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THE SECRET OF THE EBONY CABINET __WHAT James Boone, Esq, of Auchinleck, Sxland, wanted most i l—apart from such immediate conoations as wine and com> ‘lisa ad, bah of which were always penifl in his fe—was ame, Probably his lifelong bunger fe public notice was thereat ofa prawing conviction of personal inadequacy and, a tine went 0, St are. In any event, ed bin (1 mention ony the mst famous {fstances to compete wth Shakespeare for public attention during the Stator Shakespeare jubilee of 17@, by parading the sires ‘wth placard in his hat veaing“Corsiea Boswell; tify the a= incest Drury Lane There oe night by ving spite imitations ft a cow's moos followed by somewhat les sores mitaions of “ther animal: to appear a a poli execution stp a ease: and to adc pcan whi by returning to London, aftr a walk tthe Suburbs perched conspicuously on a dung cat Such cations as these earnod Boswell if not fame, atleast otrcy and otrey, afte al was something forthe momen, Traut be wea inthe public ye. But Bowwell till ha his Heart set on tring remembered by uncounted age to come: And that is oe reason hy eu industrious eval the company of Dr, Samoc Joh- Toor 1 Boone were otto be remembered as auger (be was an Sistigwished ne), or as an essayist and occasional poet (roles in Mthich he played only the most meloce gifts), peraps be could ‘Ti stOReY oF THE EBONY camoveEr ” heat oblvnn athe fiend, and eventually the biographer, of Dr. Johnson, ‘Aad he di is Lif of Jobnion, fro the day it appeared, assured thatthe ane of James Booell would never be forgotten. But one ‘an cheat obvion na umber of way, and the way in which Boswell ‘id twas tot the one tht most of us would prefer. How much it ‘at him war summed up nest, fat too neatly, as we now rai, in Macaulay's fam paradox about the greatest Engl biographer ing the gat fal in history. “To any raer ofthe Life of Jobion, however, i is clear that orwell yeamed for pre fae, fame that comes ot fom making onclf appar 2 sin stupid as in order thatthe subject of one's ‘graphy sould seem all the more imposing a Sgue, But from the shee Inter of one's own character. Boswell above al, wanted to be remembered as James Boswel, Esq, a1 man worthy of permanent ame-nottooriety—for his ovn sake; who, even if every copy of the Life of Jobin were somehow wiped ut, would still have an ‘nchallengel place inthe annals of eighentcentury England Macaulay showed the world exactly bow to view Boswell, and for early a cettury few ears doubted the jie of his estimate. But tre can imagine the bigrapber seating from his assigned seat puree (ober bis sin of the Dash undoubtedly sent him), “The {hony cit? Look inthe ebony cabinet” For it was thee thatthe teal Tames Borvell the Bowell who would aunt for something it Snybody evi trobied to look hin up seat lest, he had been lice ther fovingly and careuly by the mortal James Boswell be fore he ded Tn onwer's wil, when he died in 198, was founda provision re lating toa certain “ebony cabinet” a fami hilo which had ‘come down to him from his geat-randmoter, and which til re Insned inthe ancestral home at Auchinleck, neat Ealaburgh. In his Concer thatthe cabinet ever lave the family, he provide in is wil hat an heir who “alienate” its to fret a thousand pounds ‘Why thisansiety fra pte of friture? Party ofcourse ecnse fetes an hiram and the Bowes were very proud oftheir ancient Tine: But mere importantly, beause it contained the most valuable of ” “Tie SCHOLAR ADVENTURERS ‘James Borns ppers: the papers which fhe wold vers the, would amply juty hi fat hate would nt be forgston, Foe Year Borel! had prove he wten cod aly le with {he asia of «Seth magic The pce extent and are of then vecrds wee Kno tp ee be ial, batt the Life of Yobaon be dopped texting erecta bisarchiver” which ced Preeti enogh twa pana any rte that hoe "archive at Aechakck eeroed many tert sd from Dr. Jl ee they were ten gue the Lf; awa oe probable that hey Included ao the great mass of nots frm which Bowell ha re omar te dts ofthe Jobo ayo he wonder ays Sighs of eat Ble Court and Sesto, aod on the wide cpt blind of Scatland? is cany eel oon posterity, Bow nhs wil gave cic Gets fr tet wilh te accrued pope to he chry inet were to be put He deed that the of his frends—ahe Revered Willan Jobson Tempe, Si Willan Forts and ES toindMaloe—in their capacity a Hierary ecu sould Uhrogh he archives and pl al nach prof a they om ‘Wat more culd's man Go ee tat he wold be remenered iter ean? Dut the pul dese 10 read owls personal papers, dee emai, wat aot ratif.Ar we now kno, the appointed “Wcay exer id gp trough the contents of the ebony exit tery cartly; bt then ono hm i, nd the we remaining ‘Stor decided todly an further acon nthe mater nil Bowls Sond son, on of the younger children who orwell hd dicted Shou sae te prseds of pblation, wa of ag No firtr ae fenpt war made oto rin the archives, andthe oly thie men tho acy what they eta ed wt even the ce [Aris things ore pln kw secre wich ner epcally cared to dtr, For who, feral was thi strange being Bose sto had writen so exhib facinting a hook? Nr Macaulay {old th reader ofthe Edinbrgh Rein, dbs words echoed ow through thecnturys "He wars, «ama othe capes and eet HF sCRET OF THE EBONY CANINET 9 Intec «servile and impertinent, sallow and pedantic bigot fan a sot, bined with family pride, apd etrrally Mastering about the dignity of born gentleman, yet stooping to be a tale-bearer, a9 faverdroppe common but the taverns of London.” Ths, wile the subjects of Queen Vioria were endlealy grtelal to Boswell for Ihving managed somehow, despite his intelectual vacuity