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though he owns he neither likes it, nor has hardly any perception of it. At Mr. Macpherson's, in Slate, he told us that “he knew a a drum from a trumpet, and a bagpipe from a guitar, which was about the extent of his knowledge of music.” To-night he said, that, “if he had learnt music, he should have been afraid he would have done nothing else but play. It was a method of employing the mind without the labour of thinking at all, and with some applause from a man's self.”
We had the music of the bagpipe every day, at Armidale, Dunvegan, and Col. Dr. Johnson appeared fond of it, and used often to stand for some time with his ear close to the great drone.
The penurious gentleman of our acquaintance, formerly alluded to [Sir Alexander Macdonald] afforded us a topic of conversation tonight. Dr. Johnson said, I ought to write down a collection of the instances of his narrowness, as they almost exceeded belief. Col told us, that O’Kane, the famous Irish harper, was once at that gentleman's house. He could not find in his heart to give him any money, but gave him a key for a harp, which was finely ornamented with gold and silver, and with a precious stone, and was worth eighty or a hundred guineas. He did not know the value of it and when he came to know it, he would fain have had it back; but O'Kane took care that he should not.-JOHNSON: “They exaggerate the value; everybody is so desirous that he should be fleeced. I am very willing it should be worth eighty or a hundred guineas; but I do not believe it.”—BOSWELL: “I do not think O’Kane was obliged to give it back.”_JOHNSON : “No, sir. If a man with his eyes open, and without any means used to deceive him, gives me a thing, I am not to let him have it again when he grows wiser. I like to see how avarice defeats itself: how, when avoiding to part with money, the miser gives something more valuable.”—Col said, the gentleman's relations were angry at his giving away the harp-key, for it had been long in the family.-JOHNSON : "Sir he values a new guinea more than an old friend."
Col also told us, that the same person having come up with a serjeant and twenty men, working on the high road, he entered into discourse with the serjeant, and then gave him sixpence for the men to drink. The serjeant asked, “ Who is this follow ?” Upon being informed, he said, “If I had known who he was, I should have thrown it in his face."-JOHNSON : “ There is much want of sense in all this. He had no business to speak with the serjeant. He might have been in haste, and trotted on. He has not learnt to be a miser. I believe we must take him apprentice.” — BOSWELL: “He would grudge giving half a guinea to be taught.”—JOHNSON : “Nay, sir, you must
teach him gratis. You must give him an opportunity to practise your precepts."
Let me now go back, and glean Johnsoniana.—The Saturday before we sailed from Slate, I sat awhile in the afternoon, with Dr. Johnson in his room, in a quiet serious frame. I observed that hardly any man was accurately prepared for dying; but almost every one left something undone—something in confusion ; that my father, indeed, told me he knew one man, (Carlyle of Limekilns,) after whose death all his papers were found in exact order ; and nothing was omitted in his will.-JOHNSON : “ Sir, I had an uncle who died so; but such attention requires great leisure, and great firmness of mind. If one was to think constantly of death, the business of life would stand still. I am no friend to making religion appear too hard. Many good people have done harm by giving severe notions of it. In the same way, as to learning : I never frighten young people with difficulties ; on the contrary, I tell them that they may very easily get as much as will do very well. I do not, indeed, tell them that they will be Bentleys."
The night we rode to Col's house, I said, “ Lord Elibank is probably wondering what has become of us." —JOHNSON : “No, no; he is not thinking of us.”——BOSWELL: “But rccollect the warmth with which he wrote. Are we not to believe a man, when he says he has a great desire to see another? Don't you believe that I was very impatient for your coming to Scotland ?"-JOHNSON : “ Yes, sir; I believe you were ; and I was impatient to come to you. A young man feels so, but seldom an old man.” I, however convinced him that Lord Elibank, who has much of the spirit of a young man, might feel so. He asked me if our jaunt had answered expectation. I said it had much exceeded it. I expected much difficulty with him, and had not found it. “ And," he added, “wherever we have come, we have been received like princes in their progress.”
