Page images

particular done on his account. Lady M'Leod and I got into a warm dispute. She wanted to build a house upon a farm which she has taken, about five miles from the castle, and to make gardens and other ornaments there ; all of which I approved of; but insisted that the seat of the family should always be upon the Rock of Dunvegan.-Johnson. “Ay, in time we'll build all round this rock.


may make a very good house at the farm ; but it must not be such as to tempt the Laird of M‘Leod to go thither to reside. Most of the great families of England have a secondary residence, which is called a jointure-house : let the new house be of that kind.”—The lady insisted that the rock was very inconvenient; that there was no place near it where a good garden could be made ; that it must always be a rude place ; that it was a Herculean labour to make a dinner here.--I was vexed to find the alloy of modern refine. ment in a lady who had so much old family spirit.-

Madam, (said I,) if once you quit this rock, there is no knowing where you may settle. You move five miles first;--then to St. Andrews, as the late Laird did ;-then to Edinburgh ;---and so on, till you end at Hampstead, or in France. No, no; keep to the rock : it is the very jewel of the estate. It looks as if it had been let down from heaven by the four corners, to be the residence of a Chief. Have all the comforts and conveniencies of life upon it, but never leave Rorie More's cascade."-"But, (said she,) is it not enough if we keep it ? Must we never have more convenience than Rorie More had? He had his beef brought to dinner in one basket, and his bread in another. Why not as well be Rorie More all over, as live upon his rock ? And should not we tire, in looking perpetually on this rock! It is very well for you, who have a fine place, and

every thing easy, to talk thus, and think of chaining honest folks to a rock. You would not live upon it yourself.”—“Yes, madam, (said I, I would live upon it, were I Laird of M‘Leod, and should be unhappy if I were not upon it.”-Johnson. (with a strong voice, and most determined manner,) “Madam, rather than quit the old rock, Boswell would live in the pit; he would make his bed in the dungeon.”-I felt a degree of elation, at finding my resolute feudal enthusiasm thus confirmed by such a sanction. The lady was puzzled a little. She still returned to her pretty farm,—rich ground,-fine garden.--"Madam, (said Dr. Johnson,) were they in Asia, I would not leave the rock.”—My opinion on this subject is still the same. An ancient family residence ought to be a primary object; and though the situation of Dunvegan be such that little can be done here in gardening, or pleasure.ground, yet, in addition to the veneration acquired by the lapse of time, it has many circumstances of natural grandeur, suited to the seat of a Highland Chief: it has the sea,-islands, -rocks-hills,-a noble cascade ; and when the family is again in opulence, something may be done by art.”

Mr. Donald M‘Queen went away to-day, in order to preach at Bracadale next day. We were so comfortably situated at Dunvegan, that Dr. Johnson could hardly be moved from it. I proposed to him that we should leave it on Monday. “No, sir, (said he,) I will not go before Wednesday. I will have some more of this good.”—However, as the weather was at this season so bad, and so very uncertain, and we had a great deal to do yet, Mr. M'Queen and I prevailed with him to agree to set out on Monday, if the day should be good. Mr. M'Queen, though it was inconvenient for him to be absent from his harvest, engaged to wait on

Е е

Monday at Ulinish for us.

When he was going away, Dr. Johnson said, “I shall ever retain a great regard for you ;" then asked him if he had the Rambler. Mr. M'Queen said, “No; but my brother has it.”Johnson. “Have you the Idler ?-M Queen. “No, sir."--Johnson. “ Then I will order one for you at Edinburgh, which you will keep in remembrance of me."--Mr. M.Queen was much pleased with this. He èxpressed to me, in the strongest terms, his admiration of Dr. Johnson's wonderful knowledge, and every other quality for which he is distinguished. I asked Mr. M'Queen, if he was satisfied with being a minister in Sky. He said he was; but he owned that his fore. fathers having been so long there, and his having been born there, made a chief ingredient in forming his contentment. I should have mentioned, that, on our left hand, betweed Portree and Dr. Macleod's house, Mr. M'Queen told me there had been a college of the Knights Templars; that tradition said so; and that there was a ruin remaining of their church, which had been burnt : but I confess Dr. Johnson has weakened my belief in remote tradition. In the dispute about Anaitis, Mr. M'Queen said, Asia Minor was peopled by Scythians, and, as they were the ancestors of the Celts, the same religion might be in Asia Minor and Sky.Johnson. “ Alas! sir, what can a nation that has not letters tell of its original. I have always difficulty to be patient when I hear authours gravely quoted, as giving accounts of savage nations, which accounts they had from the savages themselves.

themselves. What can the M Craas tell about themselves a thousand years ago? There is no tracing the connection of ancient nations, but by language; and therefore I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigree of nations. If you find the same language in distant countries, you may be sure that the inhabitants of each have been the same people; that is to say, if you find the languages a good deal the same; for a word here and there being the same, will not do. Thus Butler, in his Hudibras, remembering that Penguin, in the Straits of Magellan, signifies a bird with a white head, and that the same word has, in Wales, the signification of a white headed wench, (pen head, and guin white,) by way of ridicule, concludes that the people of those Straits are Welch.”

A young gentleman of the name of M'Lean, nephew to the Laird of the isle of Muck, came this morning; and, just as we sat down to dinner, came the Laird of the isle of Muck himself, his lady, sister to Talisker, two other ladies their relations, and a daughter of the late M.Leod of Hamer, who wrote a treatise on the second sight, under the designation of Theophilus Insula

It was somewhat droll to hear this Laird called by his title. Muck would have sounded ill; so he was called Isle of Muck, which went off with great readiness. The name, as now written, is unseemly, but is not so bad in the original Erse, which is Mouach, signifying the Sow's Island. Buchanan calls it Insula Porcorum. It is so called from its form. Some call it Isle of Monk. The Laird insists that this is the proper name. formerly church-land belonging to Icolmkill, and a hermit lived in it. It is two miles long, and about three quarters of a mile broad. The Laird said, he had seven score of souls upon it. Last year he had eighty persons inoculated, mostly children, but some of them eighteen years of age. He agreed with the surgeon to come and do it, at half a crown a head.--It is very

fertile in corn, of which they export some; and its coasts


It was


abound in fish. A taylor comes there six times in a year. They get a good blacksmith from the isle of Egg

Sunday, 19th September. It was rather worse weather than any that we had yet.

At breakfast Dr. Johnson said, “Some cunning men choose fools for their wives, thinking to manage them, but they always fail. There is a spaniel fool and a mule fool. The spaniel fool may be made to do by beating. The mule fool will neither do by words or blows; and the spaniel fool often turns mule at last : and suppose a fool to be made do pretty well, you must have the continual trouble of making her do. Depend upon it, no woman is the worse for sense and knowledge.”— Whether afterwards he meant merely to say a polite thing, or to give his opinion, I could not be sure ; but he added, “Men know that women are an over-match for them, and therefore they choose the weakest or most ignorant. If they did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much as themselves.”—In justice to the sex, I think it but candid to acknowledge, that, in a subsequent conversation, he told me that he was serious in what he had said.

He came to my room this morning before breakfast, to read my Journal, which he has done all along. He often before said, “I take great delight in reading it.” To-day he said, “ You improve ; it grows better and better.” - I observed, there was a danger of my getting a habit of writing in a slovenly manner.--"Sir, said he, it is not written in a slovenly manner. It might be printed, were the subject fit for printing."*_While Mr.

* As I have faithfully recorded so many minute particulars, I hope I shall be pardoned for inserting so flattering an encomium on what is now offered to the publick.

« PreviousContinue »