Infomotions, Inc.The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D. / Boswell, James, 1740-1795

Author: Boswell, James, 1740-1795
Title: The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D.
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): johnson
Contributor(s): Garnett, Constance, 1861-1946 [Translator]
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Title: The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D.

Author: James Boswell

Release Date: July, 2004 [EBook #6018]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on October 18, 2002]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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James Boswell


My Dear Sir,

In every narrative, whether historical or biographical, authenticity
is of the utmost consequence. Of this I have ever been so firmly
persuaded, that I inscribed a former work to that person who was the
best judge of its truth. I need not tell you I mean General Paoli;
who, after his great, though unsuccessful, efforts to preserve the
liberties of his country, has found an honourable asylum in Britain,
where he has now lived many years the object of Royal regard and
private respect; and whom I cannot name without expressing my very
grateful sense of the uniform kindness which he has been pleased to
shew me.

The friends of Doctor Johnson can best judge, from internal evidence,
whether the numerous conversations which form the most valuable part
of the ensuing pages, are correctly related. To them, therefore I wish
to appeal, for the accuracy of the portrait here exhibited to the

As one of those who were intimately acquainted with him, you have a
tide to this address. You have obligingly taken the trouble to peruse
the original manuscript of this tour, and can vouch for the strict
fidelity of the present publication. Your literary alliance with our
much lamented friend, in consequence of having undertaken to render
one of his labours more complete, by your edition of Shakespeare, a
work which I am confident will not disappoint the expectations of the
publick, gives you another claim. But I have a still more powerful
inducement to prefix your name to this volume, as it gives me an
opportunity of letting the world know that I enjoy the honour and
happiness of your friendship; and of thus publickly testifying the
sincere regard with which I am.

My dear Sir,

Your very faithful and obedient servant,
James Boswell.
London, 20 September 1785.

"He was of an admirable pregnancy of wit, and that pregnancy much
improved by continual study from his childhood; by which he had gotten
such a promptness in expressing his mind, that his extemporal speeches
were little inferior to his premeditated writings. Many, no doubt, had
read as much and perhaps more than he; but scarce ever any concocted
his reading into judgement as he did."--Baker's Chronicle

Dr Johnson had for many years given me hopes that we should go
together, and visit the Hebrides. Martin's Account of those islands
had impressed us with a notion that we might there contemplate a
system of life almost totally different from what we had been
accustomed to see; and, to find simplicity and wildness, and all the
circumstances of remote time or place, so near to our native great
island, was an object within the reach of reasonable curiosity. Dr
Johnson has said in his Journey, 'that he scarcely remembered how the
wish to visit the Hebrides was excited'; but he told me, in summer,
1763, that his father put Martin's Account into his hands when he was
very young, and that he was much pleased with it. We reckoned there
would be some inconveniencies and hardships, and perhaps a little
danger; but these we were persuaded were magnified in the imagination
of every body. When I was at Ferney, in 1764, I mentioned our design
to Voltaire. He looked at me, as if I had talked of going to the North
Pole, and said, 'You do not insist on my accompanying you?' 'No, sir.'
'Then I am very willing you should go.' I was not afraid that our
curious expedition would be prevented by such apprehensions; but I
doubted that it would not be possible to prevail on Dr Johnson to
relinquish, for some time, the felicity of a London life, which, to a
man who can enjoy it with full intellectual relish, is apt to make
existence in any narrower sphere seem insipid or irksome. I doubted
that he would not be willing to come down from his elevated state of
philosophical dignity; from a superiority of wisdom among the wise,
and of learning among the learned; and from flashing his wit upon
minds bright enough to reflect it.

He had disappointed my expectations so long, that I began to despair;
but in spring, 1773, he talked of coming to Scotland that year with so
much firmness, that I hoped he was at last in earnest. I knew that, if
he were once launched from the metropolis, he would go forward very
well; and I got our common friends there to assist in setting him
afloat. To Mrs Thrale in particular, whose enchantment over him seldom
failed, I was much obliged. It was, 'I'll give thee a wind.' 'Thou art
kind.' To attract him, we had invitations from the chiefs Macdonald
and Macleod; and, for additional aid, I wrote to Lord Elibank, Dr
William Robertson, and Dr Beattie.

To Dr Robertson, so far as my letter concerned the present subject, I
wrote as follows:

Our friend, Mr Samuel Johnson, is in great health and spirits; and, I
do think, has a serious resolution to visit Scotland this year. The
more attraction, however, the better; and therefore, though I know he
will be happy to meet you there, it will forward the scheme, if, in
your answer to this, you express yourself concerning it with that
power of which you are so happily possessed, and which may be so
directed as to operate strongly upon him.

His answer to that part of my letter was quite as I could have wished.
It was written with the address and persuasion of the historian of

When I saw you last, you gave us some hopes that you might prevail
with Mr Johnson to make that excursion to Scotland, with the
expectation of which we have long flattered ourselves. If he could
order matters so, as to pass some time in Edinburgh, about the close
of the summer session, and then visit some of the Highland scenes, I
am confident he would be pleased with the grand features of nature in
many parts of this country: he will meet with many persons here who
respect him, and some whom I am persuaded he will think not unworthy
of his esteem. I wish he would make the experiment. He sometimes
cracks his jokes upon us; but he will find that we can distinguish
between the stabs of malevolence, and 'the rebukes of the righteous,
which are like excellent oil [footnote: Our friend Edmund Burke, who
by this time had received some pretty severe strokes from Dr Johnson,
on account of the unhappy difference in their politicks, upon my
repeating this passage to him, exclaimed, 'Oil of vitriol!'], and
break not the head'. Offer my best compliments to him, and assure him
that I shall be happy to have the satisfaction of seeing him under my

To Dr Beattie I wrote,

The chief intention of this letter is to inform you, that I now
seriously believe Mr Samuel Johnson will visit Scotland this year: but
I wish that every power of attraction may be employed to secure our
having so valuable an acquisition, and therefore I hope you will
without delay write to me what I know you think, that I may read it to
the mighty sage, with proper emphasis, before I leave London, which I
must soon. He talks of you with the same warmth that he did last year.
We are to see as much of Scotland as we can, in the months of August
and September. We shall not be long of being at Marischal College
[footnote: This, I find, is a Scotticism. I should have said, 'It will
not be long before we shall be at Marischal College.']. He is
particularly desirous of seeing some of the Western Islands.

Dr Beattie did better: ipse venit. He was, however, so polite as to
wave his privilege of nil mihi rescribus, and wrote from Edinburgh, as

Your very kind and agreeable favour of the 20th of April overtook me
here yesterday, after having gone to Aberdeen, which place I left
about a week ago. I am to set out this day for London, and hope to
have the honour of paying my respects to Mr Johnson and you, about a
week or ten days hence. I shall then do what I can, to enforce the
topick you mentioned; but at present I cannot enter upon it, as I am
in a very great hurry; for I intend to begin my journey within an hour
or two.

He was as good as his word, and threw some pleasing motives into the
northern scale. But, indeed, Mr Johnson loved all that he heard from
one whom he tells us, in his Lives of the Poets, Gray found 'a poet, a
philosopher, and a good man'.

My Lord Elibank did not answer my letter to his lordship for some
time. The reason will appear, when we come to the Isle of Sky. I shall
then insert my letter, with letters from his lordship, both to myself
and Mr Johnson. I beg it may be understood, that I insert my own
letters, as I relate my own sayings, rather as keys to what is
valuable belonging to others, than for their own sake.

Luckily Mr Justice (now Sir Robert) Chambers, who was about to sail
for the East Indies, was going to take leave of his relations at
Newcastle, and he conducted Dr Johnson to that town. Mr Scott, of
University College, Oxford, (now Dr Scott, of the Commons) accompanied
him from thence to Edinburgh. With such propitious convoys did he
proceed to my native city. But, lest metaphor should make it be
supposed he actually went by sea, I choose to mention that he
travelled in post-chaises, of which the rapid motion was one of his
most favourite amusements.

Dr Samuel Johnson's character, religious, moral, political, and
literary, nay his figure and manner, are, I believe, more generally
known than those of almost any man; yet it may not be superfluous here
to attempt a sketch of him. Let my readers then remember that he was a
sincere and zealous Christian, of high Church of England and
monarchical principles, which he would not tamely suffer to be
questioned; steady and inflexible in maintaining the obligations of
piety and virtue, both from a regard to the order of society, and from
a veneration for the Great Source of all order; correct, nay stern in
his taste; hard to please, and easily offended, impetuous and
irritable in his temper, but of a most humane and benevolent heart;
having a mind stored with a vast and various collection of learning
and knowledge, which he communicated with peculiar perspicuity and
force, in rich and choice expression. He united a most logical head
with a most fertile imagination, which gave him an extraordinary
advantage in arguing; for he could reason close or wide, as he saw
best for the moment. He could, when he chose it, be the greatest
sophist that ever wielded a weapon in the schools of declamation; but
he indulged this only in conversation; for he owned he sometimes
talked for victory; he was too conscientious to make errour permanent
and pernicious, by deliberately writing it. He was conscious of his
superiority. He loved praise when it was brought to him; but was too
proud to seek for it. He was somewhat susceptible of flattery. His
mind was so full of imagery, that he might have been perpetually a
poet. It has been often remarked, that in his poetical pieces, which
it is to be regretted are so few, because so excellent, his style is
easier than in his prose. There is deception in this: it is not
easier, but better suited to the dignity of verse; as one may dance
with grace, whose motions, in ordinary walking--in the common
step--are awkward. He had a constitutional melancholy, the clouds of
which darkened the brightness of his fancy, and gave a gloomy cast to
his whole course of thinking: yet, though grave and awful in his
deportment, when he thought it necessary or proper, he frequently
indulged himself in pleasantry and sportive sallies. He was prone to
superstition, but not to credulity. Though his imagination might
incline him to a belief of the marvellous, and the mysterious, his
vigorous reason examined the evidence with jealousy. He had a loud
voice, and a slow deliberate utterance, which no doubt gave some
additional weight to the sterling metal of his conversation. Lord
Pembroke said once to me at Wilton, with a happy pleasantry, and some
truth, that 'Dr Johnson's sayings would not appear so extraordinary,
were it not for his bow-wow way': but I admit the truth of this only
on some occasions. The Messiah, played upon the Canterbury organ, is
more sublime than when played upon an inferior instrument: but very
slight musick will seem grand, when conveyed to the ear through that
LET HIS MANNER BE TAKEN ALONG WITH THEM. Let it however be observed,
that the sayings themselves are generally great; that, though he might
be an ordinary composer at times, he was for the most part a Handel.
His person was large, robust, I may say approaching to the gigantick,
and grown unwieldy from corpulency. His countenance was naturally of
the craft of an ancient statue, but somewhat disfigured by the scars
of that evil, which, it was formerly imagined, the royal touch could
cure. He was now in his sixty-fourth year, and was become a little
dull of hearing. His sight had always been somewhat weak; yet, so much
does mind govern, and even supply the deficiency of organs, that his
perceptions were uncommonly quick and accurate. His head, and
sometimes also his body, shook with a kind of motion like the effect
of a palsy: he appeared to be frequently disturbed by cramps, or
convulsive contractions, [Footnote: Such they appeared to me: but
since the first edition, Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed to me, 'that
Dr Johnson's extraordinary gestures were only habits, in which he
indulged himself at certain times. When in company, where he was not
free, or when engaged earnestly in conversation, he never gave way to
such habits, which proves that they were not involuntary', I still
however think, that these gestures were involuntary; for surely had
not that been the case, he would have restrained them in the publick
streets.] of the nature of that distemper called St Vitus's dance. He
wore a full suit of plain brown clothes, with twisted-hair buttons of
the same colour, a large bushy greyish wig, a plain shirt, black
worsted stockings, and silver buckles. Upon this tour, when
journeying, he wore boots, and a very wide brown cloth great coat,
with pockets which might have almost held the two volumes of his folio
dictionary; and he carried in his hand a large English oak stick. Let
me not be censured for mentioning such minute particulars. Every thing
relative to so great a man is worth observing. I remember Dr Adam
Smith, in his rhetorical lectures at Glasgow, told us he was glad to
know that Milton wore latchets in his shoes, instead of buckles. When
I mention the oak stick, it is but letting Hercules have his club;
and, by-and-by, my readers will find this stick will bud, and produce
a good joke.

This imperfect sketch of 'the combination and the form' of that
Wonderful Man, whom I venerated and loved while in this world, and
after whom I gaze with humble hope, now that it has pleased Almighty
God to call him to a better world, will serve to introduce to the
fancy of my readers the capital object of the following journal, in
the course of which I trust they will attain to a considerable degree
of acquaintance with him.

His prejudice against Scotland was announced almost as soon as he
began to appear in the world of letters. In his London, a poem, are
the following nervous lines:

For who would leave, unbrib'd, Hibernia's land
Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand
There none are swept by sudden fate away;
But all, whom hunger spares, with age decay.

The truth is, like the ancient Greeks and Romans, he allowed himself
to look upon all nations but his own as barbarians: not only Hibernia,
and Scotland, but Spain, Italy, and France, are attacked in the same
poem. If he was particularly prejudiced against the Scots, it was
because they were more in his way; because he thought their success in
England rather exceeded the due proportion of their real merit; and
because he could not but seenin them that nationality which I believe
no liberal-minded Scotsman will deny. He was indeed, if I may be
allowed the phrase, at bottom much of a John Bull; much of a blunt
'true born Englishman'. There was a stratum of common clay under the
rock of marble. He was voraciously fond of good eating; and he had a
great deal of that quality called humour, which gives an oiliness and
a gloss to every other quality.

I am, I flatter myself, completely a citizen of the world. In my
travels through Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Corsica, France,
I never felt myself from home; and I sincerely love 'every kindred and
tongue and people and nation'. I subscribe to what my late truly
learned and philosophical friend Mr Crosbie said, that the English are
better animals than the Scots; they are nearer the sun; their blood is
richer, and more mellow: but when I humour any of them in an
outrageous contempt of Scotland, I fairly own I treat them as
children. And thus I have, at some moments, found myself obliged to
treat even Dr Johnson.

To Scotland however he ventured; and he returned from it in great
humour, with his prejudices much lessened, and with very grateful
feelings of the hospitality with which he was treated; as is evident
from that admirable work, his Journey to the Western Islands of
Scotland, which, to my utter astonishment, has been misapprehended,
even to rancour, by many of my countrymen.

To have the company of Chambers and Scott, he delayed his journey so
long, that the court of session, which rises on the eleventh of
August, was broke up before he got to Edinburgh.

On Saturday the fourteenth of August, 1773, late in the evening, I
received a note from him, that he was arrived at Boyd's inn, at the
head of the Canongate. I went to him directly. He embraced me
cordially; and I exulted in the thought, that I now had him actually
in Caledonia. Mr Scott's amiable manners, and attachment to our
Socrates, at once united me to him. He told me that, before I came in,
the Doctor had unluckily had a bad specimen of Scottish cleanliness.
He then drank no fermented liquor. He asked to have his lemonade made
sweeter; upon which the waiter, with his greasy fingers, lifted a lump
of sugar, and put it into it. The Doctor, in indignation, threw it out
of the window. Scott said, he was afraid he would have knocked the
waiter down. Mr Johnson told me, that such another trick was played
him at the house of a lady in Paris. He was to do me the honour to
lodge under my roof. I regretted sincerely that I had not also a room
for Mr Scott. Mr Johnson and I walked arm-in-arm up the High Street,
to my house in James's court: it was a dusky night: I could not
prevent his being assailed by the evening effluvia of Edinburgh. I
heard a late baronet, of some distinction in the political world in
the beginning of the present reign, observe, that 'walking the streets
of Edinburgh at night was pretty perilous, and a good deal
odoriferous'. The peril is much abated, by the care which the
magistrates have taken to enforce the city laws against throwing foul
water from the windows; but, from the structure of the houses in the
old town, which consist of many stories, in each of which a different
family lives, and there being no covered sewers, the odour still
continues. A zealous Scotsman would have wished Mr Johnson to be
without one of his five senses upon this occasion. As we marched
slowly along, he grumbled in my ear, 'I smell you in the dark!' But he
acknowledged that the breadth of the street, and the loftiness of the
buildings on each side, made a noble appearance.

My wife had tea ready for him, which it is well known he delighted to
drink at all hours, particularly when sitting up late, and of which
his able defence against Mr Jonas Hanway should have obtained him a
magnificent reward from the East India Company. He shewed much
complacency upon finding that the mistress of the house was so
attentive to his singular habit; and as no man could be more polite
when he chose to be so, his address to her was most courteous and
engaging; and his conversation soon charmed her into a forgetfulness
of his external appearance.

I did not begin to keep a regular full journal till some days after we
had set out from Edinburgh; but I have luckily preserved a good many
fragments of his Memorabilia from his very first evening in Scotland.

We had, a little before this, had a trial for murder, in which the
judges had allowed the lapse of twenty years since its commission as a
plea in bar, in conformity with the doctrine of prescription in the
civil law, which Scotland and several other countries in Europe have
adopted. He at first disapproved of this; but then he thought there
was something in it, if there had been for twenty years a neglect to
prosecute a crime which was KNOWN. He would not allow that a murder,
by not being DISCOVERED for twenty years, should escape punishment. We
talked of the ancient trial by duel. He did not think it so absurd as
is generally supposed; 'For,' said he, 'it was only allowed when the
question was in equilibria, as when one affirmed and another denied;
and they had a notion that Providence would interfere in favour of him
who was in the right. But as it was found that in a duel, he who was
in the right had not a better chance than he who was in the wrong,
therefore society instituted the present mode of trial, and gave the
advantage to him who is in the right.'

We sat till near two in the morning, having chatted a good while after
my wife left us. She had insisted, that to shew all respect to the
Sage, she would give up her own bed-chamber to him, and take a worse.
This I cannot but gratefully mention, as one of a thousand obligations
which I owe her, since the great obligation of her being pleased to
accept of me as her husband.

Sunday, 15th August

Mr Scott came to breakfast, at which I introduced to Dr Johnson, and
him, my friend Sir William Forbes, now of Pitsligo; a man of whom too
much good cannot be said; who, with distinguished abilities and
application in his profession of a banker, is at once a good
companion, and a good Christian; which I think is saying enough. Yet
it is but justice to record, that once, when he was in a dangerous
illness, he was watched with the anxious apprehension of a general
calamity; day and night his house was beset with affectionate
inquiries; and, upon his recovery, Te deum was the universal chorus
from the hearts of his countrymen.

Mr Johnson was pleased with my daughter Veronica,[Footnote: "The
saint's name of Veronica was introduced into our family through my
great grandmother Veronica, Countess of Kincardine, a Dutch lady of
the noble house of Sommelsdyck, of which there is a full account in
Bayle's Dictionary. The family had once a princely right in Surinam.
The governour of that settlement was appointed by the States General,
the town of Amsterdam, and Sommelsdyck. The States General have
acquired Sommelsdyck's right; but the family has still great dignity
and opulence, and by intermarriages is connected with many other noble
families. When I was at the Hague, I was received with all the
affection of kindred. The present Sommelsdyck has an important charge
in the Republick, and is as worthy a man as lives. He has honoured me
with his correspondence for these twenty years. My great grandfather,
the husband of Countess Veronica, was Alexander, Earl of Kincardine,
that eminent Royalist whose character is given by Burnet in his
History of his own Times. From him the blood of Bruce flows in my
veins. Of such ancestry who would not be proud? And, as Nihil est,
nisi hoc sciat alter, is peculiarly true of genealogy, who would not
be glad to seize a fair opportunity to let it be known "] then a child
of about four months old. She had the appearance of listening to him.
His motions seemed to her to be intended for her amusement; and when
he stopped, she fluttered, and made a little infantine noise, and a
kind of signal for him to begin again. She would be held close to him;
which was a proof, from simple nature, that his figure was not horrid.
Her fondness for him endeared her still more to me, and I declared she
should have five hundred pounds of additional fortune.

We talked of the practice of the law. William Forbes said, he thought
an honest lawyer should never undertake a cause which he was satisfied
was not a just one. 'Sir,' said Mr Johnson, 'a lawyer has no business
with the justice or injustice of the cause which he undertakes, unless
his client asks his opinion, and then he is bound to give it honestly.
The justice or injustice of the cause is to be decided by the judge.
Consider, sir; what is the purpose of courts of justice? It is, that
every man may have his cause fairly tried, by men appointed to try
causes. A lawyer is not to tell what he knows to be a lie: he is not
to produce what he knows to be a false deed; but he is not to usurp
the province of the jury and of the judge, and determine what shall be
the effect of evidence--what shall be the result of legal argument. As
it rarely happens that a man is fit to plead his own cause, lawyers
are a class of the community, who, by study and experience, have
acquired the art and power of arranging evidence, and of applying to
the points of issue what the law has settled. A lawyer is to do for
his client all that his client might fairly do for himself, if he
could. If, by a superiority of attention, of knowledge, of skill, and
a better method of communication, he has the advantage of his
adversary, it is an advantage to which he is entitled. There must
always be some advantage, on one side or other; and it is better that
advantage should be had by talents, than by chance. If lawyers were to
undertake no causes till they were sure they were just, a man might be
precluded altogether from a trial of his claim, though, were it
judicially examined, it might be found a very just claim.' This was
sound practical doctrine, and rationally repressed a too refined
scrupulosity of conscience.

Emigration was at this time a common topick of discourse. Dr Johnson
regretted it as hurtful to human happiness: 'For,' said he, 'it
spreads mankind which weakens the defence of a nation, and lessens the
comfort of living. Men, thinly scattered, make a shift, but a bad
shift, without many things. A smith is ten miles off: they'll do
without a nail or a staple. A taylor is far from them: they'll botch
their own clothes. It is being concentrated which produces high

Sir William Forbes, Mr Scott, and I, accompanied Mr Johnson to the
chapel, founded by Lord Chief Baron Smith, for the Service of the
Church of England. The Reverend Mr Carre, the senior clergyman,
preached from these words, 'Because the Lord reigneth, let the earth
be glad.' I was sorry to think Mr Johnson did not attend to the
sermon, Mr Carre's low voice not being strong enough to reach his
hearing. A selection of Mr Carre's sermons has, since his death, been
published by Sir William Forbes, and the world has acknowledged their
uncommon merit. I am well assured Lord Mansfield has pronounced them
to be excellent.

Here I obtained a promise from Lord Chief Baron Orde, that he would
dine at my house next day. I presented Mr Johnson to his Lordship, who
politely said to him, 'I have not the honour of knowing you; but I
hope for it, and to see you at my house. I am to wait on you
tomorrow.' This respectable English judge will be long remembered in
Scotland, where he built an elegant house, and lived in it
magnificently. His own ample fortune, with the addition of his salary,
enabled him to be splendidly hospitable. It may be fortunate for an
individual amongst ourselves to be Lord Chief Baron; and a most worthy
man now has the office; but, in my opinion, it is better for Scotland
in general, that some of our publick employments should be filled by
gentlemen of distinction from the south side of the Tweed, as we have
the benefit of promotion in England. Such an interchange would make a
beneficial mixture of manners, and render our union more complete.
Lord Chief Baron Orde was on good terms with us all, in a narrow
country filled with jarring interests and keen parties; and, though I
well knew his opinion to be the same with my own, he kept himself
aloof at a very critical period indeed, when the Douglas cause shook
the sacred security of birthright in Scotland to its foundation; a
cause, which had it happened before the Union, when there was no
appeal to a British House of Lords, would have left the great fortress
of honours and of property in ruins.

When we got home, Dr Johnson desired to see my books. He took down
Ogden's Sermons on Prayer, on which I set a very high value, having
been much edified by them, and he retired with them to his room. He
did not stay long, but soon joined us in the drawing room. I presented
to him Mr Robert Arbuthnot, a relation of the celebrated Dr Arbuthnot,
and a man of literature and taste. To him we were obliged for a
previous recommendation, which secured us a very agreeable reception
at St Andrews, and which Dr Johnson, in his Journey, ascribes to 'some
invisible friend'.

Of Dr Beattie, Mr Johnson said, 'Sir, he has written like a man
conscious of the truth, and feeling his own strength. Treating your
adversary with respect, is giving him an advantage to which he is not
entitled. The greatest part of men cannot judge of reasoning, and are
impressed by character; so that, if you allow your adversary a
respectable character, they will think, that though you differ from
him, you may be in the wrong. Sir, treating your adversary with
respect, is striking soft in a battle. And as to Hume--a man who has
so much conceit as to tell all mankind that they have been bubbled for
ages, and he is the wise man who sees better than they--a man who has
so little scrupulosity as to venture to oppose those principles which
have been thought necessary to human happiness--is he to be surprised
if another man comes and laughs at him? If he is the great man he
thinks himself, all this cannot hurt him: it is like throwing peas
against a rock.' He added 'something much too rough', both as to Mr
Hume's head and heart, which I suppress. Violence is, in my opinion,
not suitable to the Christian cause. Besides, I always lived on good
terms with Mr Hume, though I have frankly told him, I was not clear
that it was right in me to keep company with him, 'But', said I, 'how
much better are you than your books!' He was cheerful, obliging, and
instructive; he was charitable to the poor; and many an agreeable hour
have I passed with him: I have preserved some entertaining and
interesting memoirs of him, particularly when he knew himself to be
dying, which I may some time or other communicate to the world. I
shall not, however, extol him so very highly as Dr Adam Smith does,
who says, in a letter to Mr Strahan the printer (not a confidential
letter to his friend, but a letter which is published [Footnote: This
letter, though shattered by the sharp shot of Dr Horne of Oxford's
wit, in the character of 'One of the People called Christians', is
still prefixed to Mr Home's excellent History of England, like a poor
invalid on the piquet guard, or like a list of quack medicines sold by
the same bookseller, by whom a work of whatever nature is published;
for it has no connection with his History, let it have what it may
with what are called his Philosophical Works. A worthy friend of mine
in London was lately consulted by a lady of quality, of most
distinguished merit, what was the best History of England for her son
to read. My friend recommended Hume's. But, upon recollecting that its
usher was a superlative panegyrick on one, who endeavoured to sap the
credit of our holy religion, he revoked his recommendation. I am
really sorry for this ostentatious alliance; because I admire The
Theory of Moral Sentiments, and value the greatest part of An Inquiry
into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Why should such a
writer be so forgetful of human comfort, as to give any countenance to
that dreary infidelity which would' make us poor indeed!'] with all
formality): 'Upon the whole, I have always considered him, both in his
life time and since his death, as approaching as nearly to the idea of
a perfectly wise and virtuous man as perhaps the nature of human
frailty will permit.' Let Dr Smith consider: Was not Mr Hume blest
with good health, good spirits, good friends, a competent and
increasing fortune? And had he not also a perpetual feast of fame?
But, as a learned friend has observed to me, 'What trials did he
undergo, to prove the perfection of his virtue? Did he ever experience
any great instance of adversity?' When I read this sentence, delivered
by my old Professor of Moral Philosophy, I could not help exclaiming
with the Psalmist, 'Surely I have now more understanding than my

While we were talking, there came a note to me from Dr William

Dear Sir,

I have been expecting every day to hear from you, of Dr Johnson's
arrival. Pray, what do you know about his motions? I long to take him
by the hand. I write this from the college, where I have only this
scrap of paper. Ever yours,


It pleased me to find Dr Robertson thus eager to meet Dr Johnson. I
was glad I could answer, that he was come: and I begged Dr Robertson
might be with us as soon as he could. Sir William Forbes, Mr Scott, Mr
Arbuthnot, and another gentleman dined with us. 'Come, Dr Johnson,'
said I, 'it is commonly thought that our veal in Scotland is not good.
But here is some which I believe you will like.' There was no catching
him: JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, what is commonly thought, I should take to be
true. YOUR veal may be good; but that will only be an exception to the
general opinion; not a proof against it.'

