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which he generously would accept of no other reward but that fame which be has so deservedly obtained, he fulfilled his promise of a long-wished-for visit to his relations in Ireland; from whence his Safe return finibus Atticis is defred by his friends bere, with all the classical ardour of Sic te Diva potens Cypri; for there is no man in whom more elegant and worthy qualities are united; and whose fociety therefore is more valued by those who know him.
It is painful to me to think, that while I was carrying on this work, several of those to whom it would have been most interesting have died. Such melancholy disappointments we know to be incident to humanity ;. but we do not feel them the less. Let me particularly lament the Reverend Thomas Warton, and the Reverend Dr. Adams. Mr. Warton, amids his variety of genius and learning, was an excellent Biographer. His contributions to
my Collection are highly estimable; and as he had a true relish of my “ Tour to the Hebrides,” I trust I should now have been gratified with a larger Mare of his kind approbation. Dr. Adams, eminent as the Head of a Collere, as a writer, and as a most amiable man, had known Johnson from his early years, and was his friend through life. What reason I had to bope for the countenance of that venerable Gentleman to this Work, will appear from what he wrote to me upon a former occasion from Oxford, November 17, 1785:-“ Dear Sir, I hazard this letter, not knowing where it will find you, to thank you for your very agreeable • Tour,' which I found here on my return from the country, and in which
you have depicted our friend so perfectly to my fancy, in every attitude, every scene and situation, that I have thought myself in the 3
company, and of the party almost throughout. It has given very general satisfaction; and those who have found most fault with a passage here and there, have agreed that they could not help going through, and being entertained through the whole. I wish, indeed, some few gross expressions had been softened, and a few of our hero's foibles had been a little more shaded; but it is useful to see the weaknesses incident to great minds; and you have given us Dr. Johnson's authority that in history all ought to be told.”
Such a fanction to my faculty of giving a just representation of Dr. Johnson I could not conceal. Nor will I suppress my fatisfaction in the consciousness, that by recording so considerable a portion of the wisdom and wit of “the brightest ornament of the eighteenth century *,” I have largely provided for the instruction and entertainment of mankind.
every body else is as usual.
JOHNSON, LL.D. N 1776, Johnson wrote, so far as I can discover, nothing for the publick: 1776. but that his mind was still ardent, and fraught with generous wishes to
Ætat. 67. attain to still higher degrees of literary excellence, is proved by his private notes of this year, which I shall insert in their proper place,
To James Boswell, Esq. " DEAR SIR,
“ I HAVE at last fent you all Lord Hailes's papers. While I was in France, I looked very often into Henault; but Lord Hailes, in my opinion, leaves him far, and far, behind. Why I did not dispatch so short a perusal fooner, when I look back, I am utterly unable to discover: but human moments are stolen away by a thousand petty impediments which leave no trace behind them. I have been afflicted, through the whole Christmas, with
general disorder, of which the worst effect was a cough, which is now much mitigated, though the country, on which I look from a window at Streatham, is now covered with a deep snow. Mrs. Williams is very ill :
Among the papers, I found a letter to you, which I think you had not opened; and a paper for · The Chronicle,' which I suppose it not necessary how to insert. I return them both.
« I have,
“ I have, within these few days, had the honour of receiving Lord Hailes's , first volume, for which I return my most respectful thanks.
“ I wish you, my dearest friend, and your haughty lady, (for I know she : does not love me,) and the young ladies, and the young Laird, all happiness. Teach the young gentleman, in spite of his mamma, to think and speak well of, Sir,
« Your affectionate humble servant, Jan, 10, 1776.
At this time was in agitation a matter of great consequence to me and my family, which I should not obtrude upon the world, were it not that the part which Dr. Johnson's friendship for me made him take in it was the occasion of an exertion of his abilities, which it would be injustice to conceal. That what he wrote upon the subject may be understood, it is neceffary to give a state of the question, which I shall do as briefly as I can.
