1758 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. John Armstrong

Alexander Carlyle, 1758; in Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle (1910) 363.



As soon as my sister got into her house in a court in Aldermansbury, Dr. Dickson and she gave a dinner to my friends, with two or three of his. There were Doctors Pitcairn, Armstrong, Smollett, and Orme, together with Dr. Robertson, John Blair, Home and myself. We passed an exceedingly pleasant day, although Smollett had given Armstrong a staggering blow at the beginning of dinner, by asking him some questions about his nose, which was still patched, on account of his having run it through the side-glass of his chariot when somebody came up to speak to him. Armstrong was naturally glumpy, and this, I was afraid, would have silenced him all day, which it might, had not Smollett called him familiarly John soon after his joke on his nose; but he knew Smollett loved and respected him, and soon recovered his good-humour, and became brilliant. My sister, who had one lady with her — one of Pitcairn's nieces, I believe — was happy and agreeable, and highly pleasing to her guests, who confessed they had seldom seen such a superior woman.