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said, he had more anecdotes than any man. I said, Percy had a great many; that he flowed with them like one of the brooks here. Johnson. "If Percy is like one of the brooks here, Birch was like the river Thames. Birch excelled Percy in that, as much as Percy excels Goldsmith." I mentioned Lord Hailes as a man of anecdote. He was not pleased with him, for publishing only such memorials and letters as were unfavourable for the Stuart family. "If," said he, " a man fairly warns yon, 'I am to give all the ill—do you find the good,' he may; but if the object which he professes be to give a view of a reign, let him tell all the truth. I would tell truth of the two Georges, or of that scoundrel, King William. Granger's 'Biographical History ' is full of curious anecdote,1 but might have been better done. The dog is a Whig. I do not like much to see a Whig in any dress; but I hate to see a Whig in a parson's gown."
Saturday, Sept. 25.—It was resolved that we should set out, in order to return to Slate, to be in readiness to take a boat whenever there should be a fair wind. Dr. Johnson remained in his chamber writing a letter, and it was long before we could get him into motion. He did not come to breakfast, but had it sent to him. When he had finished his letter, it was twelve o'clock, and we should have set out at ten. When I went up to him, he said to me, "Do you remember a song which begins—
'Every island is a prison
Strongly guarded by the sea;
Kings and princes, for that reason,
I suppose he had been thinking" of our confined situation. He would fain have got in a boat from hence, instead of riding back to Slate. A scheme for it was proposed. He said, "We'll not be driven tamely from it:" but it proved impracticable.
1 The Rev. James Granger, Vicar of Shiplake, died in 1776. His Biographical History of England, dedicated to Horace Walpole, was published in 1769. A continuation, by the Rev. Mark Noble, appeared in 1806. In a letter to Boswell, Aug. 30, 1776, Dr. Johnson says, "I have read every word of Granger: it has entertained me exceedingly." — Wright.
We took leave of Macleod and Talisker, from whom we parted with regret. Talisker, having been bred to physic, had a tincture of scholarship in his conversation, which pleased Dr. Johnson, and he had some very good books; and being a colonel in the Dutch service, he and his lady, in consequence of having lived abroad, had introduced the ease and politeness of the continent into this rude region.
Young Col was now our leader. Mr. M'Queen was to accompany us half a day more. We stopped at a little hut, where we saw an old woman grinding with the quern, the ancient Highland instrument, which it is said was used by the Romans; but which, being very slow in its operation, is almost entirely gone into disuse.
The walls of the cottages in Sky, instead of being one compacted mass of stones, are often formed by two exterior surfaces of stone, filled up with earth in the middle, which makes them very warm. The roof is generally bad. They are thatched, sometimes with straw, sometimes with heath, sometimes with fern. The thatch is secured by ropes of straw, or of heath; and, to fix the ropes, there is a stone tied to the end of each. These stones hang round the bottom of the roof, and make it look like a lady's hair in papers; but I should think that, when there is wind, they would come down, and knock people on the head.
We dined at the inn at Sconser, where I had the pleasure to find a letter from my wife. Here we parted from our learned companion, Mr. Donald M'Queen. Dr. Johnson took leave of him very affectionately, saying, " Dear Sir, do not forget me!" We settled, that he should write an account of the Isle of Sky, which Dr. Johnson promised to revise. He said, Mr. M'Queen should tell all that he could; distinguishing what he himself knew, what was traditional, and what conjectural.1
We sent our horses round a point of land, that we might shun some very bad road; and resolved to go forward by sea. It was seven o'clock when we got into our boat. We had many showers, and it soon grew pretty dark. Dr. Johnson sat silent and patient. Once he said,
1 The Rev. Donald M'Queen died at Edinburgh, Oct. 24, 17771 but without fulfilling this project. See Nichols' Illus., vol. v., 401 et ser/q.— Crokcr.
as he looked on the black coast of Sky,—black, as being composed of rocks seen in the dusk,—" This is very solemn." Our boatmen were rude singers, and seemed so like wild Indians, that a very little imagination was necessary to give one an impression of being upon an American river. We landed at Strolimus, from whence we got a guide to walk before us, for two miles, to Corrichatachin. Not being able to procure a horse for our baggage, I took one portmanteau before me, and Joseph another. We had but a single star to light us on our way. It was about eleven when we arrived. We were most hospitably received by the master and mistress, who were just going to bed, but, with unaffected ready kindness, made a good .fire, and at twelve o'clock at night had supper on the table.