In the year 1504, the barony or manour of Auchinleck, (pronounced Affleck,) in Ayrshire, which belonged to a family of the same name with the lands, having fallen to the Crown by forfeiture, James the Fourth, King of Scotland, granted it to Thomas Boswell, a branch of an ancient family in the county of Fife, stiling him in the charter, “ dilecto familiari noftro;” and assigning, as the cause of the grant,“ pro bono et fideli servitio nobis præftito." Thomas Bofwell was Nain in battle, fighting along with his Sovereign, at the fatal field of Floddon, in 1513.
From this very honourable founder of our family, the estate was transmitted, in, a direct series of heirs male, to David Boswell, my father's great grand uncle, who had no fons, but four daughters, who were all respectably married, the eldest to Lord Cathcart.
David Boswell, being resolute in the military feudal principle of continuing the male fucceffion, passed by his daughters, and settled the estate on his nephew by his next brother, who approved of the deed, and renounced any pretensions which he might possibly have, in preference to his fon. But the estate having been burthened with large portions to the daughters, and other debts, it was necessary for the nephew to sell a considerable part of it, and what remained was still much encumbered.
The frugality of the nephew preserved, and, in some degree, relieved the estate. His son, my grandfather, an eminent lawyer, not only re-purchased. a great part of what had been fold, but acquired other lands; and my father,
who was one of the Judges of Scotland, and had added considerably to the 7776. estate, now fignified his inclination to take the privilege allowed by our law', Ætat. 07. to secure it to his family in perpetuity by an entail, which, on account of marriage articles, could not be done without my confent.
In the plan of entailing the estate, I heartily concurred with him, though I was the first to be restrained by it; but we unhappily differed as to the series of heirs which should be established, or in the language of our law, called to the succession. My father had declared a predilection for heirs general, that is, males and females indiscriminately. He was willing, however, that all males descending from his grandfather should be preferred to females; but would not extend that privilege to males deriving their descent from a higher fource. I, on the other hand, had a zealous partiality for heirs male, however remote, which I maintained, by arguments which appeared to me to have considerable weight . And in the particular case of our family, I apprehended that we were under an implied obligation, in honour and good faith, to transmit the estate by the same tenure which we held it, which was as heirs male, excluding nearer females. I therefore, as I thought conscientiously, objected to my father's scheme.
1 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, 1685, Cap. 22. ? As first, the opinion of some distinguished naturalists, that our species is transmitted through males only, the female being all along no more than a nidus, or nurse, as Mother Earth is to plants of every sort ; which notion seems to be confirmed by that text of fcripture, “ He was yet in the loins of bis FATHER when Melchisedeck met him :" (Heb. vi. 10.) and consequently, that a man's grandson by a daughter, instead of being his fureft descendant, as is vulgarly said, has, in reality, no connection whatever with his blood.- And secondly, independent of this theory, (which, if true, should completely exclude heirs general,) that if the preference of a male to a female, without regard to primogeniture, (as a son, though much younger, nay, even a grandson by a son, to a daughter,) be once admitted, as it universally is, it must be equally reasonable and proper in the most remote degree of descent from an original proprietor of an estate, as in the nearest ; because,-however diftant from the representative at the time, that remote heir male, upon the failure of those nearer to the original proprietor than he is, becomes in fact the nearest male to bim, and is, therefore, preferable as his representative, to a female descendant.-A little extension of mind will enable us easily to perceive that a son's son, in continuation to whatever length of time, is preferable to a fon's daughter, in the succession to an ancient inheritance; in which regard should be had to the representation of the original proprietor, and not to that of one of bis descendants.
I am aware of Blackstone's admirable demonstration of the reasonableness of the legal succession, upon the principle of there being the greatest probability that the nearest heir of the person who laft dies proprietor of an estate, is of the blood of the first purchaser. But supposing a pedigree to be carefully authenticated through all its branches, instead of mere probability there will be a certainty, that the neareft heir male, at whatever period, has the same right of blood with the first heir male, namely, the original purchaser's eldest son.