Skip to main content

Other than Boswell's short account in the 'Tour', do we have a record of the argument between Dr Johnson and Boswell's father that took place on 6 November 1773? I read that Walter Scott gave a version of it, though not a reliable one.

There is a slightly longer version, reconstructed from Boswell's cancelled copy and a memorandum by Edmond Malone, in Ronald Black's excellent combined and annotated edition of Johnson's and Boswell's accounts "To the Hebrides".

Sir Walter Scott made a note concerning the argument in his comments the Tour, but most of the note concerned Lord Auchinleck's relationship with his son and his Presbyterian and Whig background. Scott then proceeded to print a supposedly verbatim version of Lord Auchinleck's reply to Johnson's question on Cromwell. According to Ronald Black, Scott's account "has the ring of truth, as the expression [used by Lord Auchinleck] had the status of family folklore."