Wednesday, May 19, 2010

James Boswell

History is replete with examples of people who die on or around significant dates in their lives.  Former US Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson dying on July 4 are prime examples.  The date May 19 was very close to a significant date for James Boswell.  Boswell met Samuel Johnson in London on May 16, 1763.  He published his "Life of Johnson" on May 16, 1791.  The 9th Laird of Auchinlech passed on May 19, 1795.

Auchinlech was close to Walter Scott's Abbotsford, and Scott knew Boswell's family.  John Croker enlisted Walter Scott's help in attempting (unsuccessfully) to obtain material from Boswell's children for his edition of Boswell's "Life of Johnson", published in 1831.  Scott did, however, provide numerous contributions for notes, etc., including:

From "Life of Johnson":
I  told Dr. Johnson I was in some difficulty how to act at Inverary. I had reason to think that the Duchess of Argyle disliked me, on account of my zeal in the Douglas cause.1

Scott's Note:
1 [Elizabeth Gunning, celebrated (like her sister, Lady Coventry) for her personal charms, had been previously Duchess of Hamilton, and was mother of Douglas, Duke of Hamilton, the competitor for the Douglas property with the late Lord Douglas: she was, of course, prejudiced against Boswell, who bad shown all the bustling importance of his character in the Douglas cause, and it was said, I know not on what authority, that he headed the mob which broke the windows of some of the judges, and of Lord Aucbinleck, his father, in particular.—Walter Scott.

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