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August 26.]

Johnson's recitation.


house very dark, which greatly over-balances the conveniency, when it is considered how small a part of the year it rains; how few are usually in the street at such times; that many who are might as well be at home; and the little that people suffer, supposing them to be as much wet as they commonly are in walking a street.'

We fared but ill at our inn here; and Dr. Johnson said, this was the first time he had seen a dinner in Scotland that he could not eat'.

In the afternoon, we drove over the very heath where Macbeth met the witches, according to tradition'. Dr. Johnson again solemnly repeated

How far is't called to Fores? What are these,
So wither'd, and so wild in their attire ?
That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,

And yet are on't?' He repeated a good deal more of Macbeth. His recitation was grand and affecting, and as Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed to me, had no more tone than it should have: it was the better for it. He then parodied the All-hail of the witches to Macbeth, addressing himself to me. chased some land called Dalblair; and, as in Scotland it is customary to distinguish landed men by the name of their estates, I had thus two titles, Dalblair and Young Auchinleck. So my friend, in imitation of

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I had pur

1.This was the first time, and except one the last, that I found any reason to complain of a Scottish table.' Johnson's Works, ix. 19.

* The following year Johnson told Hannah More that when he and Boswell stopt a night at the spot (as they imagined) where the Weird Sisters appeared to Macbeth, the idea so worked upon their enthusiasm, that it quite deprived them of rest. However they learnt the next morning, to their mortification, that they had been deceived, and were quite in another part of the country. H. More's Memoirs, i. 50.

• See ante, p. 86.

• Murphy (Life, p. 145) says that ‘his manner of reciting verses was wonderfully impressive.' According to Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 302), 'whoever once heard him repeat an ode of Horace would be long before they could endure to hear it repeated by another,'

.All 132

Leonidas' Glover.

[August 27.

• All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!' condescended to amuse himself with uttering

All hail, Dalblair ! hail to thee, Laird of Auchinleck'!' We got to Fores' at night, and found an admirable inn, in which Dr. Johnson was pleased to meet with a landlord who styled himselfWine-Cooper, from LONDON.'

FRIDAY, AUGUST 27. It was dark when we came to Fores last night; so we did not see what is called King Duncan's monument'. I shall now mark some gleanings of Dr. Johnson's conversation. I spoke of Leonidas', and said there were some good passages in it. JOHNSON. “Why, you must seek for them.' He said, Paul Whitehead's Manners' was a poor performance. Speaking of Derrick, he told me he had a kindness for him, and

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· Then pronounced Affléck, though now often pronounced as it is written. Ante, ii. 473.

• At this stage of his journey Johnson recorded :—*There are more beggars than I have ever seen in England; they beg, if not silently, yet very modestly.' Piozzi Letters, i. 122. See ante, p. 84, note 1.

'Duncan's monument; a huge column on the roadside near Fores, more than twenty feet high, erected in commemoration of the final retreat of the Danes from Scotland, and properly called Swene's Stone, WALTER SCOTT.

* Swift wrote to Pope on May 31, 1737:— Pray who is that Mr. Glover, who writ the epick poem called Leonidas, which is reprinting here, and has great vogue?' Swift's Works (1803), xx. 121. “It passed through four editions in the first year of its publication (1737-8).' Lowndes's Bibl. Man. p. 902. Horace Walpole, in 1742, mentions Leonidas Glover (Letters, i. 117); and in 1785 Hannah More writes (Memoirs, i. 405) :— I was much amused with hearing old Leonidas Glover sing his own fine ballad of Hosier's Ghost, which was very affecting. He is past eighty [ he was seventy-three). Mr. Walpole coming in just afterwards, I told him how highly I had been pleased. He begged me to entreat for a repetition of it. It was the satire conveyed in this little ballad upon the conduct of Sir Robert Walpole's ministry which is thought to have been a remote cause of his resignation. It was a very curious circumstance to see his son listening to the recital of it with so much complacency.' s See ante, i 145.


August 27.)

The origin of evil.



had often said, that if his letters had been written by one of a more established name, they would have been thought very pretty letters'.'

This morning I introduced the subject of the origin of evil. JOHNSON. “Moral evil is occasioned by free will,

' which implies choice between good and evil. With all the evil that there is, there is no man but would rather be a free agent, than a mere machine without the evil; and what is best for each individual, must be best for the whole. If a man would rather be the machine, I cannot argue with him. He is a different being from me.' BOSWELL. “A man, as a machine, may have agreeable sensations; for instance, he may have pleasure in musick.' JOHNSON. “No, Sir, he cannot have pleasure in musick; at least no power of producing musick ; for he who can produce musick may let it alone: he who can play upon a fiddle may break it: such a man is not a machine.' This reasoning satisfied me. It is certain, there cannot be a free agent, unless there is the power of being evil as well as good. We must take the inherent possibilities of things into consideration, in our reasonings or conjectures concerning the works of GOD.

