But he owned to me that he was fatigued and teased by Sir Alexander's doing too much to entertain him. I said, it was all kindness. JOHNSON. 'True, sir: but sensation is sensation.' BOSWELL. 'It is so: we feel pain equally from the surgeon's probe, as from the sword of the foe.'
We visited two booksellers' shops, and could not find Arthur Johnston's Poems. We went and sat near an hour at Mr Riddoch's. He could not tell distinctly how much education at the college here costs, which disgusted Dr Johnson. I had pledged myself that we should go to the inn, and not stay supper. They pressed us, but he was resolute. I saw Mr Riddoch did not please him. He said to me, afterwards, 'Sir, he has no vigour in his talk.' But my friend should have considered that he himself was not in good humour; so that it was not easy to talk to his satisfaction. We sat contentedly at our inn. He then became merry, and observed how little we had either heard or said at Aberdeen: that the Aberdonians had not started a single mawkin (the Scottish word for hare) for us to pursue.
Tuesday, 24th August
We set out about eight in the morning, and breakfasted at Ellon. The landlady said to me, 'Is not this the great Doctor that is going about through the country?' I said, 'Yes.' 'Ay,' said she, 'we heard of him, I made an errand into the room on purpose to see him. There's something great in his appearance: it is a pleasure to have such a man in one's house; a man who does so much good. If I had thought of it, I would have shewn him a child of mine, who has had a lump on his throat for some time.' 'But,' said I, 'he is not a doctor of physick.' 'Is he an oculist?' said the landlord. 'No,' said I, 'he is only a very learned man.' LANDLORD. 'They say he is the greatest man in England, except Lord Mansfield.' Dr Johnson was highly entertained with this, and I do think he was pleased too. He said, 'I like the exception: to have called me the greatest man in England, would have been an unmeaning compliment: but the exception marked that the praise was in earnest; and, in SCOTLAND, the exception must be LORD MANSFIELD, or--SIR JOHN PRINGLE.'
He told me a good story of Dr Goldsmith. Graham, who wrote Telemachus, a Masque, was sitting one night with him and Dr Johnson, and was half drunk. He rattled away to Dr Johnson: 'You are a clever fellow, to be sure; but you cannot write an essay like Addison, or verses like the Rape of the Lock.' At last he said, [Footnote: I am sure I have related this story exactly as Dr Johnson told it to me: but a friend who has often heard him tell it, informs me that he usually introduced a circumstance which ought not to be omitted. 'At last, sir, Graham, having now got to about the pitch of looking at one man, and talking to another, said DOCTOR &c. 'What effect.' Dr Johnson used to add, 'this had on Goldsmith, who was as irascible as a hornet, may be easily conceived.'] 'DOCTOR, I should be happy to see you at Eaton.' 'I shall be glad to wait on you,' answered Goldsmith. 'No,' said Graham, ''tis not you I mean, Dr MINOR; 'tis Dr MAJOR, there.' Goldsmith was excessively hurt by this. He afterwards spoke of it himself. 'Graham,' said he, 'is a fellow to make one commit suicide.'
We had received a polite invitation to Slains castle. We arrived there just at three o'clock, as the bell for dinner was ringing. Though, from its being just on the north-east Ocean, no trees will grow here, Lord Errol has done all that can be done. He has cultivated his fields so as to bear rich crops of every kind, and he has made an excellent kitchen-garden, with a hot-house. I had never seen any of the family: but there had been a card of invitation written by the honourable Charles Boyd, the earl's brother. We were conducted into the house, and at the dining-room door were met by that gentleman, whom both of us at first took to be Lord Errol; but he soon corrected our mistake. My lord was gone to dine in the neighbourhood, at an entertainment given by Mr Irvine of Drum. Lady Errol received us politely, and was very attentive to us during the time of dinner. There was nobody at table but her ladyship, Mr Boyd, and some of the children, their governour and governess. Mr Boyd put Dr Johnson in mind of having dined with him at Cumming the Quaker's, along with Mr Hall and Miss Williams: this was a bond of connection between them. For me, Mr Boyd's acquaintance with my father was enough. After dinner, Lady Errol favoured us with a sight of her young family, whom she made stand up in a row. There were six daughters and two sons. It was a very pleasing sight.
Dr Johnson proposed our setting out. Mr Boyd said, he hoped we would stay all night; his brother would be at home in the evening, and would be very sorry if he missed us. Mr Boyd was called out of the room. I was very desirous to stay in so comfortable a house, and I wished to see Lord Errol. Dr Johnson, however, was right in resolving to go, if we were not asked again, as it is best to err on the safe side in such cases, and to be sure that one is quite welcome.