« PreviousContinue »
Christ's sake! Good night!" I pronounced
Amen." He fell asleep immediately. I was not so fortunate for a long time. I fancied myself bit by innumerable vermin under the clothes, and that a spider was travelling from the wainscot towards my mouth. At last I fell into insensibility.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1.
I awaked very early. I began to imagine that the landlord, being about to emigrate, might murder us to get our money, and lay it upon the soldiers in the barn. Such groundless fears will arise in the mind before it has resumed its vigour after sleep! Dr. Johnson had had the same kind of ideas; for he told me afterwards, that he considered so many soldiers having seen us would be witnesses, should any harm be done, and that circumstance, I suppose, he considered as a security. When I got up, I found him sound asleep in his miserable stye, as I may call it, with a coloured handkerchief tied round his head. With difficulty could I awaken him. It reminded me of Henry the Fourth's fine soliloquy on sleep; for there was here as uneasy a pallet as the poet's imagination could possibly conceive.*
A redcoat of the 15th Regiment, whether officer or only sergeant I could not be sure, came to the house, in his way to the mountains to shoot deer, which it seems the Laird of Glenmorison does not hinder anybody to do. Few, indeed, can do them harm. We had him to breakfast with us. We got away about eight. Macqueen walked some miles to give us a convoy. He had, in 1745, joined the Highland army at Fort Augustus, and continued in it till after the battle of Culloden. As he narrated the particulars of that ill-advised but brave attempt, I could not refrain from tears. There is a certain association of ideas in my mind upon that subject by which I am strongly affected. The very Highland names, or the sound of a bagpipe, will stir my blood, and fill me with a mixture of melancholy and respect for courage; with pity for an unfortunate and superstitious regard for antiquity, and thoughtless inclination for war; in short, with a crowd of sensations with which sober rationality has nothing to do.
*"O sleep! O gentle sleep!
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
And hushed with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
And lulled with sound of sweetest melody?"
--SECOND PART OF KING HENRY IV., ACT. III., Sc. 1.
We passed through Glensheal, with prodigious mountains on each side. We saw where the battle was fought in the year 1719.* Dr. Johnson owned he was now in a scene of as wild nature as he could see; but he corrected me sometimes in my inaccurate observations. "There," said I, "is a mountain like a cone."-JOHNSON: "No, sir. It would be called so in a book, but when a man comes to look at it he sees it is not so. It is indeed pointed at the top, but one side of it is larger than the other." Another mountain I called immense.-JOHNSON: "No; it is no more than a considerable protuberance.”
We came to a rich green valley, comparatively speaking, and stopped a while to let our horses rest and eat grass. We soon afterwards came to Auchnasheal, a kind of rural village, a number of cottages being built together, as we saw all along in the Highlands. We passed many miles this day without seeing a house, but only little summer huts, called shielings. Even Campbell, servant to Mr. Murchison, factor to the Laird of Macleod in Glenelg, ran along
* An indecisive effort, in favour of the exiled family, which was speedily extinguished. The insurgents were led by the Earl of Seaforth, and consisted of a number of the men of Kintail and Lewis, with about three hundred Spanish auxiliaries. The royalist force was commanded by General Wightman. The result was favourable to Seaforth, but not such as to induce him to continue the contest. The Chief of the Mackenzies, it is said, had borrowed for the day the services of a friendly clan, on condition that, however the battle went, they should return next morning; "this occasional assistance being only regarded in the light of a neighbourly accommodation to Lord Seaforth." (SCOTT.) A curious specimen of feudal politeness! The Earl, who was wounded in the action, escaped to Spain. Sir Walter Scott has given a version of a famous farewell song, composed by Seaforth's family bard, on the occasion of his departure after the battle of Glensheal:
"For a far foreign land he has hoisted his sail,
The Earl was pardored, and George II. made him a grant of the feu-duties due to the Crown out of his forfeited estate. This unwonted show of generosity was the less important, as the tenants, with clannish fidelity, had secretly conveyed their rents to the Earl in Spain.-ED.
+ Dr. Johnson, in his "Journey," thus beautifully describes his situation here:"I sat down on a bank, such as a writer of romance might have delighted to feign. I had, indeed, no trees to whisper over my head; but a clear rivulet streamed at my feet. The day was calm, the air soft, and all was rudeness, silence, and solitude. Before me, and on either side, were high hills, which, by hindering the eye from ranging, forced the mind to find entertainment for itself. Whether I spent the hour well, I know not; for here I first conceived the thought of this narration." The Critical Reviewers, with a spirit and expression worthy of the subject, say, "We congratulate the public on the event with which this quotation concludes, and are fully persuaded that the hour in which the entertaining traveller conceived this narrative will be considered, by every reader of taste, as a fortunate event in the annals of literature. Were it suitable to the task in which we are at present engaged to indulge ourselves in a poetical flight, we would invoke the winds of the Caledonian mountains to blow for ever, with their softest breezes, on the bank where our author reclined, and request of Flora that it might be perpetually adorned with the gayest and most fragrant productions of the year."BOSWELL.