Dr Robertson, according to the custom of Edinburgh at that time, dined
in the interval between the forenoon and afternoon service, which was
then later than now; so we had not the pleasure of his company till
dinner was over, when he came and drank wine with us. And then began
some animated dialogue, of which here follows a pretty full note.

We talked of Mr Burke. Dr Johnson said, he had great variety of
knowledge, store of imagery, copiousness of language. ROBERTSON. 'He
has wit too.' JOHNSON. 'No, sir; he never succeeds there. 'Tis low;
'tis conceit. I used to say. Burke never once made a good joke.

[Footnote: This was one of the points upon which Dr Johnson was
strangely heterodox. For, surely, Mr Burke, with his other remarkable
qualities, is also distinguished for his wit, and for wit of all kinds
too; not merely that power of language which Pope chooses to
denominate wit.

True wit is Nature to advantage drest;
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well exprest.

but surprising allusions, brilliant sallies of vivacity, and pleasant
conceits. His speeches in Parliament are strewed with them. Take, for
instance, the variety which he has given in his wide range, yet exact
detail, when exhibiting his Reform Bill. And his conversation abounds
in wit. Let me put down a specimen. I told him, I had seen, at a blue
stocking assembly, a number of ladies sitting round a worthy and tall
friend of ours, listening to his literature. 'Ay,' said he, 'like
maids round a May-pole.' I told him, I had found a perfect definition
of human nature, as distinguished from the animal. An ancient
philosopher said, man was a 'two-legged animal without feathers', upon
which his rival sage had a cock plucked bare, and set him down in the
school before all the disciples, as a 'Philosophick Man'. Dr Franklin
said, man was 'a tool-making animal', which is very well; for no
animal but man makes a thing, by means of which he can make another
thing. But this applies to very few of the species. My definition of
man is, 'a Cooking Animal'. The beasts have memory, judgment and all
the faculties and passions of our mind, in a certain degree; but no
beast is a cook. The trick of the monkey using the cat's paw to roast
a chestnut is only a piece of shrewd malice in that turpissima bestia,
which humbles us so sadly by its similarity to us. Man alone can dress
a good dish; and every man whatever is more or less a cook, in
seasoning what he himself eats. 'Your definition is good,' said Mr
Burke, 'and I now see the full force of the common proverb. "There is
REASON in roasting of eggs".' When Mr Wilkes, in his days of
tumultuous opposition, was borne upon the shoulders of the mob. Mr
Burke (as Mr Wilkes told me himself, with classical admiration,)
applied to him what Horace says of Pindar,

  ... numerisque fertur
  LEGE solutis.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, who agrees with me entirely as to Mr Burke's
fertility of wit said, that this was 'dignifying a pun'. He also
observed, that he has often heard Burke say, in the course of an
evening, ten good things, each of which would have served a noted wit
(whom he named) to live upon for a twelvemonth.

I find, since the former edition, that some persons have objected to
the instances which I have given of Mr Burke's wit, as not doing
justice to my very ingenious friend; the specimens produced having, it
is alleged, more of conceit than real wit and being merely sportive
sallies of the moment, not justifying the encomium which they think
with me, he undoubtedly merits. I was well aware, how hazardous it was
to exhibit particular instances of wit, which is of so airy and
spiritual a nature as often to elude the hand that attempts to grasp
it. The excellence and efficacy of a bon mot depend frequently so much
on the occasion on which it is spoken, on the particular manner of the
speaker, on the person of whom it is applied, the previous
introduction, and a thousand minute particulars which cannot be easily
enumerated, that it is always dangerous to detach a witty saying from
the group to which it belongs, and to see it before the eye of the
spectator, divested of those concomitant circumstances, which gave it
animation, mellowness, and relief. I ventured, however, at all hazards
to put down the first instances that occurred to me, as proofs of Mr
Burke's lively and brilliant fancy; but am very sensible that his
numerous friends could have suggested many of a superior quality.
Indeed, the being in company with him, for a single day, is sufficient
to shew that what I have asserted is well founded; and it was only
necessary to have appealed to all who know him intimately, for a
complete refutation of the heterodox opinion entertained by Dr Johnson
on this subject. HE allowed Mr Burke, as the reader will find
hereafter, to be a man of consummate and unrivalled abilities in every
light except that now under consideration; and the variety of his
allusions, and splendour of his imagery, have made such an impression
on ALL THE REST of the world, that superficial observers are apt to
overlook his other merits, and to suppose that wit is his chief and
most prominent excellence; when in fact it is only one of the many
talents that he possesses, which are so various and extraordinary,
that it is very difficult to ascertain precisely the rank and value of
each.] What I most envy Burke for, is, his being constantly the same.
He is never what we call humdrum; never unwilling to begin to talk,
nor in haste to leave off.' BOSWELL. 'Yet he can listen.' JOHNSON.
'No; I cannot say he is good at that. So desirous is he to talk, that,
if one is speaking at this end of the table, he'll speak to somebody
at the other end. Burke, sir, is such a man, that if you met him for
the first time in the street where you were stopped by a drove of
oxen, and you and he stepped aside to take shelter but for five
minutes, he'd talk to you in such a manner, that, when you parted, you
would say, this is an extraordinary man. Now, you may be long enough
with me, without finding any thing extraordinary.' He said, he
believed Burke was intended for the law; but either had not money
enough to follow it, or had not diligence enough. He said, he could
not understand how a man could apply to one thing, and not to another.
Robertson said, one man had more judgment, another more imagination.
JOHNSON. 'No, sir; it is only, one man has more mind than another. He
may direct it differently; he may, by accident, see the success of one
kind of study, and take a desire to excel in it. I am persuaded that,
had Sir Isaac Newton applied to poetry, he would have made a very fine
epick poem. I could as easily apply to law as to tragick poetry.'
BOSWELL. 'Yet, sir, you did apply to tragick poetry, not to law.'
JOHNSON. 'Because, sir, I had not money to study law. Sir, the man who
has vigour, may walk to the east, just as well as to the west, if he
happens to tune his head that way.' BOSWELL. 'But, sir, 'tis like
walking up and down a hill; one man will naturally do the one better
than the other. A hare will run up a hill best, from her fore-legs
being short; a dog down.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, sir; that is from mechanical
powers. If you make mind mechanical, you may argue in that manner. One
mind is a vice, and holds fast; there's a good memory. Another is a
file; and he is a disputant, a controversialist. Another is a razor;
and he is sarcastical.' We talked of Whitefield. He said, he was at
the same college with him, and knew him 'before he began to be better
than other people' (smiling); that he believed he sincerely meant
well, but had a mixture of politicks and ostentation: whereas Wesley
thought of religion only. [Footnote: That cannot be said now, after
the flagrant part which Mr John Wesley took against our American
brethren, when, in his own name, he threw amongst his enthusiastic
flock, the very individual combustibles of Dr Johnson's Taxation no
Tyranny: and after the intolerant spirit which he manifested against
our fellow Christians of the Roman Catholick Communion, for which that
able champion, Father O'Leary, has given him so hearty a drubbing. But
I should think myself very unworthy, if I did not at the same time
acknowledge Mr John Wesley's merit, as a veteran 'Soldier of Jesus
Christ', who has, I do believe, 'turned many from darkness into light,
and from the power of Satan to the living God'.] Robertson said,
Whitefield had strong natural eloquence, which, if cultivated, would
have done great things. JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, I take it, he was at the
height of what his abilities could do, and was sensible of it. He had
the ordinary advantages of education; but he chose to pursue that
oratory which is for the mob.' BOSWELL. 'He had great effect on the
passions.' JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, I don't think so. He could not
represent a succession of pathetick images. He vociferated, and made
an impression. THERE, again, was a mind like a hammer.' Dr Johnson now
said, a certain eminent political friend of ours was wrong, in his
maxim of sticking to a certain set of MEN on all occasions. 'I can see
that a man may do right to stick to a PARTY,' said he;' that is to
say, he is a WHIG, or he is a TORY, and he thinks one of those parties
upon the whole the best, and that to make it prevail, it must be
generally supported, though, in particulars, it may be wrong. He takes
its faggot of principles, in which there are fewer rotten sticks than
in the other, though some rotten sticks to be sure; and they cannot
well be separated. But, to bind one's self to one man, or one set of
men (who may be right to-day and wrong to-morrow), without any general
preference of system, I must disapprove.' [Footnote: If due attention
were paid to this observation, there would be more virtue, even in
politicks. What Dr Johnson justly condemned, has, I am sorry to say,
greatly increased in the present reign. At the distance of four years
from this conversation, 21st February 1777, My Lord Archbishop of
York, in his 'Sermon before the Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel in Foreign Parts', thus indignantly describes the then state of
parties: 'Parties once had a PRINCIPLE belonging to them, absurd
perhaps, and indefensible, but still carrying a notion of DUTY, by
which honest minds might easily be caught.

'But they are now COMBINATIONS OF INDIVIDUALS, who, instead of being
the sons and servants of the community, make a league for advancing
their PRIVATE INTERESTS. It is their business to hold high the notion
of POLITICAL HONOUR. I believe and trust, it is not injurious to say,
that such a bond is no better than that by which the lowest and
wickedest combinations are held together; and that it denotes the last
stage of political depravity.'

To find a thought, which just shewed itself to us from the mind of
JOHNSON, thus appearing again at such a distance of time, and without
any communication between them, enlarged to full growth in the mind of
MARKHAM, is a curious object of philosophical contemplation. That two
such great and luminous minds should have been so dark in one
corner--that THEY should have held it to be 'wicked rebellion in the
British subjects established in America, to resist the abject
condition of holding all their property at the mercy of British
subjects remaining at home, while their allegiance to our common Lord
the King was to be preserved inviolate'--is a striking proof to me,
either that 'He who fitteth in Heaven', scorns the loftiness of human
pride, or that the evil spirit, whose personal existence I strongly
believe, and even in this age am confirmed in that belief by a Fell,
nay, by a Hurd, has more power than some choose to allow.]

He told us of Cooke, who translated Hesiod, and lived twenty years on
a translation of Plautus, for which he was always taking
subscriptions; and that he presented Foote to a club, in the following
singular manner: 'This is the nephew of the gentleman who was lately
hung in chains for murdering his brother.'

In the evening I introduced to Mr Johnson [Footnote: It may be
observed, that I sometimes call my great friend, MR Johnson, sometimes
DR Johnson, though he had at this time a doctor's degree from Trinity
College, Dublin. The University of Oxford afterwards conferred it upon
him by a diploma, in very honourable terms. It was some time before I
could bring myself to call him Doctor; but as he has been long known
by that title, I shall give it to him in the rest of this Journal.]
two good friends of mine, Mr William Nairne, advocate, and Mr Hamilton
of Sundrum, my neighbour in the country, both of whom supped with us.
I have preserved nothing of what passed, except that Dr Johnson
displayed another of his heterodox opinions--a contempt of tragick
acting. He said, 'the action of all players in tragedy is bad. It
should be a man's study to repress those signs of emotion and passion,
as they are called.' He was of a directly contrary opinion to that of
Fielding, in his Tom Jones; who makes Partridge say, of Garrick, 'why,
I could act as well as he myself. I am sure, if I had seen a ghost, I
should have looked in the very same manner, and done just as he did.'
For, when I asked him, 'Would not you, sir, start as Mr Garrick does,
if you saw a ghost?' He answered, 'I hope not. If I did, I should
frighten the ghost.'

Monday, 16th August

Dr William Robertson came to breakfast. We talked of Ogden on Prayer.
Dr Johnson said, 'The same arguments which are used against God's
hearing prayer, will serve against his rewarding good, and punishing
evil. He has resolved, he has declared, in the former case as in the
latter.' He had last night looked into Lord Hailes's Remarks on the
History of Scotland. Dr Robertson and I said, it was a pity Lord
Hailes did not write greater things. His lordship had not then
published his Annals of Scotland. JOHNSON. 'I remember I was once on a
visit at the house of a lady for whom I had a high respect. There was
a good deal of company in the room. When they were gone, I said to
this lady, "What foolish talking have we had!" "Yes," said she, "but
while they talked, you said nothing." I was struck with reproof. How
much better is the man who does nothing. Besides, I love anecdotes. I
fancy mankind may come, in time, to write all aphoristically, except
in narrative; grow weary of preparation, and connection, and
illustration, and all those arts by which a big book is made. If a man
is to wait till he weaves anecdotes into a system, we may be long in
getting them, and get but a few, in comparison of what we might get.'

Dr Robertson said, the notions of Eupham Macallan. a fanatick woman,
of whom Lord Hailes gives a sketch, were still prevalent among some of
the Presbyterians; and therefore it was right in Lord Hailes, a man of
known piety, to undeceive them.

We walked out, that Dr Johnson might see some of the things which we
have to shew at Edinburgh. We went to the Parliament House, where the
Parliament of Scotland sat, and where the Ordinary Lords of Session
hold their courts; and to the New Session House adjoining to it, where
our Court of Fifteen (the fourteen Ordinaries, with the Lord President
at their head) sit as a court of Review. We went to the Advocates'
Library, of which Dr Johnson took a cursory view, and then to what is
called the Laigh (or Under) Parliament House, where the records of
Scotland, which has an universal security by register, are deposited,
till the great Register Office be finished. I was pleased to behold Dr
Samuel Johnson rolling about in this old magazine of antiquities.
There was, by this time, a pretty numerous circle of us attending upon
him. Somebody talked of happy moments for composition; and how a man
can write at one time, and not at another. 'Nay,' said Dr Johnson, 'a
man may write at any time, if he will set himself DOGGEDLY [Footnote:
This word is commonly used to signify sullenly, gloomily: and in that
sense alone it appears in Dr Johnson's Dictionary. I suppose he meant
by it 'with an OBSTINATE RESOLUTION, similar to that of a sullen
man'.] to it.'

I here began to indulge old Scottish sentiments, and to express a warm
regret, that, by our union with England, we were no more--our
independent kingdom was lost. JOHNSON. 'Sir, never talk of your
independency, who could let your Queen remain twenty years in
captivity, and then be put to death, without even a pretence of
justice, without your ever attempting to rescue her; and such a Queen
too! as every man of any gallantry of spirit would have sacrificed his
life for.' Worthy MR JAMES KERR, Keeper of the Records. 'Half our
nation was bribed by English money.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, that is no
defence: that makes you worse.' Good MR BROWN, Keeper of the Advocates
Library. 'We had better say nothing about it.' BOSWELL. 'You would
have been glad, however, to have had us last war, sir, to fight your
battles!' JOHNSON. 'We should have had you for the same price, though
there had been no Union, as we might have had Swiss, or other troops.
No, no, I shall agree to a separation. You have only to GO HOME.' Just
as he had said this, I to divert the subject, shewed him the signed
assurances of the three successive Kings of the Hanover family, to
maintain the Presbyterian establishment in Scotland. 'We'll give you
that,' said he, 'into the bargain.'

We next went to the great church of St Giles, which has lost its
original magnificence in the inside, by being divided into four places
of Presbyterian worship. 'Come,' said Dr Johnson jocularly to
Principal Robertson, [Footnote: I have hitherto called him Dr William
Robertson, to distinguish him from Dr James Robertson, who is soon to
make his appearance. But 'Principal', from his being the head of our
college, is his usual designation, and is shorter; so I shall use it
hereafter.] 'let me see what was once a church!' We entered that
division which was formerly called the New Church, and of late the
High Church, so well known by the eloquence of Dr Hugh Blair. It is
now very elegantly fitted up; but it was then shamefully dirty. Dr
Johnson said nothing at the time; but when we came to the great door
of the Royal Infirmary, where, upon a board, was this inscription,
CLEAN YOUR FEET! he turned about slyly, and said, 'There is no
occasion for putting this at the doors of your churches!'

We then conducted him down the Post-house stairs, Parliament Close,
and made him look up from the Cow-gate to the highest building in
Edinburgh (from which he had just descended), being thirteen floors or
stories from the ground upon the back elevation; the front wall being
built upon the edge of the hill, and the back wall rising from the
bottom of the hill several stories before it comes to a level with the
front wall. We proceeded to the College, with the Principal at our
head. Dr Adam Fergusson, whose Essay on the History of Civil Society
gives him a respectable place in the ranks of literature, was with us.
As the College buildings are indeed very mean, the Principal said to
Dr Johnson, that he must give them the same epithet that a Jesuit did
when shewing a poor college abroad: Hae miseriae nostrae. Dr Johnson
was, however, much pleased with the library, and with the conversation
of Dr James Robertson, Professor of Oriental Languages, the Librarian.
We talked of Kennicot's edition of the Hebrew Bible, and hoped it
would be quite faithful. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I know not any crime so great
that a man could contrive to commit, as poisoning the sources of
eternal truth.'

I pointed out to him where there formerly stood an old wall enclosing
part of the college, which I remember bulged out in a threatening
manner, and of which there was a common tradition similar to that
concerning Bacon's study at Oxford, that it would fall upon some very
learned man. It had some time before this been taken down, that the
street might be widened, and a more convenient wall built. Dr Johnson,
glad of an opportunity to have a pleasant hit at Scottish learning,
said, 'they have been afraid it never would fall'.

We shewed him the Royal Infirmary, for which, and for every other
exertion of generous publick spirit in his power, that noble-minded
citizen of Edinburgh, George Drummond, will be ever held in honourable
remembrance. And we were too proud not to carry him to the Abbey of
Holyrood House, that beautiful piece of architecture, but, alas! that
deserted mansion of royalty, which Hamilton of Bangour, in one of his
elegant poems, calls

A virtuous palace, where no monarch dwells.

I was much entertained while Principal Robertson fluently harangued to
Dr Johnson, upon the spot, concerning scenes of his celebrated History
of Scotland. We surveyed that part of the palace appropriated to the
Duke of Hamilton, as Keeper, in which our beautiful Queen Mary lived,
and in which David Rizzio was murdered; and also the State Rooms. Dr
Johnson was a great reciter of all sorts of things serious or comical.
I over-heard him repeating here, in a kind of muttering tone, a line
of the old ballad, 'Johnny Armstrong's Last Good-Night':

'And ran him through the fair body!'
[Footnote: The stanza from which he took this line is:
But then rose up all Edinburgh,
They rose up by thousands three;
A cowardly Scot came John behind,
And ran him through the fair body!]

We returned to my house, where there met him, at dinner, the Duchess
of Douglas, Sir Adolphus Oughton, Lord Chief Baron, Sir William
Forbes, Principal Robertson, Mr Cullen, advocate. Before dinner, he
told us of a curious conversation between the famous George Faulkner
and him. George said that England had drained Ireland of fifty
thousand pounds in specie, annually, for fifty years. 'How so, sir!'
said Dr Johnson, 'you must have a very great trade?' 'No trade.' 'Very
rich mines?' 'No mines.' 'From whence, then, does all this money
come?' 'Come! why out of the blood and bowels of the poor people of

He seemed to me to have an unaccountable prejudice against Swift; for
I once took a liberty to ask him, if Swift had personally offended
him, and he told me, he had not. He said to-day, 'Swift is clear, but
he is shallow. In coarse humour, he is inferior to Arbuthnot; in
delicate humour, he is inferior to Addison: so he is inferior to his
contemporaries; without putting him against the whole world. I doubt
if the Tale of a Tub was his: it has so much more thinking, more
knowledge, more power, more colour, than any of the works which are
indisputably his. If it was his, I shall only say, he was impar sibi.'

We gave him as good a dinner as we could. Our Scotch muir-fowl, or
growse, were then abundant, and quite in season; and, so far as wisdom
and wit can be aided by administering agreeable sensations to the
palate, my wife took care that our great guest should not be

Sir Adolphus Oughton, then our Deputy Commander in Chief, who was not
only an excellent officer, but one of the most universal scholars I
ever knew, had learned the Erse language, and expressed his belief in
the authenticity of Ossian's poetry. Dr Johnson took the opposite side
of that perplexed question; and I was afraid the dispute would have
run high between them. But Sir Adolphus, who had a very sweet temper,
changed the discourse, grew playful, laughed at Lord Monboddo's notion
of men having tails, and called him a Judge, a posteriori, which
amused Dr Johnson; and thus hostilities were prevented.

At supper we had Dr Cullen, his son the advocate, Dr Adam Fergusson,
and Mr Crosbie, advocate. Witchcraft was introduced. Mr Crosbie said,
he thought it the greatest blasphemy to suppose evil spirits
counteracting the Deity, and raising storms, for instance, to destroy
his creatures. JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, if moral evil be consistent with
the government of the Deity, why may not physical evil be also
consistent with it? It is not more strange that there should be evil
spirits, than evil embodied spirits. And as to storms, we know there
are such things; and it is no worse that evil spirits raise them, than
that they rise.' CROSBIE. 'But it is not credible, that witches should
have effected what they are said in stories to have done.' JOHNSON.
'Sir, I am not defending their credibility. I am only saying, that
your arguments are not good, and will not overturn the belief of
witchcraft.' (Dr Fergusson said to me, aside, 'He is right.') 'And
then, sir, you have all mankind, rude and civilized, agreeing in the
belief of the agency of preternatural powers. You must take evidence:
you must consider, that wise and great men have condemned witches to
die.' CROSBIE. 'But an Act of Parliament put an end to witchcraft.'
JOHNSON. 'No, sir; witchcraft had ceased; and therefore an Act of
Parliament was passed to prevent persecution for what was not
witchcraft. Why it ceased, we cannot tell, as we cannot tell the
reason of many other things.' Dr Cullen, to keep up the gratification
of mysterious disquisition, with the grave address for which he is
remarkable in his companionable as in his professional hours, talked,
in a very entertaining manner, of people walking and conversing in
their sleep. I am very sorry I have no note of this. We talked of the
Ouran-Outang, and of Lord Monboddo's thinking that he might be taught
to speak. Dr Johnson treated this with ridicule. Mr Crosbie said, that
Lord Monboddo believed the existence of every thing possible; in
short, that all which is in posse might be found in esse. JOHNSON.
'But, sir, it is as possible that the Ouran-Outang does not speak, as
that he speaks. However, I shall not contest the point. I should have
thought it not possible to find a Monboddo; yet HE exists.' I again
mentioned the stage. JOHNSON. 'The appearance of a player, with whom I
have drunk tea, counteracts the imagination that he is the character
he represents. Nay, you know, nobody imagines that he is the character
he represents. They say, "See Garrick! how he looks to-night! See how
he'll clutch the dagger!" That is the buz of the theatre.'

Tuesday, 17th August

Sir William Forbes came to breakfast, and brought with him Dr
Blacklock, whom he introduced to Dr Johnson, who received him with a
most humane complacency. 'Dear Blacklock, I am glad to see you!'
Blacklock seemed to be much surprised, when Dr Johnson said, 'it was
easier to him to write poetry than to compose his Dictionary. His mind
was less on the stretch in doing the one than the other. Besides;
composing a dictionary requires books and a desk: you can make a poem
walking in the fields, or lying in bed.' Dr Blacklock spoke of
scepticism in morals and religion, with apparant uneasiness, as if he
wished for more certainty. Dr Johnson, who had thought it all over,
and whose vigorous understanding was fortified by much experience,
thus encouraged the blind bard to apply to higher speculations what we
willingly submit to in common life: in short, he gave him more
familiarly the able and fair reasoning of Butler's Analogy: 'Why, sir,
the greatest concern we have in this world, the choice of our
profession, must be determined without demonstrative reasoning. Human
life is not yet so well known, as that we can have it. And take the
case of a man who is ill. I call two physicians: they differ in
opinion. I am not to lie down, and die between them: I must do
something.' The conversation then turned on atheism; on that horrible
book, Systeme de la Nature; and on the supposition of an eternal
necessity, without design, without a governing mind. JOHNSON. 'If it
were so, why has it ceased? Why don't we see men thus produced around
us now? Why, at least, does it not keep pace, in some measure, with
the progress of time? If it stops because there is now no need of it,
then it is plain there is, and ever has been, an all-powerful
intelligence. But stay!' said he, with one of his satyrick laughs.
'Hal ha! ha! I shall suppose Scotchmen made necessarily, and
Englishmen by choice.'