James Macdonald, of Knockow, Kingsburgh's brother, whom we had seen at Kingsburgh, was there. He showed me a bond granted by the late Sir James Macdonald, to old Kingsburgh, the preamble of which does so much honour to the feelings of that much-lamented gentleman, that I thought it worth transcribing. It was as follows :—
"I, Sir James Macdonald, of Macdonald, Baronet, now, after arriving at my perfect age, from the friendship I bear to Alexander Macdonald, of Kingsburgh, and in return for the long and faithful services done and performed by him to my deceased father, and to myself during my minority, when he was one of my tutors and curators; being resolved, now that the said Alexander Macdonald is advanced in years, to contribute my endeavours for making his old age placid and comfortable,"—therefore he grants him an annuity of fifty pounds sterling.
Dr. Johnson went to bed soon. When one bowl of punch was finished, I rose, and was near the door, in my way upstairs to bed; but Corrichatachin said it was the first time Col had been in his house, and he should have his bowl;— .and would not I join in drinking it? The heartiness of my honest landlord, and the desire of doing social honour to our very obliging conductor, induced me to sit down again. Col's bowl was finished; and by that time we were well .warmed. A third bowl was soon made, and that too was finished. We were cordial, and merry to a high degree;. but of what passed I have no recollection, with any accuracy. I remember calling Corrichatachin by the familiar appellation of Corri, which his friends do. A fourth bowl was made, by which time Col, and young M'Kinnon, Corrichatachin's son, slipped away to bed. I continued a little with Corri and Knockow; but at last I left them. It was near five in the morning when I got to bed.
Sunday, Sept. 26.—I awaked at noon, with a severe headache. I was much vexed, that I should have been guilty of such a riot, and afraid of a reproof from Dr. Johnson. I thought it very inconsistent with that conduct which I ought to maintain, while the companion of the Rambler. About one he came into my room, and accosted me, "What, drunk yet?" His tone of voice was not that of severe upbraiding: so I was relieved a little. "Sir," said I, " they kept me up." He answered, "No, you kept them up, you drunken dog." This he said with goodhumoured English pleasantry. Soon afterwards, Corrichatachin, Col, and other friends, assembled round my bed. Corri had a brandy-bottle and glass with him, and insisted I should take a dram. "Ay," said Dr. Johnson, "fill him drunk again. Do it in the morning, that we may laugh at him all day. It is a poor thing for a fellow to get drunk at night, and skulk to bed, and let his friends have no sport." Finding him thus jocular, I became quite easy; and when I offered to get up, he very good-naturedly said, "You need be in no such hurry now."' I took my host's
1 My ingenuously relating (his occasional instance of intemperance has, I find been made the subject both of serious criticism and ludicrous banter. With the banterers I shall not trouble myself, but I wonder that those who pretend to the appellation of serious critics should not have had sagacity enough to perceive that here, as in every other part the present work, my principal object was to delineate Dr. Johnson's manners and character. In justice to him I would not omit an anecdote, which, though in some degree to my own disadvantage, exhibits in so strong a light the indulgence and good humour with which he could treat those excesses in his friends of which he highly disapproved. In some other instances, the critics have been equally wrong as to the true motive of my recording particulars, the objections to which I saw as clearly as they. But it would be an endless task for an author to point out upon every occasion the precise object he has in view. Contenting himself with the approbation of readers of discernment and taste, he
advice, and drank some brandy, which I found an effectual cure for my headache. When I rose, I went into Dr. Johnson's room, and taking up Mrs. M'Kinnon's Prayerbook, I opened it at the twentieth Sunday after Trinity, in the epistle for which I read, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein there is excess." Some would have taken this as divine interposition.
Mrs. M'Kinnon told us at dinner, that old Kingsbitrgh, her father, was examined at Mugstot, by General Campbell, as to the particulars of the dress of the person who had come to his house in woman's clothes, along with Miss Flora Macdonald; as the general had received intelligence of that disguise. The particulars were taken down in writing, that it might be seen how far they agreed with the dress of the Irish girl who went with Miss Flora from Long Island. Kingsburgh, she said, had but one song which he always sung when he was merry over a glass. She dictated the words to me, which are foolish enough:—
"Green sleeves and pudding pies,
"May our affairs abroad succeed,
"To all our injured friends in need,
Green sleeves, &c." l
While the examination was going on, the present Talisker,
ought not to complain that some are found who cannot or will not understand him.
'Green Sleeves, however, is a song a great deal older than the Revolution. "His disposition and words no more adhere and keep pace •together, than the hundredth psalm and the tune of Green Sleeves," says Mrs. Ford, in the Merry Wives of Windsor.—Crvker.