2 86 BOSWELL'S FAME.
of the Post Office Savings Banks, and no mean Johnsonian. One day he had gone under an archway in Fleet Street to shun a shower, as Burke might have gone. 1 Being " knowing and con- versible," he fell into talk with a sergeant of police who was also taking shelter, and whose tongue showed that he was an Irishman. He came, he said, from the west of Ireland. When he was a boy the parish priest had lent him a copy of the Life of Johnson. He had read it again and again, till at last the wish grew so strong upon him to see with his own eyes the scenes which in the pages of the book were so familiar to him, that he came to London, not knowing what employment he should find, but bent on seeing Fleet Street. What pilgrimages have not men made from the other side of the Atlantic to the same spots ! With their Boswell in their hands they have wandered by Charing Cross, "with its full tide of human existence ; " up the Strand, " through the greatest series of shops in the world ;" under Temple Bar, where Johnson's and Goldsmith's names did not mingle with those of the Scotch rebels " ; along Fleet Street, with " its very animated appearance," to the courts and lanes and taverns where the spirits of the men who gathered round the great Lexicographer seem still to linger. The Boswells are proud of their descent from a man who fell at Flodden Field. There are thousands and ten thousands of Scotch- men who got knocked on their heads in border forays, but only one who wrote the Life of Johnson. " The chief glory of every people arises from its authors," and among Scotch authors Sir Walter Scott alone equals Boswell in the extent of his popularity. The genius of Burns lies hidden from most Englishmen in the dialect in which his finest poetry is written. Never did one man of letters do another a more shameful wrong than when Macaulay laboured at the ridiculous paradox that the first of biographers was " a man of the meanest and feeblest intellect." He was thirty years old when he wrote this. Yet, to borrow Johnson's words, it was such stuff as a young man talks when he first begins to think himself a clever fellow, and he ought to have been whipped for it. The
' Johnson imagines Burke falling into chance ' Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis. ' conversations on two occasions ; once on slum- when we go , , o Temple Bar h e stopped me, ning a shower under a shed, and another time on p O j n , e ,i to t i, e heads upon it, and slily whispered stepping aside to take shelter from a drove of me oxen. Life of fohnson, iv. 275 ; v. 34.
"JOHNSON. I remember once being with ' Fursilan et nostltlm nomen mlscebllur ""' Goldsmith in Westminster Abbey. While we Jl>. ii. 238.
surveyed the Poets' Corner I said to him,