and die ‘using perenaity, to write great book, they were ot SOF) 12 Te deprived any further knowledge of the autor ‘Only few persstety curious ookmen, members of the can who must kom ar mich a can be found out about any Tierary Figure, regarcles of his manners ot his moral, were Bothered about ‘ogel. Aged that he was all that he portrayed msl tobe, with Incredible Hngenoournes, in the Life of Jobuon—n impertinent, ety, vain, veakowld,toadying hypchondrac, supestios, of- ous ingustve, shares eresture—wat be nothing more? Did thee el(-reeatons, seemingly so comprehensive, actually give ws 2 ‘complete pie ofthe man? Or might there not he another side to Bowwel «side which was revesed only inthe private papers be had Nok op for posterity inthe ebony cabinet? ’Atthe sume time, of cou, the i ofthe ebony cabinet was ao ‘on the mind of thowe who, mach more in the tendency oftheir age, trish to ow more about Dr Johnson, But oa me, the eabiet ‘ow conse of ladies inte sterestVicoian mad who knew that the woe world shared Macaulay opinkn of ther embarassing. ancotor. Janes Boswel, Esq. was a closed chapter in the family sory, Dr Johnson or o Dr Jobmin. And anyway. the caine was ‘empty—for the Donel ates never contac the rumors which Trad spread tough the teary worl, ery in the century, that Bose wes papers had been burned ‘Apparent, then, Boswell’ paper, whatever they contained, were one. James Boswell would have to be content with bing remembered fh conceited devote of the spots who had somehow’ Blundered nwo writing gest bok: the increasing fold of Josonians would Ihave toremsin deprive the important knowledge oftheir which ‘was contained in his Bographer fle but not wsed i the Life; and the ew Hoonlians, 2 strange et who could not el entertaining an inexplicable love forthe man who could on ozasinn be 50 end aout his weakness, woud know nothing more of him. And that was {hesitation in the mide ofthe ninetecth century. But if ever coming events cast thei shadows before, they did ona ‘certain day in 1850 inthe Frenchtown of Boulogne-surMer, when oe ‘Major Stone ofthe Eas oda Company, gentleman oterwise un- ‘own to istry, happened ito tle shop to make ome eas porches. When, up his return to his Nogngs. he unmapped his pata be dicovered that he wrapping paper was fragment ofan old Tecer—riten in Engst, With fle curity be looked atthe i ‘ature on the lee, and enti it immediately a that of 3 man Known to every Englishman with a smattering of Ieray clr. Ie sas "James Bowel” “To the everastng credit of the major, he immediatly traced the source of the wrapping paper: an itinerant vender who was in the ‘abit of passing throgh Boulogne once or ie year, upping the shops with thr needs. And By god luck, the Boulogne shopkeeper hd ot yet wed that portion of Mis ney porchawed stock which con pained the majors quarry. Money changed hands, and Major Stone found hist the omer of alge numberof eters which Boswell Ia writen fois most timate frend, the Reverend Wiliam Jobn= How the Bosnl-Temple eters got to the counter of 2 sl shop fn Uoulogne can easly be explained. Temple's daughter Anne had ‘mari Charles Powlet, a clergyman who for some reson tad Ioved from England, about 1825, toa Ul town only a few mies {tor Boulogne. So mich is cetin: for theres, ne need ely posto late the death ofthe sorviving member ofthe couple, simpy a pen tal helsing, he two cumstances under mhich mos mass of Drvaely el dsumentary material emerge rom hiding. The pele Iappenet by, bought mass of sap paper, and began ors it nt long afterward in Boulogne he Bomell-Temle ltrs, publshe! Ine in 1856, were the st Important nition to public Knowledge of Bone sce his death [Naor there war sore septic: orges were at arg in England, and ony fo years earlier there ha bee the notorious case of twenty= five forged Stele eters. fora propo edition of which Browning tad rien a inrodcton Bt all doubt ofthe authenticity of these owwell ees were answered hy the unquestionably genuine Bose ‘elian flavor andthe agreement of uch otra evidence withthe ready tablished fats of his life. The contents of many of the lees, however, mere mt sich at nite publi ment thatthe rst of his papers had persed. Eventhough they were severely expor ted teore printing they rove beyond question that Maca had ten Largely ight in his condemnation of Boswell. partial, Bose v's frequnt confessions to Temple reese him to bea rake of Unusual persstence and not to fastlious tastes. He was ot quite the ‘nam whom the Victorians wised to admit to ther parlor. And 0, iter thi bee forish of interet, Bowes fame remained just about wha had ben bor: highly dubious. The ee el of the pab- Tiation ofthe Temple eters was the still more resolute strengthening ofthe bars at Auchinleck aginst any impertinent inquire. When, seme twenty years ate, George Birkbeck Hil, the eta of the great sta ein ofthe Life of Jobmon, went a peron tothe Boswell seat, the doc was veal slammed i his fc. 1 1 1005 few people heard the news, and fever gave any thought 0 i thatthe ast member ofthe family at Avchilck had de, and that er ett had posed tothe only remaining male descendant of James Borel: his great-grea-grandin, Lord Talbot de Malahide. In due time the Bomell booms were transfered to the new ‘ners home at Malahide Caste, near Dubin, Presmaly the ebony ‘bine war smong them, tut war ransaton of which the wold ‘of bknen was tod nothing ‘Sveneen eas later am American scholar made the fit great step tomard rehabilitating Bomell as 4 man deserving of independent Iieranyand peychlogcal—study. In his book Young Borel, Profesor Chauncey Brewster Tinker of Val University, arguing that