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should arrive. Vass also walked by the side of his horse, and Joseph followed behind; as therefore he was thus attended, and seemed to be in deep meditation, I thought there could be no harm in leaving him for a little while. He called me back with a tremendous shout, and was really in a passion with me for leaving him. I told him my intentions, but he was not satisfied, and said, "Do you know, I should as soon have thought of picking a pocket as doing so."-BosWELL: "I am diverted with you, sir."-JOHNSON: "Sir, I could never be diverted with incivility; doing such a thing makes one lose confidence in him who has done it, as one cannot tell what he may do next." His extraordinary warmth confounded me so much that I justified myself but lamely to him, yet my intentions were not improper. I wished to get on to see how we were to be lodged, and how we were to get a boat-all which I thought I could best settle myself without his having any trouble. To apply his great mind to minute particulars is wrong: it is like taking an immense balance, such as is kept on quays for weighing cargoes of ships, to weigh a guinea. I knew I had neat little scales which would do better, and that his attention to everything which falls in his way, and his uncommon desire to be always in the right, would make him weigh if he knew of the particulars: it was right, therefore, for me to weigh them, and let him have them only in effect. I, however, continued to ride by him, finding he wished I should do so.
As we passed the barracks at Bernéra I looked at them wishfully, as soldiers have always everything in the best order; but there was only a sergeant and a few men there. We came on to the inn at Glenelg. There was no provender for our horses, so they were sent to grass, with a man to watch them. A maid showed us up-stairs into a room damp and dirty, with bare walls, a variety of bad smells, a coarse black greasy fir table, and forms of the same kind; and out of a wretched bed started a fellow from his sleep, like Edgar in King Lear:" "Poor Tom's a-cold.”*
This inn was furnished with not a single article that we could either eat or drink; but Mr. Murchison, factor to the Laird of Macleod, in Glenelg, sent us a bottle of rum and some sugar, with a polite message, to acquaint us, that he was very sorry that he did not hear of us till we had passed his house, otherwise he should have insisted on our sleeping there that night; and that if he were not obliged to set out for Inverness early next morning he would have waited upon us. Such extraordinary attention from this gentleman to entire strangers deserves the most honourable commemoration.
† It is amusing to observe the different images which this being presented to Dr. Johnson and me. The Doctor, in his Journey, compares him to a Cyclops.--Boswell.
Our bad accommodation here made me uneasy and almost fretful. Dr. Johnson was calm. I said he was so from vanity.-JOHNSON: "No, sir, it is from philosophy." It pleased me to see that the
Rambler could practise so well his own lessons.
I resumed the subject of my leaving him on the road, and endeavoured to defend it better. He was still violent upon that head, and said, "Sir, had you gone on, I was thinking that I should have returned with you to Edinburgh, and then have parted from you, and never spoken to you more."
I sent for fresh hay, with which we made beds for ourselves, each in a room equally miserable. Like Wolfe, we had "a choice of difficulties."* Dr. Johnson made things easier by comparison. At Macqueen's, last night, he observed, that few were so well lodged in a ship. To-night, he said, we were better than if we had been upon the hill. He lay down buttoned up in his great coat; I had my sheets spread on the hay, and my clothes and great coat laid over me by way of blankets.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2.
