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1775 before the tranNation was printed, but was not indulged with having it altered,
as if the designation given to him were an inferiour one, tending to make it
TO JAMES Boswell, Esq.
“ I LONG to hear how you like the book; it is, I think, much liked here. But Macpherson is very furious; can you give me any more intelligence about him, or his Fingal? Do what you can, and do it quickly. Is Lord Hailes on our side?
“ Pray let me know what I owed you when I left you, that I may send it
“ I am going to write about the Americans. If you have picked up any hints among your lawyers, who are great masters of the law of nations, or if your own mind suggests any thing, let me know. But mum,-it is a secret.
“ I will send your parcel of books as soon as I can; but I cannot do as I wish. However, you find every thing mentioned in the book which you recommended.
“ Langton is here; we are all that ever we were. He is a worthy fellow, without malice, though not without resentment.
« Poor Beauclerk is so ill, that his life is thought to be in danger. Lady Di. nurses him with very great assiduity
Reynolds has taken too much to strong liquor', and seems to delight in his new character.
“ This is all the news that I have; but as you love verses, I will send you a few which I made upon Inchkenneth ~; but remember the condition, that you shall not show them, except to Lord Hailes, whom I love better than any man whom I know so little. If he asks you to transcribe them for him, you may do it, but I think he must promise not to let them be copied again, nor to show them as mine.
9 In the Court of Sesion of Scotland an action is first tried by one of the Judges, who is called the Lord Ordinary; and if either party is diffatisfied, he may appeal to the whole Court, consisting of fifteen, the Lord President and fourteen other Judges, who have both in and out of Court the title of Lords, from the name of their estates; as, Lord Auchinleck, Lord Monboddo, &c.
* It should be recollected, that this fanciful description of his friend was given by Johnson after he had become a water-drinker. 2 See them in “ Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides," 3d edit. p. 337.
« I have
I have at last sent back Lord Hailes's sheets. I never think about returning them, because I alter nothing. You will see that I might as well have kept them. However, I am ashamed of my delay; and if I have the honour of receiving any more, promise punctually to return them by the next post, Make my compliments to dear Mrs. Boswell, and to Miss Veronica. I am, dear Sir,
« Yours most faithfully, January 21, 1775.
Mr. BOSWELL to Dr. JOHNSON.
Edinburgh, Jan. 27, 1775.
“ YOU rate our lawyers here too high, when you call them great masters of the law of nations.
“ As for myself, I am ashamed to say that I have read little and thought little
But nations, or bodies of men, mould, as well as individuals, have fair trial, and not be condemned on character alone. Have we not express contracts with our colonies, which afford a more certain foundation of judgement, than general political speculations on the mutual rights of states and their provinces or colonies ? Pray let me know immediately what to read,
3 He now sent me a Latin inscription for my historical pi&ture of Mary Queen of Scots, and
Mary Qucen of Scots,
Harrassed, terrified, and overpowered " Contumeliis lalata,
By the insults, menaces, • Minis territa, clamoribus vieta,
And clamours " Libello, per quem
Of her rebellious fubjects,
Sets her hand
With tears and confusion,
To a refignation of the kingdom."
and I shall diligently endeavour to gather for you any thing that I can find. Is Burke's speech on American Taxation published by himself? Is it authentick? I remember to have heard you say, that you had never considered East Indian affairs ; though, surely, they are of much importance to Great-Britain. Under the recollection of this, I shelter myself from the reproach of ignorance about the Americans. If you write upon the subject, I shall certainly understand it. But, since you seem to expect that I should know something of it, without
instruction, and that my own mind should suggest something, I trust you
will put me in the way.
“ What does Becket mean by the Originals of Fingal and other poems of OMian, which he advertises to have lain in his shop ?”
TO JAMES Boswell, Esq. " DEAR SIR,
« YOU sent me a case to consider, in which I have no facts but what are against us, nor any principles on which to reason. It is vain to try to write thus without materials. The fact seems to be against you, at least I cannot know nor say any thing to the contrary. I am glad that you like the book fo well. I hear no more of Macpherson. I shall long to know what Lord Hailes says of it. Lend it him privately. I shall send the parcel as soon as I can.
Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell. I am, Sir, &c. “ January 28, 1775.
Mr. Boswell to Dr. Johnson.
Edinburgh, Feb. 2, 1775.
