« PreviousContinue »
we could neither hear from our friends, nor write to them. Col had brought Daille "on the Fathers," Lucas "on Happiness," and More's "Dialogues," from the Rev. Mr. M'Lean's, and Burnet's "History of his own Times," from Captain M'Lean's; and he had of his own some books of farming, and Gregory's "Geometry." Dr. Johnson read a good deal of Burnet, and of Gregory, and I observed he made some geometrical notes in the end of his pocket-book. I read a little of Young's "Six Weeks' Tour through the Southern Counties," and Ovid's "Epistles," which Ihad bought at Inverness, and which helped to solace many a weary hour.
We were to have gone with Dr. Johnson this morning to see the mine, but were prevented by the storm. While it was raging, he said, "We may be glad we are not damnati ad metalla,"
Friday, Oct. 8. —Dr. Johnson appeared to-day very weary of our present confined situation. He said, " I want to be on the main land, and go on with existence. This is a waste of life."
I shall here insert, without regard to chronology, some of his conversation at different times.
"There was a man some time ago, who was well received for two years among the gentlemen of Northamptonshire by calling himself my brother. At last he grew so impudent, as by his influence to get tenants turned out of their farms. Allen the printer,1 who is of that county, came to me, asking, with much appearance of doubtfulness, if I had a brother; and upon being assured I had none alive, he told me of the imposition, and immediately wrote to the country, and the fellow was dismissed. It pleased me to hear that so much was got by using my name. It is not every name that can carry double; do both for a man's self and his brother (laughing). I should be glad to see the fellow. However, I could have done nothing against him. A man can have no redress for his name being used, or
1 Edmund Allen, a worthy and reputable printer in Bolt-court. He was for many years Johnson's neighbour, landlord, and friend. He was the son of the Rev. Thomas Allen, a pious and learned man, who for forty years was rector of Kettering, in Northamptonshire.—jiickoli.— Croker.
ridiculous stories being told of him in the newspapers, except he can show that he has suffered damage. Some years ago a foolish piece was published, said to be written 'by S. Johnson.' Some of my friends wanted me to be very angry about this. I said, it would be in vain; for the answer would be, 'S. Johnson may be Simon Johnson, or Simeon Johnson, or Solomon Johnson;' and even if the full name, Samuel Johnson, had been used, it might be said, 'It is not you; it is a much cleverer fellow.''
"Beauclerk, and I, and Langton, and Lady Sydney Beauclerk, mother to our friend, were one day driving in a coach by Cuper's Gardens,2 which were then unoccupied. I, in sport, proposed that Beauclerk, and Langton, and myself should take them; and we amused ourselves with scheming how we should all do our parts. Lady Sydney grew angry, and said, 'an old man should not put such things in young people's heads.' She had no notion of a joke, Sir; had come late into life, and had a mighty unpliable understanding.3
"Carte's ' Life of the Duke of Ormond' is considered as a book of authority; but it is ill-written. The matter is diffused in too many words; there is no animation, no compression, no vigour. Two good volumes in duodecimo might be made out of the two * in folio."
Talking of our confinement here, I observed, that our discontent and impatience could not be considered as very unreasonable; for that we were just in the state of which Seneca complains so grievously, while in exile in Corsica. "Yes," said Dr. Johnson; "and he was not farther from home than we are." The truth is, he was much nearer.1
1 The eccentric author of Hurlo thrum ho was named Samuel Johnson. He was originally a dancing master, but went on the stage, where his acting w-as as extravagant as his pieces. He died in this very year, 1773.—Croker.
"Hurlo thrumho or the Super-natural, as it is acted at the New Theatre in the Haymnrket. Written by Mr. Samuel Johnson, from 'Cheshire." London, 1729. A piece foolish enough certainly; but no friends of Johnson could have moved him to interfere in this case; for Johnson was as yet unknown to fame, a student of Pembroke about twenty years of age.—Editor.
2 An inferior place of popular amusement, over the site of which the southern approach to Waterloo-bridge now passes.— Croker.
3 Mary, daughter of Thomas Norris, Esq., of Speke, in Lancashire, married Lord Sydney in 1736.— Croker.
* Carte's Life of James, Duke of Ormonde, was published in London .in 3 vals. fob, 1735-36.—Editor.
There was a good deal of rain to-day, and the wind was still contrary. Corneck attended me, while I amused myself in examining a collection of papers belonging to the family of Col. The first laird was a younger son of the chieftain M'Lean, and got the middle part of Col for his patrimony. Dr. Johnson having given a very particular account'' of the connection between this family and a branch of the family of Camerons, called M'Lonich, I shall cnly insert the following document (which I found in Col's cabinet) as a proof of its continuance, even to a late period :—
1 "Barbara praruptia inelusa est Corsica saxis
Corsica is about one hundred and fifty miles from Rome. Col is from London upwards of four hundred.—Croker.
