Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
James Boswell left his family at home near Edinburgh in the autumn of 1762 to spend the winter in London, where he hoped to obtain a commission in the Guards. He was convinced that the military life, which would allow him to live in the city he loved so much, would suit him far better than the legal profession chosen for him by his father, a noted Scottish jurist. He recorded the activities, the hopes, and the disappointments of this year in London in a diary, which he sent in regular installments to a young friend who remained in Scotland. This journal, which miraculously survived for two hundred years and came to light in the twentieth century, is a remarkably revealing document, for reticence was not one of Boswell’s characteristics. The frankness of his account of his activities brings him vividly to life.
Boswell was only twenty-two when he traveled south into England. He passed his legal examinations, and his father at last grudgingly agreed to give his son an allowance to allow him to pursue the career he thought he wanted. Lord Auchinleck’s decision proved to be a wise one, for, after months of discouragement, Boswell finally realized that he was not going to obtain the desired commission, even with the help of noble friends, and he agreed to take up law again, on the condition that he might travel on the Continent before he returned to Scotland to begin his practice.
These experiences were frustrating to Boswell, but they provide...
(The entire section is 1178 words.)
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