Read CHAPTER II of James Boswell Famous Scots Series , free online book, by William Keith Leask, on ReadCentral.com.

THE CONTINENT CORSICA. 1763-66

’That’s from Paoli of Corsica.’ GOLDSMITH, ’The Good Natured Man.’

‘Utrecht,’ writes Boswell, ’seeming at first very dull to me after the animated scenes of London, my spirits were grievously affected.’ But the depression was not destined to last, and soon we hear of his having wearied of the proposed two years’ course of study. The custom of legal training in some of the universities of the Continent was about this time coming to a close, though for long it had remained usual, at least with the landed classes of Scotland, to secure such an extended field of study for the bar by an attendance at some of the more developed schools of jurisprudence in Holland. Cunningham, the celebrated critic of Bentley, had given prelections in Leyden, and no reader of the Heart of Midlothian will forget the laments of the inimitable Bartoline Saddletree over his not being sent to Leyden or Utrecht to study the Institutes and the Pandects. Since the days of Gilbert Jack at Leyden, the connection between Holland and the Scottish universities had been close, and the garrets of Amsterdam had been crowded before the Revolution by refugees from both Scotland and England who maintained, upon their return, the ties they had contracted in their exile. Even Fielding had been sent to Leyden for law, and just before the visit of Boswell, to which his father had consented rather as a compromise than from any practical benefit that might ensue, the law of Scotland, largely based on Roman and feudal precedents, had received fresh extensions of conveyancing and other branches of jurisprudence, through the mass of forfeited estates brought into the market after the suppression of the Jacobite Rebellions. What country, then, could so rapidly afford such a course of legal study as the Protestant and commercial Holland? The reputation of Boerhaave had drawn medical students from all quarters, and Boswell’s uncle John, and the celebrated Monro primus of the Edinburgh Medical School had been among the number. Goldsmith in 1755 met Irish medical students there, and some twenty years before the time we have reached Carlyle of Inveresk had found in Leyden ‘an established lodging-house’ where his countrymen, Gregory and Dickson, were domiciled, and numerous others, among whom he expressly mentions Charles Townshend, Askew the Greek scholar, Johnston of Westerhall, Doddeswell, afterwards Chancellor of the Exchequer, and John Wilkes then entering, at eighteen, on the career of profligacy that was to render him notorious. Carlyle describes their meetings at each other’s rooms twice or thrice a week, when they drank coffee, supped on Dutch red herrings, eggs and salad, and never sat beyond the decent hour of twelve. For such a style of living Boswell’s annual allowance of L240 was certainly handsome in a place where the fuel, chiefly peat, was the only expensive item.

But such a quiet style of life was not congenial to the lively tastes of our traveller. He soon tired of the civil law lectures of Professor Trotz, and longed for fresh woods and pastures new. He sighed to be upon his travels again. Of his life abroad some isolated notes may be gathered from the Boswelliana, and, as has been mentioned, he sought out his relatives at the Hague ‘of the first fashion,’ the Sommelsdycks, and with his facility of manners, and his father’s credentials to the literati and scholars of the place, his circle of acquaintance was large and influential. We hear of an intimacy with the Rev. William Brown, minister of the Scottish congregation at Utrecht, the father of Principal Laurence Brown of Marischal College, Aberdeen; and with Sir Joseph Yorke, whom he met later in Ireland, then the Ambassador at the Hague, he would appear to have been acquainted. But Sir Joseph does not seem to have welcomed the easy manners of his young friend, and the dull life of the burgomasters was little suited to Boswell who ridicules their portly figures and their clothes which they wore as if they had been ‘luggage.’

