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ing at the restoration; after the murder of Charles I. had been expiated in the anarchy which succeeded it.
"Before the restoration, few trees were planted unless by the monastic drones: their successors (and worthy patriots they were), the barons, first cut down the trees, and then sold the estates. The gentleman at St. Andrew's, who said that there were but two trees in Fife, ought to have added, that the elms of Balmerino were sold within these twenty years, to make pumps for the fire-engines.
"In J. Major de Gestis Scotorum, 1. i. c. 2, last edition, there is a singular passage :—
"' Davidi Cranstoneo conterraneo, dum de prima theologise licentia foret, duo ei consocii et familiares, et mei cum eo in artibus auditores, scilicet Jacobus Almain Senonensis, et Petrus Bruxcellensis, Praedieatoris ordinis, in Sorbonse curia die Sorbonico commilitonibus suis.publice objecerunt, quod pane avenaceo plebeii Scoti, sicut a quodam religioso intellexerant, vescebantur, ut virum, quern cholericum noverant, honestis salibus tentarent, qui hoc inficiari tanquam patriae dedecus nisu.i est.'
"Pray introduce our countryman, Mr. Licentiate David Cranston, to the acquaintance of Mr. Johnson.
"The syllogism seems to have been this:—
They who feed on oatmeal are barbarians;
The licentiate denied the minor. I am, Sir, &c.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ., EDINBURGH.
"Dunnichen, Feb. 16, J 775.
"Mr DEAR BOSWEll,
"I cannot omit a moment to return you my best thanks for the entertainment you hare furnished me, my family, and guests by the perusal of Dr. Johnson's 'Journey to the Western Islands ;' and now for my sentiments of it. I was well entertained. His descriptions are accurate and vivid. He carried me on the tour along with him. I am pleased with the justice he has done to your humour and vivacity. 'The noise of the wind being all its own,' is a bon-mot, that it would have been a pity to have omitted, and a robbery not to Lave ascribed to its author.1
"There is nothing in the book, from beginning to end, that a Scotchman need to take amiss. What he says of the country is true, and his observations on the people are what must naturally occur to a sensible, observing, and reflecting inhabitant of a convenient Metropolis, where a man on thirty pounds a year may be better accommodated with all the little wants of life than Col or Sir Allan. He reasons candidly about the secondsight; but I wish he had inquired more, before he ventured to say he even doubted of the possibility of such an unusual and useless deviation from all the known laws of nature. The notion of the second-sight I consider as a remnant of superstitious ignorance and credulity, which a philosopher will set down as such, till the contrary is clearly proved, and then it will be classed among the other certain, though unaccountable parts of our nature, like dreams, and—I do not know what.
"In regard to the language, it has the merit of being all his own. Many words of foreign extraction are used, where, I believe, common ones would do as well, especially on familiar occasions. Yet I believe he could not express himself so forcibly in any other style. I am charmed with his researches concerning the Erse language, and the antiquity of their manuscripts. I am quite convinced; and I shall rank ' Ossian,' and his * Fingals ' and 'Oscars,' amongst the nursery tales, not the true history of our country, in all time to come.
"Upon the whole the book cannot displease, for it has no pretensions. The author neither says he is a geographer, nor an antiquarian, nor very learned in the history of Scotland, nor a naturalist, nor a fossilist. The manners of the people, and the face of the country, are all he attempts to describe, or seems to have thought of. Much were it to be wished that they who have travelled into more remote, and of course more curious regions, had all possessed his good sense. Of the state of learning, his observations on Glasgow university show he has formed a very sound judgment. He understands our climate too, and he has accurately observed the changes, however slow and imper
1 "I know nnt that I ever heard the wind so loud in any other place [as in Col]; and Mr. Boswell observed, that its noise was all its men, for there were no trees to increase it."—Johnson's Journey.—Croker.
ceptible to us, which Scotland has undergone, in consequence of the blessings of liberty and internal peace. I could have drawn my pen through the story of the old woman at St. Andrew's, being the only silly thing in the book. He has taken the opportunity of ingrafting into the work several good observations, which I dare say he had made upon men and things before he set foot on Scotch ground, by which it is considerably enriched.1 A long journey, like a tall may-pole, though not very beautiful itself, yet is pretty enough when ornamented with flowers and garlands; it furnishes a sort of cloak-pins for hanging the furniture of your mind upon; and whoever sets out upon a journey, without furnishing his mind previously with much study and useful knowledge, erects a may-pole in December, and puts up very useless cloak-pins.
