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Monday, Oct. 18th.—We agreed to pass the day with Sir Allan, and he engaged to have every thing in order for our voyage to-morrow.
Being now soon to he separated from our amiable friend young Col, his merits were all remembered. At ITlva, he had appeared in a new character, having given us a good prescription for a cold. On my mentioning him with warmth, Dr. Johnson said, " Col does every tiling for us: we will erect a statue to Col." "Yes," said I, "and we will have him with his various attributes and characters, like Mercury, or any other of the heathen gods. We will have him as a pilot; we will have him as a fisherman, as a hunter, as a husbandman, as a physician."
Nee tumen inculti gelid is latnere sub antris,
Areola Danubii qualia sievus habet.
Sive libros poscant otia, sive lyram.
Spes hominum et euras gem procul esse jubet.
Et summi accendat pectus amorc boni.
Cessarunt, pietas hie ciuoque cura fuit.
Admonitu, ipsa suas nunciat hora vices.
Sint pro legitimis pura labtlla sacris.
Hie seeura quies, hie et honestus amor.
The reader will observe that most of the alterations are improvements. The change of the third line from the end, " Legitimas fanunt," seems, not so happy, and requires some explanation. The original draft of these verses in Johnson's autograph is now before me. He had first written
Sunt pro legitimis pectora pura sacris;
he then wrote
Legitimas faciunl pura lahclla precis;
which more nearly approaches Mr. Boswell's version, and alludes, happily, I think, to the prayers having been read by the young lad}'. This, however, as we shall see presently (sub 2nd Feb., 1775), was objected to as rather unorthodox, and that line was erased, and the line as it stands in the Works is substituted in Mr. Langton's hand, as is also an alteration in the 16th line, vrtit into juhel. As I have reason to believe that Mr. Langton assisted in editing these Latin pocmata, I conclude that these alterations were his own while superintending the press.—Croker.
I this morning took a spade, and dug a little grave in the floor of a ruined chapel,1 near Sir Allan M'Lean's house, in 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 showed in the chapel at Rasay his horror at dead men's bones. He showed it again at Col's house. In the charter-room there was a remarkably large shin bone, which was said to have been a bone of John Garve,2 one of the lairds. Dr. Johnson would not look at it, but started away.
At breakfast, I asked, "What is the reason 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 merchant may, perhaps, be a man of 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
1 Mr. Boswell does not tell us that he had visited this chapel the evening before; but Johnson says to Mrs. Thrale, " Bosweil, who is very pious, went into it at night to perform his devotions, but came back in haste for fear of spectres."—Letters, vol. i., p. 173.— Croker.
a "John Genes or John the Giant," of whose romantic reconquest of Col from an invading Macncil, Johnson gives an interesting sketch.— Crokcr.
a Laplander. The Laplanders are not much aoove 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 a very 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 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 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 Beauelerk 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 are foolishly hurting each other, he ran up to them, and cuffed their heads till he drove them asunder.2 But few men have his intrepidity, Herculean strength, or presence of mind. Most thieves or robbers would be afraid to encounter a mastiff.
1 Solander (Daniel Charles) was born in yorland, in Sweden, in 1736, came to England in 1760, and became F.R.S. in 1764. In 1768 he accompanied Banks in his voyage with Cook, and died one of the Librarians of the British Museum in 1782.—Croker.
2 "When we inquired,'' says Mrs. Piozzi, "into the truth of this storv, he answered, the dogs have been somewhat magnified, I believe. They were, as I remember, two stout young pointers; but the story haa ginned but little."—Piozzi Johnsoniana [vol. vi. ri. 49],—Editor.
I observed, that when voung Col talked of the lands belonging to his family, he always said "my lands." For tins 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 charterroom, 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 Otaheite, 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 children.1
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."2 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 la il,3 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 really 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.
1 It seems, however, that in this instance the custom was carried out. All that Boswell relates of Col, from his very title to the end, looks like an actual ownership. Johnson says, " Mr. Maclean of Col (the father), having a numerous family, has for some lime past resided in 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," and when poor Col was soon after drowned. Boswell* talks of the next brother as his successor, though there is no reason to suppose that the father had died in that short interval.— Croitr.
2 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. CoFi exploit is feasible enough.— Walter Scott.
3 In allusion to Monboddo's theory, that a perfect man would have a Util.— Crokcr.
* See Life, vol. ii., p. 286.
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.
Tuesday, Oct. 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 as undei 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 re
1 Just opposite to M'Quarrie's house the boat was swamped by the intoxication of the sailors, who had partaken too largely of M-Qunrrie's wonted hospitality.— Waltcr Scott.
Johnson says in his Journey, '- Here we had the last embrace of this amiable man, who, while these pages were preparing to attest his virtues, perished in the passage between Ulva and Inchkenneth." The account given in the Journey of young Donald Maclean made him a popular character. The Laird of Col is a character in O'Keefe's Highland Keel. Johnson writes* from Lichfield, 13th June, 1775:—"There is great lamentation here for poor Col;" and a review of the Journey, Gent. Mag. 1775. thus concludes :—"But, whatever Dr. Johnson saw, whatever he described, will now be perpetuated; and though the buildings of Icolmkill are mouldering into dust, and the young Laird of Col is insensible of praise, readers yet unborn will feel their piety warmed by the ruins of lona, and their sensibility touched by the untimely fate of the amiable Maclean."—Croker.
* Correspondence, vol. i., p. 235.