At dinner this day, we had Sir Alexander Dick, whose amiable
character, and ingenious and cultivated mind, are so generally known
(he was then on the verge of seventy, and is now (1785) eighty-one,
with his faculties entire, his heart warm, and his temper gay); Sir
David Dalrymple; Lord Hailes; Mr Maclaurin, advocate; Dr Gregory, who
now worthily fills his father's medical chair; and my uncle, Dr
Boswell. This was one of Dr Johnson's best days. He was quite in his
element. All was literature and taste, without any interruption. Lord
Hailes, who is one of the best philologists in Great Britain, who has
written papers in the World, and a variety of other works in prose and
in verse, both Latin and English, pleased him highly. He told him, he
had discovered the Life of Cheynel, in the Student, to be his.
JOHNSON. 'No one else knows it.' Dr Johnson had, before this, dictated
to me a law-paper, upon a question purely in the law of Scotland,
concerning 'vicious intromission', that is to say, intermeddling with
the effects of a deceased person, without a regular title; which
formerly was understood to subject the intermeddler to payment of all
the defunct's debts. The principle has of late been relaxed. Dr
Johnson's argument was, for a renewal of its strictness. The paper was
printed, with additions by me, and given into the Court of Session.
Lord Hailes knew Dr Johnson's part not to be mine, and pointed out
exactly where it began, and where it ended. Dr Johnson said, 'It is
much, now, that his lordship can distinguish so.'

In Dr Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes, there is the following

The teeming mother, anxious for her race,
Begs, for each birth, the fortune of a face:
Yet VANE could tell, what ills from beauty spring;
And SEDLEY curs'd the charms which pleas'd a king.

Lord Hailes told him, he was mistaken in the instances he had given of
unfortunate fair ones; for neither Vane nor Sedley had a title to that
description. His Lordship has since been so obliging as to send me a
note of this, for the communication of which I am sure my readers will
thank me.

The lines in the tenth Satire of Juvenal, according to my alteration,
should have run thus:

Yet SHORE [Footnote: Mistress of Edward IV.] could tell--;
And VALIERE [Footnote: Mistress of Louis XIV.] curs'd--.

The first was a penitent by compulsion, the second by sentiment;
though the truth is, Mademoiselle de la Valiere threw herself (but
still from sentiment) in the King's way.

'Our friend chose Vane, who was far from being well-looked; and
Sedley, who was so ugly, that Charles II said, his brother had her by
way of penance.'

Mr Maclaurin's learning and talents enabled him to do his part very
well in Dr Johnson's company. He produced two epitaphs upon his
father, the celebrated mathematician. One was in English, of which Dr
Johnson did not change one word. In the other, which was in Latin, he
made several alterations. In place of the very words of Virgil, Ubi
luctus et pavor et plurima mortis imago, he wrote Ubi luctus regnant
et pavor. He introduced the word prorsus into the line Mortalibus
prorsus non absit solatium and after Hujus enim scripta evolve, he
added, Mentemque tantarum rerum capacem corpori caduco superstitem
crede; which is quite applicable to Dr Johnson himself. [Footnote: Mr
Maclaurin's epitaph, as engraved on a marble tombstone, in the
Gray-Friars church-yard, Edinburgh:

Infra situs est
Mathes. olim in Acad. Edin. Prof.
Electus ipso Newtono suadente.
H. L. P. F.
Non ut nomini paterno consulat,
Nam tali auxilio nil eget;
Sed ut in hoc infelici campo,
Ubi luctus regnant et pavor,
Mortalibus prorsus non absit solatium:
Hujus enim scripta evolve,
Mentemque tantarum rerum capacem
Corpori caduco superstitem crede.]

Mr Murray, advocate, who married a niece of Lord Mansfield's and is
now one of the Judges of Scotland, by the title of Lord Henderland,
sat with us a part of the evening; but did not venture to say any
thing, that I remember, though he is certainly possessed of talents
which would have enabled him to have shewn himself to advantage, if
too great anxiety had not prevented him.

At supper we had Dr Alexander Webster, who, though not learned, had
such a knowledge of mankind, such a fund of information and
entertainment, so clear a head and such accommodating manners, that Dr
Johnson found him a very agreeable companion.

When Dr Johnson and I were left by ourselves, I read to him my notes
of the opinions of our Judges upon the questions of Literary Property.
He did not like them; and said, 'they make me think of your Judges not
with that respect which I should wish to do'. To the argument of one
of them, that there can be no property in blasphemy or nonsense, he
answered, 'then your rotten sheep are mine! By that rule, when a man's
house falls into decay, he must lose it.' I mentioned an argument of
mine, that literary performances are not taxed. As Churchill says,

No statesman yet has thought it worth his pains
To tax our labours, or excite our brains;

and therefore they are not property. 'Yet,' said he, 'we hang a man
for stealing a horse, and horses are not taxed.' Mr Pitt has since put
an end to that argument.

Wednesday, 18th August

On this day we set out from Edinburgh. We should gladly have had Mr
Scott to go with us; but he was obliged to return to England. I have
given a sketch of Dr Johnson: my readers may wish to know a little of
his fellow traveller. Think then, of a gentleman of ancient blood, the
pride of which was his predominant passion. He was then in his
thirty-third year, and had been about four years happily married. His
inclination was to be a soldier; but his father, a respectable judge,
had pressed him into the profession of the law. He had travelled a
good deal, and seen many varieties of human life. He had thought more
than any body supposed, and had a pretty good stock of general
learning and knowledge. He had all Dr Johnson's principles, with some
degree of relaxation. He had rather too little, than too much
prudence, and, his imagination being lively, he often said things of
which the effect was very different from the intention. He resembled

The best good man, with the worst natur'd muse.

He cannot deny himself the vanity of finishing with the encomium of Dr
Johnson, whose friendly partiality to the companion of his Tour
represents him as one, 'whose acuteness would help my inquiry, and
whose gaiety of conversation, and civility of manners, are sufficient
to counteract the inconveniences of travel, in countries less
hospitable than we have passed.'

Dr Johnson thought it unnecessary to put himself to the additional
expense of bringing with him Francis Barber, his faithful black
servant; so we were attended only by my man, Joseph Ritter, a
Bohemian; a fine stately fellow above six feet high, who had been over
a great part of Europe, and spoke many languages. He was the best
servant I ever saw. Let not my readers disdain his introduction! For
Dr Johnson gave him this character: 'Sir, he is a civil man, and a
wise man.'

From an erroneous apprehension of violence, Dr Johnson had provided a
pair of pistols, some gun-powder, and a quantity of bullets: but upon
being assured we should run no risk of meeting any robbers, he left
his arms and ammunition in an open drawer, of which he gave my wife
the charge. He also left in that drawer one volume of a pretty full
and curious Diary of his Life, of which I have a few fragments; but
the book has been destroyed. I wish female curiosity had been strong
enough to have had it all transcribed, which might easily have been
done; and I should think the theft, being pro bono publico, might have
been forgiven. But I may be wrong. My wife told me she never once
looked into it. She did not seem quite easy when we left her: but away
we went!

Mr Nairne, advocate, was to go with us as far as St Andrews. It gives
me pleasure that, by mentioning his name, I connect his title to the
just and handsome compliment paid him by Dr Johnson, in his book: 'A
gentleman who could stay with us only long enough to make us know how
much we lost by his leaving us.' When we came to Leith, I talked with
perhaps too boasting an air, how pretty the Frith of Forth looked; as
indeed, after the prospect from Constantinople, of which I have been
told, and that from Naples, which I have seen, I believe the view of
that Frith and its environs, from the Castle Hill of Edinburgh, is the
finest prospect in Europe. 'Ay,' said Dr Johnson, 'that is the state
of the world. Water is the same every where.

Una est injusti caerula forma maris. [Footnote: Non illic urbes, non
tu mirabere silvas: Una est injusti caerula forma maris.

Ovid. Amor. II. xi.

Nor groves nor towns the ruthless ocean shows;
Unvaried still its azure surface flows.]

I told him the port here was the mouth of the river or water of Leith.
'Not LETHE,' said Mr Nairne. 'Why, sir,' said Dr Johnson, 'when a
Scotchman sets out from this port for England, he forgets his native
country.' NAIRNE. 'I hope, sir, you will forget England here.'
JOHNSON. 'Then 'twill be still more Lethe.' He observed of the pier or
quay, 'you have no occasion for so large a one: your trade does not
require it: but you are like a shopkeeper who takes a shop, not only
for what he has to put into it, but that it may be believed he has a
great deal to put into it'. It is very true, that there is now,
comparatively, little trade upon the eastern coast of Scotland. The
riches of Glasgow shew how much there is in the west; and perhaps we
shall find trade travel westward on a great scale, as well as a small.

We talked of a man's drowning himself. JOHNSON. 'I should never think
it time to make away with myself.' I put the case of Eustace Budgell,
who was accused of forging a will, and sunk himself in the Thames,
before the trial of its authenticity came on. 'Suppose, sir,' said I,
'that a man is absolutely sure, that, if he lives a few days longer,
he shall be detected in a fraud, the consequence of which will be
utter disgrace and expulsion from society.' JOHNSON. 'Then, sir, let
him go abroad to a distant country; let him go to some place where he
is NOT known. Don't let him go to the devil where he IS known!'

He then said, 'I see a number of people bare-footed here: I suppose
you all went so before the Union. Boswell, your ancestors went so,
when they had as much land as your family has now. Yet Auchinleck is
the Field of Stones: there would be bad going bare-footed here. The
lairds, however, did it.' I bought some speldings, fish (generally
whitings) salted and dried in a particular manner, being dipped in the
sea and dried in the sun, and eaten by the Scots by way of a relish.
He had never seen them, though they are sold in London. I insisted on
scottifying [Footnote: My friend, General Campbell, Governour of
Madras, tells me, that they make speldings in the East Indies,
particularly at Bombay, where they call them Bambaloes.] his palate;
but he was very reluctant. With difficulty I prevailed with him to let
a bit of one of them lie in his mouth. He did not like it.

In crossing the Frith, Dr Johnson determined that we should land upon
Inch Keith. On approaching it, we first observed a high rocky shore.
We coasted about, and put into a little bay on the north-west. We
clambered up a very steep ascent, on which was very good grass, but
rather a profusion of thistles. There were sixteen head of black
cattle grazing upon the island. Lord Hailes observed to me, that
Brantome calls it L'isle des Chevaux, and that it was probably 'a
SAFER stable' than many others in his time. The fort, with an
inscription on it, MARIA RE 1564, is strongly built. Dr Johnson
examined it with much attention. He stalked like a giant among the
luxuriant thistles and nettles. There are three wells in the island;
but we could not find one in the fort. There must probably have been
one, though now filled up, as a garrison could not subsist without it.
But I have dwelt too long on this little spot. Dr Johnson afterwards
bade me try to write a description of our discovering Inch Keith, in
the usual style of travellers, describing fully every particular;
stating the grounds on which we concluded that it must have once been
inhabited, and introducing many sage reflections; and we should see
how a thing might be covered in words, so as to induce people to come
and survey it. All that was told might be true, and yet in reality
there might be nothing to see. He said, 'I'd have this island. I'd
build a house, make a good landing-place, have a garden, and vines,
and all sorts of trees. A rich man, of a hospitable turn, here, would
have many visitors from Edinburgh.' When we had got into our boat
again, he called to me, 'Come, now, pay a classical compliment to the
island on quitting it.' I happened luckily, in allusion to the
beautiful Queen Mary, whose name is upon the fort, to think of what
Virgil makes Aeneas say, on having left the country of his charming

Invitus, regina, tuo de littare cessi. [Footnote: Unhappy queen!
Unwilling I forsook your friendly state. DRYDEN]

'Very well hit off!' said he.

We dined at Kinghorn, and then got into a post-chaise. Mr Nairne and
his servant, and Joseph, rode by us. We stopped at Cupar, and drank
tea. We talked of Parliament; and I said, I supposed very few of the
members knew much of what was going on, as indeed very few gentlemen
know much of their own private affairs. JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, if a man
is not of a sluggish mind, he may be his own steward. If he will look
into his affairs, he will soon learn. So it is as to publick affairs.
There must always be a certain number of men of business in
Parliament.' BOSWELL. 'But consider, sir; what is the House of
Commons? Is not a great part of it chosen by peers? Do you think, sir,
they ought to have such an influence?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir. Influence
must ever be in proportion to property; and it is right it should.'
BOSWELL. 'But is there not reason to fear that the common people may
be oppressed?' JOHNSON. 'No, sir. Our great fear is from want of power
in government. Such a storm of vulgar force has broke in.' BOSWELL.
'It has only roared.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it has roared, till the Judges in
Westminster Hall have been afraid to pronounce sentence in opposition
to the popular cry. You are frightened by what is no longer dangerous,
like Presbyterians by popery.' He then repeated a passage, I think, in
Butler's Remains, which ends, 'and would cry, Fire! Fire! in Noah's
flood'. [Footnote: The passage quoted by Dr Johnson is in the
Character of the Assembly-man. Butler's Remains, p. 232, edit. 1754.
'He preaches, indeed, both in season and out of season; for he rails
at Popery, when the land is almost lost in Presbytery; and would cry
Fire! Fire! in Noah's flood.'

There is no reason to believe that this piece was not written by
Butler, but by Sir John Birkenhead; for Wood, in his Athenae
Oxonienses. Vol. II. p. 460. enumerates it among that gentleman's
works, and gives the following account of it:

The Assembly-man (or The Character of an Assembly-man) written 1647,
LOND. 1662-3, in three sheets in qu. The copy of it was taken from the
author by those who said they could not rob, because all was theirs;
so excised what they liked not; and so mangled and reformed it that it
was no character of an Assembly, but of themselves. At length, after
it had slept several years, the author published it, to avoid false
copies. It is also reprinted in a book entit. Wit and Loyalty Revived,
in a collection of some smart satyrs in verse and prose on the late
times. LOND. 1682, qu. said to be written by Abr. Cowley, Sir John
Birkenhead, and Hudibras, alias Sam. Butler.' For this information I
am indebted to Mr Reed, of Staple Inn.]

We had a dreary drive, in a dusky night, to St Andrews, where we
arrived late. We found a good supper at Glass's inn, and Dr Johnson
revived agreeably. He said, 'the collection called The Muses' Welcome
to King James (first of England, and sixth of Scotland), on his return
to his native kingdom, shewed that there was then abundance of
learning in Scotland; and that the conceits in that collection, with
which people find fault, were mere mode'. He added, 'we could not now
entertain a sovereign so; that Buchanan had spread the spirit of
learning amongst us, but we had lost it during the civil wars'. He did
not allow the Latin poetry of Pitcairne so much merit as has been
usually attributed to it; though he owned that one of his pieces,
which he mentioned, but which I am sorry is not specified in my notes,
was 'very well'. It is not improbable that it was the poem which Prior
has so elegantly translated.

After supper, we made a procession to Saint Leonard's College, the
landlord walking before us with a candle, and the waiter with a
lantern. That college had some time before been dissolved; and Dr
Watson, a professor here (the historian of Phillip II), had purchased
the ground, and what buildings remained. When we entered his court, it
seemed quite academical; and we found in his house very comfortable
and genteel accommodation. [Footnote: My Journal, from this day
inclusive, was read by Dr Johnson.]

Thursday, 19th August

We rose much refreshed. I had with me a map of Scotland, a Bible,
which was given me by Lord Mountstuart when we were together in Italy,
and Ogden's Sermons on Prayer. Mr Nairne introduced us to Dr Watson,
whom we found a well-informed man, of very amiable manners. Dr
Johnson, after they were acquainted, said, 'I take great delight in
him.' His daughter, a very pleasing young lady, made breakfast. Dr
Watson observed, that Glasgow University had fewer home-students,
since trade increased, as learning was rather incompatible with it.
JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, as trade is now carried on by subordinate hands,
men in trade have as much leisure as others; and now learning itself
is a trade. A man goes to a bookseller, and gets what he can. We have
done with patronage. In the infancy of learning, we find some great
man praised for it. This diffused it among others. When it becomes
general, an author leaves the great, and applies to the multitude.'
BOSWELL. 'It is a shame that authors are not now better patronized.'
JOHNSON. 'No, sir. If learning cannot support a man, if he must sit
with his hands across till somebody feeds him, it is as to him a bad
thing, and it is better as it is. With patronage, what flattery! What
falsehood! While a man is in equilibria, he throws truth among the
multitude, and lets them take it as they please: in patronage, he must
say what pleases his patron, and it is an equal chance whether that be
truth or falsehood.' WATSON. 'But is not the case now, that, instead
of flattering one person, we flatter the age?' JOHNSON. 'No, sir. The
world always lets a man tell what he thinks, his own way. I wonder
however, that so many people have written, who might have let it
alone. That people should endeavour to excel in conversation, I do not
wonder; because in conversation praise is instantly reverberated.'

We talked of change of manners. Dr Johnson observed, that our drinking
less than our ancestors was owing to the change from ale to wine. 'I
remember,' said he, 'when all the DECENT people in Lichfield got drunk
every night, and were not the worse thought of. Ale was cheap, so you
pressed strongly. When a man must bring a bottle of wine, he is not in
such haste. Smoking has gone out. To be sure, it is a shocking thing,
blowing smoke out of our mouths into other people's mouths, eyes, and
noses, and having the same thing done to us. Yet I cannot account, why
a thing which requires so little exertion, and yet preserves the mind
from total vacuity, should have gone out. Every man has something by
which he calms himself: beating with his feet, or so. [Footnote: Dr
Johnson used to practice this himself very much.] I remember when
people in England changed a shirt only once a week: a Pandour, when he
gets a shirt, greases it to make it last. Formerly, good tradesmen had
no fire but in the kitchen; never in the parlour, except on Sunday. My
father, who was a magistrate of Lichfield, lived thus. They never
began to have a fire in the parlour, but on leaving off business, or
some great revolution of their life.' Dr Watson said, the hall was as
a kitchen, in old squires' houses. JOHNSON. 'No, sir. The hall was for
great occasions, and never was used for domestick reflection.' We
talked of the Union, and what money it had brought into Scotland. Dr
Watson observed, that a little money formerly went as far as a great
deal now. JOHNSON. 'In speculation, it seems that a smaller quantity
of money, equal in value to a larger quantity, if equally divided,
should produce the same effect. But it is not so in reality. Many more
conveniences and elegancies are enjoyed where money is plentiful, than
where it is scarce. Perhaps a great familiarity with it, which arises
from plenty, makes us more easily part with it.'

After what Dr Johnson had said of St Andrews, which he had long wished
to see, as our oldest university, and the seat of our Primate in the
days of episcopacy, I can say little. Since the publication of Dr
Johnson's book, I find that he has been censured for not seeing here
the ancient chapel of St Rule, a curious piece of sacred architecture.
But this was neither his fault nor mine. We were both of us abundantly
desirous of surveying such sort of antiquities: but neither of us knew
of this. I am afraid the censure must fall on those who did not tell
us of it. In every place, where there is any thing worthy of
observation, there should be a short printed directory for strangers,
such as we find in all the towns of Italy, and in some of the towns in
England. I was told that there is a manuscript account of St Andrews,
by Martin, secretary to Archbishop Sharp; and that one Douglas has
published a small account of it. I inquired at a bookseller's, but
could not get it. Dr Johnson's veneration for the Hierarchy is well
known. There is no wonder then, that he was affected with a strong
indignation, while he beheld the ruins of religious magnificence. I
happened to ask where John Knox was buried. Dr Johnson burst out, 'I
hope in the high-way. I have been looking at his reformations.'

It was a very fine day. Dr Johnson seemed quite wrapt up in the
contemplation of the scenes which were now presented to him. He kept
his hat off while he was upon any part of the ground where the
cathedral had stood. He said well, that 'Knox had set on a mob,
without knowing where it would end; and that differing from a man in
doctrine was no reason why you should pull his house about his ears'.
As we walked in the cloisters, there was a solemn echo, while he
talked loudly of a proper retirement from the world. Mr Nairne said,
he had an inclination to retire. I called Dr Johnson's attention to
this, that I might hear his opinion if it was right. JOHNSON. 'Yes,
when he has done his duty to society. In general, as every man is
obliged not only to "love God, but his neighbour as himself", he must
bear his part in active life; yet there are exceptions. Those who are
exceedingly scrupulous (which I do not approve, for I am no friend to
scruples), and find their scrupulosity invincible, so that they are
quite in the dark, and know not what they shall do, or those who can
not resist temptations, and find they make themselves worse by being
in the world, without making it better, may retire. I never read of a
hermit, but in imagination I kiss his feet; never of a monastery, but
I could fall on my knees, and kiss the pavement. But I think putting
young people there, who know nothing of life, nothing of retirement,
is dangerous and wicked. It is a saying as old as Hesiod,

[words in Greek] [Footnote: Let youth in deeds, in counsel man engage;
Prayer is the proper duty of old age. ]

That is a very noble line: not that young men should not pray, or old
men not give counsel, but that every season of life has its proper
duties. I have thought of retiring, and have talked of it to a friend;
but I find my vocation is rather to active life.' I said, SOME young
monks might be allowed, to shew that it is not age alone that can
retire to pious solitude; but he thought this would only shew that
they could not resist temptation.

He wanted to mount the steeples, but it could not be done. There are
no good inscriptions here. Bad Roman characters he naturally mistook
for half Gothick, half Roman. One of the steeples, which he was told
was in danger, he wished not to be taken down; 'for,' said he, 'it may
fall on some of the posterity of John Knox; and no great matter!'
Dinner was mentioned. JOHNSON. 'Ay, ay; amidst all these sorrowful
scenes, I have no objection to dinner.'

We went and looked at the castle, where Cardinal Beaton was murdered,
and then visited Principal Murison at his college, where is a good
library-room; but the principal was abundantly vain of it, for he
seriously said to Dr Johnson, 'you have not such a one in England'.

The professors entertained us with a very good dinner. Present:
Murison, Shaw, Cooke, Hill, Haddo, Watson, Flint, Brown. I observed,
that I wondered to see him eat so well, after viewing so many
sorrowful scenes of ruined religious magnificence. 'Why,' said he, 'I
am not sorry, after seeing these gentlemen; for they are not sorry.'
Murison said, all sorrow was bad, as it was murmuring against the
dispensations of Providence. JOHNSON. 'Sir, sorrow is inherent in
humanity. As you cannot judge two and two to be either five, or three,
but certainly four, so, when comparing a worse present state with a
better which is past, you cannot but feel sorrow. It is not cured by
reason, but by the incursion of present objects, which wear out the
past. You need not murmur, though you are sorry.' MURISON. 'But St
Paul says, "I have learnt, in whatever state I am, therewith to be
content." 'JOHNSON. 'Sir, that relates to riches and poverty; for we
see St Paul, when he had a thorn in the flesh, prayed earnestly to
have it removed; and then he could not be content.' Murison, thus
refuted, tried to be smart, and drank to Dr Johnson, 'Long may you
lecture!' Dr Johnson afterwards, speaking of his not drinking wine,
said, 'The Doctor spoke of lecturing' (looking to him). 'I give all
these lectures on water.'

He defended requiring subscription in those admitted to universities,
thus: 'As all who come into the country must obey the King, so all who
come into an university must be of the Church.'

And here I must do Dr Johnson the justice to contradict a very absurd
and ill-natured story, as to what passed at St Andrews. It has been
circulated, that, after grace was said in English, in the usual
manner, he with the greatest marks of contempt, as if he had held it
to be no grace in an university, would not sit down till he had said
grace aloud in Latin. This would have been an insult indeed to the
gentlemen who were entertaining us. But the truth was precisely thus.
In the course of conversation at dinner, Dr Johnson, in very good
humour, said, 'I should have expected to have heard a Latin grace,
among so many learned men: we had always a Latin grace at Oxford. I
believe I can repeat it.' Which he did, as giving the learned men in
one place a specimen of what was done by the learned men in another

We went and saw the church, in which is Archbishop Sharp's monument. I
was struck with the same kind of feelings with which the churches of
Italy impressed me. I was much pleased, to see Dr Johnson actually in
St Andrews, of which we had talked so long. Professor Haddo was with
us this afternoon, along with Dr Watson. We looked at St Salvador's
College. The rooms for students seemed very commodious, and Dr Johnson
said, the chapel was the neatest place of worship he had seen. The key
of the library could not be found; for it seems Professor Hill, who
was out of town, had taken it with him. Dr Johnson told a joke he had
heard of a monastery abroad, where the key of the library could never
be found.

It was somewhat dispiriting, to see this ancient archiepiscopal city
now sadly deserted. We saw in one of its streets a remarkable proof of
liberal toleration; a nonjuring clergyman, strutting about in his
canonicals, with a jolly countenance and a round belly, like a
well-fed monk.

We observed two occupations united in the same person, who had hung
out two sign-posts. Upon one was, JAMES HOOD, WHITE IRON SMITH (i.e.
tin-plate worker). Upon another, THE ART OF FENCING TAUGHT, BY JAMES
HOOD. Upon this last were painted some trees, and two men fencing, one
of whom had hit the other in the eye, to shew his great dexterity; so
that the art was well taught. JOHNSON. 'Were I studying here, I should
go and take a lesson. I remember Hope, in his book on this art, says,
"the Scotch are very good fencers".'

We returned to the inn, where we had been entertained at dinner, and
drank tea in company with some of the professors, of whose civilities
I beg leave to add my humble and very grateful acknowledgement to the
honourable testimony of Dr Johnson, in his Journey.

