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of time;* and some are like very loud sounds, which do not please, or at least do not please so much, till you are removed to a certain distance. They may be compared to strong, coarse pictures, which will not bear to be viewed near. Even pleasing scenes improve by time, and seem more exquisite in recollection, than when they were present—if they have not faded to dimness in the memory. Perhaps there is so much evil in every human enjoyment, when present, so much dross mixed up with it—that it requires to be refined by time; and yet I do not see why time should not melt away the good and the evil in equal proportions—why the shade should decay, and the light remain in preservation.
After a tedious sail, which, by our following various turnings of the coast of Mull, was extended to about forty miles, it gave us no small pleasure to perceive a light in the village of Icolmkill, in which almost all the inhabitants of the island live, close to where the ancient building stood. As we approached the shore, the tower of the cathedral, just discernible in the air, was a picturesque object.
When we had landed upon the sacred place, which, as long as I can remember, I had thought on with veneration, Dr. Johnson and I cordially embraced. We had long talked of visiting Icolmkill; and, from the lateness of the season, were at times very doubtful whether we should be able to effect our purpose. To have seen it, even alone, would have given me great satisfaction; but the venerable scene was rendered much more pleasing by the company of my great and pious friend, who was no less affected by it than I was; and who has described the impressions it should make on the mind, with such strength of thought, and energy of language, that I shall quote his words, as conveying my own sensations much more forcibly than I am capable of doing :
“ We were now treading that illustrious island which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotions would be impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona !”+
* I have lately observed that this thought has been elegantly expressed by Cowley, [Ode upon his Majesty's restoration]:
“ Things which offend when present, and affright,
In memory, well painted, move delight."-Boswell. + Had our Tour produced nothing else but this sublime passage, the world must
Upon hearing that Sir Allan Maclean was arrived, the inhabitants, who still consider themselves as the people of Maclean, to whom the island formerly belonged, though the Duke of Argyle has at present possession of it, ran eagerly to him.
We were accommodated this night in a large barn, the island affording no lodging that we should have liked so well. Some good hay was strewed at one end of it, to form a bed for us, upon which we lay with our clothes on; and we were furnished with blankets from the village. Each of us had a portmanteau for a pillow. When I awaked in the morning, and looked round me, I could not help smiling at the idea of the chief of the Macleans, the great English moralist, and myself, lying thus extended in such a situation.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20. Early in the morning, we surveyed the remains of antiquity at this place, accompanied by an illiterate fellow, as cicerone, who called himself a descendant of a cousin of St. Columba, the founder of the religious establishment here. As I knew that many persons had already examined them, and as I saw Dr. Johnson inspecting and measuring several of the ruins of which he has since given so full an account, my mind was quiescent; and I resolved to stroll among them at my ease, to take no trouble to investigate minutely, and only receive the general impression of solemn antiquity, and the particular ideas of such objects as should of themselves strike my attention.
We walked from the monastery of nuns to the great church or cathedral, as they call it, along an old broken causeway. They told us, that this had been a street, and that there were good houses built on each side. Dr. Johnson doubted if it was anything more than a paved road for the nuns. The convent of monks, the great church, Oran's chapel, and four other chapels, are still to be discerned. But 1 must own that Icolmkill did not answer my expectations; for they were high, from what I had read of it, and still more from what I had heard and thought of it, from my earliest years. Dr. Johnson said, it came up to his expectations, because he had taken his impression from an account of it, subjoined to Sacheverel's " History of the Isle of Man," where it is said, there is not much to be seen here. We were both disappointed when we were shown what are called the monuments of the kings of Scotland, Ireland, and Denmark, and of a king of France. There are only some grave-stones flat on the earth,
have acknowledged that it was not made in vain. The present respectable President of the Royal Society (Sir Joseph Banks] was so much struck on reading it, that he clasped his hands together, and remained for some time in an attitude of silent admi. ration.-BOSWELL.
and we could see no inscriptions. How far short was this of marble monuments, like those in Westminster Abbey, which I had imagined here! The grave-stones of Sir Allan Maclean's family, and of that of Macquarrie, had as good an appearance as the royal grave-stones ; if they were royal, we doubted.
