Page images

post in the Navy Office, where he became the head of the Prize Department. He purchased the estate of Crawley Grange, Buckinghamshire, and died in 1826. A man of grave deportment and correct morals, he was esteemed for his discretion, urbanity, and intelligence. By his marriage with Anne Catherine, sister of General Sir Charles Green, Bart., he became father of one child, Thomas David, who was born 24th September, 1800. This gentleman succeeded his father in the estate of Crawley Grange; he married in 1841 Jane, daughter of John Barker, Esq. Having died without issue, his estate passed to another branch of the Boswell family.

James Boswell, eldest son of Lord Auchinleck, was born at Edinburgh on the 29th October, 1740. He received his rudimentary training from a private tutor, Mr. John Dun, a native of Eskdale, and who, on the presentation of his father, was, in 1752, ordained minister of Auchinleck. He was afterwards sent to a school at Edinburgh, taught by Mr. James Mundell, a teacher of eminence. Afterwards he was enrolled as a pupil in the High School, under Mr. John Gilchrist, one of the masters, a celebrated classical scholar.*

Possessed of strong religious and political convictions, Lord Auchinleck sought to imbue his children with a love of Presbyterianism and a loyal attachment to the House of Hanover. In those aims he was assisted by his wife, a woman of vigorous sagacity and most exemplary piety. To her affectionate counsel rather than to the wishes of his father, the eldest son was disposed to yield some reverence. But he early affected to despise the simple ritual of the Presbyterian Church, and in direct antagonism to his father's commands he declared himself a Jacobite and a warm adherent of the exiled House. He

* Dr. Stevens' "History of the High School of Edinburgh," pp. 100, 135.

related to Dr. Johnson, that when his father prayed for King George, he proceeded to pray for King James, till one day his uncle, General Cochrane, gave him a shilling on condition that he would pray for the Hanoverian monarch. The bribe overcame his scruples, and he did as he was asked.

With a view to his becoming an advocate at the Scottish Bar, Boswell entered the University of Edinburgh. There he formed the acquaintance of Mr. William Johnson Temple, from Allardine in Northumberland, a young gentleman preparing in the literary classes for orders in the English Church. Mr. Temple was Boswell's senior, and much surpassed him in general knowledge. He belonged to an old and respectable, if not an affluent family, and he was of a pleasing and gentlemanly deportment. The exiled king being forsaken, he became Boswell's next hero. In parting from him at the close of their first college session, Boswell begged that their friendship might be maintained by correspondence; and letters actually passed between them for thirty-seven years. To Boswell's share of that correspondence we are indebted for many materials illustrative of his life.

It will be convenient at this point to present a few particulars of Mr. Temple's career, closely associated as that gentleman was with the subject of our history. After leaving Edinburgh he sustained the loss of a considerable fortune through the embarrassments of his father. Proceeding to the University of Cambridge, he took the degree of LL.B., and soon afterwards entered into orders. In 1767 he was preferred to the Rectory of Mamhead, Devonshire, which, added to the Vicarage of St. Gluvias, Cornwall, brought him, with the remains of his private fortune, an income of £500 a year. In youth he afforded proof of original power; he was a considerable politician, and an excellent classical scholar. He composed neatly; his cha

racter of the poet Gray, with whom he was acquainted, has been quoted approvingly by Dr. Mason, his biographer, and likewise by Dr. Johnson. He published an essay on the studies of the clergy, another "On the Abuse of Unrestrained Power," and "A Selection of Historical and Political Memoirs;" but none of these compositions were much sought after. He died on the 8th August, 1796, surviving our author little more than a year. He was oppressed by an habitual melancholy, which the untoward temper of his wife served materially to intensify. He has been described as "Boswell's faithful monitor;" he was scarcely so, for his remonstrances were feeble. Had he reproved sternly he might have been of some service.