The two years’ course of study was abruptly reduced to one. At its close we trace him at Berlin in July 1764, and in close relations with the British Envoy at the Prussian Court. Fortunately for Boswell this was both a countryman and a friend of his father’s, Sir Andrew Mitchell, the late M.P. for the Banff Burghs. By the Ambassador he was introduced to the best society in the capital, and from Berlin he wrote to his father representing the urgent necessity of extending his travels, and, till the letter in reply should arrive, he proceeded into Hanover and Brunswick. On his return to Berlin towards the end of August he found a letter waiting him from Lord Auchinleck, who was naturally chagrined at the breakdown of his scheme of compromise. A visit to Paris he was prepared to allow, but the return of the wanderer to Utrecht was peremptorily commanded. The family of the Envoy was now at Spa, but next day Boswell wrote him a letter urging him to intercede with his father for the proposed extension. The letter is a very long one, and its abridgement even is impossible here, but few more Boswellian productions can be found. He has, he tells Sir Andrew, a melancholy disposition, and to escape from the gloom of dark speculation he has made excursions into the fields of folly, and in this tone of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes he rambles on. The words of St Paul, ’I must see Rome,’ he finds are borne in upon him, and such a journey would afford him the talk for a lifetime, the more so that he was no libertine and disclaimed all intentions of travelling as Milord Anglois, but simply as the scholar and the man of elegant curiosity. Did not Sir Andrew as the loved and respected friend of his father think that the son had a claim to protest before he considered any act regarding himself as passed, and would not the Envoy remonstrate or persuade the father as to the justice of his wish? No reply was sent to this, but the judge, thinking that discretion was the wiser part in circumstances where it was useless to dictate without the means to enforce compliance, yielded reluctant consent to the scheme of an Italian tour. Gravely then does Bozzy rebuke Sir Andrew and for this occasion he forgives him, ’for I just say the same to young people when I advise. Believe me,’ he somewhat irrelevantly adds, ‘I have a soul.’

Fortune followed him wherever he turned. George, tenth Earl Marischal, and brother of Frederick the Great’s general, Marshal Keith, had joined the Earl of Mar in the rising of 1715, and had made an ineffectual descent in 1719 on Glenshiel with the Spaniards. But in the ’45 he had taken no part, and he revealed to the British Government the existence of the Bourbon Family Compact. In return, his attainder had been removed by George II., and on his brief visit to Scotland he had lived with Boswell’s father in Ayrshire, perhaps as a friend of the Commissioners for the forfeited estates, when the occasion had been seized by Macpherson for an ode, ‘attempted after the manner of Pindar,’ in the fustian style of the translator of Ossian. With him or by his credentials Boswell went the round of the German courts, passing by Mannheim and Geneva, reaching the latter towards the end of December. The reader is struck with the airy assurance and self-possession which the laureate of the Soapers and the Newmarket Cub manifests on the grand tour, conducting himself at three and twenty with complete success at the courts of German princes, conversing with plenipotentiaries and dignitaries of all sorts in French and Italian, for German had not yet risen into sufficient historical or diplomatic importance to add to the linguistic burdens of mankind. Lord Marischal as the governor of Neufchatel had acted as the protector of Rousseau, and so was able to furnish his companion with a letter of introduction, hinting at his enthusiastic nature and describing him to the philosopher as a visionary hypochondriac. Voltaire he interviewed at Ferney, and he managed to please the great man by repeating a characteristic trait of Bozzy, who believed such tale-bearing to be vastly conducive to the practice of benevolence Johnson’s criticism upon Frederick the Great’s writings, ’such as you may suppose Voltaire’s foot-boy to do, who has been his amanuensis.’ He broached the subject of the philosophy of the unconscious, and was eager to know how ideas forgotten at the time were yet later on recollected. The other replied by a quotation from Thomson’s Winter with the writer’s question, as to the winds,

’In what far distant region of the sky Hushed in silence sleep ye when ‘tis calm?’

The attempt to draw out Voltaire upon the tour to the Hebrides, which Boswell and Johnson had been vaguely talking over, produced only the rather sarcastic query if he wished him to accompany them, with a look ‘as if I had talked of going to the North Pole.’ Of his visit to the wild philosopher, as he styles Rousseau, we have no notice, beyond the general remark that they had agreed to differ alike in politics and religion, but that there were points où nos âmes sont unies. The feudal dogmas of Boswell and his rigid adherence to his pet idea of ’the grand scheme of subordination’ were of course not likely to be pleasing to the sceptical aqua fortis of the sombre Genevese, with his belief in the fraternity of mankind and the greatness of the untutored Indian.

