd would it be to 
allow one to make a settlement with less formality and fewer checks 
against imposition when he was ill than when in good health. I then 
told honest Mr. Macqueen that I was sorry to find that he would 
make nothing of his legacy, as some of my brethren agreed with me; 
but that I should also ask his namesake, Mr. Macqueen. I did so; and 
Macqueen, with that excellent candour which he always has, told 
me that he really could not tell how the matter stood; that he thought 
it would not do. But like myself he said he had some kind of idea of a 
testament being privileged. I asked him if he actually did not know 
so plain a thing one way or other. He declared he did not. "Well," said 
I, "that flatters me very much, for I'm like to hang myself when I 
cannot answer a question, and here are you at a loss." He desired me 
to look into the law books, and had I at first read, instead of thinking 
and asking, I might at once have been made certain. Upon looking 
into Erskine, 1 1 found it to be clear that testaments to any extent were 
good with one notary and two witnesses. This is a curious practical 
anecdote. I must observe that Ncdrne seemed to think it would do, 
and Charles Hay was certain it would do. A man picks up his firmest 
particles of knowledge occasionally. Charles told me that he knew 
this of the testament well, because he happened to call on Michael 
Nasmith when he was examining a notary, and heard that point 
mentioned. I made honest Mr. Macqueen very happy by telling him 
that his legacy was good. 

9 Alexander Murray became Solicitor-General next year and in 1783 was raised 
to the bench as Lord Henderland. In the published Journal of a Tour to the 
Hebrides (1785) Boswell hinted that Murray's marriage to a niece of Lord 
Mansfield had not hurt his chances of promotion. 

1 "Let the subject of a testament be ever so valuable, one notary signing for the 
testator, with two witnesses, is sufficient ..." (John Erskine, An Institute of 
the Law of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1773, ii. 434). 

224 Edinburgh, 9 July 1774 

This day I had fixed for paying a bet of five guineas to the Hon. 
Andrew Erskine, Grange, James Currie, Sandy Abercrombie and 
James Loch, writers, which I had lost six years ago. It was agreed at 
the time of the bet that it should be a supper at Thorn's, in whose 
house I had paid two former bets. 2 But Thorn having now given up his 
tavern, and the sum being handsome, we resolved to haVe a dinner 
at Fortune's. Dr. Webster was with us as chaplain; and we had an 
excellent dinner in No. 9 and abundance of drinking. While Webster 
sat, we had several good stories and songs. He left us between seven 
and eight, and then we grew very noisy and drunk, but very cordial 
as old friends. In short we had a complete riot, which lasted until near 
twelve at night. We had eleven Scotch pints 3 of claret, two bottles of 
old hock, and two of port, and drams of brandy and gin; and the bill 
was 6. 18. 5. So my five-guinea bet turned to a seven-guinea one; 
for I gave the waiter the balance of that sum over the bill. In our 
great warmth we signed an agreement to meet annually on the sec- 
ond Saturday of July, as we had "now met, after an interval of six 
years, in the same good humour and with the same cordial regard for 
each other that we then did, and considering that such things were 
rare and valuable in human life." I sat after the rest were gone and 
took a large bowl of admirable soup, which did me much good, for 
I was not sick; though after I was in bed my dear wife was appre- 
hensive that I might die, I breathed so ill. 

SUNDAY i o JULY. Though I was neither sick nor had hardly any 
headache, I was, as it were, half boiled with last night's debauch, and 
I was vexed to think of having given my valuable spouse so much un- 
easiness; for she had scarcely slept any the whole night watching me. 
The reflection, too, of my having this summer so frequently been 
intoxicated, galled me. A circumstance occurred this morning which 

1 hope will have a lasting impression upon me. There had come a 

2 The nature of this bet is not recorded but is perhaps indicated by Boswell's 
account of one of the former suppers: "I gave a supper to two or three of my ac- 
quaintance, having before I left Scotland laid a guinea that I should not catch 
the venereal disorder for three years, which bet I had most certainly lost and 
now was paying. We drank a great deal ..." (Boswell to Temple, 8 March 


3 A Scotch pint equals about three Imperial pints; in U.S. measure, it is between 
three pints and two quarts. 

Edinburgh, 10 July 1774 22 5 

letter to me from Mr. Samuel Johnson last night. My wife improved 
it well. She said she would not give me it, as I did not deserve it, since 
I had put myself into a state of incapacity to receive it when it came, 
and that it would not have been written to me had the writer of it 
known how I was to be. She would therefore send it back. She thus 
made me think how shocking it was that a letter from Mr. Samuel 
Johnson should find me drunk. She then delivered it, and it was a 
more than ordinary good one. 4 It put me in the best frame, and I 
determined vigorously to resist temptation for the future. 

I was soberly at the New Church in the forenoon. Mr. Logan, 
minister at Leith, preached. I then walked down to Lord Dundonald's 
and dined. He was in great spirits. Colonel Webster and Major Pit- 
cairn, Charles Cochrane's father-in-law, were there. We three drank 
a bottle of claret each, which just cheered me. We drank tea there, 
and at night we all met at Dr. Webster's Sunday's supper. The Major 
was a sensible, good-looking, well-bred man, and my second cousin 
through the family of Wishaw. 5 We were merry rather to excess. 

MONDAYHJULY. My Saturday's debauch had relaxed me so 
as that business seemed irksome; and yet I had a number of papers 
which I was absolutely obliged to write in a short time, and some of 
the agents were complaining of delay. In the forenoon Captain 
Erskine called and gave me a special invitation from Lady Colville 
to dine with her. To accept of it seemed incompatible with my present 
state of business. Yet I could not resist. I considered that it would only 
throw me an hour or two more behind, and that I should be so re- 
freshed with the agreeable interview with quality friends in the 
country air that I should be able to labour twice as well. I accordingly 
went We had only the two Captains, Lady Dalryxnple, and her 

* See Life of Johnson, 4 July 1774. Johnson announces his departure the next day 
on the tour to Wales, which was to take nearly three months, in company with 
Mr. and Mrs. Thrale. It did not, observes Boswell in the Life, "give occasion 
to such a discursive exercise of his mind as our tour to the Hebrides." 

* Major John Pitcairn was sent to Boston later in this year; was in command 
of the British regulars at Lexington Common, 19 April 1775, when the first 
blood in the War of Independence was shed, and fell mortally wounded in the 
Battle of Bunker Hill, 17 June 1775. Pitcaixn's grandmother, Mary Erskine, 
second wife of William Hamilton of Wishaw, was sister to BoswelTs grand- 
father, Colonel John Erskine. 

226 Edinburgh, 11 July 1774 

grandchild, Lady Anne Lindsay.* I was gently happy and did not heat 
myself at all with wine. My wife came and drank tea. Captain 
Erskine walked with me as far as the New Town. I came home in 
admirable spirits and dictated papers with ease and alacrity. 

TUESDAY 1 2 JULY. This was just a busy day. I drank tea with 

WEDNESDAY 1 3 JULY. The jovial party of Saturday, all but Dr. 
Webster, dined at Currie's. We were hearty and social; and he 
allowed every man to drink as he pleased. I resolved to keep myself 
sober. But I hobbed and nobbed so cordially that, although I was 
not the worse of liquor and went home at six o'clock, I was restless 
and idle and did little or nothing. I supped at Sir George Preston's 
with my wife and Mrs. Montgomcrie. 

THURSDAY 14 JULY. My father and Lady Auchinleck, Com- 
missioner Cochrane, the Laird of Fullarton and his mother, Mr. 
Nairne, Dr. Boswell, 7 and Messieurs Alexander Mackenzie and 
Andrew Stewart, Junior, dined with us. The company went away 
gradually till I was left with Fullarton, who drank nothing at all 
hardly, and the two writers, 8 who were both very social. In such 
circumstances my strong attraction from within requires little aid 
from any external impulse and easily makes me think that it is a 
kind of duty or necessity for me to drink. I took rather too much and 
was to a certain degree feverish with it. I must steadily keep in mind 
that no man is more easily hurt with wine than I am, and that there 
is no real advantage gained by being a good bottle-companion, and 
whenever I am set with company after dinner or after supper I must 
beware of thinking of Duncan Forbes, 9 whose hard drinking often 
misleads me. It was unpleasing today to see my father not at all 
frank or cordial with me or my wife. At seven Lady Dundonald 
came herself and consulted me about a lawsuit which she had with 

6 'The two Captains" were Andrew Erskine and his brother Archibald, later 
Earl of Kellie. Lady Anne Lindsay, not yet twenty-four, was already the au- 
thoress of "Auld Robin Gray." 

7 Lord Auchinleck's younger brother, a physician. He resembled Boswell in 
temperament much more than he did Lord Auchinleck. See below, pp. 257, 321. 

8 Mackenzie and Stewart. 

* Lord President of the Court of Session; died 1747. Lord Kames remembered 
that Forbes had the "singular faculty of being able after drinking to read his 
papers as well as in the forenoon." 

Edinburgh, 14 July 1774 227 

a weaver whom she had employed to make some rich table linen. 

1 was vexed to find myself confused while her ladyship talked with 
me. However, I was prudent and plausible. In the evening I wrote 
a very good representation in a cause concerning a bill, which con- 
soled me so far. I had been much pressed to sup at Walter Camp- 
bell's with Maclaurin and Sandy Gordon. But I resisted and kept 
at home. 

FRIDAY 1 5 JULY. This was a day of complete sobriety and dili- 
gence; and I extricated myself from a very difficult cause by per- 
severing till I was master of it. I went in the afternoon to the prison 
and conferred with my old client John Reid. 1 

SATURDAY 1 6 JULY. Mrs. Montgomerie, my wife, and I dined 
at Mr. MitchelsonV at Corstorphine. He sent his chaise, which 
carried us out. I was unusually delighted with the prospect of tihe 
country. Mr. Aytoun, Writer to the Signet, and Mr. Claud Boswell 
were there. We were perfectly sober. At six I had a hackney-coach 
which carried Mrs. Montgomerie, Claud, my wife, and me to the 
play. There was just forty people in the boxes and pit. The play 
was The Man of Business, and the farce, Cross Purposes* It was 
wonderful to see with what spirit the players performed. In one 
view it was more agreeable tonight than being at a crowded play. 
One could attend fully to what passed on the stage, whereas in a 
great audience the attention is distracted and one has a great deal 
to do in behaving properly. The difference was the same as viewing 
a country when upon a calm horse at a slow walk or viewing it upon 
a fiery horse at a gallop, when you must attend to the reins and to 
your seat. But the laughable passages did not go off so well as in a 
crowd, for laughter is augmented by sympathetic power. upped 
quietly at home. 

suNDAY7JULY. Was in a calm, reflecting frame. Considered 
how very little I read during the course of a week except mere matter 
of business. I thought of lying in bed all forenoon and indulging the 
humour in which I then was. I had a slight conflict between what I 

1 John Reid, a butcher from Stirlingshire, had been BoswelTs first criminal 
client in 1766, when Boswell and Crosbie obtained his acquittal in a trial for 
sheep-stealing. He had now been arrested on another charge of the same kind. 

2 Samuel, Senior, Writer to the Signet. See above, p. 61. 

3 By George Colman and William O'Brien, respectively. 

228 Edinburgh, 17 July 1774 

really thought would do me most good and the desire of being ex- 
ternally decent and going to church. I rose and breakfasted; but being 
too late for church, I read a part of my Bible and began the Life of 
Bishop Sanderson by Walton, which I have heard Mr. Samuel John- 
son commend much and which I had borrowed from the Advocates' 
Library, being resolved to read all Walton's Lives, as Mr. Johnson 
had written to me of a design that Dr. Home of Oxford had to reprint 
them,* but which he gave up upon Mr. Johnson's telling him that 
Lord Hailes had the same design. This, however, was a mistake. Lord 
Hailes only wished to have them reprinted, but was willing to give 
any aid that he could in the way of illustration. So that I was to 
write to Mr. Johnson that Dr. Home should proceed. I wished to 
read what Mr* Johnson valued, and thought that perhaps I might 
be able also to give some little aid to Dr. Home. I read Sanderson's 
Life today, all but some leaves which were a-wanting in the copy 
which I had. I shall get the defect supplied. 5 The simplicity and pious 
spirit of Walton was, as it were, transfused into my soul. I resolved 
that amidst business and every other worldly pursuit I should still 
keep in mind religious duty. I had stripped and gone to bed again in 
my night-gown after breakfast, which favoured my tranquillity. A 
man who knows himself should use means to do hi good which to 
others may seem trifling or ridiculous. 

My wife and I dined at my father's, where were Sir George Pres- 
ton and George Webster. There was the usual constraint joined with 
the usual small conversation. In the afternoon I was at the New 
Church and heard Dr. Blair preach. My wife and I drank tea at home 
by ourselves. We all supped at Dr. Webster's. 

MONDAY 18 JULY. Mrs. Montgomerie, my wife, and I dined at 
Lady Colville's, where we had Sir George Preston, his lady, and 
daughter. Captain Andrew was not there. I was in a disagreeable 

4 In the letter which fioswell had been given by his wife on 10 July. 
1 The volume, still in the Advocates' Library (National Library of Scotland), 
bears the following note in BoswelTs hand on the fly-leaf: "Having borrowed 
this excellent life out of the Advocates' Library, I found that it wanted seven 
leaves. Having purchased the same edition at the Reverend Dr. Patrick Cum- 
tiling's auction, with a head of the Bishop which has been taken away from 
this copy, I had the seven leaves supplied in manuscript by my clerk; and 1 now 
return it, hoping that it may edify many readers. JAMES BOSWELL. 1780." 

Edinburgh, 18 July 1774 229 

humour, domineering and ill-bred, insisting to have Sir George's 
punch made stronger, and in short being really rude. A fit of impa- 
tience and coarse violence of temper had come upon me. I was angry 
at myself and yet so proud that when I saw it was observed with dis- 
satisfaction, I persisted. We drank tea, and I grew calmer. Lady Anne 
walked in with my wife and me, 

TUESDAY 19 JULY. Lord Alemoor 6 and his sister, Lord Mon- 
boddo, Mr. Walter Campbell and wife, and Miss Douglas Ker, Cros- 
bie, and Charles Hay dined with us. It was a very creditable and 
agreeable meeting, for we were all in good humour. After the ladies 
went to the drawing-room, there was too much drinking. Lord Ale- 
moor sat by till about seven and was very pleasant. I gave them my 
Boston Bill and read some of Goldsmith's Retaliation? which dashed 
some finer genius in our jovial cup. Crosbie spoke more than usual. 
He had consultations both at six and seven. But he did not stir. He 
told me afterwards, "I could not tear myself away from you." Mon- 
boddo was excellent company. It pleased me to have my good pro- 
fessor, Charles Hay, in a party which satisfied him to the full. The 
future Shawfield was steadily meiry. 8 I had a consultation at Mr. 
Rae's on Earl Fife's politics at seven. But I thought there were enough 
there without me that I could read the papers by myself and 
that I should come in long before their tedious conference was over. 
In the situation I then was, I could not get away. At eight my com- 
pany insisted to break up. I went to Mr. Rae's and got as much of the 
consultation as was necessary. I was a good deal intoxicated, but had 
as much command of myself as to be decent. 

WEDNESDAY 2O JULY. My hearty sociality of yesterday did not 
distress me much. The Journal of this day is marked above a week 

6 Andrew Pringle, Lord of Session. 

* See above, p. 207. The poem was published a fortnight after Goldsmith's death. 

On 7 May Boswell, answering an inquiry from Lord Hailes, had not seen it 

and doubted if it was genuine. 

8 "The future Shawfield" is Walter CampbeU; Charles Hay is called "my good 

professor" because he and Boswell had been studying law together during the 

recess. Hay (later Lord Newton), seven years younger than Boswell, had the 

reputation of being equally profound in law and in drink. He and Boswell 

were at this time close friends, but seem later to have quarrelled or drifted 


230 Edinburgh, 20 July 1774 

after its elapse; and it is the only day as to the history of which I could 
not swear. I am pretty certain that I passed it in the plain course of 
business without being in company. 

THURSDAY 21 JULY. Mr. Alexander Donaldson and his son, Mr. 
Charles Hay, Mr. Michael Nasmith, and Grange supped with me. I 
told Mr. Alexander Donaldson that, as Alexander the Great sat down 
and wept that he had no more worlds to conquer, he might now, after 
his victory on Literary Property, sit down and weep that he had no 
more booksellers to conquer. We were jovial and merry. My wife and 
Mrs. Montgomerie were at the play, and sent to us not to wait supper 
for them. They came to us about eleven, and enlivened us. We sat till 
one in the morning. 

FRIDAY 22 JULY. I dined at Lord Dundonald's with my wif e and 
Mrs. Montgomerie. Old General Colville, 9 Captain Blair, Mr. Nairne, 
and George Webster were there. The Earl was in great spirits; but it 
was not quite agreeable to hear a man of eighty-three swearing and 
talking bawdy. One regretted that such admirable vivacity had taken 
such habits. He however showed a sense of piety; for he said "he never 
rose in the morning nor lay down at night without thanking GOD for 
his goodness to him." I, in my way, rattled too much, and being 
grand-nephew to the Earl, who did not drink himself, I willingly 
thought it incumbent on me to be landlord, and pushed about the 
bottle pretty briskly. We drank tea. I felt myself somewhat flustered 
with wine; was at a consultation at the Solicitor's at seven. Then being 
unquiet after I got home, so that I could not work, went to Mr. Stewart 
Moncrieffe's, betted at the whist table, and lost a crown, which I 
grudged. We were ten at supper, Colonel Seton and Castle Stewart 1 
for the first time. I indulged in old hock and became very drunk. 
Colonel Murray, 2 the Duke of AtholTs brother, joined me in support- 

9 Charles Colville (1691-1775), second son of Alexander (d. 1717), de jure fifth 
Lord Colville, entered the Army early, and saw much service, including Mal- 
plaquet in 1709 and Culloden in 1746. He became a lieutenant-general in 1770. 
He died unmarried. 

1 Colonel James Seton later became Governor of St. Vincent in the Windward 
Islands. William Stewart of Castle Stewart was M.P. for the Wigtown burghs 
1770-1774 and for the stewartry of Kirkcudbright 1774-1780. He was forced 
to sell his estate c. 1783. 

2 " . . . of the old Highland regiment" (Journal, 4 May 1769). He was the Hon. 
James Murray, second son of Lord George Murray. 

Edinburgh, 22 July 1774 231 

ing male succession. Seton and I were warm friends. Matthew Hen- 
derson 8 was very profane. Somebody said he would be made answer 
for his sins. He said, "I wish I was impanelled in a future state. I 
would agree to take two hundred years of hell to be ensured of a future 
state." "Well," said I, "there is something spirited. A noble wish for 
the immortality of the soul. I tell you, Matthew, I shall meet you in 
a future state, and though, to be sure, you must do penance for some 
time, yet I am persuaded you will be forgiven." Drinking never fails 
to make me ill-bred. I insisted to know Moncrieffe's age. He parried 
me well. How I appeared this night to others, I know not. But I recol- 
lect having felt much warmth of heart, fertility of fancy, and joyous 
complacency mingled in a sort of delirium. Such a state is at least 
equal to a pleasing dream. I drank near three bottles of hock, and then 
staggered away. I got home about three in the morning. Mr. Nairne 
had supped at my house, expecting me home. Mrs. Montgomerie had 
sat up till two waiting to see me, as she was to set out next morning. 
I was incapable of knowing anything; and my wife was waiting all 
the time, drowsy and anxious. What a price does such an evening's, 
or rather night's riot cost me! 

SATURDAY 23 JULY. I had been sick without being sensible of 
it. But I was so ill at seven that I could not bid adieu to Mrs. Mont- 
gomerie. I however grew so well as to be able to get up and go to the 
Parliament House at nine. I was still quite giddy with liquor, and, 
squeamishncss having gone of, I was in a good, vigorous, sparkling 
frame, and did what was necessary to be done in several causes, and 
was most entertaining amongst my brother lawyers. I described Castle 
Stewart as a castle impregnable by wine that could not be sapped 

that had a deep moat of wine around it I dined at Crosbie's, where 

were the Lords Alemoor, Elliock, and Monboddo, a very good fifth 
of the bench; as also Dr. lind, 4 Wattle Campbell, and CuUen. 5 1 was 

* Henderson, the antiquary, befriended Burns, who wrote a moving elegy on 
him in 1790. "He was," says the poet, "an intimate acquaintance of mine; and 
of all mankind I ever knew, he was one of the first for a nice sense of honour, 
a generous contempt of the adventitious distinctions of men, and sterling though 
sometimes outre wit" (Letters of Robert Burns, ed. J. DeL. Ferguson, ii. 33)- ^ 

* Shelley's beloved friend years afterwards, at Windsor; the old hermit in 
Loon and Cythna and Zonoras in Prince Athanase. He was at this time thirty- 
eight years old. 

5 See above, p. 40n. 6. 

232 Edinburgh, 23 July 1774 

in prodigious spirits, dined with a great appetite, and drank beer 
copiously to allay the thirst of last night's drinking. We had a deal of 
merriment; and I drank old hock, which just cooled my fever and 
really sobered me. The judges sat well. I talked of the long time that 
the same bench had sat. "As long as Duncan Forbes drove the same 
horses" (as I expressed his being at the head of the same Lords) . "I 
am glad," said Lord Alemoor, "you g* ve us so gd an epithet as 
horses"** As the wine went freely about, he said, "You'll make a va- 
cancy tonight." Said I: "Maclaurin has Lord Kennet dining with him 
today, to try what he can make of him. We are fighting the bench in 
parties," I afterwards (not this day) observed that Rennet's insipidity 
and Maclaurin's peevishness would make poor work. It would be like 
skate and vinegar. It was pleasant to have the bench and the bar so 
easy together as we were today, but in my opinion the ease was too 
much. The character of a judge should not only have dignity but 
reverence. Wattie Campbell and Cullen and I sat till between eleven 
and twelve, when Crosbie, who had drank ve.ry faithfully, seemed 
much overcome. He pressed us to sit, but none of us were drunk and 
we all came off. I walked home with great composure. 

SUNDAY 24 JULY. I was very well, and was at the New Church 
all day and at my father's between sermons. Dr. Blair preached well 
in the forenoon on, "Who art thou that judgest another man's serv- 
ant?" He recommended calmness in judging of others to man, who 
has so much need of indulgence from his Maker. The sermon was very- 
applicable to me. I took it home and resolved to check violence of 
temper and make allowance even for the President. Sir George drank 
tea with us; and at night we took our Sunday's supper at Dr. Webster's, 
the sixth Sunday without interruption to me. I had just the usual 
ideas; and took, as I had done for these several Sundays, a short walk 
in the garden with George just before supper to point my appetite. 
We talked tonight of a future state very pleasingly. At supper, where 
was only young Grant, whom we had last Sunday, we were too vehe- 
ment and vociferous. The sons bore down the father as much as they 
could. The father cried, "Have patience." Said George to him, "I 
would not like to take a month's tickets for patience from you" 

5 *Sir James Fergusson suggests that this is a sly allusion to Lord Kames's 
favourite epithet for his colleagues: bitches. 

Edinburgh, 24 July 1774 2 33 

thereby attacking the Doctor's own heat of temper. George has fancy. 
I was taking him short in an argument. He cried, "Don't cut me down 
yet. The crop's too green." I was more moderate than usual in talk> 
drank little, and came home in good time, pretty much fatigued with 
the sociality of the two preceding days. 

I omitted to mention that I called this evening on Sir William 
Forbes 8 and had a long comfortable tete--tete with him upon literary 
subjects and religious principles, and on the conduct of life. He told 
me that he kept an accurate account of his expenses, which he was re- 
solved to do to the day of his death; that from his being so much used 
to figures, it was quite easy to him; that it served as a kind of Journal 
of his life; that perhaps once a quarter he classed his expenses under 
different articles, and so saw where to retrench, where to extend. I 
determined to have myself put in a way by him of doing the same. 
I value him highly and regret that we are not more together, for, as 
I told him tonight, I am always the better of being with him. 

This day in church while I thought of Mr. Samuel Johnson's death 
happening some time hence, my mind was damped. I had then a very 
pretty lively thought that worthy Langton and others, who were 
touched by that noble loadstone and whose souls would point to 
heaven like needles to the pole, would remain to console me. It is very- 
wrong that I do not write oftener to Langton. Sir. W. Forbes showed 
me this evening two letters which he had from him. 

MONDAY 25 JULY. Passed the day principally in writing law 
papers. I received a letter from Mr. Gentleman that he was in distress 
and begging the loan of five guineas. 7 My wife very genteelly was for 
my complying. 

6 Sixth Baronet of Monymusk, partner in the banking-house of Forbes, Hunter, 
and Co.; he was to become one of BoswelTs most trusted Mends and advisers. Bos- 
well showed him portions of his unpublished Journal, appointed him guardian 
of his children and executor of his estate, and in addition made him one of 
his three literary executors. 

T "A knowledge of and a thorough confidence in your character and feelings 
encourage me, though with much reluctance, to the following trespass upon 
your time and patience. Within the last eighteen months I have had a sad series 
of calamities in my family: the expensive sickness and irreparable loss of a 
valuable wife, the sickness and death of two children since her departure. . . . 
My infirm state rendered me incapable of joining Mr. Foote this summer ..." 
(Francis Gentleman to Boswell, [c. ao July 1774])- See above, pp. 17, i33 167- 

234 Edinburgh, 26 July 1774 

TUESDAY 26, WEDNESDAY 2 7 JULY. [There are no entries for 

these days.] 

THURSDAY 2 8 JULY. Mr. Wood the surgeon having called on us 
a little before three, we persuaded him to stay and dine. He very 
earnestly spoke to me to agree to make such a settlement of the estate 
of Auchinleck as my father chose, that my wife and children might 
have provisions secured to them in case of my death; and he said it 
was his opinion my father's chance of life was better than mine. This 
struck me much. But I felt a firmness in my old male feudal princi- 
ples, though honest Wood could not see them but as wild romantic 
fancies. I have a strong conflict in my mind between my concern for 
my valuable wife, who in case of my death would be left in a miser- 
able state of dependence, and those principles which are interwoven 
with my very heart, and which I hold myself bound in honour to 
maintain, as my great-great-grand-uncle gave the estate to his 
nephew, my grandfather/ in prejudice of his own four daughters; so 
that all who receive it as a male fief should faithfully transmit it as 
such. Mr. Johnson confirmed me in that principle and inculcated 
upon me that the chance of my wife and children being in a bad situ- 
ation was nothing in the general calculation of things. I shall there- 
fore be steady, conscious of my sincere affection for my wife and 
children, and trusting that I may have it in my power to make them 
all easy. 

FRIDAY 29 JULY. Between one and two in the forenoon Mr. Wil- 
liam Wilson and I went to a consultation at Mr. Lockhart's on a 
perplexed question between Fairholm's trustee Johnston and 
Mitchell and Buchanan of Mountvernon. It vexed me that I could not 
understand it upon reading the papers. It was astonishing to see Mr. 
Lockhart, who had only read them over as I had done, much master 
of the cause. He is certainly a prodigy in his profession. My wife and 
I dined at Lord Alemoor's. Lord Gardenstone, Macqueen, Crosbie, 
and Cullen were there. I was in very good spirits, but rather too much 
in the rough style of joking. As a specimen: Mr. Pringle, Lord Ale- 
moor's brother who is in Parliament, 1 had a white rose; I had a red 
one. "Come," said I, "let us change." He did so readily. "You see," 

8 Actually his great-grandfather. See above, p. 517*. 2; Life of Johnson, January 


1 See above, p. 130. 

Edinburgh, 29 July 1774 235 

said I, "with what case a Member of Parliament changes sides. I 
wanted to try him; and he goes through his exorcise like a dragoon 
horse when he hears a drum beat." 

We had an elegant dinner, but I do not recollect much conversa- 
tion that passed. Lord Alemoor observed that story-telling was the 
fashion of the last age, but that our wits now entertained with their 
own sayings. He asked me if I ever studied beforehand the good things 
which I said in company. I told him I did not. Crosbie agreed that it 
was so, but said I spoke enough about them afterwards; a very just 
remark. My wife and I stayed to tea. I was well warmed with wine 
here, and as Lord Gardenstone and Macqueen spoke jovially of sup- 
ping at Moncrieff e's, this being the last night of meeting for the season 
and a neck of venison being promised, I determined to go. I did so, 
and flashed away. Castle Stewart talked of several voters who were 
against him having died. "If this goes on," said I, "y u ^ ^ ave a ^ ea ^ 
majority." I was really excellent company. I never saw any man more 
pleased with another than Seton seemed to be with me. There was 
very hard drinking. I however did not exceed a bottle and a half of 
old hock. But, with what I had taken at dinner, I was far gone. 

SATURDAY 30 JULY. My head was inflamed and confused con- 
siderably. However, I went to the Parliament House a little after nine. 
I found the Solicitor, who had been with us last night and drank 
heartily, standing in the outer hall looking very ill. He told me he 
was not able to stay, so he went home. He had struggled to attend his 
business, but it would not do. Peter Murray told me he had seen him 
this morning come out of a dram-shop in the Back Stairs, in all his 
formalities of large wig and cravat He had been trying to settle his 
stomach. In some countries such an officer of the Crown as Solicitor- 
General being seen in such a state would be thought shocking. Such 
are our manners in Scotland that it is nothing at all. 2 1 kept up well 
all forenoon, and after the Court rose attended a Faculty meeting, 
made two motions, and presented some antiquities sent as a present 
to the Faculty by the Reverend Mr. Donald Macqueen in Skye.* 

* BoswelTs contemporary at college Henry Dundas became a few months later 
M.P. for Midlothian, in 1775 Lord Advocate, and in 1782 Keeper of the Signet 
the "uncrowned King of Scotland," holding the patronage of all official posi- 
tions. He became Viscount Melville in 1802. 
8 "There is a sacrificial knife, an elf or Druidical spade, which was used in 

236 Edinburgh, 30 July 1 774 

John Reid's trial was to come on next Monday. Michael Nasmith, 
who at my desire was agent for him, seemed anxious. I promised to 
him what I had resolved in my own mind: that I should taste no wine 
till the trial was over. In the afternoon I went with my wife and 
Veronica to Heriot's Gardens, which soothed and refreshed me. Ve- 
ronica walked briskly, with a little help, pulled flowers, and I held 
her up till she pulled a cherry for the first time, I played a party at 
bowls with Adam Bell and so many more, drank tea at home calmly, 
as I had dined, and made up for yesterday's excess. In the evening 
when it was dusky I visited John Reid. I felt a sort of dreary tremor 
as he and I walked together in the dark in the iron room. He would 
own nothing to me. But I need not insert any account of him in my 
Journal, as I shall write concerning him separately. 4 1 sent for a pot 
of lenitive electuary at night, that I might open and cool my body, 
and took a part of it. I had not taken physic before for two years. I 
wished to do a kindness to poor Gentleman, who had always paid me 
much attention, but my debts far exceeded my funds. I sent him an 
order on Messrs. Dilly for three guineas. 5 

SUNDAY 3 1 JULY. The physic had a benign effect I took the rest 
of the pot this morning, and lay in bed all forenoon except when a 
motion made me rise. Ireadthe Lives of Dr. Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, 
Mr. Hooker, and Mr. George Herbert, by Izaak Walton, I read them, 
all but a part of the last, in the forenoon, and was in the most placid 

opening up the ground at one of the annual solemnities, a sling stone, so I am 
told, of which you are a better judge, if you have been in the Balearian Islands. 
But all these were indeed uled here, where they knew nothing of metals. There 
is also another crusted stone, which I lately picked up at the foot of one of our 
mountains. If any of these or the whole of them may be thought a curiosity 
by the honourable faculty of which you are a member, I desire they may be 
laid up in their library as a smaJU. expression of my gratitude for the access I 
had to their books in Mr. Thomas Ruddiman's time. . . . Did I give you an elf 
arrow, or do you think it worth the sending?" (Donald Macqueen to Boswell, 
January 1774). 

* He means in his Register of Criminal Trials. See the beginning of the entry 
for i August 

* "Believe me I regret that debts contracted in my days of f oily still hang heavy 
upon me and make me unable to give you such assistance as I could wish to 
do" (Boswell to Gentleman, 30 July 1774). 

Edinburgh, 31 July 1774 2 37 

and pious frame. I put in marks at all the places where I either ob- 
served errors of the press, or had any remarks to make, that I might 
give my aid, along with Lord Hailes, to Dr. Home, Master of Mag- 
dalen College, Oxford, who was about to publish a new edition of these 
valuable Lives. 

I was in a fine state of preparation for John Reid's trial, which 
was to come on next day. Michael Nasmith, who at my desire had 
agreed to be agent, called on me between one and two, when I got up 
and talked with him. Crosbie positively refused to appear for John 
Reid, as he had warned him after his last trial, but he was willing to 
give his aid privately. I went in a chair to his house at two, and con- 
sulted with him as to my plan of conducting the trial. He instructed 
me as to the subject of a charge of being habit and repute a thief. He 
asked me to dine with him, but as he had a company who I knew 
would drink, I declined his invitation, being resolved to keep myself 
perfectly cool. I went to the New Church in the afternoon and heard 
Dr. Blair preach. Sir George and Lady Preston and Miss Preston drank 
tea with us. In the evening I finished what remained of Walton from 
the morning. Looked into Sir George Mackenzie's Criminals, 6 medi- 
tated on the various circumstances of John Reid's trial, and examined 
separately two exculpatory witnesses as to his getting the sheep (with 
the theft of which he was charged) from one Gardner. One of them 
seemed so positive, notwithstanding my earnest request to tell me 
nothing but truth, that I began to give some credit to John's tale; but 
it afterwards appeared that great endeavours had been used to pro- 
cure false evidence. Notwithstanding all my care to be cool, anxiety 
made me restless and hot after I went to bed/ 

MONDAY 1 AUGUST. Having passed an uneasy night from anxi- 
ety as to the defence of John Reid, who was my first client in criminal 
business, I rose between six and seven and dictated to Mr. Lawrie my 
pleading on the indictment. My dear wife, who always takes good 

6 See below, p. 24377. 6. 

f "That the learned Bouricius who writes De officio advocati relates that he 
had passed many sleepless nights in preparing for capital trials, and that he 
must himself say that he had shut his eyes but for a very short space the 
preceding night" (deleted passage in a draft of BoswelTs opening plea "for 
the panel"). 

238 Edinburgh, i August 1774 

care of me, had a bowl of soup ready for my breakfast, which was an 
excellent morning cordial. The history of this day will be found in my 
Register of Criminal Trials. 

EDITORIAL NOTE: BoswelTs Register of Criminal Trials has not 
been found. He preserved, however, a considerable collection of sepa- 
rate papers relating to the Reid trial. An extended record of this trial 
is also to be found in the Justiciary Records, Books of Adjournal and 
Processes, in the Scottish Record Office. 

At eight o'clock on the morning of i August, before the High Court 
of Justiciary, consisting for the moment of four judges : Thomas Miller 
of Barskimming (the Lord Justice-Clerk), Alexander Boswell Lord 
Auchinleck, Henry Home Lord Kames, and George Brown Lord Coal- 
ston, the trial of John Reid began with the reading of the Lord Advo- 
cate's indictment. 

JOHN REID, flesher, lately residing at Hillend, 8 near to the west 
bridge of Avon, in the parish of Muiravonside and shire of Stirling, at 
present prisoner in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, you are indicted and 
accused, at the instance of James Montgomery of Stanhope, Esquire, 
His Majesty's Advocate, for His Majesty's interest: THAT WHEREAS, 
by the laws of this and of every other well-governed realm, theft , espe- 
cially sheep-stealing, and reset of theft, or the being art and part of 
both or either of said crimes, by stealing, receiving, or feloniously 
keeping, or having in one's possession a number of sheep, knowing 
them to have been stolen, for the purpose of selling, consuming or mak- 
ing gain of them, or by feloniously disposing of the carcasses or skins of 
part of such sheep, knowing them to have been stolen, are crimes of a 
heinous nature, and severely punishable, especially when committed 
by a person of bad fame, habit and repute to be a thief, or sheep- 
stealer : YET TRUE IT is, that you, the said John Reid, are guilty actor, or 
art and part, of said crimes of theft, or sheep-stealing and reset of theft, 
or of one or other of said crimes, aggravated as aforesaid; IN so FAR AS 
you did, upon the sixth day of October last, or upon one or other of the 
days or nights of the said month of October or of the month of Septem- 

8 A place about twenty miles west of Edinburgh, just north of the River Avon 
and a little downstream from the "west bridge." 

Edinburgh, i August 1774 239 

her immediately preceding, or of November immediately following, 
steal, or feloniously away take from the farm of Medwenhead, in the 
county of Peebles, the property of William Lawson of Cairnmuir, and 
rented by Alexander Gray tenant in Lyne, 9 in the said county of 
Peebles, nineteen sheep, or some other number of sheep, the property 
of the said Alexander Gray; and, having stolen the same, you did by 
yourself, or with the assistance of others, your associates, drive said 
sheep to your said house at Hillend, near to the west bridge of Avon, in 
the parish of Muiravonside and county of Stirling; and having kept 
them there and in the neighbourhood thereof, did there kill a certain 
number of said sheep, and did sell or dispose of the same, or part of the 
carcasses and skins thereof, to different persons at Falkirk, and in the 
neighbourhood of your said house, or in the town of Linlithgow; and 
Robert Paterson, herd to the said Alexander Gray, suspecting that you 
had stolen said sheep, having gone from said farm of Medwenhead, 
after the said sheep had been a-missing from thence, to your said house 
of Hillend, upon the eleventh, or one or other of the days of the month 
of October aforesaid, he did there discover three of said sheep in a park 
near to your house, which had been put there by you to graze; and 
having thereafter gone into your flesh-house or booth, where you was 
in use to kill sheep, he there found two of said sheep, which had been 
killed, hanging up without the body-skin, but which, by the marks on 
their heads, which were not separated from their bodies, he knew to be 
part of said sheep which had been stolen from the farm of Medwen- 
head as aforesaid; and you, being conscious of guilt, did immediately, 
or soon after the arrival of said Robert Paterson at your said house, ab- 
scond and fly therefrom; and thereafter, the property of said three liv- 
ing sheep, and the heads of said killed sheep, having been proved to 
belong to said Alexander Gray, before the deceased Michael Ramsay 
of Mungall, Esq., one of the Justices of the Peace for the shire of Stir- 
ling, the same were, by his order, delivered to said Alexander Gray. 
From all which it is evident, that you the said John Reid are guilty 
actor, or art and part, of the said theft and reset of theft. AT LEAST, 
time and place aforesaid, a parcel of sheep, amounting to nineteen, or 
some other number, the property of said Alexander Gray, were stolen 
from said farm of Medwenhead; and you did feloniously receive part 
' See below, p. 24371. 4. 

240 Edinburgh, i August 1774 

of said sheep, knowing them to have been stolen, or did feloniously 
keep the same in your possession, with a view to dispose thereof, and 
did actually dispose of part thereof, or of part of the carcasses or skins 
thereof, knowing said sheep to have been stolen; or was other-ways 
guilty actor, or art and part, of said theft and reset of theft, or of one 
or other of said crimes; and you are a person of bad fame, habit and 
repute a sheep-stealer. AND you the said John Reid, having been 
brought before Archibald Cockburn of Cockpen, Esq., His Majesty's 
Sheriff-Depute of the county of Edinburgh, did, upon the twenty-third 
day of March last, emit a declaration, tending to show your guilt in 
the premises; which declaration, signed by you and said Archibald 
Cockburn, being to be used in evidence against you, will, in due time, 
be lodged with the clerk of the High Court of Justiciary, before which 
you are to be tried, that you may see the same. ALL WHICH, or part 
thereof, or that you the said John Reid are guilty actor, or art and part, 
of the said theft, and reset of theft, or of one or other of said crimes, 
aggravated as aforesaid, being found proven by the verdict of an assize 
before the Lord Justice General, Lord Justice-Clerk, and Lords Com- 
missioners of Justiciary, you ought to be punished with the pains of 
law, to deter others from committing the like in time coming. 


On one side of the bar were arrayed four "procurators" for the 
prosecution: James Montgomery of Stanhope, Esquire, His Majesty's 
Advocate; Mr. Henry Dundas, His Majesty's Solicitor; and two other 
advocates, Mr. William Nairne and Mr. Robert Sinclair. Opposed to 
this formidable team stood: "Procurator in Defence, Mr. James Bos- 
well, Advocate." 

The first phase of the trial was a "pleading on the relevancy" of 
the "libel." "Boswell for the panel represented that": 

[He] does in general deny the libel as laid. ... If he has been 
so unlucky as to have sheep found in his possession which were stolen, 
he solemnly avers that he did not know them to be so, but although 
that had been the case, he humbly contends that this libel is irrelevant 

1 The Indictment has been taken from the printed copy in BoswelTs collection 
of the trial papers. 

Edinburgh, i August 1774 241 

in so far as it concludes for the pains of law, the import of which he 
understands to be a capital punishment, upon the second alternative 
charged; for he is advised that reset of theft is not punishable with 
death. . . . As to the charge of his being a person of bad fame, habit 
and repute a sheep-stealer ... he was tried for that very charge in 
December 1766, and a verdict of his country was returned finding it 
not proved, and nothing is better established than that a man cannot 
be again tried for the same charge of which he has been acquitted; and 
supposing this charge to be restricted to the time since his former trial, 
it is well known that when a man has had the misfortune to be tried 
for any crime, a prejudice is thereby created against his character 
which is seldom entirely removed from vulgar minds, though he ob- 
tains a verdict in his favour. 2 

Boswell concluded with a compliment to the candour and hu- 
manity of the Lord Advocate. 

ADVOCATUS. I do not wish it should be understood that in this stage 
of the cause or any after stage I am to insist for any particular kind of 
punishment. I understand theft to be the subject of arbitrary punish- 
ment, and it is in your Lordships' breasts to determine. I am obliged 
to my learned friend for his compliment to my humanity. But I should 
not think it a proof of it were I to bring any of His Majesty's subjects 
to trial for a crime of which he was formerly acquitted. But the solid 
answer to the argument as to habit and repute is that it is only a cir- 
cumstance. I should be sorry if the witnesses mix what is ancient. 
They will speak to his character, as to his complexion. It respects only 
the punishment, and your Lordships will not carry it farther than it 
ought to go. ... 

ATJCHINLECK. As to habit and repute, it is not a crime in our law. 
It is a misfortunate thing when a man has it, but a man cannot be 
punished for having a bad character. It is pretty fair if we get them 
punished when there is both habit and repute and a proof of the crime. 

2 Scottish Record Office, a minute, in Mr. Lawrie's hand, signed by Boswell, 
headed "Defences for John Reid." Other texts appear in the Books of Adjournal 
and among Boswell's own papers. Apparently the defence was required to pre- 
sent a signed outline of its arguments. 

242 Edinburgh, i August 1774 

Then habit and repute [is] not only an aggravation but a strong cir- 
cumstance of guilt. 

Court all agreed. 

I moved that the time should be restricted to since 1 766. . . . 

KAMES. If he is habit and repute when the theft was committed or 
now, that is enough; not that he was habit and repute forty years ago, 8 

The Court had sent summonses in the name of the Crown to forty- 
five Edinburgh tradesmen and craftsmen, and from these they now 
chose fifteen to serve as "assize" or jury: seven merchants, two en- 
gravers, two jewellers, two booksellers, one printer, one watch-maker. 

The first witness called for the prosecution was Robert Paterson, 
aged fifty and upwards, herdsman. He deponed at great length and 
most circumstantially about the matters narrated in the indictment: 
namely his missing nineteen of his master's sheep and finding three of 
them feeding in a park near John Reid's house and three of them 
slaughtered in Reid's flesh-house, all three skinned but two with the 
heads still on, and his being absolutely sure, both from the natural 
marks and faces of the sheep and from certain "lug marks," burns, 
and tar marks, that these were his master's sheep (he "would have 
known them among a thousand") . And: 

"That the distance from Mcdwcnhead to the panel's house maybe 
sixteen or eighteen computed miles, 4 and that it is easy to drive a par- 
cel of sheep from said farm to the panel's house from sun-setting of 
one day to sun-rising of another in the month of October. 

"That soon after he had challenged the three living sheep, Wil- 
liam Black sent off the panel's daughter to go in quest of her father and 
bring him to see what he had to say; that the girl returned soon after 
without her father and spoke something to William Black by them- 
selves which the deponent did not hear, and depones that he never saw 
the panel while he was about his house on the above search, except at 
the time . . . when he first came there and when he did not know 

1 BoswelTs trial papers, manuscript in Boswell's hand. 

* See above, p. 239. Lyne is a small parish, near the centre of Peebles; it lies 

about twenty-four miles, at its most northerly point, from Hillend on the River 


Edinburgh, i August 1774 243 

him, but now knows the panel to be the same person whom he then 
saw and conversed with." 5 

A second shepherd was called as witness (as he finished his testi- 
mony "Lords Pitfour and Kennet came into Court"), and then a boy, 
the son of Paterson, the first witness. 