We talked of composition, which was a favourite topick of Dr Watson's,
who first distinguished himself by lectures on rhetorick. JOHNSON. 'I
advised Chambers, and would advise every young man beginning to
compose, to do it as fast as he can, to get a habit of having his mind
to start promptly; it is so much more difficult to improve in speed
than in accuracy.' WATSON. 'I own I am for much attention to accuracy
in composing, lest one should get bad habits of doing it in a slovenly
manner.' JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, you are confounding DOING inaccurately
with the NECESSITY of doing inaccurately. A man knows when his
composition is inaccurate, and when he thinks fit he'll correct it.
But, if a man is accustomed to compose slowly, and with difficulty,
upon all occasions, there is danger that he may not compose at all, as
we do not like to do that which is not done easily; and, at any rate,
more time is consumed in a small matter than ought to be.' WATSON. 'Dr
Hugh Blair has taken a week to compose a sermon.' JOHNSON. 'Then, sir,
that is for want of the habit of composing quickly, which I am
insisting one should acquire.' WATSON. 'Blair was not composing all
the week, but only such hours as he found himself disposed for
composition.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, sir, unless you tell me the time he took,
you tell me nothing. If I say I took a week to walk a mile, and have
had the gout five days, and been ill otherwise another day, I have
taken but one day. I myself have composed about forty sermons. I have
begun a sermon after dinner, and sent it off by the post that night. I
wrote forty-eight of the printed octavo pages of the life of Savage at
a sitting; but then I sat up all night. I have also written six sheets
in a day of translation from the French.' BOSWELL. 'We have all
observed how one man dresses himself slowly, and another fast.'
JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir; it is wonderful how much time some people will
consume in dressing; taking up a thing and looking at it, and laying
it down, and taking it up again. Every one should get the habit of
doing it quickly. I would say to a young divine, "Here is your text;
let me see how soon you can make a sermon." Then I'd say, "Let me see
how much better you can make it." Thus I should see both his powers
and his judgement.'

We all went to Dr Watson's to supper. Miss Sharp, great grandchild of
Archbishop Sharp, was there; as was Mr Craig, the ingenious architect
of the new town of Edinburgh, and nephew of Thomson, to whom Dr
Johnson has since done so much justice, in his Lives of the Poets.

We talked of memory, and its various modes. JOHNSON. 'Memory will play
strange tricks. One sometimes loses a single word. I once lost fugaces
in the Ode Posthume, Posthume. I mentioned to him, that a worthy
gentleman of my acquaintance actually forgot his own name. JOHNSON.
'Sir. that was a morbid oblivion.'

Friday, 2Oth August

Dr Shaw, the professor of divinity, breakfasted with us. I took out my
Ogden On Prayer, and read some of it to the company. Dr Johnson
praised him. 'Abernethy,' said he, 'allows only of a physical effect
of prayer upon the mind, which may be produced many ways, as well as
by prayer; for instance, by meditation. Ogden goes farther. In truth,
we have the consent of all nations for the efficacy of prayer, whether
offered up by individuals, or by assemblies; and Revelation has told
us, it will be effectual.' I said, 'Leechman seemed to incline to
Abernethy's doctrine.' Dr Watson observed, that Leechman meant to
shew, that, even admitting no effect to be produced by prayer,
respecting the Deity, it was useful to our own minds. He had given
only a part of his system: Dr Johnson thought he should have given the

Dr Johnson enforced the strict observance of Sunday. 'It should be
different,' he observed, 'from another day. People may walk, but not
throw stones at birds. There may be relaxation, but there should be no

We went and saw Colonel Nairne's garden and grotto. Here was a fine
old plane tree. Unluckily the colonel said, there was but this and
another large tree in the county. This assertion was an excellent cue
for Dr Johnson, who laughed enormously, calling to me to hear it. He
had expatiated to me on the nakedness of that part of Scotland which
he had seen. His Journey has been violently abused, for what he has
said upon this subject. But let it be considered, that, when Dr
Johnson talks of trees, he means trees of good size, such as he was
accustomed to see in England; and of these there are certainly very
few upon the EASTERN COAST of Scotland. Besides, he said, that he
meant to give only a map of the road; and let any traveller observe
how many trees, which deserve the name, he can see from the road from
Berwick to Aberdeen. Had Dr Johnson said, 'there are NO trees' upon
this line, he would have said what is colloquially true; because, by
no trees, in common speech, we mean few. When he is particular in
counting, he may be attacked. I know not how Colonel Nairne came to
say there were but TWO large trees in the county of Fife. I did not
perceive that he smiled. There are certainly not a great many; but I
could have shewn him more than two at Balmuto, from whence my
ancestors came, and which now belongs to a branch of my family.

The grotto was ingeniously constructed. In the front of it were
petrified stocks of fir, plane, and some other tree. Dr Johnson said,
'Scotland has no right to boast of this grotto: it is owing to
personal merit. I never denied personal merit to many of you.'
Professor Shaw said to me, as we walked, 'This is a wonderful man: he
is master of every subject he handles.' Dr Watson allowed him a very
strong understanding, but wondered at his total inattention to
established manners, as he came from London.

I have not preserved, in my Journal, any of the conversation which
passed between Dr Johnson and Professor Shaw; but I recollect Dr
Johnson said to me afterwards, 'I took much to Shaw.'

We left St Andrews about noon, and some miles from it observing, at
Leuchars, a church with an old tower, we stopped to look at it. The
manse, as the parsonage-house is called in Scotland, was close by. I
waited on the minister, mentioned our names, and begged he would tell
us what he knew about it. He was a very civil old man; but could only
inform us, that it was supposed to have stood eight hundred years. He
told us, there was a colony of Danes in his parish; that they had
landed at a remote period of time, and still remained a distinct
people. Dr Johnson shrewdly inquired whether they had brought women
with them. We were not satisfied as to this colony.

We saw, this day, Dundee and Aberbrothick, the last of which Dr
Johnson has celebrated in his Journey. Upon the road we talked of the
Roman Catholick faith. He mentioned (I think) Tillotson's argument
against transubstantiation; 'That we are as sure we see bread and wine
only, as that we read in the Bible the text on which that false
doctrine is founded. We have only the evidence of our senses for both.
If,' he added, 'God had never spoken figuratively, we might hold that
he speaks literally, when he says, "This is my body".' BOSWELL. 'But
what do you say, sir, to the ancient and continued tradition of the
Church upon this point?' JOHNSON. 'Tradition, sir, has no place, where
the Scriptures are plain; and tradition cannot persuade a man into a
belief of transubstantiation. Able men, indeed, have said they
believed it.'

This is an awful subject. I did not then press Dr Johnson upon it; nor
shall I now enter upon a disquisition concerning the import of those
words uttered by our Saviour,[Footnote: "Then Jesus said unto them,
verily, verily. I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the son of
man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." See St John's
Gospel, chap. vi. 5 3, and following verses.] which had such an effect
upon many disciples, that they 'went back, and walked no more with
him'. The Catechism and solemn office for Communion, in the Church of
England, maintain a mysterious belief in more than a mere
commemoration of the death of Christ, by partaking of the elements of
bread and wine.

Dr Johnson put me in mind, that, at St Andrews, I had defended my
profession very well, when the question had again been started,
whether a lawyer might honestly engage with the first side that offers
him a fee. 'Sir,' said I, 'it was with your arguments against Sir
William Forbes: but it was much that I could wield the arms of

He said, our judges had not gone deep in the question concerning
literary property. I mentioned Lord Monboddo's opinion, that if a man
could get a work by heart, he might print it, as by such an act the
mind is exercised. JOHNSON. 'No, sir; a man's repeating it no more
makes it his property, than a man may sell a cow which he drives
home.' I said, printing an abridgement of a work was allowed, which
was only cutting the horns and tail off the cow. JOHNSON. 'No, sir;
'tis making the cow have a calf.'

About eleven at night we arrived at Montrose. We found but a sorry
inn, where I myself saw another waiter put a lump of sugar with his
fingers into Dr Johnson's lemonade, for which he called him 'Rascal!'
It put me in great glee that our landlord was an Englishman. I rallied
the Doctor upon this, and he grew quiet. Both Sir John Hawkins's and
Dr Burney's History of Musick had then been advertised. I asked if
this was not unlucky: would not they hurt one another? JOHNSON. 'No,
sir. They will do good to one another. Some will buy the one, some the
other, and compare them; and so a talk is made about a thing, and the
books are sold.'

He was angry at me for proposing to carry lemons with us to Sky, that
he might be sure to have his lemonade. 'Sir,' said he, 'I do not wish
to be thought that feeble man who cannot do without any thing. Sir, it
is very bad manners to carry provisions to any man's house, as if he
could not entertain you. To an inferior, it is oppressive; to a
superior, it is insolent.'

Having taken the liberty, this evening, to remark to Dr Johnson, that
he very often sat quite silent for a long time, even when in company
with only a single friend, which I myself had sometimes sadly
experienced, he smiled and said, 'It is true, sir. Tom Tyers' (for so
he familiarly called our ingenious friend, who, since his death, has
paid a biographical tribute to his memory) 'Tom Tyers described me the
best. He once said to me, "Sir, you are like a ghost: you never speak
till you are spoken to" [Footnote: This description of Dr Johnson,
appears to have been borrowed from Tom Jones, Book XI. chap, ii. "The
other, who like a ghost, only wanted to be spoke to, readily
answered.' &c.

Saturday, 21st August

Neither the Rev. Mr Nisbet, the established minister, nor the Rev. Mr
Spooner, the episcopal minister, were in town. Before breakfast, we
went and saw the town-hall, where is a good dancing-room, and other
rooms for tea-drinking. The appearance of the town from it is very
well; but many of the houses are built with their ends to the street,
which looks awkward. When we came down from it, I met Mr Gleg, a
merchant here. He went with us to see the English chapel. It is
situated on a pretty dry spot, and there is a fine walk to it. It is
really an elegant building, both within and without. The organ is
adorned with green and gold. Dr Johnson gave a shilling extraordinary
to the clerk, saying, 'He belongs to an honest church.' I put him in
mind, that episcopals were but DISSENTERS here; they were only
TOLERATED. 'Sir,' said he, 'we are here, as Christians in Turkey.' He
afterwards went into an apothecary's shop, and ordered some medicine
for himself, and wrote the prescription in technical characters. The
boy took him for a physician.

I doubted much which road to take, whether to go by the coast, or by
Lawrence Kirk and Monboddo. I knew Lord Monboddo and Dr Johnson did
not love each other: yet I was unwilling not to visit his lordship;
and was also curious to see them together. [Footnote: There were
several points of similarity between them: learning, clearness of
head, precision of speech, and a love of research on many subjects
which people in general do not investigate. Foote paid Lord Monboddo
the compliment of saying, that he was 'an Elzevir edition of Johnson'.

It has been shrewdly observed that Foote must have meant a diminutive,
or POCKET edition.] I mentioned my doubts to Dr Johnson, who said, he
would go two miles out of his way to see Lord Monboddo. I therefore
sent Joseph forward, with the following note.

Montrose, 21 August.
My dear Lord,

Thus far I am come with Mr Samuel Johnson. We must be at Aberdeen
to-night. I know you do not admire him so much as I do; but I cannot
be in this country without making you a bow at your old place, as I do
not know if I may again have an opportunity of seeing Monboddo.
Besides, Mr Johnson says, he would go two miles out of his way to see
Lord Monboddo. I have sent forward my servant, that we may know if
your lordship be at home. I am ever, my dear lord,

Most sincerely yours,
James Boswell.

As we travelled onwards from Montrose, we had the Grampion hills in
our view, and some good land around us, but void of trees and hedges.
Dr Johnson has said ludicrously, in his Journey, that the HEDGES were
of STONE; for, instead of the verdant THORN to refresh the eye, we
found the bare WALL or DIKE intersecting the prospect. He observed,
that it was wonderful to see a country so divested, so denuded of

We stopped at Lawrence Kirk, where our great grammarian, Ruddiman, was
once schoolmaster. We respectfully remembered that excellent man and
eminent scholar, by whose labours a knowledge of the Latin language
will be preserved in Scotland, if it shall be preserved at all. Lord
Gardenston, one of our judges, collected money to raise a monument to
him at this place, which I hope will be well executed. I know my
father gave five guineas towards it. Lord Gardenston is the proprietor
of Lawrence Kirk, and has encouraged the building of a manufacturing
village, of which he is exceedingly fond, and has written a pamphlet
upon it, as if he had founded Thebes, in which, however there are many
useful precepts strongly expressed. The village seemed to be
irregularly built, some of the houses being of clay, some of brick,
and some of brick and stone. Dr Johnson observed, they thatched well

I was a little acquainted with Mr Forbes, the minister of the parish.
I sent to inform him that a gentleman desired to see him. He returned
for answer, 'that he would not come to a stranger'. I then gave my
name, and he came. I remonstrated to him for not coming to a stranger;
and, by presenting him to Dr Johnson, proved to him what a stranger
might sometimes be. His Bible inculcates 'be not forgetful to
entertain strangers', and mentions the same motive. He defended
himself by saying, he had once come to a stranger who sent for him;
and he found him 'a little worth person!'

Dr Johnson insisted on stopping at the inn, as I told him that Lord
Gardenston had furnished it with a collection of books, that
travellers might have entertainment for the mind, as well as the body.
He praised the design, but wished there had been more books, and those
better chosen.

About a mile from Monboddo, where you turn off the road, Joseph was
waiting to tell us my lord expected us to dinner. We drove over a wild
moor. It rained, and the scene was somewhat dreary. Dr Johnson
repeated, with solemn emphasis, Macbeth's speech on meeting the
witches. As we travelled on, he told me, 'Sir, you got into our club
by doing what a man can do. [Footnote: This, I find, is considered as
obscure. I suppose Dr Johnson meant, that I assiduously and earnestly
recommended myself to some of the members, as in a canvass for an
election into Parliament.] Several of the members wished to keep you
out. Burke told me, he doubted if you were fit for it: but, now you
are in, none of them are sorry. Burke says, that you have so much good
humour naturally, it is scarce a virtue.' BOSWELL. 'They were afraid
of you, sir, as it was you who proposed me.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, they knew,
that if they refused you, they'd probably never have got in another.
I'd have kept them all out. Beauclerk was very earnest for you.'
BOSWELL. 'Beauclerk has a keenness of mind which is very uncommon.'
JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir; and every thing comes from him so easily. It
appears to me that I labour, when I say a good thing.' BOSWELL. 'You
are loud, sir; but it is not an effort of mind.'

Monboddo is a wretched place, wild and naked, with a poor old house;
though, if I recollect right, there are two turrets which mark an old
baron's residence. Lord Monboddo received us at his gate most
courteously; pointed to the Douglas arms upon his house, and told us
that his great-grandmother was of that family, 'In such houses,' said
he, 'our ancestors lived, who were better men than we.' 'No, no, my
lord,' said Dr Johnson. 'We are as strong as they, and a great deal
wiser.' This was an assault upon one of Lord Monboddo's capital
dogmas, and I was afraid there would have been a violent altercation
in the very close, before we got into the house. But his lordship is
distinguished not only for 'ancient metaphysicks', but for ancient
politesse, la vieille cour, and he made no reply.

His lordship was drest in a rustick suit, and wore a little round hat;
he told us, we now saw him as Farmer Burnett, and we should have his
family dinner, a farmer's dinner. He said, 'I should not have forgiven
Mr Boswell, had he not brought you here, Dr Johnson.' He produced a
very long stalk of corn, as a specimen of his crop, and said, 'You see
here the loetas segetes.' He added, that Virgil seemed to be as
enthusiastick a farmer as he, and was certainly a practical one.
JOHNSON. 'It does not always follow, my lord, that a man who has
written a good poem on an art, has practised it. Philip Miller told
me, that in Philips's "Cyder", a poem, all the precepts were just, and
indeed better than in books written for the purpose of instructing;
yet Philips had never made cyder.'

I started the subject of emigration. JOHNSON. 'To a man of mere animal
life, you can urge no argument against going to America, but that it
will be some time before he will get the earth to produce. But a man
of any intellectual enjoyment will not easily go and immerse himself
and his posterity for ages in barbarism.'

He and my lord spoke highly of Homer. JOHNSON. 'He had all the
learning of his age. The shield of Achilles shews a nation in war, a
nation in peace; harvest sport, nay stealing.' [Footnote: My note of
this is much too short. Brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio. Yet as I
have resolved that THE VERY Journal WHICH DR JOHNSON READ, shall be
presented to the publick, I will not expand the text in any
considerable degree, though I may occasionally supply a word to
complete the sense, as I fill up the blanks of abbreviation in the
writing; neither of which can be said to change the genuine Journal.
One of the best criticks of our age conjectures that the imperfect
passage above has probably been as follows: 'In his book we have an
accurate display of a nation in war, and a nation in peace; the
peasant is delineated as truly as the general; nay, even
harvest-sport, and the modes of ancient theft are described.']
MONBODDO. 'Ay, and what we' (looking to me)?'would call a
parliament-house scene; a cause pleaded.' JOHNSON. 'That is part of
the life of a nation in peace. And there are in Homer such characters
of heroes, and combinations of qualities of heroes, that the united
powers of mankind ever since have not produced any but what are to be
found there.' MONBODDO. 'Yet no character is described.' JOHNSON. 'No;
they all develope themselves. Agamemnon is always a gentleman-like
character; he has always <Greek>. That the ancients held so, is plain
from this; that Euripides, in his Hecuba, makes him the person to
interpose.' [Footnote: Dr Johnson modestly said, he had not read Homer
so much as he wished he had done. But this conversation shews how well
he was acquainted with the Moeonian bard; and he has shewn it still
more in his criticism upon Pope's Homer, in his Life of that poet. My
excellent friend, Mr Langton, told me, he was once present at a
dispute between Dr Johnson and Mr Burke, on the comparative merits of
Homer and Virgil, which was carried on with extraordinary abilities on
both sides. Dr Johnson maintained the superiority of Homer.] MONBODDO.
'The history of manners is the most valuable. I never set a high value
on any other history.' JOHNSON. 'Nor I; and therefore I esteem
biography, as giving us what comes near to ourselves, what we can turn
to use.' BOSWELL. 'But in the course of general history, we find
manners. In wars, we see the dispositions of people, their degrees of
humanity, and other particulars.' JOHNSON. 'Yes; but then you must
take all the facts to get this; and it is but a little you get.'
MONBODDO. 'And it is that little which makes history valuable.' Bravo!
thought I; they agree like two brothers. MONBODDO. 'I am sorry, Dr
Johnson, you were not longer at Edinburgh, to receive the homage of
our men of learning.' JOHNSON. 'My lord, I received great respect and
great kindness.' BOSWELL. 'He goes back to Edinburgh after our tour.'
We talked of the decrease of learning in Scotland, and the Muses'
Welcome. JOHNSON. 'Learning is much decreased in England, in my
remembrance.' MONBODDO. 'You, sir, have lived to see its decrease in
England, I its extinction in Scotland.' However, I brought him to
confess that the High School of Edinburgh did well. JOHNSON. 'Learning
has decreased in England, because learning will not do so much for a
man as formerly. There are other ways of getting preferment. Few
bishops are now made for their learning. To be a bishop, a man must be
learned in a learned age, factious in a factious age; but always of
eminence. Warburton is an exception; though his learning alone did not
raise him. He was first an antagonist to Pope, and helped Theobald to
publish his Shakspeare; but, seeing Pope the rising man, when Crousaz
attacked his Essay on Man, for some faults which it has, and some
which it has not, Warburton defended it in the Review of that time.
This brought him acquainted with Pope, and he gained his friendship.
Pope introduced him to Allen, Allen married him to his niece: so, by
Allen's interest and his own, he was made a bishop. But then his
learning was the sine qua non: he knew how to make the most of it; but
I do not find by any dishonest means.' MONBODDO. 'He is a great man.'
JOHNSON. 'Yes; he has great knowledge, great power of mind. Hardly any
man brings greater variety of learning to bear upon his point.'
MONBODDO. 'He is one of the greatest lights of your church.' JOHNSON.
'Why, we are not so sure of his being very friendly to us. He blazes,
if you will, but that is not always the steadiest light. Lowth is
another bishop who has risen by his learning.'

Dr Johnson examined young Arthur, Lord Monboddo's son, in Latin. He
answered very well; upon which he said, with complacency, 'Get you
gone! When King James comes back, [Footnote: I find, some doubt has
been entertained concerning Dr Johnson's meaning here. It is to be
supposed that he meant, 'when a king shall again be entertained in
Scotland'.] you shall be in the "Muses' Welcome"!' My lord and Dr
Johnson disputed a little, whether the savage or the London shopkeeper
had the best existence; his lordship, as usual, preferring the savage.
My lord was extremely hospitable, and I saw both Dr Johnson and him
liking each other better every hour.

Dr Johnson having retired for a short time, his lordship spoke of his
conversation as I could have wished. Dr Johnson had said, 'I have done
greater feats with my knife than this;' though he had eaten a very
hearty dinner. My lord, who affects or believes he follows an
abstemious system, seemed struck with Dr Johnson's manner of living. I
had a particular satisfaction in being under the roof of Monboddo, my
lord being my father's old friend, and having been always very good to
me. We were cordial together. He asked Dr Johnson and me to stay all
night. When I said we must be at Aberdeen, he replied, 'Well, I am
like the Romans: I shall say to you, "Happy to come--happy to
depart!"' He thanked Dr Johnson for his visit. JOHNSON. 'I little
thought, when I had the honour to meet your lordship in London, that I
should see you at Monboddo.' After dinner, as the ladies were going
away, Dr Johnson would stand up. He insisted that politeness was of
great consequence in society. 'It is,' said he, 'fictitious
benevolence. It supplies the place of it amongst those who see each
other only in publick, or but little. Depend upon it, the want of it
never fails to produce something disagreeable to one or other. I have
always applied to good breeding, what Addison in his Cato says of

  Honour's a sacred tie; the law of Kings;
  The noble mind's distinguishing perfection,
  That aids and strengthens Virtue where it meets her.
  And imitates her actions where she is not.

When he took up his large oak stick, he said, 'My lord, that's
Homerick;' thus pleasantly alluding to his lordship's favourite

Gory, my lord's black servant, was sent as our guide, to conduct us to
the high road. The circumstance of each of them having a black servant
was another point of similarity between Johnson and Monboddo. I
observed how curious it was to see an African in the north of
Scotland, with little or no difference of manners from those of the
natives. Dr Johnson laughed to see Gory and Joseph riding together
most cordially. 'Those two fellows,' said he, 'one from Africa, the
other from Bohemia, seem quite at home.' He was much pleased with Lord
Monboddo to-day. He said, he would have pardoned him for a few
paradoxes, when he found he had so much that was good: but that, from
his appearance in London, he thought him all paradox; which would not
do. He observed, that his lordship had talked no paradoxes to-day.
'And as to the savage and the London shopkeeper," said he, 'I don't
know but I might have taken the side of the savage equally, had any
body else taken the side of the shopkeeper.' He had said to my lord,
in opposition to the value of the savage's courage, that it was owing
to his limited power of thinking, and repeated Pope's verses, in which
'Macedonia's madman' is introduced, and the conclusion is,

  Yet ne'er looks forward farther than his nose.

I objected to the last phrase, as being low. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is
intended to be low: it is satire. The expression is debased, to debase
the character.'

When Gory was about to part from us, Dr Johnson called to him, 'Mr
Gory, give me leave to ask you a question! Are you baptized?' Gory
told him he was, and confirmed by the Bishop of Durham. He then gave
him a shilling.

We had tedious driving this afternoon, and were somewhat drowsy. Last
night I was afraid Dr Johnson was beginning to faint in his
resolution; for he said, 'If we must ride much, we shall not go; and
there's an end on't.' To-day, when he talked of Sky with spirit, I
said, 'Why, sir, you seemed to me to despond yesterday. You are a
delicate Londoner; you are a maccaroni; you can't ride.' JOHNSON.
'Sir, I shall ride better than you. I was only afraid I should not
find a horse able to carry me.' I hoped then there would be no fear of
getting through our wild tour.

We came to Aberdeen at half an hour past eleven. The New Inn, we were
told, was full. This was comfortless. The waiter, however, asked if
one of our names was Boswell, and brought me a letter left at the inn:
it was from Mr Thrale, enclosing one to Dr Johnson. Finding who I was,
we were told they would contrive to lodge us by putting us for a night
into a room with two beds. The waiter said to me in the broad strong
Aberdeenshire dialect, 'I thought I knew you, by your likeness to your
father.' My father puts up at the New Inn, when on his circuit. Little
was said to-night. I was to sleep in a little press-bed in Dr
Johnson's room. I had it wheeled out into the dining-room, and there
I lay very well.

Sunday, 22d August

I sent a message to Professor Thomas Gordon, who came and breakfasted
with us. He had secured seats for us at the English chapel. We found a
respectable congregation, and an admirable organ, well played by Mr

We walked down to the shore. Dr Johnson laughed to hear that
Cromwell's soldiers taught the Aberdeen people to make shoes and
stockings, and to plant cabbages. He asked, if weaving the plaids was
ever a domestick art in the Highlands, like spinning or knitting. They
could not inform him here. But he conjectured probably, that where
people lived so remote from each other, it was likely to be a
domestick art; as we see it was among the ancients, from Penelope. I
was sensible to-day, to an extraordinary degree, of Dr Johnson's
excellent English pronunciation. I cannot account for its striking me
more now than any other day: but it was as if new to me; and I
listened to every sentence which he spoke, as to a musical
composition. Professor Gordon gave him an account of the plan of
education in his college. Dr Johnson said, it was similar to that at
Oxford. Waller the poet's great grandson was studying here. Dr Johnson
wondered that a man should send his son so far off, when there were so
many good schools in England. He said, 'At a great school there is all
the splendour and illumination of many minds; the radiance of all is
concentrated in each, or at least reflected upon each. But we must own
that neither a dull boy, nor an idle boy, will do so well at a great
school as at a private one. For at a great school there are always
boys enough to do well easily, who are sufficient to keep up the
credit of the school; and after whipping being tried to no purpose,
the dull or idle boys are left at the end of a class, having the
appearance of going through the course, but learning nothing at all.
Such boys may do good at a private school, where constant attention is
paid to them, and they are watched. So that the question of publick or
private education is not properly a general one; but whether one or
the other is best for MY SON.'

