« PreviousContinue »
said to have been purchased much under its value by the confidential lawyer of that family, and it being mentioned that the sale would probably be set aside by a suit in equity, Dr. Johnson said, “I am very willing that this sale should be set aside, but I doubt much whether the suit will be successful; for the argument for avoiding the sale is founded on vague and indeterminate principles-as that the price was too low, and that there was a great degree of confidence placed by the seller in the person who became the purchaser. Now, how low should a price be? or what degree of confidence should there be to make a bargain be set aside?-a bargain, which is a wager of skill between man and man. If, indeed, any fraud can be proved, that will do."
When Dr. Johnson and I were by ourselves at night, I observed of our host," aspectum generosum habet ;”—“ et generosum animum," he added. For fear of being overheard in the small Highland houses, I often talked to him in such Latin as I could speak, and with as much of the English accent as I could assume, so as not to be understood, in case our conversation should be too loud for the space.
We had each an elegant bed in the same room; and here it was that a circumstance occurred, as to which he has been strangely misunderstood. From his description of his chamber, it has erroneously been supposed that, his bed being too short for him, his feet during the night were in the mire; whereas he has only said, that when he undressed, he felt his feet in the mire: that is, the clay-floor of the room, on which he stood before he went into bed, was wet, in consequence of the windows being broken, which let in the rain.*
The old Macquarrie mansion still stands, and " Johnson's room" is pointed out to strangers. At a short distance from it a new and handsome house has been erected, with garden, plantations, &c. The chief of the Macquarries sold his estate in 1777. He had been profusely hospitable, and there was little or no reversion after his debts were paid. He was sixty-two years of age. Yet with unsubdued energy the old chief entered the army, served with distinction for many years, and, returning to his native country, died at Glenforsa, a valley in Mull, on the 14th of January, 1818. He had attained the vast age of 103. The purchaser of Ulva was a Campbell. In 1835 it became the property of Mr. Francis William Clark. This gentleman, though a Lowlander, and bred a lawyer, has acquired the Gaelic language, and he made a visit to Belgium in order to ascertain, by personal inquiry, whether the Belgian system of petite husbandry could be adapted to the Highlands. The result of his investigation was unfavourable. Ulva wants the better soil and finer climate of Belgium-the close vicinity of markets, and the comparative smallness of public burdens. Since the failure of the kelp manufacture the rental of Ulva has dwindled down from 1,100. a-year to about 2201. and the population from 500 to 150. The proprietor states that be had no alternative but either to surrender his property to the crofters, or to remove them. He had purchased the property at the price of 29,500l. It was then let to crofters, paying an average rent of 127. to 147. annually, and nearly the whole of the rent was paid from the wages received for manufacturing kelp. The gross ren actually realized averaged 1,1007. a-year for the first four years. When kelp became unsaleable, his revenue declined; and in 1846 the stipulated rental was reduced to
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 17.
Being informed that there was nothing worthy of observation in Ulva, we took boat and proceeded to Inchkenneth, where we were introduced by our friend Col to Sir Allan Maclean, the chief of his clan, and two young ladies, his daughters. Inchkenneth is a pretty little island, a mile long and about half a mile broad, all good land.
As we walked up from the shore, Dr. Johnson's heart was cheered by the sight of a road marked with cart-wheels, as on the main-land; a thing which we had not seen for a long time. It gave us a pleasure similar to that which a traveller feels, when, whilst wandering on what he fears is a desert island, he perceives the print of human feet.
Military men acquire excellent habits of having all conveniences about them. Sir Allan Maclean, who had been long in the army, and had now a lease of the island, had formed a commodious habitation, though it consisted but of a few small buildings, only one storey high. He had, in his little apartments, more things than I could enumerate in a page or two.
Among other agreeable circumstances, it was not the least to find here a parcel of the "Caledonian Mercury," published since we left Edinburgh, which I read with that pleasure which every man feels who has been for some time secluded from the animated scenes of the busy world.
Dr. Johnson found books here. He bade me buy Bishop Gastrell's "Christian Institutes," which was lying in the room. He said, "I do not like to read anything on a Sunday but what is theological; not that I would scrupulously refuse to look at anything which a friend should show me in a newspaper, but, in general, I would read only what is theological. I read just now some of Drummond's Travels, before I perceived what books were here. I then took up Derham's 'Physico-Theology.""
Every particular concerning this island having been so well described by Dr. Johnson, it would be superfluous in me to present the public with the observations that I made upon it, in my Journal.
I was quite easy with Sir Allan almost instantaneously. He knew the great intimacy that had been between my father and his predecessor, Sir Hector, and was himself of a very frank disposition. After 470l. 15s. 6d., but the crofters were barely able to maintain themselves with the aid they received, and could pay no rent. He expended 1,000l. on drainage and other improvements, chiefly with a view to give employment to the inhabitants. In the four years, 1846-49, he had expended in wages of labour and gratuities, not only all the revenue derived from it, but 3671. from other sources. In 1849 the removal of the crofters was completed, and in 1850 he had a clear revenue of 2217., with the prospect of its increasing. See Sir John M'Neill's report on the Highlands.-ED.
dinner, Sir Allan said he had got Dr. Campbell about a hundred subscribers to his " Britannica Elucidata," (a work since published under the title of "A Political Survey of Great Britain,") of whom he believed twenty were dead, the publication having been so long delayed.JOHNSON: "Sir, I imagine the delay of publication is owing to this, that, after publication, there will be no more subscribers, and few will send the additional guinea to get their books: in which they will be wrong; for there will be a great deal of instruction in the work. I think highly of Campbell. In the first place, he has very good parts. In the second place, he has very extensive reading; not, perhaps, what is properly called learning, but history, politics, and, in short, that popular knowledge which makes a man very useful. In the third place, he has learned much by what is called the vox viva. He talks with a great many people."
