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We talked of the stage. I observed, that we had not now such a company of actors as in the last age; Wilks, Booth, &c. &c. Johnson. "You think so, because there is one who excels all the rest so much; you compare them with Garrick, and see the deficiency. Garrick's great distinction is his universality. He can represent all modes of life, but that of an easy fine-bred gentleman." PenNington. "He should give over playing young parts." Johnson "He does not take them now; but he does not leave off those which he has been used to play, because he does them better than any one else can do them. If you had generations of actors, if they swarmed like bees, the young ones might drive off the old. Mrs. Gibber, I think, got more reputation than she deserved, as she had a great sameness; though her expression was, undoubtedly, very fine. Mrs. Clive was the best player I ever saw. Mrs. Pritchard was a very good one; but she had something affected in her manner: I imagine she had some player of the former age in her eye, which occasioned it."
Colonel Pennington said, Garrick sometimes failed in emphasis; as, for instance, in Hamlet,
"I will speak daggers to her; but use none,"
"I will speak daggers to her; but use none."
We had a dinner of two complete courses, variety of wines, and the regimental band of music playing in the square, before the windows, after it. I enjoyed this day much. We were quite easy and cheerful. Dr. Johnson said, "I shall always remember this fort with gratitude." I could not help being struck with some admiration, at finding upon this barren sandy poiut such buildings, such a dinner, such company: it was like enchantment. Dr. Johnson, on the other hand, said to me more rationally, that " it did not strike him as anything extraordinary; because he knew, here was a large sum of money expended in building a fort; here was a regiment. If there had been less than what we found, it would have surprised him." He looked coolly and deliberately through all the gradations; my warm imagination jumped from the barren sands to the splendid dinner and brilliant company; to borrow the expression of an absurd poet,
"Without ands or ifs
The whole scene gave me a strong impression of the power and excellence of human art.
We left the fort between six and seven o'clock: Sir Eyre Coote, Colonel Pennington, and several more, accompanied us down stairs, and saw us into our chaise. There could not be greater attention paid to any visitors. Sir Eyre spoke of the hardships which Dr. Johnson had before him. Boswell. "Considering what he has said of us, we must make him feel something rough in Scotland." Sir Eyre said to him, "You must change your name, Sir." Boswell. "Ay, to Dr. M'Gregor."'
We got safely to Inverness, and put up at Mackenzie's inn. Mr. Keith, the collector of excise here, my old acquaintance at Ayr, who had seen us at the fort, visited us in the evening, and engaged us to dine with him next day, promising to breakfast with us, and take us to the English chapel; so that we were at once commodiously arranged.
Not finding a letter here that I expected, I felt a momentary impatience to be at home. Transient clouds darkened my imagination, and in those clouds I saw events from which I shrunk: but a sentence or two of the Rambler's conversation gave me firmness, and I considered that I was upon an expedition for which I had wished for years, and the recollection of which would be a treasure to me for life.
Sunday, Aug. 29.—Mr. Keith breakfasted with us. Dr. Johnson expatiated rather too strongly upon the benefits derived to Scotland from the Union, and the bad state of our people before it. I am entertained with his copious exaggeration upon that subject; but I am uneasy when people are by, who do not know him as well as I do, and
1 The clan and name M'Gregar had been proscribed.— Crohr.
may be apt to think him narrow-minded.1 1 therefore diverted the subject.
The English chapel, to which we went this morning:, was but mean. The altar was a bare fir table, with a coarse stool for kneeling on, covered with a piece of thick sailcloth doubled, by way of cushion. The congregation was small. Mr. Tait, the clergyman, read prayers very well, though with much of the Scotch accent. He preached on "Love your enemies." It was remarkable that, when talking of the connections amongst men, he said, that some connected themselves with men of distinguished talents; and since they could not equal them, tried to deck themselves with their merit, by being their companions. The sentence was to this purpose. It had an odd coincidence with what might be said of my connecting myself with Dr. Johnson.
After church, we walked down to the quay. We then went to Macbeth'e castle.2 I had a romantic satisfaction in seeing Dr. Johnson actually in it. It perfectly corresponds with Shakspeare's description, which Sir Joshua Reynolds has so happily illustrated, in one of his notes on our immortal poet:—
"This castle hath a pleasant sent: the air
Just as we came out of it, a raven perched on one of the chimney-tops, and croaked. Then I repeated
The raven himself is hoarse,
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
We dined at Mr. Keith's. Mrs. Keith was rather too attentive to Dr. Johnson, asking him many questions about
1 It is remarkable that Dr. Johnson read this gentle remonstrance, and took no notice of it to me.
a Boswell means the ruins of the royal fortress, which have since been levelled into a howling-green. It has recently been shown (Trans. Ant. Soe. Scot. vol. iii.), th:it if Macbeth had a castle in this neighbourhood at all, it must have been at a little distance from these ruins.—Chambers, 1835.
his drinking only water. He repressed that observation by saying to me, "You may remember that Lady Errol took no notice of this."
Dr. Johnson has the happy art (for which I have heard my father praise the old Earl of Aberdeen)' of instructing himself, by making every man he meets tell him something of what he knows best. He led Keith to talk to him of the excise in Scotland; and, in the course of conversation, mentioned that his friend Mr. Thrale, the great brewer, paid twenty thousand pounds a year to the revenue; and that he had four casks, each of which holds sixteen hundred barrels—above a thousand hogsheads.
After this there was little conversation that deserves to be remembered. I shall, therefore, here again glean what I have omitted on former days. Dr. Gerard, at Aberdeen, told us, that when he was in Wales, he was shown a valley inhabited by Danes, who still retain their own language, and are quite a distinct people. Dr. Johnson thought it could not be true, or all the kingdom must have heard of it. He said to me, as we travelled, "These people, Sir, that Gerard talks of, may have somewhat of a, peregrin ity in their dialect, which relation has augmented to a different language." I asked him if peregrinity was an English word. He laughed, and said, "No." I told him this was the second time that I had heard him coin a word. When Foote broke his leg, I observed that it would make him fitter for taking off George Faulkner as Peter Paragraph, poor George having a wooden leg. Dr. Johnson at that time said, "George will rejoice at the depeditation of Foote;" and when I challenged that word, laughed, and owned he had made it, and added that he had not made above three or four in his Dictionary.2
Having conducted Dr. Johnson to our inn, I begged permission to leave him for a little, that I might run about and pay some short visits to several good people of Inverness. He said to me, "You have all the old-fashioned principles, good and bad." I acknowledge I have. That of attention to relations in the remotest degree, or to worthy persons io every state, whom I have once known, I inherit from my father. It gave me much satisfaction to hear every body at Inverness speak of him with uncommon regard. Mr. Keith and Mr. Grant, whom we had seen at Mr. M'Aulay's, supped with us at the inn. We had roasted kid. which Dr. Johnson had never tasted before. He relished it much.
1 William Gordon, second Earl of Aberdeen, who died in 1746.— Croker.
2 When upon the subject of this prrc/rinify he told me sime particulars concerning the compilation of his Dictionary, and concerning his throwing off Lord Chesterfield's patronage, of which very erroneous accounts have been circulated. These particulars, with others that he afterwards gave me, as also his celebrated letter to Lord Chesterfield, which he dictated to me, I reserve for the Life. [See vol. i., pp. 199-204.]
Monday, Any. 30. — This day we were to begin our equitation, as I said; for I would needs make a word too. It is remarkable, that my noble, and to me most constant, friend, the Earl of Pembroke ' (who, if there is too much ease on my part, will please to pardon what his benevolent, gay, social intercourse, and lively correspondence, have insensibly produced), has since hit upon the very same word. The title of the first edition of his lordship's very useful book was, in simple terms, "A Method of Breaking Horses and Teaching Soldiers to ride." The title of the second edition is "Military Equitation."
We might have taken a chaise to Fort Augustus; but, had we not hired horses at Inverness, we should not have found them afterwards: so we resolved to begin here to ride. We had three horses, for Dr. Johnson, myself, and Joseph, and one which carried our portmanteaus, and two Highlanders who walked along with us, John Hay and Lauchlaud Vass, whom Dr. Johnson has remembered with credit in his Journey, though he has omitted their names. Dr. Johnson rode very well.
About three miles beyond Inverness, we saw, just by the road, a very complete specimen of what is called a Druid's temple. There was a double circle, one of very large, the other of smaller stones. Dr. Johnson justly observed, that, "to go and see one druidical temple is only to see that it is nothing, for there is neither art nor power in it ;'' and seeing one is quite enough."