We were told the present Mr Waller was a plain country gentleman; and
his son would be such another. I observed, a family could not expect a
poet but in a hundred generations. 'Nay,' said Dr Johnson, 'not one
family in a hundred can expect a poet in a hundred generations.' He
then repeated Dryden's celebrated lines,

Three poets in three distant ages born, &c.

and a part of a Latin translation of it done at Oxford: he did not
then say by whom.[Footnote: London, 2d May, 1778. Dr Johnson
acknowledged that he was himself the authour of the translation above
alluded to, and dictated it to me as follows:

  Quos laudet vales Graius Romanus et Anglus
  Tres tria temporibus secla dedere suis.
  Sublime ingenium Graius; Romanus habebat
  Carmen grande sonans; Anglus utrumque tulit.
  Nil majus Natura capit: clarare priores
  Quae potuere duos tertius unus habet.]

He received a card, from Sir Alexander Gordon, who had been his
acquaintance twenty years ago in London, and who, 'if forgiven for not
answering a line from him', would come in the afternoon. Dr Johnson
rejoiced to hear of him, and begged he would come and dine with us. I
was much pleased to see the kindness with which Dr Johnson received
his old friend Sir Alexander; a gentleman of good family, Lismore, but
who had not the estate. The King's College here made him Professor of
Medicine, which affords him a decent subsistence. He told us that the
value of the stockings exported from Aberdeen was, in peace, a hundred
thousand pounds; and amounted, in time of war, to one hundred and
seventy thousand pounds. Dr Johnson asked, what made the difference?
Here we had a proof of the comparative sagacity of the two professors.
Sir Alexander answered, 'Because there is more occasion for them in
war.' Professor Thomas Gordon answered, 'Because the Germans, who are
our great rivals in the manufacture of stockings, are otherwise
employed in time of war.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you have given a very good

At dinner, Dr Johnson ate several plate-fulls of Scotch broth, with
barley and peas in it, and seemed very fond of the dish. I said, 'You
never ate it before.' JOHNSON. 'No, sir; but I don't care how soon I
eat it again.' My cousin, Miss Dallas, formerly of Inverness, was
married to Mr Riddoch, one of the ministers of the English chapel
here. He was ill, and confined to his room; but she sent us a kind
invitation to tea, which we all accepted. She was the same lively,
sensible, cheerful woman, as ever. Dr Johnson here threw out some
jokes against Scotland. He said, 'You go first to Aberdeen; then to
Enbru (the Scottish pronunciation of Edinburgh); then to Newcastle, to
be polished by the colliers; then to York; then to London.' And he
laid hold of a little girl, Stuart Dallas, niece to Mrs Riddoch, and,
representing himself as a giant, said, he would take her with him!
telling her, in a hollow voice, that he lived in a cave, and had a bed
in the rock, and she should have a bed cut opposite to it!

He thus treated the point, as to prescription of murder in Scotland.
'A jury in England would make allowance for deficiencies of evidence,
on account of lapse of time: but a general rule that a crime should
not be punished, or tried for the purpose of punishment, after twenty
years, is bad. It is cant to talk of the King's advocate delaying a
prosecution from malice. How unlikely is it the King's advocate should
have malice against persons who commit murder, or should even know
them at all. If the son of the murdered man should kill the murderer
who got off merely by prescription, I would help him to make his
escape; though, were I upon his jury, I would not acquit him. I would
not advise him to commit such an act. On the contrary, I would bid him
submit to the determination of society, because a man is bound to
submit to the inconveniences of it, as he enjoys the good: but the
young man, though politically wrong, would not be morally wrong. He
would have to say, "Here I am amongst barbarians, who not only refuse
to do justice, but encourage the greatest of all crimes. I am
therefore in a state of nature: for, so far as there is now law, it is
a state of nature: and consequently, upon the eternal and immutable
law of justice, which requires that he who sheds man's blood should
have his blood shed, I will stab the murderer of my father."' We went
to our inn, and sat quietly. Dr Johnson borrowed, at Mr Riddoch's, a
volume of Massilon's Discourses on the Psalms: but I found he read
little in it. Ogden too he sometimes took up, and glanced at; but
threw it down again. I then entered upon religious conversation. Never
did I see him in a better frame: calm, gentle, wise, holy. I said,
'Would not the same objection hold against the Trinity as against
transubstantiation?' 'Yes,' said he, 'if you take three and one in the
same sense. If you do, to be sure you cannot believe it: but the three
persons in the Godhead are Three in one sense, and One in another. We
cannot tell how; and that is the mystery!'

I spoke of the satisfaction of Christ. He said his notion was, that it
did not atone for the sins of the world; but, by satisfying divine
justice, by shewing that no less than the Son of God suffered for sin,
it shewed to men and innumerable created beings, the heinousness of
it, and therefore rendered it unnecessary for divine vengeance to be
exercised against sinners, as it otherwise must have been; that in
this way it might operate even in favour of those who had never heard
of it: as to those who did hear of it, the effect it should produce
would be repentance and piety, by impressing upon the mind a just
notion of sin: that original sin was the propensity to evil, which no
doubt was occasioned by the fall. He presented this solemn subject in
a new light to me, [Footnote: My worthy, intelligent, and candid
friend, Dr Kippis, informs me, that several divines have thus
explained the mediation of our Saviour. What Dr Johnson now delivered,
was but a temporary opinion; for he afterwards was fully convinced of
the propitiatory sacrifice, as I shall shew at large in my future
work, The life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.] and rendered much more
rational and clear the doctrine of what our Saviour has done for us,
as it removed the notion of imputed righteousness in co-operating;
whereas by this view, Christ has done all already that he had to do,
or is ever to do, for mankind, by making his great satisfaction; the
consequences of which will affect each individual according to the
particular conduct of each. I would illustrate this by saying, that
Christ's satisfaction resembles a sun placed to shew light to men, so
that it depends upon themselves whether they will walk the right way
or not, which they could not have done without that sun, 'the sun of
righteousness'. There is, however, more in it than merely giving
light--'a light to lighten the Gentiles': for we are told, there is
'healing under his wings'. Dr Johnson said to me, 'Richard Baxter
commends a treatise by Grotius, De Satisfactione Christi. I have never
read it: but I intend to read it; and you may read it.' I remarked,
upon the principle now laid down, we might explain the difficult and
seemingly hard text, 'They that believe shall be saved; and they that
believe not shall be damned.' They that believe shall have such an
impression made upon their minds, as will make them act so that they
may be accepted by God.

We talked of one of our friends taking ill, for a length of time, a
hasty expression of Dr Johnson's to him, on his attempting to
prosecute a subject that had a reference to religion, beyond the
bounds within which the Doctor thought such topicks should be confined
in a mixed company. JOHNSON. 'What is to become of society, if a
friendship of twenty years is to be broken off for such a cause?' As
Bacon says,

  Who then to frail mortality shall trust,
  But limns the water, or but writes in dust.

I said, he should write expressly in support of Christianity; for
that, although a reverence for it shines through his works in several
places, that is not enough. 'You know,' said I, 'what Grotius has
done, and what Addison has done. You should do also.' He replied, 'I
hope I shall.'

Monday, 23d August

Principal Campbell, Sir Alexander Gordon, Professor Gordon, and
Professor Ross, visited us in the morning, as did Dr Gerard, who had
come six miles from the country on purpose. We went and saw the
Marischal College, [Footnote: Dr Beattie was so kindly entertained in
England, that he had not yet returned home.] and at one o'clock we
waited on the magistrates in the town hall, as they had invited us in
order to present Dr Johnson with the freedom of the town, which
Provost Jopp did with a very good grace. Dr Johnson was much pleased
with this mark of attention, and received it very politely. There was
a pretty numerous company assembled. It was striking to hear all of
them drinking?'Dr Johnson! Dr Johnson!' in the town-hall of Aberdeen,
and then to see him with his burgess-ticket, or diploma, [Footnote: Dr
Johnson's burgess-ticket was in these words:

Aberdoniae, vigesimo tertio die mensis Augusti, anno Domini millesimo
septingentesimo septuagesimo tertio, in presentia honorabilium
virorum, Jacobi Jopp, armigeri, praepositi, Adami Duff, Gulielmi
Young, Georgii Marr, et Gulielmi Forbes, Balivorum, Gulielmi Rainie
Decani guildae, et Joannis Nicoll Thesaurarii dicti burgi.

Quo die vir generosus et doctrina clarus, Samuel Johnson, LL. D.
receptus et admissus fuit in municipes et fratres guildae praefati
burgi de Aberdeen. In deditissimi amoris et affectus ac eximiae
observantiae tesseram, quibus dicti Magistratus eum amplectuntur.
Extractum per me, ALEX. CARNEGIE.] in his hat, which he wore as he
walked along the street, according to the usual custom. It gave me
great satisfaction to observe the regard, and indeed fondness too,
which every body here had for my father.

While Sir Alexander Gordon conducted Dr Johnson to old Aberdeen,
Professor Gordon and I called on Mr Riddoch, whom I found to be a
grave worthy clergyman. He observed, that, whatever might be said of
Dr Johnson while he was alive, he would, after he was dead, be looked
upon by the world with regard and astonishment, on account of his

Professor Gordon and I walked over to the Old College, which Dr
Johnson had seen by this time. I stepped into the chapel, and looked
at the tomb of the founder, Archbishop Elphinston, of whom I shall
have occasion to write in my History of James IV of Scotland, the
patron of my family.

We dined at Sir Alexander Gordon's. The Provost, Professor Ross,
Professor Dunbar, Professor Thomas Gordon, were there. After dinner
came in Dr Gerard, Professor Leslie, Professor Macleod. We had little
or no conversation in the morning; now we were but barren. The
professors seemed afraid to speak.

Dr Gerard told us that an eminent printer was very intimate with
Warburton. JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, he has printed some of his works, and
perhaps bought the property of some of them. The intimacy is such as
one of the professors here may have with one of the carpenters who is
repairing the college.' 'But,' said Gerard, 'I saw a letter from him
to this printer, in which he says, that the one half of the clergy of
the Church of Scotland are fanaticks, and the other half infidels.'
JOHNSON. 'Warburton has accustomed himself to write letters just as he
speaks, without thinking any more of what he throws out. When I read
Warburton first, and observed his force, and his contempt of mankind,
I thought he had driven the world before him; but I soon found that
was not the case; for Warburton, by extending his abuse, rendered it

He told me, when we were by ourselves, that he thought it very wrong
in the printer, to shew Warburton's letter, as it was raising a body
of enemies against him. He thought it foolish in Warburton to write so
to the printer; and added, 'Sir, the worst way of being intimate, is
by scribbling.' He called Warburton's Doctrine of Grace a poor
performance, and so he said was Wesley's Answer. 'Warburton,' he
observed, 'had laid himself very open. In particular, he was weak
enough to say, that, in some disorders of the imagination, people had
spoken with tongues, had spoken languages which they never knew
before; a thing as absurd as to say, that, in some disorders of the
imagination, people had been known to fly.'

I talked of the difference of genius, to try if I could engage Gerard
in a disquisition with Dr Johnson; but I did not succeed. I mentioned,
as a curious fact, that Locke had written verses. JOHNSON. 'I know of
none, sir, but a kind of exercise prefixed to Dr Sydenham's Works, in
which he has some conceits about the dropsy, in which water and
burning are united; and how Dr Sydenham removed fire by drawing off
water, contrary to the usual practice, which is to extinguish fire by
bringing water upon it. I am not sure that there is a word of all
this; but it is such kind of talk.' [Footnote: All this, as Dr Johnson
suspected at the time, was the immediate invention of his own lively
imagination; for there is not one word of it in Mr Locke's
complimentary performance. My readers will, I have no doubt, like to
be satisfied, by comparing them: and, at any rate, it may entertain
them to read verses composed by our great metaphysician, when a
Bachelor in Physick.


  Febriles aestus, victumque ardoribus orbem
  Flevit, non tantis par Medicina malis.
  Et post mille artes, medicae tentamina curae,
  Ardet adhuc Febris; nec velit arte regi.
  Praeda sumus flammis; solum hoc speramus ab igne,
  Ut restet paucus, quem capit urna, cinis.
  Dum quaerit medicus febris caussamque, modumque,
  Flammarum et tenebras, et sine luce faces;
  Quas tractat patitur flammas, et febre calescens,
  Corruit ipse suis victima rapta focis.
  Qui tardos potuit morbos, artusque trementes,
  Sistere, febrili se videt igne rapi.
  Sic faber exesos fulsit tibicine muros;
  Dum trahit antiquas lenta ruina domos.
  Sed si flamma vorax miseras incenderit aedes,
  Unica flagrantes tunc sepelire salus.
  Fit fuga, tectonicas nemo tunc invocat artes;
  Cum perit artificis non minus usta domus.
  Se tandem Sydenham febrisque Scholaeque furori]

We spoke of Fingal. Dr Johnson said calmly, 'If the poems were really
translated, they were certainly first written down. Let Mr Macpherson
deposite the manuscript in one of the colleges at Aberdeen, where
there are people who can judge; and, if the professors certify the
authenticity, then there will be an end of the controversy. If he does
not take this obvious and easy method, he gives the best reason to
doubt; considering too, how much is against it a priori.'

We sauntered after dinner in Sir Alexander's garden, and saw his
little grotto, which is hung with pieces of poetry written in a fair
hand. It was

  [Footnote:   Opponens, morbi quaerit, et artis opem.
  Non temere incusat tectae putedinis ignes;
  Nec fictus, febres qui fovet, humor erit,
  Non bilem ille movet, nulla hic pituita; Salutis
  Quae spes, si fallax ardeat intus aqua
  Nec doctas magno rixas ostentat hiatu,
  Quis ipsis major febribus ardor inest.
  Innocuas placide corpus jubet urere flammas,
  Et justo rapidos temperat igne focos.
  Quid febrim exstinguat; varius quid postulat usus,
  Solari aegrotos, qua potes arte, docet.
  Hactenus ipsa suum timuit Natura calorem,
  Dum saepe incerto, quo calet, igne perit:
  Dum reparat tacitos male provida sanguinis ignes,
  Praelusit busto, fit calor iste rogus.
  Jam secura suas foveant praecordia flammas,
  Quem Natura negat, dat Medicina modum.
  Nec solum faciles compescit sanguinis aestus,
  Dum dubia est inter spemque metumque salus;
  Sed fatale malum domuit, quodque astra malignum
  Credimus, iratam vel genuisse Stygem.
  Extorsit Lachesi cultros, Pestique venenum
  Abstulit, et tantos non sinit esse metus.
  Quis tandem arte nova domitam mitescere Pestem
  Credat, et antiquas ponere posse minas
  Post tot mille neces, cumulataque funera busto,
  Victa jacet, parvo vulnere, dira Lues.
  Aetheriae quanquam spargunt contagia flammae,
  Quicquid inest istis ignibus, ignis erit.
  Delapsae coelo flammae licet acrius urant,
  Has gelida exstingui non nisi morte putas
  Tu meliora paras victrix Medicina; tuusque,
  Pestis qua superat cuncta, triumphus eris.
  Vive liber, victis febrilibus ignibus; unus
  Te simul et mundum qui manet, ignis erit.
  J. LOCK, A. M. Ex. Aede Christi, Oxon.]

agreeable to observe the contentment and kindness of this quiet,
benevolent man. Professor Macleod was brother to Macleod of Talisker,
and brother-in-law to the Laird of Col. He gave me a letter to young
Col. I was weary of this day, and began to think wishfully of being
again in motion. I was uneasy to think myself too fastidious, whilst I
fancied Dr Johnson quite satisfied. But he owned to me that he was
fatigued and teased by Sir Alexander's doing too much to entertain
him. I said, it was all kindness. JOHNSON. 'True, sir: but sensation
is sensation.' BOSWELL. 'It is so: we feel pain equally from the
surgeon's probe, as from the sword of the foe.'

We visited two booksellers' shops, and could not find Arthur
Johnston's Poems. We went and sat near an hour at Mr Riddoch's. He
could not tell distinctly how much education at the college here
costs, which disgusted Dr Johnson. I had pledged myself that we should
go to the inn, and not stay supper. They pressed us, but he was
resolute. I saw Mr Riddoch did not please him. He said to me,
afterwards, 'Sir, he has no vigour in his talk.' But my friend should
have considered that he himself was not in good humour; so that it was
not easy to talk to his satisfaction. We sat contentedly at our inn.
He then became merry, and observed how little we had either heard or
said at Aberdeen: that the Aberdonians had not started a single mawkin
(the Scottish word for hare) for us to pursue.

Tuesday, 24th August

We set out about eight in the morning, and breakfasted at Ellon. The
landlady said to me, 'Is not this the great Doctor that is going about
through the country?' I said, 'Yes.' 'Ay,' said she, 'we heard of him,
I made an errand into the room on purpose to see him. There's
something great in his appearance: it is a pleasure to have such a man
in one's house; a man who does so much good. If I had thought of it, I
would have shewn him a child of mine, who has had a lump on his throat
for some time.' 'But,' said I, 'he is not a doctor of physick.' 'Is he
an oculist?' said the landlord. 'No,' said I, 'he is only a very
learned man.' LANDLORD. 'They say he is the greatest man in England,
except Lord Mansfield.' Dr Johnson was highly entertained with this,
and I do think he was pleased too. He said, 'I like the exception: to
have called me the greatest man in England, would have been an
unmeaning compliment: but the exception marked that the praise was in
earnest; and, in SCOTLAND, the exception must be LORD MANSFIELD,

He told me a good story of Dr Goldsmith. Graham, who wrote Telemachus,
a Masque, was sitting one night with him and Dr Johnson, and was half
drunk. He rattled away to Dr Johnson: 'You are a clever fellow, to be
sure; but you cannot write an essay like Addison, or verses like the
Rape of the Lock.' At last he said, [Footnote: I am sure I have
related this story exactly as Dr Johnson told it to me: but a friend
who has often heard him tell it, informs me that he usually introduced
a circumstance which ought not to be omitted. 'At last, sir, Graham,
having now got to about the pitch of looking at one man, and talking
to another, said DOCTOR &c. 'What effect.' Dr Johnson used to add,
'this had on Goldsmith, who was as irascible as a hornet, may be
easily conceived.'] 'DOCTOR, I should be happy to see you at Eaton.'
'I shall be glad to wait on you,' answered Goldsmith. 'No,' said
Graham, ''tis not you I mean, Dr MINOR; 'tis Dr MAJOR, there.'
Goldsmith was excessively hurt by this. He afterwards spoke of it
himself. 'Graham,' said he, 'is a fellow to make one commit suicide.'

We had received a polite invitation to Slains castle. We arrived there
just at three o'clock, as the bell for dinner was ringing. Though,
from its being just on the north-east Ocean, no trees will grow here,
Lord Errol has done all that can be done. He has cultivated his fields
so as to bear rich crops of every kind, and he has made an excellent
kitchen-garden, with a hot-house. I had never seen any of the family:
but there had been a card of invitation written by the honourable
Charles Boyd, the earl's brother. We were conducted into the house,
and at the dining-room door were met by that gentleman, whom both of
us at first took to be Lord Errol; but he soon corrected our mistake.
My lord was gone to dine in the neighbourhood, at an entertainment
given by Mr Irvine of Drum. Lady Errol received us politely, and was
very attentive to us during the time of dinner. There was nobody at
table but her ladyship, Mr Boyd, and some of the children, their
governour and governess. Mr Boyd put Dr Johnson in mind of having
dined with him at Cumming the Quaker's, along with Mr Hall and Miss
Williams: this was a bond of connection between them. For me, Mr
Boyd's acquaintance with my father was enough. After dinner, Lady
Errol favoured us with a sight of her young family, whom she made
stand up in a row. There were six daughters and two sons. It was a
very pleasing sight.

Dr Johnson proposed our setting out. Mr Boyd said, he hoped we would
stay all night; his brother would be at home in the evening, and would
be very sorry if he missed us. Mr Boyd was called out of the room. I
was very desirous to stay in so comfortable a house, and I wished to
see Lord Errol. Dr Johnson, however, was right in resolving to go, if
we were not asked again, as it is best to err on the safe side in such
cases, and to be sure that one is quite welcome. To my great joy, when
Mr Boyd returned, he told Dr Johnson that it was Lady Errol who had
called him out, and said that she would never let Dr Johnson into the
house again, if he went away that night; and that she had ordered the
coach, to carry us to view a great curiosity on the coast, after which
we should see the house. We cheerfully agreed.

Mr Boyd was engaged, in 1745-6, on the same side with many unfortunate
mistaken noblemen and gentlemen. He escaped, and lay concealed for a
year in the island of Arran, the ancient territory of the Boyds. He
then went to France, and was about twenty years on the continent. He
married a French lady, and now lived very comfortably at Aberdeen, and
was much at Slains castle. He entertained us with great civility. He
had a pompousness or formal plenitude in his conversation which I did
not dislike. Dr Johnson said, there was too much elaboration in his
talk. It gave me pleasure to see him, a steady branch of the family,
setting forth all its advantages with much zeal. He told us that Lady
Errol was one of the most pious and sensible women in the island; had
a good head, and as good a heart. He said, she did not use force or
fear in educating her children. JOHNSON. 'Sir, she is wrong; I would
rather have the rod to be the general terror to all, to make them
learn, than tell a child, if you do thus or thus, you will be more
esteemed than your brothers or sisters. The rod produces an effect
which terminates itself. A child is afraid of being whipped, and gets
his task, and there's an end on't; whereas, by exciting emulation, and
comparisons of superiority, you lay the foundation of lasting
mischief; you make brothers and sisters hate each other.'

During Mr Boyd's stay in Arran, he had found a chest of medical books,
left by a surgeon there, and had read them till he acquired some skill
in physick, in consequence of which he is often consulted by the poor.
There were several here waiting for him as patients. We walked round
the house till stopped by a cut made by the influx of the sea. The
house is built quite upon the shore; the windows look upon the main
ocean, and the King of Denmark is Lord Errol's nearest neighbour on
the north-east.

We got immediately into the coach, and drove to Dunbui, a rock near
the shore, quite covered with sea-fowls; then to a circular bason of
large extent, surrounded with tremendous rocks. On the quarter next
the sea, there is a high arch in the rock, which the force of the
tempest has driven out. This place is called Buchan's Buller, or the
Buller of Buchan, and the country people call it the Pot. Mr Boyd said
it was so called from the French Bouloir. It may be more simply traced
from Boiler in our own language. We walked round this monstrous
cauldron. In some places, the rock is very narrow; and on each side
there is a sea deep enough for a man of war to ride in; so that it is
somewhat horrid to move along. However, there is earth and grass upon
the rock, and a kind of road marked out by the print of feet; so that
one makes it out pretty safely: yet it alarmed me to see Dr Johnson
striding irregularly along. He insisted on taking a boat, and sailing
into the Pot. We did so. He was stout, and wonderfully alert. The
Buchan-men all shewing their teeth, and speaking with that strange
sharp accent which distinguishes them, was to me a matter of
curiosity. He was not sensible of the difference of pronunciation in
the south and north of Scotland, which I wondered at.

As the entry into the Buller is so narrow that oars cannot be used as
you go in, the method taken is to row very hard when you come near it,
and give the boat such a rapidity of motion that it glides in. Dr
Johnson observed what an effect this scene would have had, were we
entering into an unknown place. There are caves of considerable depth;
I think, one on each side. The boatmen had never entered either of
them far enough to know the size. Mr Boyd told us that it is customary
for the company at Peterhead well, to make parties, and come and dine
in one of the caves here.

He told us, that, as Slains is at a considerable distance from
Aberdeen, Lord Errol, who has a very large family, resolved to have a
surgeon of his own. With this view he educated one of his tenant's
sons, who is now settled in a very neat house and farm just by, which
we saw from the road. By the salary which the earl allows him, and the
practice which he has had, he is in very easy circumstances. He had
kept an exact account of all that had been laid out on his education,
and he came to his lordship one day, and told him that he had arrived
at a much higher situation than ever he expected; that he was now able
to repay what his lordship had advanced, and begged he would accept of
it. The earl was pleased with the generous gratitude and genteel offer
of the man; but refused it. Mr Boyd also told us, Cumming the Quaker
first began to distinguish himself, by writing against Dr Leechman on
prayer, to prove it unnecessary, as God knows best what should be, and
will order it without our asking--the old hackneyed objection.

When we returned to the house we found coffee and tea in the
drawing-room. Lady Errol was not there, being, as I supposed, engaged
with her young family. There is a bow-window fronting the sea. Dr
Johnson repeated the ode, Jam satis terris, while Mr Boyd was with his
patients. He spoke well in favour of entails, to preserve lines of men
whom mankind are accustomed to reverence. His opinion was that so much
land should be entailed as that families should never fall into
contempt, and as much left free as to give them all the advantages of
property in case of any emergency. 'If,' said he, 'the nobility are
suffered to sink into indigence, they of course become corrupt; they
are ready to do whatever the king chooses; therefore it is fit they
should be kept from becoming poor, unless it is fixed that when they
fall below a certain standard of wealth they shall lose their
peerages. We know the House of Peers have made noble stands, when the
House of Commons durst not. The two last years of Parliament they dare
not contradict the populace.'

This room is ornamented with a number of fine prints, and with a whole
length picture of Lord Errol, by Sir Joshua Reynolds. This led Dr
Johnson and me to talk of our amiable and elegant friend, whose
panegyrick he concluded by saying, 'Sir Joshua Reynolds, sir, is the
most invulnerable man I know; the man with whom if you should quarrel,
you would find the most difficulty how to abuse.'

Dr Johnson observed, the situation here was the noblest he had ever
seen, better than Mount Edgecumbe, reckoned the first in England;
because, at

Mount Edgecumbe, the sea is bounded by land on the other side, and,
though there is there the grandeur of a fleet, there is also the
impression of there being a dock-yard, the circumstances of which are
not agreeable. At Slains is an excellent old house. The noble owner
has built of brick, along the square in the inside, a gallery, both on
the first and second story, the house being no higher; so that he has
always a dry walk, and the rooms, to which formerly there was no
approach but through each other, have now all separate entries from
the gallery, which is hung with Hogarth's works, and other prints. We
went and sat a while in the library. There is a valuable numerous
collection. It was chiefly made by Mr Falconer, husband to the late
Countess of Errol in her own right. This earl has added a good many
modern books.