I had slept ill. Dr. Johnson's anger had affected me much. I considered that without any bad intention I might suddenly forfeit his friendship, and was impatient to see him this morning. I told him how uneasy he had made me by what he had said, and reminded him of his own remark at Aberdeen, upon old friendships being hastily broken off. He owned he had spoken to me in a passion; that he would not have done what he threatened; and that if he had he should have been ten times worse than I; that forming intimacies would indeed be "limning the water," were they liable to such sudden dissolution; and he added, "Let's think no more on't."BOSWELL: "Well, then, sir, I shall be easy; remember I am to have fair warning in case of any quarrel; you are never to spring a mine upon me; it was absurd in me to believe you."-JOHNSON: "You deserved about as much as to believe me from night to morning." After breakfast, we got into a boat for Sky. It rained much when we set off, but cleared up as we advanced. One of the boatmen, who spoke English, said, that a mile at land was two miles at sea. I then observed, that from Glenelg to Armidale, in Sky, which was our present course, and is called twelve, was only six
* In his despatch to Mr. Pitt, September 2nd, 1759, after his tailure on the Montmorency river, his spirit crushed by disappointment, anxiety, and ill-health, General Wolfe used the expression, "There is such a choice of difficulties that I own myself at a loss how to determine." The phrase "choice of difficulties," was original, and attracted much attention at the time. A few days afterwards, Wolfe nobly redeemed himself, though at the cost of his life.-ED.
miles; but this he could not understand. "Well," said Dr. Johnson, "never talk to me of the native good sense of the Highlanders. Here is a fellow who calls one mile two, and yet cannot comprehend that twelve such imaginary miles make in truth but six."*
We reached the shore of Armidale before one o'clock. Sir Alexander Macdonald came down to receive us. He and his lady (formerly Miss Bosville, of Yorkshire), were then in a house built by a tenant at this place, which is in the district of Slate [Sleat] the family mansion here having been burned in Sir Donald Macdonald's time.
The most ancient seat of the chief of the Macdonalds in the Isle of Sky was at Duntulm, where there are the remains of a stately castle. The principal residence of the family is now at Mugstot, at which there is a considerable building. Sir Alexander and Lady Macdonald had come to Armidale, on their way to Edinburgh, where it was necessary for them to be soon after this time.
Armidale is situated on a pretty bay of the narrow sea which flows between the mainland of Scotland and the Isle of Sky. In
The boatman must have referred only to the fact that distance at sea, and particularly where the sea runs between high lands, is nearly twice as great as it appears to be; and all he meant to say, in his broken English, was, that an apparent distance, which would prove only one mile on land, would be found to be two miles at seà.-ED.
† Said to have been the residence of David, one of the most powerful of the Vikingr, or piratical kings, who invaded the island. It was called David's Fort, and was occupied as a residence by the chiefs of Macdonald so late as 1715. Near the ruins is an eminence called the Hill of Pleas, on which the chiefs used to sit in state, dispensing justice and determining differences among their people.-ED.
frort there is a grand prospect of the rude mountains Moidart and Knoidart. Behind are hills gently rising, and covered with a finer verdure than I expected to see in this climate, and the scene is enlivened by a number of little clear brooks.
Sir Alexander Macdonald having been an Eton scholar,* and being a gentleman of talents, Dr. Johnson had been very well pleased with him in London. But my fellow-traveller and I were now full of the old Highland spirit, and were dissatisfied at hearing of racked rents and emigration, and finding a chief not surrounded by his clan.† Dr. Johnson said, "Sir, the Highland chiefs should not be
* See his Latin verses, addressed to Dr. Johnson, in the Appendix.-BOSWELL. In his first edition Boswell had remarked, "Instead of finding the head of the Macdonalds surrounded with his clan and a festive entertainment, we had a small company, and cannot boast of our cheer." Johnson, in his letters to Mrs. Thrale, is also loud in his condemnation of Sir Alexander Macdonald. Sir Alexander was perhaps retrenching. A few months previous we find him giving a grand masked ball in his house at Edinburgh to about seventy persons of quality and distinction, who assembled at seven o'clock, and were all dismissed by about three next morning! Johnson complains that at Armidale Sir Alexander had no cook, nor much provision; nor had the lady the common decencies of her tea-table, as they picked up their sugar with their fingers! The chief himself writes complacently of his reception of the strangers. The following is a copy of a letter addressed by him to Mr. Macpherson, the translator of Ossian:—
"London, 5th June, 1774.
