'Well, sir, the Arabs are compelled by the fear of infamy.' PENNINGTON. 'The soldiers have the same fear of infamy, and the fear of punishment besides; so have less virtue; because they act less voluntarily.' Lady Coote observed very well, that it ought to be known if there was not, among the Arabs, some punishment for not being faithful on such occasions.
We talked of the stage. I observed, that we had not now such a company of actors as in the last age; Wilks, Booth, &c. &c. JOHNSON. 'You think so, because there is one who excels all the rest so much: you compare them with Garrick, and see the deficiency. Garrick's great distinction is his universality. He can represent all modes of life, but that of an easy fine-bred gentleman.' PENNINGTON. 'He should give over playing young parts.' JOHNSON. 'He does not take them now; but he does not leave off those which he has been used to play, because he does them better than any one else can do them. If you had generations of actors, if they swarmed like bees, the young ones might drive off the old. Mrs Gibber, I think, got more reputation than she deserved, as she had a great sameness; though her expression was undoubtedly very fine. Mrs Clive was the best player I ever saw. Mrs Pritchard was a very good one; but she had something affected in her manner: I imagine she had some player of the former age in her eye, which occasioned it.'
Colonel Pennington said, Garrick sometimes failed in emphasis; as for instance, in Hamlet,
I will speak DAGGERS to her; but use NONE,
I will SPEAK daggers to her; but USE none.
We had a dinner of two complete courses, variety of wines, and the regimental band of musick playing in the square, before the window, after it. I enjoyed this day much. We were quite easy and cheerful, Dr Johnson said, 'I shall always remember this fort with gratitude.' I could not help being struck with some admiration, at finding upon this barren sandy point, such buildings, such a dinner, such company: it was like enchantment. Dr Johnson, on the other hand, said to me more rationally, that it did not strike HIM as any thing extraordinary; because he knew, here was a large sum of money expended in building a fort; here was a regiment. If there had been less than what we found, it would have surprized him. HE looked coolly and deliberately through all the gradations: my warm imagination jumped from the barren sands to the splendid dinner and brilliant company, to borrow the expression of an absurd poet,
Without ands or ifs, I leapt from off the sands upon the cliffs.
The whole scene gave me a strong impression of the power and excellence of human art.
We left the fort between six and seven o'clock: Sir Eyre Coote, Colonel Pennington, and several more, accompanied us down stairs, and saw us into our chaise. There could not be greater attention paid to any visitors. Sir Eyre spoke of the hardships which Dr Johnson had before him. BOSWELL. 'Considering what he has said of us, we must make him feel something rough in Scotland.' Sir Eyre said to him, 'You must change your name, sir.' BOSWELL. 'Ay, to Dr M'Gregor.'
We got safely to Inverness, and put up at Mackenzie's inn. Mr Keith, the collector of Excise here, my old acquaintance at Ayr, who had seen us at the fort, visited us in the evening, and engaged us to dine with him next day, promising to breakfast with us, and take us to the English chapel; so that we were at once commodiously arranged.
Not finding a letter here that I expected, I felt a momentary impatience to be at home. Transient clouds darkened my imagination, and in those clouds I saw events from which I shrunk; but a sentence or two of the Rambler's conversation gave me firmness, and I considered that I was upon an expedition for which I had wished for years, and the recollection of which would be a treasure to me for life.
Sunday, 29th August
Mr Keith breakfasted with us. Dr Johnson expatiated rather too strongly upon the benefits derived to Scotland from the Union, and the bad state of our people before it. I am entertained with his copious exaggeration upon that subject; but I am uneasy when people are by, who do not know him as well as I do, and may be apt to think him narrow-minded. [Footnote: It is remarkable that Dr Johnson read this gentle remonstrance, and took no notice of it to me.] I therefore diverted the subject.
The English chapel, to which we went this morning, was but mean. The altar was a bare fir table, with a coarse stool for kneeling on, covered with a piece of thick sail-cloth doubled, by way of cushion. The congregation was small. Mr Tait, the clergyman, read prayers very well, though with much of the Scotch accent. He preached on 'Love your Enemies'. It was remarkable that, when talking of the connections amongst men, he said, that some connected themselves with men of distinguished talents, and since they could not equal them, tried to deck themselves with their merit, by being their companions. The sentence was to this purpose.