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An honest woman.
There was great diversity in the faces of the circle around us: some were as black and wild in their appearance as any American savages whatever. One woman was as comely almost as the figure of Sappho, as we see it painted. We asked the old woman, the mistress of the house where we had the milk, (which by the bye, Dr. Johnson told me, for I did not observe it myself, was built not of turf, but of stone,) what we should pay. She said, what we pleased. One of our guides asked her in Erse, if a shilling was enough. She said, 'yes.' But some of the men bade her ask more'. This vexed me; because it shewed a desire to impose upon strangers, as they knew that even a shilling was high payment. The woman, however, honestly persisted in her first price; so I gave her half a crown. Thus we had one good scene of life uncommon to us. The people were very much pleased, gave us many blessings, and said they had not had such a day since the old Laird of Macleod's time.
of the Commons of Rome to the Mons Sacer, a more spirited exertion has not been made. I gave great attention to it from first to last, and have drawn up a particular account of it. Those brave fellows have since served their country effectually at Jersey, and also in the East-Indies, to which, after being better informed, they voluntarily agreed to go. BOSWELL. The line which Boswell quotes is from The Chevalier's Muster Roll:
'The laird of M'Intosh is coming,
Hogg's Jacobite Relics, i. 152.
Horace Walpole (Letters, vii. 198) writing on May 9, 1779, tells how on May I 'the French had attempted to land [on Jersey], but Lord Seaforth's new - raised regiment of 700 Highlanders, assisted by some militia and some artillery, made a brave stand and repelled the intruders.'
'One of the men advised her, with the cunning that clowns never can be without, to ask more; but she said that a shilling was enough. We gave her half a crown, and she offered part of it again.' Piozzi Letters, i. 133.
Johnson a good chief.
Dr. Johnson was much refreshed by this repast. He was pleased when I told him he would make a good Chief. He said, 'Were I a chief, I would dress my servants better than myself, and knock a fellow down if he looked saucy to a Macdonald in rags: but I would not treat men as brutes. I would let them know why all of my clan were to have attention paid to them. I would tell my upper servants why, and make them tell the others.'
We rode on well', till we came to the high mountain called the Rattakin, by which time both Dr. Johnson and the horses were a good deal fatigued. It is a terrible steep to climb, notwithstanding the road is formed slanting along it; however, we made it out. On the top of it we met Captain M'Leod of Balmenoch (a Dutch officer who had come from Sky) riding with his sword slung across him. He asked, ‘Is this Mr. Boswell?' which was a proof that we were expected. Going down the hill on the other side was no easy task. As Dr. Johnson was a great weight, the two guides agreed that he should ride the horses alternately. Hay's were the two best, and the Doctor would not ride but upon one or other of them, a black or a brown. But as Hay complained much after ascending the Rattakin, the Doctor was prevailed with to mount one of Vass's greys. As he rode upon it down hill, it did not go well; and he grumbled. I walked on a little before, but was excessively entertained with the method taken to keep him in good humour. Hay led the horse's head, talking to Dr. Johnson as much as he could; and (having heard him, in the forenoon, express a pastoral pleasure on seeing the goats browzing) just when the Doctor was uttering his displeasure, the fellow cried, with a very Highland accent, See, such pretty goats!' Then he whistled, whu! and made them jump. Little did he conceive what
'Of this part of the journey Johnson wrote: We had very little entertainment as we travelled either for the eye or ear. There are, I fancy, no singing birds in the Highlands.' Piozzi Letters, i. 135. It is odd that he should have looked for singing birds on the first of September,
A tedious ride.
Dr. Johnson was. Here now was a common ignorant Highland clown, imagining that he could divert, as one does a child, Dr. Samuel Johnson! The ludicrousness, absurdity, and extraordinary contrast between what the fellow fancied, and the reality, was truly comick.
It grew dusky; and we had a very tedious ride for what was called five miles; but I am sure would measure ten. We had no conversation. I was riding forward to the inn at Glenelg, on the shore opposite to Sky, that I might take proper measures, before Dr. Johnson, who was now advancing in dreary silence, Hay leading his horse, should arrive. Vass also walked by the side of his horse, and Joseph followed behind: as therefore he was thus attended, and seemed to be in deep meditation, I thought there could be no harm in leaving him for a little while. He called me back with a tremendous shout, and was really in a passion with me for leaving him. I told him my intentions, but he was not satisfied, and said, 'Do you know, I should as soon have thought of picking a pocket, as doing so?' BOSWELL. 'I am diverted with you, Sir.' JOHNSON. Sir, I could never be diverted with incivility. Doing such a thing, makes one lose confidence in him who has done it, as one cannot tell what he may do next.' His extraordinary warmth confounded me so much, that I justified myself but lamely to him; yet my intentions were not improper. I wished to get on, to see how we were to be lodged, and how we were to get a boat; all which I thought I could best settle myself, without his having any trouble. To apply his great mind to minute particulars, is wrong: it is like taking an immense balance, such as is kept on quays for weighing cargoes of ships, to weigh a guinea. I knew I had neat little scales, which would do better: and that his attention to every thing which falls in his way, and his uncommon desire to be always in the right, would make him weigh, if he knew of the particulars: it was right therefore for me to weigh them, and let him have them only in effect. I however continued to ride by him, finding he wished I should do so.