My easiness to give credit to what I heard in the course of our tour was too great. Dr. Johnson's peculiar accuracy of investigation detected much traditional fiction, and many gross mistakes. It is not to be wondered at, that he was provoked by people carelessly telling him, with the utmost readiness and confidence, what he found, on questioning them a little more, was erroneous. Of this there were innumerable instances.
I left him and Sir Allan at breakfast in our barn, and stole back again to the cathedral, to indulge in solitude and devout meditation. While contemplating the venerable ruins, I reflected with much satisfaction, that the solemn scenes of piety never lose their sanctity and influence, though the cares and follies of life may prevent us from visiting them, or may even make us fancy that their effects are only “as yesterday, when it is past," and never again to be perceived. I hoped that, ever after having been in this holy place, I should maintain an exemplary conduct. One has a strange propensity to fix upon some point of time from whence a better course of life may begin.
Being desirous to visit the opposite shore of the island, where Saint Columba is said to have landed, I procured a horse from one M-Ginnis, who ran along as my guide. The M Ginnises are said to be a branch of the clan of Maclean. Sir Allan had been told that this man had refused to send him some rum, at which the knight was in great indignation. “ You rascal! (said he) don't you know that I can hang you, if I please ?”—Not adverting to the Chieftain's power over his clan, I imagined that Sir Allan had known of some capital crime that the fellow had committed, which he could discover, and so get him condemned; and said, “How so ?”_" Why, (said Sir Allan)
are they not all my people ?"-Sensible of my inadvertency, and most willing to contribute what I could towards the continuation of feudal authority: “Very true,” said I.—Sir Allan went on : 6 Refuse to send rum to me, you rascal! Don't you know, that if I order you to go and cut a man's throat, you are to do it?”—“Yes, an't please your honour! and my own too, and hang myself too.”—The poor fellow denied that he had refused to send the rum. His making these professions was not merely a pretence in presence of his Chief; for after he and I were out of Sir Allan's hearing, he told me, “Had he sent his dog for the rum, I would have given it; I would cut my bones for him”-It was very remarkable to find such an attachment, to a Chief,
though he had then no connection with the island, and had not been there for fourteen years.—Sir Allan, by way of upbraiding the fellow, said, “I believe you are a Campbell.”
The place which I went to see is about two miles from the village. They call it Portawherry, from the wherry in which Columba came; though, when they show the length of his vessel, as marked on the beach by two heaps of stones, they say, “Here is the length of the Currach,” using the Erse word.*
Icolmkill is a fertile island. The inhabitants export some cattle and grain; and I was told, they import nothing but iron and salt. They are industrious, and make their own woollen and linen cloth ; and they brew a good deal of beer, which we did not find in any of the other islands.
We set sail again about mid-day, and in the evening landing on Mull, near the house of the Reverend Mr. Neil Macleod, who having been informed of our coming, by a message from Sir Allan, came out to meet us. We were this night very agreeably entertained at his house. Dr. Johnson observed to me, that he was the cleanest-headed man that he had met with in the Western islands.† He seemed to be well acquainted with Dr. Johnson's writings, and courteously said, “I have been often obliged to you, though I never had the pleasure of seeing you before."
* This spot has always borne the name of “Port a' Curragh ;" 2. e., the Bay of the Wicker Boat. Boswell had mistaken the Celtic pronunciation. The length of Columba's curragh must have been sixty feet, if the artificial mound represent truly its dimensions. The Island of Iona is now too well known to require description. Like ancient Rome,“it is visited by every caste; for moralists, antiquaries, painters, architects, devotees, all meet here to examine, to draw, to measure, and to pray.' (Forsyth's “Italy.") Johnson did much for its celebrity, and the steamboats that ply weekly from Oban afford ready facilities to tourists; still the sacred island does not flourish. A miserable population crowd its shores, destitute of land or money; and the condition of the “crofter," or small tenant, of ten or fifteen pounds, has been reduced by the decline in the value of cattle and the failure of the potato. The export of produce has diminished materially since 1846, notwithstanding that the crofts are generally larger and the soil better in Iona than in the neighbouring islands. When Sacheverel visited Iona in 1688, he found the number of families to be about 80; the entire population is now about 400, but it is gradually lessening by emigration.-ED.
