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It was still a storm of wind and rain. Dr. Johnson, however walked out with Macleod, and saw Rorie More's cascade in full perfection. Colonel Macleod, instead of being all life and gaiety, as I have seen him, was at present grave, and somewhat depressed by his anxious concern about Macleod's affairs, and by finding some gentlemen of the clan by no means disposed to act a generous or affectionate part to their Chief in his distress, but bargaining with him as with a stranger. However, he was agreeable and polite, and Dr. Johnson said, he was a very pleasing man. My fellow-traveller and I talked of going to Sweden; and while we were settling our plan, I expressed a pleasure in the prospect of seeing the king.-JOHNSON. "I doubt, sir, if he would speak to us." Colonel Macleod said, "I am sure Mr. Boswell would speak to him;" but, seeing me a little disconcerted by his remark, he politely added, "and with great propriety.”—Here let me offer a short defence of that propensity in my disposition to which this gentleman alluded. It has procured me much happiness. I hope it does not deserve so hard a name as either forwardness or impudence. If I know myself, it is nothing more than an eagerness to share the society of men distinguished either by their rank or their talents, and a diligence to attain what I desire. If a man is praised for seeking knowledge, though mountains and seas are in his way, may he not be pardoned, whose ardour, in the pursuit of the same object, leads him to encounter difficulties as great, though of a different kind?
After the ladies were gone from table, we talked of the Highlanders not having sheets; and this led us to consider the advantage of wearing linen.-JOHNSON. "All animal substances are less cleanly than vegetable. Wool, of which flannel is made, is an animal substance; flannel therefore is not so cleanly as linen. I remember I used to think tar dirty; but when I knew it to be only a preparation of the juice of the pine, I thought so no longer. It is not disagreeable to have the gum that oozes from a plum-tree upon your fingers, because it is vegetable; but if you have any candle-grease, any tallow upon your fingers, you are uneasy till you rub it off. I have often thought, that if I kept a seraglio, the ladies should all wear linen gowns, or cotton,-I mean stuffs made of vegetable substances. I would have no silk; you cannot tell when it is clean; it will be very nasty before it is perceived to be so. Linen detects its own dirtiness.”
To hear the grave Dr. Samuel Johnson, "that majestic teacher of moral and religious wisdom," while sitting solemn in an arm-chair in the Isle of Sky, talk, ex cathedra, of his keeping a seraglio, and acknowledge that the supposition had often been in his thoughts, struck me so forcibly with ludicrous contrast, that I could not but
laugh immoderately. He was too proud to submit, even for a moment, to be the object of ridicule, and instantly retaliated with such keen sarcastic wit, and such a variety of degrading images, of every one of which I was the object, that though I can bear such attacks as well as most men, I yet found myself so much the sport of all the company, that I would gladly expunge from my mind every trace of this
Talking of our friend Langton's house in Lincolnshire, he said, "The old house of the family was burnt. A temporary building was erected in its room; and to this day they have been always adding as the family increased. It is like a shirt made for a man when he was a child, and enlarged always as he grows older."
We talked to-night of Luther's allowing the Landgrave of Hesse two wives, and that it was with the consent of the wife to whom he was first married.-JOHNSON. "There was no harm in this, so far as she was only concerned, because volenti non fit injuria. But it was an offence against the general order of society, and against the law of the Gospel, by which one man and one woman are to be united. No man can have two wives, but by preventing somebody else from having one."
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17.
After dinner yesterday, we had a conversation upon cunning. Macleod said that he was not afraid of cunning people; but would let them play their tricks about him like monkeys. "But," said I, they'll scratch," and Mr. Macqeen added, "they'll invent new tricks as soon as you find out what they do."-JOHNSON. Cunning has effect from the credulity of others, rather than from the abilities of those who are cunning. It requires no extraordinary talents to lie and deceive."-This led us to consider whether it did not require great abilities to be very wicked.-JOHNSON. "It requires great
abilities to have the power of being very wicked, but not to be very wicked.* A man who has the power, which great abilities procure him, may use it well or ill; and it requires more abilities to use it well, than to use it ill. Wickedness is always easier than virtue; for it takes the short cut to everything. It is much easier to steal a hundred pounds, than to get it by labour, or any other way. Consider only what act of wickedness requires great abilities to commit it, when once the person who has to do it has the power; for there is
In other words-Great talents are not essential to being very wicked, but great talents are required to do much evil. Yet accidental circumstances (as birth and riches) may determine the position of the party, and the position may give the power to do great good or evil.-ED.
the distinction. It requires great abilities to conquer an army, but none to massacre it after it is conquered."
