« PreviousContinue »
pastry. Dr. Johnson made her a present of a boot whick he had bought at Inverness.1
The room had some deals laid across the joists, as a kind of ceiling. There were two beds in the room, and a woman's gown was hung on a rope to make a curtain of separation between them. Joseph had sheets, which my wife had sent with us, laid on them. We had much hesitation, whether to undress, or lie down with our clothes on. I said at last, '-I'll plunge in! There will be less harbour for vermin about me when I am stripped." Dr. Johnson said, he was like one hesitating whether to go into the cold bath. At last he resolved too. I observed he might serve a campaign. Johnsok. "I could do all that can be done by patience: whether I should have strength enough, I know not." He was in excellent humour. To see the Rambler as I saw him to-night, was really an amusement. I yesterday told him, I was thinking of writing a poetical letter to him, on his return from Scotland, in the style of Swift's humorous epistle in the character of Mary Gulliver to her husband, Captain Lemuel Gulliver, on his return to England from the countrv of the Houvhnhnms:—
"At early morn I to the market haste,
'This book has given rise to much inquiry, which has ended in ludicrous surprise. Several ladies, wishing to learn the kind of reading which the great and good Dr. Johnson esteemed most fit for a young woman, desired to know what book he had selected for this Highland nymph. "They never adverted," said he, " that I had no choice in the matter. I have said that I presented her with a book, which I happened to have about me." And what was this book? My readers, prepare your features for merriment. It was Cocker's Arithmetic! Wherever this was mentioned, there was a loud laugh, at which Dr. Johnson, when present, used sometimes to be a little angry. One day, when we were dining at General Oglethorpe's, where we had many a valuable day, I ventured to interrogate him, " But, Sir, is it not somewhat singular that you should happen to have Cocker's Arithmetic about you on your journey? What made you buy such a book at Inverness?" He gave me a very sufficient answer. "Why, Sir, if you are to have but one book with you upon a journey, let it be a book of science. When you have read through a book of entertainment, you know it, and it can do no more for you; but a book of science is inexhaustible."
(For I remember you were fond of those :)
Three shillings cost the first, the last seven groats;
Sullen you turn from both, and call for Oats."
He laughed, and asked in whose name I would write it. I said in Mrs. Thrale's. He was angry. "Sir, if vou have any sense of decency or delicacy, you won't do that." Boswell. "Then let it be in Cole's, the landlord of the Mitre tavern, where we have so often sat together." JohnSon. .' Ay, that may do."
After we had offered up our private devotions, and had chatted a little from our beds, Dr. Johnson said, "God bless us both, for Jesus Christ's sake! Good night." I pronounced "Amen." He fell asleep immediately. I was not so fortunate for a long time. I fancied myself bit by innumerable vermin under the clothes; and that a spider was travelling from the wainscot towards my mouth. At last I fell into insensibility.
Wednesday, Sept. 1.—I awaked very early. I began to imagine that the landlord, being about to emigrate, might murder us to get our money, and lay it upon the soldiers in the barn. Such groundless fears will arise in the mind, before it has resumed its vigour after sleep. Dr. Johnson had had the same kind of ideas; for he told me afterwards that he considered so many soldiers, having seen us, would be witnesses, should any harm be done, and that circumstance, I suppose, he considered as a security. When I got up, I found him sound asleep in his miserable sty, as I may call it, with a coloured handkerchief tied round his head. With difficulty could I awaken him. It reminded me of Henry the Fourth's fine soliloquy on sleep,1 for there was here as uneasy a pallet as the poet's imagination could possibly conceive.
A red coat of the 15th regiment, whether officer, or only sergeant, I could not be sure, came to the bouse, in his way to the mountains to shoot deer, which it seems the Laird of Glenmorison does not hinder any one to do. Few, indeed, can do them harm. We had him to breakfast with us. We got away about eight. M'Queen walked some miles to give us a convoy. He had, in 1745, joined the Highland army at Fort Augustus, and continued in it till after the battle of Culloden. As he narrated the particulars of that ill-advised, but brave attempt, I could not refrain from tears. There is a certain association of ideas in my mind upon that subject, by which I am strongly affected. The very Highland names, or the sound of a bagpipe, will stir my blood, and fill me with a mixture of melancholy and respect for courage; with pity for an unfortunate and superstitious regard for antiquity, and thoughtless inclination for war; in short, with a crowd of sensations with which sober rationality has nothing to do.
1 "Why, rather, Sleep, ly'st ihou in smoky cribs,
Hairy IV. act iii. sc. I,—Croker.
We passed through Glensheal, with prodigious mountains on each side. We saw where the battle was fought, in the year 1719.1 Dr. Johnson owned he was now in a scene of as wild nature as he could see; but he corrected me sometimes in my inaccurate observations. "There," said I, "is a mountain like a cone." Johnson. "No, Sir, it would be called so in a book; and when a man comes to look at it, he sees it is not so. It is indeed pointed at the top; but one side of it is larger than the ofJior."' Another mountain I called immense.