* A singular use of the adjective cleanest; clearest would seem to be the word, but it is the same in all the editions; and it is consistent with Johnson's own definition of clean, in one sense, as “elegant, not unwieldy; not encumbered with anything useless, or disproportioned." The minister did not live to read the unusual compli. ment; he died April 28, 1780. Johnson notices this gentleman in his “ Journey," but by mistake calls him Maclean—"A minister who lives upon the coast, whose elegance of conversation and strength of judgment would make him conspicuous in places of greater celebrity." A daughter of this gentleman's — Miss Mary Macleod, residing at Tobermory-is, perhaps, the only person now alive (1852) who remembers having seen Dr. Johnson in the Hebrides. She was then but a child; but she has a distinct recollection of Johnson's appearance. Alexander, one of Mr. Macleod's sons, deserves notice. He emigrated to the United States in 1792, and became a minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. He distinguished himself by his opposition to slavery, and during the first year of his ministry, the presbytery, through his influence, passed & resolution, that no slave-holder should be retained in their communion. He was the
He told us, he had lived for some time in St. Kilda, under the tuition of the minister or catechist there, and had there first read Horace and Virgil. The scenes which they describe must have been a strong contrast to the dreary waste around him.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21. This morning the subject of politics was introduced.—JOHNSON : Pulteney was as paltry a fellow as could be. He was a Whig, who pretended to be honest; and you know it is ridiculous for a Whig to pretend to be honest. He cannot hold it out."--He called Mr. Pitt a meteor ; Sir Robert Walpole a fixed star.—He said, “ It is wonderful to think that all the force of government was required to prevent Wilkes from being chosen the chief magistrate of London, though the liverymen knew he would rob their shops-knew he would debauch their daughters."
BOSWELL: “ The History of England is so strange, that, if it were not so well vouched as it is, it would hardly be credible.”. JOHNSON : “Sir, if it were told as shortly, and with as little preparation for introducing the different events, as the History of the Jewish Kings, it would be equally liable to objections of improbability." — Mr. Macleod was much pleased with the justice and novelty of the thought.-Dr. Johnson illustrated what he had said, as follows : “ Take, as an instance, Charles the First's concessions to his parliament, which were greater and greater, in proportion as the parliament grew more insolent, and less deserving of trust. Had these conces
author of several valuable theological works, and died at New York in 1833. His son, the Rev. Dr. John Neil Macleod (grandson of Johnson's entertainer), now worthily fills his father's place in the Reformed Presbyterian Church at New York.-ED.
* I think it incumbent on me to make some observation on this strong satirical sally on my classical companion, Mr. Wilkes. Reporting it lately from memory, in his presence, I expressed it thus: “ They knew he would rob their shops, if he durst; they knew he would debauch their daughters, if he could ;" which, according to the French phrase, may be said rencherir on Dr. Johnson, but on looking into my “Journal" I found it as above, and would by no means make any addition. Mr. Wilkes received both readings with a good humour that I cannot enough admire. Indeed, both he and I (as, with respect to myself, the reader has more than once had occasion to observe in the course of this “ Journal") are too fond of a bon mot not to relish it. though we should be ourselves the object of it. Let me add, in justice to the gentle. man here mentioned, that at a subsequent period he was elected chief magistrate of London, and discharged the duties of that high office with great honour to himself and advantage to the city. Some years before Dr. Johnson died, I was fortunate enough to bring him and Mr. Wilkes together; the consequence of which was, that they were ever afterwards on easy and not unfriendly terms. The particulars I shall have great pleasure in relating at large in my“ Life of Dr. Johnson."-Boswell.