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It was wonderful how well time passed in a remote castle, and in dreary weather. After supper, we talked of Pennant. It was objected that he was superficial. Dr. Johnson defended him warmly. He said, “Pennant has greater variety of inquiry than almost any man, and has told us more than perhaps one in ten thousand could have done, in the time that he took. He has not said what he was to tell; so you cannot find fault with him for what he has not told. If a man comes to look for fishes, you cannot blame him if he does not attend to fowls." “But,” said Colonel Macleod, “ he mentions the unreasonable rise of rents in the Highlands, and says, “the gentlemen are for emptying the bag, without filling it;' for that is the phrase he uses. Why does he not tell how to fill it?"-JOHNSON. “Sir, there is no end of negative criticism. He tells what he observes, and as much as he chooses. If he tells what is not true, you may find fault with him ; but, though he tells that the land is not well cultivated, he is not obliged to tell how it may be well cultivated. If I tell that many of the Highlanders go bare-footed, am not obliged to tell how they may get shoes. Pennant tells a fact. He need go no farther, except he pleases. He exhausts nothing; and no subject whatever has yet been exhausted. But Pennant has surely told a great deal. Here is a man six feet high, and you are angry because he is not seven.” Notwithstanding this eloquent Oratio pro Pennantio, which they who have read this gentleman's Tours, and recollect the Savage and the Shop-keeper at Monboddo, will probably impute to the spirit of contradiction, I still think that he had better have given more attention to fewer things, than have thrown together such a number of imperfect accounts.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18.
Before breakfast, Dr. Johnson came np to my room, to forbid me to mention that this was his birth-day ; but I told him I had done it already; at which he was displeased; I suppose from wishing to have nothing particular done on his account. Lady Macleod and I got into a warm dispute. She wanted to build a house upon a farm which she has taken, about five miles from the castle, and to make gardens and other ornaments there ; all of which I approved of; but insisted that the seat of the family should always be upon the rock of Dunvegan.-JOHNSON. “Ay, in time we'll build all round this rock. You
may make a very good house at the farm, but it must not be such as to tempt the Laird of Macleod to go thither to reside. Most of the great families of England have a secondary residence, which is called a jointure-house: let the new house be of that kind.”—The
lady insisted that the rock was very inconvenient; that there was no place near it where a good garden could be made; that it must always be a rude place; that it was a Herculean labour to make a dinner here. I was vexed to find the alloy of modern refinement in a lady who had so much old family spirit.— Madam,” said I, “if once you quit this rock, there is no knowing where you may settle. You move five miles at first; then to St. Andrews, as the late laird did ; then to Edinburgh; and so on, till you end at Hampstead, or in France. No, no; keep to the rock: it is the very jewel of the estate. It looks as if it had been let down from heaven by the four corners, to be the residence of a chief. Have all the comforts and conveniences of life upon it, but never leave Rorie More's cascade.”—“But,” said she, “is it not enough if we keep it? must we never have more convenience than Rorie More had ? he had his beef brought to dinner in one basket, and his bread in another. Why not as well be Rorie More all over, as live upon his rock ? And should not we tire, in looking perpetually on this rock? It is very well for you, who have a fine place, and everything easy, to talk thus, and think of chaining honest folks to a rock. You would not live upon it yourself.”—“Yes, madam,” said I, “I would live upon it, were I Laird of Macleod, and should be unhappy if I were not upon it.”—JOHNSON, with a strong voice, and most determined manner, Madam, rather than quit the old rock, Boswell would live in the pit; he would make his bed in the dungeon.”—I felt a degree of elation, at finding my resolute feudal enthusiasm thus confirmed by such a sanction. The lady was puzzled a little. She still returned to her pretty farm-rich gronnd-fine garden.“ Madam,” said Dr. Johnson, “ were they in Asia, I would not leave the rock. My opinion on this subject is still the same. An ancient family residence ought to be a primary object; and though the situation of Dunvegan be such that little can be done here in gardening or pleasure-ground, yet, in addition to the veneration required by the lapse of time, it has many circumstances of natural grandeur, suited to the seat of a Highland Chief; it has the sea, islands, rocks, hills, a noble cascade; and when the family is again in opulence, soinething may be done by art.”*
Mr. Donald Macqueen went away to-day, in order to preach at Bracadale next day. We were so comfortably situated at Dunvegan, that Dr. Johnson could hardly be moved from it. I proposed to him that we should leave it on Monday. No, sir," said he, “I will not go before Wednesday. I will have some more of this good.” However, as the weather was at this season so bad, and so very uncertain,
Lady Macleod's desiderata have all been supplied. There is now at Dunvegan & good kitchen-garden, a flower-garden, hothouse, &c.-ED.