2 Johnson's account is as follows:—
"Very near the house of Maclean stands the castle of Col, which was the mansion of the Laird till the house was built. On the wall was, not long ago, a stone with an inscription, importing, that ' if any man of the clan of Maclonich shall appear before this castle, though he come at midnight, with a man's head in his hand, he shall there find safety and protection against all but the king.' This is an old Highland treaty made upon a very memorable occasion. Maclean, the son of John Gerves [one of the ancient lairds], who recovered Col, and conquered Barra, had obtained, it is said, from James II., a grant of the lands of Lochiel, forfeited. I suppose, by some offence against the state. Forfeited estates were not in those days quietly resigned; Maclean, therefore, went with an armed force to seize his new pissessions, and, I know not for what reason, took his wife with him. The Camerons rose in defence of their chief, and a battle was fought at the head of Loch Ness, near the place where Kort Augustus now stands, in which Lochiel obtained the victory, and Maclean, with his followers, \\as defeated and destroyed. The lady fell into the hands of the conquerors, and, being found pregnant, was placed in the custody of Maclonich, one of a tribe or famdy branched from Cameron, with orders, if she brought a boy, to destroy him, if a girl, to spare her. Maclonich's wife, who was with chdd likewise, had a girl about the same time at which Lady Maclean brought a boy. and Maclonich, with more generosity to his captive than fidelity to his trust, contrived that the children should be changed. Maclean, being thus preserved from death, in time recovered his original patrimony: and, in gratitude to his friend, made his castle a place of refuge to any of the clan that should think himself in danger; and, as a proof of reciprocal confidence, Maclean took upon himself and his posterity the care of educating the heir of Maclonich."—Journey, pp. 310-312. 1'irst Edition.—Croktr.
"To the Laird of Col
"Strone, llth March, 1737. "DEAR Sir,
"The long-standing tract of firm aiTuctionat friendship 't.wixt your worthy predecessors and ours affords us such assurance, as that we may have full relvance on your favour and undoubted friendship, in recommending the bearer, Ewcn Cameron, our cousin, son to the deceast Dugall M'Connill of Innermaille, sometime in Glenpean, to your favour and conduct, who is a man of undoubted honesty and discretion, only that he has the misfortune of being alledged to have been accessory to the killing of one of M'Martin's family about fourteen years ago, upon which alledgeance the M'Martins are now so sanguine on revenging, that they are fully resolved for the deprivation of his life; to the preventing of which you are relyed on by us, as the only fit instrument, and the most capable person. Therefore your favour and protection is expected and intreated, during his good behavour; and failing of which behaviour, you'll please to use him as a most insignificant person deserves.
Sir, he had, upon the alledgeance aforesaid, been transported, at Lochiel's desire, to France, to gratify the M'Martins, and, upon his return home, about five years ago, married. But now he is so much threatened by the M'Martins, that he is not secure enough to stay where he is, being Ardmurchan, which occasions this trouble to yon. Wishing prosperity and happiness to attend still yourself, worthy ladv, and good family, we are, in the most affectionate manner, dear Sir, your most obliged, affectionate, and most humble servants.
, T)ngall Cameron, of Strone.
, Dugall Cameron, of Barr.
Dugall Cameron, of Inecrinkvonilline.
Ewen Cameron was protected, and his son has now a farm from the Laird of Col, in Mull.
The family of Col was very loyal in the time of the great Montrose,1 from whom I found two letters in his own handwriting. The first is as follows :—
1 The third Earl and first Marquis, bom in 1612, beheaded at Edinburgh the 21st of May. 1050. — Croker, 1831.
Mr. Mocaulay censures this note in the following terms, which are "For my very loving Friend, the Laird of Coall.
"Strcthearne, 20th Jan., 1616. "Sir,
"I must heartilv thank you for all vour willingness and good affection to his Majesty's service, ami particularly the sending alongs of vour son, to who I will heave aue particular respect, hopeing also that you will still continue ane goode instrument for the advancing ther of the king's service, for which, and all your former loyal carriages, be confident you shall find the effects of
worth preserving as a specimen of equal accuracy of statement and courtesy of style.
"Mr. Croker tells us the great Marquis of Montrose was beheaded in Edinburgh in 1650. There is not a forward bny at any school in England who does not know that the Marquis was hanged. The account of the execution is one of the finest passages in Lord Clarendon's History. We can scarcely suppose that Mr. Croker had never read that passage; and yet we can scarcely suppose that any one who had ever perused so noble and pathetic a story can have utterly forgotten all its most striking circumstances."—Ed. Kev.
To which a critic in Blackwood's Magazine replied :—
"We really almost suspect that the Reviewer [Mr. Macaulay] himself has not read the passage to which he refers, or he could hardly have accused Mr. Croker of showing—by having said that Montrose was 'beheaded,' when the Kcviewer thinks he should have said ' lianged'—that hc had forgotten the most 'striking passage' of Clarendon's noble 'account of the execution.' For it is not on the execution itself that Lord Clarendon dwells with the most pathos and effect, but 0:1 the previous indignities at and after his trial which Montrose so magnanimously endured. Clarendor., with scrupulous delicacy, avoids all mention of the peculiar 'mode of death, and is wholly silent as to any of the circumstances of the execution, leaving the reader's imagination to supply, from the terms of the sentence, the odiou.s details: but the Knviowor. if ho hud really known or felt the true pathos of the story, would have remembered that the sentence was, that the Marquess should be hanged and beheaded, and that his head should ' be stuck on the Tolbooth of Edinburgh ;' and it was this very circumstance of the beheading, which excited in Montrose that burst of eloquence which is the most striking beauty of the whole of the ' noble and pathetic story.' 'I am prouder.' said he to his persecutors,' to have my head set upon the place it is appointed to be, than I should be to have my picture hung in the King's bedchamber!"—Ed. Mag., Nov., 1831. To this I beg leave to add that 1 might certainly have said " hanged and beheaded,'' but if I had only said, as my critic would have it, "hanged," I should certainly have shown an utter forgetfulness of "the noble and pathetic story.''— Croker.