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The inn at Glenmorison.
The room had some deals laid across the joists, as a kind of ceiling. There were two beds in the room, and a woman's gown was hung on a rope to make a curtain of separation between them. Joseph had sheets, which my wife had sent with us, laid on them. We had much hesitation, whether to undress, or lie down with our clothes on. I said at last,' I'll plunge in! There will be less harbour for vermin about me, when I am stripped!' Dr. Johnson said, he was like one hesitating whether to go into the cold bath. At last he resolved too. I observed he might serve a campaign. JOHNSON. 'I could do all that can be done by patience: whether I should have strength enough, I know not.' He was in excellent humour. To see the Rambler as I saw him to-night, was really an amusement. I yesterday told him, I was thinking of writing a poetical letter to him, on his return from Scotland, in the style of Swift's humorous epistle in the character of Mary Gulliver to her husband, Captain Lemuel Gulliver, on his return to England from the country of the HOUYHNHUMS:
'At early morn I to the market haste,
He laughed, and asked in whose name I would write it. I
154, he asserts that 'the principles of arithmetick and geometry may be comprehended by a close attention in a few days.' Mrs. Piozzi says (Anec. p. 77) that when Mr. Johnson felt his fancy disordered, his constant recurrence was to arithmetic; and one day that he was confined to his chamber, and I enquired what he had been doing to divert himself, he shewed me a calculation which I could scarce be made to understand, so vast was the plan of it; no other indeed than that the national debt, computing it at £180,000,000, would, if converted into silver, serve to make a meridian of that metal, I forget how broad, for the globe of the whole earth.' See ante, iii. 235, and iv. 197, note 2.
'Swift's Works (1803), xxiv. 63.
Sept. 1.] The traveller's groundless fears.
said, in Mrs. Thrale's. He was angry. 'Sir, if you have any sense of decency or delicacy, you won't do that!' BosWELL. Then let it be in Cole's, the landlord of the Mitre tavern; where we have so often sat together.' JOHNSON. 'Ay, that may do.'
After we had offered up our private devotions, and had chatted a little from our beds, Dr. Johnson said, 'GOD bless us both, for Jesus Christ's sake! Good night!' I pronounced Amen.' He fell asleep immediately. I was not so fortunate for a long time. I fancied myself bit by innumerable vermin under the clothes; and that a spider was travelling from the wainscot towards my mouth. At last I fell into insensibility.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER I.
I awaked very early. I began to imagine that the landlord, being about to emigrate, might murder us to get our money, and lay it upon the soldiers in the barn. Such groundless fears will arise in the mind, before it has resumed its vigour after sleep! Dr. Johnson had had the same kind of ideas; for he told me afterwards, that he considered so many soldiers, having seen us, would be witnesses, should any harm be done, and that circumstance, I suppose, he considered as a security'. When I got up, I found him sound asleep in his miserable stye, as I may call it, with a coloured handkerchief tied round his head. With difficulty could I awaken him. It reminded me of Henry the Fourth's fine soliloquy on sleep; for there was
We told the soldiers how kindly we had been treated at the garrison, and, as we were enjoying the benefit of their labours, begged leave to shew our gratitude by a small present . . . They had the true military impatience of coin in their pockets, and had marched at least six miles to find the first place where liquor could be bought. Having never been before in a place so wild and unfrequented I was glad of their arrival, because I knew that we had made them friends; and to gain still more of their good-will we went to them, where they were carousing in the barn, and added something to our former gift.', Works, ix. 31-2
The battle of Culloden.
here as uneasy a pallet' as the poet's imagination could possibly conceive.
A red coat of the 15th regiment, whether officer, or only serjeant, I could not be sure, came to the house, in his way to the mountains to shoot deer, which it seems the Laird of Glenmorison does not hinder any body to do. Few, indeed, can do them harm. We had him to breakfast with us. We got away about eight. M'Queen walked some miles to give us a convoy. He had, in 1745, joined the Highland army at Fort Augustus, and continued in it till after the battle of Culloden. As he narrated the particulars of that ill-advised, but brave attempt, I could not refrain from tears. There is a certain association of ideas in my mind upon that subject, by which I am strongly affected. The very Highland names, or the sound of a bagpipe, will stir my blood, and fill me with a mixture of melancholy and respect for courage; with pity for an unfortunate and superstitious regard for antiquity, and thoughtless inclination for war; in short, with a crowd of sensations with which sober rationality has nothing to do.
