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grotesque scenes and attitudes, founded on descriptions in his book. They were placed in the shop windows and hawked about the streets, while the laughter rousing Peter Pindar * addressed Boswell in a "Poetical and Congratulatory Epistle," mercilessly castigating him in sarcastic and crushing rhymes. Here is a specimen :

“At length, ambitious Thane, thy rage
To give one spark to Fame's bespangled page
Is amply gratified. A thousand eyes

Survey thy book with rapture and surprize!

Loud of thy tour, a thousand tongues have spoken,
And wonder'd that thy bones were never broken.

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Nay, though thy Johnson ne'er had bless'd thine eyes,
Paoli's deeds had rais'd thee to the skies;

Yes! his broad wing had rais'd thee (no bad luck)

A tomtit twitt'ring on an eagle's back."

Equally pungent was the savage Pindar in a subsequent poem, entitled “Bozzy and Piozzi." He wrote:

"For thee, James Boswell, may the hand of Fate
Arrest thy goose-quill and confine thy prate!
Thine egotism the world disgusted hears-
Then load with vanities no more our ears.
Like some lone puppy, yelping all night long,
That tires the very echoes with his tongue.
Yet, should it lie beyond the pow'rs of Fate
To stop thy pen, and still thy darling prate;
To live in solitude, ob! be thy luck

A chattering magpie on the Isle of Muck."

Than the shafts of ridicule, Boswell experienced even more substantial discomfort. Respecting Sir Alexander Macdonald,

*The pseudonym of Dr. John Wolcott, the eminent satirist.

Bart., chief of the Macdonalds, he had written thus guardedly :


"Instead of finding the head of the Macdonalds surrounded with his clan, and a festive entertainment, we had a small company, and cannot boast of our cheer. The particulars are minuted in my Journal, but I shall not trouble the publick with them. I shall mention but one characteristick circumstance. My shrewd and hearty friend Sir Thomas (Wentworth) Blacket, Lady Macdonald's uncle, who had preceded us on a visit to this chief, upon being asked by him if the punch-bowl then upon the table was not a very handsome one, replied, 'Yes,—if it were full.' Sir Alexander Macdonald having been an Eton scholar, Dr. Johnson had formed an opinion of him which was much diminished when he beheld him in the Isle of Sky, where we heard heavy complaints of rents racked, and the people driven to emigration. Dr. Johnson said, 'It grieves me to see the chief of a great clan appear to such disadvantage. This gentleman has talents, nay, some learning; but he is totally unfit for this situation. Sir, the Highland chiefs should not be allowed to go farther south than Aberdeen. A strong-minded man, like his brother Sir James, may be improved by an English education, but in general they will be turned into insignificance.' meditated an escape from this house the very next day; but Dr. Johnson resolved that we should weather it out till Monday."


In charging the chief of the Macdonalds with an unwarrantable parsimony, Boswell is justified in a letter written by Dr. Johnson to Mrs. Thrale.* But he evinced his wonted imprudence in

* From the Hebrides Dr. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale in these terms:-"We had a passage of about twelve miles to the point where Sir Alexander Macdonald resided, having come from his seat, in the middle of the island, to a small house on the shore, as we believe, that he might with less reproach entertain us meanly. If he aspired to meanness, his retrograde ambition was completely gratified; but he did not succeed equally in escaping reproach. He had no cook, nor I suppose much provision; nor had the lady the common decencies of

making public what had better have been concealed, and in dragging into the controversy Sir Thomas Blacket, a near relative of Sir Alexander's wife. Both baronets made loud complaint, and the chief of the Macdonalds spoke of vengeance by personal To this threat Peter Pindar thus pungently

chastisement. alludes:

+ "Let Lord Macdonald threat thy breech to kick,
And o'er thy shrinking shoulders shake his stick;
Treat with contempt the menace of this Lord,
'Tis Hist'ry's province, Bozzy, to record."

The displeasure which Boswell had excited was appeased by a compromise. He agreed in his next edition to exclude Blacket's anecdote, and to substitute allusion to Macdonald's shabbiness by quoting his Latin verses, welcoming the lexicographer to Sky. In 1786 Boswell executed his Will, and it seems probable that 'the apprehension of danger to his life" to which in that document he refers was due to the menace of the Highland chief. If this conjecture is well founded, it is interesting to

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her tea-table; we picked up our sugar with our fingers. Boswell was very angry, and reproached him with his improper parsimony. I have done thinking of Sir Alexander Macdonald, whom we now call Sir Sawney; he has disgusted all mankind by injudicious parsimony, and given occasion to so many stories, that Boswell has some thoughts of collecting them, and making a novel of his life." (Letters to Mrs. Thrale, vol. i., p. 137.)

