JOHNSON. 'I should never think it time to make away with myself.' I put the case of Eustace Budgell, who was accused of forging a will, and sunk himself in the Thames, before the trial of its authenticity came on. 'Suppose, sir,' said I, 'that a man is absolutely sure, that, if he lives a few days longer, he shall be detected in a fraud, the consequence of which will be utter disgrace and expulsion from society.' JOHNSON. 'Then, sir, let him go abroad to a distant country; let him go to some place where he is NOT known. Don't let him go to the devil where he IS known!'
He then said, 'I see a number of people bare-footed here: I suppose you all went so before the Union. Boswell, your ancestors went so, when they had as much land as your family has now. Yet Auchinleck is the Field of Stones: there would be bad going bare-footed here. The lairds, however, did it.' I bought some speldings, fish (generally whitings) salted and dried in a particular manner, being dipped in the sea and dried in the sun, and eaten by the Scots by way of a relish. He had never seen them, though they are sold in London. I insisted on scottifying [Footnote: My friend, General Campbell, Governour of Madras, tells me, that they make speldings in the East Indies, particularly at Bombay, where they call them Bambaloes.] his palate; but he was very reluctant. With difficulty I prevailed with him to let a bit of one of them lie in his mouth. He did not like it.
In crossing the Frith, Dr Johnson determined that we should land upon Inch Keith. On approaching it, we first observed a high rocky shore. We coasted about, and put into a little bay on the north-west. We clambered up a very steep ascent, on which was very good grass, but rather a profusion of thistles. There were sixteen head of black cattle grazing upon the island. Lord Hailes observed to me, that Brantome calls it L'isle des Chevaux, and that it was probably 'a SAFER stable' than many others in his time. The fort, with an inscription on it, MARIA RE 1564, is strongly built. Dr Johnson examined it with much attention. He stalked like a giant among the luxuriant thistles and nettles. There are three wells in the island; but we could not find one in the fort. There must probably have been one, though now filled up, as a garrison could not subsist without it. But I have dwelt too long on this little spot. Dr Johnson afterwards bade me try to write a description of our discovering Inch Keith, in the usual style of travellers, describing fully every particular; stating the grounds on which we concluded that it must have once been inhabited, and introducing many sage reflections; and we should see how a thing might be covered in words, so as to induce people to come and survey it. All that was told might be true, and yet in reality there might be nothing to see. He said, 'I'd have this island. I'd build a house, make a good landing-place, have a garden, and vines, and all sorts of trees. A rich man, of a hospitable turn, here, would have many visitors from Edinburgh.' When we had got into our boat again, he called to me, 'Come, now, pay a classical compliment to the island on quitting it.' I happened luckily, in allusion to the beautiful Queen Mary, whose name is upon the fort, to think of what Virgil makes Aeneas say, on having left the country of his charming Dido:
Invitus, regina, tuo de littare cessi. [Footnote: Unhappy queen! Unwilling I forsook your friendly state. DRYDEN]
'Very well hit off!' said he.
We dined at Kinghorn, and then got into a post-chaise. Mr Nairne and his servant, and Joseph, rode by us. We stopped at Cupar, and drank tea. We talked of Parliament; and I said, I supposed very few of the members knew much of what was going on, as indeed very few gentlemen know much of their own private affairs. JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, if a man is not of a sluggish mind, he may be his own steward. If he will look into his affairs, he will soon learn. So it is as to publick affairs. There must always be a certain number of men of business in Parliament.' BOSWELL. 'But consider, sir; what is the House of Commons? Is not a great part of it chosen by peers? Do you think, sir, they ought to have such an influence?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir. Influence must ever be in proportion to property; and it is right it should.' BOSWELL. 'But is there not reason to fear that the common people may be oppressed?' JOHNSON. 'No, sir. Our great fear is from want of power in government. Such a storm of vulgar force has broke in.' BOSWELL. 'It has only roared.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it has roared, till the Judges in Westminster Hall have been afraid to pronounce sentence in opposition to the popular cry. You are frightened by what is no longer dangerous, like Presbyterians by popery.' He then repeated a passage, I think, in Butler's Remains, which ends, 'and would cry, Fire! Fire! in Noah's flood'. [Footnote: The passage quoted by Dr Johnson is in the Character of the Assembly-man. Butler's Remains, p. 232, edit. 1754. 'He preaches, indeed, both in season and out of season; for he rails at Popery, when the land is almost lost in Presbytery; and would cry Fire! Fire! in Noah's flood.'
There is no reason to believe that this piece was not written by Butler, but by Sir John Birkenhead; for Wood, in his Athenae Oxonienses.