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Dr. Johnson has the happy art (for which I have heard my
father praise the old Earl of Aberdeen) of instructing himself, by making every man he meets tell him something of what he knows best. He led Keith to talk to him of the excise in Scotland ; and in the course of conversation mentioned that his friend Mr. Thrale, the great brewer, paid twenty thousand pounds a-year to the revenue, and that he had four casks, each of which holds sixteen hundred barrels-above a thousand hogsheads.*
After this there was little conversation that deserves to be remembered; I shall, therefore, here again glean what I have omitted on former days. Dr. Gerard, at Aberdeen, told us that when he was in Wales he was shown a valley inhabited by Danes, who still retain their own language and are quite a distinct people. Dr. Johnson thought it could not be true, or all the kingdom must have heard of it. He said to me, as we travelled, " These people, sir, that Gerard talks of may have somewhat of a peregrinity in their dialect, which relation has augmented to a different language." I asked him if peregrinity was an English word; he laughed, and said "No." I told him this was the second time that I had heard him coin a word. When Foote broke his leg, I observed that it would make him fitter for taking off George Faulkner as Peter Paragraph, poor George having a wooden leg. Dr. Johnson at that time said, "George will rejoice at the depeditation of Foote ;” and when I challenged that word, laughed, and owned he had made it, and added that he had not made above three or four in his dictionary.“
Having conducted Dr. Johnson to our inn, I begged permission to leave him for a little, that I might run about and pay some short visits to several good people of Inverness. He said to me, “You have all the old-fashioned principles, good and bad.” I acknowledge I have. That of attention to relations in the remotest degree, or to worthy persons in every state whom I have once known, I inherit from
* Barelay and Perkins's brewhouse, Park-street, Southwark, was founded by Henry Thrale, the friend of Dr. Johnson, and sold by Johnson and his brother executor, in behalf of Mrs. Thrale, for 135,000). Barclay was a descendant of the famous Barclay, who wrote the "Apology for the Quakers," and Perkins was the chief clerk in Thrale's establishment. The establishment in Park-street is now the largest of its kind in the world. The buildings extend over ten acres, and the machinery includes two steamengines. The store-cellars contain 126 vats, varying in their contents from 4000 barrels down to 500. About 160 horses are employed in conveying beer to different parts of London. The quantity brewed in 1826 was 380,180 barrels, upon which a duty of 108. the barrel, 180,0901., was paid to the revenue; and in 1855 the malt consumed exceeded 100,000 quarters.—(Cunningham's “Hand-book for London.") It is stated in Mr. Charles Knight's “ London," that the number of barrels of beer brewed by the twelve principal brewers in London was 284,145, in 1782; 1,097,231, in 1808; and 2,119,447, in 1836.--ED.
† When upon the subject of this peregrinity, he told me some particulars concerning the compilation of his Dictionary, and concerning his throwing off Lord Chesterfield's patronage, of which very erroneous accounts have been circulated. These particulars, with others which he afterwards gave me, as also his celebrated letter to Lord Chesterfield, which he dictated to me, I reserve for his “ Life.”—Boswell. [They will be found in Boswell's “ Life of Johnson,” under the date of 1754.-ED.)
father. It gave me much satisfaction to hear everybody at Inverness speak of him with uncommon regard. Mr. Keith and Mr. Grant, whom we had seen at Mr. Macaulay's, supped with us at the inn. We had roasted kid, which Dr. Johnson had never tasted before. He relished it much.*
MONDAY, AUGUST 30. This day we were to begin our equitation,t as I said; for I would needs make a word too. It is remarkable that my noble and, to me most constant friend, the Earl of Pembroke (who, if there is too much ease on my part, will please to pardon what his benevolent, gay, social intercourse and lively correspondence have insensibly produced) has since hit upon the very same word. The title of the first edition of his lordship’s very useful book was, in simple terms, “A Method of Breaking Horses and Teaching Soldiers to Ride.” The title of the second edition is “ Military Equitation.”
