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target now to be found in the Highlands. After the disarming act, they made them serve as covers to their butter-milk barrels; a kind of change, like beating spears into pruning-hooks.
Sir George Mackenzie's Works (the folio edition) happened to lie in a window in the diningI asked Dr. Johnson to look at the Characteres Advocatorum. He allowed him power of mind, and that he understood very well what he tells; but said, that there was too much declamation, and that the Latin was not correct. He found fault with appropinquabant in the character of Gilmour. I tried him with the opposition between gloria and palma, in the comparison between Gilmour and Nisbet, which Lord Hailes, in his "Catalogue of the Lords of Session," thinks difficult to be understood. The words are, "penes illum gloria, penes hunc palma." (1) In a short Account of the Kirk of Scotland, which I published some years ago, I applied these words to the two contending parties, and explained them thus: "The popular party has most eloquence; Dr. Robertson's party most influence." I was very desirous to hear Dr. Johnson's explication. JOHNSON. "I see no difficulty. Gilmour was admired for his parts; Nisbet carried his cause by his skill in law. Palma is victory." I
(1)["Opposuit Gilmorio providentia Nisbetum ; qui summâ doctrinâ consummatâque eloquentiâ causas agebat, ut justitiæ scalæ in equilibrio essent; nimiâ tamen arte semper utens artem suam suspectam reddebat. Quoties ergo conflixerunt, penes Gilmorium gloria, penes Nisbetum palma fuit; quoniam in hoc plus artis et cultus, in illo plus naturæ et virium.' Mackenzie's Works, edited by Ruddiman, 2 vols. folio, 1722.]
observed, that the character of Nicholson, in this book, resembled that of Burke: for it is said, in one place, “in omnes lusos et jocos se sæpe resolvebat (1);" and, in another," sed accipitris more è conspectu aliquando astantium, sublimi se protrahens volatu, in prædam miro impetu descendebat.” (2) JOHNSON. "No, Sir; I never heard Burke make a good joke in my life." (3) BoSWELL. "But, Sir, you will allow he is a hawk." Dr. Johnson, thinking that I meant this of his joking, said, " No, Sir, he is not the hawk there. He is the beetle in the mire." I still adhered to my metaphor; "But he soars as the hawk." JOHNSON." Yes, Sir; but he catches nothing." Macleod asked, what is the particular excellence of Burke's eloquence? JOHnson. "Copiousness and fertility of allusion; a power of diversifying his matter, by placing it in various relations. Burke has great information, and great command of language; though, in my opinion, it has not in every respect the highest elegance. BosWELL. "Do you think, Sir, that Burke has read Cicero much?" JOHNSON. "I don't believe it, Sir. Burke has great knowledge, great fluency of words, and great promptness of ideas, so that he can speak with great illustration on any subject that comes before him. He is neither like Cicero, nor
(1) He often indulged himself in every species of pleasantry and wit.
(2) But like the hawk, having soared with a lofty flight to a height which the eye could not reach, he was wont to swoop upon his quarry with wonderful rapidity.
(3) [See antè, p. 23., and p. 28. n. Į
like Demosthenes, nor like any one else, but speaks as well as he can."
In the sixty-fifth page of the first volume of Sir George Mackenzie, Dr. Johnson pointed out a paragraph beginning with Aristotle, and told me there was an error in the text, which he bade me try to discover. I was lucky enough to hit it at once. As the passage is printed, it is said that the devil answers even in engines. I corrected it toever in ænigmas. "Sir," said he, "you are a good critic. This would have been a great thing to do in the text of an ancient author."
Thursday, Sept. 16.- Last night much care was taken of Dr. Johnson, who was still distressed by his cold. He had hitherto most strangely slept without a nightcap. Miss Macleod made him a large flannel one, and he was prevailed with to drink a little brandy when he was going to bed. He has great virtue in not drinking wine or any fermented liquor, because, as he acknowledged to us, he could not do it in moderation. Lady Macleod would hardly believe him, and said, "I am sure, Sir, you would not
carry it too far." JOHNSON. " Nay, Madam, it carried me. I took the opportunity of a long illness to leave it off. It was then prescribed to me not to drink wine; and having broken off the habit, I have never returned to it."
In the argument on Tuesday night, about natural goodness, Dr. Johnson denied that any child was better than another, but by difference of instruction; though, in consequence of greater attention being paid to instruction by one child than another, and of
a variety of imperceptible causes, such as instruction being counteracted by servants, a notion was conceived, that of two children, equally well educated, one was naturally much worse than another. He owned, this morning, that one might have a greater aptitude to learn than another, and that we inherit dispositions from our parents. "I inherited," said he, "a vile melancholy from my father, which has. made me mad all my life, at least not sober." Lady Macleod wondered he should tell this. "Madam," said I, "he knows that with that madness (1) he is superior to other men."
I have often been astonished with what exactness and perspicuity he will explain the process of any art. He this morning explained to us all the operation of coining, and, at night, all the operation of brewing, so very clearly, that Mr. M'Queen said, when he heard the first, he thought he had been bred in the Mint; when he heard the second, that he had been bred a brewer. (2)
I was elated by the thought of having been able to entice such a man to this remote part of the world. A ludicrous, yet just image presented itself to my mind, which I expressed to the company. I compared myself to a dog who has got hold of a large piece of meat, and runs away with it to a cor
(1) Mr. Boswell was, we see, the first to publish this fact, though he chose to blame others for alluding to it; see antè Vol. I. p. 64.-C.
["Of thatching well the Doctor knew the art,
And with his thrashing wisdom made us start;
Bozzy and Piozzi.]
ner, where he may devour it in peace, without any fear of others taking it from him. "In London, Reynolds, Beauclerk, and all of them, are contending who shall enjoy Dr. Johnson's conversation. We are feasting upon it, undisturbed, at Dunvegan."
It was still a storm of wind and rain. Dr. Johnson however walked out with Macleod, and saw Rorie More's cascade in full perfection. Colonel Macleod, instead of being all life and gaiety, as I have seen him, was at present grave, and somewhat depressed by his anxious concern about Macleod's affairs, and by finding some gentlemen of the clan by no means disposed to act a generous or affectionate part to their chief in his distress, but bargaining with him as with a stranger. (1) However, he was agreeable and polite, and Dr. Johnson said he was a very pleasing man. My fellow-traveller and I talked of going to Sweden; and, while we were settling our plan, I expressed a pleasure in the prospect of seeing the king. JOHNSON. "I doubt, Sir, if he would speak to us." Colonel Macleod said, "I am sure Mr. Boswell would speak to him." But seeing me a little disconcerted by his remark, he politely added, "and with great propriety." Here let me offer a short defence of that propensity in my disposition, to which this gentleman alluded. It has procured me much happiness. I hope it does not deserve so hard a name as either forwardness or impudence. If I know myself, it is nothing more than an eagerness to share the society of men distin
(1) See Macleod's Memoirs, Appendix No. IV.-C.