with us to-day. He was a very obliging fellow. At Auchnasheal, we sat down on a green turf seat at the end of a house; they brought us out two wooden dishes of milk, which we tasted. One of them was frothed like a syllabub. I saw a woman preparing it with such a stick as is used for chocolate, and in the same manner. We had a considerable circle about us, men, women and children, all Macraes,* Lord Seaforth's people. Not one of them could speak English. I observed to Dr. Johnson it was much the same as being with a tribe of Indians. “Yes, sir; but not so terrifying." I gave all who chose it snuff and tobacco. Governor Trapaud had made us buy a quantity at Fort Augustus, and put them up in small parcels. I also gave each person a bit of wheat bread, which they had never tasted before. I then gave a penny a-piece to each child. I told Dr. Johnson of this; upon which he called to Joseph and our guides for change for a shilling, and declared that he would distribute among the children. Upon this being announced in Erse there was a great stir; not only did some children come running down from neighbouring huts, but I observed one black-haired man, who had been with us all along, had gone off, and returned, bringing a very young child. My fellow-traveller then ordered the children to be drawn up in a row; and he dealt about his copper, and made them and their parents all happy. The poor Macraes, whatever may be their present state, were of considerable estimation in the year 1715, when there was a line in a song,
"And a' the brave M'Craas are coming."+
* Boswell spells the name "M'Craa;" Johnson" Macrae;" the latter is the usual orthography. The Macraes are said to have come originally from Ireland, about the middle of the 13th century. Dr. George Mackenzie, who has written a genealogical account of the Mackenzies, mentions that when Colin Fitzgerald, the founder of the Mackenzies, came from Ireland, in the year 1263, a number of the Macraes were of his party in the battle of Largs, which is presumed to be in consequence of a friendly attachment then known to have subsisted between them and their ancestors. At what period they removed to Kintail from the Aird, near Branly, where tradition first places them, is not known; but it is stated, that "they were earnestly invited thither by Mackenzie, who had then no kindred of his blood-the first six barons or lairds of Kintail having each but one lawful son to succeed the other." They accordingly did remove to Kintail, and they continued ever after to be the firmest adherents of the family of Mackenzie of Seaforth. In the sixteenth century the Macraes possessed almost the whole of Kintail in wadset, or redeemable mortgage. They served the Mackenzies in every quarrel with the neighbouring clans, and seem never to have had a chief of their own.-ED.
+ The M'Craas, or Macraes, were since that time brought into the king's army by Lord Seaforth. When they lay in Edinburgh Castle, in 1778, and were ordered to embark for Jersey, they, with a number of other men in the regiment, for different reasons, but especially an apprehension that they were to be sold to the East India Company, though enlisted not to be sent out of Great Britain without their own consent, made a determined mutiny, and encamped upon the lofty mountain, Arthur's
There was great diversity in the faces of the circle around us: some were as black and wild in their appearance as any American
JOHNSON AND HIGHLAND CHILDREN
One woman was as comely almost as the figure of Sappho, as we see it painted. We asked the old woman, the mistress of the house where we had the milk which, by the bye, Dr. Johnson told me, for I did not observe it myself, was built not of turf but of stone), what we should pay. She said, "what we pleased." One of our guides asked her in Erse if a shilling was enough. She said "Yes;" but some of the men bade her ask more. This vexed me, because it showed a desire to impose upon strangers, as they
Seat, where they remained three days and three nights, bidding defiance to all the force in Scotland. At last they came down, and embarked peaceably, having obtained formal articles of capitulation, signed by Sir Adolphus Oughton, Commander-in-Chief, General Skene, Deputy-Commander, the Duke of Buccleugh, and the Earl of Dunmore, which quieted them. Since the secession of the Commons of Rome to the Mons Sacer, a more spirited exertion has not been made. I gave great attention to it from first to last, and have drawn up a particular account of it. Those brave fellows have since served their country effectually at Jersey, and also in the East Indies, to which, after being better informed, they voluntarily agreed to go.-BOSWELL.
knew that even a shilling was high payment. The woman, however, honestly persisted in her first price, so I gave her half-a-crown ; thus we had one good scene of life uncommon to us. The people were very much pleased, gave us many blessings, and said, "they had not had such a day since the old Laird of Macleod's time."
Dr. Johnson was much refreshed by this repast. He was pleased when I told him he would make a good chief. He said, “Were I a chief, I would dress my servants better than myself, and knock a fellow down if he looked saucy to a Macdonald in rags. But I would not treat men as brutes; I would let them know why all of my clan were to have attention paid to them; I would tell my upper servants why, and make them tell the others."
We rode on well till we came to the high mountain called the Rattakin, by which time both Dr. Johnson and the horses were a good deal fatigued. It is a terrible steep to climb, notwithstanding the road is formed slanting along it; however, we made it out. On the top of it we met Captain Macleod, of Balmenoch (a Dutch officer who had come from Sky), riding with his sword slung across him. He asked, "Is this Mr. Boswell?" which was a proof that we were expected. Going down the hill on the other side was no easy task. As Dr. Johnson was a great weight, the two guides agreed that he should ride the horses alternately. Hay's were the two best, and the Doctor would not ride but upon one or other of them, a black or a brown ; but as Hay complained much after ascending the Rattakin, the Doctor was prevailed with to mount one of Vass's greys. As he rode upon it down hill, it did not go well, and he grumbled; I walked on a little before, but was excessively entertained with the method taken to keep him in good humour. Hay led the horse's head, talking to Dr. Johnson as much as he could, and (having heard himi n the forenoon express a pastoral pleasure on seeing the goats browsing) just when the Doctor was uttering his displeasure, the fellow cried with a very Highland accent, "See, such pretty goats!" Then he whistled, whu! and made them jump. Little did he conceive what Dr. Johnson was. Here, now, was a common ignorant Highland clown imagining that he could divert, as one does a child, Dr. Samuel Johnson! The ludicrousness, absurdity, and extraordinary contrast between what the fellow fancied and the reality was truly comic.
It grew dusky, and we had a very tedious ride for what was called five miles, but I am sure would measure ten. We had no conversation. I was riding forward to the inn at Glenelg, on the shore opposite to Sky, that I might take proper measures before Dr. Johnson, who was now advancing in dreary silence, Hay leading his horse,