The wretched inn in Glenelg
As we passed the barracks at Bernéra, I looked at them wishfully, as soldiers have always every thing in the best order: but there was only a serjeant and a few men there. We came on to the inn at Glenelg. There was no provender for our horses; so they were sent to grass, with a man to watch them. A maid shewed us up stairs into a room damp and dirty, with bare walls, a variety of bad smells, a coarse black greasy fir table, and forms of the same kind; and out of a wretched bed started a fellow from his sleep, like Edgar in King Lear', 'Poor Tom's a cold".
This inn was furnished with not a single article that we could either eat or drink3; but Mr. Murchison, factor to the Laird of Macleod in Glenelg, sent us a bottle of rum and some sugar, with a polite message, to acquaint us, that he was very sorry that he did not hear of us till we had passed his house, otherwise he should have insisted on our sleeping there that night; and that, if he were not obliged to set
1 Act iii. sc. 4.
'It is amusing to observe the different images which this being presented to Dr. Johnson and me. The Doctor, in his Journey, compares him to a Cyclops. BOSWELL. 'Out of one of the beds on. which we were to repose, started up at our entrance, a man black as a Cyclops from the forge.' Works, ix. 44. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale: When we were taken up stairs, a dirty fellow bounced out of the bed where one of us was to lie. Boswell blustered, but nothing could be got.' Piozzi Letters, i. 136. Macaulay (Essays, ed. 1843, i. 404) says:—' It is clear that Johnson himself did not think in the dialect in which he wrote. The expressions which came first to his tongue were simple, energetic, and picturesque. When he wrote for publication, he did his sentences out of English into Johnsonese. His letters from the Hebrides to Mrs. Thrale are the original of that work of which the Journey to the Hebrides is the translation; and it is amusing to compare the two versions.' Macaulay thereupon quotes these two passages. See ante, under Aug. 29, 1783.
We had a lemon and a piece of bread, which supplied me with my supper.' Piozzi Letters, i. 136. Goldsmith, who in his student days had been in Scotland, thus writes of a Scotch inn:-' Vile entertainment is served up, complained of, and sent down; up comes worse, and that also is changed, and every change makes our wretched cheer more unsavoury.' Present State of Polite Learning, ch. 12.
out for Inverness early next morning, he would have waited upon us. Such extraordinary attention from this gentleman, to entire strangers, deserves the most honourable commemoration.
Our bad accommodation here made me uneasy, and almost fretful. Dr. Johnson was calm. I said, he was so from vanity. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, it is from philosophy.' It pleased me to see that the Rambler could practise so well his own lessons.
I resumed the subject of my leaving him on the road, and endeavoured to defend it better. He was still violent upon that head, and said, 'Sir, had you gone on, I was thinking that I should have returned with you to Edinburgh, and then have parted from you, and never spoken to you more.'
I sent for fresh hay, with which we made beds for ourselves, each in a room equally miserable. Like Wolfe, we had a choice of difficulties'. Dr. Johnson made things easier by comparison. At M'Queen's, last night, he observed that few were so well lodged in a ship. To-night he said, we were better than if we had been upon the hill. He lay down buttoned up in his great coat. I had my sheets spread on the hay, and my clothes and great coat laid over me, by way of blankets.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2.
I had slept ill. Dr. Johnson's anger had affected me much. I considered that, without any bad intention, I might suddenly forfeit his friendship; and was impatient to see him this morning. I told him how uneasy he had made me, by what he had said, and reminded him of his own remark at Aberdeen, upon old friendships being hastily broken off. He owned he had spoken to me in passion; that he would not have done what he threatened; and that, if he had,
1 General Wolfe, in his letter from Head-quarters on Sept. 2, 1759, eleven days before his death, wrote: In this situation there is such a choice of difficulties that I own myself at a loss how to determine.' Ann. Reg. 1759, p. 246.