" AS to Macpherson, I am anxious to have from yourself a full and pointed account of what has passed between you and him. It is confidently told here, that before your book came out he sent to you, to let you
know that he understood you meant to deny the authenticity of Oslian's Poems; that the originals were in his possession; that you might have inspection of them, and might take the evidence of people skilled in the Erfe language; and that he hoped, after this fair offer, you would not be so uncandid as to assert that he had refused reasonable proof. That you paid no regard to his message, but published your strong attack upon him; that then he wrote a letter to you, in
such terms as he thought suited to one who had not acted as a man of veracity. You
You may believe it gives me pain to hear your conduct represented as Ærat 16 unfavourable, while I can only deny what is said, on the ground that your character refutes it, without having any information to oppose. Let me, I beg it of you, be furnished with a sufficient answer to any calumny upon this occasion.
« Lord Hailes writes to me, (for we correspond more than we talk together,) - As to Fingal, I see a controversy arising, and purpose to keep out of its way. There is no doubt that I might mention some circumstances; but I do not choose to commit them to paper.' What his opinion is, I do not know. He says, “I am singularly obliged to Dr. Johnson for his accurate and useful criticisms. Had he given some strictures on the general plan of the work, it would have added much to his favours.' He is charmed with your verses on Inchkenneth, says they are very elegant, but bids me tell you
he doubts whether
Legitimas faciunt pectora pura preces,' be according to the rubrick: but that is your concern; for, you know, he is a Presbyterian.”
To Dr. LAWRENCE 4.
February 7, 1775. “ ONE of the Scotch physicians is now prosecuting a corporation that in some publick instrument have stiled him Doctor of Medicine instead of Physician. Boswell desires, being advocate for the corporation, to know whether Dostor of Medicine is not a legitimate title, and whether it may be considered as a disadvantageous distinction. I am to write to-night, be pleased to tell me. I am, Sir, your most, &c.
“ SAM. Johnson.”
TO JAMES BOSWELL, Esq. « MY DEAR BOSWELL,
“ I am surprized that, knowing as you do the disposition of your countrymen to tell lies in favour of each other', you can be at all affected by
4 The learned and worthy Dr. Lawrence, whom Dr. Johnson respected and loved as his physician and friend.
s My friend has, in this letter, relied upon my testimony with a confidence, of which the ground has escaped my recollection.
any reports that circulate among them. Macpherson never in his life offered Atat. 66. me the sight of any original or of any evidence of any kind, but thought only
of intimidating me by noise and threats, till my last answer,--that I would not be deterred from detecting what I thought a cheat, by the menaces of a ruffian,-put an end to our correspondence.
“ The state of the question is this. He, and Dr. Blair, whom I consider as deceived, say, that he copied the poem froin old manuscripts. His copies, if he had them, and I believe him to have none, are nothing. Where are the manuscripts ? They can be shown if they exist, but they were never Mown. De non existentibus et non apparentibus, says our law, eadem est ratio. No man has a claim to credit upon his own word, when better evidence, if he had it, may be easily produced. But, fo far as we can find, the Erse language was never written till very lately for the purposes of religion. A nation that cannot write, or a language that was never written, has no manuscripts.
“ But whatever he has, he never offered to show. If old manuscripts , should now be mentioned, I should, unless there were more evidence than can be easily had, suppose them another proof of Scotch conspiracy in national falsehood.
“ Do not censure the expression; you know it to be true.
“ Dr. Memis's question is fo narrow as to allow no speculation; and I have no facts before me but those which his advocate has produced against you.
“ I consulted this morning the President of the London College of Physicians, who says, that with us, Dostor of Physick (we do not say Doctor of Medicine) is the highest title that a practicer of physick can have; that Doctor implies not only Physician, but teacher of physick; that every Doctor is legally a Physician, but no man, not a Doctor, can practice physick but by licence particularly granted. The Doctorate is a licence of itself. It seems to us a very Nender cause of profecution.
“ I am now engaged, but in a little time I hope to do all you would have. My compliments to Madam and Veronica. I am, Sir,
" Your most humble servant, “ February 7, 1775.
What words were used by Mr. Macpherson in his letter to the venerable Sage, I have never heard ; but they are generally said to have been of a nature very different from the language of literary contest. Dr. Johnson's answer appeared in the newspapers of the day, and has since been frequently