* Lady Macdonald, née Elizabeth Diana Bosville, was a member of the eldest branch of the Boswell family, and was one of those gentlewomen to whom early in life Boswell thought of offering his hand (see page 67). Daughter of Godfrey Bosville, Esq., of Gunthwaite, Yorkshire, she married Sir Alexander Macdonald in 1768.

† Sir Alexander Macdonald, Bart., was raised to the peerage, as Baron Macdonald of Slate, on the 17th July, 1776.

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remark that Boswell especially provides that his own tenantry should in the matter of rent be treated with leniency.

In the preface to his third edition, issued in 1786, Boswell vigorously denounces his critics on both sides the Tweed. His Scottish compeers, he alleges, have displayed "a petty national spirit unworthy of his countrymen." The English critics are styled "shallow and envious cavillers." In opposition to their assertions that he has lessened Dr. Johnson's character, he maintains that he was assured by persons of taste that he had greatly heightened it. He appeals to the judgment of posterity. Elated by his popularity as a tourist, he determined to reassert his political pretensions. An opportunity for displaying patriotic ardour seasonably occurred. A Bill was introduced into the House of Commons by Mr. Islay Campbell, the Lord Advocate, and Mr. Dundas, Dean of Faculty, for reconstructing the Court of Session. By this Bill it was proposed to reduce the judges from fifteen to ten, and with the funds secured by the reduction to augment the salaries of those who remained. In opposition to this measure Boswell issued a pamphlet, sensationally entitled "A Letter to the People of Scotland on the alarming attempt to infringe the Articles of Union, and introduce a most pernicious innovation, by diminishing the number of the Lords of Session." This composition, extending to 107 octavo pages, was published by Dilly, and sold for half a crown. There were few sales, but copies of the pamphlet were presented to the author's friends.*

* In the Library of the British Museum is contained a copy of the pamphlet which belonged to Mr. Wilkes. In Boswell's handwriting it is thus inscribed :

"Comes jucundus in via pro vehiculo est.

"To John Wilkes, Esq., as pleasant a companion as ever lived.

"From the Author.

Will my Wilkes retreat,

And see, once seen before, that ancient seat," &c.

In his characteristic manner Boswell sets forth that the number of judges was fixed unalterably by the Act of Union, “an Act which, entering into the constitution of Parliament itself, Parliament dare not alter." The number of fifteen was declared by George Buchanan to be small enough to avoid the character of a tyrannical junto.- "Is a court of ten," he proceeds, "the same with a court of fifteen? Is a two-legged animal the same with a fourlegged animal? I know nobody who will gravely defend that proposition, except one grotesque philosopher, whom ludicrous fable represents as going about avowing his hunger, and wagging his tail, fain to become cannibal and eat his deceased brethren."* Lords of Session, he argues, do the work of English juries in civil cases, and exercise the functions of English Grand Juries. Mr. Dundas he denounces as "Harry the Ninth," and Mr. Islay Campbell is censured, though less abusively. Boswell next introduces himself, and proceeds to expatiate on his personal merits. He had in his previous letter "kindled the fire of loyalty and saved the constitution." He is "a true patriot," and begs that he may not be misunderstood by associating with Mr. Wilkes, "he being so pleasant," and an "old classical companion." He declares himself a scholar and a gentlemanscholar," as he is familiar with Latin authors; and a gentleman, "since his friends were persons of title and influence." His wife, whom "he loved as dearly as when she gave him her hand," is "a relation of Lord Eglinton, a true Montgomery." The M.P. for Plymouth, Captain Macbride, is "the cousin of


* This satirical allusion to Lord Monboddo is conceived in the very worst taste. His lordship had shown marked attention to Boswell in his youth, and had entertained him and Dr. Johnson at Monboddo, during the progress of their tour. Latterly his lordship and Dr. Johnson had differed, and probably on this account Boswell considered himself entitled to make this offensive allusion to his philosophical opinions.

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