Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/340

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27 2 BOSWKU.'S DUTCH BLOOD.

his mouth in his father's presence. This was sad living. Yet I would rather see such an excess of awe than a degree of familiarity between father and son by which all reverence is destroyed."

Lord Auchinlcck had taken unto himself a second wife on the very day of his son's marriage. She was, in all likelihood, in the house at the time of Johnson's visit, but neither by him nor Boswell is she once mentioned. She remained, no doubt, silent and insignificant. With their reception they must have been satisfied on the whole, as they prolonged their stay till the sixth day, in spite of the famous altercation which Boswell's piety forbade him to record at any length. That only one such scene should have occurred speaks well for the self-control both of host and guest. To Boswell Johnson had quickly become attached. " Give me your hand," he said to him in the first weeks of their acquain- tance, " I have taken a liking to you." A month or so later he added, " There are few people to whom I take so much as to you." But Lord Auchinleck, though he might have respected he never could have liked. No men were more unlike in everything but personal appearance, than Boswell and his father. The old man had none of that " facility of manners," of which, according to Adam Smith, the son " was happily possessed." Whence he got it we are nowhere told perhaps from his mother. It certainly was not from his paternal grandfather, the old advocate, " who was a slow, dull man of unwearied perseverance and immeasurable length in his speeches. It was alleged he never understood a cause till he had lost it thrice." 1 There were those who attributed Boswell's eccentricities to his great grandmother, Veronica, Countess of Kincardine, a Dutch lady of the noble house of Sommelsdyck. " For this marriage," writes Ramsay of Ochtertyre, " their posterity paid dear, for most of them had peculiarities which they had better have wanted." He adds that " Boswell's behaviour on the occasion of the riots in Edinburgh about the Douglas cause, savoured so much of insanity, that it was generally imputed to his Dutch blood. " ; Why madness was supposed to come from Holland I do not know. Sir William Temple, writing of that country, says : " In general all appetites and passions seem to run lower and cooler here than in other countries where I have conversed. Their tempers are not airy enough for joy or any unusual strains of

1 Correspondence of Bos-ivell ami Erskine, eel. * Scotland and Scotsmen of the Eighteenth

1879, p. 26. Century, i. 161.

' Scotland and Scotsmen of the Eighteenth Century, i. 161, 173.

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