Slike strani

Oct. 18.

Success in trade.




which I buried some human bones I found there, Dr. Johnson praised me for what I had done, though he owned, he could not have done it. He shewed in the chapel at Rasay? his horrour at dead men's bones. He shewed it again at Col's house. In the Charter-room there was a remarkable large shin-bone, which was said to have been a bone of John Garve, one of the lairds. Dr. Johnson would not look at it; but started away.

At breakfast, I asked, “What is the reason that we are angry at a trader's having opulence'?' JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, the reason is, (though I don't undertake to prove that there is a reason,) we see no qualities in trade that should entitle a man to superiority. We are not angry at a soldier's getting riches, because we see that he possesses qualities which we have not. If a man returns from a battle, having lost one hand, and with the other full of gold, we feel that he deserves the gold; but we cannot think that a fellow, by sitting all day at a desk, is entitled to get above us. BOSWELL. “But, Sir, may we not suppose a merchant

' to be a man of an enlarged mind, such as Addison in the Spectator describes Sir Andrew Freeport to have been?' JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, we may suppose any fictitious character. We may suppose a philosophical day-labourer, who is happy in reflecting that, by his labour, he contributes to the fertility of the earth, and to the support of his fellow-creatures; but we find no such philosophical day-labourer. A

[ocr errors]


form his devotions, but came back in haste for fear of spectres. Piozzi Letters, i. 173.

Ante, p. 193.

John Gerves, or John the Giant, of whom Dr. Johnson relates a curious story; Works, ix. 119.

• Lord Chatham in the House of Lords, on Nov. 22, 1770, speaking of the honest, industrious tradesman, who holds the middle rank, and has given repeated proofs that he prefers law and liberty to gold,' had said: - I love that class of men. Much less would I be thought to reflect upon the fair merchant, whose liberal commerce is the prime source of national wealth. I esteem his occupation, and respect his character.' Parl. Hist. xvi. 1107.



Fohnson's intrepidity.

(Oct. 18


merchant may, perhaps, be a man of an enlarged mind; but there is nothing in trade connected with an enlarged mind'.'

I mentioned that I had heard Dr. Solander say he was a Swedish Laplander". JOHNSON. “Sir, I don't believe he is a Laplander. The Laplanders are not much above four feet high. He is as tall as you ; and he has not the copper colour of a Laplander.' BOSWELL. “But what motive could he have to make himself a Laplander?' JOHNSON. “Why, Sir, he must either mean the word Laplander in an extensive sense, or may mean a voluntary degradation of himself. “For all my being the great man that you see me now, I was originally a Barbarian;" as if Burke should say, “I came over a wild Irishman.” Which he might say in his

a present state of exaltation.'

Having expressed a desire to have an island like Inchkenneth, Dr. Johnson set himself to think what would be necessary for a man in such a situation. 'Sir, I should build me a fortification, if I came to live here; for, if you have it not, what should hinder a parcel of ruffians to land in the night, and carry

off every thing you have in the house, which, in a remote country, would be more valuable than cows and sheep? add to all this the danger of having your throat cut. BOSWELL. “I would have a large dog.' JOHNSON. 'So you may, Sir; but a large dog is of no use but to alarm.' He, however, I apprehend, thinks too lightly of the power of that animal. I have heard him say, that he is afraid of no

i See ante, iii. 434.

• He was born in Nordland in Sweden, in 1736. In 1768 he and Mr. Banks accompanied Captain Cook in his first voyage round the world. He died in 1782. Knight's Eng. Cyclo. v. 578. Miss Burney wrote of him in 1780:- My father has very exactly named him, in calling him a philosophical gossip.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 305. Horace Walpole the same year, just after the Gordon Riots, wrote (Letters, vii. 403) :—Who is secure against Jack Straw and a whirlwind? How I abominate Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, who routed the poor Otaheitans out of the centre of the ocean, and carried our abominable passions amongst them ! not even that poor little speck could escape European restlessness.' See ante, ii, 170,


Oct. 18.]

A strange custom.



dog. • He would take him up by the hinder legs, which would render him quite helpless,--and then knock his head against a stone, and beat out his brains. Topham Beau

' clerk told me, that at his house in the country, two large ferocious dogs were fighting. Dr. Johnson looked steadily at them for a little while ; and then, as one would separate two little boys, who were foolishly hurting each other, he ran up to them, and cuffed their heads till he drove them asunder'. But few men have his intrepidity, Herculean strength, or presence of mind. Most thieves or robbers would be afraid to encounter a mastiff.

I observed, that, when young Col talked of the lands belonging to his family, he always said, “my lands”. For this he had a plausible pretence; for he told me, there has been a custom in this family, that the laird resigns the estate to the eldest son when he comes of age, reserving to himself only a certain life-rent. He said, it was a voluntary custom; but I think I found an instance in the charter-room, that there was such an obligation in a contract of marriage. If the custom was voluntary, it was only curious; but if founded on obligation, it might be dangerous; for I have been told, that in Otaheité, whenever a child is born, (a son, I think,) the father loses his right to the estate and honours, and that this unnatural, or rather absurd custom, occasions the murder of many

many children.