He said he would not wish not to be disgusted in the Highlands ; for that would be to lose the power of distinguishing, and a man might then lie down in the middle of them. He wished only to conceal his disgust.
At Captain Maclean's, I mentioned Pope's friend, Spence. JOHNSON : "he was a weak, conceited man."*-BOSWELL: “A good
* Mr. Langton thinks this must have been the hasty expression of a splenetic moment, as he has heard Dr. Johnson speak of Mr. Spence's judgment in criticism with so high a degree of respect as to show that this was not his settled opinion of him. Let me add that in the preface to the "Preceptor," he recommends Spence's “Essay on Pope's Odyssey," and that his admirable " Lives of the English Poets" are much enriched by Spence's Anecdotes of Pope.-Boswelu.
scholar, sir ?”—JOHNSON : " Why, no, sir.”—BOSWELL: “He was a pretty scholar.”—JOHNSON : “ You have about reached him."
Last night at the inn, when the factor in Tyr-yi spoke of his having heard that a roof was put on some part of the building at Icolmkill, I unluckily said, “ It will be fortunate if we find a cathedral with a roof on it.” I said this from a foolish anxiety to engage Dr. Johnson's curiosity more. He took me short at once.
“ What, sir ? how can you talk so? If we shall find a cathedral roofed ! as if we were going to a terra incognita : when everything that is at Icolmkill is so well known. You are like some New-England-men who came to the mouth of the Thames. "Come,' said they, let us go up and see what sort of inhabitants there are here.' They talked, sir, as if they had been to go up the Susquehannah, or any other American river."
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16. This day there was a new moon, and the weather changed for the better. Dr. Johnson said of Miss Maclean, “ She is the most accomplished lady that I have found in the Highlands. She knows French, music, and drawing, sews neatly, makes shell-work, and can milk cows; in short, she can do every thing. She talks sensibly, and is the first person whom I have found that can translate Erse poetry literally." We set out, mounted on little Mull horses. Mull corresponded exactly with the idea which I had always had of it; a hilly country, diversified with heath and
many rivulets. Dr. Johnson was not in a very good humour. He said, it was a dreary country, much worse than Sky. I differed from him. “O, sir, (said he), a most dolorous country!"
We had a very hard journey to-day. I had no bridle for my sheltie, but only a halter; and Joseph rode without a saddle. At one place, a loch having swelled over the road, we were obliged to plunge through pretty deep water. Dr. Johnson observed, how helpless a man would be, were he travelling here alone, and should meet with any accident; and said, " he longed to get to a country of saddles and bridles." He was more out of humour to-day, than
* The subsequent history of this young lady was unfortunate. She conceived & warm attachment for a Mr. Duncan Mackenzie, of Aros, whom her friends conceived to be much inferior to her in rank and acquirements. In deference to her father's feelings, Miss Maclean continued single for many years ; but after his death she was united to Mr. Mackenzie, June 6th, 1786. They resided at Tobermory, in reduced circumstances, until about 1800, when Mr. Mackenzie died, without issue, and his widow became a pensioner on the bounty of Coll. She died in 1826, and was interred at Kilmore, about seven miles from Tobermory, but no stone marks her grave. A melancholy sequel to the bright morning of her life depicted by Johnson and Boswell! -ED.
he has been in the course of our tour, being fretted to find that his little horse could scarcely support his weight; and having suffered a loss, which, though small in itself, was of some consequence to him, while travelling the rugged steeps of Mull, where he was at times obliged to walk. The loss that I allude to was that of the large oak-stick, which, as I formerly mentioned, he had brought with him from London. It was of great use to him in our wild peregrination ; for, ever since his last illness in 1766, he has had a weakness in his knees, and has not been able to walk easily. It had too the properties of a measure; for one nail was driven into it at the length of a foot; another at that of a yard. In return for the services it had done him, he said, this morning he would make a present of it to some museum ; but he little thought he was so soon to lose it. As he preferred riding with a switch, it was entrusted to a fellow to be delivered to our baggageman, who followed us at some distance; but we never saw it more. I could not persuade him out of a suspicion that it had been stolen. “ No, no, my friend (said he), it is not to be expected that any man in Mull, who has got it, will part with it. Consider, sir, the value of such a piece of timber here !"