Boswell crossed the Alps, and either then or upon his homeward journey visited Bologna, Venice, and Mantua. He passed through Rome and, unknown to either, may have met Gibbon in the Eternal City into whose mind, some weeks before, ’as I sat musing among the ruins of the Capitol while the bare-footed friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter,’ had started the idea of writing the Decline and Fall. In the city he met Andrew Lumsden, the Secretary of Prince Charles Edward, but we are not informed if the young Jacobite of five, who had prayed for the exiled family now sought any opportunity of making himself known to the object of his devotion. Naples brought him into the more congenial society of Wilkes with whom, he says, he ’enjoyed many classical scenes with peculiar relish.’ When Churchill had died at Boulogne in the arms of Wilkes, the latter had retired to Naples to inscribe his sorrow ’in the close style of the ancients’ upon an urn of alabaster which had been the gift of Winckelmann, and in that city now he was, as the literary executor, preparing annotations on the works of Churchill. Boswell managed with his curious want of tact in such matters, fitting the man who could suggest cards to a dying friend with an uneasy conscience, to hint that the poet had ‘bounced into the regions below,’ and to render the Il Bruto Inglese, by which the papers of the land referred to Wilkes and liberty, by a version significant of the notorious ugliness of his gay acquaintance. Naples, as with Milton, was the limit of his tour, and from it he returned to Rome. He reached that city in April 1765, and dispatched a letter to Rousseau, then ’living in romantick retirement’ in Switzerland, requesting his promised introduction to the Corsican general, ’which if he refused, I should certainly go without it, and probably be hanged as a spy.’ The wild philosopher was as good as his word, and the letter met the traveller at Florence. ’The charms of sweet Siena detained me no longer than they should have done, I required the hardy air of Corsica to brace me, after the delights of Tuscany,’ an enigmatical turn of expression upon which light is thrown later, when we discuss the love affairs of Boswell, by a reference to a dark-eyed ‘signora’ on whom the tender traveller had glanced. At Leghorn he was within one day’s sail of Corsica.

Pascal Paoli was the Garibaldi of his day. When his father in 1738 had been driven from the island by the French, he had retired with him to Naples where he entered a military college and followed the profession of arms. The way was paved for his return by the disturbances in the island in 1755, and so successful was he in his guerilla warfare as general against the Genoese, the owners of Corsica, that they were speedily driven to sue for peace. It was in a sort of lull in the storm of hostilities that our traveller made his unexpected appearance, and the adroit way in which he managed to lay his plans of action and to carry them out with such complete success calls for our admiration. In his Tour he simply says that ’having resolved to pass some years abroad (this is excellent, after his letter to Sir Andrew) for my instruction and entertainment, I conceived a design of visiting the Island of Corsica. I wished for something more than just the common course of what is called the tour of Europe, and Corsica occurred to me as a place where nobody else had been.’ It may have been suggested to him by Rousseau, who had been engaged in some vague scheme of philandering philanthropy by which the wild philosopher was to play the Solon and the Lycurgus of the distressed islanders, and establish a fresh code of laws upon the basis of his new fraternity, but with which ‘this steady patriot of the world alone,’ as Canning styles him, ’the friend of every country but his own,’ managed to mix in a much more practical way some not very honourable, if characteristic, intrigues for the surrender of the island to France.

