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The letter to Dr. Johnson was in these words :—
"I was to have kissed your hands at Edinburgh, the moment I heard of you, but you was gone.
"I hope my friend Boswell will inform me of your motions. It will be cruel to deprive me an instant of the honour of attending you. As I value you more than any king in Christendom, I will perform that duty with infinitely greater alacrity than any courtier. I can contribute but little to your entertainment; but my sincere esteem for you gives me some title to the opportunity of expressing it.
"I dare say yon are by this time sensible that things are pretty much the same as when Buchanan complained of being born solo et seculo inerutlito. Let me hear of you, and be persuaded that none of your admirers is more sincerely devoted to you, than, dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
Dr. Johnson, on the following Tuesday, answered for both of us, thus :—
"Skie, Sept. 14, 1773.
"On the rugged shore of Skie I had the honour of your lordship's letter, and can with great truth declare that no place is so gloomy but that it would be cheerecl by such a testimony of regard, from a mind so well qualified to estimate characters, and to deal out approbation in its due proportions. If I have more than my share, it is your lordship's fault; for I have always reverenced your judgment too much, to exalt myself in your presence by any false pretensions.
"Mr. Boswell and I are at present at the disposal of the ivinds, and therefore cannot fix the time at which we shall have the honour of seeing your lordship. But we should either of us think ourselves injured by the supposition that we would miss your lordship's conversation when we could enjoy it; for I have often declared that I never met you without going away a wiser man. I am, my Lord, your lordship's most obedient and most humble servant, "Sam. Johnson."
At Portree, Mr. Donald M'Queen went to church, and officiated in Erse, and then came to dinner. Dr. Johnson and I resolved that we should treat the company, so I played the landlord, or master of the feast, having previously ordered Joseph to pay the bill.
Sir James Macdonald intended to have built a village here, which would have done great good. A village is like a heart to a country. It produces a perpetual circulation, and gives the people an opportunity to make profit of many little articles, which would otherwise be in a good measure lost. We had here a dinner, et prceterea nihil. Dr. Johnson did not talk. When we were about to depart we found that Rasay had been beforehand with us, and that all was paid; I would fain have contested this matter with him, but seeing him resolved, I declined it. We parted with cordial embraces from him and worthy Malcolm. In the evening Dr. Johnson and I remounted our horses, accompanied by Mr. M'Queen and Dr. Macleod. It rained very hard. We rode what they call six miles, upon Ramy's lauds in Sky, to Dr. Macleod's house. On the road Dr. Johnson appeared to be somewhat out of spirits. When I talked of our meeting Lord Elibauk, he said, " I cannot be with him much. I long to be again in civilized life; but can stay but a short while " (he meant at Edinburgh). He said, "Let us go to Dunvegan to-morrow."—" Yes," said I, " if it is not a deluge." "At any rate," he replied. This showed a kind of fretful impatience; nor was it to be wondered at, considering our disagreeable ride, I feared he would give up Mull and Icolmkill; for he said something of his apprehensions of being detained by bad weather in going to Mull and lona. However, I hoped well. We had a dish of tea at Dr. Macleod's, who had a pretty good house, where was his brother, a half-pay officer. His lady was a polite agreeable woman. Dr. Johnson said he was glad to see he was so well married, for he had an esteem for physicians. The doctor accompanied us to Kingsburgh, which is called a mile farther; but the computation of Sky has no connection whatever with real •distance.
I was highly pleased to see Dr. Johnson safely arrived at Kingsburgh, and received by the hospitable Mr. Macdonald, who, with a most respectful attention, supported him into the house. Kingtburgh was completely the figure of a gallant Highlander,—exhibiting "the graceful mien and manly looks," which our popular Scotch song has justly attributed to that character. He had his tartan plaid thrown about him, a large blue bonnet with a knot of black riband like a cockade, a brown short coat of a kind of duffil, a tartan waistcoat with gold buttons and gold buttonholes, a bluish philibeg, and tartan hose. He had jet black hair tied behind, and was a large stately man, with a steady sensible countenance.
There was a comfortable parlour with a good fire, and a dram went round. By and by supper was served, at which there appeared the lady of the house, the celebrated Miss Flora Macdonald.1 She is a little woman, of a genteel appearance, and uncommonly mild and well bred. To see Dr. Samuel Johnson, the great champion of the English Tories, salute Miss Flora Macdonald in the isle of Sky, was a striking sight; for, though somewhat congenial in their notions, it was very improbable they should meet here. - Miss Flora Macdonald (for so I shall call her) told me, she heard upon the main land, as she was returning home about a fortnight before, that Mr. Boswell was coming to Sky, and one Mr. Johnson, a young English buck,1 with him. He was highly entertained with this fancy. Giving an account of the afternoon which we passed at Anock, he said, "I, being a bucl; had Miss in to make tea." He was rather quiescent to-night, and went early to bed. I was in a cordial humour, and promoted a cheerful glass. The punch was excellent. Honest Mr. M'Queen observed that I was in high glee, "my governor being gone to bed." Yet in reality my heart was grieved, when I recollected that Kingsburgh was embarrassed in his affairs, and intended to go to America. However, nothing but what was good was present, and I pleased myself in thinking that so spirited a man would be well every where. I slept in the same room with Dr. Johnson. Each had a neat bed, with tartan curtains, in an upper chamber.
