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The Laird of Lochbuy.
He took leave of Mr. M‘Leod, saying, “Sir, I thank you for your entertainment, and your conversation.'
Mr. Campbell, who had been so polite yesterday, came this morning on purpose to breakfast with us, and very obligingly furnished us with horses to proceed on our journey to Mr. M'Lean's of Lochbuy, where we were to pass the night. We dined at the house of Dr. Alexander M‘Lean, another physician in Mull, who was so much struck with the uncommon conversation of Dr. Johnson, that he observed to me, “This man is just a hogshead of sense.'
Dr. Johnson said of the Turkish Spy', which lay in the room, that it told nothing but what every body might have known at that time; and that what was good in it, did not pay you for the trouble of reading to find it.
After a very tedious ride, through what appeared to me the most gloomy and desolate country I had ever beheld”, we arrived, between seven and eight o'clock, at Moy, the seat of the Laird of Lochbuy. Buy, in Erse, signifies yellow, and I at first imagined that the loch or branch of the sea here, was thus denominated, in the same manner as the Red Sea; but I afterwards learned that it derived its name from a hill above it, which being of a yellowish hue has the epithet of Buy.
We had heard much of Lochbuy's being a great roaring braggadocio, a kind of Sir John Falstaff, both in size and manners; but we found that they had swelled him up to a fictitious size, and clothed him with imaginary qualities. Col's idea of him was equally extravagant, though very different: he told us he was quite a Don Quixote; and said, he would give a great deal to see him and Dr. Johnson together. The truth is, that Lochbuy proved to be only a bluff, comely, noisy old gentleman, proud of his hereditary consequence, and a very hearty and hospitable landlord.
· See ante, iv. 231.
''Our afternoon journey was through a country of such gloomy desolation that Mr. Boswell thought no part of the Highlands equally terrifick.' Johnson's Works, ix, 150.
The Laird of Lochbuy.
Lady Lochbuy was sister to Sir Allan M'Lean, but much older. He said to me, 'They are quite Antediluvians.' Being told that Dr. Johnson did not hear well, Lochbuy bawled out to him, “Are you of the Johnstons of Glencro, or of Ardnamurchan'?' Dr. Johnson gave him a significant look, but made no answer; and I told Lochbuy that he was not Johnston, but Johnson, and that he was an Englishman’.
Lochbuy some years ago tried to prove himself a weak man, liable to imposition, or, as we term it in Scotland, a facile man, in order to set aside a lease which he had granted; but failed in the attempt. On my mentioning this circumstance to Dr. Johnson, he seemed much surprized that such a suit was admitted by the Scottish law, and observed, that 'In England no man is allowed to stultify himself?.'
Sir Allan, Lochbuy, and I, had the conversation chiefly to ourselves to-night; Dr. Johnson, being extremely weary, to bed soon after supper.
'Johnson describes Lochbuy as a true Highland laird, rough and haughty, and tenacious of his dignity: who, hearing my name, inquired whether I was of the Johnstons of Glencoe (sic) or of Ardnamurchan. 16.
* Boswell totally misapprehended Lochbuy's meaning. There are two septs of the powerful clan of M‘Donald, who are called Mac-lan, that is John's-son ; and as Highlanders often translate their names when they go to the Lowlands,—as Gregor-son for Mac-Gregor, Farquhar-son for Mac-Farquhar,--Lochbuy supposed that Dr. Johnson might be one of the Mac-lans of Ardnamurchan, or of Glencro. Boswell's explanation was nothing to the purpose. The Johnstons are a clan distinguished in Scottish border history, and as brave as any Highland clan that ever wore brogues; but they lay entirely out of Lochbuy's knowledge--nor was he thinking of them. WALTER SCOTT.
* This maxim, however, has been controverted. See Blackstone's Commentaries, vol. ii. p. 291 ; and the authorities there quoted. BosWELL. Blackstone says:- From these loose authorities, which Fitzherbert does not hesitate to reject as being contrary to reason, the maxim that a man shall not stultify himself hath been handed down as settled law; though later opinions, feeling the inconvenience of the rule, have in many points endeavoured to restrain it.'
Ib. p. 292.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22. Before Dr. Johnson came to breakfast, Lady Lochbuy said, he was a dungeon of wit;' a very common phrase ir Scotland to express a profoundness of intellect, though h afterwards told me, that he never had heard it. She proposed that he should have some cold sheep's-head for breakfast. Sir Allan seemed displeased at his sister's vulgarity, and wondered how such a thought should come into her head. From a mischievous love of sport, I took the lady's part ; and very gravely said, 'I think it is but fair to give him an offer of it. If he does not choose it, he may let it alone. “I think so,' said the lady, looking at her brother with an air of victory. Sir Allan, finding the matter desperate, strutted about the room, and took snuff. When Dr. Johnson came in, she called to him, “Do you choose any cold sheep's-head, Sir?' "No, MADAM,' said he, with a tone of surprise and anger'.' “It is here, Sir,' said she, supposing he had refused it to save the trouble of bringing it in. They thus went on at cross purposes, till he confirmed his refusal in a manner not to be misunderstood ; while I sat quietly by, and enjoyed my success.