About nine the earl came home. Captain Gordon of Park was with him.
His lordship put Dr Johnson in mind of their having dined together in
London, along with Mr Beauclerk. I was exceedingly pleased with Lord
Errol. His dignified person and agreeable countenance, with the most
unaffected affability, gave me high satisfaction. From perhaps a
weakness, or, as I rather hope, more fancy and warmth of feeling than
is quite reasonable, my mind is ever impressed with admiration for
persons of high birth, and I could, with the most perfect honesty,
expatiate on Lord Errol's good qualities; but he stands in no need of
my praise. His agreeable manners and softness of address prevented
that constraint which the idea of his being Lord High Constable of
Scotland might otherwise have occasioned. He talked very easily and
sensibly with his learned guest. I observed that Dr Johnson, though he
shewed that respect to his lordship, which, from principle, he always
does to high rank, yet, when they came to argument, maintained that
manliness which becomes the force and vigour of his understanding. To
shew external deference to our superiors, is proper: to seem to yield
to them in opinion, is meanness. [Footnote: Lord Chesterfield, in his
letters to his son, complains of one who argued in an indiscriminate
manner with men of all ranks. Probably the noble lord had felt with
some uneasiness what it was to encounter stronger abilities than his
own. If a peer will engage at foils with his inferior in station, he
must expect that his inferior in station will avail himself of every
advantage; otherwise it is not a fair trial of strength and skill. The
same will hold in a contest of reason, or of wit. A certain king
entered the lists of genius with Voltaire. The consequence was, that,
though the king had great and brilliant talents, Voltaire had such a
superiority that his majesty could not bear it; and the poet was
dismissed, or escaped, from that court. In the reign of James I of
England. Crichton, Lord Sanquhar, a peer of Scotland, from a vain
ambition to excel a fencing-master in his own art, played at rapier
and dagger with him. The fencing-master, whose fame and bread were at
stake, put out one of his lordship's eyes. Exasperated at this. Lord
Sanquhar hired ruffians, and had the fencing-master assassinated; for
which his lordship was capitally tried, condemned, and hanged. Not
being a peer of England, he was tried by the name of Robert Crichton,
Esq.; but he was admitted to be a baron of three hundred years
standing. See the State Trials; and the History of England by Hume,
who applauds the impartial justice executed upon a man of high rank.]
The earl said grace, both before and after supper, with much decency.
He told us a story of a man who was executed at Perth, some years ago,
for murdering a woman who was with child by him, and a former child he
had by her. His hand was cut off: he was then pulled up; but the rope
broke, and he was forced to lie an hour on the ground, till another
rope was brought from Perth, the execution being in a wood at some
distance, at the place where the murders were committed. 'There,' said
my lord, 'I see the hand of Providence.' I was really happy here. I
saw in this nobleman the best dispositions and best principles; and I
saw him, in my mind's eye, to be the representative of the ancient
Boyds of Kilmarnock. I was afraid he might have urged drinking, as, I
believe, he used formerly to do, but he drank port and water out of a
large glass himself, and let us do as we pleased. He went with us to
our rooms at night; said, he took the visit very kindly; and told me,
my father and he were very old acquaintances; that I now knew the way
to Slains, and he hoped to see me there again.

I had a most elegant room; but there was a fire in it which blazed;
and the sea, to which my windows looked, roared; and the pillows were
made of the feathers of some sea-fowl, which had to me a disgreeable
smell: so that, by all these causes, I was kept awake a good while. I
saw, in imagination, Lord Errol's father, Lord Kilmarnock (who was
beheaded on Tower Hill in 1746), and I was somewhat dreary. But the
thought did not last long, and I fell asleep.

Wednesday, 25th August

We got up between seven and eight, and found Mr Boyd in the
dining-room, with tea and coffee before him, to give us breakfast. We
were in an admirable humour. Lady Errol had given each of us a copy of
an ode by Beattie, on the birth of her son, Lord Hay. Mr Boyd asked Dr
Johnson, how he liked it. Dr Johnson, who did not admire it, got off
very well, by taking it out, and reading the second and third stanzes
of it with much melody. This, without his saying a word, pleased Mr
Boyd. He observed, however, to Dr Johnson, that the expression as to
the family of Errol,

A thousand years have seen it shine compared with what went before,

was an anticlimax, and that it would have been better

Ages have seen, etc.

Dr Johnson said, 'So great a number as a thousand is better. Dolus
latet in universalibus. Ages might be only two ages.' He talked of the
advantage of keeping up the connections of relationship, which produce
much kindness. 'Every man,' said he, 'who comes into the world, has
need of friends. If he has to get them for himself, half his life is
spent, before his merit is known. Relations are a man's ready friends
who support him. When a man is in real distress, he flies into the
arms of his relations. An old lawyer, who had much experience in
making wills, told me, that after people had deliberated long, and
thought of many for their executors, they settled at last by fixing on
their relations. This shews the universality of the principle.'

I regretted the decay of respect for men of family, and that a Nabob
now would carry an election from them. JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, the Nabob
will carry it by means of his wealth, in a country where money is
highly valued, as it must be where nothing can be had without money;
but, if it comes to personal preference, the man of family will always
carry it. There is generally a scoundrelism about a low man.' Mr Boyd
said, that was a good ism.

I said, I believed mankind were happier in the ancient feudal state of
subordination, than they are in the modern state of independency.
JOHNSON. To be sure, the CHIEF was: but we must think of the number of
individuals. That THEY were less happy, seems plain; for that state
from which all escape as soon as they can, and to which none return
after they have left it, must be less happy; and this is the case with
the state of dependance on a chief or great man.'

I mentioned the happiness of the French in their subordination, by the
reciprocal benevolence and attachment between the great and those in
lower rank. Mr Boyd gave us an instance of their gentlemanly spirit.
An old Chevalier de Malthe, of ancient noblesse, but in low
circumstances, was in a coffee-house at Paris, where was Julien, the
great manufacturer at the Gobelins, of the fine tapestry, so much
distinguished both for the figures and the colours. The chevalier's
carriage was very old. Says Julien, with a plebeian insolence, 'I
think, sir, you had better have your carriage new painted.' The
chevalier looked at him with indignant contempt, and answered, 'Well,
sir. you may take it home and DYE it!' All the coffee-house rejoiced
at Julien's confusion.

We set out about nine. Dr Johnson was curious to see one of those
structures which northern antiquarians call a Druid's temple. I had a
recollection of one at Strichen; which I had seen fifteen years ago:
so we went four miles out of our road, after passing Old Deer, and
went thither. Mr Fraser, the proprietor, was at home, and shewed it to
us. But I had augmented it in my mind; for all that remains is two
stones set up on end, with a long one laid upon them, as was usual and
one stone at a little distance from them. That stone was the capital
one of the circle which surrounded what now remains. Mr Fraser was
very hospitable. [Footnote: He is the worthy son of a worthy father,
the late Lord Strichen, one of our judges, to whose kind notice I was
much obliged. Lord Strichen was a man not only honest, but highly
generous: for after his succession to the family estate, he paid a
large sum of debts contracted by his predecessor, which he was not
under any obligation to pay. Let me here, for the credit of Ayrshire,
my own county, record a noble instance of liberal honesty in William
Hutchison, drover, in Lanehead, Kyle, who formerly obtained a full
discharge from his creditors upon a composition of his debts: but upon
being restored to good circumstances, invited his creditors last
winter to a dinner, without telling the reason, and paid them their
full sums, principal and interest. They presented him with a piece of
plate, with an inscription to commemorate this extraordinary instance
of true worth; which should make some people in Scotland blush, while,
though mean themselves, they strut about under the protection of great
alliance conscious of the wretchedness of numbers who have lost by
them, to whom they never think of making reparation, but indulge
themselves and their families in most unsuitable expence.] There was a
fair at Strichen; and he had several of his neighbours from it at
dinner. One of them, Dr Fraser, who had been in the army, remembered
to have seen Dr Johnson at a lecture on experimental philosophy, at
Lichfield. The doctor recollected being at the lecture; and he was
surprised to find here somebody who knew him.

Mr Fraser sent a servant to conduct us by a short passage into the
high-road. I observed to Dr Johnson, that I had a most disagreeable
notion of the life of country gentlemen; that I left Mr Fraser just
now, as one leaves a prisoner in a jail. Dr Johnson said, that I was
right in thinking them unhappy; for that they had not enough to keep
their minds in motion.

I started a thought this afternoon which amused us a great part of the
way. 'If,' said I, 'our club should come and set up in St Andrews, as a
college, to teach all that each of us can, in the several departments
of learning and taste, we should rebuild the city: we should draw a
wonderful concourse of students.' Dr Johnson entered fully into the
spirit of this project. We immediately fell to distributing the
offices. I was to teach civil and Scotch law; Burke, politicks and
eloquence; Garrick, the art of publick speaking; Langton was to be our
Grecian, Colman our Latin professor; Nugent to teach physick; Lord
Charlemont, modern history; Beauclerk, natural philosophy; Vesey,
Irish antiquities, or Celtick learning;[Footnote: Since the first
edition, it has been suggested by one of the clubs, who knew Mr Vesey
better than Dr Johnson and I, that we did not assign him a proper
place; for he was quite unskilled in Irish antiquities and Celtick
learning, but might with propriety have been made professor of
architecture, which he understood well, and has left a very good
specimen of his knowledge and taste in that art, by an elegant house
built on a plan of his own formation, at Lucan, a few miles from
Dublin.] Jones, Oriental learning; Goldsmith, poetry and ancient
history; Chamier, commercial politicks; Reynolds, painting, and the
arts which have beauty for their object; Chambers, the law of England.
Dr Johnson at first said. 'I'll trust theology to nobody but myself.'
But, upon due consideration, that Percy is a clergyman, it was agreed
that Percy should teach practical divinity and British antiquities; Dr
Johnson himself, logick, metaphysicks and scholastick divinity. In
this manner did we amuse ourselves, each suggesting, and each varying
or adding, till the whole was adjusted. Dr Johnson said, we only
wanted a mathematician since Dyer died, who was a very good one; but
as to every thing else, we should have a very capital university,
[Footnote: Our club, originally at the Turk's Head, Gerrard Street,
then at Prince's, Sackville Street, now at Baxter's Dover Street,
which at Mr Garrick's funeral acquired a name for the first time, and
was called The Literary Club, was instituted in 1764, and now consists
of thirty-five members. It has, since 1773, been greatly augmented;
and though Dr Johnson with justice observed, that, by losing
Goldsmith, Garrick, Nugent, Chamier, Beauclerk, we had lost what would
make an eminent club, yet when I mention, as an accession, Mr Fox, Dr
George Fordyce, Sir Charles Bunbury, Lord Offory, Mr Gibbon, Dr Adam
Smith, Mr R. B. Sheridan, the Bishops of Kilaloe and St Asaph, Dean
Marlay, Mr Steevens, Mr Dunning, Sir Joseph Banks, Dr Scott of the
Commons, Earl Spencer, Mr Windham of Norfolk, Lord Elliot, Mr Malone,
Dr Joseph Warton, the Rev. Thomas Warton, Lord Lucan, Mr Burke junior,
Lord Palmerston, Dr Burney, Sir William Hamilton, and Dr Warren, it
will be acknowledged that we might establish a second university of
high reputation.]

We got at night to Banff. I sent Joseph on to Duff house: but Earl
Fife was not at home, which I regretted much, as we should have had a
very elegant reception from his lordship. We found here but an
indifferent inn. [Footnote: Here, unluckily the windows had no
pullies; and Dr Johnson, who was constantly eager for fresh air, had
much struggling to get one of them kept open. Thus he had a notion
impressed upon him, that this wretched defect was general in Scotland;
in consequence of which he has erroneously enlarged upon it in his
Journey. I regretted that he did not allow me to read over his book
before it was printed. I should have changed very little; but I should
have suggested an alteration in a few places where he has laid himself
open to be attacked. I hope I should have prevailed with him to omit
or soften his assertion, that 'a Scotsman must be a sturdy moralist,
who does not prefer Scotland to truth', for I really think it is not
founded; and it is harshly said.] Dr Johnson wrote a long letter to
Mrs Thrale. I wondered to see him write so much so easily. He verified
his own doctrine that 'a man may always write when he will set himself
DOGGEDLY to it'.

Thursday, 26th August

We got a fresh chaise here, a very good one, and very good horses. We
breakfasted at Cullen. They set down dried haddocks broiled, along
with our tea. I ate one; but Dr Johnson was disgusted by the sight of
them, so they were removed. Cullen has a comfortable appearance,
though but a very small town, and the houses mostly poor buildings.

I called on Mr Robertson, who has the charge of Lord Findlater's
affairs, and was formerly Lord Monboddo's clerk, was three times in
France with him, and translated Condamine's Account of the Savage
Girl, to which his lordship wrote a preface, containing several
remarks of his own. Robertson said, he did not believe so much as his
lordship did; that it was plain to him, the girl confounded what she
imagined with what she remembered: that, besides, she perceived
Condamine and Lord Monboddo forming theories, and she adapted her
story to them.

Dr Johnson said, 'It is a pity to see Lord Monboddo publish such
notions as he has done; a man of sense, and of so much elegant
learning. There would be little in a fool doing it; we should only
laugh; but when a wise man does it, we are sorry. Other people have
strange notions; but they conceal them. If they have tails, they hide
them; but Monboddo is as jealous of his tail as a squirrel.' I shall
here put down some more remarks of Dr Johnson's on Lord Monboddo,
which were not made exactly at this time, but come in well from
connection. He said, he did not approve of a judge's calling himself
FARMER Burnett, [Footnote: It is the custom in Scotland for the judges
of the Court of Session to have the title of LORDS, from their
estates: thus Mr Burnett is Lord MONBODDO, as Mr Home was Lord KAMES.
There is something a little aukward in this; for they are denominated
in deeds by their NAMES, with the addition of one of the Senators of
the College of Justice'; and subscribe their Christian and surname, as
JAMES BURNETT, HENRY HOME, even in judicial acts.] and going about
with a little round hat. He laughed heartily at his lordship's saying
he was an ENTHUSIASTICAL farmer; 'for,' said he, 'what can he do in
farming by his ENTHUSIASM?' Here, however, I think Dr Johnson
mistaken. He who wishes to be successful, or happy, ought to be
enthusiastical, that is to say, very keen in all the occupations or
diversions of life. An ordinary gentleman-farmer will be satisfied
with looking at his fields once or twice a day: an enthusiastical
farmer will be constantly employed on them; will have his mind
earnestly engaged; will talk perpetually of them. But Dr Johnson has
much of the nil admirari in smaller concerns. That survey of life
which gave birth to his Vanity of Human Wishes early sobered his mind.
Besides, so great a mind as his cannot be moved by inferior objects:
an elephant does not run and skip like lesser animals.

Mr Robertson sent a servant with us, to shew us through Lord
Findlater's wood, by which our way was shortened, and we saw some part
of his domain, which is indeed admirably laid out. Dr Johnson did not
choose to walk through it. He always said, that he was not come to
Scotland to see fine places, of which there were enough in England;
but wild objects--mountains, waterfalls, peculiar manners; in short,
things which he had not seen before. I have a notion that he at no
time has had much taste for rural beauties. I have myself very little.

Dr Johnson said, there was nothing more contemptible than a country
gentleman living beyond his income, and every year growing poorer and
poorer. He spoke strongly of the influence which a man has by being
rich. 'A man,' said he, 'who keeps his money, has in reality more use
from it, than he can have by spending it.' I observed that this looked
very like a paradox; but he explained it thus: 'If it were certain
that a man would keep his money locked up for ever, to be sure he
would have no influence; but, as so many want money, and he has the
power of giving it, and they know not but by gaining his favour they
may obtain it, the rich man will always have the greatest influence.
He again who lavishes his money, is laughed at as foolish, and in a
great degree with justice, considering how much is spent from vanity.
Even those who partake of a man's hospitality, have but a transient
kindness for him. If he has not the command of money, people know he
cannot help them, if he would; whereas the rich man always can, if he
will, and for the chance of that, will have much weight.' BOSWELL.
'But philosophers and satirists have all treated a miser as
contemptible.' JOHNSON. 'He is so philosophically; but not in the
practice of life.' BOSWELL. 'Let me see now--I do not know the
instances of misers in England, so as to examine into their
influence.' JOHNSON. 'We have had few misers in England.' BOSWELL.
'There was Lowther." JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, Lowther, by keeping his
money, had the command of the county, which the family has now lost,
by spending it. [Footnote: I do not know what was at this time the
state of the parliamentary interest of the ancient family of Lowther;
a family before the Conquest: but all the nation knows it to be very
extensive at present. A due mixture of severity and kindness, oeconomy
and munificence, characterizes its present Representative.] I take it,
he lent a great deal; and that is the way to have influence, and yet
preserve one's wealth. A man may lend his money upon very good
security, and yet have his debtor much under his power.' BOSWELL. 'No
doubt, sir. He can always distress him for the money; as no man
borrows, who is able to pay on demand quite conveniently.'

We dined at Elgin, and saw the noble ruins of the cathedral. Though it
rained much, Dr Johnson examined them with a most patient attention.
He could not here feel any abhorrence at the Scottish reformers, for
he had been told by Lord Hailes, that it was destroyed before the
Reformation, by the Lord of Badenoch, [Footnote: NOTE, by Lord Hailes:
'The cathedral of Elgin was burnt by the Lord of Badenoch, because the
Bishop of Moray had pronounced an award not to his liking. The
indemnification that the see obtained, was that the Lord of Badenoch
stood for three days bare footed at the great gate of the cathedral.
The story is in the Chartulary of Elgin.'] who had a quarrel with the
bishop. The bishop's house, and those of the other clergy, which are
still pretty entire, do not seem to have been proportioned to the
magnificence of the cathedral, which has been of great extent, and had
very fine carved work. The ground within the walls of the cathedral is
employed as a burying-place. The family of Gordon have their vault
here; but it has nothing grand.

We passed Gordon Castle [Footnote: I am not sure whether the duke was
at home. But, not having the honour of being much known to his grace,
I could not have presumed to enter his castle, though to introduce
even so celebrated a stranger. We were at any rate in a hurry to get
forward to the wildness which we came to see. Perhaps, if this noble
family had still preserved that sequestered magnificence which they
maintained when Catholicks, corresponding with the Grand Duke of
Tuscany, we might have been induced to have procured proper letters of
introduction, and devoted some time to the contemplation of venerable
superstitious state.] this forenoon, which has a princely appearance.
Fochabers, the neighbouring village, is a poor place, many of the
houses being ruinous; but it is remarkable, they have in general
orchards well stored with apple-trees. Elgin has what in England are
called piazzas, that run in many places on each side of the street. It
must have been a much better place formerly. Probably it had piazzas
all along the town, as I have seen at Bologna. I approved much of such
structures in a town, on account of their conveniency in wet weather.
Dr Johnson disapproved of them, 'because,' said he, 'it makes the
under story of a house very dark, which greatly over-balances the
conveniency, when it is considered how small a part of the year it
rains; how few are usually in the street at such times; that many who
are might as well be at home; and the little that people suffer,
supposing them to be as much wet as they commonly are in walking a

We fared but ill at our inn here; and Dr Johnson said, this was the
first time he had seen a dinner in Scotland that he could not eat.

In the afternoon, we drove over the very heath where Macbeth met the
witches, according to tradition. Dr Johnson again solemnly repeated

 '"How far is't called to Fores? What are these,
  So wither'd, and so wild in their attire
  That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth.
  And yet are on't "'

He repeated a good deal more of Macbeth. His recitation was grand and
affecting, and, as Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed to me, had no more
tone than it should have: it was the better for it. He then parodied
the 'All-hail' of the witches to Macbeth, addressing himself to me. I
had purchased some land called Dalblair; and, as in Scotland it is
customary to distinguish landed men by the name of their estates, I
had thus two titles, Dalblair and Young Auchinleck. So my friend, in
imitation of

  All hail Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!

condescended to amuse himself with uttering

  All hail Dalblair! hail to thee, Laird of Auchinleck!

We got to Fores at night, and found an admirable inn, in which Dr
Johnson was pleased to meet with a landlord who styled himself
'Wine-Cooper, from London'.

Friday, 27th August

It was dark when we came to Fores last night; so we did not see what
is called King Duncan's monument. I shall now mark some gleanings of
Dr Johnson's conversation. I spoke of Leonidas, and said there were
some good passages in it. JOHNSON. 'Why, you must SEEK for them.' He
said, Paul Whitehead's Manners was a poor performance. Speaking of
Derrick, he told me he had a kindness for him, and had often said,
that if his letters had been written by one of a more established
name, they would have been thought very pretty letters.

This morning I introduced the subject of the origin of evil. JOHNSON.
'Moral evil is occasioned by free will, which implies choice between
good and evil. With all the evil that there is, there is no man but
would rather be a free agent, than a mere machine without the evil;
and what is best for each individual, must be best for the whole. If a
man would rather be the machine, I cannot argue with him. He is a
different being from me.' BOSWELL. 'A man, as a machine, may have
agreeable sensations; for instance, he may have pleasure in musick.'
JOHNSON, 'No, sir, he can not have pleasure in musick; at least no
power of producing musick; for he who can produce musick may let it
alone: he who can play upon a fiddle may break it: such a man is not a
machine.' This reasoning satisfied me. It is certain, there cannot be
a free agent, unless there is the power of being evil as well as good.
We must take the inherent possibilities of things into consideration,
in our reasonings or conjectures concerning the works of God.

We came to Nairn to breakfast. Though a county town and royal burgh,
it is a miserable place. Over the room where we sat, a girl was
spinning wool with a great wheel, and singing, an Erse song: 'I'll
warrant you,' said Dr Johnson, 'one of the songs of Ossian.' He then
repeated these lines:

'"Verse sweetens toil, however rude the sound.
  All at her work the village maiden sings;
  Nor, while she turns the giddy wheel around
  Revolves the sad vicissitude of things."'

I thought I had heard these lines before. JOHNSON. 'I fancy not, sir;
for they are in a detached poem, the name of which I do not remember,
written by one Giffard, a parson.'

I expected Mr Kenneth M'Aulay, the minister of Calder, who published
the history of St Kilda, a book which Dr Johnson liked, would have met
us here, as I had written to him from Aberdeen. But I received a
letter from him, telling me that he could not leave home, as he was to
administer the sacrament the following Sunday, and earnestly
requesting to see us at his manse. 'We'll go,' said Dr Johnson; which
we accordingly did. Mrs M'Aulay received us, and told us her husband
was in the church distributing tokens. [Footnote: In Scotland, there
is a great deal of preparation before administering the sacrament. The
minister of the parish examines the people as to their fitness, and to
those of whom he approves gives little pieces of tin, stamped with the
name of the parish, as TOKENS, which they must produce before
receiving it. This is a species of priestly power, and sometimes may
be abused. I remember a lawsuit brought by a person against his parish
minister, for refusing him admission to that sacred ordinance.] We
arrived between twelve and one o'clock, and it was near three before
he came to us.

Dr Johnson thanked him for his book, and said 'it was a very pretty
piece of topography'. M'Aulay did not seem much to mind the
compliment. From his conversation, Dr Johnson was persuaded that he
had not written the book which goes under his name. I myself always
suspected so; and I have been told it was written by the learned Dr
John M'Pherson of Sky, from the materials collected by M'Aulay. Dr
Johnson said privately to me, 'There is a combination in it of which
M'Aulay is not capable.' However, he was exceedingly hospitable; and,
as he obligingly promised us a route for our tour through the Western
Isles, we agreed to stay with him all night.

After dinner, we walked to the old castle of Calder (pronounced
Cawder), the Thane of Cawdor's seat. I was sorry that my friend, this
'prosperous gentleman', was not there. The old tower must be of great
antiquity. There is a draw-bridge,--what has been a moat--and an
ancient court. There is a hawthorn-tree, which rises like a wooden
pillar through the rooms of the castle; for, by a strange conceit, the
walls have been built round it. The thickness of the walls, the small
slaunting windows, and a great iron door at the entrance on the second
story as you ascend the stairs, all indicate the rude times in which
this castle was erected. There were here some large venerable trees.

I was afraid of a quarrel between Dr Johnson and Mr M'Aulay, who
talked slightingly of the lower English clergy. The Doctor gave him a
frowning look, and said, 'This is a day of novelties: I have seen old
trees in Scotland, and I have heard the English clergy treated with

I dreaded that a whole evening at Caldermanse would be heavy; however,
Mr Grant, an intelligent and well-bred minister in the neighbourhood,
was there, and assisted us by his conversation. Dr Johnson, talking of
hereditary occupations in the Highlands, said, 'There is no harm in
such a custom as this; but it is wrong to enforce it, and oblige a man
to be a taylor or a smith, because his father has been one.' This
custom, however, is not peculiar to our Highlands; it is well known
that in India a similar practice prevails.

Mr M'Aulay began a rhapsody against creeds and confessions. Dr Johnson
shewed, that 'what he called "imposition", was only a voluntary
declaration of agreement in certain articles of faith, which a church
has a right to require, just as any other society can insist on
certain rules being observed by its members. Nobody is compelled to be
of the church, as nobody is compelled to enter into a society.' This
was a very clear and just view of the subject: but, M'Aulay could not
be driven out of his track. Dr Johnson said, 'Sir, you are a BIGOT TO

Mr M'Aulay and I laid the map of Scotland before us; and he pointed
out a rout for us from Inverness, by Fort Augustus, to Glenelg, Sky,
Mull, Icolmkill, Lorn, and Inveraray, which I wrote down. As my father
was to begin the northern circuit about the 18th of September, it was
necessary for us to make our tour with great expedition, so as to get
to Auchinleck before he set out, or to protract it, so as not to be
there till his return, which would be about the 10th of October. By
M'Aulay's calculation, we were not to land in Lorn till the 20th of
September. I thought that the interruptions by bad days, or by
occasional excursions, might make it ten days later; and I thought
too, that we might perhaps go to Benbecula, and visit Clanranald,
which would take a week of itself.