1 "Miss Flora Macdonald is daughter of Macdonald of Melton,
in the island of Uist, descended from Clenronnald's (sii) family. Her father died when she was an infant, leaving one son and her. Her mother married again to one Hugh Macdonald of Armadale, in the Isle of Sky; and has by him two sons and two daughters. This gentleman was esteemed the strongest man of the name of Macdonald. Miss Flora was about twenty-four years of age, of a middle stature, well-shaped, and a very pretty agreeable person, of great sprightliness in her looks, and abounded with good sense, modesty, good nature, and humanity." —Foot-note to the Ascanius Xarrativc. She was included in the Act of Indemnity, 1747, was married in 1750, and accompanied her husband to Canada, but returned again to Sky, and died there March 4, 1790, leaving behind her a son and a daughter. Her grave, long neglected, is now marked by a memorial cross. Her son, Lieut.-Colonel John Macdonald, was a distinguished writer on scientific military questions; he died at Exeter, Aug. 16, 1831. and was buried in the cathedral. Her daughter was married to a Macleod, a distant relative of the chief of that name.—Chambers' Dictionary of Emimnt Scotsmen, edited by Rev. Thomas Thomson, vol. iii., p. 18. London, 1875. Her portrait was said by Mr. Croker to have been painted in London, in 1747, for Commodore Smith, in whose ship she was brought prisoner to London. The date, 1747, does not, unfortunately, permit us to identify this portrait with that painted by Allan Ramsay, which now forms one of the ornaments of the Bodleian Library, and bears the date of 1749. How this picture was acquired, and when, the authorities of that library possess no record of. It has been frequently reproduced.—Editor.
It is remarkable that this distinguished lady signed her name Flory, instead of the more classical orthography. Her marriage contract, which is in my possession, bears the name spoiled Flory. —Walter Scott.
Monday, Sept. 13.—The room where we lay was a celebrated one. Dr. Johnson's bed was the very bed2 in which the grandson of the unfortunate King James the Second3 lay, on one of the nights after the failure of his rash attempt in 1745-6, while he was eluding the pursuit of the emissaries of government, which had offered thirty thousand pounds as a reward for apprehending him. To see Dr. Samuel Johnson lying in that bed, in the Isle of Sky, in the house of Miss Flora Macdonald, struck me with such a group of ideas as it is not easy for words to describe, as they passed through the mind. He smiled, and said, "I have had no ambitious thoughts in it."' The room was decorated with a great variety of maps and prints. Among others, was Hogarth's print of Wilkes grinning, with the cap of liberty on a pole by him. That, too, was a curious circumstance in the scene this morning; such a contrast was 'Wilkes to the above group. It reminded me of Sir 'William Chambers's "Account of Oriental Gardening," in which, we are told, all odd, strange, ugly, and even terrible objects, are introduced for the sake of variety; a wild extravagance of taste which is so well ridiculed in the celebrated Epistle
1 It may be useful to future readers to know that the word "macaroni" in a former passage of this work, and the word "bud;" here employed, are nearly synonymous with the term "dandy," employed, now-a-days (1831—1846) to express a young gentleman who in his dress and manners affects the extreme of the fashion. Macaroni is preserved in the School for Scandal.— Croker.
* In the examination of Kingsburgh and his wife, by Captain Fergussone of the Furnace man of war, relative to this affair, Fergussone asked '- where Miss Flora, and the person in woman's clothes, who was with her, lay?" Kingsburgh answered with gentlemanly spirit, " He knew where Miss Flora lay ; but as for servants, he never asked any questions about them." The captain then, brutally enough, asked Mrs. Macdonald " whether she laid the young Pretender and Miss Flora in the same bed?" She answered with great temper and readiness, "Sir, whom you mean by the young Pretender, I do not pretend to guess; but I can assure you it is not the fashion in Sky to lay mistress and maid in the same bed together." The captain then desired to see the rooms where they lay, and shrewdly enough remarked that the room wherein the supposed maidservant lay was better than that of her mistress. —Asen n ins.—Croker.
'I do not call him tie Prince of Wales, or tie Prince, because I am
quite satined that the right which the house of Stuart had to the throne is extinguished. I do not call him the Prettndcr, because it appears to me as an insult to one who is still alive, and, I suppose, thinks very differently. It may be a parliamentary expression; but it is not a gentlemanly expression. I know, and I exult in having it in my power to tell, that " the only person in the world who is entitled to be offended at this delicacy, thinks and feels as I do ;" and has liberality of mind and generosity of sentiment enough to approve of my tenderness for what even hat been blood royal. That he is a prince by courtesy cannot be denied; because his mother was the daughter of Sobiesky, King of Poland. I shall, therefore, on that account alone, distinguish him by the name of l'rince Charles Edward.
The generosity of King George the Third, alluded to in this note, was followed up by his successor, who caused a monument to be erected over the remains of the Cardinal of York, in whom the line of James the Second ended. It was a liberal and judicious tribute to private and to public feeling: the political danger had been extinguished for more than half a century; and the claims of kindred, and the honour of the English name, not only justified, but seemed to require such an exercise of royal generosity.—Croker.
1 This, perhaps, was said in allusion to some lines ascribed to Pope, on his lying, at John Duke of Argyle's, at Adderbury, in the same bed in which Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, had slept:
"With no poetic ardour fired,
I press the bed where Wilmot lay;
Begets no numbers, grave or gay."