1 In 1719, Spain projected an invasion of Scotland in behalf of the Chevalier, and destined a great force for that purpose, under the command of the Duke of Ormond. But owing to storms, only three frigates, with three hundred or four hundred Spaniards on board, arrived in Scotland. They had with them the banished Earl of Seaforth, chief of the Mackenzies, a man of great power, exiled for his share in the rebellion of 1715. He raised a considerable body of Highlanders of his own and friendly clans, and disembarking the Spaniards, came as far as the great valley called Glensheal, in the West Highlands. General Wightman marched against them from Inverness with a few regular forces, and several of the Grants, Kosses, Munros, and other clans friendly to government. He found the insurgents in possession of a very strong pass called Strachel, from which, after a few days' skirmishing, they retired, Seafortlr's part}' not losing a man, and the others having several slain. Hut the Earl of Seaforth was dangerously wounded in the shoulder, and obliged to be carried back to the ships. His clan deserted or dispersed, and the Spaniards surrendered themselves prisoners of war to General Wightman. — Walter Scott.
Johnson. "No; it is no more than a considerable protuberance."
We came to a rich green valley, comparatively speaking, and stopped awhile to let our horses rest and eat grass.2 We soon afterwards came to Auchnasheal, a kind of rural village, a number of cottages being built together, as we saw all along in the Highlands. We passed many miles this day without seeing a house, but only little summer huts, called shielings. Evan Campbell, servant to Mr. Murchison, factor to the Laird of Macleod in Glenelg, ran along with us to-day. He was a very obliging fellow. At Auchuasheal, we sat down on a green turf-seat at the end of a house; they brought us out two wooden dishes of milk, which we tasted. One of them was frothed like a syllabub. I saw a woman preparing it with such a stick as is used for chocolate, and in the same manner. We had a considerable circle about us, men, women, and children, all M'Craas,2 Lord Seaforth's people. Not one of them
1 This was hypercritical ; the hill is indeed not a cone, but it is like one. — Walter Scott.
'Dr. Johnson, in his " Journey," thus beautifully describes his situation here : "I sat down on a bank, such as a writer of romance might have delighted to feign. I hud, indeed, no trees to whisper over my head, but a clear rivulet streamed at my feet. The dav was calm, the air soft, and all was rudeness, silence, and solitude. Before me, and on either side, were high hills, which, by hindering the eve from ranging, forced the mind to find entertainment for itself. Whether I spent the hour well, I know not; for here I first conceived the thought of this narration.'' The Critical Hevicwers. with a spirit and expression worthy of the subject, say, " We congratulate the public on the event with which this quotation concludes, and are fully persuaded that the hour in which the entertaining traveller conceived this narrative will be considered, by every reader of taste, as a fortunate event in the annals of bterature. Were it suitable to the task in which we are at present engaged, to indulge ourselves in a poetical flight, we would invoke the winds of the Caledonian mountains to blow for ever, with their softest breezes, on the bank where our author reclined, and request of Flora that it might be perpetually adorned with the gnyest and most fragrant productions of the year."
2 The Mac Kaes are an example of what sometimes occurred in the Highlands, a clan who had no chief or banner of their own, but mustered under that of another tribe. They were originally attached to the Frasers, but on occasion of an intermarriage, they were transferred could speak English. I observed to Dr. Johnson, it was much the same as being with a tribe of Indians. Johnson. "Yes, Sir, but not so terrifying." I gave all who chose it snuff and tobacco. Governor Trapaud had made us buy a quantity at Fort Augustus, and put them up in small parcels. I also gave each person a piece of wheat bread, which they had never tasted before. I then gave a penny apiece to each child. I told Dr. Johnson of this: upon which he called to Joseph and our guides, for change for a shilling, and declared that he would distribute among the children. Upon this being announced in Erse, there was a great stir: not only did some children come running down from neighbouring huts, but I observed one black-haired man, who had been with us all along, had gone off, and returned, bringing a very young child. My fellow traveller then ordered the children to be drawn up in a row, and he dealt about his copper, and made them and their parents all happy. The poor M'Craas, whatever may be their present state, were of considerable estimation in the year 1715, when there was a line in a song:
"And aw the brave M'Craas are coming."'
There was great diversity in tbe faces of the circle around
to the Mackenzies. and have since mustered under Seaforth's standard. They were always, and are still, a set of hold hardy men, as much attached to the Caberfae (or stag's head) as the Mackenzies, to whom the standard properly belongs.— WalUr Scott.
'The M'Craas. or Macraes, were, since that time, brought into the king's army, by the late Lord Seaforth. When they lay in Edinburgh Castle, in 1778, and were ordered to embark for Jersey, they, with a number of other men in the regiment, for different reasons, but especially an apprehension that they were to be sold to the Kast India Company, though enlisted not to be sent out of Great Britain without their own consent, made a determined mutiny, and encamped upon the lofty mountain, Arthurs Seat, where they remained three days and three nights, bidding defiance to all the force in Scotland. At last they came down, and embarked peaceably, having obtained formal articles of capitulation, signed by Sir Adolphus Oughton, commander-in-chief, General Skene, deputy commander, the Duke of Buccleugh, and the Earl of Dunmore, which quieted them. Since the secession of the Commons of Rome to the Moris Sacer, a more spirited exertion has not been made. I gave great attention to it from first to last, and have draw n 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.