Dr Johnson went up with Mr Grant to the library, which consisted of a
tolerable collection; but the Doctor thought it rather a lady's
library, with some Latin books in it by chance, than the library of a
clergyman. It had only two of the Latin fathers, and one of the Greek
fathers in Latin. I doubted whether Dr Johnson would be present at a
Presbyterian prayer. I told Mr M'Aulay so, and said that the Doctor
might sit in the library while we were at family worship. Mr M'Aulay
said, he would omit it, rather than give Dr Johnson offence: but I
would by no means agree that an excess of politeness, even to so great
a man, should prevent what I esteem as one of the best pious
regulations. I know nothing more beneficial, more comfortable, more
agreeable, than that the little societies of each family should
regularly assemble, and unite in praise and prayer to our heavenly
Father, from whom we daily receive so much good, and may hope for more
in a higher state of existence. I mentioned to Dr Johnson the
over-delicate scrupulosity of our host. He said, he had no objection
to hear the prayer. This was a pleasing surprise to me; for he refused
to go and hear Principal Robertson preach. 'I will hear him,' said he,
'if he will get up into a tree and preach; but I will not give a
sanction, by my presence, to a Presbyterian assembly.'

Mr Grant having prayed, Dr Johnson said, his prayer was a very good
one; but objected to his not having introduced the Lord's Prayer. He
told us, that an Italian of some note in London said once to him, 'We
have in our service a prayer called the Pater Noster, which is a very
fine composition. I wonder who is the author of it.' A singular
instance of ignorance in a man of some literature and general inquiry!

Saturday, 28th August

Dr Johnson had brought a Sallust with him in his pocket from
Edinburgh. He gave it last night to Mr M'Aulay's son, a smart young
lad about eleven years old. Dr Johnson had given an account of the
education at Oxford, in all its gradations. The advantage of being
servitor to a youth of little fortune struck Mrs M'Aulay much. I
observed it aloud. Dr Johnson very handsomely and kindly said, that,
if they would send their boy to him, when he was ready for the
university, he would get him made a servitor, and perhaps would do
more for him. He could not promise to do more; but would undertake for
the servitorship. [Footnote: Dr Johnson did not neglect what he had
undertaken. By his interest with the Rev. Dr Adams, master of Pembroke
College, Oxford, where he was educated for some time, he obtained a
servitorship for young M'Aulay. But it seems he had other views; and I
believe went abroad.]

I should have mentioned that Mr White, a Welchman, who has been many
years factor (i.e. steward) on the estate of Calder, drank tea with us
last night, and upon getting a note from Mr M'Aulay, asked us to his
house. We had not time to accept of his invitation. He gave us a
letter of introduction to Mr Ferne, master of stores at Fort George.
He shewed it to me. It recommended 'two celebrated gentlemen; no less
than Dr Johnson, AUTHOR OF HIS DICTIONARY, and Mr Boswell, known at
Edinburgh by the name of Paoli'. He said, he hoped I had no objection
to what he had written; if I had, he would alter it. I thought it was
a pity to check his effusions, and acquiesced; taking care, however,
to seal the letter, that it might not appear that I had read it.

A conversation took place, about saying grace at breakfast (as we do
in Scotland) as well as at dinner and supper; in which Dr Johnson
said, 'It is enough if we have stated seasons of prayer; no matter
when. A man may as well pray when he mounts his horse, or a woman when
she milks her cow, (which Mr Grant told us is done in the Highlands),
as at meals; and custom is to be followed.' [Footnote: He could not
bear to have it thought that, in any instance whatever, the Scots are
more pious than the English. I think grace as proper at breakfast as
at any other meal. It is the pleasantest meal we have. Dr Johnson has
allowed the peculiar merit of breakfast in Scotland.]

We proceeded to Fort George. When we came into the square, I sent a
soldier with the letter to Mr Ferne. He came to us immediately, and
along with him came Major Brewse of the Engineers, pronounced BRUCE.
He said he believed it was originally the same Norman name with Bruce.
That he had dined at a house in London, where were three Bruces, one
of the Irish line, one of the Scottish line, and himself of the
English line. He said he was shewn it in the Herald's office spelt
fourteen different ways. I told him the different spellings of my
name. Dr Johnson observed, that there had been great disputes about
the spelling of Shakspear's name; at last it was thought it would be
settled by looking at the original copy of his will; but, upon
examining it, he was found to have written it himself no less than
three different ways.

Mr Ferne and Major Brewse first carried us to wait on Sir Eyre Coote,
whose regiment, the 37th, was lying here, and who then commanded the
fort. He asked us to dine with him, which we agreed to do.

Before dinner we examined the fort. The Major explained the
fortification to us, and Mr Ferne gave us an account of the stores. Dr
Johnson talked of the proportions of charcoal and salt-petre in making
gunpowder, of granulating it, and of giving it a gloss. He made a very
good figure upon these topicks. He said to me afterwards, that he had
talked OSTENTATIOUSLY. We reposed ourselves a little in Mr Ferne's
house. He had every thing in neat order as in England; and a tolerable
collection of books. I looked into Pennant's Tour in Scotland. He says
little of this fort; but that 'the barracks, &c. form several
streets'. This is aggrandizing. Mr Ferne observed, if he had said they
form a square, with a row of buildings before it, he would have given
a juster description. Dr Johnson remarked, 'how seldom descriptions
correspond with realities; and the reason is, that people do not write
them till some time after, and then their imagination has added

We talked of Sir Adolphus Oughton. The Major said, he knew a great
deal for a military man. JOHNSON. 'Sir, you will find few men, of any
profession, who know more. Sir Adolphus is a very extraordinary man; a
man of boundless curiosity and unwearied diligence.'

I know not how the Major contrived to introduce the contest between
Warburton and Lowth. JOHNSON. 'Warburton kept his temper all along,
while Lowth was in a passion. Lowth published some of Warburton's
letters. Warburton drew HIM on to write some very abusive letters, and
then asked his leave to publish them; which he knew Lowth could not
refuse, after what he had done. So that Warburton contrived that he
should publish, apparently with Lowth's consent, what could not but
shew Lowth in a disadvantageous light.' [Footnote: Here Dr Johnson
gave us part of a conversation held between a Great Personage and him,
in the library at the Queen's Palace, to the course of which this
contest was considered. I have been at great pains to get that
conversation as perfectly preserved as possible. It may perhaps at
some future time be given to the publick.]

At three the drum beat for dinner. I, for a little while, fancied
myself a military man, and it pleased me. We went to Sir Eyre Coote's,
at the governour's house, and found him a most gentleman-like man. His
lady is a very agreeable woman, with an uncommonly mild and sweet tone
of voice. There was a pretty large company: Mr Ferne, Major Brewse,
and several officers. Sir Eyre had come from the East Indies by land,
through the Desarts of Arabia. He told us, the Arabs could live five
days without victuals, and subsist for three weeks on nothing else but
the blood of their camels, who could lose so much of it as would
suffice for that time, without being exhausted. He highly praised the
virtue of the Arabs; their fidelity, if they undertook to conduct any
person; and said, they would sacrifice their lives rather than let him
be robbed. Dr Johnson, who is always for maintaining the superiority
of civilized over uncivilized men, said, 'Why, sir, I can see no
superiour virtue in this. A serjeant and twelve men, who are my guard,
will die, rather than that I shall be robbed.' Colonel Pennington, of
the 37th regiment, took up the argument with a good deal of spirit and
ingenuity. PENNINGTON. 'But the soldiers are compelled to this, by
fear of punishment.' JOHNSON. 'Well, sir, the Arabs are compelled by
the fear of infamy.' PENNINGTON. 'The soldiers have the same fear of
infamy, and the fear of punishment besides; so have less virtue;
because they act less voluntarily.' Lady Coote observed very well,
that it ought to be known if there was not, among the Arabs, some
punishment for not being faithful on such occasions.

We talked of the stage. I observed, that we had not now such a company
of actors as in the last age; Wilks, Booth, &c. &c. JOHNSON. 'You
think so, because there is one who excels all the rest so much: you
compare them with Garrick, and see the deficiency. Garrick's great
distinction is his universality. He can represent all modes of life,
but that of an easy fine-bred gentleman.' PENNINGTON. 'He should give
over playing young parts.' JOHNSON. 'He does not take them now; but he
does not leave off those which he has been used to play, because he
does them better than any one else can do them. If you had generations
of actors, if they swarmed like bees, the young ones might drive off
the old. Mrs Gibber, I think, got more reputation than she deserved,
as she had a great sameness; though her expression was undoubtedly
very fine. Mrs Clive was the best player I ever saw. Mrs Pritchard was
a very good one; but she had something affected in her manner: I
imagine she had some player of the former age in her eye, which
occasioned it.'

Colonel Pennington said, Garrick sometimes failed in emphasis; as for
instance, in Hamlet,

  I will speak DAGGERS to her; but use NONE,

instead of

  I will SPEAK daggers to her; but USE none.

We had a dinner of two complete courses, variety of wines, and the
regimental band of musick playing in the square, before the window,
after it. I enjoyed this day much. We were quite easy and cheerful, Dr
Johnson said, 'I shall always remember this fort with gratitude.' I
could not help being struck with some admiration, at finding upon this
barren sandy point, such buildings, such a dinner, such company: it
was like enchantment. Dr Johnson, on the other hand, said to me more
rationally, that it did not strike HIM as any thing extraordinary;
because he knew, here was a large sum of money expended in building a
fort; here was a regiment. If there had been less than what we found,
it would have surprized him. HE looked coolly and deliberately through
all the gradations: my warm imagination jumped from the barren sands
to the splendid dinner and brilliant company, to borrow the expression
of an absurd poet,

  Without ands or ifs,
  I leapt from off the sands upon the cliffs.

The whole scene gave me a strong impression of the power and
excellence of human art.

We left the fort between six and seven o'clock: Sir Eyre Coote,
Colonel Pennington, and several more, accompanied us down stairs, and
saw us into our chaise. There could not be greater attention paid to
any visitors. Sir Eyre spoke of the hardships which Dr Johnson had
before him. BOSWELL. 'Considering what he has said of us, we must make
him feel something rough in Scotland.' Sir Eyre said to him, 'You must
change your name, sir.' BOSWELL. 'Ay, to Dr M'Gregor.'

We got safely to Inverness, and put up at Mackenzie's inn. Mr Keith,
the collector of Excise here, my old acquaintance at Ayr, who had seen
us at the fort, visited us in the evening, and engaged us to dine with
him next day, promising to breakfast with us, and take us to the
English chapel; so that we were at once commodiously arranged.

Not finding a letter here that I expected, I felt a momentary
impatience to be at home. Transient clouds darkened my imagination,
and in those clouds I saw events from which I shrunk; but a sentence
or two of the Rambler's conversation gave me firmness, and I
considered that I was upon an expedition for which I had wished for
years, and the recollection of which would be a treasure to me for

Sunday, 29th August

Mr Keith breakfasted with us. Dr Johnson expatiated rather too
strongly upon the benefits derived to Scotland from the Union, and the
bad state of our people before it. I am entertained with his copious
exaggeration upon that subject; but I am uneasy when people are by,
who do not know him as well as I do, and may be apt to think him
narrow-minded. [Footnote: It is remarkable that Dr Johnson read this
gentle remonstrance, and took no notice of it to me.] I therefore
diverted the subject.

The English chapel, to which we went this morning, was but mean. The
altar was a bare fir table, with a coarse stool for kneeling on,
covered with a piece of thick sail-cloth doubled, by way of cushion.
The congregation was small. Mr Tait, the clergyman, read prayers very
well, though with much of the Scotch accent. He preached on 'Love your
Enemies'. It was remarkable that, when talking of the connections
amongst men, he said, that some connected themselves with men of
distinguished talents, and since they could not equal them, tried to
deck themselves with their merit, by being their companions. The
sentence was to this purpose. It had an odd coincidence with what
might be said of my connecting myself with Dr Johnson.

After church, we walked down to the Quay. We then went to Macbeth's
castle. I had a romantick satisfaction in seeing Dr Johnson actually
in it. It perfectly corresponds with Shakspeare's description, which
Sir Joshua Reynolds has so happily illustrated, in one of his notes on
our immortal poet:

  This castle hath a pleasant seat: the air
  Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
  Unto our gentle sense, &c.

Just as we came out of it, a raven perched on one of the chimney-tops,
and croaked. Then I repeated

  '... The raven himself is hoarse.
  That croaks the fatal enterance of Duncan
  Under my battlements.'

We dined at Mr Keith's. Mrs Keith was rather too attentive to Dr
Johnson, asking him many questions about his drinking only water. He
repressed that observation, by saying to me, 'You may remember that
Lady Errol took no notice of this.'

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 shewn 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 Paragragh, 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. [Footnote: 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.]

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 my father. It
gave me much satisfaction to hear every body at Inverness speak of him
with uncommon regard. Mr Keith and Mr Grant, whom we had seen at Mr
M'Aulay's, supped with us at the inn. We had roasted kid, which Dr
Johnson had never tasted before. He relished it much.

Monday, 30th August

This day we were to begin our EQUITATION, 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.

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 Lauchland Vass,
whom Dr Johnson has remembered with credit in his Journey, though he
has omitted their names. Dr Johnson rode very 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. Lochness, 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 Lochness, 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
six pence a piece. She then brought out her whisky 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 publick 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 deputy governour of Fort
Augustus, twelve years ago, at a circuit at Inverness, where my father
was judge. I sent forward one of our guides, and Joseph, with a card
to him, that he might know Dr Johnson and I were coming up, leaving it
to him to invite us or not. It was dark when we arrived. The inn was
wretched. Government ought to build one, or give the resident
governour an additional salary; as in the present state of things, he
must necessarily be put to a great expence in entertaining travellers.
Joseph announced to us, when we alighted, that the governour waited
for us at the gate of the fort. We walked to it. He met us, and with
much civility conducted us to his house. It was comfortable to find
ourselves in a well built little square, and a neatly furnished house,
in good company, and with a good supper before us; in short, with all
the conveniencies of civilized life in the midst of rude mountains.
Mrs Trapaud, and the governour's daughter, and her husband. Captain
Newmarsh, were all most obliging and polite. The governour had
excellent animal spirits, the conversation of a soldier, and somewhat
of a Frenchman, to which his extraction entitles him. He is brother to
General Cyrus Trapaud. We passed a very agreeable evening.

Tuesday, 31st August

The governour has a very good garden. We looked at it, and at the rest
of the fort, which is but small, and may be commanded from a variety
of hills around. We also looked at the galley or sloop belonging to
the fort, which sails upon the Loch, and brings what is wanted for the
garrison. Captains Urie and Darippe, of the 15th regiment of foot,
breakfasted with us. They had served in America, and entertained Dr
Johnson much with an account of the Indians. He said, he could make a
very pretty book out of them, were he to stay there. Governour Trapaud
was much struck with Dr Johnson. 'I like to hear him,' said he; 'it is
so majestick. I should be glad to hear him speak in your court.' He
pressed us to stay dinner; but I considered that we had a rude road
before us, which we could more easily encounter in the morning, and
that it was hard to say when we might get up, were we to sit down to
good entertainment, in good company: I therefore begged the governour
would excuse us. Here too, I had another very pleasing proof how much
my father is regarded. The governour expressed the highest respect for
him, and bade me tell him, that, if he would come that way on the
northern circuit, he would do him all the honours of the garrison.

Between twelve and one we set out, and travelled eleven miles, through
a wild country, till we came to a house in Glenmorison, called Anoch,
kept by a M'Queen. [Footnote: A M'Queen is a Highland mode of
expression. An Englishman would say ONE M'Queen. But where there are
clans or tribes of men, distinguished by patronymick surnames, the
individuals of each are considered as if they were of different
species, at least as much as nations are distinguished; so that a
M'QUEEN, a M'DONALD, a M'LEAN, is said, as we say a Frenchman, an
Italian, a Spaniard.] Our landlord was a sensible fellow: he had
learnt his grammar, and Dr Johnson justly observed, that 'a man is the
better for that as long as he lives.' There were some books here: a
Treatise against Drunkenness, translated from the French; a volume of
the Spectator; a volume of Prideaux's Connection, and Cyrus's Travels.
M'Queen said he had more volumes; and his pride seemed to be much
piqued that we were surprised at his having books.

Near to this place we had passed a party of soldiers, under a
serjeant's command, at work upon the road. We gave them two shillings
to drink. They came to our inn, and made merry in the barn. We went
and paid them a visit, Dr Johnson saying, 'Come, let's go and give 'em
another shilling a-piece.' We did so; and he was saluted 'My Lord' by
all of them. He is really generous, loves influence, and has the way
of gaining it. He said, 'I am quite feudal, sir.' Here I agree with
him. I said, I regretted I was not the head of a clan; however, though
not possessed of such an hereditary advantage, I would always
endeavour to make my tenants follow me. I could not be a PATRIARCHAL
chief, but I would be a FEUDAL chief.

The poor soldiers got too much liquor. Some of them fought, and left
blood upon the spot, and cursed whisky next morning. The house here
was built of thick turfs, and thatched with thinner turfs and heath.
It had three rooms in length, and a little room which projected. Where
we sat, the side-walls were WAINSCOTTED, as Dr Johnson said, with
wicker, very neatly plaited. Our landlord had made the whole with his
own hands.

After dinner, M'Queen sat by us a while, and talked with us. He said,
all the Laird of Glenmorison's people would bleed for him, if they
were well used; but that seventy men had gone out of the Glen to
America. That he himself intended to go next year; for that the rent
of his farm, which twenty years ago was only five pounds, was now
raised to twenty pounds. That he could pay ten pounds, and live; but
no more. Dr Johnson said, he wished M'Queen Laird of Glenmorison, and
the laird to go to America. M'Queen very generously answered, he
should be sorry for it; for the laird could not shift for himself in
America as he could do.

I talked of the officers whom we had left to day; how much service
they had seen, and how little they got for it, even of fame. JOHNSON.
'Sir, a soldier gets as little as any man can get.' BOSWELL.
'Goldsmith has acquired more fame than all the officers last war, who
were not Generals.' JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, you will find ten thousand fit
to do what they did, before you find one who does what Goldsmith has
done. You must consider, that a thing is valued according to its
rarity. A pebble that paves the street is in itself more useful than
the diamond upon a lady's finger.' I wish our friend Goldsmith had
heard this.

I yesterday expressed my wonder that John Hay, one of our guides, who
had been pressed aboard a man of war, did not choose to continue in it
longer than nine months, after which time he got off. JOHNSON. 'Why,
sir, no man will be a sailor, who has contrivance enough to get
himself into a jail; for, being in a ship is being in a jail, with the
chance of being drowned.'

We had tea in the afternoon, and our landlord's daughter, a modest
civil girl, very neatly drest, made it for us. She told us, she had
been a year at Inverness, and learnt reading and writing, sewing,
knotting, working lace, and pastry. Dr Johnson made her a present of a
book which he had bought at Inverness. [Footnote: This book has given
rise to much inquiry, which has ended in ludicrous surprise. Several
ladies, wishing to learn the kind of reading which the great and good
Dr Johnson esteemed most fit for a young woman, desired to know what
book he had selected for this Highland nymph. They never adverted,'
said he, 'that I had no CHOICE in the matter. I have said that I
presented her with a book which I HAPPENED to have about me.' And what
was this book? My readers, prepare your features for merriment. It was
Cocker's Arithmetick! Wherever this was mentioned, there was a loud
laugh, at which Dr Johnson, when present used sometimes to be a little
angry. One day, when we were dining at General Oglethorpe's, where we
had many a valuable day, I ventured to interrogate him, 'But, sir, is
it not somewhat singular that you should HAPPEN to have Cocker's
Arithmetick about you on your journey? What made you buy such a book
at Inverness?' He gave me a very sufficient answer. 'Why, sir, if you
are to have but one book with you upon a Journey, let it be a book of
science. When you have read through a book of entertainment, you know
it, and it can do no more for you; but a book of science is

The room had some deals laid across the joists, as a kind of ceiling.
There were two beds in the room, and a woman's gown was hung on a rope
to make a curtain of separation between them. Joseph had sheets, which
my wife had sent with us, laid on them. We had much hesitation,
whether to undress, or lie down with our clothes on. I said at last.
'I'll plunge in! There will be less harbour for vermin about me, when
I am stripped!' Dr Johnson said, he was like one hesitating whether to
go into the cold bath. At last he resolved too. I observed, he might
serve a campaign. JOHNSON. 'I could do all that can be done by
patience: whether I should have strength enough, I know not.' He was
in excellent humour. To see the Rambler as I saw him tonight, was really
an amusement. I yesterday told him, I was thinking of writing a poetical
letter to him. On his Return from Scotland, in the stile of Swift's
humorous epistle in the character of Mary Gulliver to her husband,
Captain Lemuel Gulliver, on his return to England from the country of
the Houyhnhums:

  At early morn I to the market haste,
  Studious in ev'ry thing to please thy taste.
  A curious FOWL and SPARAGRASS I chose;
  (For I remember you were fond of those:)
  Three shillings cost the first, the last sev'n groats;
  Sullen you turn from both, and call for OATS.

He laughed, and asked in whose name I would write it. I said, in Mrs
Thrale's. He was angry. 'Sir, if you have any sense of decency or
delicacy, you won't do that!' BOSWELL. 'Then let it be in Cole's, the
landlord of the Mitre tavern; where we have so often sat together.'
JOHNSON. 'Ay, that may do.'

After we had offered up our private devotions, and had chatted a
little from our beds, Dr Johnson said, 'God bless us both, for Jesus
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

Wednesday, 1st September

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 red coat of the 15th regiment, whether officer, or only serjeant, 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
any body to do. Few, indeed, can do them harm. We had him to breakfast
with us. We got away about eight. M'Queen 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.

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; and 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. [Footnote: 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 publick 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 talk 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.'] 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. Evan Campbell, servant to Mr Murchison, factor to
the Laird of Macleod in Glenelg, ran along 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 M'Craas, 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. JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir; but not so terrifying.' I
gave all who chose it, snuff and tobacco. Governour 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 apiece 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 M'Craas, whatever may be their present state, were of
considerable estimation in the year 1715, when there was a line in a

And aw the brave M'Craas are coming.

[Footnote: The M'Craas, or Macraes, were since that time brought into
the king's army, by the late 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 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, alter being better informed, they voluntarily agreed
to go.]

There was great diversity in the faces of the circle around us: Some
were as black and wild in their appearance as any American savages
whatever. 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 shewed a desire to
impose upon strangers, as they knew that even a shilling was high
payment. The woman, however, honestly persisted in her 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

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 climb, notwithstanding the road
is formed slanting along it; however, we made it out. On the top of it
we met Captain M'Leod 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
him, in the forenoon, express a pastoral pleasure on seeing the goats
browzing) 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
Doctor 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 comick. 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, should arrive.
Vass also walked by the side of his horse, and Joseph followed behind:
as therefore he was thus attended, and seemed to be in deep
meditation, I thought there could be no harm in leaving him for a
little while. He called me back with a tremendous shout, and was
really in a passion with me for leaving him. I told him my intentions,
but he was not satisfied, and said, 'Do you know, I should as soon
have thought of picking a pocket, as doing so.' BOSWELL. 'I am
diverted with you, sir.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I could never be diverted with
incivility. Doing such a thing, makes one lose confidence in him who
has done it, as one cannot tell what he may do next.' His
extraordinary warmth confounded me so much, that I justified myself
but lamely to him; yet my intentions were not improper. I wished to
get on, to see how we were to be lodged, and how we were to get a
boat; all which I thought I could best settle myself, without his
having any trouble. To apply his great mind to minute particulars, is
wrong: it is like taking an immense balance, such as is kept on quays
for weighing cargoes of ships, to weigh a guinea. I knew I had neat
little scales, which would do better; and that his attention to every
thing which falls in his way, and his uncommon desire to be always in
the right, would make him weigh, if he knew of the particulars: it was
right therefore for me to weigh them, and let him have them only in
effect. I however continued to ride by him, finding he wished I should
do so.

As we passed the barracks at Bernea, I looked at them wishfully, as
soldiers have always every thing in the best order: but there was only
a serjeant and a few men there. We came on to the inn at Glenelg.
There was no provender for our horses: so they were sent to grass,
with a man to watch them. A maid shewed us up stairs into a room damp
and dirty, with bare walls, a variety of bad smells, a coarse black
greasy fir table, and forms of the same kind; and out of a wretched
bed started a fellow from his sleep, like Edgar in King Lear, 'Poor
Tom's a-cold'. [Footnote: It is amusing to observe the different
images which this being presented to Dr Johnson and me. The Doctor, in
his Journey, compares him to a Cyclops.]

This inn was furnished with not a single article that we could either
eat or drink; but Mr Murchison, factor to the Laird of Macleod in
Glenelg, sent us a bottle of rum and some sugar, with a polite
message, to acquaint us, that he was very sorry that he did not hear
of us till we had passed his house, otherwise he should have insisted
on our sleeping there that night; and that, if he were not obliged to
set out for Inverness early next morning, he would have waited upon
us. Such extraordinary attention from this gentleman, to entire
strangers, deserves the most honourable commemoration.

Our bad accommodation here made me uneasy, and almost fretful. Dr
Johnson was calm. I said, he was so from vanity. JOHNSON. 'No, sir, it
is from philosophy.' It pleased me to see that the Rambler could
practise so well his own lessons.

I resumed the subject of my leaving him on the road, and endeavoured
to defend it better. He was still violent upon that head, and said,
'Sir, had you gone on, I was thinking that I should have returned with
you to Edinburgh, and then have parted from you, and never spoken to
you more.'

I sent for fresh hay, with which we made beds for ourselves, each in a
room, equally miserable. Like Wolfe, we had a 'choice of
difficulties'. Dr Johnson made things easier by comparison. At
M'Queen's, last night, he observed, that few were so well lodged in a
ship. To-night he said, we were better than if we had been upon the
hill. He lay down buttoned up in his great coat. I had my sheets
spread on the hay, and my clothes and great coat laid over me, by way
of blankets.