In a letter to Mr. Temple dated 29th July, 1758, Boswell informs him that he had been introduced to Mr. Hume, whom he thus describes :-"He is a most discreet, affable man, as ever I met with, and has really a great deal of learning, and a choice collection of books. He is indeed an extraordinary man,-few such people are to be met with now-a-days. We talk a great deal of genius, fine language, improving our style, &c., but I am afraid solid learning is much wore out. Mr. Hume, I think, is a very proper person for a young man to cultivate an acquaintance with. Though he has not perhaps the most delicate taste, yet he has applied himself with great attention to the study of the ancients, and is likewise a great historian, so that you are not only entertained in his company, but may reap a great deal of useful instruction."

When Mr. Temple proceeded to Cambridge he reported to his Edinburgh friend that he was studying in earnest. In his reply, dated 16th December, 1758, Boswell describes his own studies-"I can assure you," he writes, "the study of the law here is a most laborious task. . From nine to ten I attend the


law class; from ten to eleven study at home; and from one to
two attend a college [class] upon Roman antiquities; the after-
noon and evening I always spend in study. I never walk except
on Saturdays." Thanking his friend for the perusal of a MS.
poem he adds, " To encourage you I have enclosed a few trifles of
my own
I have published now and then the production
of a leisure hour in the magazines. If any of these essays can
give entertainment to my friend, I shall be extremely happy."

On the importance of religion Boswell reciprocated his friend's sentiments. After informing him that the continuance of his friendship made him "almost weep with joy," he proceeds, "May indulgent Heaven grant a continuance of our friendship! As our minds improve in knowledge may the sacred flame still increase, until at last we reach the glorious world above when we shall never be separated, but enjoy an everlasting society of bliss. Such thoughts as these employ my happy moments, and make me—

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

After a reference to companionship he adds, "I hope by Divine assistance, you shall still preserve your amiable character amidst all the deceitful blandishments of vice and folly."

In the same letter Boswell informed Mr. Temple that he had fallen desperately in love. The object of his affection was a Miss Wt, for so he disguises her name-a reticence in matters of the heart which he does not evince subsequently. After expatiating on the lady's charms and angelic qualities, especially her "just regard for true piety and religion," he remarks that she is a fortune of thirty thousand pounds." With so large a dowry, he feels that she might be difficult to win, but he conceives that "a youth of his turn has a better



chance to gain the affections of a lady of her character than of any other." He adds complacently, "As I told you before, my mind is in such an agreeable situation, that being refused would not be so fatal as to drive me to despair." He sums up

by assuring his correspondent that he had entrusted the secret of his passion only to another whose name was "Love."

Mr. Love was one of Boswell's early heroes. A native of England, he was originally connected with Drury Lane Theatre, but for some cause he left London and sojourned at Edinburgh. There he at first practised private theatricals, but afterwards became a teacher of elocution. He read with Miss Wt, and also with Boswell, though at different hours, and advised the latter to look after the pretty heiress. Boswell took the hint; but the dream soon passed away, for the name of the rich beauty does not reappear.

To his young friend Mr. Love administered more useful counsel by advising him to cultivate an easy style of composition. To accomplish this he recommended him to keep a journal or commonplace-book, and daily to record in it notes of conversations, and of more remarkable occurrences. Boswell acted on Mr. Love's suggestion. Writing to Mr. Temple, he reports that having gone with his father to the Northern Circuit, he travelled in a chaise with Sir David Dalrymple the whole way, and that he kept an exact journal at the particular desire of his friend Mr. Love, and sent it to him in sheets, by every post. Such was Boswell's first effort in journal-making; it was next to be practised on Paoli, and latterly, with unprecedented success, on Dr. Johnson. As to Mr. Love, it may be remarked that he compensated himself for his early counsel by sponging his pupil. "Love" is to breakfast with me to-morrow," wrote Boswell to Mr. Temple in July 1763. "I hope I shall get him to pay me up some more of

« PreviousContinue »