BOSWELL for the panel objected that this witness is clearly inad- 
missible he being not yet thirteen years of age, and having been but 
a little past twelve at the time when the facts charged are said to have 
happened. The law is expressly laid down by Sir George Mackenzie 
in his Criminals: Title: Probation by Witnesses, 5. And the same 
learned author, 12 of the same title, says that if a witness was not 
habilis at the time, he cannot be admitted though he be habilis and 
major at the time of his deposition. 6 

SINCLAIR for the prosecutor answered that it was proposed to ex- 
amine the boy only in the way of declaration, and whatever may have 
been the opinion of Sir George Mackenzie upon abstract principles, 
nothing is now better established in practice than to receive declara- 
tions of this kind. . . . T 

AUCHINLECK. I remember in the first trial I was on, which was for 
a murder, a little girl swore to having seen the panel mix a powder, 
which clenched the evidence of poison. 

COALSTON. There is a great difference between civil and criminal 
questions. In the first, people have the choice of their witnesses. In the 
other, they have not. 

He was called. 

JUSTICE-CLERK. Boy, do you go to the Church? to the Kirk? 

BOY. No. I gang to the meeting-house. 8 

5 Boswell's trial papers, manuscript in BoswelTs hand. This version of the testi- 
mony is closely paralleled by that in the Books of Adjournal. 

6 Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, The Laws and Customs of Scotland in 
Matters Criminal, Edinburgh, 1678, Part II, Title xxvi ("Probation by Wit- 
nesses"), []5 (p. 530 "How minors are to be admitted witnesses," []ia 
(p. 536), "What tune is considered in the hability of a witness." 

T Books of Adjournal. 

8 The boy means that he belongs to a congregation of Seceders, not to the Church 

of Scotland. 

244 Edinburgh, i August 1774 

AUCHINLECK. You know that God made you? 

BOY. (Stupid). 

AUCHINLECK. Wha made you? 

BOY (with shrill voice) . God! 

AUCHINLECK. You ken it's a sin to lie? 

BOY. Ay. 

PITFOUR. You know you are always in the presence of God, and 
that an over-ruling Providence superintends us all, and that you will 
be severely punished both in this world and the next if you say what 
is not true? 

(Pitfour Examinator Age 9 and childhood strange work! Jus- 
tice-Clerk and Lord Advocate tried him. But all in vain except as to 
some trifles. Dismissed. Afterwards, Justice-Clerk having said it was 
no evidence unless taken down, boy called back.) 1 

The testimony of the boy was followed by that of Alexander Gray, 
the tenant farmer who had owned the sheep; and then the prosecution 
adduced William Black of Hillend ("aged forty years and upwards, 
unmarried")- "Solemnly sworn, purged of malice and partial coun- 
sel, and interrogate," he deponed: 

"That he is acquainted with the panel, who stays in his neighbour- 
hood at Hillend and lives in a house belonging to the deponent and 
deals in killing of sheep and cattle sometimes, though not to any ex- 
tent. . . . That the panel went from home upon a Wednesday or 
Thursday morning and returned with the sheep some time in the 
night or next morning early; for the sheep were come before the de- 
ponent arose and were not there when he went to bed. That the de- 
ponent, said morning, saw part of the sheep going below the panel's 
house, and the panel was employed in killing some of them. That the 
deponent at the time had some suspicions that the panel had not come 
honestly by the sheep, though he had no conversation with him on the 
subject so far as he remembers, and the reasons of his suspicions were 
that he had brought home these sheep in the night-time and was in 
use to bring sheep in the night and did not commonly take the sheep 

9 Pitfour was seventy-f our years old. 

1 BoswelTs trial papers, manuscript in BoswelTs hand. 

Edinburgh, i August 1774 245 

to the markets to be sold but disposed of them privately in the town 
of Falkirk and the neighbouring towns and not in the public market- 
place, and that the panel is a person suspected of sheep-stealing by re- 
port of the country. . . . That the deponent said [to Robert Pater- 
son] he ought to get a constable and to claim the sheep before some 
honest neighbours and consign them in some person's hand until he 
proved the property. The deponent accordingly got William Marshall, 
a constable, and James Inglis, and in their presence Robert Paterson 
claimed the sheep as belonging to his master, Mr. Gray, and showed 
his master's marks upon them. . . . That when Robert Paterson 
came in search of the sheep on said Monday the deponent went with 
him into the panel's house, but was told he was not at home, but at 
Bridgehill, which is not a quarter of a mile distant That the deponent 
sent one of the panel's daughters to tell her father that a man had 
come to the town claiming the sheep and desired he might come and 
speak with him, that soon after the girl returned and was crying or 
greeting, said her father would not come back, but desired the de- 
ponent would put it up with the man the best way he could. Depones 
that after that he never saw the panel at his own house, though he was 
told he had been at it afterwards; but if it was, it must have been in a 
concealed manner, as the deponent never saw him. That in about 
two months thereafter the deponent was informed that the panel had 
been apprehended in his own house about twelve o'clock at night, but 
the deponent did not see him, as the party had carried him away be- 
fore he got up. 

"And being interrogated for the prisoner, depones that he pur- 
chased from the panel a leg of one of the sheep or a side, that is, of 
those which he brought home in October as aforesaid, but does not 
remember having purchased mutton from him at any other time. And 
being interrogated if when he bought the said leg or side he suspected 
that the sheep had been stolen, depones that there was a general sus- 
picion against the panel, and the deponent was not in use to buy mut- 
ton from him, but as nothing had been proved against him and the 
deponent knew nothing as to that particular parcel, and that others 
were buying mutton from him at the time, he also bought as said is. 
That about three years ago or thereby, one William Gardner, who as 
the deponent believes is now in Stirling Jail, purchased some cows or 

246 Edinburgh, i August 1774 

stots 2 at Falkirk Muir which the panel slaughtered, that the deponent 
heard that the panel and Gardner had afterwards some disputes to- 
gether and left off dealing with each other, so far as he has heard, and 
the deponent never heard that said cattle had been improperly come 
by. And depones that as he was in bed when the panel came home in 
October last, he cannot say whether the panel drove home the sheep 
himself or if they were brought to the panel by some other person. 
And being interrogated if it docs not consist with his knowledge that 
the panel was in bed in his own house all the night preceding the 
sheep's coming there in October last, depones that it does not consist 
with his knowledge whether the panel was in his bed or not that night; 
all he knows is that the panel went away in the morning, as already 
deponed to, and was not come home so far as the deponent knows when 
the deponent went to bed, but was at home next morning when he 
arose. And depones that there is not six yards between the panel's 
house and his, and that the panel has a wife and three children." 3 

The prosecution adduced also Robert Shaw of BridgehilL, aged 
fifty, married, who deponed: 

"That he lives within half a mile of the panel's house, that he has 
known him for many years, that he has a bad character in the neigh- 
bourhood and has for several years past been suspected of sheep-steal- 
ing. That upon a Monday in the month of October last . . . the panel 
came over to the deponent's house in order to settle some accounts be- 
twixt them, that when they were so employed the panel's daughter 
came and said, 'Father, come home as fast as you can,' or words to that 
purpose, upon which he rose, went to the door with his daughter, and 
did not again return to the deponent's house. That in a little time after, 
Jean Neilson came to the deponent's house and told him that the sheep 
which were in the panel's possession had been challenged as stolen 
sheep, upon which he went to the door and saw the panel upon the 
south side of the Water of Avon going westwards and away from his 
house, which is upon the north side of the Water of Avon; that he was 
sometimes running and sometimes walking hard, and that he ob- 

2 Young oxen or steers. 

8 Boswell's trial papers, manuscript in BoswelTs hand, closely paralleled in the 

Books of Adjournal. 

Edinburgh, i August 1774 247 

served him two different times look back. That at this time he saw 
some men driving three live sheep towards the bridge of Avon, which 
he afterwards understood were three of the stolen sheep that were 
challenged that day. Depones that the panel some time ago used to 
butcher both cattle and sheep, but for some time past only some sheep, 
and that he has sometimes bought mutton from him. And being in- 
terrogated for the panel, depones that the panel never wronged him in 
any dealings which the deponent had with him." 4 

Two other witnesses for the prosecution, interrogated by Lord 
Auchinleck, deponed that John Reid had the general reputation of a 
sheep-stealer. And then, without opposition from Boswell or the need 
of bringing witnesses, the prosecutor introduced, to be read before the 
court as promised in the indictment, Reid's "declaration" : 

At Edinburgh, the twenty-third day 
of March, 1 774 years 

The which day in presence of Archibald Cockburn, Esquire, of 
Cockpen, advocate, Sheriff-Depute of the Sheriffdom of Edinburgh, 
compeared John Reid, flesher, lately residing at Hillend, near to the 
west bridge of Avon, in the parish of Muiravonside and shire of Star- 
ling, presently prisoner in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, who being ex- 
amined and interrogate declares that the week before last Michaelmas 
market at Crieff the declarant was the whole week at home at his own 
house at Hillend, where he slept every night that week, and that he 
possesses his house from one William Black, who is his next neigh- 
bour. Declares that he killed several sheep that week and sold some of 
them at Falkirk Market and likewise at home. Declares that he is ac- 
quainted with James Inglis, farmer at Raining Miln, and that Inglis 
was in the declarant's slaughter-house said week, when there were 
some dead sheep hanging there, but whether tups or ewes the de- 
clarant does not remember. And declares that at the same time the 
declarant had some sheep belonging to him going upon Black's pas- 
ture near the house, and being interrogate where he got or bought the 
sheep that he killed that week and sold either at home or Falkirk 

4 BoswelTs trial papers, manuscript in Boswell's hand, closely paralleled in the 
Books of Adjoumal. 

248 Edinburgh, i August 1774 

Market and also where he got or bought the sheep that were going on 
Black's pasture, declares that he got them all from one William Gard- 
ner in Parkhead of Hillend, who brought them to the declarant's 
house on the Thursday morning, on which day the declarant began 
to kill them. Declares that the number of sheep brought by Gardner 
to the declarant was nineteen, and that he told the declarant he got 
the said sheep from some horse-copers 5 about Carnwath with whom 
he had dealings. And being interrogate when he left his own house 
after Gardner had delivered the said sheep to him, declares that it is 
very likely he left it on the Monday after, but he will not say that he 
left it that day. And being interrogate what was his reason for leaving 
his own house so suddenly, declares that he will not answer that ques- 
tion or any more questions this day, having answered enough already. 
This he declares to be truth. 

Boswell and Reid had formally summoned (on 31 July) no fewer 
than thirty-three of Reid's neighbours and acquaintances as excul- 
patory witnesses (eight of these, including William Black, appearing 
also on the prosecution's list of thirty witnesses) . On the same day, as 
we have seen, Boswell had examined two such witnesses with discon- 
certing results. He now attempted to adduce only a single witness. 

I offered to prove by Andrew Auld what Gardner said as to a bar- 
gain between him and Reid as to these sheep. 

SOLICITOR. Gardner himself was kept in the prison of Stirling, 
where he now lies, on purpose that the panel might bring him as an 
evidence if he thought proper. 7 Instead of doing which, we are to have 
a proof of a hearsay from him. 

5 Horse-dealers. 

6 BoswelTs trial papers, manuscript in a clerk's hand, closely paralleled in the 
Books of Adjournal. 

7 On the list of witnesses inscribed on Reid's indictment (Scottish Record Office) 
and signed, like the indictment, by James Montgomery, appears "William Gard- 
ner in Parkhead of Hillend, present prisoner in the Tolbooth of Stirling." Gard- 
ner had been tried before the spring circuit court at Stirling, convicted of steal- 
ing a piece of scarlet cloth from a shop in Falkirk, and sentenced to transporta- 
tion. He was, like Reid, a tenant to Reid's neighbour William Black of Hillend. 

Edinburgh, i August 1774 249 

BOSWELL. I understood that a man convicted by the verdict of his 
country of housebreaking is infamous and intestable. Besides, though 
Gardner had been admitted, I should not have chosen to trust the 
panel's life to the testimony of one in his circumstances, 

ADVOCATUS. I agree that the witness shall be examined as to what 
he has heard from Gardner. 

KAMES. I am not for yielding to the King's Advocate to wound the 
law to go out of rule to take a hearsay, instead of adducing Gard- 

ADVOCATUS. I am sure I want to do nothing to wound the law. I hold 
it to be clear law that if Gardner had been transported, what he said 
as to a bargain between him and the panel might have been proved, 
as that was the best evidence the nature of the thing would admit But 
Gardner stands not transported, though convicted. Mr. Boswell says 
he thought him intestable and did not adduce him. There I put my 

KAMES. I never understood that the mistake of a lawyer was to 
make law. I submit, but I give my testimony against it. 

JUSTICE-CLERK. If the prosecutor passes from an objection to a wit- 
ness, it has been usual for the Court to admit. Had the opinion of the 
Court been called upon, we probably should all have been unanimous. 

I stated that if Gardner had been called and the Lord Advocate had 
admitted him, the same objection might have come from the Court: 
that the King's Counsel could not make, by their consent, illegal evi- 
dence be received: so that in either case I should have been de- 
prived of evidence. 8 

Andrew Auld, "indweller in Westcraig," was called. "Could only 
say that Gardner told him of a bargain between the panel and him 
above a year ago." "Depones nothing material and dismissed." 

"No more witnesses called for the panel." 

Boswell himself, however, introduced at tikis point a reminiscence: 

BOSWELL for the panel represented that as there was here a charge 
against the panel of being habit and repute a common thief, notwith- 
8 BoswelTs trial papers, manuscript in BoswelTs hand, closely paralleled in the 
Books of Adjouraal. 

250 Edinburgh, i August 1774 

standing of his being acquitted of that charge by a verdict of his coun- 
try in the year 1766, it was of great importance to the panel to show 
cause for such bad report having prevailed, and he offered to prove by 
two of the jury upon his last trial that after a verdict of his country 
was returned acquitting him, the five judges present strongly ex- 
pressed their disapprobation of the verdict and in such terms as to 
convey to the minds of a numerous audience that notwithstanding 
that verdict he was still a guilty man. 

His Majesty's Advocate answered that in order to save the time of 
the Court he had no objection to admit the fact as above stated. 

The trial now concluded with speeches of summation by the Lord 
Advocate and Boswell. 

Boswell seems to have been calculating that if he could to some 
extent discredit the aspersion of "habit and repute a thief," then Reid's 
own declaration concerning Gardner's role, along with the cross-ex- 
amination of William Black and perhaps some further intimations 
from Auld, might persuade the jury that it was at least possible Reid 
had received the sheep from Gardner innocently. At the same time 
Boswell was careful not to adduce Gardner himself at the trial, fear- 
ing no doubt that his testimony would clearly convict Reid of the 
crime of "reset of theft" (that is, receiving stolen sheep knowing them 
to be stolen) . We shall see that a few days after the trial Boswell made 
strenuous efforts to bring Gardner forward, when through Crown 
action it was no longer possible. Whether a verdict finding Reid guilty 
only of "reset" would have elicited from this Court the less severe 
sentence of transportation, we can scarcely now be sure, though Bos- 
well may have had clear enough intimations to the contrary. The 
allusions to the alternative of reset, in the imperfectly reported speech 
by the Lord Advocate which follows, are apparently to be read, in the 
light of legal logic, as meaning that since this alternative has not been 
advanced by the defence, then the possibility of it should not be al- 
lowed to complicate the jury's judgement that Reid's possession of the 
sheep was guilty: that is, guilt of some kind is obvious, and only one 
kind is now admissible. BoswelTs response will try, on the contrary, 
to suggest that at least one kind of guilt, the partial guilt of reset, has 
been abandoned by the prosecution, and that, given the simple alter- 
9 Books of AdjournaL 

Edinburgh, i August 1774 251 

natives of full guilt and innocence, it is more just to decide for the lat- 

LORD ADVOCATE'S CHARGE. . . . As it is impossible for the Public 
Prosecutor, whoever he may be, to know whether a person accused 
may not, where there are only circumstances, prove that he bought 
them, reset is libelled. If there is evidence brought to satisfy the minds 
of a jury that he did not steal, then there is reset. Here there is no oc- 
casion for it; for if this man is not guilty of the actual theft, he is an 
innocent man. My -learned friend has mentioned his former trial. 
Surely he cannot mean that the respectable judges' (whom I have in 
m y e y e ) having declared their opinions that it was a bad verdict will 
do him good. I therefore cannot imagine what use he is to make 
of it. . . . 

Let us consider corroborating circumstances. What is the conduct 
of this panel? Does he appear like an honest man? . . . Black, his 
next neighbour, does not see him for two months, till the law, too cun- 
ning for him, overtakes him, and the officers catch him sleeping in his 
bed. These circumstances speak strongly to the mind. Had he been 
innocent, had he bought these sheep from Gardner, would he not have 
come and told the officers so and said, "This man must be a rascal"? 
Now consider how improbable it is in calculation that on the 
same day the same number of sheep stolen were sold to the panel. It 
may perhaps be said Gardner stole the sheep, and therefore the num- 
ber must be nineteen. But of this the panel has brought no evidence. 
He has not adduced Gardner. . . . My learned friend, who always 
does great justice to his clients, especially in this Court, but is some- 
times righteous over much (it is excusable when pleading for a panel) , 
set out with a distinction between theft and reset. But he must have 
greater abilities than he reaUy has (and he has great abilities) if he 
can persuade you that there was here not a theft but a reset. I do not 
think that in every case reset should be punished as theft. Here though 
proof had been brought that the panel had received the sheep from 
Gardner, the presumption would have been that it was reset But it ap- 
pears to me that the proof of actual theft is abundantly strong. Perhaps 
it may appear stronger to me as I am connected with a sheep country. 
You gentlemen will judge and will bring in your verdict accordingly. 

252 Edinburgh, i August 1774 

MY CHARGE. Gentlemen of the jury, you are now to deliberate con- 
cerning the life of [a] fellow citizen who stands at this bar charged 
with the crime of sheep-stealing. My Lord Advocate has summed up 
the evidence upon the part of the Crown with his usual ability, but 
with a warmth unusual for his Lordship on such occasions. He has in- 
deed fairly explained the reason for this his being connected with a 
sheep country. But you and I, gentlemen, who have no such connex- 
ions, will consider the matter calmly and coolly. You at least will, 
whose duty it is to form a judgement upon it. The indictment charges 
the panel with three several accusations: theft, reset of theft, and being 
a person of bad fame, habit and repute a thief. The reset of theft my 
Lord Advocate has given up, for he has admitted that unless the panel 
shall be found guilty of the theft in this case, he is to be held as an 
innocent man. I have therefore to speak only of two accusations, his 
being guilty of theft and his being habit and repute a thief. I shall 
begin with the last, and as I had occasion to state to the Court when 
pleading upon the relevancy of this indictment, I again state, . . . * 

Mr. James Boswell "summed up the evidence ... in a very 
masterly and pathetic manner, which did him great honour both as 
a lawyer and as one who wished for a free and impartial trial by jury" 
(Edinburgh Advertiser, 2 August 1 774) . 

At about five o'clock that afternoon, the Court ordered the jury to 
be enclosed. They chose the bookseller William Gordon to be their 
chancellor and the printer John Robertson to be their clerk. They 
reached a verdict and signed it that evening before supper, and it was 
known about town, though not to be delivered until the next after- 

MONDAY i AUGUST [continued]. Michael Nasmith came home 
with me between five and six, when we dined, drank some porter and 
port and a bottle of claret. I was in a kind of agitation, which is not 
without something agreeable, in an odd way of feeling. Having heard 
that a verdict was found against John Reid, I went at eight to Walker's 

1 Boswell's trial papers. The Lord Advocate's Charge is in BoswelTs hand; the 
opening fragment of BoswelTs Charge, all that is preserved, is in Lawrie's hand. 

Edinburgh, i August 1 774 253 

Tavern, where the jury were met (I having first visited my client and 
intimated his fate to him), and being elated with the admirable ap- 
pearance which I had made in the court, I was in such a frame as to 
think myself an Edmund Burke and a man who united pleasantry 
in conversation with abilities in business and powers as an orator. I 
enjoyed the applause which several individuals of the jury now gave 
me and the general attention with which I was treated. The Crown 
entertains the jury on an occasion of this kind, and the bill is authenti- 
cated by the initials of the chancellor. We drank a great deal, and by 
imposing a fine of a pint 2 of claret on any man who mentioned the 
trial, bets, etc., we had six pints of claret secured for a future meeting; 
and we appointed to dine together in the same place that day sennight 
There was a strange mixture of characters. I was not much pleased at 
being fixed for another meeting. However, I considered it as unavoid- 
able, and as the buck in one of our farces says, 'twas life. We parted 
about twelve. I was much in liquor, and strolled in the streets a good 
while a very bad habit which I have when intoxicated. I got home 
before one. My dear wife had been very anxious. . 

[Michael Nasmith to Boswell] 

[Edinburgh] i August [1774], 7 o'clock 

DEAR SIR, This is truly miserable. The most unjudicious verdict 
that can be. But what is still more miserable, it is just: a verdict in 
general "finding the theft proved" against him. The gentleman who 
informs me is a stranger to judicial style, thinks these are the capital 
words. Capital enough! I wish it had been otherwise, for the sake of 
that respect which belongs to a jury and of the dignity that the panel's 
charge merits. Could we get an innocent panel! But what can be done 
for guilt? I am in low spirits notwithstanding the good cheer within 
me. Alwise, my dear Sir, yours most sincerely, 


TUESDAY 2 AUGUST. My bad rest during the night between Sun- 
day and yesterday, the anxiety of the trial, and the debauch of last 

2 See above, p. 22471. 3. 

254 Edinburgh, 2 August 1774 

night made me in a woeful plight and very unwilling to rise. Worthy 
Sir John Hall called between seven and eight. I got up, and though 
hurt by the comparison between his decent sobriety and my riotous 
conduct, I was comforted to find myself entrusted by him, and the 
friendship of the family of Stichell continued to one of our family by 
his connexion. 3 

In the court in the forenoon I received great applause for my 
spirited behaviour yesterday; and I could also see Scottish envy show- 
ing itself. John Reid received his sentence at two o'clock, or rather a 
little before three. 

EDITORIAL NOTE: When the jury had at two o'clock delivered its 
verdict "all in one voice" finding "John Reid the panel guilty of 
the theft libelled'"'* "Mr. Boswell moved the Court to delay pro- 
nouncing sentence for a few days, as he would endeavour to show that 
a capital punishment should not be inflicted." 5 We have Boswell's 
hastily scribbled record of the words that followed: 

AUCHINLECK. I'll own I think theft by our law a capital crime, 
more especially as here, where 'tis a grex; 6 were it not so, farmers 
would be in [a] miserable situation. If nineteen not capital, a hun- 
dred not, and there would be an end of that useful business. I have 
therefore no sort of difficulty. If there was anything special, I should 
be for indulging [the] panel's counsel. But as we have often had this 
before us, [it] would be indeceiit. 

KAMES. I have no doubt that theft of nineteen, nay of nine, [is] 
capital. If not, as my brother said, [it] would be dismal, as we could 
not repress it. And there would be no remedy. 'Tis doneby low people. 
They cannot make reparation. I should like that better. At [the] same 
time, as we have no act making it capital, though we have had long 
practice, I'm for indulging [the] young man. 

PITFOUR. I will confirm doctrine. 7 

3 Sir John's mother was a daughter of Sir John Pringle, second Baronet of 
Stichell; he was therefore a nephew of Sir John Pringle the physician. 

4 Verdict (Scottish Record Office). 

5 Edinburgh Advertiser, 2 August 1774. 
A Hock. 

7 This sentence (an interlineation) may be the conclusion of Kames's remarks. 
The last word is uncertain and the "I will" could equally well be "Twill." 

Edinburgh, 2 August 1774 2 55 

COALSTON. If I thought there was any difficulty or any of your 
Lordships thought [there was any] difficulty, [I] would delay. But 
as 'tis clear, [it] would be wrong to delay. This case [is] not new to 
me. I had occasion to consider it not only by reading all on the subject 
but by searching [the] records. And so [I] formed [my] opinion. 
[I have] always followed [this procedure] since I had the honour to 
sit. I came to [a] clear conclusion. One act of theft [is] not always 
capital, as of a small thing, as one sheep. But [it is] also clear [that] 
one theft [can be] capital, as abigeatus* And so far as I know, [there 
is] no instance where when sheep [were] stolen [it has] not 
[been] capital. 

KENNET. I'm willing to grant all indulgence to [the] panel or 
panel's counsel. I applaud Mr. Boswcll's zeal on this occasion and 
which he has shown on many others. I think delay here improper, as 
much as if [in a case of] murther. 

JUSTICE-CLERK. Your Lordships have a point of law fixed since the 
Monarchy, that theft [is] capital. It would then be improper and even 
indecent for the Court to delay upon the relevancy. All your Lordships 
agreed that theft [is] capital, and indeed [it] would hurt my mind to 
think that a grex should not be capital. So judgement [should be 

AUCHINLECK. Tis a disagreeable part of our office to pass sentence 
of death on any man. But so are mankind made that it must be. This 
man [was] before us before, and all of us [were] called on in [the] 
course of our duty to declare that the verdict was contrary to evidence. 
Now we have from a most respectable jury a verdict finding [him] 
guilty of [the theft of a] grex. Were he to get off, [he] would go on. 
His former escape emboldened [him]. We have no choice. I propose 
that on Wednesday, etc. 

JUSTICE-CLERK. John Reid, nothing remains to me now but to pro- 
nounce that judgement we the Court unanimously agreed should be 
pronounced. I am very sorry it is necessary. Your former trial should 
not have been mentioned, had it not been forced on [the] Court by 
your counsel, who has exerted all his talents and abilities in your de- 
fence. But the facts coming out in evidence put it out of his power to 
do you any service. I do not desire to revive the memory of what is 
8 Cattle-stealing. 

256 Edinburgh., 2 August 1774 

past. God and your own conscience know [as to that.] But, Sir, you 
are now convicted 9 by verdict of your country of the theft of nineteen 
sheep. You could not commit that without other crimes. But it can do 
you no harm to join with my brothers in giving you . . . 

[Sentence of Death Against John Reid] 

The said Lords . . . decern and adjudge the said John Reid to be 
carried from the bar back to the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, therein to be 
detained until Wednesday the seventh day of September next, and 
upon that day to be taken forth of the said Tolbooth and carried to the 
common place of execution in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh, and 
then and there betwixt the hours of two and four o'clock in the after- 
noon of the said day to be hanged by the neck by the hands of the com- 
mon executioner upon a gibbet until he be dead, and ordain all his 
moveable goods and gear to be escheat and inbrought to His Majesty's 
use, which is pronounced for doom. 


TUESDAY 2 AUGUST [continued]. My wife and I dined at Lord 
Alva's. 2 The only company were a Mrs. Bradshaw, wife to an officer 
of the 66 regiment lying in the Castle, and Mr. Cosmo Gordon. We 
were kindly, easily, and luxuriously entertained. My Lord's son only 
was at home. 3 At four I went to a consultation at Mr. Rae's on Earl 
Fife's politics. It lasted a very little while. I then returned and drank 
a few glasses of wine. I drank tea and was introduced to Mr. Robin- 
son, 4 a young student, a nephew of Mrs. Montagu's. My wife and I 
supped at Sir George Preston's. Nobody there. 

9 The ending of this word is not quite certain. 

1 Books of AdjournaL 

1 James Erskine, Judge in the Court of Session and distant cousin of BoswelFs. 

8 John Erskine of Aberdona, aged about sixteen years. 

* Morris Robinson, aged seventeen, student at the University, later third Baron 


Edinburgh, 3 August 1774 257 

WEDNESDAY 3 AUGUST. Adam Bell, who consulted me, drank 
tea. My uncle the Doctor came and took a dish. He applied to me for 
the loan of 20. My heart was moved to think he needed it; and I 
promised to send him it next morning. I was at Macqueen's at seven, 
consulting with him and the Solicitor on Sir Allan Maclean's plea for 
recovering a part of the estate of his ancestors from the family of 
Argyll. 8 My blood stirred at this consultation. 

THURSDAY 4 AUGUST. Sir John Dalrymple told me, either yes- 
terday or today, that my behaviour in John Reid's trial would have 
made my fortune in England. This increased my desire to go; and, 
either yesterday or today while I walked in the Meadow with Mac- 
laurin, he seemed to think I would do well to try. He said very hand- 
somely, "/ decus, z, nostrum! melioribus utere fatis" 6 He and I had 
some conversation on the effect of tunes, and we agreed that there is 
a ludicrous in music independent of the association of ideas. He tried 
Pope's "Universal Prayer" to the tune of "Our Polly she's a sad slut" 
and it was quite ridiculous. This might arise from association. Yet 
"Down the burn, Davie" is in its subject by no means solemn; and I 
tried it and it suited the "Universal Prayer" very well. Balbarton 
dined. I was tonight at St. John's Lodge. Rather a dull meeting. I was 
then at Signora Marcoucci's 7 ball. 

FRIDAY 5 AUGUST. [No entry for this day.] 

SATURDAY 6 AUGUST. In the morning my father asked me to 
dine with him today, as he had the President with him. I told him I 
would do anything to oblige Mr", but that I really wished not to be 
with the President. He said it was on my account, to have me with 
people of respect. "Then," said I, "I'll be obliged to you if you will not 
ask me today." It gave me concern to have different views from my 

5 Boswell and Johnson had stayed with Maclean at Indbkenneth during the 

Hebrides tour, and he had conducted them to lona. He had written on 17 June 

this year asking Boswell to find out if his agents were yet prepared to tale 

the field." "When that happens, I flatter myself you'll appear as one of my 

best friends." 

a Aeneid, VI. 546: "Go, our glory, and enjoy a happier fate!" 

7 The mistress of a dancing school. A few years later Boswell would see his 

daughters dancing at her balls for young ladies. She lived in James's Court In 

the spring of 1777 she was "on the same flat" with Boswell, they went tete-a-t&te 

in a coach to a dinner at Prestonfield, and Boswell was "enlivened to Italian 


258 Edinburgh, 6 August 1 774 

father. But as I cannot help having a bad opinion of the President 
as he behaved in a most ungentlcmanly manner to me, in privately 
persuading my father to make votes in Ayrshire against the nobility 
whose cause I had warmly espoused, and [had] done a most un- 
friendly thing to my father in leading him to do the very thing 
which he had for a course of years condemned 8 I think it more 
honest and more spirited to show him that I will have no connexion 
with him; and notwithstanding his pride of office and the gross flat- 
tery which he receives, he must be sensible that he is not what he 
ought to be. 

Sandy Gordon begged as a particular favour that I would dine 
with him as a friend and be present at the baptism of a son which was 
born to him last night. 9 1 accepted. Dr. Webster was there. We drank 
cheerfully, but I had resolution not to take too much, being engaged 
to sup at Captain Schaw's with Lord Pembroke. I came home between 
seven and eight somewhat heated, but wrote a paper well enough. 
My wife was at the play with Mrs. Schaw. About eleven we assembled. 
Lord Pembroke, to whom I had been introduced some years ago in 
London, was very affable to me. We had a very genteel company, and 
the most brilliant table that ever I saw in a private house in Edin- 
burgh: a row of crystal lustres down the middle of the table; fruits 
and flowers interspersed in gay profusion. There was as little good 
conversation as at any genteel supper. 

SUNDAY 7 AUGUST. Was at New Church in the forenoon and 

8 Only freeholders with a considerable property qualification could vote in Par- 
liamentary elections, but some of the large landholders had hit upon the device 
of selling for nominal sums redeemable life-rents and "wadsets of superiority'* 
devised for the sole purpose of splitting their qualifications, that is, of enabling 
them, through friends and dependants, to cast more than one vote. Lord Auch- 
inleck had always maintained that such votes were fictitious. He had expressed 
his disapproval of them in his Observations on the Election Law dictated to Bos- 
well at Auchinleck in the autumn of 1771. See above, pp. 14-15. At the election 
on 13 October of the present year both candidates were liberally provided with 
"made" votes, but when it was demanded that the oath of bona fide possession 
be taken, five of Kennedy's voters discovered qualms of conscience while all of 
Sir Adam's (including one clergyman) swore through thick and thin, and he 
was elected. He held the seat for Ayrshire for the next ten years. 
Lt-CoL Alexander Gordon, killed at Talavera, 28 July 1809. 

Edinburgh, 7 August 1 774 259 

heard Dr. Blair. Then called on Lord Pembroke and Colonel Stopf ord 
of the 66th regiment, who lodged in the same house with hiT^ (in 
Gosf ord's Close, a strange place) .* My Lord was lively and easy. He 
told me that Mr. Johnson was lately at Eton, where the Doctors enter- 
tained him with all their curiosities and with a very good dinner, 
after which, in order to be as much in spirits and as good company as 
they could, they pushed about the bottle briskly. Johnson seemed to 
be displeased. Somebody asked him what was the matter. He an- 
swered, "Why, Sir, this merriment of the parsons is very nauseous to 
me." I had given Lord Pembroke a letter of recommendation to Paoli 
when he went to Corsica. This made a connexion. I asked the honour 
of his company to dinner. He agreed to come any day I pleased. I fixed 
Thursday. I said, "We Corsicans should meet." Colonel Stopford also 
engaged to come. 

My wife and I dined at my father's between sermons. Dr. Boswell, 
Sir George Preston, and Mr. Webster were there. Veronica always 
visits there at that time and gets raisins from her grandfather. In the 
afternoon I went and walked in St. Anne's Yards and the Abbey of 
Holyrood House. I was like Isaac meditating in the fields. 2 My wife 
and I drank tea at home by ourselves, then went with our children 
and walked pleasantly in Mr. Webster's 8 garden. We supped there. 
He himself sent that he was not to be home to supper. We were uneasy 
a little; but it turned out that he had gone to baptize a child, and I 
suppose had found good wine. 

MONDAY 8 AUGUST. Breakfasted at Lady Colville's and engaged 
her and Lady Anne and Captain Erskine to dine on Thursday with 
Lord Pembroke. Walked in the garden and was much refreshed. Mrs. 
Gordon of Stair, 4 who was now in town, took a family dinner with us. 
I drank tea most comfortably with Grange. We talked seriously. I had 
this sally: our grave reflections on the vanity of life are part of the 
farce like the grave ridiculous in comedy for, after making 
them, we take a jovial bottle as if we never had thought. Lady Betty 

1 It was old-fashioned, but nonetheless a fashionable residential quarter. 

* Genesis 24. 63. 

8 Boswell had known him for years as "Mr.," before he became D.D. in 1760. 

* Boswell had listed "Miss Gordon" (presumably her daughter) as a matri- 
monial possibility in 1761-1762. 

260 Edinburgh, 8 August 1774 

Cochrane, Lord Advocate, Sandy Gordon, Sandy Murray, MaclauriiL, 
and Mr. Henderson (Sir Robert's son) 8 supped with us. This was a 
good genteel company. We spoke against drinking, but drank four 
pint bottles of claret. No conversation to be marked. The jury which 
should have dined together today put off the meeting. 

TUESDAY 9 AUGUST. Mr. Bruce of Kinnaird, who was just re- 
turned from his most curious travels, was in the Court of Session, a 
tall stout bluff man in green and gold. 6 1 was very desirous to be with 
him. Monboddo set him dead, and Maclaurin snuffed him keen. 7 Bob 
Chalmers introduced me to him, saying, "I thought you two would 
be glad to see one another." I said I was extremely happy to have the 
honour of being known to Mr. Bruce, and wished much to see him, 
not merely to make a formal bow. He said he would be very glad to 
meet with me, or something to that purpose. All this was very well. 
Good, unmeaning, commonplace politeness from him. I was quite 
impatient to hear him talk. I consulted with Monboddo and Mac- 
laurin, and set out to try what I could do to get an appointment made 
to dine or sup in a tavern. He had now gone out of the Court. I went 
home, changed my wig, and then went and called for him at his 
lodgings in Mrs. Reynolds's in Mini's Square. Luckily he was just 
come in, and I found him alone; and a most curious scene I had with 
him. I conjectured that he had come to London with high expectations 
from Government and had been disappointed. This had soured his 
temper, not very sweet originally; and he had come to Scotland, at 
which he had conceived a strong aversion when young from the bad 
usage of a stepmother who had obtained unjust settlements from his 
father and come in bad humour with it and its inhabitants, just to 
try how much he could squeeze out of his estate to support him in 
England. In this frame, he seemed to be the very reverse of Banks 
impatient, harsh, and uncommunicative. I at first felt myself feeble 
and awkward with him, owing in part to my consciousness how very 
ignorant I was of the very rudiments of the knowledge respecting the 

5 Aged twenty-two years, later M.P. for various constituencies, and baronet. 

6 He had, as he supposed, discovered the source of the Nile; actually of its 
largest tributary, the Blue Nile. 

7 They went after him like bird dogs. Compare Monboddo's interest in the 
travelers Banks and Solander, above, p. 140. 

Edinburgh, 9 August 1 774 261 

countries which he had been seeing. My curiosity and vanity united, 
were, however, sufficient to impel me, and as he grew more rough 
I grew more forward; so that I forced in a manner a good deal from 
him, while he looked big and stamped and took me short and held 
his head high and talked with a forcible loudness as if he had been 
trying whether the room had an echo. As this was a very remarkable 
scene with a very remarkable man, I shall as well as I can put it down 
in its very form as it passed. 

BOSWELL. "Pray, Mr. Bruce, was it true that you was bit by a 
serpent as the newspapers told us?" BRUCE. "I, Sir, bit by a serpent? 
No, Sir." BOSWELL. "We were told so, and that your leg was hurt," 
BRUCE. "That was a worm, Sir." (Here, to be sure, he had me fairly 
as a man of inaccuracy.) BOSWELL. "Where?" BRUCE. "I was ill at 
Marseilles, but I believe I brought it with me from Nubia. It is a 
worm which fixes itself into the " (here he gave the technical 
term) . BOSWELL. "It is spiral like a screw." BRUCE. "Yes, and but 
small." (Then, letting down his stocking, he showed me the scar.) 
"The people in that country will have a number of them fixed in their 
bodies at a time, but they are expert at twisting them out; and then 
they suffer nothing. My servant broke the worm in my leg, which oc- 
casioned all the mischief. At [Jiddah on the Red Sea] 8 1 met with 
eleven English vessels from the East Indies. I was then dressed like a 
poor Turk. I had a mind to try the captains of these vessels. The first I 
called on was a Scotsman, a Captain BoswelL He bid me begone, 
though I told him I was an unfortunate countryman. He had seen too 
many such vagrants as me. I then went to an English gentleman, Cap- 
tain ThomhilL, who received me with politeness and humanity, say- 
ing, 'I am sorry to see a countryman in distress. You shall have a pas- 
sage to the East Indies in my ship. You need not go abroad again.* 
Then called to his servant, 'Let this gentleman have an apartment in 
my house. Sir, I shall do all that is in my power to make you easy.* 
Several other English captains behaved well to me. I then said I was 
happy to find such behaviour to a countryman. I should always tell it 
to their honour. I would now show them what I was. Upon which I 
produced my credentials from the Ministry in England and other let- 
ters of consequence, and a credit for 2000. 1 dined with all the cap- 
8 Blank in MS, filled by the editors. Brace's Travels were published in 1790- 

262 Edinburgh, 9 August i 774 

tains that day; and how they did roast Boswell, my gude countryman. 
When I sailed for Abyssinia, all the ships put out their colours and 
saluted me with their guns as I passed. Boswell had out his colours but 
did not fibre a gun; only called out with his speaking trumpet, 'Mr. 
Boswell wishes Mr. Bruce a good voyage.' " I said I was sorry that a 
countryman and my namesake had behaved so ill. Mr. Bruce seemed 
to delight in the thought that this Boswell was a Scotsman. 

I asked what kind of architecture they had in Abyssinia. BRUCE. 
"Architecture, Sir, in a barbarous, mountainous country!" BOSWELL. 
"What kind of houses have they?" BRUCE. "Huts." BOSWELL. "Of what 
are they made?" BRUCE. "Why, of branches of trees of mud and 
of mud and stone together." BOSWELL. "Have they any large towns? 
Do many of them live together?" BRUCE. "Why, 25,000 in one town." 
(Bob Chalmers came in and sat by us.) BOSWELL. "Has the King no 
better house than the rest?" BRUCE. "Yes. He has a large palace built 
by the Jesuits of stone, in which he might defend himself against all 
Asia, were it not that they have chosen a place where there is no 
well." BOB CHALMERS. "What may be the precise colour of the Abys- 
sinians?" BRUCE. "Size and colour, Sir!" CHALMERS. "Precise colour, 
I said." BRUCE. "Why, tawny copper coloured; though they are fair 
enough under the line." 

In this manner was information dug from him, as from a flinty 
rock with pickaxes. I shall throw together all that I gathered from 
him into an essay or sketch for The London Magazine. 9 1 tried to make 
an appointment with him to dine or sup, but in vain. I asked in par- 
ticular that he would meet Lord Monboddo. "No," said he. "I'll 
neither see Justiciary Lords nor Lords of Session. If I commit murder, 
I shall see the one; and if I have a civil action, I shall see the other." 
I made a most entertaining recital to some of my companions of this 
interview. I entertained Monboddo with it much. I afterwards found 
that Mr. Bruce was communicative enough if you let him alone, but 
could not bear to be questioned; at least I was told so, and it is very 
natural. He was like a ghost, which, it is said, will tell you a great 
deal of itself, but nothing if you question it. All extraordinary travel- 
lers are a kind of shows; a kind of wild beasts. Banks and Bruce how- 
ever were animals very different one from another. Banks was an 
9 See below, pp. 271, 272. 

Edinburgh, 9 August 1774 
elephant, quite placid and gentle, allowing you to get upon his back 
or play with his proboscis; Bruce, a tiger that growled whenever you 
approached him. I made a good apology for him to Maclaurin, saying 
that my ignorant questions could not but fret him. "Suppose," said I, 
"an Englishman should come with the utmost civility, and say, 'Mr. 
Maclaurin, I beg leave to apply to you as a man who can give me the 
best information. Pray, do your judges determine causes on foot or 
on horseback?' Some of my questions to Bruce," said I, "were almost 
as provoking." I dined quietly at home, and wrote law papers in the 

[Received 9 August, John Finlayson to Boswell] 

Stirling, 8 August 1 774 

g IR ^ Yours directed to my son, who died about three months 

ago, was yesterday brought to me, which I opened and read, and this 
day I spoke with the gaoler of the prison here, who is a very sensible 
and obliging man, and desired him to ask Gardner in ane overly and 
friendly manner if ever he had given or sold any sheep to Reid, and 
not let Gardner know that he was desired by any to ask the question at 
him. The gaoler answered that he had been several times alongst with 
the Sheriff-Substitute when he came to the prison and examined Gard- 
ner, and that Gardner alwise refused his giving or selling of sheep to 
Reid. However, he would try to ask that question at him this day, and 
which he said he did, and that Gardner returned him the answer he 
formerly had given. I also asked one of my clerks, who I sent alongst 
with the Sheriff-Substitute to Falkirk and Muiravonside to write the 
precognitions against Reid, and who also wrote these taken here, if 
ever he heard any of the persons examined, or Gardner, say that he, 
Gardner, had given or sold Reid any sheep, and he declares to me he 
never did. At least if ever there was any such thing emitted in the 
examinations, he does not remember it. I give you the trouble to make 
my best compliments to Mr. Maclaurin, whom it shall give me pleas- 
ure to serve at aU times, as it will to you, though I have not the honour 

of being acquainted with [you]. I am, Sir, your most obedient and 

most humble servant, 


264 Edinburgh, 10 August 1774 

WEDNESDAY 10 AUGUST. This forenoon I met in the Court of 
Session an old friend of Temple's and mine, the Reverend Mr. 
Nicholls, whom I had not seen for twelve years. His cousin Miss 
Floyer, whom I had seen in England, was married to young Erskine 
of Mar, and Nicholls and Mrs. Erskine's brother and his lady were 
come down to visit Erskine and his lady. Captain James Erskine in- 
vited me to dine with them at Sir James Dunbar's house in Young's 
Street, Canongate, which he or they had taken for the race week. 1 

This last week of the session was not a very busy one to me. But I 
had several little petitions to draw today. I called on Mr. William 
Wilson about one of them in the afternoon. He was drinking a glass 
with Dr. Young and Mr. Speirs 2 of Glasgow. He insisted on my joining 
them; and, though I was not fond of being at all fevered with liquor 
in the end of a session when I might have sudden calls to write, yet, 
as Mr. Wilson gave me my first guinea and has always been my very 
good friend as a man of business, I complied and was solidly social. I 
really can adapt myself to any company wonderfully well. 

In the forenoon I had visited John Reid, whom I found very com- 
posed. He persisted in averring that he got the sheep from Gardner. 
I really believed him after I had adjured him, as he should answer to 
GOD, to tell me the truth. I told him that I was of opinion that a peti- 
tion to the King would have no effect, but that his wife had applied to 
me, and I should draw one which he should sign; but that he must not 
expect anything but death. He very calmly assured me he would ex- 
pect nothing else. I wondered at my own firmness of mind while I 
talked with a man under sentence of death, without much emotion, 
but with solemnity and humanity. I desired John to write his life very 
fully, which he promised to do. I bid him say nothing as to the facts 
with which he was formerly charged. He had been acquitted by his 
country. That was enough. His acknowledging that he had been 

1 Norton Nicholls is best known as the disciple of the poet Gray in his last years. 
Nicholls's cousin Mrs. Erskine was a daughter of Charles Floyer, who had been 
Governor of Fort St. David, Madras, 1747-1750. Her brother, Charles, Jr., was 
a "nabob." Young John Francis Erskine succeeded to the restored earldom of 
Mar in 1824. Captain James was his younger brother. The week's racing was 
held on Leith Sands and was sponsored annually by the Company of Hunters. 
a Alexander Speirs was a founder of the Glasgow Arms Bank in 1750 and was a 
great importer of tobacco. In July 1779 Boswell describes hn as a "low man." 

Edinburgh, 10 August 1774 265 

guilty might hurt some unhappy panel who was innocent by making 
a jury condemn on imperfect circumstantial evidence. It will be a 
curious thing if he gives a narrative of his life. 

In the evening I called in at Mr. Bell the bookseller's shop, where 
I found Mr. Paton of the Customs, who varied the ideal prospect of 
my mind by presenting to it his remarks and anecdotes concerning 
Scottish antiquities. He told me of a curious manuscript in the Advo- 
cates' Library, the diary of Birrel, a citizen of Edinburgh, in which 
all things that happened in that man's time (from 1532 to 1605)* are 
recorded. It will help me in my intended History of Edinburgh. A 

man's mind is like a glass. 4 He must endeavor to find a variety 

of prints to look at; otherwise, let the glass be ever so good, he will tire 
of the sameness. At night I gave John Reid's wife a letter to Lord 
ErroUL, 5 from whom she hoped for some assistance, her father having 
been his tenant these forty years. 

[Boswell to the Earl of Erroll] 

Edinburgh, 10 August 1774 

MY LORD, This will come to your Lordship's hands along with 
an application from Clarke, an old tenant of your Lordship's, in favour 
of John Reid, a client of mine who lies under sentence of death here 
for sheep-stealing. Reid it seems is son-in-law to Clarke. I may perhaps 
have been prejudiced, but I really did not think the evidence against 
Reid sufficient to convict him; and I am afraid his suspicious character 
determined the jury, which I take to be a dangerous principle. The 
stolen sheep were found in his possession; but he has uniformly 
averred that he had them from one Gardner, who has been since sen- 
tenced to transportation. He indeed could not prove this; but this story 

3 Boswell's manuscript reads "from 15 to 16 ." Robert Birrel's diary was 
first printed in 1798. 

4 Perhaps an "optical glass," also known as a "zograscope," and today sometimes, 
mistakenly, by antique dealers and others, as a "shaving mirror." It consisted 
of a stand holding a vertical lens and a mirror at an angle of forty-five degrees. 
A picture placed upside down under the mirror was seen magnified and with 
enhanced perspective. 

8 Boswell and Johnson stayed overnight with Lord Erroll at Slains Castle, 24 
August 1773. 

266 Edinburgh, 10 August 1774 

is by no means improbable. I am to draw a petition for him to the King 
in hopes of obtaining a transportation pardon, the evidence being de- 
fective and the crime of stealing nineteen sheep being at any rate too 
small for a capital punishment. If your Lordship will take the trouble 
to write to Lord Suffolk, it may have great influence, and as the un- 
happy man's petition will be much better read if a letter from Lord 
Enroll comes along with it, I shall delay transmitting it for some time 
till I know your Lordship's determination. 

I beg leave to offer my most respectful compliments to Lady Erroll, 
and with a very grateful sense of your Lordship's civilities to me, I 
have the honour to be, my Lord, your Lordship's most obedient, hum- 
ble servant, 


THURSDAY 1 1 AUGUST. The confusion and hurry of the last day 
of the session were much the same as usual. I philosophized, thinking 
that in all probability all the members of Court would not be alive 
against another session, though indeed it is remarkable that the mem- 
bers of our College of Justice live long. Death makes as little impres- 
sion upon the minds of those who are occupied in the profession of 
the law as it does in an army. The survivors are busy, and share the 
employment of the deceased. Archibald McHarg, writer, died this 
session, and though he had a great deal of business, he was never 
missed. His death was only occasionally mentioned as an apology for 
delay in giving in a paper. The succession in business is so quick that 
there is not time to perceive a blank. 

Lord Pembroke had hurt his leg and been confined to the house 
for two days. I was afraid that he would not dine with me today. I 
called on him in the morning about ten. He was not up; but his serv- 
ant said he was much better. I had good hopes of seeing him, but still 
was uncertain. I had a good company besides his Lordship invited; 
but he being the capital person, I should have been much disappointed 
if he did not come. My vanity made me very anxious; and I paid the 
tax of suffering a very disagreeable suspense till he arrived. The com- 
pany was: Lord Pembroke (whom I contemplated as the Herbert, the 
master of Wilton, etc., and was happy that one of the family of Au- 
chinleck entertained an English nobleman of such rank), Lady Col- 
ville, Lady Anne Erskine and Captain Erskine, General Lockhart of 

Edinburgh, 11 August 1774 267 

Carnwath, who had also been in Corsica, Colonel Stopford (lieuten- 
ant-Colonel of the 66 regiment and brother to Lord Coin-town, an 
Irish earl), and Colonel Webster. Everything went on with as much 
ease and as genteelly as I could wish. This was not my own idea only, 
for I was told so by Lady Colville and Lady Anne, who were attentive 
as friends. My wife was just as I should have been satisfied to see her 
in London. Lord Pembroke was lively and pleasant; General Lockhart 
was more affable than usual. Veronica was brought in after dinner, 
and Lord Pembroke shook hands with her. I was really the man of 
fashion. We drank only two bottles of wine after dinner, and then 
drank tea and coffee with the ladies. So agreeable a day I have not 
seen in Edinburgh. I went to the Assembly in the evening, not having 
been at one since I was married. I felt no awkwardness, but saw a very 
fine company with cheerful satisfaction. Lady Anne Erskine and my 
wife and Captain Erskine and I met there. I had a full crop from my 
entertainment of Lord Pembroke, it was so well known. Keith Stewart 8 
came up: "Boswell, what have you done with your guest Pembroke?" 
LORD HADDINGTON. T "Mr. B-B-BoswelL, what have you done with Lord 
P-embroke?" He and Colonel Stopford had gone to the play and came 
in to the Assembly after it. Douglas and I met tonight. His coldness 
to his best supporters makes him appear to great disadvantage. I told 
him I intended being at Douglas Castle this autumn. Bruce was here. 
I tried him again a little, but with very small success. Nicholls was 
introduced to him, and in my hearing put several questions to him, 
but received very dry answers. Two Spanish gentlemen were here: a 
grandee, a Count de Fernan-Nufiez, 8 and a Chevalier Comano. Nich- 
olls introduced me to them. I had a good deal of conversation with the 
Chevalier, who was an inquisitive, clever little man. It hurt me to find 
myself much rusted both in Italian and French, while Nicholls spoke 
both very fluently. 

FRIDAY 12 AUGUST. At seven went and saw my father set out for 
Auchinleck. I had engaged to breakfast at Lady Colville's and go in 
her coach with Lady Anne and her brothers to see the King's Purse 

6 Naval officer, ultimately vice-admiral, son of the sixth Earl of Galloway. 
T Father-in-law of Bennet Langton. See above, p. 12171. 5. 

8 "Count " in the MS. The two Spaniards, on a tour through England and 

Scotland, appeared at the races as well as the Assembly and were noticed in the 
The Scots Magazine. 

268 Leithy 12 August 1774 

run for on Leith Sands. I accordingly went; but, one of her little nieces 
having been seized with a fever, Lady Anne could not go. However, 
Captain Erskine 9 and I took the coach, and on our reaching Edinburgh 
we were joined by Captain Andrew and the Hon. Captain Elphin- 
stone. It was the only good race this week, and there was a fine show 
of company. I dined according to invitation with Captain Erskine 1 
and his party. Old Erskine the father, 2 his sister Mrs. Rachel, and 
Colonel Stopford were there. Mrs. Floyer was a Portuguese East In- 
dian, a fine woman. We had an excellent dinner of two courses and a 
dessert of fruits, ices, etc. We plied the wine well in the time of dinner 
but drank little after it. Nicholls had engaged to sup with me tonight. 
I asked the Erskines and Mr. Floyer. They were engaged; but Captain 
Erskine said they would all come to me on Sunday evening. I do not 
approve of having an entertainment on Sunday, chiefly because I 
think it should be a day of rest to servants. But I was taken suddenly 
here, so had not presence of mind to waive the offer. Besides, it was 
only to be a supper, which does not interfere with public worship. My 
wife and I afterwards called for the ladies and left a card of invitation 
for them. The company went to the concert. 

I went home, and till Nicholls joins me, I shall take a short review 
of this summer session. I never was so busy, having written fifty law 
papers, nor made so much money, having got 120 guineas. I had been 
up almost every morning at seven, and sometimes earlier. I had been 
in the Court of Session almost every morning precisely at nine, Charles 
Hay and I having agreed that whichever of us was later of coming 
than the other, after the nine o'clock bell was rung out, should lose a 
shilling; and I think I was a few mornings a little late, and he a few, 
so that upon the whole we were equal. I had advanced in practice and 
kept clear of the President. I had distinguished myself nobly in a capi- 
tal trial. I had been a good deal in company, and in the best company 

9 Captain Archibald. 

1 Captain James. 

2 James, advocate and Knight-Marshall of Scotland. He was grandson and hen- 
male of the tenth Earl of Mar, and his wife, Frances Erskine, was daughter and 
heir of line of the eleventh (forfeited) Earl. Their son, John Francis, was restored 
to the title in 1824. The Erskines of Kellie and the Erskines of Mar were rather 
remote cousins. Boswell himself, through his mother, was "descended in the line 
of Alva from the noble House of Mar." 

Edinburgh, 12 August 1774 269 

of the place, both in my own house and in their houses. I had therefore 
great reason to be satisfied, having enjoyed, withal, good health and 
spirits. BUT I had been much intoxicated I may say drunk six 
times, 8 and still oftener heated with liquor to f everishness. I had read 
hardly anything but mere law; I had paid very little attention to the 
duties of piety, though I had almost every day, morning and evening, 
addressed a short prayer to GOD. Old Izaak Walton had done me good; 
and frequently in the course of the day, I had meditated on death and 
a future state. Let me endeavour every session and every year to im- 

Nicholls came to me in the evening. I had Grange also as a friend 
of Temple's; but there was little intercourse between his Honour and 
Nicholls, who was full of spirits, quite the fine gentleman, and talked 
of nothing but of his travels in Italy. It was agreeable to me to find 
Nicholls after twelve years very happy to meet me. 

[Received 12 August, John Finlayson to Boswell] 

Stirling, 9 August 1 774 

SIR, I think it my duty to acquaint you that Gardner was this 
day transmitted to Glasgow in order to his being transported abroad. 
It shall give me great pleasure to serve you at all times in everything 
in my power, or any of Lord Auchinleck's family, of which I now 
understand you are, and for whom I have and entertain the greatest 
respect, having had the honour of his acquaintance for a great many 
years. I will beg the favour of you to make my best and humble com- 
pliments to his Lordship. Wishing all happiness to attend him and 
you, I am with much regard, Sir, your most obedient and most hum- 
ble servant, 


SATURDAY 1 3 AUGUST. After breakfast I went to Belleville and 
waited on Lady Dundonald about a lawsuit which she had with a 
weaver whom she had employed to weave some fine table linen, but 
who had not done it well. She was to carry my wife to the race today, 
and she insisted that we should dine at Belleville. I agreed to stay on 
condition of being allowed to write letters, for which purpose I had 
8 On 21 June, 9, 19, 22, and 29 July, and i August 

2 7O Edinburgh, 1 3 August 1 774 

set apart this day. Accordingly, after taking a dram of excellent 
brandy with the old Earl, I had the drawing-room to myself, and in 
all the good spirits that I ever enjoyed, I wrote to General Paoli and 
my brother David. There was nobody at dinner but Miss Roebuck. 
We drank tea. I supped at Mr. William Macdonald's, Writer to the 
Signet, where were Counsellor Archibald Macdonald, Longlands the 
solicitor-at-law, Sinclair the advocate, etc. There was a great deal of 
noisy mirth. I drank Madeira not to excess. 

SUNDAY 14 AUGUST. I lay too long and was not ready to go to 
church in the forenoon. I read in Dodsley's Fugitive Pieces "A Journey 
into England by Paul Hentzner, a German, in 1598," published by 
Horace Walpole, a curious account. My wife and I went to the New 
Church in the afternoon, and after I came home I read Burke's Vindi- 
cation of Natural Society in the style of Lord Bolingbroke. 4 I was 
struck with the quantity of knowledge and abundance of imagery 
which it displays, and happy to think that it was an admirable anti- 
dote against irreligion, as the Preface well points out. Captain Er- 
skine's company that I had engaged on Friday, Lady Betty Cochrane, 
Captain and Mrs. Schaw, and Colonel Stopford and Lieutenant Vowel 
of the same regiment, supped. I was in the same easy genteel style as 
on Lord Pembroke's day, and so was my dear wife. I never saw a sup- 
per go on more agreeably. We drank socially in the time of supper; 
and after it just one bottle of claret and a little out of a second. Ladies 
and gentlemen rose from table together. It was quite as I could wish. 

MONDAY 15 AUGUST. The day that Lord Pembroke dined with 
me, I should have mentioned a dispute among the military gentlemen 
whether experienced soldiers or young ones were best. Colonel Web- 
ster was for experienced ones, if they had not been wounded. Colonel 
Stopford and also General Lockhart, for young ones, saying that there 
was an ardour in men advancing to action for the first time, under 
officers of whom they had a good opinion, which soldiers who had 
seen service had not. The question does not seem clear. I think it has 

4 Hentzner's Journey into England was published by Walpole at Strawberry 
Hill in 1757. Burke's Vindication of Natural Society appeared in 1756. It is 
written not only in the style but "in the character of [Bolingbroke] a late noble 
author." Both pieces were reprinted by Robert Dodsley in his Fugitive Pieces, 

Edinburgh, 15 August 1774 271 

been held that veterans are most effectual troops. Yet I observe in 
Hentzner's travels that on the tomb of Henry HI in Westminster 
Abbey there was this motto: War is delightful to the unexperienced. 
Whether it is there still, I know not. 5 

This day I paid a visit to the worthy Lord Chief Baron, 6 whom I 
had not waited on for a long time, which was very wrong, as he had 
all along treated me with great kindness. I found him much better 
than I expected, as he had been ill a good while and was said to be 
much failed. He revived ideas of the dignity of the English law. His 
son was now with him, but was not in. I afterwards met him, and he 
and I went with Mr. David Hume to the philosopher's own house 1 and 
sat awhile, and from both of them I got many particulars of Mr. 
Bruce's travels, which I gathered with much attention, as I intended 
to draw out some account of them for The London Magazine. I also 
put up in my mind some illustrations by Mr. Hume and Mr. Ord. By 
the latter, there was in particular a comparison of the savage manner 
of eating in Abyssinia with that of the Cyclops in Virgil. I then called 
on Crosbie and consulted with him about the mode of applying for a 
transportation pardon for John Reid. I talked with him too of the 
Abyssinian repast, and he illustrated it by mentioning a passage in 
Selden, De jure naturae et gentium. 9 

Mr. Longlands, Mr. William Macdonald, young Mr. Robert 
Syme, and Mr. Cummyng, the curious Herald* (for that is his chief 

5 The inscription (Dulce bellum inexpertis) which Hentzner in 1598 saw on the 
north side of the tomb was described in 1856 as illegible and almost obliterated. 

6 Robert Ord. "This respectable English judge will be long remembered in Scot- 
land, where he built an elegant house and lived in it magnificently. His own 
ample fortune, with the addition of his salary, enabled him to be splendidly hos- 
pitable. . . . Lord Chief Baron Ord was on good terms with us all, in a country 
filled with jarring interests and keen parties" (Hebrides, 15 August 1773). 

7 In St. David Street, St. Andrew's Square, in the New Town. 

8 Both Selden and the Cyclops appear in BoswelFs account in The London 
Magazine. Bruce's contemporaries were more interested in his description of 
Abyssinian banquets of raw beef cut from living animals than in the more 
important" portions of his heroic narrative. His veracity was generally doubted; 
in 1792 a sequel to Baron Munchausen's adventures was dedicated to him. 

9 James Cummyng, herald-painter, was Lyon Clerk Depute, 1770-1775. The 
Lyon Court has control over all matters pertaining to Scottish heraldry. Syme 
was a Writer to the Signet. 

272 Edinburgh, 15 August 1774 

designation), dined with me. We were well enough, and drank only 
three bottles of claret, which may be considered as a moderate quan- 
tity for a company of five Scotsmen. Mr. Syme indeed and Mr. Lawrie, 
my clerk, drank about a bottle of port. In the evening I dictated part 
of a paper for Lady Dundonald in her linen cause. 

TUESDAY 1 6 AUGUST. Finished Lady Dundonald's paper before 
breakfast. Was busy all day dictating some account of Bruce's travels 
for The London Magazine. I made out, I think, twenty-four folio 
pages. 1 1 was glad to find myself an useful partner, as I had received 
notice of my having a dividend of 15 odds of profit. Lady Dundonald 
and Lady Betty, Miss Roebuck, Captain and Mrs. Schaw drank tea. It 
was a very wet day. 

WEDNESDAY 17 AUGUST. The weather continued to be very wet, 
which made me very lazy. In the morning Captain Schaw called and 
consulted me about the consequences of his wounding a horse in the 
Canongate, which had run off with a loaded cart and was running 
directly upon him at the head of the battalion. I went down to his 
house and examined a sergeant and two corporals as to the particulars. 
I made the Captain easy by assuring him that he would not be liable 
in damages; though I found in one of our old Acts of Parliament of 
Ho. 2 that where a beast was killed unintentionally the damage should 
be divided equally between the owner and the killer. There is an ap- 
pearance of equity in this. But it is contrary to the maxim that every- 
thing perishes to its proper owner. 

Mr. Lawrie was to go home to his father's for the autumn tomor- 
row. I therefore dictated all day papers which were to be finished 
immediately: a memorial for the Lyon Fiscal, 2 part of which was left 
unfinished, as I told Mr. Lawrie that I would be clerk myself; and a 
decreet arbitral (a matter of form) between the trustees for the fund 
for ministers' widows and the town of Kirkcaldy . After dinner I drank 
several glasses of old hock, just indulging in the gloomy rainy 
weather. After tea Steuart Hall 3 called and sat awhile. As I had never 
seen him but in the country, he brought strong upon my mind the 

1 His account appeared in two numbers of the magazine: August and September 

2 William Black was at this time Fiscal (prosecutor) in the Lyon Office. 
5 Archibald Steuart of Steuart Hall. 

Edinburgh, 17 August 1774 273 

dreary ideas of wet weather and weary nights which I have endured 
in Ayrshire, when all things appeared dismal. I have not had such a 
cloud of hypochondria this long time. I wish it may not press upon 
me in my old age. 

THURSDAY 18 AUGUST. Mr. Lawrie set off in the fly at eight 
o'clock. I shall miss "him much, as he goes errands, copies letters, and 
is very serviceable; but it is good for him to be at his father's in the 
vacation. As I began this summer to allow him the whole dues both of 
my first and second clerk Matthew Dickie, who does nothing for 
me, being allowed to keep the full clerk's dues of all the consultations 
which he gives me I am hopeful that Mr. Lawrie may by degrees 
make a competency in my service. He made about 24 this session, of 
which I put 5 for his behoof into Sir W. Forbes & Co.'s hands at 4 
per cent interest, among the money lodged in my name. This was a 
fair beginning of Mr. Lawrie's fortune. I shall be happy if he is one 
day as rich as Stobie.* 

I called on Michael Nasmith and he engaged to get my petition for 
John Reid well copied. I settled my account with the Bank of Scotland; 
sat awhile with Hay Campbell about Bedlay. 5 Went to Heriot's Gar- 
den with my wife and Veronica, who is really a charming child. She 
began to walk by herself on Friday the 12th current. She could now 
cry "Papa" very distinctly. 

I dined at Matthew Dickie's with Colonel Craufurd of Craufurd- 
land and a Captain Drummond (a Macgregor), 6 formerly of Crau- 
furd's regiment. Wallace of Holmstone 7 joined us at the glass after 
dinner. Notwithstanding my resolutions of sobriety, I was so great a 
man this day, and harangued with so much fluency, that I would 
needs indulge, and drank heartily of port and rurn punch, which al- 
ways hurts me. I was a good deal the worse. I may say, "Perdidi 

* John Stobie had been clerk to Lord Auchinleck for many years. 

* Archibald Roberton of Bedlay employed Boswell in a lawsuit against Capt. 
John Elphinstone of Cumbernauld, in regard to the relocation of a road which 
ran through Roberton's estate. 

* Reputedly a ferocious and lawless clan, the Macgregors were forbidden to use 
their own name by an Act of Parliament of 1633. They took the names of other 
clans, many becoming Drummonds. The Act was annulled and the name restored 
in November 1774. 

r An elderly Writer to the Signet 

274 Edinburgh, 1 8 August 1 774 

diem." 8 1 drank tea with Grange. Hepburn, the Keeper of the Rolls, 

was with him. 

FRIDAY 19 AUGUST, Mr. Charles Hay and I this day resumed 
our study of Erskine's Institute where we left off last vacation. I went 
to his house then. He agreed to come to mine now. After we had read 
a portion, we fell to some of my Justiciary records, which took us up 
an hour, they were so interesting. I then called on Mr. Kincaid and sat 
half an hour with him. By neglect of the chairman employed to carry 
Mrs. Kincaid's burial letters, mine had been lost; so I was not at the 
burial. Mr. Kincaid 1 sent Brown the Librarian 3 to me this morning 
with a letter of apology. The visit which I now paid was a proper piece 
of attention to a very worthy gentlemanly man who has shown the 
greatest regard to all his wife's relations. 8 1 found him in a composed 
and serene frame. He had lost a valuable spouse; but she had been long 
in bad health and was of so heavenly a mind that to die was great gain, 
the consideration of which really prevented one from regretting her 
departure. I resolved to continue that friendship with Mr. Kincaid 
which had always subsisted between our family and him, though we 
meet seldom. 

Lord Dundonald's chaise came and carried my wife and me to dine 
with the Earl. His house at Belleville was getting some repairs; so he 
received us at the house of Mrs. Binning in St Anne's Yards, who was 
now in London. This dinner was on account of Counsellor Archibald 
Macdonald, who had been very serviceable to the Earl's son James, in 
a dispute with the University of Oxford, or at least with Balliol Col- 
lege. I engaged Mr. Macdonald for this dinner. Lord Cochrane 4 was 
there; Captain and Mrs. Schaw, Colonel Webster, Mr. Henderson (Sir 
Robert's son), Lieutenant Vowel. The Earl was in extraordinary 
spirits. I drank very moderately. Lady Betty, my wife and I supped 

**Tve lost a day" a remark attributed by Suetonius to the Emperor Titus 

(Lives of the Caesars, Book viii. ff i ) . 

9 This famous work by the professor of Scots law John Erskine was published 

in 1773: An Institute of the Law of Scotland. See above, p. 223. 

1 Alexander Kincaid, printer and Lord Provost of Edinburgh. 

* Of the Advocates' Library. 

* Kincaid's wife, the Hon. Caroline Ker, was, like Boswell, a great-grandchild of 
the second Earl of Kincardine. 

* Eldest living son of Lord Dundonald; succeeded his father in 1778. 

Edinburgh., 19 August 1774 275 

at Sir George Preston's. This was a day of luxury in eating. I both 
dined and supped on moor-fowl.^- 8 

SATURDAY 20 AUGUST. I have omitted a very pleasing incident. 
On Thursday forenoon Lord Pembroke called. I met frfon at the door. 
He said, "I set out tonight, and am come to ask Mrs. BoswelTs com- 
mands for London." Mr. Graham of Balgowan 6 was with him. We 
went up to the dining-room. My bass fiddle was standing in a corner, 
I having begun again to play a little on it, remembering my father 
having told me that Lord Newhall resumed it and had one standing in 
his study. ""What!" said Lord Pembroke, "are we brother bassers, as 
well as brother Corsicans?" His Lordship it seems plays upon it. My 
wife came and sat awhile, and we were easy and well. There was a 
polite attention in this visit which did honour to the Earl's disposition. 

This morning I drew a petition to His Majesty for John Reid. I 
could think of nothing else; so Mr. Charles Hay and I read no law, but 
went with it to Michael Nasmith's, who was very much pleased with 
it, and undertook to have two fair copies on large paper ready to go 
by the post at night. Charles went with me to see John. His wife was 
with him. I adjured him not to say that he was innocent of the theft 
found proved against him if he was not so; that I had put into the peti- 
tion what he said, but he would have as good, if not a better, chance 
by fairly confessing to His Majesty. Charles very properly said to him, 
"Take care and do not fill up the measure of your iniquity by telling 
a lie to your Sovereign." I in the strongest manner assured him that I 
thought the petition would have no effect that I wrote it only be- 
cause I had promised to do it; but that I really thought it would be 
better not to send it, as it might make him entertain vain hopes and 
prevent him from thinking seriously of death. John professed his con- 
viction that the chance was hardly anything, but was for using the 
means. I could not therefore refuse him. Charles again addressed him 
as to his telling a lie, and said, "I may say, you are putting your sal- 
vation against one to ten thousand; nay, against nothing." John ex- 
pressed his willingness to submit to what was foreordained for him. 

5 This symbol, which now appears in the Journal for the first time, probably 
indicates the. resumption of conjugal relations between Boswell and his wife. 
Euphemia Boswell had been born three months before, on 20 May. 

6 See above, p. nan. 6. 

276 Edinburgh, 20 August 1774 

"John," said I, "this would not have been foreordained for you if you 
had not stolen sheep, and that was not foreordained. GOD does not 
foreordain wickedness. Your Bible tells you that." I then took it up 
and read from the Epistle of James, Chap. I, v. 13 and 14: "Let no man 
say when he is tempted, I am tempted of GOD; for GOD cannot be 
tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is 
tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." This 
seemed to satisfy frfrn. But people in his situation are very apt to be- 
come predestinarians. Dr. Daniel Macqueen, one of the ministers of 
Edinburgh, told me that when he was minister at Stirling, there was 
a man under sentence of death there whom some Cameronian or se- 
ceding minister had tutored deeply upon predestination till the man 
was positive that the crime which he had committed was decreed by 
his Maker; nor could Mr. Macqueen argue him out of this notion. 
When he came to the place of execution, the man was beginning to 
harangue the people upon this subject. Upon which, Mr. Macqueen, 
with his forcible and hurried manner, insisted with the magistrate 
to order the executioner to do his duty directly; and accordingly the 
man was thrown off, which prevented his mystical discourse. "He 
might have put more nonsense into their heads," said Macqueen, 
"than I could have driven out again in half a year." There was good 
sense in Mr. Macqueen's conduct; though his acquaintances do not 
fail in keeping up as a joke upon him his mode of opposing an argu- 

Messrs. Charles Hay, Michael Nasmith, Alexander Innes T (for the 
first time) , George Webster, Dr. Boswell, and Grange dined with me. 
We did not drink much. I took port and water. I had played at bowls 8 
before dinner with Charles Hay, etc. 

Between five and six Mr. Nasmith and George Webster accom- 
panied me to the prison, when I read over the petition to John Reid, 
and he signed two copies of it. I again adjured him not to sign it if he 
was not innocent, and again pressed home upon him my conviction 
that his chance for life was hardly anything. I was wonderfully firm. 
I told him that I really thought it was happy for him that he was to 
die by a sentence of the law, as he had so much time to think seriously 
and prepare for death; whereas, if he was not stopped in that manner, 

T Another Writer to the Signet 

Edinburgh, 20 August 1774 277 

his unhappy disposition to steal was such that it was to be feared he 
would have been cut off in the midst of his wickedness. I enclosed one 
copy of the petition to Lord Suffolk, Secretary of State for the North- 
ern Department, and one to Lord Pembroke, and wrote a letter with 
each copy. I could not help entertaining some faint hope. John Reid's 
petition was business enough to me for one day. 

[Boswell to the Earl of Pembroke] 

Edinburgh, 20 August 1 774 

MY LORD, Presuming on your Lordship's goodness, I trouble 
you with the enclosed petition to His Majesty from John Reid, an un- 
fortunate man under sentence of death. I have also transmitted a copy 
to my Lord Suffolk, Secretary of State for the Northern Department 
John Reid was my first client in criminal business when he was 
tried in 1766. I have therefore a particular concern in his fate and 
wish much that he should not be hanged. 

May I beg that your Lordship may make me certain that the peti- 
tion reaches His Majesty. There is a prejudice against the man in this 
country. It would therefore be happy if a transportation pardon could 
be obtained for him at once, his crime at any rate not being atrocious. 
I have the honour to be with very great regard, my Lord, your most 
obliged and obedient humble servant, 


EDITORIAL NOTE: Boswell's petition, after rehearsing the main 
lines of Reid's case, stressing the likelihood that it was Gardner who 
had stolen the sheep, and repeatedly misstating as fifteen the number 
of stolen sheep, concludes with a flourished compliment: "The pre- 
rogative of dispensing mercy is the brightest jewel in the British 
Crown, and several late instances of it in this part of the United King- 
dom have endeared Your Majesty to your more northern subjects. 
Your petitioner flatters himself that he also shall have cause to bless 
the goodness of the King and shall not be singled out as a miserable 
exception from Your Majesty's beneficent lenity." 

SUNDAY 2 1 AUGUST. My wife went with me to the New Church 
in the forenoon. Mr. Logan at Leith preached. I went alone in the 

278 Edinburgh, 21 August 1774 

afternoon. Dr. Dick preached. Mr. Nairne and I walked out to Lady 
Colville's to drink tea. She and Lady Anne were just going from home. 
They left us the key of the tea-chest, and we walked in the garden, 
pulled gooseberries, and then drank tea comfortably. The ladies re- 
turned and they and we walked agreeably. Captain Erskine was gone 
to Kellie. There came an invitation to Mr. Nairne to sup at Dr. Web- 
ster's with my wife and me, which he did. Sandy Webster was re- 
turned from a voyage to Russia. Dr. Webster had no mercy on John 
Reid, because he had attempted to get witnesses to perjure themselves 
to bring him off. Said George: "This is what every man would do in 
his place. To preserve my life I would perjure all mankind. Nay, sup- 
posing all the stars in the firmament to be inhabited, I would perjure 
all their inhabitants." This was a sort of grand thought. But, to be 
sure, no thinking man of good principles would make even one person 
commit the crime of perjury, to save a short and uncertain life at the 
risk of salvation. There was a deal of warm conversation as usual; and 
Nairne was much pleased with the Websters, as they were with him. 

MONDAY 22 AUGUST. The Law College went on. Mr. Hay and 
I walked before dinner on the Castle Hill with Mr. Andrew Balfour, 
newly made a Commissary of Edinburgh, and some peculiar kind of 
talk, the mode and manner only of which made it remarkable, was 
carried on. In the afternoon I read the first book of a treatise on taste 
which the late Reverend Dr. Wallace left behind him at his death, and 
of which his son, Mr. George Wallace, put a part into my hands in MS 
to peruse. The first book entertained me little, as it was just a repeti- 
tion, somewhat varied, of what I had read in books on the same sub- 

TUESDAY 23 AUGUST. The Law College went on, and must be 
understood to do so when I do not mention a cessation, Sundays ex- 
cepted. We were interrupted twice today, for first Crosbie and then 
Cullen called. At one I called on Mr. George Wallace by appointment 
and walked in the Meadow with him, to talk of his father's book. I 
saw that he expected it would be a valuable property. I mentioned to 
him a few animadversions on what I had read, and I understood from 
him that the other parts of the book were almost all new. He promised 
to send me the chapter on historical composition. In the evening I read 
9 Mate of an East Indiaman, he died at sea in 1782. 

Edinburgh, 23 August 1774 279 

some of the first volume of Robertson's Charles F, which I had bor- 
rowed of Michael Nasmith. After dinner, being restless, I went to Dr. 
Webster's, and with the Colonel and George drank a bottle of port. 
Then tea. Dupont there. 

WEDNESDAY 24 AUGUST. Mr. Hay and I played a stout match 
at bowls. 1 He gave me one, and I beat him three games. I dined at 
Nairne's, who had ten guests assembled without any kind of assort- 
ment, so that drinking only made the cement of the company. Noth- 
ing worth mentioning passed, except a fancy of my own upon Lochee's 
Military Academy at Chelsea, in which boys are made encamp, etc., 
to prepare them for war. I observed that it was absurd to make them 
suffer the hardships of a campaign without necessity. That they might 
as well be wounded and carried to an hospital, or even some of them 
be killed; and that the Master of the Academy would approve of their 
being distressed for want of provisions. I shall work up this into an 
essay for Rampager, the designation which I assume as a signature to 
all my lively essays in The Public Advertiser? A great deal of wine 
was drank today. I swallowed about a bottle of port, which inflamed 
me much, the weather being hot. I called at home; then sauntered in 
the streets; and then supped with my wife at Sir George Preston's, 
where I had sent four moor-fowl which I had in presents from Ayr- 
shire, agreeable marks of kind remembrance from James Johnston in 
Cumnock and John Herbert in Auchencross. Dr. Webster and the 
Colonel and Mr. Wood, the surgeon, were at Sir George's. I devoured 
moor-fowl, and poured more port down my throat. I was sadly intoxi- 
cated. Perdidi diem. 

THURSDAY 25 AUGUST. I was very sick and had a severe head- 
ache, and lay till between ten and eleven, when I grew better. There 
was no Law College today. Crosbie called, on me in the forenoon, in 
great indignation at the Bailies of Edinburgh for having sentenced 
Henry McGraugh, an Irishman, to be imprisoned, whipped, and 
banished because he had called for victuals and drink in public houses 

1 In James Maidment's Court of Session Garland (1839) appears a verse Epitaph 
on Charles Hay . . . who lies interred under the Bowling Green in Heriafs 

2 See above, p. 17272. 7. Boswell's Rampagers during 1775-1779 deal much with 
the military aspect of American affairs. 

280 Edinburgh, 25 August 1774 

and then told that he had not money to pay for them. Crosbie begged 

that I would inquire into the affair. 8 

I communicated to Crosbie a scheme which I had of making an ex- 
periment on John Reid, in case he was hanged, to try to recover him. 
I had mentioned it in secrecy to Charles Hay and Mr. Wood the sur- 
geon, who promised me assistance. Crosbie told me that he had lately 
had a long conversation on the subject with Dr. Cullen, who thought 
it practicable. It was lucky that I spoke of it to Crosbie, for he was clear 
for trying it, and threw out many good hints as to what should be done. 
I resolved to wait on Dr. Cullen and get his instructions. I was this 
forenoon at the burial of a daughter of the late Mr. Sands, bookseller 
here. There is something usefully solemn in such a scene, and I make 
it a rule to attend every burial to which I am invited unless I have a 
sufficient excuse; as I expect that those who are invited to mine will 
pay that piece of decent attention. 

I afterwards called at the prison, where I found Mr. Todd, Lady 
Maxwell's chaplain,* with John Reid. He seemed to be a weak, well- 
meaning young man. I again told John in his presence that there was 
hardly the least chance of a pardon and therefore that he ought to 
consider himself as a dying man. Yet I did now entertain a small ad- 
ditional glimpse of hope, because I saw in the newspapers that, a few 
days before, one Madan got a reprieve after he was at Tyburn, ready 
to be turned off, the man who really committed the robbery for which 
he was condemned having voluntarily appeared and owned it. 5 I 

3 See above, p. 198 and below, pp. 282, 309. 

4 Lady Maxwell was Darcy Brisbane, who in 1760, at about the age of 17, was 
married to Sir Walter Maxwell of Pollock, Bt., and within two years was not 
only widowed but lost her infant son. A few years later she became a friend 
and correspondent of John Wesley, and thereafter, until her death in 1810, she 
led a life of extraordinary piety and was a prominent member of the Wesleyan 
Society at Edinburgh. Mr. Todd was apparently a household chaplain whom she 
is said to have employed for a short time after which, "during the space of 
about forty years, Lady Maxwell was her own chaplain" (John Lancaster, The 
Life of Darcy y Lady Maxwell, London, 1826, p. 541 ) . 

5 Amos Merritt came forward at Tyburn on 19 August 1774 and declared that he 
himself had committed the crime of highway robbery for which Patrick Madan 
was about to be hanged. Madan was reprieved and later pardoned; he was pres- 
ent to bid farewell to Merritt when the latter was hanged for another crime on 
10 January 1775. 

Edinburgh, 25 August 1774 281 

thought this incident might make the Ministry more ready to listen 
to John Reid's story that Gardner was the real thief. John was looking 
gloomy today. He told me he had some bad dreams which made him 
believe he was now to die. 

I then called for McGraugh, who was put into the cage, he was so 
violent a prisoner. He was a true Teague. I asked him why he was 
confined. He could give but a very confused account; but he assured 
me that he had neither stolen victuals and drink nor taken them by 
force, but only called for them. I asked him if he had stolen anything. 
"Only a pake (piece) of wood," said he; "but then, an't please your 
Honour, it was in the dark." "That will not make it better," said I. 
Afterwards, however, I saw that this odd saying of his, like all the 
Irish sayings at which we laugh as bulls or absurdities, had a meaning. 
For he meant that as he had taken the wood in the dark, it could not 
be known he had done it; so that it could be no part of the charge 
against him and consequently was no justification of the sentence of 
the magistrates. I promised to do what I could for him. I also saw one 
Macpherson, a young goldsmith confined for debt, from whom I had 
a letter telling me that a young woman had come into prison and lent 
him her clothes, in which he made his escape but was taken again; 
and that the innocent girl was imprisoned. I told him that breaking 
prison was a crime; that the girl had been aiding in the escape of a 
prisoner and therefore was not innocent; but that she would not be 
long confined. 

My wife and I drank tea at Dr. Grant's. He was clear that a man 
who has hung ten minutes cannot be recovered; and he had dissected 
two. I was however resolved that the experiment should be tried. Dr. 
Grant carried me up to a very good library which he has and showed 
me a number of anatomical preparations. 6 The survey of skulls and 
other parts of the human body, and the reflection upon all of us being 
so frail and liable to so many painful diseases, made me dreary. 

FRIDAY 26 AUGUST. Sir George and Lady Preston and Miss 
Preston, Colonel, George, and Sandy Websters, Mr. Wood the surgeon, 
and Mr. Bennet the Minister of Duddingston dined with us. I gave 
only port, being resolved to give claret seldom while I am not able 

6 Dr. Grant had been a candidate for the Chair of Physic in 1761; he gave lec- 
tures on the subject in 1770; he pursued the study of chemistry in his own house. 

282 Edinburgh, 26 August 1774 

to afford it commonly. 7 We were comfortable. I drank port and water, 
and did not discompose myself. I went to the Justiciary Office and 
wrote a bill of suspension with my own hand for McGraugh. 8 

SATURDAY 2 j AUGUST. After our law, Charles Hay and I set out 
to dine at Leith, at Yeats the trumpeter's, 9 where we had dined before 
very well. I fixed it as a good Saturday's dining-place during our 
course of study, and fancied our tete-a-tete there to be like that of my 
grandfather and Lord Cullen on the Saturdays. As we walked down 
the street we met Crosbie and tried to prevail with him to go with us. 
But he was obstinate in a resolution to labour at law papers all this 
day. A heavy shower came on, and we went with him into John Bal- 
four the bookseller's shop, where we chatted a good while. We then 
walked with him as far as his house, where we left him; and there we 
were joined by Hay Campbell, who walked on with us. He insisted 
that we should go and dine with him at a little country-house which 
he had near Leith. We did so, and shared his family dinner with Mrs. 
Campbell and his children. It was a scene worth taking: 1 a family 
country dinner with the first writing lawyer at our bar. He told us 
that when Macqueen married, which was only about eighteen years 

ago, his practice did not exceed a year, though he had since 

realized many thousands. Macqueen told him that one year he had 
made 1900. Hay told us that he himself had made 1600 in a year 
in the ordinary course of business; and that a lawyer's labour is not 
increased in proportion with his gains, for that he now wrote less than 

T Port was cheap because trade with Portugal was encouraged by a treaty; claret 
was produce of France and heavily taxed. 

8 The Lord of Justiciary whom Boswell petitioned suspended the sentence of 
whipping. The Procurator-Fiscal reclaimed, and McGraugh was detained in 
prison. (He had thrice previously been taken up on the same charge, twice dis- 
missed on good behaviour, and the third time banished on his own plea, on pain 
of the punishments now imminent, if he returned.) On 4 February 1775 he was 
set at liberty on order of the Court of Justiciary, the Procurator-Fiscal having 
waived the whipping in view of his long confinement. The Scots Magazine (Ap- 
pendix 1775, pp. 732-733) says that McGraugh's crime "has got the name of 
sconcing. Sorning, to which sconcing has an affinity, is the masterful taking 
meat, drink, and lodging." 

9 An inn kept by one of the trumpeters who rode before the Lords of Justiciary 
when they were on circuit. 

1 Drawing. 

Leith, 27 August 1774 283 

he had done. This kind of conversation excited the solid coarse ambi- 
tion of making money in the Court of Session. We drank a bottle of 
claret apiece and a fourth among us. We then drank tea, and Mr. 
Campbell walked with us a good [way] up as a convoy. I was not a 
bit intoxicated with what I had drank. Mr. Hay was engaged at home. 
Last night Lord and Lady Dundonald and Lady Betty Cochrane, 
who had dined at our neighbour Captain Schaw's, called in for awhile. 
We had also a visit from the Laird of MacLeod, who had been in town 
a few days. I was exceedingly happy to see this excellent young chief 
in my house, and I cordially begged that he would make it his home. 

1 called on him this forenoon, but he was abroad. He was engaged to 
sup with me tonight. I had also Lady Betty Cochrane, Crosbie, Dr. 
Grant, Nairne. Just as I was coming home, I overtook in the court Mrs. 
Schaw and Colonel Stopford. My wife suggested that we might have 
the Colonel and our neighbours. I accordingly went down and asked 
them to come up and take a share of a roasted chicken. They readily 
complied; and we passed really a pleasant evening. A curious thought 
struck me of having the Sheep-stealer's Progress in the manner of 
Hogarth's historical prints. We drank very little. 

SUNDAY 28 AUGUST. It was a very wet day. I stayed at home in 
the forenoon, and read the Life of Carstares, 2 and a good part of the 
letters addressed to him. Mr. Crosbie had lent me the book, telling me 
there was nothing in it; and indeed I found it made up of ill-written 
uninteresting letters, and wondered how Lord Hailes had recom- 
mended the publication. I believe I had a prejudice against Carstares 
from his being King William's secretary. He seemed to me to be just 
an artful sagacious Presbyterian divine. My wife was not well and 
stayed at home all day. I went in the afternoon to the New Church. 

Mr. preached. In the evening I continued to read Carstares's 

letters, still trying to find something worth while but in vain. Dr. 
Webster was gone to Fife. At five I was at the burial of a Miss Stewart 
of Shambellie. How little of true pious exercise had I this Sunday! 

MONDAY 29 AUGUST. A very curious whim had come into my 
head: that I would have a portrait of John Reid as my first client in 

2 State-Papers and Letters Addressed to William Carstares . . . to Which Is Pre- 
fixed the Life of Mr. Carstares 9 Published from the Originals, by Joseph Mc- 
Cormick, D.D., Edinburgh, 1774. 

284 Edinburgh, 29 August 1 774 

criminal business and as a very remarkable person in the annals of 
the Court of Justiciary. Keith Ralph, 8 a young painter who hacUtudied 
under Runciman,* had drawn Mr. Lawrie's picture very like. I had 
him with me this forenoon, and he agreed to paint John. He desired to 
see him today, to have an idea of his face, to see what kind of light was 
in the room where he lay, and to judge what should be the size of the 
picture. Accordingly I went with him. I had before this given a hint 
of my design to Richard Lock, the inner turnkey, a very sensible, good 
kind of man; and he had no objection. Accordingly we went up. Mr. 
Ritchie, a kind of lay teacher who humanely attends all the people 
under sentence of death, was with John. I was acquainted with Mr. 
Ritchie, as he had called on me about my client Agnes Adam. 5 After 
standing a little and speaking a few words in a serious strain, I ad- 
dressed myself to Ritchie in a kind of soft voice and mentioned my de- 
sire to have a remembrance of John Reid, by having a picture of him; 
that Mr. Ritchie and I could sit by and talk to him, and that I imag- 
ined John would have no objection, as it would not disturb him. 
Ritchie said he supposed John would have none; that he was so much 
obliged to me, he would do much more at my request; and he would 
come and be present. Next morning between nine and ten was fixed. 
Mr. Charles Hay, who waited in the street, went with me to Ralph's 
and saw some of his performances. 

At four this afternoon Adam Bell was with me, along with Nimmo 
his landlord, consulting me to draw answers to a petition. I found 
myself much as in session time. Steuart Hall and Mr. Wood the 
surgeon drank tea. Wood dispelled the dreary country ideas which 
Steuart Hall would have raised. I took a walk with him to Drums- 
heugh and round by the New Town, and talked of the scheme of re- 
covering John Reid. He said he did not think it practicable. But that 
he should give all the assistance in his power to have the experiment 
fairly tried. 

* George Keith Ralph, born c. 1754, was later portrait-painter to the Duke of 
Clarence. He exhibited in London at the Academy from 1778 to 1811. 

* Alexander Runciman, a Scots painter who had studied at Rome, was master 
of the academy of drawing newly established by the Board of Trustees for Man- 
ufactures. See below, p. 296. 

5 See above, pp. 198-199. 

Edinburgh, 30 August 1 774 285 

TUESDAY 30 AUGUST. At ten o'clock I was with John Reid. Be- 
fore I got there, Ralph was begun with his chalk and honest Ritchie 
was exhorting him quietly. I was happy to see that this whim of mine 
gave no trouble to John. One of his legs was fixed to a large iron goad, 
but he could rise very easily; 6 and he at any rate used to sit upon a 
form, so that he just kept his ordinary posture, and Ritchie and I con- 
versed with him. He seemed to be quite composed, and said he had no 
hopes of life on account of the dreams which he had. That he dreamt 
he was riding on one white horse and leading another. "That," said 
he, "was too good a dream, and dreams are contrary." He said he also 
dreamt a great deal of being on the seashore and of passing deep 
waters. "However," said he, "I allwaye (always) get through them." 
"Well," said I, "John, I hope that shall not be contrary; but that you 
shall get through the great deep of death." I called for a dram of 
whisky. I had not thought how I should drink to John till I had the 
glass in my hand, and I felt some embarrassment. I could not say, 
"Your good health"; and "Here's to you" was too much in the style 
of hearty fellowship. I saio\ "John, I wish you well," or words pretty 
much the same, as "Wishing you well" or some such phrase. The 
painter and Mr. Ritchie tasted the spirits. Richard the jailer makes it 
a rule never to taste them within the walls of the prison. 

John seemed to be the better of a dram. He told me that the Reids 
of Muiravonside had been there, he believed, for three hundred years; 
that they had been butchers for many generations. He could trace 
himself, his father, and grandfather in that business; that he never 

6 "A round bar of iron, about the thickness of a man's arm above the elbow, 
crossed the apartment horizontally at the height of about six inches from the 
floor; and its extremities were strongly built into the wall at either end. Hat- 
teraick's ankles were secured within shackles, which were connected by a chain 
at the distance of about four feet, with a large iron ring, which travelled upon 
the bar we have described. Thus a prisoner might shuffle along the length of 
the bar from one side of the room to another, but could not retreat farther from 
it in any other direction than the brief length of the chain admitted" (Guy Man- 
nering, last chapter but one) . In a note Scott says, "This mode of securing prison- 
ers was universally practised in Scotland after condemnation. When a man re- 
ceived sentence of death, he was put upon the Gad, as it was called. . . . The 
practice subsisted in Edinburgh till the old jail was taken down some years 

286 Edinburgh, 30 August 1774 

was worth 10 and never in much debt, so that he was always evens 
with the world. That in the year 1 753 he enlisted in Sir Peter Halkett's 
regiment. But was taken up on an accusation of stealing two cows, 
for which he was tried at Glasgow and acquitted; after which, as his 
pay had run up to a considerable sum, the regiment let him alone, 
though he was several times taken up as a deserter at the instigation 
of ill-natured people; that he went up to London on foot and wrought 

there as a gardener for till there was a hot press, 7 and then he 

came to Leith in a brig commanded by John Beatson. That after this 
he enlisted in Colonel Perry's regiment, but that a writer or agent 
whom he knew in Glasgow got him off by taking a bill from him for 
1 i, for which he granted John a discharge which they concealed, so 
that the apparent debt above 10 kept him from being forced away; 
that he was employed for several years as a driver of cattle to England, 
particularly under Mr. Birtwhistle, the great English drover. That 
he was art and part in the theft of the sheep from the parish of Doug- 
las, one of the articles in his trial in 1766. Graham, the man's herd, 
stole them and delivered them to him half a mile from the farm. That 
he did not steal the six score; that he married in 1 759; that since his 
trial in 1766 he had led an honest, industrious life; that he received 
the sheep for which he was condemned from Gardner, and did not 
suspect them to be stolen. That his wife and children would be pres- 
ent at his death, I dissuaded him from this. He said his wife and he had 
lived comfortably fifteen years, and she said she would see him to the 
last and would kep him (i.e., receive his body when cut down) ; that 
his son, who was a boy of ten years of age, might forget it (meaning 
his execution) if he only heard of it, but that he would not readily 
forget it if he saw it. To hear a man talk of his own execution gave me 
a strange kind of feeling. He said he would be carried to his own 
burial-place at Muiravonside; that it was the second best in the kirk- 
yard. There were symptoms of vanity in the long line of the Reids and 
the good burial-place; a proof that ideas of these kinds are natural and 

Ritchie and I sat awhile with him after the painter was gone, the 
first sitting being over. John said, "Death is no terror to me at present. 
I know not what it may be." Said Ritchie, "You must either be inf atu- 
7 A special drive to press men into the service. 

Edinburgh, 30 August 1 774 287 

ated, or you have, by grace, a reliance on the merits of Jesus Christ" 
John said he trusted to the mercy of GOD in Christ; that he had been 
an unfortunate man, and insinuated that his fate was foreordained. 
Ritchie quoted the passage in James which I had quoted; but he 
seemed to be much hampered with Calvinistical notions about decrees, 
while he struggled to controvert John's wickedness being foreor- 
dained. Indeed the system of predestination includes all actions, bad 
as well as good. Ritchie pressed John much to make an authentic last 
speech. I told him that if he was guilty of the crime for which he was 
condemned, it was his duty to his country and the only reparation he 
could make, to acknowledge it, that his example might have a proper 
effect. He persisted in his denial, and did not seem willing to have any 
speech published. Ritchie, said to me in his hearing that it was a per- 
quisite for Richard, who had a great deal of trouble. I said we should 
get John to make a speech. 

John complained much of Peter Reid for deceiving him by promis- 
ing to swear as to the bargain between him and Gardner, and then 
drawing back. "For," said he, "if I had not trusted to him, I would not 
have told you that I could bring such proof, and then you could have 
done what you thought proper." He told me that he said to Peter in 
this very room: "Peter, mony (many) alee (lie) Ihavetelt (told) for 
you for which I repent"; and Peter said he would help him to the ut- 
most on this occasion; and he did not think there was much harm in 
it, as it was to save a man's life; "though it was very wrang (wrong) 
to swear awa (away) a man's life." This was a kind of casuistical ex- 
planation of the ninth commandment: Thou shalt not bear false wit- 
ness against thy neighbour. But thou mayst do so for him. John 
cried a good deal when he told me this story of Peter Reid. He did not 
seem to be affected on any other occasion. I argued with him that it 
was happy that Peter Reid's conscience had checked him and pre- 
vented him from being guilty of perjury; that to be sure it was wrong 
in him to say that he would swear in John's support, but that it was 
better that he stopped than if he had gone on. John's system upon this 
subject was so crooked that he did not appear at all convinced. 

It was a very wet day. I grew dreary and wanted either Charles 
Hay or Grange to dine with me, but neither of them could come. I 
took a little bowl of warm punch by myself, except a glass which 

288 Edinburgh, 30 August 1774 

Veronica drank. Her sweet little society was a gentle relief, but I was 
too dismal to enjoy it much. I had a letter from my brother David 
which was a cordial. I drank tea with Grange, but was gloomy. I had 
by sympathy sucked the dismal ideas of John Reid's situation, and as 
spirits or strong substance of any kind, when transferred to another 
body of a more delicate nature, will have much more influence than 
on the body from which it is transferred, so I suffered much more than 
John did. Grange very sensibly observed that we should keep at a 
distance from dreary objects; that we should shun what hurts the 
mind as we shun what disagrees with the stomach and hurts the body 
a very good maxim for preserving a mens sana. At night Mr. 
Nairne called in and supped with us. He did me some good by his con- 

WEDNESDAY 31 AUGUST. This was the second day of John Reid's 
sitting for his picture. Ralph the painter went through his part with 
perfect composure, hardly ever opening his mouth. He mentioned a 
Mr. Cochrane of Barbachlaw. John said he was a strange man. He 
used to drink hard, till he squeeled like a nowt. He would just play 
bu* Strange that a creature under sentence of death should tell such 
an anecdote and seem entertained. I spoke to him of his execution, 
thinking it humane to familiarize his mind to it. I asked him if he was 
here when Murdison died. 9 He said no, and on my saying, "So you did 
not see him die," told me that he had never seen an execution. "No?" 
said I. "I wonder you never had the curiosity." He said he never had. 
That once, as he and some other drivers of cattle were coming from 
Yorkshire, they stopped at Penrith in Cumberland, where there was 
a man to be executed for murder next day; that some of his companions 
stayed to see it, but he and the rest did not. I then spoke of the way in 
England of having a cart and ours of having a ladder, and that it was 
said ours was the easiest way. "I take it, John," said I, "I shall die a 
severer death than you." "I dinna (do not) think," said he, "they can 
feel much; or that it can last ony (any) time; but there's nane (none) * 

8 Till he bellowed like an ox. He would just pretend to low. 

9 Alexander Murdison was convicted of sheep-stealing on 11 January 1773 and 
hanged on 24 March. See above, pp. 146-147, 149. 

1 BoswelTs glosses upon quite easily interpreted Scots forms, not only here but 
elsewhere in the present volume, suggest that he has in mind some other audi- 
ence than himself an English-speaking audience. 

Edinburgh, 31 August 1774 289 

of them to tell how it is." I mentioned Maggy Dickson, who had been 
hanged less than the usual time and was recovered, and said she felt 
no pain. 2 He told me he saw a Highlandman at Glasgow, a big strong 
man, who had escaped twice; first, the rope broke. "And," said John, 
"at that time it was thought they coudna (could not) hang them up 
again; and the second time, the gallows fell." He said his wife was 
resolved that he should die in white; that it was the custom in his part 
of the country to dress the dead body in linen, and she thought it would 
cost no more to do it when he was alive. He this day again averred the 
truth of his story that he got the sheep from Gardner. He said to me 
that there was something he had done a great many years ago, before 
any of his trials, that had followed him all this time. That it was not 
a great thing either, nor yet a small thing, and he would let me know 
it. This was somehow curious and awful. Honest Ritchie, from time 
to time, threw out serious reflections, as thus : "If any man sin, we have 
an advocate with the Father, even Christ the righteous. Christ is an 
advocate, indeed. Other advocates only plead for panels. But he takes 
upon him the offences of the panels and suffers in their stead." Ritchie 
also gave a particular account of the behaviour of Pickworth, and 
promised to give me a copy of a printed narrative of it which he wrote. 8 

1 did not know before that Ritchie was an author. 

I mentioned that it was remarkable that there was always fine 
weather on execution days, and I asked Ritchie what was the meaning 
of pigeons flying when people were executed. He said that he thought 
the notions which some people entertained of that signifying good to 

2 Margaret Dickson, a married woman separated from her husband, was hanged 
in Edinburgh for child-murder in 1724. According to the soberest account, her 
body was coffined at the foot of the gallows and put into a cart to be conveyed 
to Inveresk. On the way the men driving the cart stopped for a dram. When 
they came out of the public house, they heard a sound in the coffin, and on tak- 
ing off the lid, found her alive. She remained in a low state several days, com- 
plaining of a severe pain in her neck, but finally recovered, was reconciled to 
her husband, and bore him several children. She sold salt in the streets of Edin- 
burgh, where she was generally known as "half-hangit Maggie." 

8 A Short Account of the Behaviour of William Pickworth, from His Condemna- 
tion to his Death: in a Letter from a Person Who Attended Him Often during 
That Time, to Which Is Annexed His Last Speech, Edinburgh, 1771. He was a 
soldier in the Twenty-second Regiment of Foot, twenty-four years old, hanged 
in Edinburgh for robbery on 25 September 1 771. 

2 go Edinburgh, 31 August 1774 

the persons executed were fablish. John then told of a woman who vras 
executed, who told that morning to a minister after awaking from a 
sound sleep, "If ye see some clear draps o' (drops of) rain faw (fall) 
on me after I'm custen owr (thrown over) , I'm happy." And John said 
the clear drops did fall. All this was most suitable conversation for 
John. I asked him if he had ever seen the hangman. He said no. I said 
I had seen him this forenoon going into the office of the prison. "Ay," 
said John, "he'll be going about thinking there's something for him." 
He seemed to think of him with much aversion and declared he would 
have no intercourse with him, one way or other; but he seemed some- 
what reconciled when I told him that the hangman was a humane 
creature, and shed tears for unhappy people when they were to be 
executed. I inculcated upon John that he was now to have no hopes, 
since no answer had come to his application. He asked if there would 
not come an answer of some kind. I said not unless they were to grant 
something favourable, and that must have come before now had it 
been to come. He said he was thrown into a panic by hearing a horn 
blow in the street.* I was desirous to have his picture done while under 
sentence of death and was therefore rather desirous that, in case a 
respite was to come, it should not arrive till he had sat his full time. 
It was finished today and was a striking likeness, a gloomy head. He 
asked if it would not be better to have had on his bonnet, and said he 
should have had on a better waistcoat. He asked too if his name would 
be upon it. I said it would be on the back of it. Said he: "I thought it 
would have been on the fore (front) side of it." There was vanity 
again. As the painter advanced in doing it, I felt as if he had been 
raising a spectre. It was a strange thought. Here is a man sitting for 
his picture who is to be hanged this day eight days. John himself 
seemed to wonder somewhat at the operation, and said, "I'm sure you 
maun hae an unco (must have a strange) concern about this," or 
words to that purpose. When it was finished and hung upon a nail to 
dry, it swung, which looked ominous, and made an impression on my 
fancy. I gave John a dram of whisky today again. When I got home I 
found several vermin upon me which I had attracted while in the jail. 
It was shocking. I changed all my clothes. 

Lady Colville and Lady Anne Erskine drank tea with us, very 
agreeably. Mr. Hay and I had read no law today. When I came from 
4 He thought perhaps of a post-horn. 

Edinburgh, 3 1 August 1 774 291 

the prison, we had gone to Heriot's Garden and played at bowls. Mac- 
laurin was in town today, and played with us. 

[Received c. 31 August, Lord Erroll to Boswell] 

Slains Castle, 27 August 1 774 

SIR, I have now lying before me yours of the tenth. I should be 
very willing to show any favour in my power to a client of yours, but 
in the present case I am certain no application from me would be of 
any avail. I never had a good opinion of Mr. Clarke, although he was 
my tenant. And from your own account of Reid, I cannot find any 
reason for an indifferent person to apply in his favour. At the same 
[time] I cannot help applauding your doing so, as you are of opinion 
the jury condemned him on scrimp evidence, though I think a man 
being habit and repute of a bad character must always weigh with 
any jury. Lady Erroll joins me in best respects to you, and I am with 
very much esteem, Sir, your most obedient servant, 


THURSDAY i SEPTEMBER. I breakfasted at Mr. David Steuart's, 
Writer to the Signet, where was his father, Steuart Hall. At ten I 
called on Dr. Cullen to talk with him of recovering John Reid. He was 
gone abroad. I found his son, my brother lawyer, and trusted him 
with the secret, and he engaged to get me a meeting with his father. 
It came on a heavy rain; so I sat a good while with Cullen in his study, 
and had very good ideas presented to my mind about books and crim- 
inal law, etc. Every man has some peculiar views which seem new to 
another. After taking a tolerable dose of law, Mr. Hay and I went for 
a walk to Heriot's Garden, and then I dined with him. He had Dr. 
Monro and several more company "with him, and it was concerted 
that we should get information from the Anatomical Professor as to 
recovering a hanged person, 5 which would be useful to Reid. Harry 

5 There seems to have been a wide-spread interest at this time in the subject of 
recovering persons supposedly dead. The leading article in The Scots Magazine 
for September 1774 was an abstract of a French memoir, by M. Janin, published 
at Paris in 1773, "on the causes of sudden and violent death; wherein it is proved 
that persons who seemingly fall victims to it may be recovered." In 1774 the 
Humane Society, for the recovery of persons apparently drowned, was founded 
in London. 

292 Edinburgh, i September 1774 

Erskine 6 was there, and talked so much that it was long before we 
could get Dr. Monro set upon the subject. He said in his opinion a 
man who is hanged suffers a great deal; that he is not at once stupe- 
fied by the shock, suffocation being a thing which must be gradual 
and cannot be forced on instantaneously; so that a man is suffocated 
by hanging in a rope just as by having his respiration stopped by hav- 
ing a pillow pressed on the face, in Othello's way, or by stopping the 
mouth and nostrils, which one may try; and he said that for some time 
after a man is thrown over, he is sensible and is conscious that he is 
hanging; but that in three minutes or so he is stupefied. He said that 
it was more difficult to recover a hanged person than a drowned, be- 
cause hanging forces the blood up to the brain with more violence, 
there being a local compression at the neck; but that he thought the 
thing might be done by heat and rubbing to put the blood in motion, 
and by blowing air into the lungs; and he said the best way was to cut 
a hole in the throat, in the trachea, and introduce a pipe. I laid up all 
this for service in case it should be necessary. He told me that ten or 
twelve of his students had, unknown to him, tried to recover my 
clients Brown and Wilson, 7 but had only blown with their own 
breaths into the mouths of the subjects, which was not sufficient. He 
said some people had applied to him for leave to put on fires and make 
preparations for recovering Lieutenant Ogilvy in his class. That he 
thought it would be very wrong in him to allow it, and told them he 
should have no objection if Lord Justice-Clerk gave his consent. That 
he spoke to Lord Justice-Clerk, who said that if such a thing was 
allowed, the College of Edinburgh should never again get a body from 
the Court of Justiciary. Indeed it would have been counteracting their 
sentence. He said he dissected Ogilvy publicly, and that there was no 
hurt on his head by the fall from the gibbet. 8 

I sat long here today, thinking myself well employed in listening 
to Dr. Monro, whom I seldom met. He asked me to sup with him next 
8 See above, p. 198. 

r Hanged on 15 September 1773. See above, p. 192. 

8 This notorious case has been given a volume in the Famous Scots Trials. Lieu- 
tenant Patrick Ogilvy became the lover of the young wife of his brother, the 
laird of Eastmiln, and connived with her in poisoning him. Mrs, Ogilvy (a niece 
of BoswelTs friend William Nairne) escaped from prison and got to France, but 
Patrick was hanged in a bungling manner on 13 November 1765. 

Edinburgh, i September 1774 293 

day with the Laird of MacLeod. I drank rather more than a bottle of 
Madeira. It was about ten when we parted. I made a good deal of 
impression on the company in favour of John Reid's innocence. As I 
considered him as now a gone man, I resolved to know the truth by 
being with him to the very last moment of his life, even to walk a step 
or two up the ladder and ask him then, just before his going off, what 
was the real matter of fact; for if he should deny then, I could not 
resist the conviction. 

FRIDAY 2 SEPTEMBER. I lay till near ten. A little after I rose and 
was at breakfast and Mr. Hay was come, while the tea-things were 
standing, I was called out to a man and who was this but Richard 
Lock, who informed me that John Reid had got a respite for f ourteen 
days; 9 that Captain Fraser had been up with him and read it to him, 
and that he teared more now than he had ever seen him. I was put 
into great agitation. All my nerves started. I instantly dressed, and 
Mr. Hay and I walked out, met Michael Nasmith, who had seen 
the respite in the Council Chamber, and he went thither with us, 
when Bailie Brown showed us it. 1 Wright, the stationer, who was 

at the time , 2 cried out with a kind of unfeeling sneer, "It will 

be lang (long) life and ill health;" and all the people in the Chamber 
seemed against poor John. We then went up to John, whom we found 

9 The respite (Public Record Office, Scottish Entry Book, Criminal) is dated at 
St. James's 26 August and signed by Lord Rochford. On the same date Lord 
Rochford, "in the absence of Lord Suffolk," sent the Lord Justice-Clerk John 
Reid's petition and BoswelTs accompanying letter, requesting a report "whether 
and how far the said John Reid may appear . . . to be an object of His Majesty's 
Royal Mercy." "But if your Lordship shall be fully satisfied with the verdict 
and shall not have discovered any favourable circumstances in the convict's 
case, I am to desire your Lordship to return the said respite to me when your 
Lordship transmits your report." On 17 October Bpswell heard from the Justice- 
Clerk's brother that the respite had thus been optional "that Lord Rochford 
sent the respite to him with a power to deliver it, or put it in the fire as he should 
judge proper." 

1 Perhaps the same as "Buckram" Brown, below, p. 301. 

2 Charles Wright was Dean of Guild, a lay judge, elected by the tradesmen of the 
City, with jurisdiction in mercantile causes and over building regulations. On 
this occasion he was apparently officiating in some such capacity as "chairman" 
or "president" within the Council Chamber, and Boswell cannot recall the exact 

294 Edinburgh, 2 September 1774 

in a dreadful state. He was quite unhinged. His knees knocked 
against each other, he trembled so; and he cried bitterly. I spoke to 
him in a most earnest manner and told him, since the respite was 
only for fourteen days, the judges would be consulted and they would 
report against him. He must therefore consider that he had just four- 
teen days more allowed him to prepare for his awful change. He 
moaned and spoke of his being "cut off after all, with a hale (whole) 
heart." I said he must compose himself. He said he hoped he should, 
if it pleased GOD to continue him in his senses, as he had hitherto done. 
I said, "You would make this application, though I told you I thought 
it would have no effect. If you suffer from it, it is owing to yourself." 
It was striking to see a man who had been quite composed when he 
thought his execution certain become so weak and so much agitated 
by a respite. My wife put a construction on his conduct which seemed 
probable. She said it was plain he had all along been expecting a 
pardon and therefore was composed, but that now when he found that 
only a respite for fourteen days had come and that inquiry was to be 
made at the judges, he for the first time had the view of death. But 
if I can judge of human nature by close observation, I think he was 
before this time reconciled to his fate, and that the respite affected 
him by throwing him into a wretched state of incertainty. I gave 
him a shilling to get some spirits as a cordial. Messrs. Hay and 
Nasmith went with me to the Justiciary Office, but we could learn 
nothing there but that John Davidson, the Crown Agent, had applied 
for an extract of the trial on Monday. 8 The respite therefore must have 
been kept up some days. 

I was quite agitated, partly by feeling for Reid, whom I had seen 
in so miserable a condition, partly by keenness for my own conse- 
quence, that I should not fail in what I had undertaken, but get a 
transportation pardon for my client, since a respite had come. I re- 
solved to walk a little in the fresh air in the Meadow, Hay and 
Nasmith accompanied me and helped me to calm myself. I thought 
of applying to Lord Advocate. They were for my taking a chaise and 
going directly to his country-house at the Whim, which was but f our- 

3 "The Justice-Clerk . , . though he sent up his own opinion, sent also up a full 
copy of the trial that it might be judged of by the King in Council" (Journal, 
17 October 1774). 

Edinburgh, 2 September 1774 2 95 

teen miles off. I thought it would be better to send an express to him 
with a letter, as I could write in stronger terms than I could speak; 
and I would ask a transportation pardon from him as a favour which 
I should consider as a serious obligation for life. I determined that 
we should call on worthy Nairne and take his advice. He humanely 
said that since I had obtained a respite, he wished I might save Reid 
from execution; and he gave it as his opinion that I had better go to 
Lord Advocate in person. Honest Charles Hay would not leave me in 
my distress, but accompanied me, as honest Kent did Lear. 

We got a chaise at Peter Ramsay's directly, and set off. Charles 
agreed to wait at an inn not far from the Advocate's, as he was ill- 
dressed, and it would be better I should wait on the Advocate alone. 
We talked or rather raved of all the possibilities as to John Reid's 
affair as we drove along, and Mr. Hay was by this time grown almost 
as eager to save him as I was. He stopped at an inn at Howgate three 
miles from the Whim. I was uneasy when by myself, restless and im- 
patient. When I arrived at the house, I was told my Lord was gone 
to Sir James Clerk's at Penicuik. I drove back to Howgate, where Hay 
had dined. I took a glass of port and a bit of bread, and then we got 
into the chaise again and drove to Penicuik. We put up our horses at 
the inn. He walked with me half way to Sir James's and promised to 
wait at the village. It was now between five and six. As I approached 
the house, I saw Sir James and Lord Advocate and some other gentle- 
men taking a walk after dinner, I had dined here before with Sir 
James. After making my bow to him, I said, "My Lord Advocate, I 
am in quest of your Lordship. I have been at the Whim. May I beg 
to speak with you?" We went aside. He immediately started the 
subject, answering, "About your friend John Reid." I spoke to him 
very earnestly. He told me he had seen the respite and my letter to 
Lord Suffolk and the petition for John. He expressed his unwilling- 
ness to have an execution after a respite, but said that the respite here 
had been compelled by the application coming so late. That the 
King's business required that an example should be made of this 
man, and if it were to be asked at him, he could not say that Reid 
was a proper object of mercy. But that he was to give no opinion one 
way or other. He made for a little a kind of secret of what was doing. 
But upon my urging h^n, he said it lay with the judges, and I must 

296 Penicuzk, 2 September 1774 

apply to them. I said I did not like to apply to them, and I told him 
with great sincerity that he was the only man employed by the 
Crown in the Justiciary Court who had not a strong bias against the 
panels. I said the Justice-Clerk stood in a very delicate situation here, 
as he had attacked Reid after being acquitted by his country, 4 and 
would be supposed to be much prejudiced against him. If I were in 
his place, I would not wish to make a severe report in such circum- 
stances. The Advocate smiled. He gave me full time and never seemed 
inclined to go in, but walked on the lawn with a complacent easy 
behaviour. I showed him that I was really very much concerned here 
and begged he would assist me; that I should never forget the obliga- 
tion. He said it would be improper for him to interfere. 

Sir James sent and invited me to tea. I went in with Lord Advocate 
and drank some coffee and eat a crumb of biscuit. I went and looked 
at Runciman's paintings in Ossian's Hall, 5 and was much pleased. 
Sir James was extremely polite to me. Lord Advocate carried me in 
his coach to the village, but as he had a gentleman and lady with 
him I could get but little said. I however resumed my solicitation and 
said, "Well, my Lord, you'll think of it." He with a pleasing tone said 
something to this purpose: "Then as King William said, 'You must 
not think no more of it' " Though I did not distinctly hear what he 
said, it appeared to me that he had an intention to do something for 

4 In giving his judgement in the Douglas Cause, in another court and several 
months after Reid's acquittal, the Lord Justice-Clerk indulged in an obiter 
dictum which was reported as follows: "We have indeed seen cases where there 
was a moral impossibility of the prisoner's innocence, and yet we have seen 
juries acquit such a one. Such a case was that of Reid, who was lately tried be- 
fore the criminal Court, for the crime of sheep-stealing. ... A counsel at that 
bar, who likes to distinguish himself upon such occasions, patronized the prison- 
er's defence and notwithstanding the clearest and most positive evidence of all 
the facts which I have mentioned, 'The jury acquitted the prisoner' " (A Sum- 
mary of the Speeches, Arguments, and Determinations of . . . the Lords of . . . 
Session [in the Douglas Cause] , London, 1767, pp. 323-324). 

5 A series of twelve paintings of scenes from Ossian's poems, on the ceiling of a 
large room designed for a picture gallery, with smaller paintings to complete 
the design. This room was one of the most important commissions given to 
Runiciman on his return from Rome (see above, p. 284) by Sir James Clerk and 
other patrons. The paintings, finished in 1773, were highly esteemed, but 
perished when the house was destroyed by fire in 1899. 

Penicuik, 2 September 1774 2 97 

me. He pressed me much to go home with him, but I told him I was 
engaged in town. Mr. Hay and I drank a pint of white wine and eat 
a bit of biscuit and then took our chaise again, I observed how curious 
it was that two beings who were not sure of their own lives a day 
should be driving about in this manner to preserve the life of a wretch 
a little longer. Said Charles: "Can we be better employed?" On my 
coming home, and Mr. Hay with me, my wife, who never favoured 
John Reid and who was sorry to see me so much interested about him, 
told me that she had heard some decent-looking men talking tonight 
on the street against him. One of them said, "I think no laws will get 
leave to stand now. I wish the law of Moses may get leave to stand." 
She delivered me a letter from Lord Pembroke in most polite terms, 
mentioning that he had written to Lord Rochf ord and urged the affair 
strongly. This revived my hopes. I went to Dr. Monro's. Colonel 
Campbell of Finab and his family and the Laird of MacLeod and 
some other company were there. I played awhile at loo and lost only 
i8d. We supped very genteelly. I was in a very good frame, had taken 
a liking to claret and drank a bottle of it. I was pleased at this acquisi- 
tion to the number of my convivial acquaintances. 

[Received 2 September, Lord Pembroke to Boswell] 

[Wilton] 29 August 1774 

S IR) i have received your commands and shall execute them 

as well as I can, with the greatest pleasure. As I cannot be in town 
to give the petition myself, and as I understand you have applied to 
Lord Suffolk, I have wrote to the other Secretary, Lord Rochf ord, and 
have urged the affair strongly to him. 

I beg to make my compliments acceptable to Mrs. Boswell, and am, 
Sir, with the greatest truth and regard, your most obedient, humble 



[Michael Nasmith to Boswell] 

[Edinburgh] almost 11,2 September [i 774] 
DEAR SIR, I don't know whether you are returned. If Do 
give me a hint of your hopes. I am engaged or would have waited 
on you. 

298 Edinburgh, 2 September 1774 

John's wife was with me this afternoon. I gave her a letter to the 
messenger who apprehended, 6 with three or four queries, but begged 
frirn to come to town immediately to give you every information. 

She tells me that after John heard the report against him, he had 
frequent conferences with Gardner, who lived (but was under hiding 
for the housebreaking) within thirty yards of John, anent the 
sheep. That the very moment John was taken he told the messenger 
that he had received the sheep from Gardner, and asked him whether 
he could not also apprehend him. The messenger, giving his hip a 
clap, said, "I can, I have a warrand in my pocket against him," and 
Gardner, within ten minutes after John, was also taken into custody, 
and they were in company as prisoners for some time. Gardner was 
sent to Stirling. These are facts you were totally ignorant of. I have 
begged the messenger's information what passed betwixt John and 
Gardner while in company. From this something good or bad may 
be learned. The messenger, if he has any bias, it will be in John's 
favour. Old acquaintances. I expect the messenger here on Sunday 
or a letter on Monday. What hopes now have you? Ever yours most 


SATURDAY 3 SEPTEMBER. I had an opportunity of doing a great 
kindness to a friend 7 by lending him 50. My wife very handsomely 
was clear for my doing it, and the gratitude which he expressed in a 
line which he wrote to me was valuable. 74 

SUNDAY 4 SEPTEMBER. I was at the New Church all day; Dr. 
Blair in the forenoon, Mr. Walker in the afternoon. Nothing remark- 
able was impressed upon me. My wife and I took our Sunday's supper 
at Dr. Webster's. I had drank tea at Lady Colville's, as she was going 
to Fife next day to stay till October. Before supper I walked in the 
garden with the Colonel, who was warm for John Reid, while his 
father was strenuous against him. It occurred to me that the Colonel's 
interest with Lord Cornwallis, who is intimate with the King and 

6 He was a "messenger-at-arms," accompanied by a party of dragoons. 

T Probably Andrew Erskine, who, when applying to Boswell in 1777 for a loan 

of 50, referred to it as "the old sum." 

T * Boswell here left nearly half a page blank, perhaps to record more events of 

this day when he remembered them, perhaps to copy in his "friend's" grateful 

Edinburgh, 4 September 1 774 299 

whose uncle is Archbishop of Canterbury, might be effectual. I asked 
the Colonel, "Does he know the narrowness of this damned country?" 
COLONEL. "Yes; was a year in it; despises it, hates it." "Then," said I, 
"'twill do." The Colonel agreed to write to him, and I was to write 
at the same time. We went to the Colonel's room and he instantly 
began to flourish away in a letter to the Earl, of which he scrolled 8 a 
part. I saw him quite in the train. At supper we had Lieutenant Well- 
wood and Grant Seton. George was high in liquor and harangued 
wonderfully. I roared against him. He said, "Noise is upon both sides. 
Better fire the half-moon in the Castle. 9 Governor Wemyss has the 
best argument. There is no answering the great guns." Dr. Webster, 
the Colonel, and I drank a bottle of port apiece. I was so full of John 
Reid, Lord Cornwallis, etc., that the ordinary Sunday supper ideas 
were forgotten. Both the Colonel and I loved a glass tonight. 10 

MONDAY 5 SEPTEMBER. The Law College went on pretty well. 
It helped to quiet me. At two I went to Colonel Webster. I suggested 
to him to mention the prejudice of the judges in this narrow country 
on some occasions, which he did excellently well. For a moment I 
considered that it was not right that the supreme judges of a country 
should be censured by a young colonel whose letter might have in- 
fluence. But then I thought, since they really have a bias to severity, 
it should be checked. And now there is much at stake: the life of a 
man whom I think innocent, and my own fame. In the evening the 
Colonel and Michael Nasmith came and sat by me while I wrote to 
Lord Cornwallis and a second time to Lord Pembroke, in which I not 
only mentioned my own anxiety but that I should be sorry to have it 
thought in this country that his Lordship had failed. The Colonel 
threw in flashes into my letter to Lord Cornwallis. Mr. Nasmith was 
quite pleased with the Colonel. He said I was cool in comparison of 
him. Before I got to the post-office the London mail was upon the 
horse. I would not trust the post-boy with two such important packets. 
I therefore sent them by an express from the post-office to Hadding- 
ton, which cost me 7.9. But one day's sooner arrival was well worth 
the money. Mr. Nasmith came home and supped with me. 

8 Drafted. See below, p. 307. 

A bastion in the shape of a half-moon, with a battery of cannon from which 

salutes were and are still fired on official occasions. 

10 Another sentence of perhaps eight words f ollows in the manuscript^ hut it has 

been carefully deleted by Boswell, and remains undeciphered 

300 Edinburgh, 5 September 1774 

[Boswell to Lord Pembroke] 

Edinburgh, 5 September 1774 

MY LORD, Your Lordship's most obliging letter has confirmed 
me in the opinion which I formed of your humanity. A respite for 
fourteen days has come for John Reid. But I understand that some of 
the judges are desired to make a report concerning him, and as I al- 
ready hinted to your Lordship that there are prejudices against him in 
this narrow country which it would take some time to explain, I dread 
that the report may be unfavourable. If that shall be the case and he 
shall be yet ordered for execution, his situation will be deplorable, 
and the application made in his behalf will only serve to augment 
his misery. I must therefore again intrude upon your Lordship and 
beg in the most earnest manner that you may make a point of having 
his sentence changed to transportation. As I have mentioned my 
obligations to your Lordship for interposing in this affair, I should 
be sorry to have it thought in this country that Lord Pembroke 
strongly urged a petition for mercy in the case of a simple theft, sup- 
posing the charge true, and failed in obtaining it. The cruelty of an 
execution after respite is equal to many deaths, and therefore there 
is rarely an instance of it. This poor wretch, even if guilty, does not 
merit such severity. I am so much distressed with this wretched case 
that your Lordship will relieve me as well as my client by getting the 
sentence mitigated, and believe me, my Lord, I shall be most sincerely 
grateful for the obligation. Colonel Webster has written to Lord Corn- 
wallis in favour of the unhappy man, whom I do really believe inno- 
cent of the theft for which he is condemned, and I would fain hope that 
I shall be made easy by having his lif e saved. It would be improper 
for me to suggest to your Lordship in what manner to secure a 
pardon. But I flatter myself that in the circumstances in which the 
affair now is, your Lordship will take effectual measures to obtain it. 
I shall be in great anxiety till I receive a few lines from your Lordship. 
My wife joins me in most respectful compliments, and I have the 
honour to be with unfeigned warmth your Lordship's much obliged 
humble servant, 


Edinburgh, 6 September 1 774 301 

TUESDAY 6 SEPTEMBER. Dined at Mr. Donaldson's, where were 
Mr. Brown, who has the appellation of Buckram Brown, 1 who said all 
the books on trade Child, Davenant, etc. were nonsense, except 
Sir Matthew Decker's treatise. 2 We had also Mr. Mylne, the architect 
of Blackfriars Bridge, who told me that Mr. Johnson had begun again 
to drink wine and to speak in praise of doing so, which put me in the 
humour of it. 8 Also Captain Charles Douglas of the Navy, who had 
drank no fermented liquor for several years and said he was much 
healthier and stronger, could bear more fatigue, fast longer, and 
added four hours in the twenty-four to his existence, as he required 
less sleep. He preached up his system. But Mylne, who had tried it, 
said it would not answer with his constitution; and to this Mr. Mc- 
Dowall, the woollen-cloth manufacturer, who was there, assented cor- 
dially. Donaldson gave us very good claret. I loved the liquor, sucked 
it, and found it salutary. We had good stout conversation about the 
Bostonians and taxes, and trials for life or death. I removed part of the 
prejudice against John Reid. We drank tea. Brown said smuggling 
was not criminal. It was gaming running the risk of certain penal- 
ties; and suppose all our own subjects should let it alone and we should 
see the Dutch getting all the profits of it, would not a man do well to 
try to get a part for himself? I answered that suppose all our own sub- 
jects should give over robbing on the highway and none but Dutch- 
men follow that occupation, would a man do well to try to get a part 
of the guineas, and not let them be carried out of the kingdom by the 
Mynheers? This got me the laugh of the company on my side. 

[Michael Nasmith to Boswell] 

Edinburgh, 6 September 1774 

DEAR SIR, Do you think it would be proper to transmit to Mr. 
Wilson, writer in Glasgow, that part of John's last speech respecting 

1 "From his stiffness of temper and manners" (Boswelliana, p. 281). He was a 
china-merchant and magistrate of Edinburgh. 

2 Sir Matthew's Essay on the Causes of the Decline of the Foreign Trade ap- 
peared in 1744. Adam Smith did not think so well of it as Mr. Brown. 

8 There is no reason for doubting Mylne's testimony, but it does not appear that 
Johnson's use of wine after 1765 was more than sparing and sporadic. 

302 Edinburgh, 6 September 1774 

Gardner? I think it would be at any rate a matter of satisfaction to 
us to have Gardner, before he goes, examined upon every particular. 
If you think it proper, you may send me the speech to have the excerpt 
made, or you may cause my clerk do it, as perhaps you may not like 
to let the speech, as it stands, go out of your own possession. I am most 
sincerely, dear Sir, yours, 


[Michael Nasmith to Boswell] 

Edinburgh, 6 September 1774 

DEAR SIR, Wilson is a fellow of spirit, and I wish him to know 
how matters stand. And sincerely I think I have told him nothing but 
real truth. But you'll let me know whether any thing is improper. 
There are such a world of questions to be asked at Gardner. If there 
be any truth in John's speech, I am sure we'll have some of it from 
Gardner, if he is not possessed of superlative cunning. I am, dear Sir, 


The more I think of this matter the less I am disposed to think that the 
verdict is just, be Reid innocent or guilty. 

[Michael Nasmith to John Wilson, Jr., Writer in Glasgow] 

Edinburgh, 6 September 1774 

DEAR JOHNNY, You must know something more about poor 
John Reid's situation. 

In 1766, when tried here for sheep-stealing, when the verdict of 
the jury was read finding him innocent, some of the judges took the 
liberty to give a different opinion, and the Lord Justice-Clerk in his 
speech in the Douglas Cause took some striking liberties with poor 
John's character. Upon these grounds, notwithstanding the verdict, 
all mankind were authorized by the Court to hold him guilty. 

In last indictment habit and repute was libelled. Mr. Boswell op- 
posed this with great spirit. In the proof, the Advocate by a minute 
admitted what had been said by the judges at last trial, and the 
speeches in the Douglas Cause were produced. The proof amounted 

Edinburgh, 6 September 1 774 303 

to this: that eighteen were stolen, and that five of these were found 
in John's possession. John could not prove he purchased them, nor 
could he prove that he had not himself brought them home. Nor could 
he prove he was at home the night before they arrived. Of about 
twenty-five witnesses who were summoned for him, not one of them 
could say a word, and one of the Crown witnesses swore that he im- 
agined (being Reid's next neighbour) that the sheep was brought 
home by John early before daylight in the morning, although John 
avers, and his wife too, that he was in his bed all that night, and that 
Russel, a lad employed by Gardner, brought them. The habit and re- 
pute bore everything before it. Five of the nineteen were found in his 
possession. Ergo the libel was found proved. Such a conclusion per- 
chance may be right, but I defy mortal creature to say it is. Boswell 
was great. There never was a charge made with greater dignity and 
judgement. Had Corsica been at stake, he could not have stood forth 
with greater firmness, and at the same time with all that respect which 
was necessary, to show that the former trial could not influence in the 
present question. He implored the jury to disentangle themselves from 
all prejudices. The Lord Justice-Clerk complained loudly to the jury 
he and the Court had been arraigned. The verdict was returned find- 
ing the indictment proved. 

A respite, I told you last night, has been obtained for fourteen days, 
but we now understand His Majesty wishes to have the Justiciary 
Court's report whether the poor man ought to die or live. You see 
where we are. We fear the Lord Justice-Clerk. The battle is betwixt 
Boswell and the Court. He is opposing all his interest. He is all human- 
ity. Reid is his oldest client in the Justiciary Court. He wishes not to see 
him die where the proof is not conclusive, nor any man where the 
proof is no more than that five stolen sheep are found in his possession. 
A simple act of theft, and that only supported by presumption. Is it 
not hard? 

Before the respite came, John's last speech was framed. It has been 
put into Mr. BoswelTs possession. Enclosed is a copy of that part of it 
respecting Gardner. It may be true. If it is, what a direful thing in 
this country of knowledge, and all the rest of it, for the poor man to be 

If Gardner be gone to Greenock and not off, you'll follow him and 

304 Edinburgh, 6 September 1 774 

make every enquiry. Your letter perhaps may be a sufficient answer 
to the Lord Justice-Clerk's report to His Majesty. Enquire as to the 
poinding* if there was any such person as Russel as to the letter. 
Feign that we have the letter. You need no instructions. When Boswell 
or I can serve you, command. I am, etc., 


EDITORIAL NOTE: The broadside Last Speech, Confession, and 
Dying Words of John Reid . . . given to Richard Lock, Inner Turn- 
key of the Tolbooth, Edinburgh . . . Printed by H. Galbrcdth was 
not published until after 2 1 September. (See below, Appendix A.) But 
the text of this broadside taken with the letter just presented makes it 
clear that Boswell and Nasmith were by now in possession of a state- 
ment by Reid to the effect that about ten days before the "melancholy 
affair" for which Reid was to suffer, Gardner had arranged with Reid 
to deliver to him a parcel of sheep for slaughter on Tuesday 4 October. 
Gardner did not, however, actually deliver the sheep on that day. In- 
stead, on Thursday "thereafter, early in the morning before I had got 
out of bed, a young man named Thomas Russel chapped at my door 
and told me that Gardner had sent me nineteen sheep and at same 
time delivered me a line from him, in which he informed me that he 
could not come on the Tuesday as he had promised, as he had been 
employed in poinding a man that was owing him some money." 

WEDNESDAY 7 SEPTEMBER. Mr. Nasmith called with a letter 
from Brown, the messenger who had taken up John Reid, addressed 
to John^ and mentioning that, as they were upon the road, John asked 
him if he could apprehend any one else and mentioned Gardner, who 
was accordingly apprehended. From this letter it appeared to me and 
Messrs. Hay and-Nasmith that John had been lying; for if he had got 
the sheep from Gardner without suspicion, would not he, when ac- 
cused of stealing them, have instantly accused Gardner, loudly and 
keenly? No law was read today, we talked so long of John Reid. I de- 
termined to try again to know the truth. 

I went up to John a little before two, with the messenger's letter 

4 Distraining a person's goods; pronounced "pmding." 
c The letter is a copy in Nasmith's hand. 

Edinburgh, 7 September 1774 35 

in my hand. Seeing me have a paper, he gave an earnest look, I sup- 
pose in expectation that it was his pardon. But I at once accosted him 
as a dying man, upbraided him with having imposed on me, and said 
to him what I and Mr. Nasmith had concluded from perusal of the 
letter. He calmly explained his conduct "Sir," said he, "Gardner had 
before this time come to my house and owned to me that he had stolen 
the sheep, and promised me great rewards if I would not discover him. 
Therefore, when I was taken up, I would not speak out against him, 
but wanted him to be apprehended, that he and I might concert what 
was to be done to keep ourselves safe. But he was but a very little time 
with me, and then was carried to Stirling." I was not much convinced 
by this account of the matter. I had wrought myself into a passion 
against John for deceiving me, and spoke violently to him, not feeling 
for him at the time. I had chosen my time so as to be with him when 
two o'clock struck. "John," said I, "you hear that clock strike. You 
hear that bell. If this does not move you, nothing will. That you are 
to consider as your last bell. You remember your sentence. On 
Wednesday the * of September. This is the day. Between the hours of 
two and four in the afternoon; this is that very time. After this day 
you are to look upon yourself as a dead man; as a man in a middle 
state between the two worlds. You are not in eternity, because you are 
still in the body; but you are not properly alive, because this is the 
day appointed for your death. You are to look on this fortnight as so 
much time allo wed to you to repent of all your wickedness, and partic- 
ularly of your lying to me in such a way as you have done. Think 
that this day fortnight by four o'clock you will be rendering an ac- 
count to your Maker. I am afraid that you are encouraged by your 
wife to persist in obstinacy, not to disgrace her and your children. But 
that is a small consideration to a man going into eternity. I think it 
your duty to own your being guilty on this occasion if you be reaUy 
so, which I cannot but think is the case. By doing so you will make all 
the atonement in your power to society. But at any rate I beseech you 
not to deny your guilt contrary to truth." This was as vehement and 
solemn a harangue as could be made upon any occasion. The circum- 
stance of the clock striking and the two o'clock bell ringing were finely 
adapted to touch the imagination. But John seemed to be very unfeel- 
ing today. He persisted in his tale. There was something approaching 

306 Edinburgh, ^ September 1774 

to the ludicrous when, in the middle of my speech to him about his not 
being properly alive, he said very gravely, "Ay; I'm dead in law." 
I was too violent with him. I said, "With what face can you go into 
the other world?" And: "If your ghost should come and tell me this, 
I would not believe it." This last sentence made me frightened, as I 
have faith in apparitions, and had a kind of idea that perhaps his ghost 
might come to me and tell me that I had been unjust to him. I con- 
cluded with saying, "You have paper, pen, and ink there. Let me have 
a real account of everything." He said he would. Richard Lock had 
come into the room before I was done speaking. I desired him to ad- 
vise John to be candid. 

Mr. Nasmith met me when I came out of prison and was very im- 
patient to hear about John. In telling him John's explanation of his 
behaviour when taken up, I became impressed that it might be true, 
and enlarged on the uncertainty of circumstantial evidence. Nasmith 
was convinced too, and said, "We are as much in the dark as ever." I 
took him home with me to dinner; and, after drinking a bottle of port 
between us, a curious thought struck me that I would write the case of 
John Reid as if dictated by himself on this the day fixed for his execu- 
tion. I accordingly did it, and hit off very well the thoughts and style 
of what such a case would have been. Nasmith suggested the idea of 
Gardner confessing in America. He took it home to get it copied, and 
undertook to send it to GalbraitL, a printer, that it might be hawked 
about the streets this very night; which would have a striking effect, 
as it called on his readers to think that it was his ghost speaking to 

And now let me mention some circumstances omitted in my Jour- 
nal. John's vanity appeared while his picture was drawing, by his 
asking me if his name would be put upon it. I said it would be put on 
the back of it Said he: "I thought it would have been on the fore 
(front) side." 6 His predestinarian belief appeared from his observing, 
when I spoke of the wonderful escape of Andrews, etc., from Paisley, 7 
"Their time was not come." His wife had been with me since the res- 

6 Boswell had actually not omitted this. See above, p. 290. 

T See above, p. 199, the unexpectedly successful effort of Boswell and Crosbie 
defending John Andrews and others in a trial in March 1774 for arson com- 
mitted at Paisley. 

Edinburgh, 7 September 1774 307 

pite came. I gave her no hopes, but bid her have a cart to carry away 
his body. "Ay," said she, "there shall be a cart if there's occasion for 
it"; so I saw that all I could say did not prevent her from imagining 
that he had a pretty good chance for life. 

The Answers for Nimmo were wanted soon. I found that I put 
them off from day to day. So one evening last week I sent for Adam 
Bell and made him sit by me while I revised the scroll 8 of the Answers 
before the Lord Ordinary; corrected, added, wrote papers apart, and 
so obliged myself, by labouring in his presence both before and after 
supper, to complete my task, all but a few pages, which I afterwards 
did. Mr. Lawrie had been a jaunt to Stirling and Perth. He came to 
Edinburgh on Sunday. I met him at the Cross on Sunday evening. He 
breakfasted with me on Monday and went home again that day. My 
wife and I supped this night at Captain Schaw's with Lady Dun- 
donald, Lady Betty, Colonel Stopf ord, etc., very well. 

[Received c. 7 September, John Wilson, Jr., to Michael Nasmith] 

Glasgow, 6 September 1774 

DEAR SIR, This day I received yours of yesterday 9 about the 
case of John Reid, who hath received His Majesty's respite of his capi- 
tal punishment for fourteen days. I see Mr. Boswell and you are still 
employed in the cause of humanity, nay, could our politicians see it, 
of good policy also rescuing the lives of the lieges from destruction 
appointed too frequently by the barbarous laws of a civilized nation. 
Can any sober thinking person believe it that in a country which 
boasts so much of its knowledge and refinement, there should exist a 
law assigning death as the punishment of the crime of stealing eight- 
een sheep? Ninety and rune sheep, which once were less valued than 
one lost and recovered, are less valuable than the life of any of His 
Majesty's subjects. What pity it is that the sentiments of that excellent 
philosopher and politician the Marquis Beccaria have not hitherto 
been capable of opening the eyes of our legislators, who can suffer the 
laws on so slight occasions to murder the citizens with a formal pag- 

8 See above, p. 299. 

9 Nasmith's first letter to Wilson, written apparently the day before the one 
presented above, p. 302, has not been found. 

308 Edinburgh, 7 September 1774 

eantry. I aim truly sorry that I can add no information from Gard- 
ner, from whom you say Reid maintains he bought the sheep, he hav- 
ing above three weeks ago stayed a night only here in his passage to 
transportation. I 3*n, dear Sir, your most obedient servant 


JOHN REID, Now lying under sentence of death in the Tolbooth of 
Edinburgh, dated Wednesday night, the 7th of September 1 774. 

This is the very day on which I was doomed to die; and had it not 
been for the mercy of our most gracious Sovereign, whom GOD long 
bless and preserve, I should by this time have been a miserable spec- 
tacle, and my last speech crying dolefully through the streets of this 
city. 0! listen then unto me, while I am yet in the land of the living, 
and think that it is my GHOST speaking unto you! 

Much cry has been made against me by small and great. And how 
can a poor man like me withstand it? But before I go hence and be no 
more, I trust you will hear the words of truth, and peradventure your 
minds may be changed. 

I am condemned because some of these sheep were found in my 
flesh-house and I could not bring downright probation of him from 
whom I came by them. But I say now, as I told my lawyer, who said 
it unto the lords and will say unto the end, that William Gardner, and 
none else, was the man, and he is now a transported thief, though he 
was loose when I was seized and caused him for to be taen, that he 
might answer therefor and I not be the sufferer. John Brown the mes- 
senger in Linlithgow can attest this; and many an honest man has no 
witnesses present when he receives goods. But I see that my being tried 
two times before, though cleared by juries, many of whom, now alive, 
can bear testimony for me, has made me be thought guilty at all 

I hope none of you shall by malicious report of enemies be brought 
to trial, since it is all one whatever is the fate thereof. 

What will you say when Gardner's conscience smites him in 
America and he owns that I got the sheep honestly from him, and I 
am gone and cannot be recalled? 

May all good Christians, then, charitably pray that as the King's 

Edinburgh, 7 September 1774 309 

heart is in the hand of the Lord, and he turneth it whithersoever he 
will, it may please him to save me from an ignominious death, which 
can do harm to no man. 1 

THURSDAY 8 SEPTEMBER. Mr. Donaldson and his son, Mr. 
Mylne the architect, Balbarton, Sir George and Lady Preston and Miss 
Preston dined with us. My servant James had a child ill of the small- 
pox. He would not agree to stay away from it; and as I was afraid that 
my little Effie might be infected, I would not allow him to come into 
my house; so I was now without a manservant. I saw that a married 
servant would not do in a family where only one is kept, and therefore 
I gave him warning to provide himself against the term. It gave me 
some uneasiness to think that a poor man should be dismissed because 
he had strong natural affection; but I considered that a man in his 
station of life is bound to submit to many disadvantages, and if he can- 
not do so, he is at least unfit for being the sole manservant in a family; 
and I hoped that he would get a good place somewhere else. Sir 
George's ladies went home early. He and the rest of the company 
drank tea. I had taken too much claret. I strolled in the streets a long 
time. 2 1 supped at Sir George's with my wife, Mrs. Wellwood 3 was 
there. I drank too much strong port negus. After I came home I was 
monstrously passionate. 

FRIDAY 9 SEPTEMBER. After our law Mr. Hay and I had a game 
at bowls. He dined with me and drank tea. I was now become a man of 
high estimation in the prison, in so much that prisoners applied to me 
by petition: "Unto the Honourable James Boswell, Esq., Advocate, 

The Petition of Humbly Showeth." I did them what service I 

could. Henry McGraugh's case was now become an object of great 
attention, the newspapers having many letters about it. Some of them 
I wrote myself. Galbraith had not printed John Reid's case. 4 On Satur- 

1 From a draft in Boswell's hand. See below, p. 318. 

2 Here occurs an indistinct private symbol, apparently consisting of two char- 
acters, the first a Greek letter n. 

8 Sir George Preston's eldest daughter, mother of Lieutenant Robert 
* See above, p. 306. On 8 September Nasmith had written to Boswell as follows: 
"Last night the composition was recopied and a note added: 'Print this for me 
immediately to be sent about.' An address was put upon the back, and the letter 

310 Edinburgh, 9 September 1 774 

day last Mr. Ritchie called on me in the afternoon and showed me part 
of a dying speech which he had drawn up from what John said to him. 
I asked Ritchie of what religious profession he was. He said, "I belong 
to a few meeters in the Potterrow." It seems he was an Independent, 
but had separated from Dr. BoswelTs people on some difference about 
discipline. 5 1 promised to consider what he had drawn up. Dr. Young 
drank tea with us. He thought hanging a quick death, there being 
violence besides suffocation. 

[Received c. 9 September, "Tyburn" to Boswell] 

SIR, I understand your design. John Reid will steal for you, and 
the Irishman shall then have plenty from your table. You know that 
good mutton is pleasant to the Faculty of Advocates: yea, although 
you know it to be stolen; and if the Irishman had done to you as he 

has done to others, you and Andrew would be 5a indeed. The case 

is truly this: the Irishman and Crosbie, Boswell and John Reid, is all 
alike guilty. 


SATURDAY io SEPTEMBER. Captain Robert Preston had arrived 
last night. I called for him this morning at Sir George's, missed him, 
but found him at Dr. Webster's. He then came to my house and sat a 
little. He was engaged all this day. After breakfast Mr. Nasmith 
called, which interrupted the Law College. Mr. Hay and he agreed 
with me that as I was to transmit a memorial on the evidence against 
John Reid, showing its insufficiency, it would be proper to send along 
with it a declaration by his wife that he was in his own house the night 
when the theft was committed, and for several nights before. This the 
woman all along affirmed, and her testimony was the only proof that 
in the circumstances of the case could be had. I drew a short petition 

was given to a porter. About ten another porter was dispatched to have the mat- 
ter distributed. Nothing has appeared. Perhaps 'print this for me 9 has carried the 
thing into a wrong channel, to the center of the city. We'll afterwards learn.*' 
5 Dr. Boswell belonged to the Glassites or Sandemanians, a Presbyterian sect 
which, opposed the principle of established churches and national covenants. 
5a Word undeciphered: it appears to read C-ge or Coge. The writer seems to be 
fairly literate. 

Edinburgh, 10 September 1 774 31 1 

to the Magistrates which Mr. Nasxnith got John to sign, and then 
presented it. Bailie Tony, who then officiated, was timorous, and some 
clerk advised that it should be intimated to the King's Advocate, Solic- 
itor, or Crown Agent The Bailie gave judgement accordingly. They 
were all out of town; and at any rate would have opposed it, though 
in reality they had no concern with it. The trial was over. The declara- 
tion was only a piece of evidence, perhaps not strictly legal, but which 
might have weight with His Majesty, after a respite had been granted. 
Bailie Macqueen, to whom Mr. Nasmith spoke first, very gravely said 
that taking the declaration would be to destroy a trial by jury. We 
were now in a dilemma. We thought of trying a Justice of Peace, but 

we could not bear being refused again. Mr suggested that the 

declaration might be taken before two notaries public. We sallied 
forth into the street to look for another notary to join Mr. Nasmith. 
We met Andrew Dick, Writer to the Signet. He would not be con- 
cerned in the matter; and said with a dull sort of sneer, "He may pre- 
pare himself for Wednesday come eight days." I was angry at the 
animal, and told him before Messieurs Hay and Nasmith that John 
told me that Mr. Andrew Dick and he were fourth cousins. This the 
creature could not deny; and to have it known mortified him not a 
little. It occurred that perhaps a commissary might take the declara- 
tion. We walked out to George's Square, and I called on Commissary 
Smollett* and laid the matter before him. He said that, as a com- 
missary was not virtute officii a Justice of Peace all over the country 
like the Lords of Session and Barons of Exchequer, and had no crim- 
inal jurisdiction, he could not take the declaration. I then suggested 
that a protest might be taken against the Bailie for delaying it. He 
thought this right, and said that along with the protest a petition from 
the poor woman might be sent, setting forth what she would have de- 
clared had she not been prevented; which would probably not have 
been the case in our neighbouring country, affidavits being readily 
taken by magistrates in England. 

Messieurs Hay and Nasmith waited for me in the Square, and we 
went and dined together at Baptie's in Bruntsfield Links, very soberly, 
and came to the resolution of taking no protest, as that would occasion 

James Smollett of Bonhill, first cousin of the novelist Tobias; he was a brother- 
in-law of Sir James Clerk of Penicuik. 

312 Edinburgh, 10 September 1774 

a noise, but just having the declaration certified by two notaries pub- 
lic. We came in to town, sauntered at the Cross, anxious for another 
notary to join Mr. Nasmith. One Tyrie appeared but declined to give 
his assistance. We were in a great dilemma. At last I f ound Matthew 
Dickie. We went into Hutchinson's and had a bottle of claret for our- 
selves and a bottle of porter for Mrs. Reid and Richard Lock, who 
brought her. I then exhorted her to tell nothing but truth; said I was 
not a judge, so could not administer an oath to her; but that solemnly 
to declare what was not true would be a great sin. She said, "I am in 
the presence of GOD." Her declaration then was taken, and she really 
seemed to speak what was genuine truth. Mr. Dickie went home. I and 
my two zealous coadjutors drank tea, and I wrote two letters to Lord 
Rochf ord: one as to the Secretary of State and another as to the private 
nobleman; and I put them, with a memorial and the declaration, into 
the post-office with my own hand, as I have done every letter concern- 
ing John Reid. Messieurs Hay and Nasmith came home and supped 
with me. This was a day of much agitation. I was quite exhausted. We 
drank little. 

[Boswell to the Earl of Rochf ord] 

Edinburgh, 10 September 1 774 

MY LORD, A respite having arrived from your Lordship's office 
for John Reid, under sentence of death here, I think it my duty in 
justice to the unhappy man for whom I was counsel, and whose trial 
was attended with very peculiar circumstances, to transmit to your 
Lordship a memorial upon the evidence and a solemn declaration 
taken since the trial; as I am indeed anxious that the royal clemency 
may not be intercepted when it is my serious opinion that it is proper 
to grant it. I have the honour to be, my Lord, your Lordship's most 
obedient, humble servant, 


EDITORIAL NOTE: BoswelTs "memorial" argued that one proof 
of Reid's innocence in receiving the sheep from Gardner was his 
complete carelessness in allowing the sheep to graze in the park near 
his house, and in failing to remove the heads of two of the sheep 
in his slaughter-house or in any way to remove or deface the marks of 
identification on any of the sheep. (Precautions of that sort had had 

Edinburgh, 10 September 1774 313 

great weight in establishing guilt in the noted trial of Murdison and 
Miller the previous year.) He suggested that the cross-examination of 
William Black had showed the "rashness" of this witness, "who en- 
deavoured to swear as strongly as he could against the prisoner." In 
both the memorial and his letter to Rochford "as to the private noble- 
man," Boswell advertised the illiberality which prevailed in his own 
country. "This poor man had formerly suffered a severe imprison- 
ment upon an accusation of the same nature, though when brought 
to trial he was acquitted by a verdict of his country. There was there- 
fore no wonder that he should endeavour [by running away] to avoid 
such a hardship upon this occasion. And it may be added that he was 
alarmed from a consideration of what it is to be feared has been the 
consequence, that in a narrow country the prejudice created against 
him by his being formerly tried, though acquitted, might insensibly 
operate upon the minds of a jury. . . . " It is to be hoped that this 
prejudice "will be disregarded by liberal minds who think justly of a 
trial by jury." 

He began his personal letter to Lord Rochford with an appeal to 
his own political past. "Perhaps your Lordship may have heard of 
my name on occasion of my humble efforts in behalf of the brave and 
unfortunate Corsicans. I shall only say that although I have not the 
honour to be personally known to Lord Rochford, I have often felt 
the warmest regard for him, knowing his spirited and generous con- 
duct at the Court of France at a time when the interposition of Great 
Britain in the manner devised by your Lordship would have saved 
that gallant little nation from severe oppression." 

[Declaration of Janet Reid] 

At Edinburgh, 10 September in the year of Our Lord 1 774 of the 
reign of our Sovereign Lord George, by the Grace of God of Great 
Britain, France, and Ireland King, the fourteenth year, in presence of 
us Matthew Dickie and Michael Nasmith, one of the clerks to His 
Majesty's Signet, and both of us notars public admitted by royal 
authority and also by authority of the Lords of Council and Session 
conform to Act of Parliament, being duly sworn into the said office: 

Appeared Janet the wife of John Reid, now lying under sentence 

314 Edinburgh, to September 1774 

of death in the prison of Edinburgh, and solemnly declared and 
affirmed that her said husband sleeped at home in his own house upon 
the nights of the sixth and seventh of October last, the last of which is 
the night on which it is alleged that he committed the theft for which 
he is condemned, and that he sleeped both those nights in the bed with 
the declarant, which he also did during every other night of that week, 
and during the three last nights of the week preceding. That they went 
regularly to bed each of these nights at or before eleven of the clock, 
being their usual time of going to bed, and they lay till sun-rising, 
except upon Thursday's morning, when her husband was called up 
about an hour before sun-rising to receive a parcel of sheep from Wil- 
liam Gardner. And all that she has now solemnly declared and 
affirmed she is ready and willing to attest upon oath before any of His 
Majesty's judges. In testimony whereof she hereto adhibits her sub- 
scription in our presence and in presence of Charles Hay, Esq., advo- 
cate, and Matthew Montgomery, writer in Edinburgh. 

(Signed) JANET REID, praemissa attestor 

ventas M NASMITH ^ N p 

CHA. HAY, Witness 

M. MONTGOMERIE, Witness 7 

SUNDAY 11 SEPTEMBER. I stayed at home all f orenoon. My wif e 
and I dined quietly by ourselves. In the afternoon I walked about the 
King's Park. Called on Lord Dundonald. Drank a large glass of Ma- 
deira with him, and then drank tea with the ladies. My wife and I 
supped at Sir George Preston's, where [were] the Websters, all but 
the Colonel and Annie, who were in the country. Captain Robert be- 
came warm for John Reid; said he would write a letter to Bamber 
Gascoyne, 8 who had a great deal to say with Lord Rochford; and he 
would pay the half of an express to carry it. I was to call on him next 
morning to get it. We had a deal of jovial roaring, and drank till two 
in the morning. 

MONDAY 12 SEPTEMBER. I was very ill with last night's riot. 
Between eight and nine, Captain Preston had a message for me. I went 

r A copy in an unknown hand. 

8 M.P. for Weobly 1770-1774, eldest son of Sir Crisp Gascoyne, Lord Mayor of 

London in 1752. 

Edinburgh, 12 September 1774 315 

to him. He made me write while he dictated a very strong letter in- 
deed, to which he put his name. It was agreed that it would go soon 
enough by the post. Sir George and all the family set off this morning 
for Valleyfield. Matthew Dickie dined with me. I began to consider 
that Captain Preston's letter being in my handwriting might appear 
to Lord Rochford to have been framed by me; and I really could not 
vouch its contents. I therefore resolved not send it, but wrote to the 
Captain that if he pleased to send me a letter in his own handwriting, 
in time for Tuesday's post, it would do. He did not think it necessary, 
for none came. 

TUESDAY 1 3 SEPTEMBER. The Laird of Dundas 1 had asked me 
to eat turtle with him this day at Fortune's. After a good match at 
bowls with Mr. Hay, I went to Fortune's, but found the feast was put 
off till next day; but as it had not been notified to me, I resolved not 
to attend next day. Charles Hay had told me that he had excellent 
mutton to dinner today; so I hastened to his house, but found dinner 
over and him eating some of the mutton by himself. I joined him and 
dined heartily, and saw I was made very welcome. He and I and his 
brother 2 drank a bottle of Madeira and a bottle of claret. I then, for 
the first time for many months, played at whist, Maclaurin and I hav- 
ing freed each other from a bet of five guineas who should first play 
again. I won, and also drank tea. 

[Boswell to the printer of The London Chronicle] s 

Edinburgh, 13 September 1774 

S IR ^ The rigour of our present penal laws has been long the 
subject of complaint. It is to be hoped that the legislature will at last 
see fit to relax it. In the mean time, the utmost care should be taken 

London mail left Edinburgh every night except Wednesday and Sunday at half 
past eight. 

1 James Dundas, a distant cousin of the Lord President and the Solicitor-General. 

2 James Hay. 

' This letter, which Boswell does not mention in the Journal till several days 
later, appeared in The London Chronicle for 17-20 September, and led to his 
receiving on 6 October a letter from the son of the Lord Justice-Clerk offering 
the alternatives of public apology or a duel The uncomfortable incident which 
ensued is narrated in the next volume of this series. 

31 6 Edinburgh, 13 September 1774 

that there should at least be full evidence against an unhappy man 
before he is dragged to a violent death for theft or any of those lesser 
crimes which are at present capital by law in England and by prac- 
tice in Scotland. We have at present in this city a remarkable man ly- 
ing under sentence of death, being convicted of the theft of a few 
sheep. His name is John Reid. He is remarkable because he was for- 
merly tried and acquitted by a very worthy jury, notwithstanding 
which some persons in high office publicly represented him as guilty. 
La particular one great man of the law exclaimed against him in his 
speech in the great Douglas Cause. This is a striking specimen of what 
goes on in this narrow country. A strong prejudice was raised against 
him, and now he was condemned upon circumstantial evidence which 
several impartial gentlemen of very good skill were of opinion was 
inconclusive. He has uniformly affirmed that, although the sheep were 
found in his possession, he had obtained them by a fair and honest 
bargain from another man. His case is very much similar to that of 
Madan, who was lately in the cart at Tyburn just going to be turned 
o, as guilty of a robbery upon circumstantial evidence, when Merritt 
appeared and confessed that he was the man who had committed the 
crime. But the man from whom Reid got the sheep has not as yet been 
so conscientious as Merritt. He has maintained an obstinate denial; 
but having been transported for housebreaking, he will probably 
confess in America. 

A respite for fourteen days was sent to Reid from the office of Lord 
Rochford, from whence Madan's respite also was sent. But, according 
to my information, an opinion from Scotland was desired upon the 
case: an opinion from that very man who exclaimed in the Civil Court 
against a man acquitted by a jury in the Criminal Court, when his life 
was staked upon the issue. 

The determination of the Sovereign is expected here with anxiety. 
I wish to avoid strong expressions. I would turn my mind only towards 
mercy. This will reach you on Saturday. It is entreated that you may 
insert it directly, as it may perhaps have influence in some manner 
that we cannot exactly foresee, and an express with a pardon, or with 
another respite till there can be time to hear from America, will pre- 
vent what I am afraid would have a wretched appearance in the an- 
nals of this country. I am, Sir, your constant reader, 

Edinburgh, 14 September 1774 3*7 

WEDNESDAY 14 SEPTEMBER. Having gone out to the Justiciary 
Office in the morning, Mr. Hay had called and missed me; so we had 
no law. I called at the bank for Maclaurin, and he and I took a walk in 
the Meadow. After dinner Ritchie called on me and said he was very 
desirous that John Reid should declare what he had committed long 
ago, which he thought had followed hrm. I promised to come to the 
prison, and accordingly went. 

John was very sedate. He told Mr. Ritchie and me that before his 
first trial, one night he drank hard and lay all night at the side of a 
sheep-fold; that when he awaked the devil put it into his head (or some 
such expression) , and he drove off all the sheep in the fold (the "hall 
hirsle") ; that before he was off the farm to which they belonged, he 
came to a water, and there he separated four of them, which he took 
home, killed, and sold; and he said it was alleged that he had taken 
five, but it never came to any trial. This was but a small matter. John 
said he would have it published. His owning this theft made me give 
more credit to his denial of that for which he was condemned, for why 
should he deny the one and confess the other? I told him that now I 
believed him, and I acknowledged that I had been too violent with 
him this day eight days. He seemed to be grateful to me; and said that 
few would have done so much for a brother, though a twin, as I had 
done for him. He said that he had always had something heavy about 
his mind since his last trial and never could be merry as formerly. He 
said that last night he had strange dreams. He saw a wonderful moon 
with many streamers. And he and a man who died some time ago, he 
imagined were walking together, and the man had a gun in his hand; 
that two eagles two pretty speckled birds lighted on a tree. (/ 
had very near said that these signified Lord Comwallis and Lord Pem- 
broke, who were his friends; but I checked myself.) He called to the 
man to shoot, but he did not; and one of the eagles flew into the man's 
arms, who gave it to John, and he carried it. Ritchie very foolishly 
smiled, and said, "Maybe, John, it may be a messenger of good news 
to you." This might have given him hopes. "No," said I. "Had it been 
a dow (dove), I should have thought it good; but an eagle is a bad 
bird." "Ay," said John earnestly, "a ravenous bird." "But," said 
Ritchie, "it did not fly on John, but on the other man, who gave it to 
John." "Well," said I, "that is to say, the bad news will come to Cap- 
tain Fraser, and he'll deliver it to John." 

31 8 Edinburgh, 14 September 1 774 

I asked John if he ever saw anything in the iron room where he 
lay. He said no; but that he heard yesterday at nine in the morning a 
noise upon the form,* as if something had fallen upon it with a clash. 
Ritchie and he seemed to consider this as some sort of warning. He said 
he had heard such a noise in the corner of the room a little before his 
respite came. And he said that the night before James Brown's pardon 
came, Brown was asleep, and he was awake, and heard like swine 
running from the door, round a part of the room, and grumphling.* 
He seemed to be in a very composed frame. I said it was an awful 
thought that this day sennight at this time he would be in eternity. 
I said I hoped his repentance was sincere and his faith in Christ sin- 
cere, and that he would be saved through the merits of the Saviour, 
and perhaps he might this day eight days be looking down with pity 
on Mr. Ritchie and me. I found that he had hardly written anything. 

I should have observed that on Saturday we sent for George Reid 
the printer to Hutchinson's, and he undertook to get the case which 
I had drawn in John Reid's style printed and cried, to conciliate the 
lower populace. It was accordingly done; but old Robertson had put 
in "taken from his own mouth" which was a lie. Richard Lock told 
me that John was very angry at this case. I said it could do no harm.' 

Colonel Webster and Annie, who were now returned, and George 
came and supped with me. My wife was indisposed. We roared and 
drank, both too much. 

THURSDAY 15 SEPTEMBER. After a game at bowls, I dined at 
Lord Dundonald's. Commissioner Cochrane and George Webster were 
there. George and I drank rather too much port. He walked home with 
me. A bottle of claret was standing out I insisted on our drinking it, 
which we did pleasantly, and then drank tea with my wife. 

FRIDAY 16 SEPTEMBER. Charles Hay and I this day completed 
our course of Erskine's Institutes. I dined with him, with Maclaurin, 

4 The bench on which Reid sat. See above, p. 285. 

5 See above, p. 199, BoswelTs defence of James Brown in a trial for horse-stealing, 
7 February 1774. 

See above, p. 309. A printed copy of this broadside among the Boswell papers 
differs from the copy in BoswelTs hand (see our text above, p. 308) only in the 
heading, which has been altered to read: "... taken from his own mouth on 
Wednesday night, the 7th of September 1774, being the day fixed for his execu- 

Edinburgh, 1 6 September 1 774 319 

who was in good spirits but offended me by a kind of profaneness in 
quoting Scripture. He was of opinion that it was wrong to apply for 
John Reid; and when I asserted that he was innocent, Maclaurin had 
a pretty good simile. He said I had worked up my mind upon the sub- 
ject. That the mind of man might be worked up from little or nothing 
like soap suds, till the basin is overflowed. We drank moderately, and 
then played at whist. I went home at night, and was in a strange 
wearied humour; so went directly to bed. 

SATURDAY i/ SEPTEMBER. Mr. Robert Boswell and I break- 
fasted at my uncle the Doctor's. Richard Lock came in the morning, 
after my return from the Doctor's, and told me, "It is all over with 
John Reid. He dies on Wednesday. There's a letter come that no 
farther respite is to be granted." 7 1 was struck with concern, Mr. Hay 
came, and he and I walked a little on the Castle Hill and then called 
on Mr. Nasmith. We agreed to dine together at Leith to relieve our 
vexation at the bad news. I first went up a little to John Reid. His wife 
was with him. He was not much affected with the bad news, as he had 
not been indulging hopes. I again exhorted hi to tell nothing but 

Messieurs Hay, Nasmith, and I walked down to Leith, and dined 
at Trumpeter Yeats's. We were fain to fly to wine to get rid of the un- 
easiness which we felt that, after all that had been done, poor John 
Reid should fall a victim. I thought myself like Duncan Forbes.* We 
drank two bottles of port each. I was not satisfied with this, but stopped 
at a shop in Leith and insisted that we should drink some gin. Mr. 
Nasmith and one Ronald, the master of the shop, and I drank each a 
gill. Nasmith was very drunk, Mr. Hay and I quite in our senses. We 
all walked up some way or other. Mr. Hay came home with me. I 
found a'letter from Lord Pembroke which gave me still hopes, for he 

7 "The law must take its course. ... I cannot help regretting with your Lord- 
ship that Mr. Boswell did not endeavour to learn your Lordship's opinion before 
he wrote to this office, as in all probability if he had done so, he would not have 
occasioned the hopes which the respite may have given the poor man, and he 
would have been convinced that your Lordship entirely agreed with the rest of 
the judges of the Court of Justiciary in the sentence which they pronounced" 
(Lord Suffolk to the Lord Justice-Clerk, 9 September 1774: Public Record Office, 
Scottish Entry Book, Criminal). 
See above, p. 226. 

320 Edinburgh, 17 September 1774 

said he would go to town and see the King himself; and I flattered my- 
self that his Lordship might procure an alteration of the doom. Mr. 
Hay left me. I grew monstrously drunk, and was in a state of mingled 
frenzy and stupefaction. I do not recollect what passed. 

[Hugh Warrender to James Tait, one of the town clerks of Edinburgh] 

Edinburgh, 1 7 September 1 774 

SIR, The Earl of Suffolk, Secretary of State, by his letter to the 
Lords of Justiciary dated from St. James's the nine instant, and of 
which I have been just now acquainted, writes that the extract of the 
trial of John Reid had been laid before the King, and, as there did not 
appear to be any favourable circumstance in that unhappy man's case, 
that no further respite would be granted, and that the law must take 
its course after the expiration of the respite formerly sent and notified 
to the Magistrates of Edinburgh. 

This I thought it my duty to notify as soon as possible, that the un- 
happy man may not be allowed to continue longer under any false 
hopes that he may have been led to entertain. 

I am in the absence of John Davidson, Sir, your most obedient 
humble servant, 

City Clerk of Edinburgh. 9 

[Received 1 7 September, Lord Pembroke to Boswell] 

Wilton House, 1 1 September 1 774 

I dare say, my dear Sir, that Lord Rochford has done the poor 
man's business, but, in case of any mistake, I will go up to town and 
see the King myself on Thursday next, the usual day of Court in the 
summer, if nothing prevents His Majesty's coming to town. 

My best compliments wait on Mrs. Boswell. I am, Sir, with the 
greatest truth and regard, your most obedient humble servant, 


9 This letter is a copy in BoswelTs hand. John Davidson (see above, p. 294) was 
Crown agent in Edinburgh and Warrender was his clerk. The style "City Clerk 
of Edinburgh," which Warrender assumes as Davidson's deputy appears not to 
have been official. 

Edinburgh, 18 September 1774 321 

SUNDAY 18 SEPTEMBER. It gave me much concern to be in- 
formed by my dear wife that I had been quite outrageous in my drunk- 
enness the night before; that I had cursed her in a shocking manner 
and even thrown a candlestick with a lighted candle at her. It made 
me shudder to hear such an account of my behaviour to one whom I 
have so much reason to love and regard; and I considered that, since 
drinking has so violent an effect on me, there is no knowing what 
dreadful crime I may commit. I therefore most firmly resolved to be 
sober. I was very ill today. Both Mr. Hay and Mr. Nasmith called 
on me. About twelve I called on Grange, and he and I walked out by 
the West Kirk and round by Watson's Hospital, which did me much 
good. I found my uncle the Doctor when I got home. He dined with us. 
I stayed at home in the afternoon as I had done in the forenoon. Mr. 
Hay came after church, and he and I walked in Heriot's Garden. Lady 
Dundonald and Lady Betty Cochrane drank tea with us. 

MONDAY 19 SEPTEMBER. Between seven and eight I was with 
the Doctor by appointment, and he and I walked out to Sir James 
Foulis's at Colinton, where we breakfasted. It was melancholy to see 
an ancient respectable family in decay. Sir James has much curious 
knowledge, 1 but his whim and want of dignity displeased me. We saw 
his lady and youngest daughter. He walked with us to Dreghorn (Mr. 
Maclaurin's) , where I was engaged to dine and play at bowls. Charles 
Hay and his sister came. It was a wet day, but we had a stout bowling 
match. Sir James went home. We dined very well and drank little. 
Then Maclaurin, Hay, and I took a rubber, Hay playing the dead 
man. Maclaurin told me that I had the character of speaking ill of my 
companions, but that he did not believe it. Hay justified me, owning 
at the same time that I would have my joke on them when it could 
not really hurt them. I said I certainly did speak freely of those of 
whom I had not a good opinion, but I did not live with them as com- 
panions. Maclaurin said I carried that too far. It gave me some sort of 
uneasiness to hear that I was misrepresented; but then my full con- 
sciousness of my real goodness made me easy. We drank tea; and then 
the Doctor and I came off in a hackney-coach which my wife sent for 
us. By the road he disputed warmly for his particular tenets as to the 
i He was a Celtic scholar, engaged in research on the place names of Scotland 
and the origin of the Scots. 

322 Edinburgh, 19 September 1774 

Christian religion: salvation by faith alone, etc. I felt some pain when 
I found how ill I could argue on the most important of all subjects, and 
cold clouds of doubt went athwart my mind. 

When I got home I found letters for me from Lord Rochf ord, Lord 
Pembroke, Mr. Eden under-secretary in Lord Suffolk's office, and the 
Duke of Queensberry, and was finally assured that John Reid would 
be executed. I was hurt, and also felt an indignation at the Justice- 
Clerk, whose violent report had prevented my obtaining for John Reid 
the royal mercy; but I resolved not to write against him till time had 
cooled me. Mr. Hay called, and was much concerned. He and I went 
to Mr. Nasmith, who was very impatient. We all agreed that it was a 
shocking affair. The last resort now was the scheme of recovering 
John. Mr. Hay promised to call at my house next morning to talk of 
it Mr, Nasmith and I went to see Mr. Wood. He was not at home. We 
found fr at Mrs. Alison's in New Street, Canongate, at supper, got 
hi?n into a room, and spoke with him. He' said that a house must be 
found as near the place of execution as possible, for that the rumbling 
of a cart would destroy John altogether. He said a stable or any place 
would do. He would attend and have the proper apparatus, and get 
Mr. Lines, Dr. Monro's dissector, to attend. I was much agitated to- 
night. It rained very heavily. I wished it might do so on Wednesday, 
that the execution might perhaps be hastened. 

[Received 19 September, William Eden* to Boswell] 

St. James's, 13 September 1774 

SIR, I am directed by Lord Suffolk to acknowledge your letter 
to his Lordship enclosing a petition to the King from the unfortunate 
convict John Reid, and to assure you that every attention has been 
given to your wishes that the nature of the case would admit. In the 
result, it was with much concern that his Lordship, after obtaining 
the fullest information and laying it before the King, found it his duty 

f William Eden, tinder-Secretary of State for the North, 1772-1778, was in 1793 
created Baron Auckland in the peerage of Great Britain. He was a younger son 
of Sir Robert Eden, third Baronet of West Auckland, county Durham. The 
former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Anthony Eden, is descended from 
another son of Sir Robert. 

Thomas Miller (1717-1789), Lord Justice-Clerk; later Lord President 

and baronet From an oil painting reputedly by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 

sold at Christie's in 1927. Photograph courtesy 

of the Frick Art Reference Library 

Edinburgh, 19 September 1774 323 

to leave the law to take its course. I am, Sir> your most obedient, hum- 
ble servant, 


[Received 19 September, Lord Rochford to Boswell] 

St. James's, 15 September 1774 

S IR? Your two letters of the tenth instant, with the enclosures, 
were received yesterday, and at the same time I had a letter from Lord 
Cornwallis, enclosing one to his Lordship from you on the case of John 
Reid; and I am very sorry to be under the necessity of acquainting you 
that after the fullest informations taken on the proceedings of that 
trial, which have been laid before the King, together with the report of 
Lord Justice-Clerk, it has been determined that the law should take its 
course. I am, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant, 


[Received 19 September, Lord Pembroke to Boswell] 

St. James's, Thursday 15 September 1774 

I came up this morning on purpose to speak to His Majesty, my 
dear Sir, as you wished, and I am very sorry not to have been more 
successful. Lord Cornwallis also has applied in favour of Reid, but the 
judge's report, which I saw, is so very strong against him that the 
man's guilt is looked upon here in the most atrocious light possible. 
Lord Rochford would have urged for mercy had he been able to do it, 
but he and the King too indeed think the judge must resign if, after 
his report, any mitigation of the sentence should take place. 8 1 am 
very much concerned at my ill success, and shall be more so if it de- 
bars me from receiving your orders on any future occasion where you 
can make me useful. 

I am, Sir, with the greatest truth and regard, your most obedient, 

humble servant, 


"The King was certainly disposed to transport, but the judge's report was too 
strong. Indeed, I never read anything more so, or so positive" (Lord Pembroke to 
Boswell, 2 October 1774)- 

324 Edinburgh, 20 September 1 774 

TUESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER. Before breakfast I received a very 
good letter from Mr. Nasmith dissuading me from the scheme of re- 
covering John Reid, but he did not persuade me. Mr. Hay came and he 
and I called on Mr. Nasmith and took him with us to look for a place 
where the corpse might be deposited. We walked about the Grassmar- 
ket and Portsburgh, and saw some small houses to let. Mr. Nasmith 
proposed that we might take one till Martinmas; but then it 
occurred that the landlord would make a noise if a hanged man was 
put into it In short, we were in a dilemma. I thought of the Canon- 
gate Kilwinning Lodge, of which I was Master and could excuse my- 
self to the brethren for taking liberty with it; but it was too far off. I 
did not think it right to trust a caddie, or any low man, with the secret 
I asked John Robertson the chairman if he could find a house that 
would take in the corpse till the mob dispersed. He thought none 
would do it. Mr. Nasmith went out of town. Mr. Hay, after a short 
party at bowls, went with me and called for Mr. Innes, 4 Dr. Monro's 
dissector. Mr. Wood had not yet spoken to him; but he very readily 
agreed to give his help. He however could not help us to get a house. 
I called on Wood. Neither could he help us as to that article; and he 
began to doubt of the propriety of the scheme. I however remained 
firm to it, and Mr. Hay stood by me. Mr. Innes suggested one George 
Macfarlane, a stabler, where a puppet-show had been kept. Mr. Hay 
and I went to the Grassmarket, where he lived. But first it occurred 
to me that there was one Andrew Bennet, a stabler, whom I had lately 
got out of prison. We went to him. He had no family but his wife, and 
they were both fools. They were prodigiously grateful to me, called 
me his Grace^ Andrew having reproved his wife for calling me only 
his Honour. I told them that the friends of the poor man who was to 
be executed next day were anxious to lodge his body in some place 
till the mob should disperse, and, as he was a client of mine, I was 
desirous to assist them; so I hoped Andrew would let them have his 
stable for that purpose. He agreed to it, though his wife made some 
objection, and though he said he would rather let his crcdg (throat) 
be cut than allow it, unless to oblige me. I sounded them as to letting 
the body into their house; but Mrs. Bennet screamed, and Andrew 

* His Short Description of the Human Muscles, Chiefly As They Appear on Dis- 
section, 1776, was used in dissecting rooms at Edinburgh for fifty years after his 

Edinburgh, 20 September 1774 3 2 5 

said very justly that nobody would come to it any more if that was 
done. 5 It is amazing what difficulty I found in such a place as Edin- 
burgh to get a place for my purpose. The stable here entered by a close 
next entry to the door of the house, and had no communication with 
the house; so that the operators must be obliged to take their stations 
in the stable some time before the execution was over. It was a small 
stable, and there was a smith's shop just at the door of it; so that we 
could not be private enough. However, I was glad to have secured any 

Mr. Hay and I then went to George Macfarlane's. He was not in. 
We had not dined, as we did not choose to see my wife while we were 
about such a project, which I had communicated to her and which 
shocked her. We called for punch and bread and cheese, all of which 
proved wretched. We sat about an hour, waiting for the landlord's 
coming in, that we might have tried if he would let us have a better 
place, but he did not come. I observed that we were reduced to do the 
meanest and most disagreeable things for this strange scheme, as 
much so as candidates in a borough election. 

I called at home at five, Hay having gone to a coffee-house and 
engaged to meet me at the Cross at six. I found my wife so shocked 
that I left her immediately and went down to the prison. I was now 
more firmly impressed with a belief of John Reid's innocence, the 
Reverend Dr. Dick having come to the bowling-green in the forenoon 
and told me that, as he was to attend him to his execution, he had 
talked with him very seriously, and (the Doctor used a very good ex- 
pression) had got behind all the subterfuges of such a mind as his, 
such as his thinking it right to deny, to leave a better character for 
the sake of his wife and children, and had found him firm and con- 
sistent in his declaration that he was not guilty. The Doctor said this 
affair gave him great uneasiness; and he told me that the Reverend 
Dr. Macqueen was to go along with him to attend at the execution; 
that he also had been with John, and was of the same opinion. I begged 
that he and Dr. Macqueen would be particularly attentive to investi- 
gate the truth as much as possible, as I really believed he was con- 
demned on insufficient evidence, and, from his solemn averments of 
his innocence, thought him not guilty of the crime for which he was 
condemned; such averments being in my opinion an overbalance not 
5 It was probably a tavern. 

326 Edinburgh, 20 September 1774 

for positive, or even strong circumstantial, evidence, but for such evi- 
dence as was brought against him, which I thought could produce no 
more than suspicion. 

When I came to the prison I f ound that John Reid's wife and chil- 
dren were with him. The door of the iron room was now left open and 
they were allowed to go and come as they pleased. He was very com- 
posed. His daughter Janet was a girl about fifteen, his eldest son Ben- 
jamin about ten, his youngest son Daniel between two and three. It 
was a striking scene to see John on the last night of his life surrounded 
by his family. His wife and two eldest children behaved very quietly. 
It was really curious to see the young child Daniel, who knew nothing 
of the melancholy situation of his father, jumping upon him with 
great fondness, laughing and calling to him with vivacity. The con- 
trast was remarkable between the father in chains and in gloom and 
the child quite free and frolicsome. John took him on his knee with 
affection. He said to me that his daughter Jenny was the only one of 
his children whom he had named after any relation; and he went over 
all the names of the rest. They had almost all Old Testament names. 
They were seven in all. I again exhorted him to truth. One Miln in 
Leith Wynd, a kind of lay teacher, and Mr. Ritchie were with him; 
and he was to have some good Christians to sit up with him all night 

Mr. Hay went with me again to Mr. Lanes, who was satisfied with 
Bennet's stable and desired that there should be a blanket and a good 
quantity of warm salt prepared. We went again to Bennet's, and took 
a dram of whisky of his own distilling; and he and his wife promised 
to have the blanket and the salt in readiness, I having said that some 
surgeon had advised his friends to rub the body with warm salt to pre- 
serve it, as it was to be carried to the country. Bennet, though a fool, 
had smoked what was intended; for he said, "Could they not cut fa 
down living?" I said that would be wrong. I should have observed 
when I was with John this evening, it gave me some uneasiness to 
think, that he was solemnly preparing for an awful eternity while at 
the same time I was to try to keep fa back. He spoke himself very 
calmly of the corpse, by which he meant his own dead body; for I 
spoke to his wife before him about it: that I had secured a place for it, 
but I wished she could get a better place for it to be laid in till the mob 
dispersed. She said she would try Mrs. Walker at the sign of the Bishop 
in the Grassxnarket, who was very friendly to her. It was a comfort to 

Edinburgh, 20 September 1774 327 

me that neither John nor his wife had the least idea of any attempt to 
recover him. 