Speaking of this gentleman, at Rasay, he told us that he one day called on him, and they talked of "Tull's Husbandry." Dr. Campbell said something. Dr. Johnson began to dispute it. "6 Come," said Dr. Campbell," we do not want to get the better of one another: we want to increase each other's ideas." Dr. Johnson took it in good part, and the conversation then went on coolly and instructively. His candour in relating this anecdote does him much credit, and his conduct on that occasion proves how easily he could be persuaded to talk from a better motive than "for victory."
Dr. Johnson here showed so much of the spirit of a Highlander, that he won Sir Allan's heart: indeed, he has shown it during the whole of our tour. One night, in Col, he strutted about the room with a broad-sword and target, and made a formidable appearance; and, another night, I took the liberty to put a large blue bonnet on his head. His age, his size, and his bushy grey wig, with this covering on it, presented the image of a venerable Senachi; and, however unfavourable to the Lowland Scots, he seemed much pleased to assume the appearance of an ancient Caledonian. We only regretted that he could not be prevailed with to partake of the social glass. One of his arguments against drinking appears to me not convincing. He urged, that "in proportion as drinking makes a man different from what he is before he has drunk, it is bad; because it has so far affected his reason." But may it not be answered, that a man may be altered by it for the better; that his spirits may be exhilarated without his reason being affected? On the general subject of drinking, however, I do not mean positively to take the other side. I am dubius non improbus.
In the evening, Sir Allan informed us that it was the custom of his house to have prayers every Sunday; and Miss Maclean read the
evening service, in which we all joined. I then read Ogden's second
INSULA SANCTI KENNETHI.
Spes hominum ac curas cum procul esse jubet,
Legitimas faciunt pectora pura preces.
Quo vagor ulterius ? quod ubique requiritur hic est;
* Johnson made various alterations on these verses, as may be seen from the copy printed in his Works, Oxford edit., Vol. I. The poem was thus translated by the late Sir Daniel K. Sandford, Professor of Greek in the University of Glasgow
"Scarce spied amidst the West-sea foam,
Yet once Religion's chosen home,
In lonely cottage great Maclean
Held his high ancestral reign,
With daughters fair, whom Love might deem
Yet not in chilly cavern rude
Were they, like Danube's lawless brood,
But all that charms a polished age,
MONDAY, OCTOBER 18.
We agreed to pass this day with Sir Allan, and he engaged to have everything in order for our voyage to-morrow.
Being now soon to be separated from our amiable friend, young Col, his merits were all remembered. At Ulva he had appeared in a new character, having given us a good prescription for a cold. On my mentioning him with warmth, Dr. Johnson said, "Col does everything for us: we will erect a statue to Col."—" Yes,” said I, “and we will have him with his various attributes and characters, like Mercury, or any other of the heathen gods. We will have him as a pilot; we will have him as a fisherman, as a hunter, as a husbandman, as a physician."
I this morning took a spade, and dug a little grave in the floor of
Nor 'mid the hoarse waves' circling swell
Did Worship here forget to dwell.
Sir Allan Maclean had unfortunately but little of the ancient possessions of the chiefs of Maclean. Coll, Lochbuy, and Ardgour had long passed to younger branches of the house, and most of the remainder had been forfeited in 1715 and 1745, and came into the hands of the Argyle family. "The ashes of Sir Allan," says the "Statistical Account," "rest near the spot where he related to Dr. Johnson his American campaign; but the estate has long since gone from the family. It is now the property of Colonel Robert Macdonald, who has built a mansion-house on the island, and, like Sir Allan, resides there in agreeable retirement, after having fought and bled in the cause of his country." Sir Allan's two daughters both married Macleans; the eldest, a neighbonring proprietor, Maclean of Lochaline The huts in which the military baronet received Johnson and Boswell were afterwards abandoned and left to ruin; the walls remain, and assist the imagination in recalling the scene of sequestered beauty and piety so exquisitely drawn by Johnson.
Sir Allan Maclean died at Inchkenneth, December 10th, 1783. "The family of Maclean of Duart," says Mr. Gregory, in his work on the Western Highlands," in the reign of James VI. was the most powerful in the Hebrides, but had, before the end of the seventeenth century, lost nearly all its possessions, and was almost deprived of influence. The seeds of the decay of this important family were sown in the reign of Queen Mary, when the great feud between the Macleans and Macdonald first broke out. In the reigns of James VI. and Charles 1., many debts had accumulated against the barony of Duart, which enabled the Marquis of Argyle and his successors to establish a claim to that estate; and this claim the Macleans, owing to their exertions in favour of the Stuarts, never had an opportunity of shaking off. Sir Lauchlan Maclean of Morven, immediate younger brother of Hector Maclean, of Duart, and grandson of Lauchlan Mor, was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia by Charles I. On the death of his clder brother, Sir Lauchlan succeeded to the estate of Duart, and on the failure of the male issue of Sir Lauchlan, some generations later, the baronetcy devolved (in 1750) on Allan Maclean, of Brolos (Johnson's entertainer), descended from Donald, a younger brother of the first Baronet of Duart. Sir Allan's heir male, who now bears the title, is Lieutenant-General Sir Fitzroy Maclean of Morarven, eighth baronet.-ED.