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This day a number of people came to Col, with complaints of each others' trespasses. Corneck, to prevent their being troublesome, told them, that the lawyer from Edinburgh was here, and, if they did not agree, he would take them to task. They were alarmed at this; said, they had never been used to go to law, and hoped Col would settle matters himself.— In the evening Corneck left us.
Saturday, 9th October.
As, in our present confinement, any thing that had even the name of curious was an object of attention, I proposed that Col should show me the great stone, mentioned in a former page, as having been thrown by a giant to the top of a mountain. Dr. Johnson, who did not like to be left alone, said he would accompany us as far as riding was practicable. We ascended a part of the hill on horseback, and Col and I scrambled up the rest. A servant held our horses, and Dr. Johnson placed himself on the ground, with his back against a large fragment of rock. The wind being high, he let down the cocks of his hat, and tied it with his handker. chief under his chin. While we were employed in examining the stone, which did not repay our trouble in getting to it, he amused himself with reading Gataker on Lots and on the Christian Watch, a very learned book, of the last age, which had been found in the garret of Col's house, and which he said was a treasure here. When we descried him from above, he had a most eremetical appearance; and on our return told us, he had been so much engaged by Gataker, that he had never missed us. His avidity for variety of books, while we were in Col, was frequently expressed; and
he often complained that so few were within his reach. Upon which I observed to him, that it was strange he should complain of want of books, when he could at any time make such good ones.
We next proceeded to the lead mine. In our way we came to a strand of some extent, where we were glad to take a gallop, in which my learned friend joined with great alacrity. Dr. Johnson mounted on a large bay mare without shoes, and followed by a foal, which had some difficulty in keeping up with him, was a singular spectacle.
After examining the mine, we returned through a very uncouth district, full of sand hills; down which, though apparent precipices, our horses carried us with safety, the sand always gently sliding away from their feet. Vestiges of houses were pointed out to us, which Col, and two others who had joined us, asserted had been overwhelmed with sand blown over them. But, on going close to one of them, Dr. Johnson shewed the absurdity of the notion, by remarking, that "it was evidently only a house abandoned, the stones of which had been taken away for other purposes; for the large stones, which form the lower part of the walls, were still standing higher than the sand. If they were not blown over, it was clear nothing higher than they could be blown over." This was quite convincing to me; but it made not the least impression on Col and the others, who were not to be argued out of a Highland tradition.
We did not sit down to dinner till between six and seven. We lived plentifully here, and had a true welcome. In such a season, good firing was of no small importance. The peats were excellent, and burned cheerfully. Those at Dunvegan, which were damp,
Dr. Johnson called "a sullen fuel."-Here a Scottish phrase was singularly applied to him. One of the company having remarked that he had gone out on a stormy evening and brought in a supply of peats from the stack, Old Mr. M'Sweyn said, "that was main honest !”
Blenheim being occasionally mentioned, he told me he had never seen it: he had not gone formerly; and he would not go now, just as a common spectator, for his money he would not put it in the power of some man about the Duke of Marlborough to say, Johnson was here; I knew him, but I took no notice of him.' He said, he would be very glad to see it, if properly invited, which in all probability would never be the case, as it was not worth his while to seek for it.-I observed, that he might be easily introduced there by a common friend of ours, nearly related to the duke. He answered, with an uncommon attention to delicacy of feeling, "I doubt whether our friend be on such a footing with the duke as to carry any body there; and I would not give him the uneasiness of seeing that I knew he was not, or even of being himself reminded of it."
Sunday, 10th October.
There was this day the most terrible storm of wind and rain that I ever remember. It made such an awful impression on us all, as to produce, for some time, a kind of dismal quietness in the house. The day was passed without much conversation: only, upon my observing that there must be something bad in a man's mind, who does not like to give leases to his tenants, but wishes to keep them in a perpetual wretched dependence on his will, Dr. Johnson said, "You are right: it is a man's duty to extend comfort and security among as many
people as he can. He should not wish to have his tenants mere Ephemera,-mere beings of an hour."-Boswell. "But, sir, if they have leases, is there not some danger that they may grow insolent? I remember you yourself once told me, an English tenant was so independent, that, if provoked, he would throw his rent at his landlord."-Johnson. "Depend upon it, sir, it is the landlord's own fault, if it is thrown at him. A man may always keep his tenants in dependence enough, though they have leases. He must be a good tenant, indeed, who will not fall behind in his rent, if his landlord will let him; and if he does fall behind, his landlord has him at his mercy. Indeed, the poor man is always much at the mercy of the rich; no matter whether landlord If the tenant lets his landlord have a little rent before-hand, or has lent him money, then the landlord is in his power. There cannot be a greater man than a tenant who has lent money to his landlord; for he has under subjection the very man to whom he should be subjected."
Monday, 11th October.
We had some days ago engaged the Campbelltown vessel to carry us to Mull, from the harbour where she lay. The morning was fine, and the wind fair and moderate; so we hoped at length to get away.
Mrs. M'Sweyn, who officiated as our landlady here, had never been on the main land. On hearing this, Dr. Johnson said to me, before her, "That is rather being behind-hand with life. I would at least go and see Glenelg."-Boswell. "You yourself, sir, have never seen, till now, any thing but your native island.”—Johnson. "But, sir, by seeing London, I have seen as much of
life as the world can shew."-Boswell. "You have not seen Pekin."-Johnson. "What is Pekin? Ten thousand Londoners would drive all the people of Pekin: they would drive them like deer."
We set out about eleven for the harbour; but, before we reached it, so violent a storm came on, that we were obliged again to take shelter in the house of Captain M'Lean, where we dined, and passed the night.
Tuesday, 12th October.
After breakfast, we made a second attempt to get to the harbour; but another storm soon convinced us that it would be in vain. Captain M'Lean's house being in some confusion, on account of Mrs. M'Lean being expected to lie-in, we resolved to go to Mr. M'Sweyn's, where we arrived very wet, fatigued, and hungry. In this situation, we were somewhat disconcerted by being told that we should have no dinner till late in the evening; but should have tea in the mean time. Dr. Johnson opposed this arrangement; but they persisted, and he took the tea very readily. He said, to me afterwards, "You must consider, sir, a dinner here is a matter of great consequence. It is a thing to be first planned, and then executed. I suppose the mutton was brought some miles off, from some place where they knew there was a sheep killed."
Talking of the good people with whom we were, he said, "Life has not got at all forward by a generation in M'Sweyn's family; for the son is exactly formed upon the father. What the father says, the son says; and what the father looks, the son looks."
There being little conversation to-night, I must endeavour to recollect what I may have omitted on former