Mr. Hay and I met my worthy friend Grange in the Grassmarket 
tonight He was much against the attempt. After supper Mr. Wood 
called and told me that he had the proper apparatus ready; that he 
had also engaged Mr. Aitkin, another surgeon, to attend, and that, if I 
insisted on it, he was willing to make the experiment, hut that as a 
friend he could not but advise me against it; that it would be impossi- 
ble to conceal it; the mob would press upon us, and continue looking 
in at the door. A great clamour would be made against me as defying 
the laws and as doing a ridiculous thing, and that a man in business 
must pay attention in prudence to the voice of mankind; that the 
chance of success was hardly anything, and this was to be put in the 
scale against a certainty of so many disagreeable consequences. But 
he suggested another thought which had great weight with me. "This 
man," said he, "has got over the bitterness of death; he is resigned to 
his fate. He will have got over the pain of death. He may curse you 
for bringing him back. He may tell you that you kept him from 
heaven." I determined to give up the scheme. Wood got into a dis- 
agreeable kind of sceptical conversation about the soul being material, 
from all that we could observe. It is hard that our most valuable arti- 
cles of belief are rather the effects of sentiment than of demonstration. 
I disliked Wood because he revived doubts in my mind which I could 
not at once dispel. Yet he had no bad meaning, but was honestly and 
in confidence expressing his own uneasiness. He said that the fear of 
death sometimes distressed him in the night. He seemed to have 
formed no principles upon the subject, but just had ideas, sometimes 
of one kind, sometimes of another, floating in his mind. He had a 
notion, which I have heard the Reverend Mr. Wyvill support, that 
only some souls were designed for immortality. What a blessing it is 
to have steady religious sentiments. 

[Michael Nasmith to Boswell] 

Edinburgh, 20 September 1774 

MY DEAR SIR, This is a matter, of secrecy. We have properly 
speaking no person to advise with. The proposed attempt appears to 

328 Edinburgh, 20 September 1774 

be attended with so much humanity that the moment any of our 
friends may have it in confidence they may find themselves in the 
same situation we ourselves are. I have been therefore deliberating 
with myself how far the world may think we have acted a worthy 
part in having attempted to preserve his life. 

The jury have returned an unanimous verdict finding him guilty. 
The Court of Justiciary have been unanimous in finding him worthy 
of death. Our Sovereign has given it as his opinion that the interests 
of society are at stake if he is suffered to escape. The voice of the whole 
people approves. In short, everything sacred in society seems to forbid 
the attempt. 

Humanity and a strong belief of John's innocence have already 
impelled you to do much for him, but let us cast our eyes forward and 
see what effects the attempt may have upon the poor wretches who 
may hereafter be condemned to lose their lives. Death is already suffi- 
ciently terrible. I fear much that the proposed attempt, be the event 
what it will, may be attended with the worst consequences, conse- 
quences that neither of us would wish to be the authors of. In the 
awful approach of eternity the mind is disposed to grasp at every 
shadow. Few will hereafter come to suffer in this country to whose 
ears John's story may not have reached. If he is brought to life, they 
will hold it up as full evidence that they too may and that there 
may be a Boswell at hand the moment they are cut down. If the ex- 
periment proves ineffectual, they will solace themselves with such 
thoughts as these: that he was old that he had been desperately 
wicked that though the experiment did not succeed upon him, the 
world is every day getting more knowledge, it may upon them that 
heaven may have foreseen that they could not be otherways reclaimed 
than by suspending them in a rope and allowing them thereafter to 
return to life. To step out of this world in such a situation, without 
repentance, confession, and resignation is a dismal thought. 

To me the affair at present appears in these points of view and is 
not unworthy of the most cool deliberation. What do you think of 
talking to Mrs. Boswell, who, if I am a right judge, possesses both 
judgement and humanity in abundance? I am, dear Sir, yours 


Edinburgh, 21 September 1774 329 

WEDNESDAY 2 1 SEPTEMBER. John Reid's wife called on me be- 
fore breakfast and told me that Mrs. Walker said she was welcome to 
the best room in her house for the corpse; but that afterwards her land- 
lord had sent to her that she must quit his house if she allowed such a 
thing. I said that there would be no occasion for any place. The mob 
would not trouble the corpse; and it might be put directly on the cart 
that she expected was to come for it. After breakfast Mr. Nasmith 
came, and was pleased to find that the scheme of recovery was given 
up. He and I went to Bennet's and told him there was no use for his 
stable. We walked backwards and forwards in the Grassmarket, look- 
ing at the gallows and talking of John Reid. Mr. Nasmith said he 
imagined he would yet confess; for his wife had said this morning 
that he had something to tell me which he had as yet told to no mortal. 
We went to the prison about half an hour after twelve. He was now 
released from the iron about liis leg. The Reverend Dr. Webster and 
Mr. Ritchie were with him. We waited in the hall along with his wife, 
who had white linen clothes with black ribbons in a bundle, ready to 
put on him before he should go out to execution. There was a deep 
settled grief in her countenance. She was resolved to attend him to 
the last; but Richard whispered me that the Magistrates had given 
orders that she should be detained in the prison till the execution 
was over. I dissuaded her from going and she agreed to take my ad- 
vice; and then Richard told her the orders of the Magistrates. I said 
aloud I was glad to hear of it. The Reverend Dr. Macqueen, who after- 
wards came in, told her it would be a tempting of Providence to go; 
that it might affect her so as to render her incapable to take care of 
her fatherless children; and Mr. Ritchie said that the best thing she 
could do was to remain in the prison and pray for her husband. Dr. 
Macqueen said to me he was so much impressed with the poor man's 
innocence that he had some difficulty whether he ought to attend 
the execution and authorize it by his presence. I said he certainly 
should attend, for it was legal; and, besides, supposing it ever so 
unjust, it was humane to attend an unhappy man in his last moments. 
"But," said Dr. Macqueen, "I will not pray for him as a guilty man." 
"You would be very much in the wrong to do so," said I, "if you think 
TiiTn not guilty." Dr. Webster and I had no conversation as he passed 
through the hall except inquiring at each other how we did. 

330 Edinburgh, 21 September 1774 

John's wife then went up to him for a little, having been told 
both by me and Mr. Nasmith that she could not hope for the blessing 
of Providence on her and her children if by her advice John went out 
of the world with a lie in his mouth. I followed in a little, and found 
him in his usual dress, standing at the window. I told him I under- 
stood he had something to mention to me. He said he would mention 
it He had since his trial in 1766 stolen a few sheep (I think five), of 
which he never was suspected. "John," said I, "it gives me concern 
to find that even such a warning as you got then did not prevent you 
from stealing. I really imagine that if you had now got off you might 
again have been guilty, such influence has Satan over you." He said 
he did not know but he might. Then I observed that his untimely 
death might be a mercy to him, as he had time for repentance. He 
seemed to admit that it might be so. He said that what he had now 
told me he had not mentioned even to his wife; and I might let it rest I 
called up Mr. Nasmith, with whom came Mr. Ritchie. I said he might 
acknowledge this fact to them, which he did. I asked him, if I saw 
it proper to mention it as making his denial of the theft for which he 
was condemned more probable, I might be at liberty to do so? He said 
I might dispose of it as I thought proper. But he persisted in denying 
the theft for which he was condemned. He now began to put on his 
white dress, and we left him. Some time after, his wife came down 
and begged that we would go up to him, that he might not be alone. 
Dress has a wonderful impression on the fancy. I was not much 
affected when I saw him this morning in his usual dress. But now 
he was all in white, with a high nightcap on, and he appeared much 
taller, and upon the whole struck me with a kind of tremor. He was 
praying; but stopped when we came in. I bid him not be disturbed, 
but go on with his devotions. He did so, and prayed with decent 
fervency, while his wife, Mr. Nasmith, and I stood close around him. 
He prayed in particular, "Grant, Lord, through the merits of my 
Saviour, that this the day of my death may be the day of my birth unto 
life eternal" Poor man, I felt now a kind of regard for him. He said 
calmly, "I think I'll be in eternity in about an hour." His wife said 
something from which he saw that she was not to attend him to his 
execution; and he said, "So you're no (not) to be wi' me." I satisfied 
him that it was right she should not go. I said, "I suppose, John, you 

Edinburgh, 21 September 1774 33 1 

know that the executioner is down in the hall." He said no. I told 
Mm that he was there and would tie his arms before he went out. 
"Ay," said his wife, "to keep him from catching at the tow (rope) ." 
"Yes," said I, "that it may he easier for him." John said he would sub- 
mit to everything. 

I once more conjured him to tell the truth. "John," said I, "you 
must excuse me for still entertaining some doubt, as you know you 
have formerly deceived me in some particulars. I have done more 
for you in this world than ever was done for any man in your circum- 
stances. I beseech you let me be of some use to you for the next world. 
Consider what a shocking thing it is to go out of the world with a lie 
in your mouth. How can you expect mercy, if you are in rebellion 
against the GOD of truth?" I thus pressed him; and while he stood in 
his dead clothes, on the very brink of the grave, with his knees knock- 
ing together, partly from the cold occasioned by his linen clothes, 
partly from an awful apprehension of death, he most solemnly averred 
that what he had told concerning the present alleged crime was the 
truth. Before this, I had at Mr. Ritchie's desire read over his last speech 
to him, which was rather an irksome task as it was very long; and he 
said it was all right except some immaterial circumstance about his 
meeting Wilson with the six score of sheep. Vulgar minds, and indeed 
all minds, will be more struck with some unusual thought than with 
the most awful consideration which they have often heard. I tried 
John thus: "We are all mortal. Our life is uncertain. I may perhaps 
die in a week hence. Now, John, consider how terrible it would be if I 
should come into the other world and find" (looking him steadfastly 
in the face) "that you have been imposing on me." He was roused by 
this, but still persisted. "Then," said I, "John, I shall trouble you no 
more upon this head. I believe you. GOD forbid that I should not be- 
lieve the word of a fellow man in your awful situation, when there 
is no strong evidence against it, as I should hope to be believed myself 
in the same situation. But remember, John, it is trusting to you that 
I believe. It is between GOD and your own conscience if you have told 
the truth; and you should not allow me to believe if it is not true." He 
adhered. I asked him if he had anything more to tell. He said he had 
been guilty of one other act of sheep-stealing. I think he said of seven 
sheep; but I think he did not mention precisely when. As he shivered, 

332 Edinburgh, 21 September 1774 

his wife took off her green cloth cloak and threw it about his shoulders. 
It was curious to see such care taken to keep from a little cold one who 
was so soon to be violently put to death. He desired she might think 
no more of him, and let his children push their way in the world. 
"The eldest boy," said he, "is reading very well. Take care that he 
reads the word of GOD." He desired her to keep a New Testament and 
a psalm-book which he had got in a present from Mr. Ritchie and 
which he was to take with him to the scaffold. 6 He was quite sensible 
and judicious. He had written a kind of circular letter to all his friends 
on whom he could depend, begging them to be kind to his family. 

Two o'clock struck. I said, with a solemn tone, "There's two 
o'clock." In a little Richard came up. The sound of his feet on the stair 
struck me. He said calmly, "Will you come awa now?" This was a 
striking period. John said yes, and readily prepared to go down. Mr. 
Nasmith and I went down a little before him. A pretty, well-dressed 
young woman and her maid were in a small closet off the hall; and 
a number of prisoners formed a kind of audience, being placed as 
spectators in a sort of loft looking down to the hall. There was a dead 
silence, all waiting to see the dying man appear. The sound of his 
steps coming down the stair affected me like what one fancies to be 
the impression of a supernatural grave noise before any solemn event. 
When he stepped into the hall, it was quite the appearance of a ghost 
The hangman, who was in a small room off the hall, then came forth. 
He took off his hat and made a low bow to the prisoner. John bowed 
his head towards him. They stood looking at each other with an awk- 
ward uneasy attention. I interfered, and said, "John, you are to have 
no resentment against this poor man. He only does his duty." "I only 
do my duty," repeated the hangman. "I have no resentment against 
him," said John. "I desire to forgive all mankind." "Well, John," said 
I, "you are leaving the world with a very proper disposition: forgiving 
as you hope to be forgiven." I forgot to mention that before he left 

tt Boswell also seems to have given him some book of devotion on the occasion of 
his former trial. Among the Boswell papers at Yale is a scrap of paper bearing 
the unfinished draft of an inscription: **To John Reid, an unhappy prisoner, 
from James Boswell, one of his counsel; who, if he cannot save him from punish- 
ment in this world, hopes to assist I"* in obtaining mercy in the world which 
is to come and hea . . , " 

Edinburgh, 21 September 1774 333 

the iron room Mr. Ritchie said to him, "Our merciful King was hin- 
dered from pardoning you by a representation against you; but you 
are going before the King of Heaven, who knows all things and whose 
mercy cannot be prevented by any representation." The hangman 
advanced and pinioned him, as the phrase is; that is, tied his arms 
with a small cord. John stood quiet and undisturbed. I said, "Richard, 
give him another glass of wine." Captain Fraser, the gaoler, had sent 
him the night before a bottle of claret, part of which Richard had 
given him, warmed with sugar, early in the morning, two glasses of 
it in the forenoon, and now he gave him another. John drank to us. 
He then paused a little, then kissed his wife with a sad adieu, then 
Mr. Ritchie kissed him. I then took him by the hand with both mine, 
saying, "John, it is not yet too late. If you have any thing to acknowl- 
edge, do it at the last to the reverend gentlemen, Dr. Macqueen and 
Dr. Dick, to whom you are much obliged. Farewell, and I pray GOD 
may be merciful to you." He seemed faint and deep in thought. The 
prison door then opened and he stepped away with the hangman 
behind him, and the door was instantly shut His wife then cried, 
"O Richard, let me up," and got to the window and looked earnestly 
out till he was out of sight. Mr. Nasmith and I went to a window more 
to the west, and saw him stalking forward in the gloomy procession. 1 

T The procession went west up the Lawnmarket and down the West Bow. See 
the map opposite p. ix. The following account, dated a few months later, seems 
to be actually a reminiscence, accurate in all but a few details, by another eye- 
witness of Reid's execution. Reid's was apparently the only execution that oc- 
curred at Edinburgh during this period. 

"The town of Edinburgh, from the amazing height of its buildings, seems pe- 
culiarly formed to make a spectacle of this kind solemn and affecting. The 
houses, from the bottom up to the top, were lined with people, every window 
crowded with spectators to see the unfortunate man pass by. At one o'clock the 
City Guard went to the door of the Tolbooth, the common gaol here, to receive 
and conduct their prisoner to the place of execution, which is always in the 
Grassmarket, at a very great distance from the prison. All the remaining length 
of the High Street was filled with people, not only from the town itself, but the 
country around, whom the novelty of the sight had brought together. On the 
Guard knocking at the door of the Tolbooth, the unhappy criminal made his 
appearance. He was dressed in a white waistcoat and breeches, usual on these 
occasions, bound with black ribands, and a night-cap tied with the same. His 
white hairs, which were spread over his face, made his appearance still more 

334 Edinburgh, 21 September 1774 

I then desired his wife to retire and pray that he might be supported 
in this his hour of trial. Captain Fraser gave her four shillings. It was 
very agreeable to see such humanity in the gaoler, and indeed the 
tenderness with which the last hours of a convict were soothed pleased 
me much. 

The mob were gone from the prison door in a moment. Mr. 
Nasmith and I walked through the Parliament Close, down the Back 
Stairs and up the Cowgate, both of us satisfied of John Reid's inno- 
cence, and Mr. Nasmith observing the littleness of human justice, 
that could not reach a man for the crimes which he committed but 
punished him for what he did not commit. 

We got to the place of execution about the time that the procession 
did. We would not go upon the scaffold nor be seen by John, lest it 
should be thought that we prevented him from confessing. It was a 
fine day. The sun shone bright. We stood close to the scaffold on the 
south side between two of the Town Guard. There were fewer people 
present than upon any such occasion that I ever saw. He behaved with 
great calmness and piety. Just as he was going to mount the ladder, 
he desired to see his wife and children; but was told they were taken 
care of. There was his sister and his daughter near to the gibbet, but 
they were removed. Dr. Dick asked him if what he had said was the 
truth. He said it was. Just as he was going off, he made an attempt to 
speak. Somebody on the scaffold called, "Pull up his cap." The execu- 

pitiable. Two clergymen walked on each side of him, and were discoursing with 
him on subjects of religion. The executioner, who seemed ashamed of the mean- 
ness of his office, followed muffled up in a great coat, and the City Guards, with 
their arms ready, marched around him. The criminal, whose hands were tied be- 
hind him, and the rope about his neck, walked up the remaining part of the 
street. It is the custom in this country for the criminal to walk to the gallows, 
which has something much more decent in it than being thrown into a cart, as in 
England, and carried, like a beast, to slaughter. The slow, pensive, melancholy 
step of a man in these circumstances has something in it that seems to accord 
with affliction, and affects the mind forcibly with its distress. . . . 

"When the criminal had descended three parts of the hill which leads to 
the Grassmarket, he beheld the crowd waiting for his coming, and the instru- 
ment of execution at the end of it. He made a short stop here, naturally shocked 
at such a sight, and the people seemed to sympathize with his affliction" (Ed- 
ward Topham, Letters from Edinburgh, Written in the Years 1774 and 1775, 
London, 1776, pp. 59-61: 9 December 1774). 

Edinburgh, 21 September 1774 335 

tioner did so. He then said, "Take warning. Mine is an unjust 
sentence." Then his cap was pulled down and he went off. He catched 
the ladder; but soon quitted his hold. To me it sounded as if he said, 
"just sentence"; and the people were divided, some crying, "He says 
his sentence is just." Some: "No. He says unjust." Mr. Laing, clerk to 
Mr. Tait, one of the town clerks, put me out of doubt, by telling me 
he had asked the executioner, who said it was unjust. I was not at all 
shocked with this execution at the time. John died seemingly without 
much pain. He was effectually hanged, the rope having fixed upon his 
neck very firmly, and he was allowed to hang near three quarters of 
an hour; so that any attempt to recover him would have been in vain. 
I comforted myself in thinking that by giving up the scheme I had 
avoided much anxiety and uneasiness. 

We waited till he was cut down; and then walked to the Greyfriars 
Churchyard, in the office of which his corpse was deposited by porters 
whom Mr. Nasmith and I paid, no cart having come for his body. A 
considerable mob gathered about the office. Mr. Nasmith went to 
Hutchinson's to bespeak some dinner and write a note to The Courant 
that there would be a paragraph tonight giving an account of the 
execution; for we agreed that a recent account would make a strong 
impression. I walked seriously backwards and forwards a consider- 
able time in the churchyard waiting for John Reid's wife coming, 
that I might resign the corpse to her charge. I at last wearied, and 
then went to the office of the prison. There I asked the executioner 
myself what had passed. He told me that John first spoke to him on 
the ladder and said he suffered wrongfully; and then called to the 
people that his sentence was unjust. John's sister came here, and 
returned me many thanks for what I had done for her brother. She 
was for burying him in the Greyfriars Churchyard, since no cart had 
come. "No," said I, "the will of the dead shall be fulfilled. He was 
anxious to be laid in his own burying-place, and it shall be done." 
I then desired Richard to see if he could get a cart to hire, and bid him 
bring John's wife to Hutchinson's. Mr. Nasmith and I eat some cold 
beef and cold fowl and drank some port, and then I wrote a paragraph 
to be inserted in the newspapers. Mr. Nasmith threw in a few words. 
I made two copies of it, and, both to the printer of The Courant and 
Mercury, subjoined my name to be kept as the authority. Richard 
brought John's wife and daughter. "Well," said I, "Mrs. Reid, I have 

336 Edinburgh, 21 September 1774 

the satisfaction to tell you that your husband behaved as well as we 
could wish." "And that is a great satisfaction," said she. We made 
her eat a little and take a glass, but she was, though not violently or 
very tenderly affected, in a kind of dull grief. The girl did not seem 
moved. She eat heartily. I told Mrs. Reid that I insisted that John 
should be buried at home; and as I found that as yet no carter would 
undertake to go but at an extravagant price, the corpse might lie till 
tomorrow night, and then perhaps a reasonable carter might be had. 
Mr. Nasmith went to The Courant with the paragraph, and I to The 
Mercury. I sat till it was printed. It was liberal in Robertson,* who 
was himself one of the jury, to admit it; and he corrected the press. 

It was now about eight in the evening, and gloom came upon me. 
I went home and found my wife no comforter, as she thought I had 
carried my zeal for John too far, might hurt my own character and in- 
terest by it, and as she thought him guilty. I was so affrighted that I 
started every now and then and durst hardly rise from my chair at 
the fireside. I sent for Grange, but he was not at home. I however got 
Dr. Webster, who came and supped, and he and I drank a bottle of 
claret But still I was quite dismal* 

[The Burial of John Reid] 

THURSDAY 22 SEPTEMBER. I had passed the night much better 
than I expected and was easier in the morning. Charles Hay called 
and after I had given him a detail of all my conduct towards poor 
John, he said emphatically, "Well, GOD has blessed you with one of 
the best hearts that ever man had." Luckily for me, Bedlay had come 
to town anxious to get a bill of suspension drawn by me instantly. This 
diverted the gloom, for I kept him by me, and I wrote while both he 
and I dictated, and had it finished by dinner time. He drank tea with 
me. To touch a fee again was pleasant Ritchie had secured a cart, and 
John's wife took leave of me at night when she set out with the corpse. 

FRIDAY 23 SEPTEMBER. Yesterday morning I had a visit from 
Mr. George McQueen, one of the bailies of Edinburgh. As I had at- 

John Robertson was publisher of The Caledonian Mercury. The account in the 
papers led to a proposal by Gordon, the chancellor of the jury, that Boswell be 
prosecuted. With added introduction and conclusion, it was republished by 
Boswell in The London Chronicle for 27-29 September. 

Edinburgh, 23 September 1774 337 

tacked his sentence about Henry McGraugh, I imagined that he was 
come to find fault with my conduct in some strange manner, as I was 
not acquainted with him. But I was agreeably surprised when he asked 
me to dine with him on Wednesday next with Dr. Macqueen and Dr. 
Dick. I then saw that our connexion was on account of John Reid, the 
Bailie having been one of the former jury who voted to acquit him, 
and being convinced of his innocence on the last occasion. I told him 
I was sorry that my defending McGraugh was interpreted as disre- 
spectful to the magistrates. I thought the sentence too severe and did 
what in my opinion was right, as the Bailie had done in pronouncing 
the sentence. We were at once on an easy footing. He told me that he 
had been quite unmanned at John Reid's execution, as he really be- 
lieved him to be an innocent man; and he was even under some diffi- 
culty how to act. To be sure, the case was nice to be authorizing as 
a magistrate what a man believed to be unjust. But private judgement 
must submit in public administration. He said the Justice-Clerk had 
behaved as he always does: cruelly. And he said he had great peace in 
his mind when he reflected on the verdict of which he had a share. 
This evening the Reverend Dr. Ewing, who was returned 1 and on his 
way to London, Dr. Webster, Miss Webster, Sandy Webster, and Mr. 
Nasmith supped with us. I was now pretty easy. My wife made a very 
good application of a passage in Douglas, a Tragedy, saying that John 
Reid was now gone, but that his jury, fifteen men upon oath, were 
alive. By my speaking strongly of the injustice of the sentence, I did 
John no good and in some measure attacked them. 

The living claim some duty; vainly thou 
Bestow'st thy care upon the silent dead. 2 

I drank tea with Mr. Donaldson this afternoon.-^ 8 

[Alexander Ritchie to Boswell] 

Edinburgh, 24 September 1774 

SIR, I intended to have called on you yesterday to have given 
you the particulars as to John Reid's burial, but I was disappointed, 

1 See above, p. 219. He had been travelling in Ireland during the summer. 

2 John Home's Douglas^ I. i; original has "cares." 
8 See above, p. 275. 

338 Edinburgh, 24 September 1774 

for the carter that carried his corpse to the place of interment did not 
return home till late in the evening, and when I knew he was come, 
I sent for him, and he told me that the body was buried in a place be- 
longing to his forefathers, but that the poor widow was in great dis- 
tress because one of the heritors had declared that, although all the 
parish should consent to his lying there, yet he would not allow it. 
She therefore begs your assistance in this critical matter. I apprehend 
that an order from one of the Lords forbidding the heritors and Ses- 
sion to meddle any further with the corpse of John Reid but to allow 
them 3 * to lie in the burying place belonging to his ancestors this I 
apprehend would end the matter, but I do not pretend to direct you. 
I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant, 


P.S. I intend to wait on you about ten o'clock and give you an in- 
stance of female courage and unshaken love. 

SATURDAY 24 SEPTEMBER. Mr. Ritchie called and informed me 
that when John Reid's wife came to Muiravonside churchyard, she 
could not get the key. Therefore she and some women and the carter 
laid the coffin on the dyke (wall), and, some of them being on one 
side, some on the other, they lifted it over. They then had to send two 
miles for a spade, and then the carter dug a grave and buried the 
corpse. I got afterwards a circumstantial account of the burial in a 
letter from the schoolmaster of the parish, Mr. Ritchie having written 
to him that I was informed that the corpse was to be lifted, and that 
they who did it should be prosecuted. It would have been a curious 
question on the right of sepulture. John had, no doubt, a piece of bury- 
ing-ground, but the voice of the country is that a malefactor cannot 
be laid in an usual burying-place, though in a churchyard. Yet there 
is no law as to that. 

[Alexander Ritchie to Thomas Greenhill, Senior Clerk in the parish 
of Muiravonside] 

Edinburgh, 24 September 1774 

SIR, I am desired to inform you that Mr. James Boswell, being 
acquainted that an opposition being made by some persons against 

te "Corpse" (generally spelled "corps") was often treated as a plural in eigh- 
teenth-century Scotland and northern England. 

Edinburgh, 24 September 1774 339 

admitting the corpse of John Reid into his burying-place, and his wife 
and some others, being obliged to force their way in with great diffi- 
culty, got him interred but are in great apprehension of the body being 
lifted out of the burying-place of his ancestors by some headstrong 
persons, contrary to any law that yet exists, for as he has fulfilled the 
law, there is no reason why he may not be laid in the burying-place of 
his ancestors you'll be so good as notify to the Session and heritors 
that if any violent measures be taken, whoever takes such will be 
prosecuted in due course of law and be obliged to rebury the said 
corpse in said place at their own expense. You may show this to all 
concerned, both Session and others, and I remain yours, etc., 


[Alexander Ritchie to Janet Reid] 

Edinburgh, 27 September 1774 

JANET, You know I told you before and after your husband's 
death that you would meet with opposition, in burying him in the 
churchyard belonging to the parish, from some persons. Your answer 
to me was that the Session had given you liberty. But I understand 
now that you could not get so much as the key of the churchyard door 
nor obtain a spade or shovel from any in that neighbourhood, till you 
was obliged to bring them from a considerable distance. I further un- 
derstand that none of your friends gave you any assistance or counte- 
nance at that time. Thus you may see how vain it is to trust in man, 
for they commonly misgive us in the time of our greatest distress. The 
use you should make of a disappointment from friends is ihat you 
should trust in the Lord, for He will not disappoint the expectations 
of any who trust in Him. I would now advise you that if any persons 
have removed the corpse and buried them in another place or intend 
to do it, you must quietly submit, as you are a poor widow and unable 
to withstand them. And as your husband's soul is now in an unalter- 
able state, and what happens to his body cannot touch his noble part, 
this may compose your mind. You have fulfilled the promise you 
made to him in laying him in his fathers' burying-ground, and the 
whole parish will know that you have not sold him to the surgeons, 
as some were pleased to report I entreat you therefore to compose 

4 Ritchie's original letter somehow found its way into BoswelTs collection. 

340 Edinburgh, 27 September 1774 

yourself and take care of your fatherless children and instruct them 
in the knowledge of the word of God and set a good example before 
them, that they may shun the paths that lead to destruction, for you 
have the part both of father and mother to fulfill towards them, and 
that you cannot do unless God enable you. Seek Him, and He will not 
forsake you. I entreat you at the same time not to quarrel with any 
person whom you think has wronged your husband or yourself, but 
rather forgive and pray for them and commit your whole cause to 
God, who judgeth righteously. As to Mr. James Boswell, you know 
what great trouble he put himself to in endeavouring to save your 
husband's life. This was attended with great expense, and although 
he did not succeed according to his wishes, that was not his fault, and 
after your husband's death, he was at the expense of causing him to 
be carried to the place of interment. But I apprehend it would be very 
improper for you to desire Mr. Boswell to enter into a law plea with 
the heritors and Session of Muiravonside about where that piece of 
dead clay should lie. I expect therefore you will give him no more 
trouble. I remain yours, a friend to the afflicted, 

P.S. You may show this letter to any of your friends you please. 8 

[Thomas Greenhill to Alexander Ritchie, "to be communicated to 
Mr. James Boswell"] 

Muiravonside School, i October 1774 

SIB, I was favoured with yours yesterday, dated the twenty- 
fourth of September last, anent John Reid's corpse. The history of that 
matter is thus, that his wife after his getting a reprieve for fourteen 
days applied to the Session anent having him interred in the church- 
yard amongst his relations, but as the affair was entirely new to the 
Session, and that there was no occasion for her transporting his corpse 
at such a distance, the Session told her against that day fourteen days 
they should inform her what was their resolution, but she never came 
nigh them, and they agreed that upon her applying to the heritors, 
they saw nothing to oppose it, in regard that the man was to satisfy 
what the law required. It is true that his wife brought out his corpse 
5 The letter is a copy, in Ritchie's own hand, with his signature. 

Muiravonside, i October 1774 341 

very early on Friday morning before the minister was up to get the 
keys, and or ever she called for either minister or elder, she had put 
bfm in over the gates, and thereafter she got some spades and digged 
a grave for him in another person's burying-place at her own hand. 
And upon that person's entering a complaint anent it to the minister, 
the minister did all he could by advising the man to let Reid lie, since 
he was now buried, for it would still be called Reid's grave. Besides, 
I told the man it was not prudent to move Reid's corpse, and before he 
could get proper evidence of the mistake, Reid's corpse would be in 
such a condition that it was dangerous to move him, upon which the 
man was satisfied. But Reid's relict, finding that she had mistaken the 
burying-place of her husband, did upon Wednesday last lift his corpse 
and reburied him above two of his own children and left the other 
grave open and did not cover Reid's corpse decently, upon which the 
minister and I caused our beadle cover him properly and fill up the 
other grave distinctly. And although some people "whose heads have 
been as light as their feet have made a great deal of noise anent the 
matter, yet no people of sense or character would or will give Reid's 
corpse any disturbance, and it has been greatly owing to the forward- 
ness of his relict that there has been so much idle tattle anent the mat- 
ter. And I can assure you that neither heritor or Session will give any 
disturbance. I have troubled you with this history at large, as I find 
Mr. James Boswell has been complained to, that he may know there 
will be no more trouble anent that affair and am, Sir, your very hum- 
ble servant, 



Flesher in Hillend, near Avonbridge, who was execute in the Grass- 
market of Edinburgh, on Wednesday the twenty-first 5 * day of Sep- 
tember, 1 774, for the crime of sheep-stealing. 

I, John Reid, aged forty-eight years past the twenty-second day of 
November last, born in the shire of Stirling, in the parish of Muir- 
avonside, and brought up there: I was determined once to make no 
speech, but being informed that one would be made in my name and 
the public imposed on thereby, I thought it proper to give the follow- 
ing account, which may be depended on from me as a dying man. My 
parents were in low circumstances, and I was sent to the herding when 
eight years of age, by which means I got but small education. How- 
ever, afterwards I learned to read and write a little. The masters I 
served with were William Bryce in Blacktown, John Taylor in Get- 
landertown, John Taylor in Kenmore, John Taylor in Candie, John 
Calder in Hill; and since I was married, served John Brock in Hillend, 
who had a very great regard for me, as all my former masters had. As 
to my occupation, I learned with my father to be a flesher, which trade 
him and his forefathers followed for several generations, and, as I was 
informed, always maintained good characters. 

My father and mother died with unblemished characters, and 
when I got a little money, I began to do business for myself, and some- 
times was apt to fall into company and drink too much. And one eve- 
ning in coining from the town of Linlithgow, along with a comrade, 
being pretty drunk, we went into a fold belonging to John Bell and 
turned out his whole flock of sheep, of which flock I carried off four 
and left all the rest on the ground at a little distance from the fold. The 
sheep being a-missing, the next week thereafter John Bell came and 
laid hold on me and affirmed that I had taken five of his sheep and 
carried me before Mr. John Madeod to be examined; upon which I 
was liberate, as no evident proof came out against me. This happened 
in the month of June 1 752. But in the month of December thereafter, 
John Bell and me being at a wedding together, and some of the com- 
pany there, particularly Alexander Andrew in Ldnlithgow, William 
fa The text reads "aad." 


344 Appendix A 

Miller, and William Marshall, advised and assisted him in appre- 
hending me again for the said four sheep and carried me to Stirling. 
But I there enlisted to be a soldier and so got clear of John Bell. But 
I must acknowledge that I was actually guilty in taking these four 
sheep, which was the beginning of my great misery and laid the foun- 
dation for this my fatal end. 

After I was enlisted, they neglecting to give me my pay regularly, 
I therefore got friends and so got clear of them. Notwithstanding, I 
was taken up seventeen different times as a deserter, and I was always 
willing to go along with them, providing they would give me my pay 
from the first day I was enlisted. But their not complying with this 
my just demand, I always got clear of them as before. 

The next remarkable thing that befell me was in the year 1753, 
when I was indicted before the Lords Drummore and Strichen at Glas- 
gow for stealing two cows and selling them to Mr. Gilbert, a flesher 
in Leith. But that charge against me was false, for I proved by Mr. 
Gilbert and his servant that these two cows I sold him were delivered 
to him twelve days before the pursuer's cows were a-missing; upon 
which I was dismissed, after a very short trial. 

After this I went to London and stayed there some short time, but, 
there being a hard press for men, I returned again to Scotland and fol- 
lowed my trade as a flesher, as formerly. And soon thereafter I became 
acquainted with Mr. John Birtwhistle, an eminent English drover, 
who employed me for many years in driving his cattle from the north 
of Scotland to England and also in taking grass-parks for them. I have 
had eleven or twelve hundred head of cattle of his under my care at 
one time, and there was never any of them a-missing that was com- 
mitted to my charge. He likewise entrusted me with large sums of 
money for clearing his accounts and paying the servants' wages who 
I employed to assist in driving his cattle, of which I always give him 
an honest account. This he will acknowledge if he is yet alive. And had 
I followed his advice when he wanted me to move my family into 
England, I might have been happy in his service to this day, for he was 
an excellent master and dealt well with me on every occasion, as he 
did with every other person with whom he had any dealings. 

I have served several other drovers. I had always their approbation 
for an honest servant. Notwithstanding, I had the misfortune of hav- 

Last Speech of John Reid 345 

ing many things laid to my charge of which I was innocent, and they 
themselves were convinced of that afterwards. Of this I shall give you 
one instance. Bailie John Addison in Borrowstounness having a parcel 
of sheep about the number of thirty, they happened to stray from the 
park in the winter season, and he was advised to get a warrant to ap- 
prehend me upon suspicion of having stolen these sheep. But the sheep 
being found, he declared that he was sorry that he had impeached me, 
and indeed I was innocent. But it is not very easy to wipe off the 
clamour in the country when once raised. 

The next remarkable thing that happened to me worthy of notice 
was that before the Lords of Justiciary in the year 1766, when I was 
indicted for stealing six score of sheep, the property of Mr. Laidlaw at 
Kingledoors. The circumstances as to this are as follows: I had been in 
England with a drove of cattle for Mr. Birtwhistle, and on my return 
home I met with a man on the way who called himself Wilson and 
asked me if I would drive that parcel of sheep to a place near Glasgow, 
for he had a mind to sell them to the fleshers there. And as he had busi- 
ness by the way, he desired me to go on, and he would come up with 
me against Saturday. He likewise mentioned the price he would sell 
them at and desired me at the same time to sell them if I found mer- 
chants. Accordingly I agreed to take them under my charge and drove 
them full three days and arrived at the place appointed on Saturday, 
when I gave information to the fleshers in Glasgow, some of whom 
saw the sheep but would not come up to the price set upon them (being 
five guineas the score, they only offering five pounds the score) ; so that 
I was not at liberty to make a final bargain. I then went to look after 
my employer, but he not coming up according to his promise, I asked 
a friend what I should do in the matter, who advised me to leave the 
sheep, as they would be safe in the park till the owner came up him- 
self. His advice I f ollowed and left the sheep on the sabbath morning 
and went to my own house and never saw my employer till about four 
years after my trial was over, in a public market. I was determined 
to seize him, but he prevented me by his sudden disappearing, so that 
I never saw him since. I got the charge of these sheep about ten miles 
distance from Kingledoors, but did not know them to be the property 
of Mr. Laidlaw till I heard of it some time afterwards. And of that 
whole six score of sheep, I disposed of none of them but one which fell 

346 Appendix A 

lame by the way and could not travel. That one I sold to my landlord 
where I lodged one night, and to the best of my knowledge I received 
for it 53. 6d. This is a true account of this matter concerning the six 
score sheep. 

But another branch in that trial: I was accused of stealing twenty- 
seven ewes in 1763 from the farm of Maidengill* in the parish of 
Douglas. As to this the fact was that I did not steal them, as my jury 
found, but I confess that I was in concert with another man who stole 
them and delivered them to me at a little distance from the farm to 
carry away. Who that man was I have mentioned to my lawyer for 
his satisfaction but do not choose to publish it to the world, as I hope 
that he has repented. I must, however, inform the public that previous 
to my trial I paid for all these sheep that I made use of. And the own- 
ers would not have prosecute me if they had not been constrained to 
do it After I was assoilzied and dismissed from the bar, I went home 
and followed my business in the flesher way as formerly. 

But as I am now condemned to die an ignominious death for steal- 
ing or resetting nineteen sheep, knowing them to be stolen, the prop- 
erty of Alexander Gray tenant in Lyne, in the county of Peebles, I 
shall give the particulars of this matter: to wit, one of my neighbours, 
William Gardner, with whom I had many transactions in buying and 
selling both horses, cows, and sheep, and I had been several times em- 
ployed by him in the way of my business as a flesher and has 7 sold his 
meat for him several times and drawn the money, for which he always 
paid me discreetly for my trouble. But about ten days before this 
melancholy affair happened for which I am now soon to suffer, he 
came to me and told me that he had a parcel of sheep which he had 
bought and which he intended to give me to sell for him. As he had 
told me that he was to get them in exchange, he was afraid they would 
not be a bargain for me, but that I must kill and sell them for him to 
the best advantage, and that he would pay me for my trouble. And as 
I knew that he had several transactions in that part of the country 
which he mentioned, I the more readily believed him, and he had 

6 Supplied from the 1766 indictment. The broadside text has Maidweenhead, 
apparently by confusion with the Medwenhead in Peeblesshire of the 1774 in- 
dictment. The parish of Douglas is in Lanarkshire. 

7 Scots grammar for "have." See above, p. 2 1 ore. 8. 

Last Speech of John Reid 347 

brought two sheep home some time before, which I killed for his own 
use, and which confirmed me of the truth of his having more to bring. 
Gardner and me parted at that time, and he promised to bring the 
sheep as on the Tuesday thereafter, that I might loll and sell them 
directly, as he wanted the money to go to a market that was to be the 
week thereafter. But the sheep did not come at the time appointed, but 
on the Thursday thereafter, early in the morning before I had got out 
of bed, a young man named Thomas Russel chapped at my door and 
told me that Gardner had sent me nineteen sheep and at same time 
delivered me a line from him, in which he informed me that he could 
not come on the Tuesday as he had promised, as he had been employed 
in poinding a man that was owing him some money, but that he would 
endeavour to see me as soon as possible. And he further desired me to 
begin to kill and prepare the sheep for the market, which accordingly 
I did. And on the morrow thereafter Gardner called at my house and 
communed with me about a bargain, and he told me if I was to sell the 
sheep on my own risk, the price would be 6. ios., 305. of which I paid 
him directly, the other 5 1 was to give him on the Tuesday thereafter 
providing that I had made a tolerable profit on them, and if not, I was 
to give him what money they drew, and he was to pay me for my trou- 
ble. Upon this Gardner went away home and took one of the carcasses 
of the sheep along with him. And the next morning being Saturday, I 
went to Falkirk and sold eight of the carcasses in the public market. 
But on the Monday after, Alexander Gray's herd came inquiring 
after the sheep, and he found two of them dead in my flesh-house, and 
three living ones in a park near to my house. The rest I had sold 
amongst my neighbours. I make no doubt but these were all the prop- 
erty of Alexander Gray, but I knew nothing of that till this very time. 
The discovery of the sheep on the Monday prevented Gardner from 
calling for his money on the Tuesday, as he had promised, and I on 
the other hand was filled with terror and kept myself secret but slept 
in my own house every night for several weeks. And about four weeks 
after the discovery, Gardner came to me and informed me how he 
came by the sheep and entreated me not to discover him and he would 
do all in his power to serve me. 

However, my fears increasing, I went straight to the north of Eng- 
land, where I remained several weeks and then was so infatuate as to 

348 Appendix A 

think of returning home. And in nay way home, I was informed that 
Alexander Gray would trouble himself no further about the sheep, 
and that the rumour would soon die away. I went to my own house, 
where I kept myself secret for several weeks, but some of my neigh- 
bours gave intelligence that I was at home. A messenger with a party 
of dragoons came and apprehended me before I had got out of bed, and 
when I found I was taken, I caused Gardner to be taken also, as I knew 
that he was the mainspring of the whole action. But I did not tell at 
that time that he sent the sheep to me, or that I had received a line 
from him along with them, for I expected that we would be kept 
prisoners together and I might have an opportunity of clearing myself 
in his presence. But in this I was disappointed, for he was soon ^re- 
moved from me by a warrant against him for several other crimes, for 
which he is now banished to America; and Thomas RusseL, who 
brought the sheep to me, has left the country also, so that I am left to 
suffer for all. 

As to the witnesses who appeared on my trial, there was some 
contradictions among them, but I shall now pass them over. But as to 
my friend William Black in Hillend, he fell into some mistakes which 
were of fatal consequences to me, but I shall not trouble the public 
with them. I wish the Lord may forgive him and may grant me a 
heart to forgive him and all who have wished me evil. 

As to the jury, I doubt not but my former character and the two 
forementioned trials made an impression upon their minds. But as 
both judges and jury are only accountable to the righteous Judge of 
all the earth, I shall quietly submit to my awful fate. 

I acknowledge I have sinned against God in many ways, but I 
have been very much comforted with many passages of the Holy 
Scripture, by which I see that He is great in mercy and rich in love 
to the chief of sinners, even to such as me. He has declared that he has 
no delight in the death of the sinner. O that He would be graciously 
pleased to open my heart to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my only 
Saviour, that when I come to be deprived of this my natural life by 
sentence of the law, I may be delivered from the power of the second 
death and may have a part among the ransomed and redeemed of the 
Lord, who shall praise Him for His redeeming love. I lament my poor 
wife, with whom I have lived these sixteen years in great harmony 

Last Speech of John Reid 349 

and comfort. None needs impute any part of my misfortunes to her 
advice or counsel, for she has given me all the good instructions that 
was in her power, especially since my trial in the year 1 766, and she 
has often told me that my connexion with Gardner would be of bad 
consequences. (And indeed he has helped me to the gallows, for which 
I -wish he may be forgiven.) I am sorry for my poor helpless children, 
but I recommend them to the Lord, who is the orphans' help from His 
holy habitation and is only able to take care of them. I return my 
hearty thanks to my benefactors and in an especial manner to the 
honourable gentleman who has plead my cause once and again with- 
out fee or reward from me and has further ministered to my neces- 
sities and after all has taken every step to save my life at last. (But 
God, that rules all things, has not seen it meet that it should be so.) 
I wish that all his lawful undertakings in behalf of unfortunate panels 
may prosper, and that when he comes to leave the earthly bar, he may 
find a welcome reception from the righteous Advocate at the Father's 
right hand, and then he will be fully rewarded for the services done 
to fellow men in their afflictions. Adieu, vain world. 



The above declaration was given to Richard Lock, inner turnkey of 

the Tolbooth, Edinburgh, by the above John Reid. 
[Edinburgh: printed by H. Galbraith. Price one penny.] 

The Scottish Courts and Legal System 

On 26 July 1766, James Boswell was admitted to the Faculty 
of Advocates and three days afterwards he began to practise in the 
Scottish courts. For the next twenty years, with complete regularity 
and a fair degree of assiduity, he followed his professional career in 
Scotland, not abandoning it until early in 1786, when, in fulfilment 
of a long-cherished dream, he was admitted to the English bar and 
took up residence in London. Since so much of his daily life from 1 766 
onwards was spent in and about courts, especially the Court of Ses- 
sion in Edinburgh, the reader may find himself helped by an extended 
note on the principal features of the Scottish judicial system. 

Both in its law and in its court procedure, the Scottish system dif- 
fered widely from the usage of England. 2 The basis of Scots law was 
the Roman civil law as expounded by the Dutch commentators, which 
explains why so many Scots advocates, including Boswell, his father, 
and his grandfather, studied for a time in Dutch universities. In one 
respect, though following a different nomenclature, the Scots profes- 
sional arrangements agreed with those of England as opposed to those 
of the United States. In America, the vast majority of lawyers today 
are members of the bar and hence are qualified to plead in court, as 
well as to advise clients, to draw documents, and to manage cases 

1 This sketch is an expansion of a draft offered to the editors by a good friend 
and encourager of the Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell, Mr. 
N. S. Curnow of Johannesburg, South Africa. 