* Mr. Grant used to relate that on this occasion Johnson was in high spirits. In the wourse of conversation he mentioned that Mr. Banks (afterwards Sir Joseph) had, in his travels in New South Wales, discovered an extraordinary animal called the kangaroo. The appearance, conformation, and habits of this quadruped were of the most singular kind; and in order to render his description more vivid and graphic, Johnson rose from his chair and volunteered an imitation of the animal. The company stared; and Nir. Grant said nothing could be more ludicrous than the appearance of a tall, heavy, gravelooking man, like Dr. Johnson, standing up to mimic the shape and motions of a kangaroo. He stood erect, put out his hands like feelers, and, gathering up the tails of his huge brown coat so as to resemble the pouch of the animal, made two or three vigorous bounds across the room! Mr. Grant lived to the great age of eighty-five, and died at Calder Manse, June 28th, 1828. He had been minister of Calder, or Cawdor, for fortyeight years, and was highly esteemed as a divine, and as a fine specimen of an intelligent gentleman of the old school.-ED.
☆ Or, as Johnson characteristically expresses it, “We were now to bid farewell to the luxury of travelling, and to enter upon a country upon which perhaps no wheel has ever rolled. We could, indeed, have used our postchaise one day longer along the military road to Fort Augustus, but we could have hired no horses beyond Inverness.” Things are now changed. The Highland roads, under charge of parliamentary cominission, are perhaps the finest in the kingdom, and are yearly travelled by hundreds of tourists. The military roads were constructed between 1726 and 1737. About five hundred soldiers, under charge of non-commissioned officers, were employed during the summer in the formation of these roads, extra pay being given to them for their labour. The undertaking had been forced upon the Government by the state of the Highlands in 1715, as at that time the royal army could not penetrate farther into the Highlands than Blair Athole. The old roads were merely the tracks of cattle and horses, intersected by numerous rapid streams, which, being frequently swollen into torrents by heavy rains, rendered them impassable. The military roads were afterwards found insufficient for the purposes of civil life. They were laid out with other views than commerce and industry, and were often dangerously steep and inconvenient. The road by which Johnson travelled to Fort Augustus is partly one of this description; but the fatigue is compensated by the view of the Fall of Foyers, and by miles of beautiful birch trees, which shade the waters of Loch Ness and clothe the sides of the neighbouring mountains. A more convenient road to Fort Augustus and the West Highlands has been made on the opposite bank of Loch Ness. In 1803 Parliament passed an act granting twenty thousand pounds towards making roads and building bridges in the Highlands, and for enabling the proprietors to charge their estates with a proportion of the expense of suaintaining the different lines of communication. Subsequent grants were made for the same purpose; and by 1820 no less than 875 miles of roads were made, at a cost to Farliament of 267,0001., to the counties of 214,0001., and to individual proprietors of
estates of 60,0001. The whole of these lines are now under one management, and are kept up at an expense of about 10,0001. a-year, of which one-half is paid by Government. To complete this interior communication, and to develope more fully the resources of the Highlands, the Caledonian Canal was also constructed. These improvements, contemporaneous with sheep husbandry, and the better cultivation of the soil, have vastly increased the value of Highland estates. As an example of this we may cite the estate of Glengarry, a wild, romantic, and once almost inaccessible country, in which feudal manners long remained. This property in 1788 did not yield more than 8001. per annum; and in fifty years afterwards the rental was 70001. We shall sea other instances of similar increase as we accompany the travellers on their Hebridean journey.--Ed.
We might have taken a chaise to Fort Augustus, but had we not hired horses at Inverness we should not have found them afterwards, so we resolved to begin here to ride. We had three horses, for Dr. Johnson, myself, and Joseph, and one which carried our portmanteaus, and two Highlanders who walked along with us, John Hay and Lauchlan Vass, whom Dr. Johnson has remembered with credit in his “ Journey,” though he has omitted their names. Dr. Johnson rode
well. About three miles beyond Inverness we saw, just by the road, a very complete specimen of what is called a Druid's temple. There was a double circle, one of very large, the other of smaller stones. Dr. Johnson justly observed that “to go and see one Druidical temple is only to see that it is nothing, for there is neither art nor power in it; and seeing one is quite enough."
