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1779. Sir, (said I,) Hunter is a Scotch name :
should seem this school-master who beat you so Ætat. 63.
severely, was a Scotchman. I can now account for your prejudice against the Scotch.” Johnson. “Sir, he was not Scotch; and abating his brutality, he was a very good master."
We talked of his two political pamphlets, “ The False Alarm,” and 66 Thoughts concerning Falkland's Islands.” Johnson. “Well, Sir, which of them 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 the fire of the second.” BOSWELL. " Pray, Sir, is it true that Lord North paid you a visit, and that you got two hundred a year in 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." BOSWELL. “How so, Sir?” Johnson. “Why, Sir, you cannot account for the fancies of men.- Well, how does Lord Elibank? and how does Lord Monboddo?" BOSWELL.
Very well, Sir. Lord Monboddo 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.
Johnson. “ Yes, Sir, but a common prejudce should not be found in one whose trade it is to rectify errour.”
A gentleman having come in who was to go as a Mate in the ship along with Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, Dr. Johnson asked what were the names
of the ships destined for the expedition. The gen- 1772. tleman answered, they were once to be called the
Ætat. 63. Drake and the Ralegh, but now they were to be called the Resolution and the Adventure. John
“ Much better ; for had the Ralegh returned without going round the world, it would have been ridiculous. To give them the names of the Drake and the Ralegh 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 of intellectual, in the course. Besides, I see but at a sma 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.”
The gentleman being gone, and Dr. Johnson having left the room for some time, a debate arose between the Reverend Mr. Stockdale and Mrs. Desnoulins, whether Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander were entitled to any share of glory from their expedition. When Dr. Johnson returned to us, I told him the subject of their dispute. Johnson. “ Why, Sir, it was properly for botany that they went out: I believe they thought only of culling of simples."
I thanked him for showing civilities to Beattie, “ Sir, (said he,) I should thank you. We all love Beattie. Mrs. Thrale says, if ever she has another husband, she'll have Beattie. He sunk upon us?
2- TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
" Edinburgh, May 3, 1792. “ As I suppose your great work will soon be reprinted, I beg leave to trouble you with a remark on a passage of it, in which I am a little misrepresented. Be not alarmed; the misrepresentas
1772. . that he was married ; else we should have shown
his lady more civilities. She is a very fine woman. Ætat. 63.
But how can you show civilities to a non-entity ? 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, the most remote of the Hebrides. I told him, I thought of buying it. JOHNSON. “Pray do, Sir. We will go and pass a winter amid the blasts there. We shall have' fine fish, and we will take some dried tongues with us,
tion is not imputable to you. Not having the book at hand, I cannot specify the page, but I suppose you will easily find it. Dr. Johnson says, speaking of Mrs. Thrale's family, “Dr. Beattie sunk upon us that he was married, or words to that purpose." I am not sure that I understand sunk upon us, which is a very uncommon phrase : but it seems to me to imply, (and others, I find, have understood it in the same sense,) studiously concealed from us his being married. Now, Sir, this was by no means the
I could have no motive to conceal a circumstance, of which I never was nor can be ashamed; and of which Dr. Johnson seemed to think, when he afterwards became acquainted with Mrs. Beattie, that I had, as was true, reason to be proud. So far was I from concealing her, that my wife had at that time almost as numerous an acquaintance in London as I had myself; and was, not very long after, kindly invited and elegantly entertained at Streatham by Mr. and Mrs. Thrale.
• My request, therefore is, that you would rectify this matter in your new edition. You are at liberty to make what use you please of this letter.
My best wishes ever attend you and your family. Believe me to be, with the utmost regard and esteem, dear Sir, “ Your obliged and affectionate humble servant,
J. BEATTIE." I have, from my respect for my friend Dr. Beattie, and regard to his extreme sensibility, inserted the foregoing letter, though I cannot but wonder at his considering as any imputation a phrase commonly used among the best friends.
and some books. We will have a strong built vessel, 1772. and some Orkney men to navigate her. We must
Ætat. 63. build a tolerable house : but we may carry with us a wooden house ready made, and requiring nothing but to be put up. Consider, 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 Beattie's choosing.' He shall be educated at Marischal College. 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, Sir, I am serious.” Boswell. 66
“ Why then I'll see what can be done.”
I gave him an account of the two parties in the church of Scotland, those for supporting the rights of patrons, independent of the people, and those against it. Johnson. “ It should be settled one way or other.
I cannot wish well to a popular election of the clergy, when I consider that it occasions such animosities, such unworthy courting of the people, such slanders between the contending parties, and other disadvantages. It is enough to allow the people to remonstrate against the nomination of a minister for solid reasons." (I suppose he meant heresy or immorality.)
He was engaged to dine abroad, and asked me to return to him in the evening, at nine, which I accordingly did.
We drank tea with Mrs. Williams, who told us a story of second sight, which happened in Wales where she was born.-He listened to it very attentively, and said he should be glad to have some in
1772. stances of that faculty well authenticated. His eleÆtat. 63.
vated wish for more and more evidence for spirit, in opposition to the groveling belief of materialism, led him to a love of such mysterious disquisitions. He again justly observed, that we could have no certainty of the truth of supernatural appearances, unless something was told us which we could not know by ordinary means, or something done which could not be done but by supernatural power ; that Pharaoh in reason and justice required such evidence from Moses ; nay, that our Saviour said, “ If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin.” He had said in the morning, that “ Macaulay's History of St. Kilda” was very well written, except some foppery about liberty and slavery. I mentioned to him that Macaulay told me, he was advised to leave out of his book the wonderful story that upon the approach of a stranger all the inhabitants catch cold;but that it had been so well authenticated, he determined to retain it. JOHNSON. “Sir, to leave things out of a book, merely because people tell you they will not be believed, is meanness. Macaulay acted with more magnanimity."
We talked of the Roman Catholick religion, and how little difference there was in essential matters between ours and it. Johnson. “ True, Sir; all denominations of Christains 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 Presbyterian churches in Scotland, and a church
3 See ante p. 52 of this volume.