After breakfast, we surveyed the old castle, in the pit or dungeon of which Lochbuy had some years before taken upon him to imprison several persons’; and though he had
| Begging pardon of the Doctor and his conductor, I have often seen and partaken of cold sheep's head at as good breakfast-tables as ever they sat at. This protest is something in the manner of the late Culrossie, who fought a duel for the honour of Aberdeen butter. I have passed over all the Doctor's other reproaches upon Scotland, but the sheep's head I will defend totis viribus. Dr. Johnson himself must have forgiven my zeal on this occasion; for if, as he says, dinner be the thing of which a man thinks oftenest during the day, breakfast must be that of which he thinks first in the morning. WALTER SCOTT. I do not know where Johnson says this. Perhaps Scott was thinking of a passage in Mrs. Piozzi's Anec. p. 149, where she writes that he said: 'A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of any thing than he does of his dinner.' * A horrible place it was. Johnson describes it (Works, ix. 152) as Oct. 22.
Adieu to Lochbuy.
been fined in a considerable sum by the Court of Justiciary, he was so little affected by it, that while we were examining the dungeon, he said to me, with a smile, ‘Your father knows something of this;' (alluding to my father's having sat as one of the judges on his trial.) Sir Allan whispered me, that the laird could not be persuaded that he had lost his heritable jurisdiction'.
We then set out for the ferry, by which we were to cross to the main land of Argyleshire. Lochbuy and Sir Allan accompanied us. We were told much of a war-saddle, on which this reputed Don Quixote used to be mounted; but we did not see it, for the young laird had applied it to a less noble purpose, having taken it to Falkirk fair with a drove of black cattle.
We bade adieu to Lochbuy, and to our very kind conductoro, Sir Allan M Lean, on the shore of Mull, and then got into the ferry-boat, the bottom of which was strewed with branches of trees or bushes, upon which we sat. We had a
'a deep subterraneous cavity, walled on the sides, and arched on the top, into which the descent is through a narrow door, by a ladder or a rope.'
See ante, p. 201. · Sir Allan M‘Lean, like many Highland chiefs, was embarrassed in his private affairs, and exposed to unpleasant solicitations from attorneys, called, in Scotland, writers (which indeed was the chief motive of his retiring to Inchkenneth). Upon one occasion he made a visit to a friend, then residing at Carron lodge, on the banks of the Carron, where the banks of that river are studded with pretty villas : Sir Allan, admiring the landscape, asked his friend, whom that handsome seat belonged to. 'M--, the writer to the signet,' was the reply. Umph!' said Sir Allan, but not with an accent of assent, “I mean that other house.' 'Oh! that belongs to a very honest fellow Jamie
also a writer to the signet.' 'Umph!' said the Highland chief of M’Lean
' with more emphasis than before, ' And yon smaller house?' That belongs to a Stirling man; I forget his name, but I am sure he is a writer too; for- Sir Allan who had recoiled a quarter of a circle backward at every response, now wheeled the circle entire and turned his back on the landscape, saying, 'My good friend, I must own you have a pretty situation here; but d-n your neighbourhood.' WALTER SCOTT.
good day and a fine passage, and in the evening landed at Oban, where we found a tolerable inn. After having been so long confined at different times in islands, from which it was always uncertain when we could get away, it was comfortable to be now on the main land, and to know that, if in health, we might get to any place in Scotland or England in a certain number of days.
Here we discovered from the conjectures which were formed, that the people on the main land were entirely ignorant of our motions; for in a Glasgow news-paper we found a paragraph, which, as it contains a just and well-turned compliment to my illustrious friend, I shall insert :
“We are well assured that Dr. Johnson is confined by tempestuous weather to the isle of Sky; it being unsafe to venture, in a small boat, upon such a stormy surge as is very common there at this time of the year. Such a philosopher, detained on an almost barren island, resembles a whale left upon the strand. The latter will be welcome to every body, on account of his oil, his bone, &c., and the other will charm his companions, and the rude inhabitants, with his superior knowledge and wisdom, calm resignation, and unbounded benevolence.'
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23. After a good night's rest, we breakfasted at our leisure. We talked of Goldsmith's Traveller, of which Dr. Johnson spoke highly; and, while I was helping him on with his great coat, he repeated from it the character of the British nation, which he did with such energy, that the tear started into his eye:
Stern o'er each bosom reason holds her state,