Bozzy, at all events, was determined to make a bold bid for fame. Nothing like this had occurred, as an opening, during all his tour. The dangers of the plan were fully known to him, and the possibility was laid before his eyes of capture at the hands of the Barbary corsairs and a term of imprisonment at Algiers. Our adventurer waited on the commodore in command of the British squadron in the bay of Leghorn, and he was provided with a passport, the value of which against the threatened dangers does not sufficiently appear. Before he left Leghorn, his proposed visit had come to be regarded in a very serious light by Italian politicians. They saw in him an envoy from the British intrusted with powers to negotiate a treaty with Corsica, and all disclaimers of any such intention were politely treated as an evasion. Bozzy was in consequence viewed as ‘a very close young man,’ a trait that at no time of his life was ever applicable to James Boswell, on whom, indeed, the advice given by Sir Henry Wotton to Milton would have been thrown away. Putting out to sea in a Tuscan vessel bound for Capo Corso for wine, he had two days to spend on board in consequence of a dead calm. ’At sunset,’ he says, ’all the people in the ship sang Ave Maria with great devotion and some melody.’ One recalls the similar circumstances under which Cardinal Newman found himself becalmed on the orange-boat in the Straits of Bonifacio. For some hours he had put himself in spirits by taking a hand at the oar, and at seven in the evening of the second day they landed in the harbour of Centuri. He delivered his credentials, and on Sunday heard a Corsican sermon, where the preacher told of Catharine of Siena who wished to be laid in the mouth of the awful pit, that she might stop it up, and so prevent the falling in of more souls. ‘I confess, my brethren,’ cried the friar, ’I have not such zeal, but I do what I can, I warn you how to avoid it.’

At Corte, the capital of the island, he waited boldly upon the Supreme Council. He was gravely received, as befitted a supposed British envoy, and lodged in the apartment of Paoli in a Franciscan convent. Next day, the old petitioner for a commission in the Guards found the first and last military experience of his life. Three French deserters waited on him in the belief that he came to recruit soldiers for Scotland, and ‘begged to have the honour of going along with me.’ Nor was the idea so absurd as he seems to have viewed it, for from the Scots Magazine of a somewhat later date we learn that British Volunteers and Highlanders disbanded after the wars had been enlisted in the service of Paoli. But it is not improbable that the deserters had heard of Boswell’s nationality from the woman of Penrith whom he found in the island, married to a French soldier in the army of the Pretender, whose fortunes she had followed when they had passed through Carlisle on the retreat from Derby. Another feature of Boswell, one whose consideration and explanation we shall attempt later on, now for the first time meets us, his inveterate love for interviewing criminals, and accordingly, ’as I wished to see all things in Corsica,’ he had a meeting with the hangman who seemed sensible of his situation. The inhabitants crowded round him at a village as he advanced, and questioned the traveller, as Coleridge at Valetta found himself similarly interrogated, as to his professing himself a Christian when he did not believe in the Pope e perche, and why? The old candidate for the priesthood managed to deftly evade this query by an assurance that in Britain the people were too far off and in a theological climate of their own. He was in the highest humour, and in this unusual flow of spirits he harangued the men of Bastelica with great fluency, getting, however, at Sollacaro somewhat nervous as the interview with the Corsican leader drew nigh. Paoli lived in constant dread of assassination, and the sudden arrival of this mysterious stranger was strongly calculated to arouse suspicions. For ten minutes, in silence, he looked at Boswell, who broke in with the remark that he was a gentleman from Scotland upon his travels and had lately visited Rome from which, having seen the ruins of one brave people, he was now come to view the rise of another. The general was not quite set at ease by this sententiously balanced sentence, and years after he told Miss Burney about his impressions at the time of the mysterious stranger. It shews the ruling passion strong in life, and that Boswell, as ’the chiel’ amang them takin’ notes,’ forgot the rules of ordinary courtesy and prudence in the gratification of his darling method. ’He came to my country sudden,’ said Paoli in his broken English, ’and he fetched me some letters of recommending him. And I supposed, in my mente he was in the privacy one espy; for I look away from him to my other companies, and when I look back to him I behold it in his hands his tablet, and one pencil. O, he was at the work, I give it you my honour, of writing down all what I say to some persons whatsoever in the room. I was angry enough, pretty much so. But soon I found out I was myself the monster he came to observe. O, he is a very good man Mr Boswell at the bottom, so witty, cheerful, so talkable. But at the first, Oh I was indeed fâche of the sufficient.’ This first glimpse of Bozzy at work is delightful. He was in fact “making himself,” all unknown the while, as Shortreed said of Scott over the Liddesdale raids.

