Boswell's Life


James Boswell. Book of Company at Auchinleck Since the Succession of James Boswell, Esq. in 1782. Manuscript. MS Hyde 51 (3)

Boswell, laird of Auchinleck from 1782 until his death in 1795, kept detailed records of his guests at dinner and overnight, and the sometimes staggering amounts of wine and spirits they consumed together. The page shown here has columns for bottles of claret, port, Lisbon, Madeira, sherry, mountain, gin, brandy, and rum. Yet he also recorded much more personal events, such as the death from tuberculosis of his wife Margaret in May 1789, while Boswell was away in London:

My Wife was now exceedingly ill of that fatal disease the Consumption but I flattered myself that she would grow better as Summer advanced as she had done for the three former years …. I was in great agitation & very averse to go. But she generously pressed me to be resolute. Alas! the event proved fatal. I never saw her again alive.