James Boswell died in 1795 believing he had touched and kissed a cache of Shakespeare's original letters and papers discovered by a Mr. Ireland. His friend, Edmond Malone, publicly exposed the lot as a forgery just a year later.
Andrew Mitchell - British Ambassador to Prussia
Andrew MitchellBorn 1708
Son of William Mitchell and Margaret Cunningham. Married to Barbara Mitchell (d. 1728).
Under Secretary of State for Scotland (1742-1746). Member of Parliament for Aberdeen (1747-1753) and for Elgin Boroughs (1754-1771). From 1756 until his death he was British envoy to King Frederick II the Great of Prussia. His estate in Scotland was Thainston House, which he had inherited from his father-in-law Thomas Mitchell.
Mitchell is somewhere described as "the noteworthy, not yet much noted, Sir Andrew Mitchell, by far the best Excellency England ever had in that Court [the court of Frederick the Great]; an Aberdeen Scotsman, creditable to his country, hardheaded, sagacious, sceptical of shows, but capable of recognising substances withal, and of standing loyal to them stubbornly if needful;"1
Boswell first met Mitchell when he waited for him in Berlin on July 8, 1764. He described him as a very polite "knowing, amiable, easy man". A few days later, on July 14, Boswell dined with Mitchell and they met several times over the next few months.
On July 24 they had a "most agreeable conversation" about morality, and about the poet James Thomson, whose friend Mitchell had been in London.1
From a letter Boswell sent to Mitchell on August 28, 1764, it is clear that Mitchell was a friend (or at least a close acquaintance) of Boswell's father. Boswell used the letter to tell Mitchell about his wish to stay in Europe for another year, and to visit Rousseau and Voltaire, hoping that Mitchell would present the ideas favourably to Lord Auchinleck.
- 1. James Thomson (1700-1748) was a Scottish born poet of some fame. His best known works are the poetry collection The Seasons (1730), the individual poems Liberty (1736) and The Castle of Indolence (1747 or 1748), and the masque Alfred (1740), which was written in colaboration with David Mallet.
In 1850 was published Memoirs and Papers of Sir Andrew Mitchell.