Friday, March 23, 2012

Amanuenses


‘On Monday, March 23 [1772], I found him busy, preparing a fourth edition of
his folio Dictionary. Mr. Peyton, one of his original amanuenses, was
writing for him.

He seemed also to be intent on some sort of chymical operation. I was
entertained by observing how he contrived to send Mr. Peyton on an
errand, without seeming to degrade him. 'Mr. Peyton,--Mr. Peyton, will
you be so good as to take a walk to Temple-Bar? You will there see a
chymist's shop; at which you will be pleased to buy for me an ounce of
oil of vitriol; not spirit of vitriol, but oil of vitriol. It will cost
three half-pence.' Peyton immediately went, and returned with it, and
told him it cost but a penny.’

The text above is from James Boswell’s “Life of Johnson”.  Mr. Peyton served for Samuel Johnson as several helpers served for Sir Walter Scott while he was debilitated.  One of these, perhaps the most helpful, was William Laidlaw.  From John Gibson Lockhart’s “The Life of Sir Walter Scott”:

‘It was at a farm in this region that Scott met with one of his most attached friends and helpers,
 William Laidlaw, whose services he found to be invaluable, not only in his office of farm bailiff, 
but also as literary amanuensis, counsellor, and friend.’

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