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In London, Boswell got acquainted with the poet Derrick, who became his companion and guide. Derrick was in his thirty-sixth year. A native of Dublin, he had been apprenticed to a linendraper, but speedily relinquished the concerns of trade. In 1751 he proceeded to London and tried his fortune on the stage. He next sought distinction as a poet. Introduced to Dr. Johnson, he obtained a share of the lexicographer's regard; but, while entertaining affection for him as a man, the moralist reproved his muse and condemned his levity. Writing to Mr. Temple, Boswell refers to some of Derrick's verses as "infamously bad." When Nash died, Derrick succeeded him as master of ceremonies at Bath. He died there about the year 1770.

In April, 1761, Boswell, in reluctant obedience to his father's wishes, returned to Edinburgh. Writing to Mr. Temple on the 1st May, he implores his friend's commiseration. "Consider this poor fellow [meaning himself] hauled away to the town of Edinburgh, obliged to conform to every Scotch custom, or be laughed at 'Will you hae some jeel? oh, fie! oh, fie!'-his flighty imagination quite cramped, and he obliged to study Corpus Juris Civilis;' and live in his father's strict family; is there any wonder, sir, that the unlucky dog should be somewhat fretful? Yoke a Newmarket courser to a dung-cart, and I'll lay my life on't he'll either caper or kick most confoundedly, or be as stupid and restive as an old battered post-horse." In the same letter Boswell acknowledges that his behaviour in London had been the reverse of creditable. On his return to Edinburgh, he contributed to a local periodical some notes on London life. This narrative attracted the notice of John, thirteenth Lord Somerville, a nobleman of singular urbanity and considerable literary culture. His lordship invited the author to his table, commended his composition, and urged him to perseverance. Lord

Somerville died in 1765. Boswell cherished his memory with affection.

At Edinburgh, Boswell was admitted into the literary circles. He dined familiarly with Lord Kames, was the disciple and friend of Sir David Dalrymple, and passed long evenings with Dr. Robertson and David Hume. His passion for the drama gained force. At this period there was no licensed theatre in Edinburgh, and among religious families playgoing was proscribed. Just five years had elapsed since the Rev. John Home, minister of Athelstaneford, had, on account of taking part in the private representation of his tragedy of "Douglas," been constrained to resign his parochial charge. The popular prejudice against theatricals was a sufficient cause for our author falling into the opposite extreme; he threw his whole energies into a movement which led six years afterwards to a theatre being licensed in the capital.

Boswell's chief associate in theatrical concerns was Mr. David Ross, a tragedian who sometime practised on the London boards, but who, like our author's friends, Messrs. Love and Gentleman, had been driven northward by misfortune. A native of London, Mr. Ross was of Scottish parentage. His father had practised in Edinburgh as a Writer to the Signet; he settled in London in 1722 as a Solicitor of Appeals. Born in 1728, David, his only son, was sent to Westminster School. There he committed some indiscretion, which led to his expulsion and his father's implacable resentment. For some years he earned subsistence as a commercial clerk, but obtaining from Quin lessons in the dramatic art, he came on Covent Garden stage in 1753, where he acquired a second rank as a tragedian. Irregular habits interfered with his advancement, and he proceeded to Edinburgh, in the hope of obtaining professional support. He became Master of Revels, and gave private entertainments



which were appreciated and patronized. At length, on the 9th December, 1767, he was privileged to open the first licensed theatre in the capital. Boswell, at his request, composed the 'prologue; the verses, now unhappily irrecoverable, were described by Lord Mansfield as "witty and conciliating." The theatre proved a success, and the player soon afterwards acquired by marriage considerable emolument. He accepted as his wife Fanny Murray, who had in a less honourable connexion been associated with a deceased nobleman, receiving with her an annuity of two hundred pounds. Ross obtained a further advance of fortune in a manner singularly unexpected. On his death-bed his father made a will, excluding him from any share of his property, and cruelly stipulating that his sister "should pay him one shilling annually, on the first day of May, his birthday, to remind him of his misfortune in being born"! On the plea that by the law of Scotland, a person could not bequeath an estate by mere words of exclusion without an express conveyance of inheritance, Ross obtained a reduction of the settlement, and on a decision by the House of Lords got possession of six thousand pounds. He now retired from the Edinburgh theatre, and renewed his engagements at Covent Garden; but he soon became a victim to reckless improvidence. To the close Boswell cherished his society, though he did not venture to introduce him into literary circles. He died in September, 1790. The following extract from Boswell's letter to Mr. Temple, dated 16th September, 1790, will close the narrative of his career:-

"My old friend Ross, the player, died suddenly yesterday morning. I was sent for, as his most particular friend in town, and have been so busy in arranging his funeral, at which I am to be chief mourner, that I have left myself very little timeonly about ten minutes. Poor Ross! he was an unfortunate

man in some respects; but he was a true bon vivant, a most social man, and never was without good eating and drinking, and hearty companions. He had schoolfellows and friends who stood by him wonderfully. I have discovered that Admiral Barrington once sent him £100, and allowed him an annuity of £60 a year."

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Among those of his own age and standing who supported Boswell in managing theatricals at Edinburgh was the Honourable Andrew Erskine, youngest son of Alexander, fifth Earl of Kellie. This young gentleman, then a lieutenant in the 71st regiment, was abundantly facetious, and composed respectable verses. Replying to a letter from Boswell, dated at Auchinleck on the 25th August, Erskine expressed himself in verse, and letters were exchanged on both sides for a considerable period. Boswell meanwhile resolved to lay further claim to the poet's bays. In November he issued a poem in sixteen Spenserian stanzas, covering a like number of printed pages, entitled "An Ode to Tragedy, by a Gentleman of Scotland." It was characteristically inscribed to himself-the epistle dedicatory proceeding thus :

"The following ode which courts your acceptance is on a subject grave and solemn, and therefore may be considered by many people as not so well suited to your volatile disposition. But I, sir, who enjoy the pleasure of your intimate acquaintance, know that many of your hours of retirement are devoted to thought, and that you can as strongly relish the productions of a serious muse as the most brilliant sallies of sportive fancy."

Writing to Erskine on the 17th December, Boswell further enlarges on his own personal qualities. "The author of The Ode to Tragedy," he proceeds," is a most excellent man; he is of an ancient family in the west of Scotland, upon which he values

himself not a little. At his nativity appeared omens of his future greatness. His parts are bright, and his education has been good. He has travelled in post-chaises miles without number. He eats of every good dish, especially apple pie. He drinks old hock. He has a very fine temper. He is somewhat of a humourist, and a little tinctured with pride. He has a good manly countenance, and owns himself to be amorous. He has infinite vivacity, yet is observed at times to have a melancholy cast. He is rather fat than lean, rather short than tall, rather young than old. His shoes are neatly made, and he never wears spectacles."

In 1760, Mr. Erskine edited the first volume of a work in duodecimo, entitled "A Collection of Original Poems, by the Rev. Mr. Blacklock and other Scotch gentlemen." This publication contained compositions by Mr. Blacklock, Dr. Beattie, Mr. Gordon of Dumfries, and others; it was published by Alexander Donaldson, an Edinburgh bookseller, and was intended as the first of a series of three volumes. The second volume was considerably delayed, owing to Mr. Erskine's absence with his regiment, and on Boswell were latterly imposed the editorial labours. As contributors Erskine and Boswell were associated with Mr. Home, author of Douglas, Mr. Macpherson, editor of Ossian, and others. Of twenty-eight pieces from Boswell's pen one is subjoined, eminently characteristic of its author.

* This person is entitled to more than a passing notice. Long before the modern publication of cheap literature by W. and R. Chambers and Charles Knight, Alexander Donaldson opened a shop in London for the sale of what were termed "spurious editions" of popular books. The London booksellers endeavoured to check his enterprise, but were defeated in the courts of law. Latterly he was unfortunate. His nephew, James Donaldson, also a printer at Edinburgh, founded and endowed the hospital in that city which bears his name. For that purpose he bequeathed the sum of £200,000.

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