2–7 XI 1773
19 V 2013


May 19 is the anniversary of Boswell's death in 1795. He is buried in the family mausoleum at Auchinleck House, Ayrshire, the square building to the side of the old church.
A nearby gravestone recalls Johnson and Mr Nairne, advocate, punning at Leith.


live mindful of death

After a wreath-laying ceremony by the mausoleum, ten of us walk the via sacra from church to house.

This gave me an opportunity to shew my friend the road to the church, made by my father at a great expence, for above three miles, on his own estate, through a range of well enclosed farms, with a row of trees on each side of it. He called it the Via sacra, and was very fond of it.

(Boswell, 5 XI 1773)

The original trees, some of which remain, were Beech and Oak, their initials beginning the family name.



Arriving at the house, I notice the lines from Horace above the door which Boswell quotes in his journal.

Quod petis hic est
Est Ulubris animus si te non deficit aequus

What you seek is here at Ulubrae
so long as peace of mind does not desert you

Said to be a message to Boswell from his father – stop your gallivanting and settle down, here.

The Boswell Book Festival is in full swing, and I go to Gordon Turnbull's talk on the 1773 Tour, when he highlights what he calls the "conflicts and inversions" in Boswell's account, including the "altercation" between Johnson and his father in the library here which he chooses not to describe.

On the way back, I make a contemporary homage with Alec's poem-label to the parallel lines of the via sacra.


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