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Ride to Kingsburgh.
ourselves injured by the supposition that we would miss your lord-
'Your Lordship's most obedient
Skie, Sept. 14, 1773.'
At Portree, Mr. Donald M'Queen went to church and officiated in Erse, and then came to dinner. Dr. Johnson and I resolved that we should treat the company, so I played the landlord, or master of the feast, having previously ordered Joseph to pay the bill.
Sir James Macdonald intended to have built a village here, which would have done great good. A village is like a heart to a country. It produces a perpetual circulation, and gives the people an opportunity to make profit of many little articles, which would otherwise be in a good measure lost. We had here a dinner, et præterea nihil. Dr. Johnson did not talk. When we were about to depart, we found that Rasay had been beforehand with us, and that all was paid: I would fain have contested this matter with him, but seeing him resolved, I declined it. We parted with cordial embraces from him and worthy Malcolm. In the evening Dr. Johnson and I remounted our horses, accompanied by Mr. M'Queen and Dr. Macleod. It rained very hard. We rode what they call six miles, upon Rasay's lands in Sky, to Dr. Macleod's house. On the road Dr. Johnson appeared to be somewhat out of spirits. When I talked of our meeting Lord Elibank, he said, 'I cannot be with him much. I long to be again in civilized life; but can stay but a short while;' (he meant at Edinburgh). He said, 'let us go to Dunvegan tomorrow.' 'Yes, (said I,) if it is not a deluge.' 'At any rate,' he replied. This shewed a kind of fretful impatience; nor was it to be wondered at, considering our disagreeable ride. I feared he would give up Mull and Icolmkill, for he said
Yet he said of him:-There is nothing conclusive in his talk.' Ante, iii. 65.
A gallant Hightanaer.
something of his apprehensions of being detained by bad weather in going to Mull and Iona. However I hoped well. We had a dish of tea at Dr. Macleod's, who had a pretty good house, where was his brother, a half-pay officer. His lady was a polite, agreeable woman. Dr. Johnson said, he was glad to see that he was so well married, for he had an esteem for physicians'. The doctor accompanied us to Kingsburgh, which is called a mile farther; but the computation of Sky has no connection whatever with real distance'.
I was highly pleased to see Dr. Johnson safely arrived at Kingsburgh, and received by the hospitable Mr. Macdonald, who, with a most respectful attention, supported him into the house. Kingsburgh was completely the figure of a gallant Highlander,—exhibiting 'the graceful mien and manly looks',' which our popular Scotch song has justly attributed to that character. He had his Tartan plaid thrown about him, a large blue bonnet with a knot of black ribband like a cockade, a brown short coat of a kind of duffil, a Tartan waistcoast with gold buttons and gold button-holes, a bluish philibeg, and Tartan hose. He had jet black hair tied behind, and was a large stately man, with a steady sensible
There was a comfortable parlour with a good fire, and a dram went round. By and by supper was served, at which
''I believe every man has found in physicians great liberality and dignity of sentiment, very prompt effusion of beneficence, and willingness to exert a lucrative art where there is no hope of lucre.' Johnson's Works, vii. 402. See ante, iv. 304.
" Johnson says (ib. ix. 156) that when the military road was made through Giencroe, 'stones were placed to mark the distances, which the inhabitants have taken away, resolved, they said, “to have no new miles."
'The lawland lads think they are fine,
But they're vain and idly gawdy;
And manly look of my highland laddie.'
From The Highland Laddie, written long since by Allan Ramsay, and now sung at Ranelagh and all the other gardens; often fondly encored, and sometimes ridiculously hissed.' Gent. Mag. 1750, p. 325.
there appeared the lady of the house, the celebrated Miss Flora Macdonald. She is a little woman, of a genteel ap pearance, and uncommonly mild and well-bred'. To see Dr. Samuel Johnson, the great champion of the English Tories, salute Miss Flora Macdonald in the isle of Sky, was a striking sight; for though somewhat congenial in their notions, it was very improbable they should meet here.
Miss Flora Macdonald (for so I shall call her) told me, she heard upon the main land, as she was returning home about a fortnight before, that Mr. Boswell was coming to Sky, and one Mr. Johnson, a young English buck', with him. He was highly entertained with this fancy. Giving an account of the afternoon which we passed, at Anock, he said, 'I, being a buck, had miss3 in to make tea.' He was rather quiescent to-night, and went early to bed. I was in a cordial humour, and promoted a cheerful glass. The punch was excellent. Honest Mr. M'Queen observed that I was in high glee, 'my governour' being gone to bed.' Yet in reality my heart was
''She is of a pleasing person and elegant behaviour. She told me that she thought herself honoured by my visit; and I am sure that whatever regard she bestowed on me was liberally repaid.' Piozzi Letters, i. 153. In his Journey (Works, ix. 63) Johnson speaks of Flora Macdonald, as 'a name that will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour.'