The weather this day was rather better than any that we had since we came to Dunvegan. Mr. Macqueen had often mentioned a curious piece of antiquity near this, which he called a temple of the goddess Anaitis. Having often talked of going to see it, he and I set out after breakfast, attended by his servant, a fellow quite like a savage. I must observe here, that in Sky there seems to be much idleness; for men and boys follow you, as colts follow passengers upon a road. The usual figure of a Sky-boy, is a lown* with bare legs and feet, a dirty kilt, ragged coat and waistcoat, a bare head, and a stick in his hand, which, I suppose, is partly to help the lazy rogue to walk, partly to serve as a kind of a defensive weapon. We walked what is called two miles, but is probably four, from the castle, till we came to the sacred place. The country around is a black, dreary moor on all sides, except to the sea-coast, towards which there is a view through a valley; and the farm of Bay shows some good land. The place itself is green ground, being well drained, by means of a deep glen on each side, in both of which there runs a rivulet with a good quantity of water, forming several cascades, which make a considerable appearance and sound. The first thing we came to was an earthen mound, or dyke, extending from the one precipice to the other. A little further on was a strong stone-wall, not high, but very thick, extending in the same manner. On the outside of it were the ruins of two houses, one on each side of the entry or gate to it. The wall is built all along of uncemented stones, but of so large a size as to make a very firm and durable rampart. It has been built all about the consecrated ground, except where the precipice is steep enough to form an inclosure of itself. The sacred spot contains more than two acres. There are within it the ruins of many houses, none of them large, a cairn, and many graves marked by clusters of stones. Mr. Macqueen insisted that the ruin of a small building, standing east and west, was actually the temple of the goddess Anaitis, where her statue was kept, and from whence processions were made to wash it in one of the brooks. There is, it must be owned, a hollow road, visible for a good way from the entrance; but Mr. Macqueen, with the keen eye of an antiquary, traced it much further than I could perceive it. There is not above a foot and a half in height of the walls now remaining, and the whole extent of the building was never, I imagine, greater than an ordinary Highland house. Mr. Macqueen has collected a great deal of learning on
A Lowland Scottish phrase. Burns, in his Glossary, defines it, " a fellow, a ragamuffin ;" but it also implies a careless, half-grown lad.-ED.
the subject of the Temple of Anaitis; and I had endeavoured, in my journal, to state such particulars as might give some idea of it, and of the surrounding scenery; but from the great difficulty of describing visible objects, I found my account so unsatisfactory, that my readers would probably have exclaimed
"And write about it, goddess, and about it;"
and therefore I have omitted it.
When we got home, and were again at table with Dr. Johnson, we first talked of portraits. He agreed in thinking them valuable in families. I wished to know which he preferred, fine portraits, or those of which the merit is resemblance.-JOHNSON. 66 Sir, their chief excellence is being like."-BOSWELL. "Are you of that opinion as to the portraits of ancestors, whom one has never seen ?" -JOHNSON. "It then becomes of more consequence that they should be like; and I would have them in the dress of the times, which makes a piece of history. One should like to see how Rorie More looked. Truth, sir, is of the greatest value in these things." Mr. Macqueen observed, that if you think it of no consequence whether portraits are like, if they are but well painted, you may be indifferent whether a piece of history is true or not, if well told."
Dr. Johnson said at breakfast to day, "that it was but of late that historians bestowed pains and attention in consulting records, to attain to accuracy. Bacon, in writing his history of Henry VII., does not seem to have consulted any, but to have just taken what he found in other histories, and blended it with what he learned by tradition." He agreed with me that there should be a chronicle kept in every considerable family, to preserve the characters and transactions of successive generations.
After dinner, I started the subject of the Temple of Anaitis. Mr. Macqeen had laid stress on the name given to the place by the country people-Ainnit; and added, "I knew not what to make of this piece of antiquity, till I met with the Anaitidis delubrum in Lydia, mentioned by Pausanias and the elder Pliny." Dr. Johnson, with his usual acuteness, examined Mr. Macqueen as to the meaning of the word Ainnit, in Erse, and it proved to be a water-place, or a place near water, " which," said Mr. Macqueen, "agrees with all the descriptions of the temples of that goddess, which were situated near rivers, that there might be water to wash the statue."-JOHNSON. Nay, sir, the argument from the name is gone. The name is exhausted by what we see. We have no occasion to go to a distance for what we can pick up under our feet. Had it been an accidental name, the similarity between it and Anaitis might have had some
thing in it; but it turns out to be a mere physiological name." Macleod said, Mr. Macqueen's knowledge of etymology had destroyed his conjecture.-JOHNSON. "Yes, sir; Mr. Macqueen is like the eagle mentioned by Waller, who was shot with an arrow feathered from his own wing."*—Mr. Macqueen, would not, however, give up his conjecture.-JOHNSON. "You have one possibility for you, and all possibilities against you. It is possible it may be the Temple of Anaitis; but it is also possible that it may be a fortification, or it may be a place of Christian worship, as the first Christians often chose remote and wild places, to make an impression on the mind: or if it was a heathen temple, it may have been built near a river, for the purpose of lustration; and there is such a multitude of divinities, to whom it may have been dedicated, that the chance of its being a temple of Anaitis is hardly anything. It is like throwing a grain of sand upon the sea-shore to-day, and thinking you may find it to-morrow. No, sir, this temple, like many an ill-built edifice, tumbles down before it is roofed in." In his triumph over the reverend antiquarian, he indulged himself in a conceit; for, some vestige of the altar of the goddess being much insisted on in support of the hypothesis, he said "Mr. Macqueen is fighting pro aris et focis."†
"That eagle's fate and mine are one,
Which, on the shaft that made him die,
Wherewith he wont to soar on high."
TO A LADY SINGING A SONG OF HIS COMPOSING.
Byron has made a much finer and nobler use of this classical fable, in his lines on Henry Kirke White, who died from excessive study :
"So the struck eagle, stretched upon the plain,
ENGLISH BARDS AND SCOTCH REVIEWERS.
+ This skirmish about the Temple of Anaitis is worthy of Jonathan Oldbuck and his Prætorium. The learned minister's antiquarian pertinacity, and Johnson's triumphant acuteness in demolishing the theory, offer a fine contrast. If the discussion had been on the "second-sight," the tables would have been turned; the weakness and credulity would have been all on the side of Johnson. Mr. Macqueen seems to have had a passion for identifying Gaelic names with the classic mythology. In Pennant, he traces the "Grugach," or Highland goblin, to the worship of the sun. The name "Grugach" means the Fair-haired; Apollo had golden tresses, and both were drawn as young and handsome: ergo, Apollo and the Grugach were identical, though one guided the sun in its course and the other drank milk from the cow! This is equal to the parallel between Macedon and Monmouth.-ED.