* Since the purpose of this appendix is merely to elucidate BoswelTs text, we have 
used the past tense throughout, though a good deal of the information here given 
would be as true for the present century as for the eighteenth. Our main sources 
are Hugo Arnot, The History of Edinburgh, 1788; Robert Bell, A Dictionary 
of the Law of Scotland,'* vols., 1807; [James Boswell] A Letter to . . . Lord 
Braxfield, 1780; George Brunton and David Haig, An Historical Account of the 
Senators of the College of Justice, 1832; Henry Cockburn, Memorials of His 
Time, 1856; Sir Francis J. Grant, The Faculty of Advocates in Scotland, 1532- 
1943, Scottish Record Society, 1944; C. A. Malcolm, "The Parliament House and 
its Antecedents," in Stair Society Publications, xx. 449-458; and The Royal 
Kalendar or Complete and Correct Annual Register ... for t\te If ear 774. 


Scottish Courts and Legal System 351 

(causes is the correct Scots terminology) . In England there is a sharp 
division between solicitors, who prepare and manage cases, and bar- 
risters, who plead them; and the same distinction obtained in Scot- 
land, though the terminology there was writers and advocates. (A 
Writer to the Signet was a writer whose membership in an ancient 
legal society entitled him to certain privileges.) Boswell was an advo- 
cate, which means that he was commonly engaged and briefed by a 
writer who was managing the case. Advocates and Writers to the Sig- 
net were as a rule members of the same social class upper middle, 
many, indeed, being of the aristocracy but the profession of advo- 
cate was considered rather more ambitious and "liberal" than that of 

The principal courts in which Boswell appeared during the period 
of his Scottish practice were the Court of Session, the High Court of 
Justiciary, which sat in Edinburgh and at circuit towns in the coun- 
try, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and the House 
of Lords the last-named, of course, being situated in London. 

The Court of Session was the supreme court for civil cases in Scot- 
land. It sat in its own rooms in the Parliament House in Edinburgh on 
all week-days except Monday from 12 June to 11 August (Summer 
Session) and from 12 November to 11 March (Winter Session), 
with a short recess at Christmas. The bench consisted of fifteen judges, 
known as Senators of the College of Justice or Lords of Council and 
Session: fourteen Ordinary Lords and a fifteenth or presiding judge 
who was styled the Lord President. Each judge bore the style of Lord, 
his further designation being usually that of his country estate. (Thus 
Alexander Boswell was styled Lord Auchinleck; James Burnett, Lord 
Monboddo. All judges, however, signed their Christian and family 
names, even to official acts.) By custom only advocates of considerable 
experience in the Court of Session were appointed judges, and such 
eventual promotion was the aim of most advocates. In 1 774 the stated 
salary of the Lord President was 13003 year and that of the Ordinary 
Lords 700.* 

The business of the Court was transacted in two divisions known 

Arnot says (p. 479) that, though the stated salary remained unchanged, Lord 
President Dundas was given an addition for his lifetime of 300 annually, be- 
ginning in 1769. 

352 Appendix B 

as the Outer House and the Inner House. The courtroom of the Outer 
House was the Parliament Hall, the stately apartment in which the 
Scots Parliament had sat from 1639 until the Union of 1707. Each 
week, in turn, one of the Ordinary Lords sat as a single judge in what 
had been the Sovereign's throne, and summarily decided the simpler 
legal actions. When his verdict was not acceptable to one of the parties, 
appeal was made to the Inner House, where the Court of Session, 
headed by the Lord President, sat to review the judgements of the 
Ordinaries. The proceedings in the Court of Session were carried on 
very largely in writing, advocates having to present their cases and 
arguments by way of minutes, representations, informations, me- 
morials, replies, etc. often in printed form for the judges to con- 
sider. Only rarely, in cases of special importance, did the Court order 
a hearing in presence, that is, permit the opposing advocates to argue 
the cause viva voce. All cases in this Court were tried without juries. 
Appeal could be taken to the House of Lords from its final judgement. 
The Lords of Session wore gowns of purple doth with cape and facings 
of crimson velvet On the cape and facings were knots of cloth which 
had formerly been bows for tying the halves of the gown together in 
front. Eighteenth-century portraits indicate that full-bottomed wigs 
and long white cravats were normal accessories. 

Six of the Lords of Session held dual appointments, and constituted 
the High Court of Justiciary, the supreme court of Scotland for crim- 
inal cases. This Court was in theory headed by the Lord Justice-Gen- 
eral, a peer of exalted rank (the Duke of Queensbeny held the office 
during the period covered by this volume) . But if the Lord Justice- 
General did not hold the office as a pure sinecure, he no longer took 
part in trials and may for our purposes be ignored. The actual head of 
the Court was the Lord Justice-Clerk, one of the fifteen, who received 
an addition of 500 to his salary as Lord of Session. The other five 
Lords or Commissioners of Justiciary received an addition of 200 
each. They met in their own room in the Council House adjoining the 
Parliament Hall at its north-west end (the site now occupied by the 
lobby of the Signet Library) during the terms of the Court of Session, 
Mondays being entirely reserved for Justiciary business. Prosecutions 
for the Crown were conducted by His Majesty's Advocate for Scotland 
(commonly styled the Lord Advocate) and the Solicitor-General, gen- 

Scottish Courts and Legal System 353 

erally assisted by other advocates. Criminal cases were tried before 
juries of fifteen citizens, a majority of votes being sufficient for a ver- 
dict. Scots law permitted not two but three verdicts: Guilty, Not 
Guilty, and Not Proven, the last being no less a full acquittal from 
the pains of the law than Not Guilty. The Lords of Justiciary wore 
scarlet gowns with cape and facings of white. Generally speaking, an 
appointment as Ordinary Lord of Session was terminated only by 
death or total incapacity to act, but a Justiciary Lord commonly re- 
linquished his office on finding that age or infirmity was reducing his 
capacity for work. 

Some time in the spring after the rising of the Court of Session and 
again in September, the Lords of Justiciary went on circuit: that is, 
presided at criminal courts at various stated towns in three areas into 
which Scotland was divided. The Western Circuit sat at Stirling, 
Glasgow, and Inveraray ; the Northern at Perth, Aberdeen, and Inver- 
ness; the Southern at Jedburgh, Dumfries, and Ayr. Two judges were 
appointed for each circuit, but the duty was often actually performed 
by one. Each judge was allowed from 300 to 360 a year for circuit 
expenses, which included fairly lavish hospitality in circuit towns. 
Young lawyers acquired practice by "going the circuits"; older and 
better established lawyers were less likely to take the trouble. 

No appeal lay from the sentence of the High Court of Justiciary, 
and a prisoner capitally convicted in that court could hope for reversal 
or mitigation of sentence only by exercise of the royal mercy. To al- 
low time for appeal to the Crown, no capital sentence could be carried 
into execution to the south of the Forth within less than thirty days, 
or to the north of the Forth within less than forty. 

There were only two changes in the bench from the time of Bos- 
well's admission to the bar to the end of the period covered by this 
volume. James Burnett, Lord Monboddo, was made Lord of Session 
on 12 February 1767 to succeed Andrew Fletcher, Lord Milton, de- 
ceased; and on 16 November 1769 Robert Bruce, Lord Kennet, re- 
placed Andrew Pringle, Lord Alemoor, as Lord of Justiciary, Alemoor 
continuing as Lord of Session. The following table gives the complete 
roster of the "Fifteen" from the latter date to 15 February 1 775. Lords 
of Justiciary are indicated by asterisks. 


Judicial Title 

Lord President 
*Lord Justice-Clerk 

Lord Alemoor 

Lord Alva 
*Lord Auchinleck 
*Lord Coalston 

Lord Elliock 

Lord Gardenstone 

Lord Hailes 
*Lord Kames 
*Lord Kennet 

Lord Monboddo 
"Lord Pitf our 

Lord Stonefield 

Lord Strichen 

Appendix B 

Family Name 
Robert Dundas 
Thomas Miller 
Andrew Pringle 
James Erskine 
Alexander Boswell 
George Brown 
James Veitch 
Francis Garden 
Sir David Dalrymple 
Henry Home 
Robert Bruce 
James Burnett 
James Ferguson 
John Campbell 
Alexander Fraser 








d. 1776 






d. 1776 
















d. 1801 




The Lord Advocate from 1766-1775 was James Montgomery 
(1721-1803), the Solicitor-General, Henry Dundas (1742-1811). 

The judges of another Scottish court receive frequent mention in 
BoswelTs Journal, but he himself did little or no business there. The 
Court of Exchequer tried cases relating to customs, excise, and other 
matters concerning Crown revenue. It consisted of a Lord Chief Baron 
and four other Barons. This court followed the forms of English law, 
and English barristers as well as Scots advocates were eligible for ap- 
pointment to its bench. The salaries of three of the Barons were the 
same as those of the Ordinary Lords of Session, but Baron Winn re- 
ceived 1200 and the Lord Chief Baron received 2000 annually. The 
Judges in 1 774 were as follows: 

Robert Ord (d. 1778) 
John Grant (d. 1776) 
John Maule ( 1 706-1 781 ) 
William Mure (1718-1776) 
George Winn (1725-1798, resigned appoint- 
ment 1776) 

Boswell went every day during term to the Parliament House, 
arriving at nine o'clock. (See above, 12 August 1774.) If he had no 

Lord Chief Baron 





Scottish Courts and Legal System 355 

case to plead, he joined the other advocates in the Parliament Hall, 
where they paced back and forth in the Outer House, which was prom- 
enade and waiting-room as well as court-room. (An area at the north 
end, fenced off by a slight wooden partition running half way to the 
ceiling, was occupied by the stalls of stationers and booksellers, later 
of jewellers and cutlers.) Scots advocates did not have offices or cham- 
bers distinct from their dwellings. Boswell dictated his papers at home 
and made appointments with clients in a tavern. As will be seen from 
the dates given above, the sessions of the Courts covered only six 
months of the year. During the long vacations, the professional de- 
mands on an advocate were few. If he were ambitious and prudent, 
he studied law then, for the Scots bar was crowded and a commanding 
practice had to be fought for. As the present volume demonstrates, 
Boswell did study law with his father in the autumn vacation of 1 771 
and with his fellow advocate Charles Hay during the spring and au- 
tumn vacations of 1 774. He had an appeal case in the House of Lords 
as an excuse for his London jaunt of 1 772. But he had no such excuse 
for that of 1 773; and he also spent the entire autumn vacation of that 
year in a tour to the Hebrides with Dr. Johnson. He would come more 
and more to feel that he had a right to rush off to London as soon as 
the Court rose in the spring. But from 1 766 to 1 783 he did not once 
absent himself from Scotland during term time. 

The fact that it cut into vacation may have been one of the reasons 
why he came to entertain such hearty dislike for the business of the 
General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. This, the supreme 
ecclesiastical court of the kingdom, sat each May in an apartment ap- 
propriated to its use in St. Giles's church. It was made up of ministers 
and elders elected annually from each presbytery, was presided over 
by a Moderator chosen at each Assembly from its own members, and 
was attended by a Lord High Commissioner representing the King. 
The best known of Boswell's cases in this court concerned a clergyman 
who was refused induction and ordination because of previous im- 
moral behaviour. (See above, 5 April 1 772.) Most of his cases appear 
to have dealt with the then very lively issue of patronage: whether 
the chief landholder of a parish could present ministers, or whether 
they should come at the direct call of the parish. 

The House of Lords of the Parliament of Great Britain, besides 
being a house of the legislature, was also the final court of appeal from 

Appendix B 

most of the courts in Great Britain though not (as has already been 
mentioned) from the criminal courts of Scotland. 4 It sat as a court on 
stated days of the week throughout the legal year, even during the 
prorogation or dissolution of Parliament. Any member of the House 
(aH the peers of England and of Great Britain, sixteen representative 
Scots peers, and twenty-six bishops) could attend and could vote on 
an appeal, and members sometimes exercised this privilege (see above, 
1 1 April 1 773) , but the decisions were usually left to the "law lords," 
that is, to the Lord Chancellor and the judges of the supreme courts 
of England who held the rank of peers. In 1772 there were only two 
law lords: Lord Apsley, the Chancellor, and Lord Mansfield, Lord 
Chief Justice of the King's Bench. Lord Mansfield deputized for Lord 
Apsley and sat alone from 4 April to i May of that year. Cases in the 
House of Lords were managed by solicitors and pleaded by advocates 
or barristers. The respective cases of the appellant and the respondent, 
forming the subject-matter of the appeal, were printed and bound in a 
considerable number of copies at the expense of the appellant and 
lodged with the House in advance of the trial; some of these were 
bound in purple cloth for the use of the law lords. Only two counsel 
could be heard on each side. Further details of the procedure are given 
above, p. 114-115. 

Glossary of Legal Terms 

ASSOILZIE (pronounced assoilyie or assoilly) . To acquit by sentence 
of a court. 

BILL OF SUSPENSION. An appeal in form to a judge to prohibit execu- 
tion of a sentence until further hearings have been held; a request 
for an injunction. 

COMPEAR. To appear in court personally or by attorney. 

DECERN. To decree or adjudge. 

DECREET ARBITRAL. The judgement of an arbiter in a private judicial 

HABIT AND REPUTE. Having the general reputation of being. 

* The sources for this part of the sketch are mainly Michael Macdonagh, The 
Book of Parliament, 1897, and Sir Frank MacKinnon, "The Law and the Law- 
yers," in Johnson's England, ed. A. S. Turberville, 2 vols., 1933. 

Scottish Courts and Legal System 357 

INFORMATION. A written pleading ordered by the Lord Ordinary 

when he takes a cause to report to the Inner House. 
INTERLOCUTOR. The judgement of the court, or of the Lord Ordinary, 

which, unless reclaimed or appealed, has the effect of deciding the 

LIBEL. Generally speaking, the part of the indictment stating the 

grounds of the charge on which a civil or criminal prosecution 

takes place. As a verb, to institute proceedings by filing a libel, or 


MEMORIAL. A statement of facts drawn up to be submitted for coun- 
sel's opinion. Also, an advocate's brief. 
MINUTE. A notice of intention presented to the court by a party to a 


PANEL. The defendant (accused) in a criminal action. 
POINDING (pronounced pinding). The process by which a creditor 

seizes a debtor's property so as to become vested with the title and 

right of sale or appropriation in satisfaction of his debt. 
PRECOGNITION. A preliminary examination of witnesses by the Lord 

Ordinary or by justices of the peace, in a criminal cause; also, the 

evidence uncovered in this examination. 
PURSUER. The plaintiff cr prosecutor. 
RECLAIMING PETITION. A written pleading stating the grounds on 

which a judgement of the Lord Ordinary or whole court is expected 

to be altered. 
RELEVANCY. In criminal actions, the correctness or propriety of the 

REPRESENTATION. A written pleading presented to the Lord Ordinary 

when his judgement is brought under review. 
RESET OF THEFT. Receiving goods knowing them to be stolen. 


This is in general an index of proper names with analysis of actions, 
opinions, and personal relationships under the important names. Under 
Edinburgh and London the buildings, streets, and other locations in the 
cities are listed. Observations on a person are ordinarily listed under that 
person; for example, BoswelTs characterization of Lord Mansfield will be 
found under Mansfield and not under Boswell. An exception is made in 
the case of Samuel Johnson, whose opinions on various people are listed 
in Part III of the article under his name, and are not always specified 
under the names of the persons in question. Sovereigns appear under 
their Christian names; noblemen and lords of session under their titles. 
The titles are usually those proper to the period 1769-1774. Maiden names 
of married women are given in parentheses. Titles of books are listed under 
the name of the author. Locations on the maps of Edinburgh and London 
are indicated by letters and numbers in parentheses after names. The letters 
A to D ( A2, DS, etc.) refer to the London map. The letter E, whether singly 
(E) or with a number (4), refers to the map of the City of Edinburgh, 
(Env.) to the map of the Environs of Edinburgh, both at p. viii. Habitations 
of persons mentioned in the text are located on the maps if Boswell reports 
visits to them. The following abbreviations are used: D. (Duke), M. 
(Marquess), E. (Earl), V. (Viscount), B. (Baron), Bt (Baronet), W.S. 
(Writer to the Signet), JB (James Boswell), SJ (Samuel Johnson). 

Abbott, C. Colleer, xxvii, i lege, Oxford, nominal tutor of SJ, 175 

Abercorn, James Hamilton, 8th E. of, Addison, John, bailie, 345 

11572.1, 177 Addison, Joseph, 74*1.6; Spectator, 169 

Abercrombie, Alexander, W.S., 234 Adventure, ship, 42 

Aberdeen, 92, 193 Advocates, Faculty of, 140, 174, 335, 350 

Aberdeen, University of, xxiii, 1277*. Advocates' Library (basement storey, Par- 
Abergairn, 192 liament House, E), 24, i74-4, 228/1.5, 

Abernethy, John, D.D., 102 265 

Abyssinia, 262, 271 Aeschylus, 10572.3 

Acts of Parliament of Scotland, 22271.8 Agag, Biblical character, 217 

Adam, Agnes, tried for murder, 198, 199, Aikin, Anna Laetitia, See Barbauld 

284 Ailesbury. See Bruce of Tottenham 

Adam, Margaret, tried for murder, 198, 199 Ainsworth, Robert, Compendious Diction- 
Adam, Robert, architect, 21771.9, 218, 219 ary of the Latin Tongue, 5571.9 

Adams, William, Master of Pembroke Col- Aitkin, John, surgeon, 337 



Akenside, Mark, Hymn to the Naiads, 
74/2.6; Pleasures of Imagination, 74-75 

Alemoor (Andrew Pringle), Lord (27; 
HawkhiU, Env.), dines with JB, 229; JB 
dines with, 234; asks if JB's wit is pre- 
meditated, 235; mentioned, 130, 231, 232, 


Alexander the Great, 43, 230 
Alexander, Robert, in colliery cause, 1 77^-3 
Alexander v. Montgomery, 176, 1771.3 
Alison, Mrs., in Edinburgh, 322 
Allen, Joseph, transcriber of music, 176/1.9 
Alnwick, 21, 30 
Alva (James Erskine), Lord (Argyll 

Square, E), 256 
Ambler, Charles, counsellor, 62 
American Revolution, 220/2.8, 225/2.5, 279 

n.2, 301 

Anderson, William, tailor, 157 
Andrei, Abbate, 34r-35, 54 
Andrew, Alexander, in Linlithgow, 343 
Andrews, John, malefactor, 199, 306 
Ansley, Delight, xxviii 
Anson, Thomas, of Shugborough, 117 
Anstruther (Janet Fall), Lady, 95 
Anstruther, Sir John, Bt, 95 
Apsley, Henry Bathurst, Lord, later 2d E. 

Bathurst, Lord Chancellor, 67, 81, 111, 


Argyll, John Campbell, 5th D. of, 115 
Argyllshire, 194 
Aristotle, xvi 
Armstrong, innkeeper, 33 
Armstrong, John, 124; Forced Marriage, 


Arniston. See Dundas, Robert 
Arnot, Hugo, 140; History of Edinburgh, 


Ashburton. See Dunning 

Auchinleck (Alexander Boswell), Lord, 
father of JB (23), introductory account 
of, 1-4; second marriage, $, JB's friends 
disapprove, 6; grudgingly accepts JB's 
marriage, 5; JB cannot live with, after 
marriage, 5; illness, 7/2.3; JB tries to be 
friendly, 10; JB visits at Auchinleck, 12, 
13, 14; JB travels with, on the Western 
Circuit, 13; instructs JB on law, antiqui- 
ties, and pruning of trees, 14-15; enter- 
tains Paoli, 22; characterization of Paoli 
as a "landlouping scoundrel" doubted, 22; 

JB dines with, 24, 28, 228; threatens to 
disinherit JB, 50; dispute over entail of 
estate, editorial comment on, x, 51/2.2, 
SJ and JB discuss, 50-52, Sir John Pringle 
agrees with JB, 59, Dr. Wood gives JB 
advice on, 234; satisfied with improve- 
ment of JB's conduct, 59, 84; hospitality, 
85; strained relations with JB, 137-139, 
200-201, 226, 228; in cause of Alexander 
v. Montgomery, 176, 177; in trial of Cal- 
lum McGregor, 192; SJ visits on return 
from Hebrides, 195, 196; talks with con- 
tempt of SJ, 201; in parliamentary elec- 
tion for Ayrshire, 201-203, 258; in Edin- 
burgh, 209; pleased with Veronica, 209, 
259; JB spends Sundays with, 213, 216, 
219, 232, 259; as judge in trial of John 
Reid, 238, 241-244, 247, 254, 255 ; invites 
JB to meet Lord President Dundas at 
dinner, JB refuses, 257-258; returns to 
Auchinleck, 267; mentioned, 95/1.2, 134, 
212/2.5, 2 75; Observations on the Election 
Law of Scotland, 15/2., 258/2.8 

Auchinleck (Elizabeth Boswell), Lady, 2d 
wife of Lord Auchinleck, marriage, 5; 
JB doubts if she will have children, 10; 
Temple thinks she is not ill-disposed to- 
wards JB, 138; John Boswell estranged 
from, 138/2.; mentioned, 24, 209, 226 

Auchinleck (Euphemia Erskine), Lady, ist 
wife of Lord Auchinleck, mother of JB, 
i, 2, 50/2., 52/2., 133/2. 

Auchinleck (house and estate), 12, 21, 22, 
60/2., 81 

Auckland. See Eden, William 

Augusta, consort of Frederick Louis, Prince 
of Wales, mother of George III, 60, 61, 

Auld, Andrew, in trial of John Reid, 248, 

Aylmer, Henry Aylmer, 4th B., 162/2.8 

Aylmer, Rose, 162/2.8 

Ayrshire, i, 12, 68, 161 ; JB considers ap- 
plying for sheriffship of, 127; parliamen- 
tary election, 201-203, 258 

Aytoun, William, W.S., 227 

Bacon, Francis (B. Verulam, V. St Al- 


Baddinoch. See Macdonald, George 
Baldwin, Henry, printer, 126, 127 



Baldwin, Mrs. Henry, 126 

Baldwin, Richard, bookseller, loon. 

Balfour, Andrew, advocate, 278 

Balfour, John, bookseller (E8), a8a 

Ballencrieff, 26/1.6 

Balmuto. See Boswell, Claud 

Banff, 210/2.9 

Banks, Joseph, later Bt, expedition dis- 
cussed by SJ and friends, 42-43; JB 
meets, 54; story of Methodist sailor con- 
verting savages, 66; visits JB in Edin- 
burgh, 139-140; compared with James 
Bruce, 260, 262-263; mentioned, 42, 65 

Barbauld, Anna Lactitia (Aikin), Corsica, 

Barber, Francis, servant to SJ, 39, 158, 171 

Bargrave, Mrs., 74, 103 

Barnet, 157 

Barrett, Roger W., xxiii 

Barrington, William Wildman Barrington- 
Shute, ad V., 79 

Barter, James, miller, 75 

Bathurst. See Apsley 

Baxandall, David, xxviii 

Bayes, character in Rehearsal, 65, 85 

Bearcroft, Edward, sen., K.C., 162 

Beatson, John, commander of a brig, 286 

Beattie, James, letters from JB, 20, 145; 
introduced to SJ by JB, 20; SJ writes of, 
to JB, 27, 145; SJ thinks him a fine fel- 
low, 43; Mrs. Thrale wants him for a 
second husband, 43; conceals his mar- 
riage, 43; praised by Garrick, 124; perse- 
cuted by William Robertson for attack on 
Hume, 124-125; JB writes to, on plans 
for tour of Hebrides, 193; mentioned, 41, 
44; Essay on Truth, 20, 145; Minstrel, 
20/2., 145 

Beattie, William, xxviii 

Beauclerk, Lady Diana (Spencer), comely 
and well behaved, 183; entertains JB 
while he waits for news from Literary 
Club, 184; JB defends her divorce and re- 
marriage, is rebuked by SJ, 185 

Beauclerk, Topham, high-bred behaviour 
resembles coldness, 165; JB values him 
because of friendship with SJ, 165; tells 
anecdotes of SJ, 165-166; JB dines with, 
184; notifies JB of admission to Literary 
Club, 184; mentioned, 126, 133, 183 

Beccaria, Cesare Bonesana, Marchese di, 


Becket, Thomas, bookseller, partner in o/z- 
don Magazine, loo-toi; literary prop- 
erty cause, see Donaldson v. Becket 

Bedford, Francis Russell, 8th D. of, 7571.8 

Bedlay. See Roberton 

Belgrade, 106 

Bell, Adam, W.S., 215, 221, 236, 257, 284, 

Bell, John, bookseller (E6), 265 

Bell, John, farmer, 343, 344 

Bell, Robert, Dictionary of the Law of Scot- 
land, 350/1.2 

Bengal, 90/2.4 

Bennet, Andrew, nephew of Rev. William 
Bennet, 212 

Bennet, Andrew, stabler (Grassmarket, E), 
324-325, 326, 329 

Bennet, Mrs. Andrew, wife of preceding, 
324, 326 

Bennet, Rev. William, 281 

Bennett, Charles H., xxv, xxvi, xxvii 

Berenger, Richard, gentleman of horse, 120 

Bergin, Thomas G., xxviii 

Bernera, isle of, 63 

Berwick-upon-Tweed, 21/2.4, 40 

Betts, landlord of the Queen's Arms, Lon- 
don, 163 

Bible, 47, 5^-57, 98, 126, 127, 170, 171, 
228; i Corinthians, 170/2.1; Genesis, 259 
n.a; James 276; John 46/2.6; Luke, 73/2., 
173/1.9; Matthew, 60 ; Revelation, 74, 
170/7.1; i Samuel, 217/2.2 

Biggleswade, 157 

Binning, Mrs., 274 

Binning, Charles Hamilton, styled Lord, 
later 8th E. of Haddington, 121 

Biographia Britannica, 66/2.6 

Birrel, Robert, diary of, 265 

Birtwhistle, John, drover, 286, 344 

Black, William, in trial of John Reid, 243, 
244-248, 313, 348 

Black, William, Fiscal in the Lyon Office, 

Blackhouse, 177/1.3 

Blackshiels, 30, 196, 197 

Blair, Capt Alexander, 330 

Blair, Catherine, "the Heiress," later wife 
of Sir William Maxwell of Monreith, 3, 



Baldwin, Mrs. Henry, 126 

Baldwin, Richard, bookseller, loon. 

Balfour, Andrew, advocate, 278 

Balfour, John, bookseller (E8), 283 

Ballencrieff, 26/2.6 

Balmuto. See Boswell, Claud 

Banff, 21072.9 

Banks, Joseph, later Bt, expedition dis- 
cussed by SJ and friends, 42-43; JB 
meets, 54; story of Methodist sailor con- 
verting savages, 66; visits JB in Edin- 
burgh, 139-140; compared with James 
Bruce, 260, 262-263; mentioned, 42, 65 

Barbauld, Anna Lactitia (Aikin), Corsica, 

Barber, Francis, servant to SJ, 39, 158, 171 

Bargrave, Mrs., 74, 103 

Barnet, 157 

Barrett, Roger W., xxiii 

Barrington, William Wildman Barrington- 
Shute, 2d V., 79 

Barter, James, miller, 75 

Bathurst. See Apsley 

Baxandall, David, xxviii 

Bayes, character in Rehearsal, 65, 85 

Bearcroft, Edward, sen., K.C., 162 

Beatson, John, commander of a brig, 286 

Beattie, James, letters from JB, 20, 145; 
introduced to SJ by JB, 20; SJ writes of, 
to JB, 27, 145; SJ thinks him a fine fel- 
low, 43; Mrs. Thrale wants him for a 
second husband, 43; conceals his mar- 
riage, 43; praised by Garrick, 124; perse- 
cuted by William Robertson for attack on 
Hume, 124-125; JB writes to, on plans 
for tour of Hebrides, 193; mentioned, 41, 
44; Essay on Truth, 20, 145; Minstrel, 
2on., 145 

Beattie, William, xxviii 

Beauclerk, Lady Diana (Spencer), comely 
and well behaved, 183; entertains JB 
while he waits for news from Literary 
Club, 184; JB defends her divorce and re- 
marriage, is rebuked by SJ, 185 

Beauclerk, Topham, high-bred behaviour 
resembles coldness, 165; JB values him 
because of friendship with SJ, 165; tells 
anecdotes of SJ, 165-166; JB dines with, 
184; notifies JB of admission to Literary 
Club, 184; mentioned, 126, 133, 183 

Beccaria, Cesare Bonesana, Marchese di, 


Becket, Thomas, bookseller, partner in Lon- 
don Magazine, 100-101; literary prop- 
erty cause, see Donaldson v. Becket 

Bedford, Francis Russell, 8th D. of, 7571.8 

Bedlay. See Roberton 

Belgrade, 106 

Bell, Adam, W.S., 215, 221, 236, 257, 284, 

Bell, John, bookseller (E6), 265 

Bell, John, farmer, 343, 344 

Bell, Robert, Dictionary of the Law of Scot- 
land, 3507Z.2 

Bengal, 9072.4 

Bennet, Andrew, nephew of Rev. William 
Bennet, 212 

Bennet, Andrew, stabler (Grassmarket, E), 
324-325, 326, 329 

Bennet, Mrs. Andrew, wife of preceding, 
324, 326 

Bennet, Rev. William, 281 

Bennett, Charles H., xxv, xxvi, xxvii 

Berenger, Richard, gentleman of horse, 120 

Bergin, Thomas G., xxviii 

Bernera, isle of, 63 

Berwick-upon-Tweed, 2172.4, 40 

Betts, landlord of the Queen's Arms, Lon- 
don, 163 

Bible, 47, 56-57, 98, 126, 127, 170, 171, 
228; i Corinthians, 1 70/1.1; Genesis, 259 
72.2; James 276; John 4672.6; Luke, 7372., 
17372.9; Matthew, 60; Revelation, 74, 
17072.1; i Samuel, 21772.2 

Biggleswade, 157 

Binning, Mrs., 274 

Binning, Charles Hamilton, styled Lord, 
later 8th E. of Haddington, 121 

Biographia Britannica, 66.6 

Birrel, Robert, diary of, 265 

Birtwhistle, John, drover, 286, 344 

Black, William, in trial of John Reid, 242, 
244-248, 313, 348 

Black, William, Fiscal in the Lyon Office, 

Blackhouse, 17772.3 

Blacfcshiels, 30, 196, 197 

Blair, Capt Alexander, 230 

Blair, Catherine, "the Heiress," later wife 
of Sir William Maxwell of Monreith, 3, 



Blair, Hugh, D.D., sermons by, 213, a 16, 
228, 233, 237, 259, 298 

Blair, John, LL.D., 77 

Blair, Capt. John, of Dunskey, 94724 

Boccaccio, Giovanni, 34 

Bolingbroke, Frederick St. John, ad V., 185 

Bolingbroke, Henry St John, ist V., 270 

Bolland, James, criminal, 36 

Boothby, Lieut. (Capt.) William, later Bt, 


Boston, William Irby, ist B., iis.i 
Boston Port Bill, 220/1.8 
Boston Tea Party, 220/2.8 
Bosville, Diana (Wentworth), wife of God- 

frey Bosville, behaves with civil formal- 

ity, 53; SJ meets at Pantheon, 86; men- 

tioned, 67, 128 
Bosville, Elizabeth Diana. See Macdonald 

(Elizabeth Diana Bosville), Lady 
Bosville, Godfrey (Great Russell St., 

Bloomsbury, A4), family of, 53-54; JB 

dines, sups with, 53, 99-100, 118, 160, 

173, 179; mentioned, 38, 54, 128 
Bosville, Julia, later Lady Dudley and 

Ward, dau. of Godfrey Bosville, 54, 128 
Bosville, Thomas, son of Godfrey Bosville, 

Bosville, Capt William, son of Godfrey 

Bosville, 54, 160 
Boswell, Capt., in narrative of James Bruce, 

261, 262 
Boswell, Sir Alexander, Bt, son of JB, 

Boswell, Charles, illegitimate son of JB, 

Boswell, Claud Irvine, later Lord BaLmuto, 

162, 209, 227 
Boswell, David, dancing-master, 51*1.2, 59, 

Boswell, David, brother of JB. See Boswell, 

Thomas David 
Boswell, Euphemia, dan. of JB, x, 208, 

275, 309 
Boswell, James, of Auchinleck, grandfather 

of JB, 282 

Boswell, James, of Balbarton, 218, 257, 309 
BOSWELL, JAMES (Feb.-May 1770, Cowgate 

near the Excise, E.; May 1770-May 

1771, Chessel's Buildings, E.; May 1771- 

Mav 1773, Hume's house in James's 

Court, E.; May 1773-, another house in 
James's Court) 

[Part I, Biographical; Part II, Writ- 

I. Biographical, Including States of 
Mind, Traits of Character, and Opinions. 
Summary of events in this volume, ix- 
xxi; literary style, xvi-xxi; as man of 
"feeling," xvii, xviii; sketch of life to 
November 1769, 1-4; from marriage to 
visit to London in 1772, 5-28; marriage, 
5-17; moves to Chessel's Buildings, 7; 
happy in marriage, ix-x, 8, 11-12, 76; 
happy in work, 8, 25; birth and death of 
first son, x, 11; reflections on death in 
infancy, 11; indulges fits of passion or 
gloom so his wife may comfort him, 12; 
moves to James's Court, 13; accompanies 
his father on the Western Circuit, 13; 
takes his wife for a week's jaunt to the 
South, 14; ill, 14, 67, 146, 147, 184, 191; 
misses his wife when separated from her, 
15, 29, 36, 91, 107, 135, 155, i 94; partner- 
ship in London Magazine, 16, 100, 163, 
272; literary activities continued, xii, 16- 
17; interested in the theatre, xii, 16-17; 
compares actor to barrister, 17; resolves 
to give up former ways, 19; renewed 
interest in London friends, 19; excursion 
to Newcastle and Alnwick, 21; Carron 
Ironworks duns him for cannon sent to 
Corsica, 21; entertains Paoli on tour of 
Scotland, 21-22; return to London in 
1772, planned, 22, 25, 26; resents slight 
to Paoli, 23; offends Lord Hailes, 23; 
wonders whether practice of law is con- 
sistent with moral rectitude, 23-24; jour- 
ney to London, x-xi, 28, 29-33; eager to 
see London again, 29; served by ugly, 
stupid maid, 30; studies law papers and 
sings from Beggar's Opera, 30; pierced 
by a glance from a fine eye, 31; admires 
English inns, 32; simile on principles 
and causes in law, "a good idea," 32; com- 
pares present cheerfulness with former 
gloom, 33, 80; enjoys travelling, 33; ar- 
rives in London, 33; decides not to lodge 
with Paoli, 35; has trouble understanding 
Italian, 35; tempted by prostitutes, 35, 
66-67; resolves not to come to London 
again without his wife, 35; at home in 



London, feels truly well, 36; finds lodg- 
ings in Conduit Street, 37; thinks lodg- 
ings more difficult to choose than wives, 
37; renews old friendships, 37-38; ob- 
jects of visit to London, 37-38; makes 
puns, 38, 143, annoyed by puns, 108; 
embarrassed by pretty maid, 39; thinks 
of buying St. Kilda, 43-44, 63; remem- 
bers former dissipated and sickly state, 
44; enjoys conversation with strangers, 
45, 157; interested in ghosts, 45-46, 74, 
103, believes in them, 107, 306; dispute 
over entail of estate, 50-52, 59-60, 234; 
views on inheritance through male line, 
51, 59, 60, 187, 200-201, 212, 230-231, 
234; collects "good things" from conver- 
sations, 53; caught in heavy thunder- 
storm, 53; discusses allegorical paintings, 
54-55; thinks English women of fashion 
reserved and uncivil, 58; thinks he is 
better for having been whipped in school, 
xviii, 58, 116; attends House of Com- 
mons, 59, 61, 161-162; feels manly con- 
sciousness of improvement, 59; compares 
life in London to a banquet, 61; hears 
appeals in House of Lords, 61-62, 67, 80- 
81, 92, 95, 99, 101, 102, 104, 120, 161/2.6, 
162; interested in parliamentary proce- 
dure, 62 ; no longer odd and extravagant, 
62; admits invention of memorial on 
Corsica by John Brown, 64-65; goes to 
the theatre, 65, 179-180, 227; likes to be 
praised, 65; at club meeting with Sir 
John Pringle, 65, 102; at club meeting 
at London Coffee-house, 65-66, 103; finds 
that work keeps him from being de- 
pressed and listless, 68, 128; friends think 
he is like his father, 68; feels steady, 
composed, calm, 68, 130; sitting up late 
hurts his health, 75, 126, 127; fears meet- 
ing bad company in streets, 75; attends 
levees of Lord Mansfield, 78-80, 111- 
112; shocked by jesting reference to mas- 
sacre of St George's Fields, 78; on satire, 
78; happy, in good spirits, 80, 87, 91, 95, 
too, 118, 128, 209, 212; plan of removal 
to English bar, 81, 135, 203; Scottish 
patriotism, feelings, ideas, 81, 93, 100; 
Auchinleck is his great object, 81; on 
securing influence by hospitality, 84, by 
lending money, 85; makes amends to his 

father for past follies, 84; goes to the 
Pantheon, 86-87; attends synagogue 
services, 92, 93; attends service at St. 
Paul's, is elevated and bettered, 93, 173; 
appreciates a good breakfast, 95, 99; ad- 
mires feudal system, 98-99; has art of 
melting into the general mass, 100; is a 
person of consequence, too, 104, 107; 
hugs himself with joy, 100, 104; drinks, 
but not to excess, 100, 134; has full relish 
of life, 107; is considered a wit, 108; 
breaks his custom by working on Sun- 
day, 109; indulges every opportunity for 
superstition or enthusiasm, no; should 
have been born in early times or in 
Spain, no; literary ambitions, 11172.1, 
141; on conversation of Scots advocates, 
in; has genius for biography, 112; de- 
fends drinking, 122; has not Garrick's 
perennial flow of spirits, 124; observes 
Good Friday, breakfasts with Mrs. Mac- 
dowal as a penance, 125; quite a labori- 
ous author, 127; considers applying for 
sheriff ship of Ayrshire, 127; attends mass 
on Easter, 128; thinks wealthy men 
should keep their fortunes in the country, 
130; determined to try reviving good 
manners in Edinburgh, 130; attends Lord 
Mayor's dinner and ball, 130-133; 
Wilkes says he has grown the gravest of 
mortals, 132; gloomy, hypped, 134; goes 
with bad women a little, 134; leaves Lon- 
don for Edinburgh, 134, 135; life from 
spring of 1772 to spring of 1773, 135- 
154; intends to go to London every 
spring, 135; plans to borrow money from 
Johnston of Grange, 136; examinator in 
Faculty of Advocates, 140; Masonic ac- 
tivities, 140, 257, elected Master of Can- 
ongate Kil winning Lodge, 191, 215, but 
moderately in Mason humour, 215, social 
glee at Lodge meeting, 221-222; drinks 
heavily, xiii, 140, 214, 218, 221, 224, 229, 
230, 235, 253, 269, 273, 279, 309, 314, 
318, 320; gambles, 140; visits a woman 
of the town, 140, 146; uneasy, fearful of 
consequences, 140; on corruption of Scot- 
tish manners by levelling, 142; buys wig 
from Gast, recommended by Garrick, 
143; contributes to Percy's catalogue of 
SJ's writings, sends copy to Garrick, 143- 


144; attends masquerade as a dumb con- 
jurer, 145-146; receives congratulations 
on birth of Veronica, i49~ 1 50i writes 
letters in hope of collecting answers, 151; 
compares birth of Veronica with opening 
of She Stoops to Conquer, i5i-*53J visit 
to London in 1773, , 150, *5* *54; 
journey to London, i55-*57; _ satisfied 
with present soundness of mind, but 
misses excitement of former fermenta- 
tion, 157; finds lodgings in Piccadilly, 
158; misses Lord Mansfield's rout for 
want of breeches, 160; less anxious at 
being absent from his wife than last year, 
160; invents dialogue between David 
Kennedy and his brother, Lord Cassillis, 
161; hears Edmund Burke and Lord 
North speak, 161-162; thinks speaking in 
Parliament is not difficult, 162; an en- 
thusiast in his profession, 162; talent for 
being interested and pleased with small 
things, 163; on character of Lord Ches- 
terfield, 164; discusses "terrible objects" 
in gardens, 167-168; observes Good Fri- 
day, 171; observes Easter, 173; h * s no 
firm conviction on religion, 173; dis- 
cusses legal problems with Lord Mans- 
field, 176-179; admitted to membership 
in Literary Club, xi, 183-184; journal- 
izes, but is not so able as formerly, 184; 
has strange thought on fate, 184; leaves 
London, 189; life from spring of 1773 to 
June 1774, 190-209; travels to Cornhill 
with Mr. and Mrs. Temple, 190; argues 
with Temple, is severe and rough with 
Mrs. Temple, 190; arrives in Edinburgh, 
190-191; apologizes to Temple, 191; tour 
of the Hebrides, editorial account of, xi, 
193-196 (see also Johnson, Samuel, Part 
II); accompanies SJ on road to London, 
196; exhausted and languid after SJ's 
departure, 197-198, 200; in parliamen- 
tary election for Ayrshire, 201-203, 258; 
plans for return to London discouraged 
by Pringle and SJ, 203-205; finds con- 
versation and merriment in Court of Ses- 
sion, 209; has peculiar ability, at begin- 
ning of sessions, to distinguish one from 
another, 210; feels sameness in work, 
210; thinks justice has improved because 
friendships and family attachments are 

weakened, 210; on feelings of inferiority 
and superiority, an; plays bowls, 212, 
219, 236, 276, 279, 291, 309, 3*5, 3i8, 
321, 324; plays cards (sixpenny brag, 
whist, loo), 212, 230, 297, 315, 319, 321; 
attends New Church, 213, 216, 219, 225, 
228, 232, 237, 258, 270, 277-278, 283, 
298; reads sermons, 213; wonders how 
much attention a lawyer should give to 
causes, 213; wishes he were in London, 
resents provinciality of Edinburgh, 213- 
214, 216, 221; calm, easy, in good frame, 
213, 215, 218, 227, 270, 297; remorseful 
after drinking, 214, 224-225, 253-254, 
321; finds pleasant associations are 
formed by chance, 215; observes that 
agreeable life is never long continued, 
216; prefers England to Scotland, 216; 
no longer gloomy on Sunday evening, 
217; sees laying of foundation stone of 
Register House, regrets absenc^ of cere- 
mony, 217; a plain, good-humoured, hos- 
pitable kinsman, 218; suggests setting up 
a hogshead of wine as Lord of Session, 
219; is social without rioting or drunken- 
ness, 220, 226, 270; recites his ballad 
Boston Bill, 220-221, 229; sympathizes 
with Americans in Revolution, 220/7.8; 
finds social dinners and law practice in- 
compatible, 221, 225; loses two causes 
unjustly, speaks with manly ease, 221; 
in Highland humour, sings Gaelic song, 
221; compares life to a monotonous jour- 
nal of weather, 222; mind more lively 
than usual, 222; pays bet by giving din- 
ner, a complete riot, 224; feels necessity 
to drink, but must beware of it, 226; 
sober and diligent, 227; reads Walton's 
Lives, 228, 236-237, 269, note on missing 
leaves in Life of Sanderson, 228/1.5; 
thinks of religious duty, 228, 269; may 
use trifling means to do himself good, 
228; in disagreeable humour, domineer- 
ing and rude, 228-229; studies law with 
Charles Hay, 229/2.8, 274, 278, 299, 310, 
318; jests on immortality, 231; drinking 
makes him ill-bred, 231; in sparkling 
frame, witty among his colleagues, 231- 
232; thinks judges should have dignity 
and reverence, 232; resolves to check 
violence of temper, 232; decides to fol- 

low example of Sir William Forbes in 
keeping record of expenses, 233; concern 
for wife and children interferes with 
principles of male inheritance, 234; does 
not plan witty remarks beforehand, but 
talks about them afterwards, 235; pre- 
sents antiquities to Faculty of Advocates, 
235; in debt, 236; prepares for trial of 
John Reid, resolves to taste no wine till 
it is over, 336 (see also following para- 
graph and Reid, John); entertains jury 
at tavern after verdict against John Reid, 
253; elated by his appearance in court, 
253, 254; encouraged by praise, hopes to 
return to England, 257; sings Pope's 
Universal Prayer to ridiculous tune, 257; 
says reflections on the vanity of life are 
part of the farce, 259; speaks against 
drinking, but drinks, 260; interviews 
James Bruce, traveller, 260-263; solidly 
social, can adapt himself to any com- 
pany, 264; compares mind to a glass, 
265; last day of session, philosophizes on 
death, 266; gives dinner for Lord Pem- 
broke with ease and gentility, 266-267, 
270; attends Assembly, 267; goes to 
races, 267-268; disapproves of entertain- 
ment on Sunday, 268; discusses whether 
old soldiers are better than young ones, 
270-271; rainy weather brings a cloud 
of hypochondria, 273; counts a day lost, 
"perdidi diem" 273-274, 279; plays the 
bass fiddle, 275; on predestination and 
crime, 276; on perjury, 278; finds that 
drinking is the only cement of an ill- 
assorted company, 279; on military train- 
ing for boys, 279; makes rule to attend 
every funeral to which he is invited, 280; 
plans attempt to resuscitate John Reid 
after hanging, 280, 284, 20 1-20,2, 322, 
324-328; searches for place to hide body, 
324-326; scheme is abandoned, 327; de- 
pressed by sight of anatomical speci- 
mens, 281; serves port because claret is 
too expensive, 281-282; has solid coarse 
ambition of making money, 283; has 
idea of the Sheep-steal er's Progress in 
Hogarthian prints, 283; orders portrait 
of John Reid, 283-284; sees portrait 
painted, 285, 288, 290; oppressed, agi- 
tated by thoughts of Reid, 287-288, 293* 

