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"B-, of Soapers* the king,

On Tuesdays at Tom's doest appear,
And when he does talk, or does sing,

To him ne'er a one can come near

For he talks with such ease and such grace,
That all charm'd to attention we sit,
And he sings with so comic a face,

That our sides are just ready to split.
"Bis modest enough,

Himself not quite Phoebus he thinks,
He never does flourish with snuff,

And hock is the liquor he drinks.

And he owns that Ned C――t, the priest,
May to something of honour pretend,

And he swears that he is not in jest,

When he calls this same C-t his friend.

“B—— is pleasant and gay,

For frolic by nature design'd;

He heedlessly rattles away

When the company is to his mind.
'This maxim,' he says, 'you may see,
We can never have corn without chaff;'
So not a bent sixpence cares he,

Whether with him or at him you laugh.

"B―― does women adore,

And never once means to deceive,
He's in love with at least half a score;
If they're serious he smiles in his sleeve.
He has all the bright fancy of youth,

With the judgment of forty and five.
In short, to declare the plain truth,
There is no better fellow alive."


* Boswell has appended this note. "Who has not heard of' Every man soap his own beard'—the reigning phrase for 'Every man in his humour' ? Upon this foundation B- instituted a jovial society, called the SOAPING CLUB."

+ An Edinburgh tavern.

The name of this Soaper has not been discovered.

Writing to Erskine on the 8th December, 1761, Boswell remarks that the second volume of the " Collection" was about to appear, adding that his friend would "make a very good figure, and himself a decent one." But the public, while not disapproving the strain of the known authors, condemned the levity of the anonymous contributors, and thrust aside the book. The publishing enterprise was ruined, and the projected third volume did not appear.

Boswell determined to leave Edinburgh, assuring his father that a military life was alone suited to his tastes. In a letter to Erskine, dated the 4th of May, he proceeds:

"My fondness for the Guards must appear very strange to you, who have a rooted antipathy at the glare of scarlet. But I must inform you that there is a city called London, for which I have as violent an affection as the most romantic lover ever had for his mistress. There a man may indeed soap his own beard, and enjoy whatever is to be had in this transitory state of things. Every agreeable whim may be fully indulged without censure. I hope, however, you will not impute my living in England to the same cause for which Hamlet was advised to go there, because the people were all as mad as himself." "*

Paternal remonstrances having proved unavailing, Boswell was permitted to return to the metropolis. From Parliament Place, Edinburgh, writing to Erskine on the 10th November, he informs him that on Monday next he is to set out for London." On the 20th November he writes from London, “If I can get into the Guards, it will please me much; if not, I can't help it."

Boswell brought from Scotland a recommendation to Charles,

* Throughout his whole career Boswell entertained the idea that his mind was imperfectly balanced.

Duke of Queensberry, the patron of Gay, but that nobleman took no part in his concerns. He again sought the field of authorship. He and Erskine had corresponded on a variety of topics, and he fancied that their letters might attract attention. The letters were printed in an octavo volume,* Boswell remarking in the preface, that he and his correspondent "have made themselves laugh, and hope they will have the same effect upon other people." Erskine and Boswell were afterwards associated in writing "Critical Strictures" on Mallet's tragedy of Elvira," acted at Drury Lane in the winter of 1762-3. In 1764, Erskine published a drama entitled "She's not Him, and He's not Her; a Farce in Two Acts, as it is performed in the Theatre in the Canongate." In 1773 he issued "Town Eclogues," a poem of twenty-two quarto pages, intended" to expose the false taste for florid description which prevails in modern poetry."

From the 71st Erskine in 1763 exchanged into the 24th Regiment, in which he became Captain. Retiring from the army, he settled at Edinburgh. There he resided after 1790 with his sister, Lady Colville, at Drumsheugh, near the Dean Bridge. He was an extraordinary pedestrian, and walked nearly every morning to Queensferry, about ten miles distant, where he breakfasted at Hall's Inn. He dispensed with attendance, and when he had finished his repast, left payment under a plate. He was of a tall, portly form, and to the last wore gaiters and a flapped vest. Though satirical with his pen, he was genial and humorous in conversation. He was an early admirer and occasional correspondent of the poet Burns. Like his brother, "the musical Earl of Kellie," he was a lover of Scottish melodies, and was one of a party of amateurs who

* Letters between the Honourable Andrew Erskine and James Boswell, Esq. London, 1763, 8vo.

associated with Mr. George Thomson in designing his "Collection of Scottish Airs." He actively assisted Mr. Thomson in the earlier stages of his undertaking. Several songs from his pen, Burns, in a letter to Mr. Thomson, written in June, 1793, described as "pretty," adding, his "Love song is divine." The composition so described beginning "How sweet this lone vale,” became widely popular; but the opening stanza only was composed by him. He was one of the early friends of Archibald Constable, the eminent publisher, who, in an autobiographical fragment has described him as having " an excellent taste in the fine arts," and being "the most unassuming man he had ever met." His habits were regular, but he indulged occasionally at cards, and was partial to the game of whist. Having sustained a serious loss at his favourite pastime he became frantic, and threw himself into the Forth, and perished. This sad event took place in September, 1793. In a letter to Mr. Thomson, dated October, 1791, Burns writes that the tidings of Erskine's death had distressed and "scared" him.

From the day Sir David Dalrymple first named Dr. Samuel Johnson in the post-chaise, Boswell entertained a hope of forming the lexicographer's acquaintance. On his former visit to London he had exerted some effort to procure an introduction. Derrick promised it, but lacked opportunity. During the summer of 1761, Thomas Sheridan lectured at Edinburgh on the practice of elocution, and charmed Boswell by descanting on Dr. Johnson's virtues. Through Sheridan an introduction seemed easy, but Boswell on visiting him found that he and the lexicographer had differed. Boswell did not despair. He obtained leave to occupy his friend Mr. Temple's chambers

*"Archibald Constable and his Correspondents." Edinburgh, 1873, 8vo, vol. I., p. 32.

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in the Inner Temple, near Dr. Johnson's residence, and adjoining his well-known haunts.

A further effort was necessary. Boswell ingratiated himself with Mr. Thomas Davies, bookseller, of No. 8, Russell Street, Covent Garden, formerly a player. Mr. Davies knew Dr. Johnson well, saw him frequently in his shop, and was privileged to entertain him at his table. To meet Boswell, the lexicographer was invited more than once, but as our author puts it, "he was by some unlucky accident or other prevented from coming to us." In an unexpected manner Boswell at length attained his wishes. The occurrence must be described in his own words:At last, on Monday, the 16th of May, when I was sitting in Mr. Davies' back parlour, after having drunk tea with him and Mrs. Davies,* Johnson unexpectedly came into the shop; and Mr. Davies having perceived him through the glass door in the room in which we were sitting advancing towards us, he announced his awful approach to me something in the manner of an actor in the part of Horatio, when he addresses Hamlet on the appearance of his father's ghost,-'Look, my lord, it comes!' ** Mr. Davies mentioned my name, and respectfully introduced me to him. I was much agitated; and recollecting his prejudice against the Scotch, of which I had heard much, I said to Davies, 'Don't tell where I come from.' 'From Scotland,' cried Davies, roguishly. Mr. Johnson,' said I, 'I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it.' I am willing to flatter myself that I meant this as light pleasantry to soothe and conciliate him, and not as a humiliating abasement at the expense of my country. But however that might be, this speech was somewhat unlucky; for with that quickness of wit for which he was so remarkable he seized the expression



*Mrs. Davies was originally an actress, and was celebrated as a beauty.

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