He dined with the general and suite. In spite of, perhaps by very reason of, his protestations of having no diplomatic mission, the highest attention was shewn him as an accredited envoy from St James’. In the morning chocolate was served up to him on a silver salver with the national arms; he rode out on the general’s horse, with guards marching before him. Paoli knew sufficient English to maintain the dialogue, having picked up some slight knowledge of the tongue from Irish refugee officers in the Neapolitan service. His library was turned over by his inquisitive guest, who found among the books some odd volumes of The Spectator and The Tatler, Pope’s Essay on Man, Gulliver’s Travels, and Barclay’s Apology for the Quakers. His good humour, as it had won on the general, endeared the supposed ambasciadore Inglese to the peasants, and he had a Corsican dress made for him. Of that dress ’in which I walked about with an air of true satisfaction’ every one who has heard of James Boswell has read, and it is inseparable somehow from our conceptions of the man and writer.

We select from this Corsican Tour the least known to the general reader of Boswell’s three great works what seems to us the gem of the book: ’One day they must needs hear me play upon my German flute. To have told my honest natural visitants, ’Really, gentlemen, I play very ill,’ and put on such airs as we do in our genteel companies, would have been highly ridiculous. I therefore immediately complied with their request. I gave them one or two Italian airs, and then some of our beautiful old Scots tunes, Gilderoy, The Lass o’ Patie’s Mill, Corn Riggs are Bonny.’ The pathetick simplicity and pastoral gaiety of the Scots musick will always please those who have the genuine feelings of nature. The Corsicans were charmed with the specimens I gave them, though I may now say that they were very indifferently performed. My good friends insisted also to have an English song from me. I endeavoured to please them in this, too. I sung them ’Hearts of Oak are our Ships, Hearts of Oak are our Men.’ I translated it into Italian for them, and never did I see men so delighted as the Corsicans were. ‘Cuore di querco,’ cried they, ‘bravo Inglese!’ It was quite a joyous riot. I fancied myself to be a recruiting sea officer. I fancied all my chorus of Corsicans aboard the British fleet.’

How admirable is the style of all this, equal quite to Goldsmith’s best and lightest touch! Exquisite, too, is that picture of Bozzy, as the rollicking British stage-tar of tradition, in his rendering of Garrick’s song, the gems from the Opera and the national melodies. Allan Ramsay’s song in Corsica is to be equalled only by Goldsmith on his tour when he played, but not for amusement, Barbara Allan and Johnny Armstrong’s Good Night before the doors of Italian convents and Flemish homesteads.

But the highstrung Bozzy had to experience a revulsion of low feelings to which he was ever prone. He is soon in a sort of Byronic fit, and he continues in a strain with which we should have not credited the ’gay classic friend of Jack Wilkes’ and of that Sienese signora, unless he had turned evidence against himself. He declared his feelings to Paoli, as he had done to Johnson, whose curt advice had been not to confuse or resolve the common consequences of irregularity into an unalterable decree of destiny. To the general he now attributed his feeling of the vanity of life, the exhaustion in the very heat of youth of all the sweets of being, and the incapacity for taking part in active life to his ‘metaphysical researches,’ his reasoning beyond his depth on such subjects as it is not given to man to know. These hesitances the other wisely pushed aside with the soldierly advice to strengthen his mind by the perusal of Livy and Plutarch. In return Bozzy gave an imitation of ‘my revered friend Mr Samuel Johnson,’ little dreaming that all three would one day be intimate in London, and the general’s house in Portman Square be always at the traveller’s disposal. From the palace, as he styles it, of Paoli, No he wrote to Johnson, as he had done before, ‘from a kind of superstition agreeable to him as to myself,’ from what he calls loca solennia places of solemn interest. ’I dare to call this a spirited tour. I dare to challenge your approbation;’ and, reading it twenty years later in the original which the old man had preserved, he found it full of ‘generous enthusiasm.’ No account of the continental travels of Boswell would be complete without the reproduction of his letter to the doctor from Wittenberg. It is one of the most important for the more subtle shades of psychology in the writer’s character.