As we travelled this morning, we met Dr. Maclean, who expressed much regret at his having been so unfortunate as to be absent while we were at his house.
We were in hopes to get to Sir Allan Maclean's at Inchkenneth, to-night; but the eight miles, of which our road was said to consist, were so very long, that we did not reach the opposite coast of Mull till seven at night, though we had set out about eleven in the forenoon; and when we did arrive there, we found the wind strong against us. Col determined that we should pass the night at Macquarrie's, in the island of Ulva, which lies between Mull and Inchkenneth ; and a servant was sent forward to the ferry, to secure the boat for us : but the boat was gone to the Ulva side, and the wind was so high that the people could not hear him call; and the night so dark that they could not see a signal. We should have been in a very bad situation, had there not fortunately been lying in the little sound of Ulva an Irish vessel, the Bonnetta, of Londonderry, Captain Maclure, master. He himself was at Macquarrie's; but his men obligingly came with their long boat, and ferried us over.
Macquarrie's house was mean; but we were agreeably surprised with the appearance of the master, whom we found to be intelligent, polite, and much a man of the world. Though his clan is not numerous, he is a very ancient chief, and has a burial-place at Icolmkill. He told us his family had possessed Ulva for nine
hundred years; but I was distressed to hear that it was soon to be sold for payment of his debts.
Captain Maclure, whom we found here, was of Scotch extraction, and properly a Macleod, being descended of some of the Macleods who went with Sir Norman of Bernera to the battle of Worcester; and after the defeat of the royalists, fled to Ireland, and, to conceal themselves, took a different name. He told there was a great number of them about Londonderry; some of good property. I said, they should now resume their real name. The Laird of Macleod should go over, and assemble them, and make them all drink the large horn full, and from that time they should be Macleods. The captain informed us, he had named his ship the Bonnetta, out of gratitude to Providence; for once, when he was sailing to America with a good number of passengers, the ship in which he then sailed was becalmed for five weeks, and during all that time, numbers of the fish Bonnetta swam close to her, and were caught for food; he resolved, therefore, that the ship he should next get, should be called the Bonnetta.
Macquarrie told us a strong instance of the second sight. He had gone to Edinburgh, and taken a man-servant along with him. An old woman, who was in the house, said one day, Macquarrie will be at home to-morrow, and will bring two gentlemen with him;" and she said she saw his servant return in red and green. He did come home next day. He had two gentlemen with him; and his servant had a new red and green livery, which Macquarrie had bought for him at Edinburgh, upon a sudden thought, not having the least intention when he left home to put his servant in livery; so that the old woman could not have heard any previous mention of it. This, he assured us, was a true story.
Macquarrie insisted that the Mercheta Mulierum, mentioned in our old charters, did really mean the privilege which a lord of a manor, or a baron, had, to have the first night of all his vassals' wives. Dr. Johnson said, the belief of such a custom having existed was also held in England, where there is a tenure called BoroughEnglish, by which the eldest child does not inherit, from a doubt of his being the son of the tenant.* Macquarrie told us, that still, on the marriage of each of his tenants, a sheep is due to him ; for which the composition is fixed at five shillings. I suppose Ulva is the only place where this custom remains.
Talking of the sale of an estate of an ancient family, which was * Sir William Blackstone says, in his “ Commentaries," that “he cannot find that ever this custom prevailed in England;" and therefore he is of opinion that it could not have given rise to Borough-English.--Boswell.