Boswell tells this story again, ante, ii. 341. Mrs. Piozzi's account (Anec. p. 114) is evidently so inaccurate that it does not deserve attention; she herself admits that Beauclerk was truthful. In a marginal note on Wraxall's Memoirs, she says :—*Topham Beauclerk (wicked and profligate as he wished to be accounted), was yet a man of very strict veracity. Oh Lord! how I did hate that horrid Beauclerk ! Hayward's Piozzi, i. 348. Johnson testified to the correctness of Beauclerk's memory and the fidelity of his narrative.' Ante, ii. 464.

• Mr. Maclean of Col, having a very numerous family, has for some time past resided at Aberdeen, that he may superintend their education, and leaves the young gentleman, our friend, to govern his dominions with the full power of a Highland chief.' Johnson's Works,

[ocr errors]

ix. 117



A Frenchman's credulity when abroad. [Oct. 18.

Young Col told us he could run down a greyhound; ‘for, (said he,) the dog runs himself out of breath, by going too quick, and then I get up with him'.' I accounted for his advantage over the dog, by remarking that Col had the faculty of reason, and knew how to moderate his pace, which the dog had not sense enough to do. Dr. Johnson said, “He is a noble animal. He is as complete an islander

' as the mind can figure. He is a farmer, a sailor, a hunter, a fisher; he will run you down a dog : if any man has a tail, it is Col. He is hospitable ; and he has an intrepidity of talk, whether he understands the subject or not. I regret that he is not more intellectual.'

Dr. Johnson observed, that there was nothing of which he would not undertake to persuade a Frenchman in a foreign country. “I'll carry a Frenchman to St. Paul's Churchyard, and I'll tell him, “ by our law you may walk half round the church ; but, if you walk round the whole, you will be punished capitally," and he will believe me at once. Now, no Englishman would readily swallow such a thing: he would go and inquire of somebody else'.' The Frenchman's credulity, I observed, must be owing to his being accustomed to implicit submission; whereas every Englishman reasons upon the laws of his country, and instructs his representatives, who compose the legislature.

This day was passed in looking at a small island adjoining Inchkenneth, which afforded nothing worthy of observation ; and in such social and gay entertainments as our little society could furnish.


[ocr errors]

· This is not spoken of hare-coursing, where the game is taken or lost before the dog gets out of wind; but in chasing deer with the great Highland greyhound, Col's exploit is feasible enough. WALTER Scott.

* See ante, pp. 50, 126, for Monboddo's notion. Riccoboni in 1767 wrote to Garrick of the French :

-U mensonge grossier les révolte. Si on voulait leur persuader que les Anglais vivent de grenouilles, meurent de faim, que leurs femmes sont barbouillées, et jurent par toutes les lettres de l'alphabet, ils leveraient les épaules, et s'écriraient, quel sot ose écrire ces misères-? mais à Londres, diantre cela prend ! Garrick Corres. ii. 524.

TUESDAY. Oct. 19.)

The death of young Col.


TUESDAY, OCTOBER 19. After breakfast we took leave of the young ladies, and of our excellent companion Col, to whom we had been so much obliged. He had now put us under the care of his Chief; and was to hasten back to Sky. We parted from him with very strong feelings of kindness and gratitude ; and we hoped to have had some future opportunity of proving to him the sincerity of what we felt ; but in the following year he was unfortunately lost in the Sound between Ulva and Mull: and this imperfect memorial, joined to the high honour of being tenderly and respectfully mentioned by Dr. Johnson, is the only return which the uncertainty of human events has permitted us to make to this deserving young man.

Sir Allan, who obligingly undertook to accompany us to Icolmkill”, had a strong good boat, with four stout rowers. We coasted along Mull till we reached Gribon, where is what is called Mackinnon's cave, compared with which that at Ulinish' is inconsiderable. It is in a rock of a great height, close to the sea. Upon the left of its entrance there is a cascade, almost perpendicular from the top to the bottom of the rock. There is a tradition that it was conducted thither artificially, to supply the inhabitants of the cave with water. Dr. Johnson gave no credit to this tradition. As, on the

, one hand, his faith in the Christian religion is firmly founded upon good grounds; so, on the other, he is incredulous when there is no sufficient reason for belieft; being in this respect just the reverse of modern infidels, who, however nice and scrupulous in weighing the evidences of religion, are yet often so ready to believe the most absurd and improbable tales of another nature, that Lord Hailes well


Just opposite to M'Quarrie's house the boat was swamped by the intoxication of the sailors, who had partaken too largely of M'Quarrie's wonted hospitality. WALTER SCOTT. Johnson wrote from Lichfield on June 13, 1775:-'There is great lamentation here for the death of Col. Lucy [Miss Porter) is of opinion that he was wonderfully handsome.' Piozzi Letters, i. 235. See ante, ii. 328. 3 See ante, p. 269.

See ante, iii. 260.


2 lona.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »