« PreviousContinue »
the bed was. There was a little partition of wicker, rather more neatly done than that for the fold, and close by the wall was a kind of bedstead of wood with heath upon it by way of bed; at the foot of which I saw some sort of blankets or covering rolled up in a heap. The woman's name was Fraser; so was her husband's. He was a man of eighty. Mr. Fraser of Balnain allows him to live in this hut, and keep sixty goats, for taking care of his woods, where he then was. They had five children, the eldest only thirteen. Two were gone to Inverness to buy meal; the rest were looking after the goats. This contented family had four stacks of barley, twenty-four sheaves in each. They had a few fowls. We were informed that they lived all the spring without meal, upon milk and curds and whey alone. What they get for their goats, kids, and fowls, maintains them during the rest of the year.
She asked us to sit down and take a dram. I saw one chair. She said, she was as happy as any woman in Scotland. She could hardly speak any English, except a few detached words. Dr. Johnson was pleased at seeing, for the first time, such a state of human life. She asked for snuff. It is her luxury, and she uses a great deal. We had none; We had none; but gave her sixpence a piece. She then brought out her whisky bottle. I tasted it; as did Joseph and our guides: so I gave her sixpence more. She sent us away with many prayers
We dined at a little publick house called the General's Hut, from General Wade, who was lodged there when he commanded in the North. Near it is the meanest parish Kirk I ever saw. It is a shame it should be on a high road. After dinner, we passed through a good deal of mountainous country. I had known Mr.
Trapaud, the deputy governour of fort Augustus twelve years ago, at a circuit at Inverness, where my father was judge. I sent forward one of our guides, and Joseph, with a card to him, that he might know Dr. Johnson and I were coming up, leaving it to him to invite us or not. It was dark when we arrived. The inn was wretched. Government ought to build one, or give the resident governour an additional salary; as, in the present state of things, he must necessarily be put to a great expence in entertaining travellers. Joseph announced to us, when we alighted, that the governour waited for us at the gate of the fort. We walked to it. He met us, and with much civility conducted us to his house. It was comfortable to find ourselves in a wellbuilt little square, and a neatly furnished house, in good company, and with a good supper before us; in short, with all the conveniencies of civilized life in the midst of rude mountains. Mrs. Trapaud, and the governour's daughter, and her husband, Captain Newmarsh, were all most obliging and polite. The governour had excellent animal spirits, the conversation of a soldier, and somewhat of a Frenchman, to which his extraction entitles him. He is brother to General Cyrus Trapaud. We passed a very agreeable evening.
Tuesday, 31st August.
The governour has a very good garden. We looked at it, and at all the rest of the fort, which is but small, and may be commanded from a variety of hills around. We also looked at the galley or sloop belonging to the fort, which sails upon the Loch, and brings what is wanted for the garrison. Captains Urie and Darippe, of the 15th regiment of foot, breakfasted with
us. They had served in America, and entertained Dr. Johnson much with an account of the Indians. He said, he could make a very pretty book out of them, were he to stay there. Governour Trapaud was much struck with Dr. Johnson. "I like to hear him, (said he,) it is so majestick. I should be glad to hear him speak in your court."-He pressed us to stay dinner; but I considered that we had a rude road before us, which we could more easily encounter in the morning, and that it was hard to say when we might get up, were we to sit down to good entertainment, in good company: I therefore begged the governour would excuse us.-Here too, I had another very pleasing proof how much my father is regarded. The governour expressed the highest respect for him, and bade me tell him, that if he would come that way on the Northern circuit, he would do him all the honours of the garrison.
Between twelve and one we set out, and travelled eleven miles, through a wild country, till we came to a house in Glenmorison, called Anoch, kept by a M'Queen.* Our landlord was a sensible fellow: he had learnt his grammar, and "Dr. Johnson justly observed, that "a man is the better for that as long as he lives." There were some books here: a Treatise against Drunkenness, translated from the French; a volume of the Spectator; a volume of Prideaux's Connection, and Cyrus's Travels. M'Queen said he had more volumes; and his pride seemed to be much piqued that we were surprised at his having books.
* A M'Queen is a Highland mode of expression. An Englishman would say one M'Queen. But where there are clans or tribes of men, distinguished by patronymick surnames, the individuals of each are considered as if they were of different species, at least as much as nations are distinguished; so that a M'Queen, a McDonald, a M'Lean, is said, as we say a Frenchman, an Italian, a Spaniard.
Near to this place we had passed a party of soldiers, under a serjeant's command, at work upon the road. We gave them two shillings to drink. They came to our inn, and made merry in the barn. We went and paid them a visit, Dr. Johnson saying, "Come let's go and give 'em another shilling a-piece." We did so; and he was saluted "MY LORD" by all of them. He is really generous, loves influence, and has the way of gaining it. He said, "I am quite feudal, sir." Here I agree with him. I said, I regretted I was not the head of a clan; however, though not possessed of such an hereditary advantage, I would always endeavor to make my tenants follow me. I could not be a patriarchal chief, but I would be a feudal chief.
The poor soldiers got too much liquor. Some of them fought, and left blood upon the spot, and cursed whiskey next morning. The house here was built of thick turfs, and thatched with thinner turfs and heath. It had three rooms in length, and a little room which projected. Where we sat, the side-walls were wainscotted, as Dr. Johnson said, with wicker, very neatly plaited. Our landlord had made the whole with his own hands.
After dinner, M'Queen sat by us a while, and talked with us. He said all the Laird of Glenmorison's people would bleed for him, if they were well used; but that seventy men had gone out of the Glen to America. That he himself intended to go next year; for that the rent of his farm, which twenty years ago was only five pounds, was now raised to twenty pounds. That he could pay ten pounds, and live; but no more. Dr. Johnson said, he wished M'Queen laird of Glenmorison, and the laird to go to America. M'Queen very generously answered, he should be sorry
for it; for the laird could not shift for himself in America as he could do.
I talked of the officers whom we had left to-day; how much service they had seen, and how little they got for it, even of fame.-Johnson. "Sir, a soldier gets as little as any man can get."-Boswell. "Goldsmith has acquired more fame than all the officers last war, who were not Generals."-Johnson. "Why, sir, you will find ten thousand fit to do what they did, before you find one who does what Goldsmith has done. You must consider, that a thing is valued according to its rarity. A pebble that paves the street is in itself more useful than the diamond upon a lady's finger."—I wish our friend Goldsmith had heard this.
I yesterday expressed my wonder that John Hay, one of our guides, who had been pressed aboard a man of war, did not choose to continue in it longer than nine months, after which time he got off.-Johnson. "Why, sir, no man will be a sailor, who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for, being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned."
We had tea in the afternoon, and our landlord's daughter, a modest civil girl, very neatly drest, made it for us. She told us, she had been a year at Inverness, and learnt reading and writing, sewing, knotting, working lace, and pastry. Dr. Johnson made her a present of a book which he had bought at Inverness.*
* This book has given rise to much inquiry, which has ended in ludicrous sur→ prise. Several ladies, wishing to learn the kind of reading which the great and good Dr. Johnson esteemed most fit for a young woman, desired to know what book he had selected for this Highland nymph. "They never adverted, (said he,) that I had no choice in the matter. I have said that I presented her with a book which I happened to have about me."-And what was this book ?-My readers, prepare your features for merriment. It was Cocker's Arithmetick!-Wherever this was mentioned, there was a loud laugh, at which Dr. Johnson, when pre