We came to Nairn to breakfast. Though a county town and a royal burgh, it is a miserable place. Over the room where we sat, a girl was spinning wool with a great wheel, and singing an Erse song: “I'll warrant you, (said Dr.

See ante, i. 528, and post, Sept. 22. • See ante, ii. 94, and post, Oct. 27.

• • Nairne is the boundary in this direction between the highlands and lowlands; and until within a few years both English and Gaelic were spoken here. One of James VI.'s witticisms was to boast that in Scotland he had a town “sae lang that the folk at the tae end couldna understand the tongue spoken at the tother." Murray's Handbook for Scotland, ed. 1867, p. 308. 'Here,' writes Johnson (Works, ix. 21), ‘I first saw peat fires, and first heard the Erse language. As he heard the girl singing Erse, so Wordsworth thirty years later heard The Solitary Reaper :

Yon solitary Highland Lass
Reaping and singing by herself.'



An Erse song

(August 27.

Johnson,) one of the songs of Ossian.' He then repeated these lines :

Verse sweetens toil, however rude the sound.

All at her work the village maiden sings;
Nor while she turns the giddy wheel around,

Revolves the sad vicissitude of things'.'

Verse softens toil, however rude the sound;

She feels no biting pang the while she sings;
Nor, as she turns the giddy wheel around,

Revolves the sad vicissitude of things.' Contemplation. London: Printed for R. Dodsley in Pall - mall, and sold by M. Cooper, at the Globe in Paternoster-Row, 1753.

The author's name is not on the title-page. In the Brit. Mus. Cata. the poem is entered under its title. Mr. Nichols (Lit. Illus. v. 183) says that the author was the Rev. Richard Gifford (not Giffard) of Balliol College, Oxford. He adds that 'Mr. Gifford mentioned to him with much satisfaction the fact that Johnson quoted the poem in his Dictionary.' It was there very likely that Boswell had seen the lines. They are quoted under wheel (with changes made perhaps intentionally by Johnson), as follows:

Verse sweetens care however rude the sound;

All at her work the village maiden sings;
Nor, as she turns the giddy wheel around,

Revolves the sad vicissitudes of things.' Contemplation, which was published two years after Gray's Elegy, was suggested by it. The rising, not the parting day, is described. The following verse precedes the one quoted by Johnson :

• Ev'n from the straw-roofed cot the note of joy

Flows full and frequent, as the village-fair,
Whose little wants the busy hour employ,

Chanting some rural ditty soothes her care.' Bacon, in his Essay Of Vicissitude of Things (No. 58), says :— It is not good to look too long upon these turning wheels of vicissitude lest we become giddy.' This may have suggested Gifford's last two lines. Reflections on a Grave, &c. (ante, ii. 29), published in 1766, and perhaps written in part by Johnson, has a line borrowed from this poem :

• These all the hapless state of mortals show

The sad vicissitude of things below.' Cowper, Table-Talk, ed. 1786, i. 165, writes of

“The sweet vicissitudes of day and night.' The lowing elegant version of these lines by Mr. A. T. Barton, Fel

I thought


August 27.]

Mr. Kenneth M'Aulay.


I thought I had heard these lines before. JOHNSON. 'I fancy not, Sir; for they are in a detached poem, the name of which I do not remember, written by one Giffard, a parson.'

I expected Mr. Kenneth M'Aulay', the minister of Calder, who published the history of St. Kilda', a book which Dr. Johnson liked, would have met us here, as I had written to him from Aberdeen. But I received a letter from him, telling me that he could not leave home, as he was to administer the sacrament the following Sunday, and earnestly requesting to see us at his manse. “We'll go,' said Dr. Johnson; which we accordingly did. Mrs. M'Aulay received us, and told us her husband was in the church distributing tokens'. We arrived between twelve and one o'clock, and it was near three before he came to us.

Dr. Johnson thanked him for his book, and said, it was a very pretty piece of topography.' M'Aulay did not seem much to mind the compliment. From his conversation, Dr. Johnson was persuaded that he had not written the book which goes under his name. I myself always suspected so; and I have been told it was written by the learned Dr. John M.Pherson of Sky', from the materials collected by M'Aulay.


low and Tutor of Johnson's own College, will please the classical reader :

Musa levat duros, quamvis rudis ore, labores;

Inter opus cantat rustica Pyrrha suum;
Nec meminit, secura rotam dum versat euntem,

Non aliter nostris sortibus ire vices. ' He was the brother of the Rev. John M'Aulay (post, Oct. 25), the grandfather of Lord Macaulay.

See ante, ii. 58. • In Scotland, there is a great deal of preparation before administering the sacrament. The minister of the parish examines the people as to their fitness, and to those of whom he approves gives little pieces of tin, stamped with the name of the parish, as tokens, which they must produce before receiving it. This is a species of priestly power, and sometimes may be abused. I remember a lawsuit brought by a person against his parish minister, for refusing him admission to that sacred ordinance. Boswell. • See post, Sept. 13 and 28.

Dr. Johnson

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