We passed through Glensheal, with prodigious mountains on each side. We saw where the battle was fought in the year 17192. Dr. Johnson owned he was now in a scene of as wild nature as he could see; but he corrected me sometimes in my inaccurate observations. There, (said I,) is a mountain like a cone.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. It would be called so in a book; and when a man comes to look at it, he sees it is not so. It is indeed pointed at the top; but one side of it is larger than the other.' Another mountain I
'Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
2 Henry IV, act iii. sc. I.
⚫ Spain, in 1719, sent a strong force under the Duke of Ormond to Scotland in behalf of the Chevalier. Owing to storms only a few hundred men landed. These were joined by a large body of Highlanders, but being attacked by General Wightman, the clansmen dispersed and the Spaniards surrendered. Smollett's England, ed. 1800, ii. 382.
" Boswell mentions this ante, i. 48, as a proof of Johnson's 'perceptive quickness.'
Sept. 1.] A meditative rest by a rivulet.
called immense. JOHNSON. 'No; it is no more than a considerable protuberance.'
We came to a rich green valley, comparatively speaking, and stopped awhile to let our horses rest and eat grass'. We soon afterwards came to Auchnasheal, a kind of rural village, a number of cottages being built together, as we saw all along in the Highlands. We passed many miles this day without seeing a house, but only little summer-huts, called shielings. Evan Campbell, servant to Mr. Murchison, factor to the Laird of Macleod in Glenelg, ran along with us today. He was a very obliging fellow. At Auchnasheal, we sat down on a green turf seat at the end of a house; they brought us out two wooden dishes of milk, which we tasted. One of them was frothed like a syllabub. I saw a woman preparing it with such a stick as is used for chocolate, and in
1 Dr. Johnson, in his Journey, thus beautifully describes his situation here: I sat down on a bank, such as a writer of romance might have delighted to feign. I had, indeed, no trees to whisper over my head; but a clear rivulet streamed at my feet. The day was calm, the air soft, and all was rudeness, silence, and solitude. Before me, and on either side, were high hills, which, by hindering the eye from ranging, forced the mind to find entertainment for itself. Whether I spent the hour well, I know not; for here I first conceived the thought of this narration.' The Critical Reviewers, with a spirit and expression worthy of the subject, say,- We congratulate the publick on the event with which this quotation concludes, and are fully persuaded that the hour in which the entertaining traveller conceived this narrative will be considered, by every reader of taste, as a fortunate event in the annals of literature. Were it suitable to the task in which we are at present engaged, to indulge ourselves in a poetical flight, we would invoke the winds of the Caledonian Mountains to blow for ever, with their softest breezes, on the bank where our author reclined, and request of Flora, that it might be perpetually adorned with the gayest and most fragrant productions of the year.' BosWELL. Johnson thus described the scene to Mrs. Thrale:-'I sat down to take notes on a green bank, with a small stream running at my feet, in the midst of savage solitude, with mountains before me and on either hand covered with heath. I looked around me, and wondered that I was not more affected, but the mind is not at all times equally ready to be put in motion.' Piozzi Letters, i. 131.
The poor M'Craas.
the same manner. We had a considerable circle about us, men, women, and children, all M'Craas, Lord Seaforth's people. Not one of them could speak English. I observed to Dr. Johnson, it was much the same as being with a tribe of Indians. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but not so terrifying'.' gave all who chose it, snuff and tobacco. Governour Trapaud had made us buy a quantity at Fort Augustus, and put them up in small parcels. I also gave each person a bit of wheat bread, which they had never tasted before. I then gave a penny a-piece to each child. I told Dr. Johnson of this; upon which he called to Joseph and our guides, for change for a shilling, and declared that he would distribute among the children. Upon this being announced in Erse, there was a great stir; not only did some children come running down from neighbouring huts, but I observed one blackhaired man, who had been with us all along, had gone off, and returned, bringing a very young child. My fellow traveller then ordered the children to be drawn up in a row; and he dealt about his copper, and made them and their parents all happy. The poor M'Craas, whatever may be their present state, were of considerable estimation in the year 1715, when there was a line in a song,
'And aw the brave M'Craas are coming'.'
The villagers gathered about us in considerable numbers, I believe without any evil intention, but with a very savage wildness of aspect and manner.' Johnson's Works, ix. 38.
'The M'Craas, or Macraes, were since that time brought into the king's army, by the late Lord Seaforth. When they lay in Edinburgh Castle in 1778, and were ordered to embark for Jersey, they with a number of other men in the regiment, for different reasons, but especially an apprehension that they were to be sold to the East-India Company, though enlisted not to be sent out of Great-Britain without their own consent, made a determined mutiny, and encamped upon the lofty mountain, Arthur's seat, where they remained three days and three nights; bidding defiance to all the force in Scotland. At last they came down, and embarked peaceably, having obtained formal articles of capitulation, signed by Sir Adolphus Oughton, commander in chief, General Skene, deputy commander, the Duke of Buccleugh, and the Earl of Dunmore, which quieted them. Since the secession.