James Burnett; Lord Monboddo (1714-1799)
From 18th Century Literary Anecdotes

ALL things considered, Monboddo was treated fairly gently in Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides as it was published. To be sure, the estate of which Monboddo was so proud was called `a wretched place, wild and naked, with a poor old house', and in a note Boswell referred to Samuel Foote's calling Monboddo an `Elzevir edition of Johnson' as a compliment, where Monboddo might have counted it an insult....

How far Monboddo took offence for himself is not clear, but that he did take offence, either for himself or for other men who had been less kindly treated, cannot be doubted. Certainly he would have disapproved in principle of a man's writing such things as Boswell had included in the printed Journal, for they constituted at the very least a transgression against the hospitality of men of good family. In the furor which followed Boswell's Life of Johnson, he was asked what he now thought of Boswell. He replied,

`Before I read his book I thought he was a Gentleman who had the misfortune to be mad: I now think he is a madman who has the misfortune not to be a Gentleman.'

E. L. Cloyd, James Burnett, Lord Monboddo (1972), pp. 106-7. Oxford University Press.

Monboddo and Lord Kames had a sovereign contempt for each other's studies and works.... Soon after the Elements of Criticism were published, Lord Kames met Monboddo, then at the Bar, on the street.

`Well,' said he, `have you read my books? — `I have not, my lord. You write a great deal faster than I am able to read.'

John Ramsay of Ochtertyre, Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Century (1888), pp. 355-356 n.

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