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After dmner to-day, we talked of the extraordinary fact of Lady Grange's' being sent to St. Kilda, and confined there for several years, without any means of relief. Dr. Johnson said, if Macleod would let it be known that he had such
regions, they saw the absurdity of the failles on which the superstition was supported. General Macleod found Johnson more willing to believe in the second sight than in Ossian. And Boswell boasts of being an absolute believer.—Crnker,
1 The true story of this lady, which happened in this century, is as frightfully romantic as if it had been the fiction of a gloomy fancy. She was the wife of one of the Lords of Session in Scotland, a man of the very first blood of his country. For some mysterious reasons, which have never been discovered, she was seized and carried off in the dark, she knew not by whom, and by nightly journeys was conveyed to the Highland shores, from whence she was transported by sea to the remote rock of St. Kilda, where she remained, amongst its few wild inhabitants, a forlorn prisoner, but had a constant supply of provisions, and a woman to wait on her. No inquiry was made after her, till she at last found means to convey a letter to a confidential friend, by the daughter of u Catechist, who concealed it in a clue of yarn. Information being thus obtained at Edinburgh, a ship was sent to bring her off; but intelligence of this being received, she was conveyed to Macleod's island of Herries, where she died.
In Carstare's State Papers, we find an authentic narrative of Connor, a catholic priest who turned protestant, being seized by some of Lord SeafortU's people, and detained prisoner in the island of Harris several years: he was fed with bread and water, and lodged in a house where he was exposed to the rains and cold. Sir James Ogilvy writes, June 18, 1667, " that the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Advocate, and himself, were to meet next day, to take effectual methods to have this redressed. Connor was then still detained "—p. 310. This shows what private oppression might in the last century be practised in the Hebrides.
In the same collection, the Earl of Argyle gives a picturesque account of an embassy from the great M'Xcil of Barra, as that insular chief used to be denominated. "I received a letter yesterday from M'Neil of Barra, who lives very far off, sent by a gentleman in all formality, offering his service, which had made you laugh to see his entry. The style of his letter runs as if he were of another kingdom."—p. 643.
It was said of M'Neil of Barra, that when he dined, his bagpipes blew a particular strain, intimating that all the world might go to dinner.— Walter Scott.
The story of Lady Grange is well known. I have seen her Journal. She had become privv to some of the Jacobite intrigues, in which her husband, Lord Grange (an Erskine, brother of the Earl of Mar, and a Lord of Session), and his family were engaged. Being on indifferent terms with her husband, she is said to have thrown out hints that she knew as much as would cost him his life. The judge probably thought with Mrs. Peachum, that it is rather an awkward state of domestic
a place for naughty ladies, he might make it a very profitable island. We had, in the course of our tour, heard of St. Kilda poetry. Dr. Johnson observed, "It must be very poor, because they have very few images." Boswell. "There may be a poetical genins shown in combining these, and in making poetry of them." Johnson. "Sir, a man cannot make fire but in proportion as he has fuel. He cannot coin guineas but in proportion as he has gold." At tea he talked of his intending to go to Italy in 1775. Macleod said, he would like Paris better. Johnson. "No, Sir: there are none of the French literati now alive, to visit whom I would cross a sea. I can find in Buffon's book all that he can say."'
After supper he said, "I am sorry that prize-fighting is gone out; every art should be preserved, and the art of defence is surely important. It is absurd that our soldiers should have swords, and not be taught the use of them. Prize-fighting 2 made people accustomed not to be alarmed at seeing their own blood, or feeling a little pain from a wound. I think the heavy glaymore was an ill-contrived weapon. A
affairs, when the wife has it in her power to hang the husband. Lady Grange was the more to be dreaded, as she came of a vindictive ran?, being the grandchild of that Chiesley, of Dairy, who assassinated Sir George Lockhart, the Lord President. Many persons of importance in the Highlands were concerned in removing her testimony. The notorious Lovat, with a party of his men, were the direct agents in carrying her off; and St. Kilda, belonging then to Macleod, was selected as the place of confinement. The name by which she was spoken or written of was Corpach, an ominous distinction, corresponding to what is called subject in the lecture-room of an anatomist, or shot in the slang of the Westport murderers.— Walter Scott.
Hachel Chiesley was, as Mr. Chambers informs me, the daughter, not the grand-daughter, of the murderer. The Earl of Mar, restored in 1824, was her grandson. She was buried, as Mucleod informs me, at Dunvegan.—Croker.
'I doubt the justice of my fellow-traveller's remark concerning the French literati, many of whom, I am told, have considerable merit in conversation, as well as in their writings. That of M. de Burton, in particular, I am well assured, is highly instructive and entertaining.
"Mrs. Piozzi says (Anecdotes, p. 5), " Mr. Johnson was very conversant in the art of attack and defence by boxing, which science he had learned from his uncle Andrew, I believe; and I have heard him descant upon the age when people were received, and when rejected, in the schools once held for that brutal amusement, much to the admiration of those who had no expectation of his skill in such matters."—Croker.
man could only strike once with it. It employed both his hands, and he must of course be soon fatigued with wielding it; so that if his antagonist could only keep playing awhile, he was sure of him. I would fight with a dirk against Rorie Mores sword. I could ward off a blow with a dirk, and then run in upon my enemy. When within that heavy sword, I have him; he is quite helpless, and I could stab him at my leisure, like a calf. It is thought by sensible military men, that the English do not enough avail themselves of their superior strength of body against the French; for that must always have a great advantage in pushing with bayonets. I have heard an officer say, that if women could be made to stand, they would do as well as men in mere interchange of bullets from a distance; but if a body of men should come close up to them, then to be sure they must be overcome ; "now," said he, " in the same manner the weaker-bodied French must be overcome by our strong soldiers."
The subject of duelling was introduced. Johnson. "There is no case in England where one or other of the combatants must die: if you have overcome your adversary by disarming him, that is sufficient, though you should not kill him; your honour, or the honour of your family, is restored, as much as it can be by a duel. It is cowardly to force your antagonist to renew the combat, when you know that you have the advantage of him by superior skill. You might just as well go and cut his throat while he is asleep in his bed. When a duel begins, it is supposed there may be an equality; because it is not always skill that prevails.
It depends much on presence of mind; nay, on accidents. The wind may be in a man's face. He may fall. Many such things may decide the superiority. A man is sufficiently punished by being called out, and subjected to the risk that is in a duel." But on my suggesting that the injured person is equally subjected to risk, he fairly owned he could not explain the rationality of duelling.
Monday, Sepf. 20. — When I awaked, the storm was higher still. It abated about nine, and the sun shone; but it rained again very soon, and it was not a day for travelling. At breakfast, Dr. Johnson told us, " there was once a pretty good tavern in Catherine Street in the Strand, where very good company met in an evening, and each man called for his own half-pint of wine, or gill if he pleased; they were frugal men, and nobody paid but for what he himself drank. The house furnished no supper; but a woman attended with mutton pies, which any body might purchase. I was introduced to this company by Cumming the Quaker,1 and used to go there sometimes when I drank wine. In the last age, when my mother lived in London, there were two sets of people, those who gave the wall, and those who took it; the peaceable and the quarrelsome. When I returned to Lichfield, after having been in London, my mother asked me, whether I was one of those who gave the wall, or those who took it. Now, it is fixed that every man keeps to the right; or, if one is taking the wall, another yields it, and it is never a dispute." He was severe on a lady whose name was mentioned. He said, he would have sent her to St. Kilda. That she was as bad as negative badness could be, and stood in the way of what was good: that insipid beauty would not go a great way; and that such a woman might be cut out of a cabbage, if there was a skilful artificer.
1 Thomas Camming was a bold and busy man, who mistook his vocation when he turned Quaker (for he was not born in that sect). He planned and almost commanded a military expedition to the coast of Africa, in 1758, which ended in the capture of Senegal. It and its author make u considerable figure in Smollett's History of England, vol. ii., p. 278, where the anomaly of a Quakers heading an army is attempted to be excused by the event of the enemy's having surrendered without fighting ; and a protest that Cumming would not have engaged in it, had he not been assured, that against an overpowering force the enemy could not have resisted. This reminds us of another story of Cumming, told by Johnson. (See Life, vol. iv., April 20,1783.) During the rebellion of 1745, he was asked whether the time was not come when even he, as a Quaker, ought to take arms for the civil and religious liberties of his country? "No" said Cumming, "but I will drive an ammunition cart." Yet this bustling man was, it seems, morbidly sensitive. Mrs. Piozzi says, " Dr. Johnson once told me that Cumming, the famous Quaker, whose friendship he valued very highly, fell a sacrifice to the insults of the newspapers, having declared on his death-bed, that the pain of an anonymous letter, written in some of the common prints of the day, fastened on his heart, and threw him into the slow fever of which he' died."—Anecdotis, p. 185. One libel, in which Tomacomiugo is severely handled, will be found in the Town and Country Magazine of January, 1774; and though it seems nothing to die of, Cumming's death that veryyear gives countenance to Johnson's anecdote.—Croker.
Macleod was too late, in coming to breakfast. Dr. Johnson said, laziness was worse than the tooth-ache. Boswell. "I cannot agree with you, Sir; a basin of cold water, or a horsewhip will cure laziness." Johnson. "No, Sir; it will only put off the fit; it will not cure the disease. I have been trying to cure my laziness all my life, and could not do it." Boswell. "But if a man does in a shorter time what might be the labour of a life, there is nothing to be said against him." Johnson (perceiving at once that I alluded to him and his "Dictionary"). "Suppose that flattery to be true, the consequence would be, that the world would have no right to censure a man; but that will not justify him to himself."
After breakfast, he said to me, " A Highland chief should now endeavour to do every thing to raise his rents, by means of the industry of his people. Formerly, it was right for him to have his house full of idle fellows; they were his defenders, his servants, his dependants, his friends. Now they may be better employed. The system of things is now so much altered, that the family cannot have influence but by riches, because it has no longer the power of ancient feudal times. An individual of a family may have it; but it cannot now belong to a family, unless you could have a perpetuity of men with the same views. Macleod has four times the laud that the Duke of Bedford has. I think, with his spirit, he may in time make himself the greatest man in the king's dominions; for land may always be improved to a certain degree. I would never have any man sell land, to throw money into the funds, as is often done, or to try any other species of trade. Depend upon it, this rage of trade will destroy itself. You and I shall not see it; but the time will come when there will be an end of it. Trade is like gaming. If a whole company are gamesters, play must cease; for there is nothing to be won. When all nations are traders, there is nothing to be gained by trade, and it will stop first where it is brought to the greatest perfection. Then the proprietors of laud only will be the great men." I observed, it was hard that Macleod should fiud ingratitude in so many of his people. Johnson. "Sir, gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross