Open main menu

Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/342

This page needs to be proofread.


274 LORD AUCHINLECK.

Here Johnson found an edition of Anacreon which he had long sought in vain. " They had therefore much matter for conversation without touching on the fatal topics of difference." In all questions of Church and State they were wide as the poles asunder. In the perfect confidence which each man had in his own judgment there was nothing to choose between them.

" My father," writes Boswell, "was as sanguine a Whig and Presbyterian as Dr. Johnson was a Tory and Church-of-England man : and as he had not much leisure to lie informed of Dr. Johnson's great merits by reading his works, he had a partial and unfavourable notion of him, founded on his supposed political tenets ; which were so discordant to his own, that instead of speaking of him with that respect to which he was entitled, he used to call him ' a Jacobite fellow.' Knowing all this, I should not have ventured to bring them together, had not my father, out of kindness to me, desired me to invite Dr. Johnson to his house. I was very anxious that all should be well ; and begged of my friend to avoid three topics, as to which they differed very widely ; \Vhiggism, Fresbyterianism, and Sir John Fringle. He said courteously, ' I shall certainly not talk on subjects which I am told are disagreeable to a gentleman under whose roof I am ; especially, I shall not do so to your father? '

Yet with all Lord Auchinleck's gravity and contempt of his son's flightiness, he had known what it was not only to be young, but to be foolish. Like so many of the young Scotchmen of old, he had been sent to Holland to study civil law. Thence he had made his way to Paris, where he had played the fop. Years after- wards one of the companions of his youth, meeting his son at Lord Kames's table, " told him that he had seen his father strutting abroad in red-heeled shoes and red stockings. The lad was so much diverted with it that he could hardly sit on his chair for laughing." J His appointment as judge he owed to that most corrupt of Whig ministers, the Duke of Newcastle, 2 and he was as Whiggish as his patron. King William III., "one of the most worthless scoundrels that ever existed," according to Johnson, was to him the greatest hero in modern times. Presbyterianism he loved all the more because it was a cheap religion, and narrowed the power of the clergy. He laid it clown as a rule that a poor clergy was ever a pure clergy. He added that in former times they had timber communion cups and silver ministers, but now we were getting silver cups and timber ministers. 3 According to Sir Walter Scott he carried " his Whiggery and Presbyte-

1 Scotland and Scotsmen, \. 161. The I take care to have my clothes well made." Earl of Chesterfield, writing to his son in the Letters to his Son, ed. 1774, iii. 227. year I75 1 ! says: "I do not indeed wear feathers 3 Historical Manuscripts Commission, 1874,

and red heels, which would ill suit my age ; but p. 531.

3 Scotland and Scotsmen, &c., \, 170; ii. 556.

�� �