It was a delightful day. Loch Ness and the road upon the side of it, shaded with birch-trees, and the hills above it, pleased us much. The scene was as sequestered and agreeably wild as could be desired, and, for a time, engrossed all our attention.
To see Dr. Johnson in any new situation is always an interesting object to me; and as I saw him now for the first time on horseback, jaunting about at his ease in quest of pleasure and novelty, the very different occupations of his former laborious life, his admirable productions, his “ London,” his “Rambler,” &c., &c., immediately presented themselves to my mind, and the contrast made a strong impression on my imagination.
When we had advanced a good way by the side of Loch Ness I perceived a little hut, with an old-looking woman at the door of it. I thought here might be a scene that would amuse Dr. Johnson, so I mentioned it to him. “Let's go in,” said he. We dismounted, and we and our guides entered the hut. It was a wretched little hovel of earth only, I think, and for a window had only a small hole, which was stopped with a piece of turf that was taken out occasionally to let in light. In the middle of the room or space which we entered was a fire of peat, the smoke going out at a hole in the roof; she had a pot upon it, with goat's flesh boiling. There was at one end, under the same roof but divided by a kind of partition made of wattles, a pen or fold, in which we saw a good many kids.
Dr. Johnson was curious to know where she slept. I asked one of the guides, who questioned her in Erse. She answered, with a tone of emotion, saying, as he told us, she was afraid we wanted to go to bed to her. This coquetry, or whatever it may be called, of so wretched a being, was truly ludicrous. Dr. Johnson and I
afterwards were merry upon it. I said it was he who alarmed the poor woman's virtue. “No, sir," said he, "she'll say, There came a wicked young fellow, a wild dog, who I believe would have ravished me, had there not been with him a grave old gentleman who repressed him ; but when he gets out of the sight of his tutor, I'll warrant you he'll spare no woman he meets, young or old.” “No, sir,” I replied," she'll say, There was a terrible ruffian who would have forced me, had it not been for a civil decent young man who, I take it, was an angel sent from heaven to protect me.”
Dr. Johnson would not hurt her delicacy by insisting on “seeing her bedchamber,” like Archer, in the “Beaux Stratagem.” But my curiosity was more ardent; I lighted a piece of paper, and went into the place where the bed was. There was a little partition of wicker, rather more neatly done than that for the fold, and close by the wall was a kind of bedstead of wood, with heath upon it by way of bed, at the foot of which I saw some sort of blankets or covering rolled up in a heap. The woman's name was Fraser; so was her husband's : he was a man of eighty. Mr. Fraser, of Balnain, allows him to live in this hut, and keep sixty goats, for taking care of his woods, where he then was. They had five children, the eldest only thirteen : two were gone to Inverness to buy meal ; the rest were looking after the goats. This contented family had four stacks of barley, twenty-four sheaves in each : they had a few fowls. We were informed that they lived all the spring without meal, upon milk and curds and whey alone. What they get for their goats, kids, and fowls, maintains them during the rest of the year.
She asked us to sit down and take a dram ; I saw one chair; she said she was as happy as any woman in Scotland ; she could hardly speak any English except a few detached words. Dr. Johnson was pleased at seeing, for the first time, such a state of human life. She asked for snuff; it is her luxury, and she uses a great deal. We had none; but gave her sixpence a-piece. She then brought out her whiskey-bottle ; I tasted it, as did Joseph and our guides, so I gave her sixpence more. She sent us away with many prayers in Erse.
We dined at a public-house called the General's Hut, from General Wade, who was lodged there when he commanded in the North. Near it is the meanest parish kirk I ever saw; it is a shame it should be on a high road.* After dinner we passed through a good deal of mountainous country. I had known Mr. Trapaud, the
• Both the hut and the kirk have been rebuilt, but neither very splendidly. With respect to the General's Hut, Johnson describes it more correctly than Boswell, as " the temporary abode of Wade, while he superintended the works upon the road."-ED.