Sunday, Sep, 1764.

MY EVER DEAR AND MUCH RESPECTED SIR, You know my solemn enthusiasm of mind. You love me for it, and I respect myself for it, because in so far I resemble Mr Johnson. You will be agreeably surprized when you learn the reason of my writing this letter. I am at Wittenberg in Saxony. I am in the old church where the Reformation was first preached, and where some of the Reformers lie interred. I cannot resist the serious pleasure of writing to Mr Johnson from the tomb of Melancthon. My paper rests upon the gravestone of that great and good man who was undoubtedly the best of all the Reformers.... At this tomb, then, my ever dear and respected friend! I vow to thee an eternal attachment. It shall be my study to do what I can to render your life happy: and if you die before me, I shall endeavour to do honour to your memory and, elevated by the remembrance of you, persist in noble piety. May God, the father of all beings, ever bless you! and may you continue to love your most affectionate friend, and devoted servant, JAMES BOSWELL.’

So early had Boswell made his resolve to be the biographer of Johnson. On the very day of his introduction to him, he had taken notes of all that had passed in Davies’ back-parlour. He was none of the men that do things by halves, and blunder into a kind of success, as some of his depreciators have thought.

Six weeks he had been in Corsica. The first day of December saw him land at Genoa on his return, Lyons was reached on the third day of the new year, Paris one week later. Here Rousseau who had preceded him to London had provided him with a curious commission, the bringing over into England of his mistress Therese Levasseur. The easy-going Hume thus announces the fact to his friend the Countess de Boufflers. ’Mademoiselle sets out with a friend of mine, a young gentleman, very good humoured, very agreeable, and very mad. He has such a rage for literature that I dread some event fatal to my friend’s honour. For remember the story of Terentia who was first married to Cicero, then to Sallust, and at last in her old age married a young nobleman, who imagined that she must possess some secret which would convey to him eloquence and genius.’ A letter he found waiting from Johnson, together with one announcing the death of his mother. No more was heard about a second year at Utrecht. He crossed to London, and was again with his old friend, who had moved from the Temple to a good house in Johnson’s Court, in Fleet Street. Goldsmith was no longer the obscure writer whom he had left behind, but the author of the Vicar of Wakefield and the Traveller. The club had been founded. He was encouraged by the sage to publish his account of his travels in Corsica ’you cannot go to the bottom, but all that you tell us will be new.’

He dined at the Mitre as of old, and presented Temple to Johnson. No word about his companion across the Channel, naturally enough, reached the old man’s ears, but he mentioned Rousseau; though he recognised he was now in a new moral atmosphere where every attempt was resented to ‘unhinge or weaken good principles.’ On a modified defence of the philosopher, whose works he professed had afforded him edification, he did venture, but thinking it enough to defend one at a time Boswell said nothing ‘of my gay friend Wilkes.’ In the Paris salons of that winter Wilkes, Sterne, Foote, Hume, and Rousseau, had been the received lions. Hume had taken up the wild philosopher whose melodramatic Armenian dress had been the attraction at the houses of the leaders of society, the ladies who (says Horace Walpole who was there this year) ’violated all the duties of life and gave very pretty suppers.’ It was the day of Anglomania on the Continent, when the name of Chatham was a name to conjure with, and Hume was expounding deism to the great ladies, ’when the footmen were in the room,’ adds the shocked Horace, lionizing Hume ’who is the only thing they believe in implicitly; which they must do, for I defy them to understand any language that he speaks,’ in allusion to the broad Scottish accent of the philosopher.