"I hope the book will induce many of his countrymen to make the same jaunt, and help to intermix the more liberal part of them still more with us, and perhaps abate somewhat of that virulent antipathy which many of them entertain against the Scotch; who certainly would never have formed those combinations which he takes notice of, more than their ancestors, had they not been necessary for their mutual safety, at least for their success, in a country where they are treated as foreigners. They would find us not deficient, at least in point of hospitality, and they would be ashamed ever after to abuse us in the mass.
"So much for the Tour.—I have now, for the first time in my life, passed a winter in the country; and never did three months roll on with more swiftness and satisfaction. I used not only to wonder at, but pity, those whose lot condemned them to winter any where but in either of the capitals. But every place has its charms to a cheerful mind. I am busy planting and taking measures for opening the summer campaign in farming; and I find I have an excellent resource, when revolutions in politics, perhaps, and revolutions of the sun for certain, will make it decent for me to retreat behind the ranks of the more forward in life.
"I am glad to hear the last was a very busy week with you. I see you as counsel in some causes which must have opened a
1 Mr. Orme, one of the ablest historians of this age, is of the same opinion. He said to me, " There are in that book thoughts which, by long revolution in the great mind of Johnson, have been formed and polished—like pebbles rolled in the ocean."
charming field for your humorous vein. As it is more uncommon, so I very believe it is more useful than the more serious exercise of reason; and, to a man who is to appear in public, more eclat is to be gained, sometimes more money too, by a Ionmot, than a learned speech. It is the fund of natural humour which Lord North possesses, that makes him so much the favourite of the house, and so able, because so amiable, a leader of a party.
"I have now finished my Tour of Seven Pages. In what remains, I beg leave to offer my compliments, and those of ma tris clierefemme, to you and Mrs. Boswell. Pray unbend the busy brow, and frolic a little in a letter to, my dear Boswell, your affectionate friend, "George Dempster."'
I shall also present the public with a correspondence with the Laird of Kasay, concerning a passage in the " Journey to the Western Islands," which shows Dr. Johnson in a very amiable light.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
"Rasay, April 10, 1775. "Dear Sir,
"I take this occasion of returning you my most hearty thanks for the civilities shown to my daughter by you and Mrs Boswell. Yet, though she has informed me that I am under this obligation, I should very probably have deferred troubling you with making my acknowledgments at present, if I had not seen Dr. Johnson's 'Journey to the Western Isles,' in which he has been pleased to make a very friendly mention of my family, for which I am surely obliged to him, as being more than an equivalent for the reception you and he met with. Yet there is one paragraph I should have been glad he had omitted, which I am sure was owing to misinformation; that is, that I had acknowledged Macleod to he my chief, though my ancestors disputed the pre-eminence for a long tract of time.
1 Every reader will. I am sure, join with me in warm admiration of the truly patriotic writer of this letter. I knew not which most to applaud, -that good sense and liberality of mind which could see and admit the detects of his native country, to which no man is a more zealous friend; or that candour which induced him to give just praise to the minister whom he honestly and strenuously opposed.
"I never bad occasion to enter seriously on this argument with the present Laird, or his grandfather, nor could I have any temptation to sueh a renunciation from either of them. I acknowledge the benefit of being chief of a clan is in our days of very little significancv, and to trace out the progress of this honour to the founder of a family, of any standing, would perhaps be n matter of some difficulty.
"The true state of the present case is this:—the M'Leod family consists of two different branches; the M'Leods of Lewis, of which I am descended, and the M'Leods of Harris. And though the former have lost a very extensive estate by forfeiture in King James the Sixth's time, there are still several respectable families of it existing, who would justly blame me for such an unmeaning cession, when they all acknowledge me head of that famiiv; which, though in fact it be but an ideal point of honour, is not hitherto so far disregarded in our country, but it would determine some of my friends to look on me as a much smaller man than either they or myself judge me at present to be. I will, therefore, ask it as a favour of you to acquaint the Doctor with the difficulty he has brought me to. In travelling among rival clans, such a silly tale as this might easily be whispered into the ear of a passing stranger; but as it has no foundation in fact, I hope the Doctor will be so good as to take his own way in undeceiving the public—I principally mean my friends and connexions, who will be first angrv at me, and next sorry to find such an instance of my littleness recorded in a book which has a very fair chance of being much read. I expect you will let me know what he will write you in return, and we here beg to make offer to you and Mrs. Boswell of our most respectful compliments.—I am, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
TO THE LAIRD OF RASAY
"London, May S, 1775. "DEAR Sir,
"The day before yesterday I had the honour to receive your letter, and I immediately communicated it to Dr. Johnson. He said he loved your spirit, and was exceedingly sorry that he had been the cause of the smallest uneasiness to you. There is not a more candid man in the world than he is, when properly