and we had a great deal to do yet, Mr. Macqueen and I prevailed with him to agree to set out on Monday, if the day should be good. Mr. Macqueen, though it was inconvenient for him to be absent from his harvest, engaged to wait on Monday at Ulinish for us. When he was going away, Dr. Johnson said, " I shall ever retain a great regard for you; then asked him if he had the “ Rambler.”—Mr. Macqueen said, “No; but my brother has it.”—JOHNSON : “ Have you the “ Idler ?”—MACQUEEN : “No, sir."— JOHNSON: “Then I will order one for you at Edinburgh, which you will keep in remembrance of me.”—Mr. Macqueen was much pleased with this. He expressed to me, in the strongest terms, his admiration of Dr. Johnson's wonderful knowledge, and every other quality for which he is distinguished. I asked Mr. Macqueen if he was satisfied with being a minister in Sky. He said he was; but he owned that his forefathers having been so long there, and his having been born there, made a chief ingredient in forming his contentment. I should have mentioned, that on our left hand, between Portree and Dr. Macleod's house, Mr. Macqueen told me there had been a college of the Knights Templars; that tradition said so; and that there was a ruin remaining of their church, which had been burnt: but I confess Dr. Johnson has weakened my belief in remote tradition. In the dispute about Anaitis, Mr. Macqueen said, Asia Minor was peopled by Scythians, and as they were the ancestors of the Celts, the same religion might be in Asia Minor and Sky.-JOHNSON : "Alas! sir, what can a nation that has not letters tell of its original. I have always difficulty to be patient when I hear authors gravely quoted, as giving accounts of savage nations, which accounts they had from the savages themselves. What can the Macraes tell about themselves a thousand years ago ? There is no tracing the connection of ancient nations, but by language; and therefore I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigree of nations. If you find the same language in distant countries, you may be sure that the inhabitants of each have been the same people; that is to say, if you find the languages a good deal the same; for a word here and there being the same will not do. Thus Butler, in his “Hudibras,” remembering that Penguin, in the Straits of Magellan, signifies a bird with a white head, and that the same word has, in Wales, the signification of a white-headed wench (pen head, and guin white), by way of ridicule, concludes that the people of those straits are Welsh.”
A young gentleman of the name of Maclean, nephew to the Laird of the Isle of Muck, came this morning; and, just as we sat down to dinner, came the Laird of the Isle of Muck himself, his lady, sister to Talisker, two other ladies their relations, and a daughter of the late
Macleod of Hamer, who wrote a treatise on the second sight, under the designation of “ Theophilus Insulanus.” It was somewhat droll to hear this laird called by his title. Muck would have sounded ill; so he was called Isle of Muck, which went off with great readiness. The name, as now written, is unseemly, but it is not so bad in the original Erse, which is Mouach, signifying the Sows' Island. Buchanan calls it “ Insula Porcorum." It is so called from its form. Some call it Isle of Monk.* The laird insists that this is the proper name. It was formerly church-land belonging to Icolmkill, and a hermit lived in it. It is two miles long, and about three quarters of a mile broad. The laird said he had seven score of souls upon it. Last year he had cighty persons inoculated, mostly children, but some of them eighteen years
He agreed with the surgeon to come and do it, at halfa-crown a head. It is very fertile in corn, of which they export some; and its coasts abound in fish. A tailor comes there six times in a year. They get a good blacksmith from the Isle of Egg.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 19. It was rather worse weather than any that we had yet. At breakfast, Dr. Johnson said, “Some cunning men choose fools for their wives, thinking to manage them, but they always fail. There is a spaniel fool and a mule fool. The spaniel fool may be made to do by beating. The mule fool will neither do by words nor blows; and the spaniel fool often turns mule at last: and suppose a fool to be made to do pretty well, you must have the continual trouble of making her do. Depend upon it, no woman is the worse for sense and knowledge.” Whether afterwards he meant merely to say a polite thing, or to give his opinion, I could not be sure ; but he added, “ Men know that women are an over-match for them, and therefore they choose the weakest or most ignorant. If they did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much as themselves.” In justice to the sex, I think it but candid to acknowledge, that, in a subsequent conversation, he told me that he was serious in what he had said.