"SIR,--The annexed congratulatory Ode was written and presented by me to Mr. Samuel Johnson the day of his arriving at my house. I had assembled some of my friends to welcome him when he landed. From my windows he viewed the ocean; he trembled for the distress of the small boats which were fishing, and likely to be overwhelmed in the gulf—a sight unusual to him, a station frequently experienced by them. I wish my time and my abilities had been such as to have permitted and enabled me to have conducted and placed you on the right hand of Fingal when we trod the hallowed mansions of the hero. A sketch drawn by me is unworthy of your acceptance, whose genius is above my capacity, and unnecessary, as your pencil has already made our every sense of feeling to catch the fire and glow with the warmth of perfection! I am, with the greatest pride in ranking myself amid your admirers, dear Sir, your most humble servant, "ALEX. MACDONALD.
"James Macpherson, Esq., London."
This epistle is worthy of the Ode, and completes the picture drawn by Boswell! We are indebted to Sir David Brewster for a copy of the letter. Sir David possesses most of the papers left by his distinguished father-in-law, Mr. Macpherson, and we may remark that there is no document in the collection that throws any light on the Ossianic controversy. Macpherson appears to have been the author of some verses published in 1782, in consequence of a report that Johnson was to be married to Mrs. Thrale. They are dated Brighton, November 4th, 1782, and are intended to ridicule the sesquipedalia verba of Johnson; but the imitation is extravagant and indelicate. Armidale, or Armadale, the scene of Johnson's ungracious introduction to the Hebrides, has, from the amenity of its situation, been chosen as the residence of the Macdonald family in Skye. A fine modern building, in the Gothic style, was erected there by Lord Macdonald about the year 1816. In a window in the staircase is a portrait in stained glass of the famous Somerled, Lord of the Isles, the founder of the family, and who held, about the middle of the twelfth century, a wild independent sovereignty in the Hebrides. Sir Alexander Macdonald was elevated to the peerage in 1777, under the title of Baron Macdonald of Sleat, county of Antrim. He died September 12th, 1795.--ED.
allowed to go further south than Aberdeen. A strong-minded man like Sir James Macdonald may be improved by an English education, but in general they will be tamed into insignificance."
We found here Mr. Janes, of Aberdeenshire, a naturalist. Janes said he had been at Dr. Johnson's, in London, with Ferguson, the astronomer.-JOHNSON: "It is strange that, in such distant places, I should meet with any one who knows me. I should have thought I might hide myself in Sky."
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3.
This day proving wet, we should have passed our time very uncomfortably, had we not found in the house two chests of books, which we eagerly ransacked. After dinner, when I alone was left at table with the few Highland gentlemen who were of the company, having talked with very high respect of Sir James Macdonald, they were all so much affected as to shed tears. One of them was Mr. Donald Macdonald, who had been lieutenant of grenadiers, in the Highland regiment raised by Colonel Montgomery, now Earl of Eglintoun, in the war before last, one of those regiments which the late Lord Chatham prided himself in having brought from "the mountains of the north;" by doing which he contributed to extinguish in the Highlands the remains of disaffection to the present Royal Family. From this gentleman's conversation I first learnt how very popular his Colonel was among the Highlanders; of which I had such continued proofs, during the whole course of my tour, that on my return I could not help telling the noble Earl himself that I did not before know how great a man he was.
We were advised by some persons here to visit Rasay, in our way to Dunvegan, the seat of the Laird of Macleod. Being informed that the Rev. Mr. Donald Macqueen was the most intelligent man in Sky, and having been favoured with a letter of introduction to him by the learned Sir James Foulis, I sent it to him by an express, and requested he would meet us at Rasay: and at the same time inclosed a letter for the Laird of Macleod, informing him that we intended in a few days to have the honour of waiting on him at Dunvegan.
Dr. Johnson this day endeavoured to obtain some knowledge of the state of the country; but complained that he could get no distinct information about anything from those with whom he conversed.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 4.
My endeavours to rouse the English-bred chieftain, in whose house we were, to the feudal and patriarchal feelings, proving ineffectual, Dr. Johnson this morning tried to bring him to our way