2 This word, which meant much the same as fop or dandy, is found in Bk. x. ch. 2 of Fielding's Amelia (published in 1751):— A large assembly of young fellows, whom they call bucks.' Less than forty years ago, in the neighbourhood of London, it was, I remember, still commonly applied by the village lads to the boys of a boardingschool.
This word was at this time often used in a loose sense, though Johnson could not have so used it. Thus Horace Walpole, writing on May 16, 1759 (Letters, iii. 227), tells a story of the little Prince Frederick. T'other day as he was with the Prince of Wales, Kitty Fisher passed by, and the child named her; the Prince, to try him, asked who that was? "Why, a Miss." "A Miss," said the Prince of Wales, "why are not all girls Misses?" "Oh! but a particular sort of Miss-a Miss that sells oranges."' Mr. Cunningham in a note on this says:-Orange-girls at theatres were invariably courtesans.'
• Governor was the term commonly given to a tutor, especially a
Sept. 13.] Prince Charles Edward's bed.
grieved, when I recollected that Kingsburgh was embarrassed in his affairs, and intended to go to America'. However, nothing but what was good was present, and I pleased myself in thinking that so spirited a man would be well every where. I slept in the same room with Dr. Johnson. Each had a neat bed, with Tartan curtains, in an upper chamber.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13.
The room where we lay was a celebrated one. Dr. Johnson's bed was the very bed in which the grandson of the unfortunate King James the Second' lay, on one of the nights after the failure of his rash attempt in 1745-6, while he was eluding the pursuit of the emissaries of government, which had offered thirty thousand pounds as a reward for
travelling tutor. Thus Peregrine Pickle was sent first to Winchester and afterwards abroad under the immediate care and inspection of a governor.' Peregrine Pickle, ch. xv.
' He and his wife returned before the end of the War of Independence. On the way back she showed great spirit when their ship was attacked by a French man-of-war. Chambers's Rebellion in Scotland, ii. 329.
' I do not call him the Prince of Wales, or the Prince, because I am quite satisfied that the right which the House of Stuart had to the throne is extinguished. I do not call him the Pretender, because it appears to me as an insult to one who is still alive, and, I suppose, thinks very differently. It may be a parliamentary expression; but it is not a gentlemanly expression. I know, and I exult in having it in my power to tell, that THE ONLY PERSON in the world who is intitled to be offended at this delicacy, thinks and feels as I do; and has liberality of mind and generosity of sentiment enough to approve of my tenderness for what even has been Blood Royal. That he is a prince by courtesy, cannot be denied; because his mother was the daughter of Sobiesky, king of Poland. I shall, therefore, on that account alone, distinguish him by the name of Prince Charles Edward. BOSWELL. To have called him the Pretender in the presence of Flora Macdonald would have been hazardous. In her old age, 'such is said to have been the virulence of the Jacobite spirit in her composition, that she would have struck any one with her fist who presumed, in her hearing, to call Charles the Pretender.' Chambers's Rebellion in Scotland, ii. 330.
apprehending him. To see Dr. Samuel Johnson lying in that bed, in the isle of Sky, in the house of Miss Flora Macdonald, struck me with such a group of ideas as it is not easy for words to describe, as they passed through the mind. He smiled, and said, 'I have had no ambitious thoughts in it'.' The room was decorated with a great variety of maps and prints. Among others, was Hogarth's print of Wilkes grinning, with a cap of liberty on a pole by him. That too was a curious circumstance in the scene this morning; such a contrast was Wilkes to the above groupe. It reminded me of Sir William Chambers's Account of Oriental Gardening, in which we are told all odd, strange, ugly, and even terrible objects, are introduced for the sake of variety; a wild extravagance of taste which is so well ridiculed in the celebrated Epistle to him3. The following lines of that poem immediately occurred to me;
Here too, O king of vengeance! in thy fane,
Upon the table in our room I found in the morning a slip of paper, on which Dr. Johnson had written with his pencil these words,
'Quantum cedat virtutibus aurum".'
What he meant by writing them I could not tell. He had
'This, perhaps, was said in allusion to some lines ascribed to Pope, on his lying, at John Duke of Argyle's, at Adderbury, in the same bed in which Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, had slept:
'With no poetick ardour fir'd,
I press [press'd] the bed where Wilmot lay;
See ante, iv. 70, 216.
See ante, iv. 131 and 363.
This was written while Mr. Wilkes was Sheriff of London, and when it was to be feared he would rattle his chain a year longer as Lord Mayor.' Note to Campbell's British Poets, p. 662. By 'here' the poet means at Tyburn.
5 With virtue weigh'd, what worthless trash is gold! BOSWELL. Since the first edition of this book, an ingenious friend has ob