He came to my room this morning before breakfast, to read my Journal, which he has done all along. He often before said, “I take great delight in reading it.” To-day he said, “ You improve: it grows better and better.” I observed, there was a danger of my
* It is so called in the notice of this laird's death:“1780, Nov. 14, in the Isle of Skye, Hector Macleod, Esq., of the Isle of Monk."-"Scots' Mag." The Gaelic name of the island is Eilan-nan-Muchd, the island of swine; and north of it lies Eilean-nan-Ench, the island of horses. Muck forms part of the parish of “Small Isles," including Egg, Muck, Rum, and Canna. The population of this parish in 1851 was 460. It was formerly much larger, but has been reduced by emigration.-ED.
getting a habit of writing in a slovenly manner. 6 Sir," said he, “it is not written in a slovenly manner. It might be printed, were the subject fit for printing.” While Mr. Beaton preached to us in the dining-room, Dr. Johnson sat in his own room, where I saw lying before him a volume of Lord Bacon's works, the “Decay of Christian Piety,"
,” “Monboddo's Origin of Language,” and Sterne’s “Sermons.” He asked me to.day how it happened that we were so little together: I told him my Journal took up much time. Yet, on reflection, it appeared strange to me, that although I would run from one end of London to another to pass an hour with him, I should omit to seize any spare time to be in his company, when I am settled in the same house with him. But my Journal is really a task of much time and labour, and he forbids me to contract it.
I omitted to mention, in its place, that Dr. Johnson told Mr. Macqueen that he had found the belief of the second-sight universal in Sky, except among the clergy, who seemed determined against it. I took the liberty to observe to Mr. Macqueen, that the clergy were actuated by a kind of vanity, “ The world,” say they, “ takes us to be credulous men in a remote corner. We'll show them that we are more enlightened than they think.” The worthy man said that his disbelief of it was from his not finding sufficient evidence; but I could perceive that he was prejudiced against it.
After dinner to-day, we talked of the extraordinary fact of Lady Grange's being sent to St. Kilda, and confined there for several years, without any means of relief.† Dr. Johnson said, if Macleod
* As I have faithfully recorded so many minute particulars, I hope I shall be pardoned for inserting so flattering an encomium on what is now offered to the public.BOSWELL.
† The true story of this lady, which happened in this century, is as frightfully romantic as if it had been the fiction of a gloomy fancy. She was the wife of one of the Lords of Session in Scotland, a man of the very first blood of his country. For some mysterious reasons, which have never been discovered, she was seized and carried off in the dark, she knew not by whom, and by nightly journeys was conveyed to the Highland shores, from whence she was transported by sea to the remote rock of St. Kilda, where she remained, amongst its few wild inhabitants, a forlorn prisoner, but had a constant supply of provisions, and a woman to wait on her. No inquiry was made after her, till she at last found means to convey a letter to a confidential friend, by the daughter of a catechist, who concealed it in a clue of yarn. Information being thus obtained at Edinburgh, a ship was sent to bring her off; but intelligence of this being received, she was conveyed to Macleod's island of Harris where she died.
In Carstares's “State Papers" we find an authentic narrative of Connor, a Catholic priest, who turned Protestant, being seized by some of Lord Seaforth's people, and detained prisoner in the island of Harris several years; he was fed with bread and water, and lodged in a bouse where he was exposed to the rains and cold. Sir James Ogilvy writes, June 18, 1667, that the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Advocate, and him. self were to meet next day, to take effectual methods to have this redressed. Connor was then still detained, p. 310.-This shows what private oppression might in the last