Index 305 

294; on smuggling, 301; dismisses man- 
servant for fear of smallpox infection, 
309; prisoners in Tolboolh esteem him, 
present a petition, 309; strangely 
wearied, 319; in drunken frenzy after 
failure of efforts to save Reid, 319-320; 
shocked by his wife's account of his 
cruelty to her, firmly resolves to be sober, 
321; has character of speaking ill of his 
friends, 321; cannot argue well on reli- 
gion, has doubts, 322, 327; last interview 
with Reid, 330-33 1 ; sees execution, 332- 
335; writes account for newspapers, 335- 
336; gloomy and frightened after death 
of Reid, 336; begins to feel easy again, 
336, 337 

Law Practice: editorial comment on, 
ix, xiii-xvi, 350, 354-355; summary of, 
first year, 1766-1767, 7-8; in 1772, 24; 
in 1772-1773, 140, 147-149; in summer 
of 1773, 191-192; in winter of i773-*774 
198-200, 205; before General Assembly, 
7, *3, 94 1361 191; fit fee, 29/1.1; first 
case in Court of King's Bench, 1786, 96 
.i; interested in trial of Murdison and 
Miller, 146-147, 149; sees trial of Callum 
McGregor, 192; review of summer ses- 
sion, 1774, 268-269; interested in Henry 
McGraugh, 279-281, 309, 337 

Consultations: 210, 220, 221, 222, 230, 
234, 257, 272, 273, 284, 307; Lady Dun- 
donald's suit against weaver, 226-227, 
269, 272; Earl Fife, politics of, 210, 
213, 218, 229, 256; Rev. William Mac- 
queen's legacy, 222-223 

Trials and causes: Margaret and 
Agnes Adam, 198, 190; John Andrews, 
William Wilson, and William Love, 199; 
James Brown, 199; John Brown and 
James Wilson, 192; James Cant and 
Thomas Muir, 198, 200; Donaldson v. 
Becket, 191, 205; Donaldson v. Hinton, 
205; Douglas Cause, 3, 4, 37"-7, 78, 81, 
178, 296; Thomas Gray, 191-192; Wil- 
liam Harris, 8; John Hastie, xii-xiv, 26, 
57, 108-109, presentation of appeal, 112- 
116 (see also Hastie); Robert Hay, xiv; 
George Macdonald, 24-25; meal riots, 
Malcolm Cameron and Peter Tosh, 148, 
Richard Robertson, 147-149; John Ray- 
bould, xiv; John Reid, editorial account 



of, xv-xvi, xix, xx, 250-251, bibliography 
of, xxiii-xxiv, 238, papers in JB's hand- 
writing, 242-249, trial in 1766, 62/1.4, 
22771.1, trial in 1774, 238-256, petition 
for transportation, 264, 266, 271, 273, 
275-277, letters on, 265-266, 277, 297, 
300, 319, 320, 322-323, respite obtained, 
293-294, memorial on evidence with 
declaration by Mrs. Reid, 3*, 312-314 
(see also under Reid) 

II. Writings: 1. Journal of a Tour to 
the Hebrides, 1785: bibliography of, 
xxii-xxiii, xxv; writings of, 194-196, 
205; quoted or referred to in foot-notes 
on pp. xi, 30-31, 33, 78, 150, 159, 179, 

184, 213, 223, 271 

2. Life of Samuel Johnson, 1791: bib- 
liography of, xxii, xxv, xxvi; plans for, 
83, 144, 175; use of notes for, 133; 4th 
ed., 1804, 1 0572.3 ; first draft, MS., text 
of first draft printed on pp. 184-189; 
published text used on pp. 97~99 i5- 
107; quoted or referred to in foot-notes 
on pp. x, xii, 18, 19, 49, 51, 55, 69, 84-86, 
90, 97, 105-107, 109, 122, 166, 171, 179, 

185, 187, 196, 203-204, 225, 234 

3. Journal: editorial comment on, x, 
xvi-xxi; bibliography of, xxi-xxii, xxv, 
xxvi; begun with new year, 1772, in con- 
densed form, 24; fully written, after 14 
March 1772, x-xi, 28, after 30 March 
1773, 154, after 14 June 1774, 209; re- 
vised from memory years later for Life 
of Johnson, 105/1.5; breaks off, 20 April 
1772, 133, 14 April 1773, 182; rough 
notes, 1772, 133, 1773, 182-183, 189; 
brief entries, August 1772 to January 
i773> 139-140; SJ's advice on keeping, 
xvi, 174, 215; loss of pages from Holland, 
174-175; "Review of My Life for Some 
Time Previous to This Period," 1774, 
197-198, 208; portions used in Life of 
Samuel Johnson, xii, printed on pp. 41- 
44, 46-51, 55-57, 68-71, 72-75, 82-84, 
85-89, 94-95, 180-182; portions removed 
for Life, not recovered, 97/1.3, 105/1.4; 
quoted or referred to in foot-notes on pp. 
xi, xvi-xx, i, 2, 18, 24-25, 40, 41, 61, 139, 
140, 146, 147, 173, 175, 210, 230; text on 
pp. 29-97, 99-105, 107-134, 155-187, 
209-238, 253-254, 356-338 

4. Letters: bibliography of, xxiii, xxv, 
xxvi; specimens appear in the text on pp. 
5-8, 10-15, 18-20, 22-26, 78/2.9, 135, 
143-145, 150, 152-153, 183, 187, 193, 
206, 207, 236/2.5, 265-266, 277, 300, 312 
(see also names of correspondents) 

5. Periodical items: bibliography of, 
xxiv; specimens printed on pp. 17, 21- 
22, 23, 64-65, 208, 315-316; in Cale- 
donian Mercury, 336; in London Chroni- 
cle, 16, 17, 64-65, attacks on Lord 
Provost of Edinburgh, 23, Boston Bill, 
ballad, 220-221, on John Reid, 315-316, 
336/2.; in London Magazine, 16, 17, 126, 
141, "On the Profession of a Player," 
xii, 17, 22, on Paoli's visit to Scotland, 
21-22, "A Sketch of the Constitution of 
the Church of Scotland,'* 44/2.8, 127/2.1, 
141, "Sceptical Observations" on the 
above, 141, sketch of Thomas Gray, 141, 
"Debates in the General Assembly of the 
Church of Scotland," 191, tribute to 
Goldsmith, 208, essay on James Bruce, 
262, 271, 272; in Public Advertiser, 172, 
under pseudonym "Rampager," 173/2., 
279; in Scots Magazine, 16 

6. Works projected, 1769-1774: essay 
on Edward Young, 33; extracts from rec- 
ords of Privy Council of Scotland, 141; 
essay on the profession of a lawyer, 171; 
life of Thomas Ruddiman, 174; history 
of Edinburgh, 265 

7. Other works: bibliography of, Tnriii, 
xxiv; Letters between the Honourable 
Andrew Erskine and James Boswell, 
Esq., 1763, 215/2,6; De supellectile legato, 
1766, 3; Dorando, 1767, 3; Letters of 
Lady Jane Douglas, 1767, 3; Prologue at 
the opening of the Theatre Royal 
(verse), 1767, 17, 121; Account of Cor- 
sica, 1768, 3, 16, 35*-9, mrc.1, ii7-5, 
164; dedication of Edinburgh edition of 
Shakespeare, 1771, xii, 18; Reflections on 
the Late Alarming Bankruptcies in Scot- 
land (anonymous), 1772, 142, review of, 
in Edinburgh Advertiser, probably by 
JB, 142; Decision of the Court of Session 
upon the Question of Literary Property, 
774, 205; Ten-Line Verses, 1774, 211; 
"The Mournful Case of Poor Misfortu- 
nate and Unhappy John Reid* 9 (broad- 



side), 1774, 3<>6, 318, text, 308-309; 
Justiciary Garland, 1776, 209; Hypo- 
chondriack, 1777-1/83, 141, 173"-, Let- 
ter to . . . Lord Braxfield, 1780, 35071.2; 
Boswelliana, 1874, 53, 309, an, 301/1.1; 
Letters of James Boswell, 1924, xxv; Pri- 
vate Papers of James Boswell, 1928- 
1934, xxv; Boswell's London Journal, 
1762-176$, 1950, 2, 44^.1, 761-1; Bos- 
well in Holland, 1765-1764, 1952, a, 
8on.; Boswell on the Grand Tour: Ger- 
many and Switzerland, 1764, 1954, 2; 
Boswell on the Grand Tour: Italy, Cor- 
sica, and France, 1765-1766, 1955, a, 
3571.7; Boswell in Search of a Wife, 
1766-1769, 1956, 4, 7671.1, 7872.8, 87/1.4 

Boswell, James, younger, son of JB, 10572.3 

Boswell, John, M.D., brother of Lord Au- 
chinleck (14), dines with JB, 226, 276, 
321; asks JB for loan, 257; member of 
Glassite sect, 310; argues on religion 
with JB, 321-322; mentioned, 259, 319 

Boswell, Lieut. John, brother of JB, JB 
visits, 31; estranged from his step- 
mother, 13871.; rides in coach with JB, 
156; character of, 156; mentioned, 201 

Boswell, John, of the Craigston line, 5971.3, 

Boswell, John, of Knocfcroon, 6on. 

Boswell, Margaret (Montgomerie), wife of 
JB, introductory account of, 4; letters to 
JB, 5, 7, 7671.1; letters from JB, 5-6; 
wedding, 5; returns to Edinburgh with 
JB, 5; JB worried about her health, 6; 
dangerously ill in first childbirth, 11; 
Temple admires her, 11-12; JB is fully- 
sensible of his happiness with her, 12; 
contented in spite of uncertain health, 
12; visits her sister Mary Campbell, 13, 
15; in good health, likes her house in 
James's Court, 13; goes for a week's va- 
cation to England, 14; visits Auchinleck, 
15; Temple advises her on relations with 
Lord Auchinleck, 15, 138; excursion to 
Newcastle and Alnwick, 21; entertains 
Paoli, 22; has miscarriage, 27-28; Paoli 
praises her, 59; JB writes to, 91, 134, 
i6on.i; JB plans to bring her to London, 
112; JB hopes she will meet him at 
Hawick on his return from London, 135; 
health improved, 136; pregnant, 140, 

203; understands and forgives JB, 140; 
does not approve of JB's writing for 
magazine, 141-142; dislikes JB's wig, 
143; attentive in JB's illness, 147; bears 
daughter Veronica, 147, 148; has anx- 
ious temper, 155-156; sublets Hume's 
apartment, moves into larger house in 
same building, 191; entertains SJ, 193, 
196; wishes for SJ's departure, annoyed 
by his uncouth habits, 196; thinks SJ has 
too much influence over JB, 196; visits 
friends in company with JB, 214, 216, 
220, 226, 227, 228, 230, 234, 256, 269, 274, 
278, 279, 281, 307, 309; alarmed, dis- 
tressed by JB's drinking, 214, 224, 231, 
253; punishes JB for drunkenness by re- 
fusing to deliver SJ's letter, 225; goes to 
the theatre, 227, 230, 258; approves JB's 
generosity to friends, 233, 298; in 
Heriot's Gardens, 236, 273; takes good 
care of JB, 237-238; is capable as hostess 
at dinner for Lord Pembroke, 267, 270; 
Lord Pembroke asks for her commands 
from London, 375; ill, 283, 318; explains 
Reid's reaction to respite, 294; reports 
public opinion against Reid, 297; tells 
JB of his outrageous behaviour in 
drunken rage, 321; shocked by scheme 
for resuscitation of Reid, 325; thinks JB 
has gone too far in zeal for Reid, 336, 
337; mentioned, 53, 16272.9, ai 7 21 8, 
228, 259, 268, 277, 283, 314 

Boswell, Robert, W.S., son of Dr. John Bos- 
well, 319 

BosweU, Sally, illegitimate dau. of JB, 3, 

Boswell, Thomas, ist Laird of Auchinleck, 

Boswell, Thomas David, brother of JB, JB 
hopes to see settled in London, 38, 102; 
JB writes to, 270; mentioned, 156, 215 

Boswell, Veronica, dau. of JB, birth, x, 147, 
148; baptism, 149; JB writes to Gold- 
smith comparing her birth with opening 
of She Stoops to Conquer, xiii, 151-153; 
pleases Lord Auchinleck, 209, 259; in 
Heriot*s Gardens, 236, 273; introduced to 
Lord Pembroke, 267; begins to walk and 
talk, 273; cheers her father, 288 

Bouricius, Jacobus, De offido advocati, 


Bowie, Rev. John, vicar of Idmiston, 6371.6 

Boyd, Mary Ann, 4 

Bradshaw, Mrs., in Edinburgh, 256 

Brady, Frank, xxvii, xxviii 

Braxfield, Lord. See Macqueen, Robert 

Breslaw, conjurer, in 

Bridgehill, 245 

Bridgetown, Barbados, 158 

Bridgewater, John Egerton, ist E. of, 6471. 

British Museum, xxiii, 2171.4 

Brock, John, in Hillend, 343 

Brodie, Capt. David, 165-166 

Brodie, Mary (Aston), wife of preceding, 

Brompton, Richard, painter, 38 

Brooks, Cleanth, xxviii 

Brown, Alexander, librarian of Advocates* 
Library, 274 

Brown, James, horse-stealer, 199, 292, 318 

Brown, John, author, memorial in favour 
of Corsicans an invention by JB, 64^5; 
Estimate of the Manners and Principles 
of the Times, 6571.2 

Brown, John, bailie of Edinburgh (per- 
haps same as following), 293 

Brown, John ("Buckram"), 301 

Brown, John, messenger, 304 

Brown, John, murderer, 192 

Brown, Thomas, SJ's instructor in English, 

Browne, Isaac Hawkins, the elder, poet, 
Pi pe of Tobacco, 112 

Browne, Mrs. Isaac Hawkins, widow of 
preceding, 112 

Bruce, Anne, dau. of Sir John Bruce-Hope, 
cause of, 92, 95, 99 

Bruce, James, of Kinnaird, traveller, JB 
interviews, 260-263, 267; comments on, 
271; Travels, 26171. 

Bruce-Carstairs, James, of Kinross, cause 
of, 6771.9, 92, 95, 99 

Bruce of Tottenham, Thomas Brudenell 
Bruce, ad B., later E. of Ailesbury, 

Brunton, George, and David Haig, Histori- 
cal Account of the Senators of the Col- 
lege of Justice, 35071.2 

Bryce, William, in Blacktown, 343 

Buccieuch, Francis Scott, 2d D. of, 180 

Buccleuch, Henry Scott, 3d D. of, 11571.1 


Buchan, David Steuart Erskine, nth E. of, 

Buchan, Hugh, City Chamberlain of Edin- 
burgh, 93, 112 

Buckden, 32 

Buckingham, George Villiers, 5th D. of, 
Rehearsal, 65, 85 

Bulkeley, or Bulkley, Mrs. (Mrs. Barres- 
ford), actress, 181, 208 

Burke, Edmund, SJ can live well with, but 
must avoid subjects of disagreement, 106; 
JB meets, 133, 16571.7; JB hears his 
speech in House of Commons, compares 
Vn'm to an actor, 161-162, 169, would be 
happy to be in his place, 162; JB long 
believed him a Jesuit, 167; quotes Scrip- 
ture, 170; sacrifices everything to wit, 
170; at Literary Club, 184, 187; JB 
thinly hiTnc^lf equal to, xx, 253; Vindi- 
cation of Natural Society, 270 

Burnet, Gilbert, Bishop of Salisbury, His- 
tory of My Own Times, 171 

Burnett, Arthur, son of Lord Monboddo, 

Burney, Dr. Charles, 49 

Burney, Frances (Mme. D'Arblay), 12871.4 

Burns, Robert, 11171.3, 2311-3 

Burrow, Sir James, 65 

Burzynski, Count, Polish diplomat, 21, 

Busby, Richard, DJD., master of Westmin- 
ster School, no 

Bute, John Stuart, 3d E. of, 60, 61, 8871. 

Bute, John Stuart, 4th E. and ist M of. 
See Mountstuart 

Butler, Samuel, author of Hudibras, B6n. 

Byron, George Gordon Noel Byron, Lord, 

Cade, Catharine (Whitworth), wife of 
Philip Cade, later Lady Aylmer, 16271.8 

Cade, Philip, 16271.8 

Caesar, Julius, 125 

Cairnie, John, M.D., 215 

Caithness, Peerage of, 61, 6771.9 

(Jalder, John, in Hill, 343 

Calder, Dr. John, 16971.7 

Caledonian Mercury, 149, 335, 336 

Callander, John, of Craigforth, 30 

Camden, Charles Pratt, ist E. of, 69, 81, 



Cameron, Malcolm, malefactor, 148 

Camoens, Luiz de, Lusiad, translation of, 

Campbell, Miss, of Carrick, 218 

Campbell, paving contractor of London, 
brother of Duncan Campbell of Glenure, 

Campbell, Alexander, advocate, no 

Campbell, Archibald, Bishop of Aberdeen, 

Campbell, Col. Donald, of Glensaddell, 71, 

Campbell, Maj. Sir Duncan, of Barcaldine, 
Records of Clan Campbell in the Mili- 
tary Service of the Honourable East 
India Company 1600-1858, 7273. 

Campbell, Elenora (Ker), wife of Walter 
Campbell, 229 

Campbell, Lord Frederick, Lord Clerk 
Register of Scotland, 217 

Campbell, Hay, later Lord President and 
Bt. (Brown Square, E), in cause of John 
Hastie, 57; career of, 2210.4; JB con- 
sults with, 221, 273; JB at Leith for 
family dinner with, 282, 283; earnings 
of, 282 

Campbell, James, of Treesbank, 13/2. 

Campbell, Jean, dau. of James Campbell of 
Treesbank, mistakes figure of Justice for 
a woman selling sweets, 55; Sir John 
Pringle's friendship with, 137, 138, 150; 
letter from him, 196, 197 

Campbell, John (Queen's Square, A4), 110- 
111, 174; Lives of the Admirals, 174; 
Political Survey of Britain, i 10/1.9 

Campbell, Mary (Montgomcric), wife of 
James Campbell of Treesbank, 13/2. 

Campbell, Col. Robert, of Finab, 297 

Campbell, Susan (Murray), wife of Hay 
Campbell, 282 

Campbell, Walter, of Shawfield, 227, 229, 
231, 232 

Campbell et al. v, Hastie. See Hastie, John 

Campbeltown, schoolmaster of. See Hastie, 

Cant, James, malefactor, 198, 200 

Carlisle, 13471.3, 135 

Carlyle, Misses, of Waterbeck, Dumfries- 
shire, xxiii 

Carmichael, Poll, protegee of SJ, 17371.1 

Carnegie, Misses, 34 

Carnwath, 192, 248 

Carron Ironworks, Stirlingshire, 21, 22 

Carstares, William, statesman and minis- 
ter, State-Papers and Letters . . . , 283 

Cassillis, David Kennedy, loth E. of. See 
Kennedy, David 

Cassillis, Thomas Kennedy, gth E. of, 161, 

Castle Stewart. See Stewart, William 

Castlehaven, Mervin Tuchet, 2d E. of, 64/2. 

Cathcart, Charles Schaw Cathcart, gth B., 

Cato, 125 

Cave, Edward, printer, 103, 107 

Cawdor, 46/1.7 

Cervantes, Miguel de, Don Quixote, 63 

Cha> -ers, James, W.S,, 93 

Chalmers, Margaret (Forbes), wife of 
Robert Chalmers, 214, 215 

Chalmers, Robert, "writer," 214, 215, 260, 

Chambers, Ephraim, Cyclopaedia, or an 
Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sci- 
ences, 127 

Chambers, Robert, later knighted, lawyer, 
187, 188, 189/1. 

Chambers, Sir William, Dissertation on 
Oriental Gardening, 167 

Chapman, R. W., xxv, xxvii 

Charlemont, James Caulfeild, 4th V. and 
ist E. of, 184 

Charles I, King of England, Scotland, and 
Ireland, 47/1.2, 63/1.8, 171/2.5 

Charles II, King of England, Scotland, and 
Ireland, 159/1.7, 171 

Charles Edward, Prince, the Young Pre- 
tender, 53/1.4, 194-195 

Charles, Norman Chodikoff, xxviii 

Charlotte Sophia, Queen of George III, 36 

Chatham, William Pitt, ist E. of, corre- 
spondence in verse and prose with Gar- 
rick, 119-120; mentioned, 75/1.8, 98, 

Chaucer, Geoffrey, xvii 

Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th 
E. of, advises SJ on pronunciation, 71; 
death, 163/1.2; character of, described by 
Lord Lyttelton, 163-164; epigrams, on 
Lord Tyrawley, 164, on Sir Thomas 
Robinson, 164; wit of, discussed, by JB, 
164, by SJ, 168; letter from SJ, men- 


tioned, 168; reasons for SJ's grievance, 

Chidester, Harriet, xxviii 
Child, Sir Josiah, Bt., New Discourse of 

Trade, 301 

Chisholm, Maj. James, of Chisholm, 62 
Christrora, Pehr, mathematician and phi- 
lologist, 56 

Church of England, 47 
Church of Scotland, 44; General Assembly, 

7, 13, 94, 136, 355 

Gibber, Colley, SJ's epigram on Birthday 
Odes of, 144; said to have been received 
by Lord Chesterfield while SJ waited, 
168-169; mentioned, 11272.7 
Cicero, 89 
Clarke, father-in-law of John Reid, 265, 


Claxton, Miss, sister of following, 112 
Claxton, John, F.S.A. (Lincoln's Inn, B$; 

Great Ormond St., A4), 102, 112, 185 
Cleland, John, 81-82; Memoirs of a 

Woman of Pleasure (Fanny Hill), 81 
Cleland, William, father of preceding, 8t 
Clerk, Sir James, Bt., 295, 296, 31172. 
Cleveland, John, poet, portrait of, 166 
Cleveland, William, brother of preceding, 


Clifford, James L., xxviii 
Clifford, Martin, 86/2. 
Clive, Robert Clive, ist B., 90/24, 161 
Club, The. See Literary Club 
Coalston (George Brown), Lord, 238, 243, 

Cochrane, Archibald Cochrane, styled 

Lord, later gth E. of Dundonald, 274 
Cochrane, Basil, Commissioner of Customs, 

22271.7, 3i8 
Cochrane, Maj. Charles, son of 8th E. of 

Dundonald, 222/1.7, 225 
Cochrane, Lady Elizabeth, later Lady 
Elizabeth Heron, 222, 259-260, 270, 272, 
*74, 283, 307, 321 

Cochrane, Henry, of Barbachlaw, 288 
Cochrane, Hon. James, son of 8th E, of 

Dundonald, 274 
Cochrane, Lady Mary (Bruce), wife of 

William Cochrane of Ochiltree, 213 
Cockburn, Archibald, Sheriff-Depute, 240, 


Cockburn, Henry, Memorials of His Time, 

9672., 35on.2 
Coke, Sir Edward, 69 
Coldstream, 14 

Colebrooke, Sir George, Bt., 174 
Coll, 194 
Collingwood, Mrs., aunt to Mrs. Temple, 

3*, *90 

Colman, George, the elder, Garrick ad- 
vises Mickle to offer Siege of Marseilles 
to, 123; produces Good Naturcd Man and 
She Stoops to Conquer, 151; mentioned, 
92/1.1, 126/2.; Man of Business, 227 

Colville, Lt-Gen. Charles, 230 

Colville of Culross, Elizabeth (Erskine), 
Lady (Drumsheugh, Env.), interested in 
SJ's opinions on Purgatory, 47, 72; JB 
is comforted and cheered by visiting, 
215; JB dines with, 225-226, 228; at JB's 
dinner for Lord Pembroke, 266, 267; 
mentioned, 47/2.8, 170/2,2, 216/2., 259, 
267, 278, 290, 298 

Comano, Chevalier, Spaniard, 267 

Cook, Capt. James, 42/2.1, 43/2.4 

Cooke, William, Conversation, 119/2.9; 
Life of Johnson, 119/2.9; (?) Theatrical 
Biography, 119 

Cornhill, 14, 190 

Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, 2d E., later 
ist M., letter to, on behalf of John Reid 
from Col. James Webster and JB, 298- 
299; mentioned, 323 

Corpus Juris Civilis, 108 

Corsica, 2, 14/2., 21, 35/2.7, 64 

Corstorphine, 227 

Corunna, 112/2.6 

Coryate, Tom, humourist, 97; Coryats 
Crudities, 97/2.4 

Courant. See Edinburgh Evening Courant 

Court of Session. See Session, Court of 

Courts and legal system, 350-357 

Coventry, Bishop of. See North, Brownlow 

Covington. See Lockhart, Alexander 

Crabtree, H, innkeeper at Grantham, 157 

Craighouse, 219 

Craigston, 59/2.3, 60/2. 

Craufurd, Maj. (later Lieut-Col.) John 
Walkinshaw, of Craufurdland, 68, 273 

Crieff, 247 

Croker, John Wilson, 42/1.3 

Crosbie, Andrew, advocate (St. Andrew's 



Square, New Town, E.; Suffolk St., GS), 
in cawe of John Hastie, 57, 62/1.4, 101, 
112, 113, 116; character of, 62/2.4; at 
Lord Mansfield's rout, 111, ii2j in trial 
of Murdison and Miller, 147; in trial of 
John Brown and James Wilson, 192; in 
trial of Thomas Gray, 192; in trial of 
Andrews, Wilson, and Love, 199, 306/2.7; 
on legacy of William Macqueen, 223; 
advice on John Reid, xv, 22772.1, 237, 
271; dines, sups with JB, 229, 283; JB 
dines with, 231-232; analysis of JB's wit, 
235; comments on Abyssinian travels of 
James Bruce, 271; indignant over sen- 
tence of Henry McGraugh, 279; in plan 
for resuscitation of Reid, 280; mentioned, 
21, 77/2.6, 89, 90, 95, 111, 170, 198, an 
rc-4, 218, 220, 234, 278, 282 

Cullen (Sir Francis Grant), Lord, 282 

Cullen, Robert, advocate, later Lord Cullen, 
as a mimic, 49; in plan for resuscitation 
of John Reid, 291; mentioned, 231, 232, 
234, 278 

Cullen, William, M.D., father of preceding 
(28), in plan for resuscitation of John 
Reid, 280, 291; mentioned, 49/2.6 

Culloden, 53, 89/2.2 

Cumberland, Duke of. See William Augus- 

Gumming, Rev. Patrick, 228/2.5 

Cummyng, James, Lyon Clerk Depute, 

Cuninghame, Alexander, son of Capt. Alex- 
ander Montgomerie-Cuninghame, 180 

Cunynghame (Mary Montgomerie), Lady 
(Abbey Hill, Env.), 218 

Curll, Edmund, bookseller, 158 

Curnow, N. S., xxviii, 350/2.1 

Currie, James, "writer," 224, 226 

Gust, Sir John, Bt., 31 

Cyclops, mythical character, 271 

Daghlian, P, B,, xxviii 

Dalblair, 68/2.6 

Dalin, Olaf von, historian, 56 

Dairymple (Anne Cunningham), Lady, 

Dairymple, Sir Charles Mark, of New- 

hailes, Bt., xxiii 
Dairymple, Sir David, See Hailes 

Dalrymple, John, Lord Provost of Edin- 
burgh, JB's anonymous attack on, 22, 23 

Dairymple, Sir John, Bt, in appeal for 
John Hastie, 115; praises JB for conduct 
in trial of John Reid, 257; Memoirs of 
Great Britain and Ireland, 159 

Darlington, 30-31, 156 

Davenant, Charles, Essay on the East India 
Trade, 301 

D'Avenant, Sir William, 86/z. 

Davidson, Rev. Mr., 217 

Davidson, Harry, 162 

Davidson, John, Crown Agent, 294, 320/2. 

Decker, Sir Matthew, Bt., Essay on the 
Causes of the Decline of the Foreign 
Trade, 301 

Defoe, Daniel, True Relation of the Ap- 
parition of Mrs. Veal to Mrs. Bargraue, 

Delaware, 219/2.5 

Democritus, 209 

Demosthenes, 88, 169 

Dempster, George, M. P. (Berners St., AS), 
Indian servants, 45, 72; agreeable and 
happy, 52; thinks Boswelliana will be 
the greatest treasure of the age, 53; 
leaves his dining-room in confusion, 72; 
elected East India Director, 103; speaks 
in House of Commons, 161 ; JB has philo- 
sophical saunter with, 184; mentioned, 
39,45,61, 104, 160,179 

Denbigh, Basil Feilding, 6lh E. of, 62, 

Derby, 134/2.3 

Desmoulins, Elizabeth, 40-4,3 

Dick, Sir Alexander, Bt. (Prestonfield, 
Env.), 66/2.5, 108, 212 

Dick, Andrew, W.S., 311 

Dick, Rev. Robert, 278, 325, 333, 334, 337 

Dickie, Matthew, "writer" (5), dines 
with JB, 218, 315; as clerk to JB, 273; 
JB dines with, 273; certifies declaration 
of Mrs. Reid, 3 12 

Dickson, Margaret, "half-hangit Maggie," 

Digges, West, actor, 28, 146 

Dilly, Charles, bookseller (Poultry, 63), 
welcomes JB to London, 36; converses in 
City style, 36; goes with JB to syna- 
gogue, 93; mentioned, 134 

Dairymple, James, servant to JB, 209, 309 Dilly, Edward, bookseller (Poultry, 83), 



welcomes JB to London, 36; goes with 
JB to synagogue, 92; partner in London 
Magazine, loon., 163; in House of Lords 
for appeal of John Hastie, 116; attends 
Lord Mayor's dinner and ball, 130-132; 
JB delivers copy to, 141; sympathizes 
with publisher beaten by Goldsmith, 
158-159; recommends JB as legal ad- 
viser to Mrs. Macaulay, 179; gives din- 
ner for Temple, Goldsmith, SJ, and 
others, 185; visits JB in Edinburgh, 191; 
firm of, JB sends order for loan to Francis 
Gentleman to, 336; mentioned, 35, 72, 
101, 126, 134, 157, 164, 172, 189 

Diogenes, 118 

Dives, Biblical character, 73 

Dobson, Christopher S. A., xxviii, 115/2. 

Dodds, Mrs., mother of JB's child, Sally, 3 

Dodsley, Robert, dramatist and bookseller, 
Collection of Poems by Several Hands, 
7472.6, 112; Fugitive Pieces, 270 

Donaldson, Alexander, bookseller (Ei6), 
publishes edition of Shakespeare, 18; 
literary property cause, 191, 205; after 
victory in cause, may weep that he has 
no more booksellers to conquer, 230; JB 
dines with, 301; dines with JB, 309; men- 
tioned, 65, 157, 337; Collection of Poems 
by Scotch Gentlemen, 12472.1 

Donaldson, Colin, innkeeper, 33 

Donaldson, James, son of Alexander Don- 
aldson, 230, 309 

Donaldson, John, bookseller, 6571.4, 93 

Donaldson v. Becket, literary property case, 
191, 205 

Donaldson v. Hinton, literary property 
cause, 205 

Doncaster, 31, 32 

Douglas, Archibald James Edward, later ist 
B. Douglas of Douglas (Pall Mall, Cs), 
witnesses JB's marriage contract, 5; JB 
thinks his house magnificent, 58; of- 
fended by reference to Douglas Cause, 
7872.7; cold to his supporters, 267; men- 
tioned, 37, 38, 77, na 

Douglas, Capt. Charles, 301 

Douglas, Lady Lucy (Graham), wife of 
Archibald James Edward Douglas, 58, 

Douglas, Capt William, of Kelhead, later 
Bt., 37 

Douglas, Heron, and Company Bank, 7777.6 

Douglas Cause, 3, 4, 37-7, 78, 81, 178, 296 

Douglas parish, 286, 346 

Dowdeswell, William, politician, 161 

"Down the burn, Davie," tune, 257 

Drake, ship, 42 

Dreghorn, Lord. See Maclaurin 

Dreghorn (place), 321 

Drelincourt, Charles, Christian's Defence 
against the Fears of Death, 7473.5, 103 

Drogheda, 56 

Drummond, Peter Auriol, 1 1 772.6 

Drummond, Capt. PRobert, 273 

Drummond, Robert Auriol, later loth E. of 
Kinnoull, 11771.6 

Drummond, Robert Hay, Archbishop of 
York, 117, 118 

Drummore (Hew Dalrymple), Lord, 344 

Dry den, John, 85, 22172.9 

Dublin, Theatre Royal, 70/7. 

Duff, William, sheriff -depute of Ayr, 127 

Dukeshire, Mary E., xxvii 

Dumfries, Patrick Macdowall-Crichton, 5th 
E. of, 202 

Dun, Rev. John, minister of Auchinleck, 

Dunant, Capt., Swiss, 58 

Dunbar, Sir James, Bt., 264 

Dunbar v. Lem, cause of, 62 

Dunbar (place), 30 

Dundas, Henry, later ist V. Melville, So- 
licitor-General (George Square, Euv,), 
at Lord Mansfield's rout, 112; in House 
of Lords for appeal of John Hastie, 115; 
ill from drinking, 235; career of, 23572.2; 
in trial of John Reid, 240; mentioned, 24, 
79, 192, 198, 199, 209, 210 

Dundas, James, Laird of Dundas, 315 

Dundas, Robert, Lord Arniston, younger, 
Lord President of the Court of Session, 
in parliamentary election for Ayrshire, 
202; JB refuses to dine with, 203, 257- 
258; animal spirits enliven the court, 
218; JB resolves to make allowance for, 
232; reasons for JB's dislike of, 258; men- 
tioned, 209, 268 

Dundee, 147, 148 

Dundonald, Archibald Cochrane, gth E. of. 
See Cochrane, Archibald 

Dundonald, Jean (Stuart), Countess of, 
dines with JB, 222; consults JB on law- 



suit against weaver, 226-237, 269, 272; 

mentioned, 283, 307, 321 
Dundonald, Thomas Cochrane, 8th E. of 

(Belleville, Env.), family of, 222/2.7; 

dines with JB, 222; JB dines with, 225, 

230, 274, 318; swears and talks bawdy, 

but shows sense of piety, 230; mentioned, 

270, 283, 314 
Dunning, John, later ist B. Ashburton, 70, 


Duns (place), 156 
Duns Scotus, John, 15672.3 
Dunsinnan, Lord. See Nairne 
Dunvegan Castle, 194 
Dupont, Rev. Pierre Loumeau, 218, 279 
Dutens, Louis, 2177.4 
Dyson, Jeremiah, politician, 161 

Eden, Sir Anthony, 32271. 

Eden, Sir Robert, 3d Bt, of West Auckland, 

Eden, William, Under-Secretary of State 
for the North, later ist B. Auckland, 
letter to JB on John Reid, 322-323 

EDINBURGH: Buildings and Apartments: 
Advocates' Library (basement storey of 
Parliament House, E), 24, 174/1.4, 228 
72.5, 265; Assembly Hall (26), 267; 
Bank (if the Bank of Scotland, probably 
Parliament Close, E; if the Royal Bank, 
Steil's Close, first close E. of Parliament 
Close), 317; Canongate Kil winning 
Lodge (St. John's Lodge) (30), 140, 
191, 215, 221-222, 257, 324; Chcssel's 
Land (Chess el's Buildings) (Canongate, 
E), 7; Commissary Court (Parliament 
House, E), 220; Council Chamber (west 
end of St. Giles's, vicinity of 21), 293, 
311; Excise Office (Cowgate, E), 7; 
Heriot's Hospital (E), 213, Gardens, 
Bowling Green of, 236, 273, 276, 279, 
2 9 *i 397 3*5, 3*8, 321, 324; Holy rood- 
house Abbey (E), 259; Justiciary Office 
(PCouncil House; see p. 352), 282; Luck- 
enbooths (Eig), 23; Parliament House 
(E), 141, 231, 235, 351, 354; Register 
House (Ei), 192, 217; Theatre Royal 
(2), 17, 18, 121; Tolbooth prison (Ei8), 
8, 149, 192, 198, 238, 256, 333; Watson's 
Hospital (Env.), 321 

Churches and Chapels: Lady Glen- 
orchy's Chapel (4), 217; Greyfriars 
Churchyard (E), 335; Methodists' Meet- 
ing (3), 217; New Church (east end 
of St. Giles's, 22), 213 (see also under 
Boswell, James, Part I); Tolbooth 
Church (west end of St Giles's, 21), 
219; West Kirk (Env.), 321 

Inns, Taverns, and Dram-shops: Bap- 
tie's (Bruntsfield Links, Env.), 311; Ben- 
net's (Grassmarket, E), 324-325, 326, 
329; Bishop: see Mrs. Walker's in this 
paragraph; Boyd's (29), 193; Fortune's 
(Eio), 224, 315; Horse Wynd Tavern 
(Horse Wynd, Cowgate, E), 219; Hutch- 
inson's (High St., in vicinity of Town 
Guard, E), 312, 335; Macfarlane's 
(Grassmarket, E), 324, 325; Peter Ram- 
say's (35), 295; Thorn's, 224; Walker's 
Tavern (6), 252-253; Mrs. Walker's 
(The Bishop, Grassmarket, E), 326, 329 

Streets, Squares, Courts, Closes, and 
Wynds: Back Stairs (32), 235, 334; 
Canongate (E), 7, 193; Castle Hill (E), 
21372.5, 278, 319; Cowgate (E), 7, 334; 
Cross of Edinburgh (Market Cross) 
(25), 212, 307, 312, 325; George Square 
(Env.), 311; Gosford's Close (17), 259; 
Grassmarket (E), 149, 192, 199, 256, 324, 
326, 327, 329, 333"-; High Street (E), 
155; Horse Wynd (Cowgate, E), 212/2.8; 
James's Court (Lawnmarkot, E), 13, 137 
M *93 21872.3, 257/2.7; Lawnmarket 
(E), 191, 33372.; Leith Walk (Western 
Rond to Leith, E), 200; Leith Wynd (E), 
326; Miln's Square (En), 260; New 
Street (30), 322; Parliament Close 
(High St., E), 334; Potterow (E), 310; 
Princes Street (New Town, E), 217/2.9; 
St. Andrew's Square (New Town, E), 
27171.7; St. Anne's Yards (E), 259, 274; 
St. David Street (St. Andrew's Square, 
New Town, E), 27171.7; West Bow (E), 
333/2.; Young's Street (12), 264 

Miscellaneous: Belleville (Env.), 269, 
274; Bruntsfield Links (Env.), 311; 
Drumsheugh (Env.), 21672., 284; King's 
Park (E), 314; Meadows (Env.), 278, 
294, 317; New Town (E), 104, 271/2.7, 
284; North Bridge (Bridge, E), 217/2.9; 
North Loch (E), 10472.2; Portsburgh 



(E), 524; Prestonfield (Env.), ioSn.3, 

212, 2S771.7 

Edinburgh, magistrates of, in cause against 
feuars of New Town, 104, 1 1 1 

Edinburgh, University of, i, 8, 9071.4 

Edinburgh Advertiser, 142, 252, 254/1.5 

Edinburgh Central Library, xxviii 

Edinburgh Directory, 137/1. 

Edinburgh Evening Courant, 335, 336 

Eglinton, Alexander Montgomerie, loth E. 
of (Queen St., 2), influence on JB, i; 
ghost story, 46; sight of his house recalls 
old memories, 76; death of, 76/1.1; men- 
tioned, 95 

Eglinton, Archibald Montgomerie, nth E. 
of, ghost story, 45-46; in parliamentary 
election for Ayrshire, 201; mentioned, 
89, 99 

Egmont, John Perceval, 2d E. of, 58 

Elcho, 148 

Elders &c. of Portpatrick v. McMaster, 94 


Elgin, 210/1.9 

Elibank, Patrick Murray, 5th Lord, SJ 
never visits without learning something, 
26/2.6, 89; on genius in literature, 89; JB 
writes to, on plans for tour of Hebrides, 
193; mentioned, 41 

Eliock (James Veitch), Lord, 214, 231 

Elizabeth, Empress of Russia, 78/2.1 

Elliock. See Eliock 

Elliot, Sir Gilbert, Bt., n 

Ellis, A. J. M., xxiii 

Elphinston, James, teacher, 65, 93, 94, 180 

Elphinston, Mrs. James (nee Gordon), 65 

Elphinstone, Capt. John, later nth Lord 
Elphinstone, 268 

Elwall, Edward, 60, 66/1.7, 75; True Testi- 
mony for God . . . against All the Trin- 
itarians under Heaven, 60/2.5 

Episcopal Church of Scotland, 73 

Erasmus, Desiderius, 63 

Enroll, James Hay, 15th E. of, letter from 
JB on John Reid, 265-266; letter to JB 
in reply, 291 

Erskine, Hon. Andrew, regrets second mar- 
riage of Lord Auchinleck, 6; comment 
on JB's wig, 143; career of, 215/2.6; re- 
minds JB of family, antiquity, and Tory- 
ism, 216; at JB's dinner in payment of 

bet, 324; JB lends money to, 298/2.7; 
mentioned, 47/1.8, 170/1.2, 215, 226/1.6, 
268; Letters between the Honourable 
Andrew Erskine and James Boswell, 
Esq., 215/2.6 

Erskine, Lady Anne, 215, 259, 266, 267, 
268, 278, 290 

Erskine, Capt Archibald, later 7th E. of 
Kellie, 226/2.6, 259, 266, 267, 268 

Erskine, Euphemia (Cochrane), wife of 
Lt-Col. John Erskine, 222/2.7 

Erskine, Lady Frances, wife of James Er- 
skine of Mar, 268/2.2 

Erskine, Frances (Floyer), wife of John 
Francis Erskine, 264 

Erskine, Henry, later Lord Advocate, 94714, 
192, 291-292; Patrick O'Connor's Advice 
to Henry McGraugh, 198 

Erskine, James, of Mar (Old Erskine), 268 

Erskine, Capt James Francis (12), 264, 
268, 270 

Erskine, John, Institute of the Law of Scot- 
land, 223/2.1, 274, 318 

Erskine, Lt-Col. John, grandfather of JB, 

Erskine, John, of Aberdona, son of Lord 
Alva, 256 

Erskine, John Francis, of Mar, later i3th 
E. of Mar, 264, 268/2.2 

Erskine, Rachel, sister of James Erskine of 
Mar, 268 

Erskine, Ensign ("Captain") Thomas, later 
ist B. Erskine, 96-98 

Erskine family, 264/2.1, 268/2.2 

Eskgrove, Lord. See Rae 

Eton, 259 

Eugene, Prince of Savoy, 106 

Euripides, 105 

Evans, Thomas, bookseller and publisher, 
beaten by Goldsmith for publishing li- 
bellous letter, 154, 158-159, 167 

Ewing, John, D.D., of Philadelphia, 219, 

Exchequer, Court of, 354 

Eyre, Sir James, 132/2.4 

Fairlie, Alexander, of Fairlie, 218 

Falkirk, 239, 245-248 

Faulkner, George, bookseller in Dublin, 50, 

91; Dublin Journal, 167-168 
Feilitzen, Olof von, xxviii 



Fergusson, Sir Adam, of Kilkerran, Bt, at 
the Pantheon, 87; thinks luxury corrupts 
a people, 87; argues with SJ, who calls 
him a vile Whig, 88-89, 202; in parlia- 
mentary election for Ayrshire, 203, 258 

Fergusson, Alexander, of Craigdarroch, 1 1 1 

Fergusson, Charles, brother of Sir Adam 

Fergusson; wine-merchant in London, 


Fergusson, Sir James, of Kilkerran, Bt, 

xxviii, 217/1.2, 23271. 
Fergusson, Rev. Joseph, of Tundergarth, 


Fernan-Nunez, Count de, 267 
Fettercairn House, xxviii, i 
Fielding, Henry, SJ's opinion of, 96-97; 

Joseph Andrews, 97; Tom Jones, xx, 96 
Fife, James Duff, ad ., JB consults on 

politics of, 210, 213, 218, 229, 256 
Fife, 283, 298 
Fifer, Charles N., xxvii 
Finlayson, John, W.S., letters to JB on 

William Gardner, 263, 269 
Fisherrow, 191 

Fitzherbert, William, M.P., 90, 118 
Fletcher, Miss, in Edinburgh, 219 
Flodden Field, 14, 51/1.2 
Floyer, Charles, 264/1.1 
Floyer, Charles, Jr., 264, 268 
Floyer, Mrs, Charles, wife of preceding, 


Foote, Samuel, actor and manager (Suffolk 
St, Cs; North End), ridicules SJ, 18, 49, 
91; as an infidel, 18; in Edinburgh, 19; 
mimics George Faulkner, 50, 91; thinks 
Lord Mansfield's voice is false, 80; ridi- 
cules Garrick, 80 ; serves an elegant din- 
ner, 90; indulges talent at the expense of 
visitors, gin.