The fantastic attire of Rousseau may have suggested to Bozzy the Corsican dress in his valise, or he may have construed into a command, willingly enough, the hint Paoli had dropped to let them know at home how affairs were going. He waited on Chatham with it, and was received pompously but graciously, says the Earl of Buchan who was present, for a touch of melodrama was not uncongenial to the great minister, the ‘Pericles of Great Britain,’ as the general had styled him. Bozzy thanked him ’for the very genteel manner in which you are pleased to treat me.’ In return, Chatham eulogized Paoli as one of Plutarch’s men, as Cardinal de Retz had said of Montrose.

He saw Auchinleck in somewhat altered circumstances from those in which, four years before, he had left his father’s house, riding through Glasgow ’in a cocked hat, a brown wig, brown coat made in the court fashion, red vest, corduroy small clothes, and long military-looking boots, with his servant riding a most aristocratic distance behind.’ He had left it likely to vex the soul of his father, the laureate of doggerel, threatening to be the disgrace of the family; he returned as the acquaintance, in varying degrees of intimacy, of Johnson, Wilkes, Churchill, Goldsmith, the Earl Marischal, Voltaire, Rousseau, Paoli, Chatham, and plenipotentiaries of all kinds. A wonderful list for the raw youth they had known at home; yet nowhere in all his intercourse does he show the least want of self-possession or easy bearing. The ‘facility of manners’ and his good humour had carried him all through his curious experiences with German courts and Italian peasants. A ‘spirited tour,’ truly, if perhaps the moral results had been greater. The nobility and gentry of this country were welcomed abroad with but too great avidity. Italy, the garden of Europe, Bozzy declared to be the Covent Garden, and isolated passages in his book shew that he could not claim, like Milton, to have borne himself truly ’in all these places where so many things are considered lawful.’ Fox, we know, did not escape the contagion of the grand tour, and Boswell had been ’caught young.’

Nor will the reader find much fault in what the adverse critics have unduly emphasized his interviewing or forcing himself upon men. A man, as Johnson said to him when seeking an interlocutor on this point, always makes himself greater as he increases his knowledge. When he was at Dunvegan on his northern tour, and Colonel Macleod seemed to hint at this, Bozzy offers as his defence of what ’has procured me much happiness’ the eagerness he ever felt to share the society of men distinguished by their rank or talents. If a man, he adds, is praised for seeking knowledge, though mountains and seas are in his way, he may be pardoned in the pursuit of the same object under difficulties as great though of a different kind. And the defence will not be refused him for the use he has made of the means. Wisdom and literature alike are justified of their children, and the masters in either are not so numerous that we can afford to quarrel with them, or wrangle over their respective merits. ‘Sensation,’ said Johnson, ‘is sensation,’ and the pretty general feeling now is that in his department Boswell is a master.

From his first setting out, he had written down every night what he had noted during the day, ’throwing together that I might afterwards make a selection at leisure.’ He was to try his ’prentice hand on his Tour in Corsica before shewing his strength in his two greater works. Mrs Barbauld regarded him as no ordinary traveller, with

’Working thoughts which swelled the breast Of generous Boswell, when with noble aim And views beyond the narrow beaten track By trivial fancy trod, he turned his course From polished Gallia’s soft delicious vales.’

Such thoughts were perhaps really foreign to that traveller, yet Dr Hill assures us that by every Corsican of education the name of Boswell is known and honoured. One curious circumstance is given. At Pino, when Boswell fancying himself ‘in a publick house’ or inn, had called for things, the hostess had said una cosa dopo un altra, signore, ’one thing after another, sir.’ This has lingered as a memento of Bozzy in Corsica, and has been found by Dr Hill to be preserved among the traditions in the Tomasi family. Translations of the book in Italian, Dutch, French, and German, spread abroad the name of the traveller who, if like a prophet without honour in his own country, has not been without it elsewhere.