Thursday, 2d September

I had slept ill. Dr Johnson's anger had affected me much. I considered
that, without any bad intention, I might suddenly forfeit his
friendship; and was impatient to see him this morning. I told him how
uneasy he had made me, by what he had said, and reminded him of his
own remark at Aberdeen, upon old friendships being hastily broken off.
He owned, he had spoken to me in passion; that he would not have done
what he threatened; and that, if he had, he should have been ten times
worse than I; that forming intimacies, would indeed be 'limning the
water', were they liable to such sudden dissolution; and he added,
'Let's think no more on't.' BOSWELL. 'Well then, sir, I shall be easy.
Remember, I am to have fair warning in case of any quarrel. You are
never to spring a mine upon me. It was absurd in me to believe you.'
JOHNSON. 'You deserved about as much, as to believe me from night to
morning.' After breakfast, we got into a boat for Sky. It rained much
when we set off, but cleared up as we advanced. One of the boatmen,
who spoke English, said, that a mile at land was two miles at sea. I
then observed, that from Glenelg to Armidale in Sky, which was our
present course, and is called twelve, was only six miles: but this he
could not understand. 'Well,' said Dr Johnson, 'never talk to me of
the native good sense of the Highlanders. Here is a fellow who calls
one mile two, and yet cannot comprehend that twelve such imaginary
miles make in truth but six.'

We reached the shore of Armidale before one o'clock. Sir Alexander
M'Donald came down to receive us. He and his lady (formerly Miss
Bosville of Yorkshire) were then in a house built by a tenant at this
place, which is in the district of Slate, the family mansion here
having been burned in Sir Donald Macdonald's time.

The most ancient seat of the chief of the Macdonalds in the Isle of
Sky was at Duntulm, where there are the remains of a stately castle.
The principal residence of the family is now at Mugstot, at which
there is a considerable building. Sir Alexander and Lady Macdonald had
come to Armidale in their way to Edinburgh, where it was necessary for
them to be soon after this time.

Armidale is situated on a pretty bay of the narrow sea, which flows
between the main land of Scotland and the Isle of Sky. In front there
is a grand prospect of the rude mountains of Moidart and Knoidart.
Behind are hills gently rising and covered with a finer verdure than I
expected to see in this climate, and the scene is enlivened by a
number of little clear brooks.

Sir Alexander Macdonald having been an Eton scholar, and being a
gentleman of talents, Dr Johnson had been very well pleased with him
in London. But my fellow traveller and I were now full of the old
Highland spirit, and were dissatisfied at hearing of racked rents and
emigration; and finding a chief not surrounded by his clan. Dr Johnson
said, 'Sir, the Highland chiefs should not be allowed to go farther
south than Aberdeen. A strong-minded man, like Sir James Macdonald,
may be improved by an English education; but in general, they will be
tamed into insignificance.'

We found here Mr Janes of Aberdeenshire, a naturalist. Janes said he
had been at Dr Johnson's in London, with Ferguson the astronomer.
JOHNSON. 'It is strange that, in such distant places, I should meet
with any one who knows me. I should have thought I might hide myself
in Sky.'

Friday, 3d September

This day proving wet, we should have passed our time very
uncomfortably, had we not found in the house two chests of books,
which we eagerly ransacked. After dinner, when I alone was left at
table with the few Highland gentlemen who were of the company, having
talked with very high respect of Sir James Macdonald, they were all so
much affected as to shed tears. One of them was Mr Donald Macdonald,
who had been lieutenant of grenadiers in the Highland regiment, raised
by Colonel Montgomery, now Earl of Eglintoune, in the war before last;
one of those regiments which the late Lord Chatham prided himself in
having brought from 'the mountains of the north': by doing which he
contributed to extinguish in the Highlands the remains of disaffection
to the present Royal Family. From this gentleman's conversation, I
first learnt how very popular his Colonel was among the Highlanders;
of which I had such continued proofs, during the whole course of my
tour, that on my return I could not help telling the noble Earl
himself, that I did not before know how great a man he was.

We were advised by some persons here to visit Rasay, in our way to
Dunvegan, the seat of the Laird of Macleod. Being informed that the
Rev. Mr Donald M'Queen was the most intelligent man in Sky, and having
been favoured with a letter of introduction to him, by the learned Sir
James Foulis, I sent it to him by an express, and requested he would
meet us at Rasay; and at the same time enclosed a letter to the Laird
of Macleod, informing him that we intended in a few days to have the
honour of waiting on him at Dunvegan.

Dr Johnson this day endeavoured to obtain some knowledge of the state
of the country; but complained that he could get no distinct
information about any thing, from those with whom he conversed.

Saturday, 4th September

My endeavours to rouse the English-bred chieftain, in whose house we
were, to the feudal and patriarchal feelings, proving ineffectual, Dr
Johnson this morning tried to bring him to our way of thinking.
JOHNSON. 'Were I in your place, sir, in seven years I would make this
an independant island. I would roast oxen whole, and hang out a flag
as a signal to the Macdonalds to come and get beef and whisky.' Sir
Alexander was still starting difficulties. JOHNSON. 'Nay, sir; if you
are born to object, I have done with you. Sir, I would have a magazine
of arms.' SIR ALEXANDER. 'They would rust.' JOHNSON. 'Let there be men
to keep them clean. Your ancestors did not use to let their arms

We attempted in vain to communicate to him a portion of our
enthusiasm. He bore with so polite a good-nature our warm, and what
some might call Gothick, expostulations, on this subject, that I
should not forgive myself, were I to record all that Dr Johnson's
ardour led him to say. This day was little better than a blank.

Sunday, 5th September

I walked to the parish church of Slate, which is a very poor one.
There are no church bells in the island. I was told there were once
some; what has become of them, I could not learn. The minister not
being at home, there was no service. I went into the church and saw
the monument of Sir James Macdonald, which was elegantly executed at
Rome, and has the following inscription, written by his friend, George
Lord Lyttelton:

To the memory
 Who in the flower of youth,
 Had attained to so eminent a degree of knowledge
 in Mathematics, Philosophy, Languages,
 And in every other branch of useful and polite learning.
 As few have acquired in a long life
 Wholly devoted to study:
 Yet to this erudition he joined
 What can rarely be found with it.
 Great talents for business,
 Great propriety of behaviour,
 Great politeness of manners!
 His eloquence was sweet, correct, and flowing;
 His memory vast and exact;
 His judgement strong and acute;
 All which endowments, united
 With the most amiable temper
 And every private virtue,
 Procured him, not only in his own country,
 But also from foreign nations,
 The highest marks of esteem.
 In the year of our Lord
 The 25th of his life,
 After a long and extremely painful illness,
 Which he supported with admirable patience and fortitude,
 He died at Rome,
 Where, notwithstanding the difference of religion.
 Such extraordinary honours were paid to his memory,
 As had never graced that of any other British subject,
 Since the death of Sir Philip Sydney.
 The fame he left behind him is the best consolation
 To his afflicted family,

And to his countrymen in this isle.
 For whose benefit he had planned
 Many useful improvements,
 Which his fruitful genius suggested.
 And his active spirit promoted.
 Under the sober direction
 Of a clear and enlightened understanding.
 Reader, bewail our loss,
 And that of all Britain.
 In testimony of her love,
 And as the best return she can make
 To her departed son.
 For the constant tenderness and affection
 Which, even to his last moments,
 He shewed for her.
 His much afflicted mother.
 Daughter to the EARL of EGLINTOUNE,
 Erected this Monument,
 A.D. 1768.

[Footnote: This extraordinary young man, whom I had the pleasure of
knowing intimately, having been deeply regretted by his country, the
most minute particulars concerning him must be interesting to many. I
shall therefore insert his two last letters to his mother. Lady
Margaret Macdonald, which her ladyship has been pleased to communicate
to me.

Rome, July 9th, 1766.

My Dear Mother,

Yesterday's post brought me your answer to the first letter in which I
acquainted you of my illness. Your tenderness and concern upon that
account are the same I have always experienced, and to which I have
often owed my life. Indeed it never was in so great danger as it has
been lately; and though it would have been a very great comfort to me
to have had you near me, yet perhaps I ought to rejoice, on your
account, that you had not the pain of such a spectacle. I have been
now a week in Rome, and wish I could continue to give you the same
good accounts of my recovery as I did in my last: but I must own that
for three days past. I have been in a very weak and miserable state,
which however seems to give no uneasiness to my physician. My stomach
has been greatly out of order, without any visible cause; and the
palpitation does not decrease. I am told that my stomach will soon
recover its tone, and that the palpitation must cease in time. So I am
willing to believe; and with this hope support the little remains of
spirits which I can be supposed to have, on the forty-seventh day of
such an illness. Do not imagine I have relapsed--I only recover slower
than I expected. If my letter is shorter than usual, the cause of it
is a dose of physick, which has weakened me so much to-day, that I am
not able to write a long letter. I will make up for it next post, and
remain always

Your most sincerely affectionate son,
J. Macdonald.

He grew gradually worse; and on the night before his death he wrote as
follows from Frescati:

My Dear Mother,

Though I did not mean to deceive you in my last letter from Rome, yet
certainly you would have very little reason to conclude of the very
great and constant danger I have gone through ever since that time. My
life, which is still almost entirely desperate, did not at that time
appear to me so, otherwise I should have represented, in its true
colours, a fact which acquires very little horror by that means, and
comes with redoubled force by deception. There is no circumstance of
danger and pain of which I have not had the experience, for a
continued series of above a fortnight; during which time I have
settled my affairs, after my death, with as much distinctness as the
hurry and the nature of the thing could admit of. In case of the
worst, the Abbe Grant will be my executor in this part of the world,
and Mr Mackenzie in Scotland, where my object has been to make you and
my younger brother as independent of the eldest as possible.]

Dr Johnson said, the inscription should have been in Latin, as every
thing intended to be universal and permanent, should be.

This being a beautiful day, my spirits were cheered by the mere effect
of climate. I had felt a return of spleen during my stay at Armidale,
and had it not been that I had Dr Johnson to contemplate, I should
have sunk into dejection; but his firmness supported me. I looked at
him, as a man whose head is turning giddy at sea looks at a rock, or
any fixed object. I wondered at his tranquillity. He said, 'Sir, when
a man retires into an island, he is to turn his thoughts intirely to
another world. He has done with this.' BOSWELL. 'It appears to me,
sir, to be very difficult to unite a due attention to this world, and
that which is to come; for, if we engage eagerly in the affairs of
life, we are apt to be totally forgetful of a future state; and, on
the other hand, a steady contemplation of the awful concerns of
eternity renders all objects here so insignificant, as to make us
indifferent and negligent about them.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, Dr Cheyne has
laid down a rule to himself on this subject, which should be imprinted
on every mind: "To neglect nothing to secure my eternal peace, more
than if I had been certified I should die within the day: nor to mind
any thing that my secular obligations and duties demanded of me, less
than if I had been ensured to live fifty years more."

I must here observe, that though Dr Johnson appeared now to be
philosophically calm, yet his genius did not shine forth as in
companies, where I have listened to him with admiration. The vigour of
his mind was, however, sufficiently manifested, by his discovering no
symptoms of feeble relaxation in the dull, 'weary, flat and
unprofitable' state in which we now were placed.

I am inclined to think that it was on this day he composed the
following Ode upon the Isle of Sky, which a few days afterwards he
shewed me at Raysay:


  Ponti profundis clausa recessibus,
  Strepens procellis, rupibus obsita,
  Quam grata defesso virentem
  Skia sinum nebulosa pandis.

  His cura, credo, sedibus exulat;
  His blanda certe pax habitat locis:
  Non ira, non moeror quietis
  Insidias meditatur horis.

  At non cavata rupe latescere,
  Menti nec aegrae montibus aviis
  Prodest vagari, nec frementes
  E scopulo numerare fluctus

  Humana virtus non sibi sufficit,
  Datur nee aequum cuique animum sibi
  Parare posse, ut Stoicorum
  Secta crepet nimis alta fallax.

  Exaestuantis pectoris impetum.
  Rex summe, solus tu regis arbiter,
  Mentisque, te tollente, surgunt,
  Te recidunt moderante fluctus.

[Footnote: VARIOUS READINGS. Line 2. In the manuscript. Dr Johnson,
instead of rupibus obsita, had written imbribus uvida. and uvida
nubibus, but struck them both out. Lines 15 & 16. Instead of these two
lines, he had written, but afterwards struck out, the following:

  Parare posse, utcunque jactet
  Grandiloquus nimis alta Zeno.]

After supper, Dr Johnson told us, that Isaac Hawkins Browne drank
freely for thirty years, and that he wrote his poem, De Animi
Immortalitate, in some of the last of these years. I listened to this
with the eagerness of one, who, conscious of being himself fond of
wine, is glad to hear that a man of so much genius and good thinking
as Browne had the same propensity.

Monday, 6th September

We set out, accompanied by Mr Donald M'Leod (late of Canna) as our
guide. We rode for some time along the district of Slate, near the
shore. The houses in general are made of turf, covered with grass. The
country seemed well peopled. We came into the district of Strath, and
passed along a wild moorish tract of land till we arrived at the
shore. There we found good verdure, and some curious whin-rocks, or
collections of stones like the ruins of the foundations of old
buildings. We saw also three cairns of considerable size.

About a mile beyond Broadfoot, is Corrichatachin, a farm of Sir
Alexander Macdonald's, possessed by Mr M'Kinnon, [Footnote: That my
readers may have my narrative in the style of the country through
which I am travelling, it is proper to inform them, that the chief of
a clan is denominated by his SURNAME alone, as M'Leod, M'Kinnon.
M'Intosh. To prefix MR to it would be a degradation from THE M'Leod,
&c. My old friend, the Laird of M'Farlane, the great antiquary, took
it highly amiss, when General Wade called him Mr M'Farlane. Dr Johnson
said, he could not bring himself to use this mode of address: it
seemed to him to be too familiar, as it is the way in which, in all
other places, intimates or inferiors are addressed. When the chiefs
have TITLES, they are denominated by them, as SIR JAMES GRANT. SIR
ALLAN M'LEAN. The other Highland gentlemen, of landed property, are
denominated by their ESTATES, as RASAY, BOISDALE; and the wives of all
of them have the title of ladies. The TACKSMEN, or principal tenants,
are named by their farms, as KINGSBURGH, CORRICHATACHIN; and their
wives are called the MISTRESS of Kingsburgh, the MISTRESS of
Corrichatachin. Having given this explanation, I am at liberty to use
that mode of speech which generally prevails in the Highlands and the
Hebrides.] who received us with a hearty welcome, as did his wife, who
was what we call in Scotland a LADY-LIKE woman. Mr Pennant, in the
course of his tour to the Hebrides, passed two nights at this
gentleman's house. On its being mentioned, that a present had here
been made to him of a curious specimen of Highland antiquity, Dr
Johnson said, 'Sir, it was more than he deserved: the dog is a Whig.'

We here enjoyed the comfort of a table plentifully furnished, the
satisfaction of which was heightened by a numerous and cheerful
company; and we for the first time had a specimen of the joyous social
manners of the inhabitants of the Highlands. They talked in their own
ancient language, with fluent vivacity, and sung many Erse songs with
such spirit, that, though Dr Johnson was treated with the greatest
respect and attention, there were moments in which he seemed to be
forgotten. For myself, though but a lowlander, having picked up a few
words of the language, I presumed to mingle in their mirth, and joined
in the choruses with as much glee as any of the company. Dr Johnson
being fatigued with his journey, retired early to his chamber, where
he composed the following Ode, addressed to Mrs Thrale:


  Permeo terras, ubi nuda rupes
  Saxeas miscet nebulis ruinas,
  Torva ubi rident steriles coloni
  Rura labores.

  Pervagor gentes, hominum ferorum
  Vita ubi nullo decorata cultu
  Squallet informis, tugurique fumis
  Foeda latescit.

  Inter erroris salebrosa longi,
  Inter ignotae strepitus loquelae,
  Quot modis mecum, quid agat, requiro,
  Thralia dulcis

  Seu viri curas pia nupta mulcet,
  Seu fovet mater sobolem benigna.
  Sive cum libris novitate pascet
  Sedula mentem;

  Sit memor nostri, fideique merces,
  Stet fides constans, meritoque blandum
  Thraliae discant resonare nomen
  Littora Skiae.

Scriptum in Skia, Sept. 6, 1773.

Tuesday, 7th September

Dr Johnson was much pleased with his entertainment here. There were
many good books in the house: Hector Boethius in Latin; Cave's Lives
of the Fathers; Baker's Chronicle; Jeremy Collier's Church History; Dr
Johnson's small Dictionary; Craufurd's Officers of State, and several
more: a mezzotinto of Mrs Brooks the actress (by some strange chance
in Sky); and also a print of Macdonald of Clanranald, with a Latin
inscription about the cruelties after the battle of Culloden, which
will never be forgotten.

It was a very wet stormy day; we were therefore obliged to remain
here, it being impossible to cross the sea to Rasay.

I employed a part of the forenoon in writing this Journal. The rest of
it was somewhat dreary, from the gloominess of the weather, and the
uncertain state which we were in, as we could not tell but it might
clear up every hour. Nothing is more painful to the mind than a state
of suspence, especially when it depends upon the weather, concerning
which there can be so little calculation. As Dr Johnson said of our
weariness on the Monday at Aberdeen, 'Sensation is sensation.'
Corrichatachin, which was last night a hospitable house, was, in my
mind, changed to-day into a prison. After dinner I read some of Dr
Macpherson's Dissertations on the Ancient Caledonians. I was disgusted
by the unsatisfactory conjectures as to antiquity, before the days of
record. I was happy when tea came. Such, I take it, is the state of
those who live in the country. Meals are wished for from the cravings
of vacuity of mind, as well as from the desire of eating. I was hurt
to find even such a temporary feebleness, and that I was so far from
being that robust wise man who is sufficient for his own happiness. I
felt a kind of lethargy of indolence. I did not exert myself to get Dr
Johnson to talk, that I might not have the labour of writing down his
conversation. He inquired here, if there were any remains of the
second sight. Mr M'Pherson, Minister of Slate, said, he was RESOLVED
not to believe it, because it was founded on no principle. JOHNSON.
'There are many things then, which we are sure are true, that you will
not believe. What principle is there, why a loadstone attracts iron?
Why an egg produces a chicken by heat? Why a tree grows upwards, when
the natural tendency of all things is downwards? Sir, it depends upon
the degree of evidence that you have.' Young Mr M'Kinnon mentioned one
M'Kenzie, who is still alive, who had often fainted in his presence,
and when he recovered, mentioned visions which had been presented to
him. He told Mr M'Kinnon, that at such a place he should meet a
funeral, and that such and such people would be the bearers, naming
four; and three weeks afterwards he saw what M'Kenzie had predicted.
The naming the very spot in a country where a funeral comes a long
way, and the very people as bearers, when there are so many out of
whom a choice may be made, seems extraordinary. We should have sent
for M'Kenzie, had we not been informed that he could speak no English.
Besides, the facts were not related with sufficient accuracy.

Mrs M'Kinnon, who is a daughter of old Kingsburgh, told us that her
father was one day riding in Sky, and some women, who were at work in
a field on the side of the road, said to him, they had heard two
taiscks (that is, two voices of persons about to die), and what was
remarkable, one of them was an ENGLISH taisck, which they never heard
before. When he returned, he at that very place met two funerals, and
one of them was that of a woman who had come from the main land, and
could speak only English. This, she remarked, made a great impression
upon her father.

How all the people here were lodged, I know not. It was partly done by
separating man and wife, and putting a number of men in one room, and
of women in another.

Wednesday, 8th September

When I waked, the rain was much heavier than yesterday; but the wind
had abated. By breakfast, the day was better, and in a little while it
was calm and clear. I felt my spirits much elated. The propriety of
the expression, 'the sunshine of the breast', now struck me with
peculiar force; for the brilliant rays penetrated into my very soul.
We were all in better humour than before. Mrs M'Kinnon, with
unaffected hospitality and politeness, expressed her happiness in
having such company in her house, and appeared to understand and
relish Dr Johnson's conversation, as indeed all the company seemed to
do. When I knew she was old Kingsburgh's daughter, I did not wonder at
the good appearance which she made.

She talked as if her husband and family would emigrate, rather than be
oppressed by their landlord; and said, 'how agreeable would it be, if
these gentlemen should come in upon us when we are in America'.
Somebody observed that Sir Alexander Macdonald was always frightened
at sea. JOHNSON. 'HE is frightened at sea; and his tenants are
frightened when he comes to land.'

We resolved to set out directly after breakfast. We had about two
miles to ride to the sea-side, and there we expected to get one of the
boats belonging to the fleet of bounty herring-busses then on the
coast, or at least a good country fishing-boat. But while we were
preparing to set out, there arrived a man with the following card from
the Reverend Mr Donald M'Queen:

Mr M'Queen's compliments to Mr Boswell, and begs leave to acquaint him
that, fearing the want of a proper boat, as much as the rain of
yesterday, might have caused a stop, he is now at Skianwden with
Macgillichallum's [Footnote: The Highland expression for Laird of
Rasay.] carriage, to convey him and Dr Johnson to Rasay, where they
will meet with a most hearty welcome, and where Macleod, being on a
visit, now attends their motions.--Wednesday afternoon.

This card was most agreeable; it was a prologue to that hospitable and
truly polite reception which we found at Rasay. In a little while
arrived Mr Donald M'Queen himself; a decent minister, an elderly man
with his own black hair, courteous, and rather slow of speech, but
candid, sensible and well informed, nay learned. Along with him came,
as our pilot, a gentleman whom I had a great desire to see, Mr Malcolm
Macleod, one of the Rasay family, celebrated in the year 1745-6. He
was now sixty-two years of age, hale, and well proportioned, with a
manly countenance, tanned by the weather, yet having a ruddiness in
his cheeks, over a great part of which his rough beard extended. His
eye was quick and lively, yet his look was not fierce, but he appeared
at once firm and good-humoured. He wore a pair of brogues, tartan hose
which came up only near to his knees, and left them bare, a purple
camblet kilt, a black waistcoat, a short green cloth coat bound with
gold cord, a yellowish bushy wig, a large blue bonnet with a gold
thread button. I never saw a figure that gave a more perfect
representation of a Highland Gentleman. I wished much to have a
picture of him just as he was. I found him frank and POLITE, in the
true sense of the word.

The good family at Corrichatachin said, they hoped to see us on our
return. We rode down to the shore; but Malcolm walked with graceful

We got into Rasay's CARRIAGE, which was a good strong open boat made
in Norway. The wind had now risen pretty high, and was against us; but
we had four stout rowers, particularly a Macleod, a robust,
black-haired fellow, half naked, and bear-headed, something between a
wild Indian and an English tar. Dr Johnson sat high on the stern, like
a magnificent Triton. Malcolm sung an Erse song, the chorus of which
was 'Hatyin foam foam eri', with words of his own. The tune resembled
'Owr the muir amang the heather', the boatmen and Mr M'Queen chorused,
and all went well. At length Malcolm himself took an oar, and rowed
vigorously. We sailed along the coast of Scalpa, a rugged island,
about four miles in length. Dr Johnson proposed that he and I should
buy it, and found a good school, and an episcopal church (Malcolm
said, he would come to it), and have a printing-press, where he would
print all the Erse that could be found. Here I was strongly struck
with our long projected scheme of visiting the Hebrides being
realized. I called to him, 'We are contending with seas;' which I
think were the words of one of his letters to me. 'Not much,' said he;
and though the wind made the sea lash considerably upon us, he was not
discomposed. After we were out of the shelter of Scalpa, and in the
sound between it and Rasay, which extended about a league, the wind
made the sea very rough. I did not like it. JOHNSON. 'This now is the
Atlantick. If I should tell at a tea table in London, that I have
crossed the Atlantick in an open boat, how they'd shudder, and what a
fool they'd think me to expose myself to such danger.' He then
repeated Horace's ode,

  Otium Divos rogat in patenti
  Prensus Aegaeo...

In the confusion and hurry of this boisterous sail, Dr Johnson's
spurs, of which Joseph had charge, were carried over-board into the
sea, and lost. This was the first misfortune that had befallen us. Dr
Johnson was a little angry at first, observing that 'there was
something wild in letting a pair of spurs be carried into the sea out
of a boat'; but then he remarked, that, as Janes the naturalist had
said upon losing his pocket book, it was rather an inconvenience than
a loss. He told us, he now recollected that he dreamt the night
before, that he put his staff into a river, and chanced to let it go,
and it was carried down the stream and lost. 'So now you see,' said
he, 'that I have lost my spurs; and this story is better than many of
those which we have concerning second sight and dreams.' Mr M'Queen
said he did not believe in second sight; that he never met with any
well attested instances; and if he should, he should impute them to
chance; because all who pretend to that quality often fail in their
predictions, though they take a great scope, and sometimes interpret
literally, sometimes figuratively, so as to suit the events. He told
us, that, since he came to be minister of the parish where he now is,
the belief of witchcraft, or charms, was very common, insomuch that he
had many prosecutions before his session (the parochial ecclesiastical
court) against women, for having by these means carried off the milk
from people's cows. He disregarded them; and there is not now the
least vestige of that superstition. He preached against it; and in
order to give a strong proof to the people that there was nothing in
it, he said from the pulpit, that every woman in the parish was
welcome to take the milk from his cows, provided she did not touch

Dr Johnson asked him as to Fingal. He said he could repeat some
passages in the original, that he heard his grandfather had a copy of
it; but that he could not affirm that Ossian composed all that poem as
it is now published. This came pretty much to what Dr Johnson had
maintained; though he goes farther, and contends that it is no better
than such an epick poem as he could make from the song of Robin Hood;
that is to say, that, except a few passages, there is nothing truly
ancient but the names and some vague traditions. Mr M'Queen alledged
that Homer was made up of detached fragments. Dr Johnson denied this;
observing, that it had been one work originally, and that you could
not put a book of the Iliad out of its place; and he believed the same
might be said of the Odyssey.

The approach to Rasay was very pleasing. We saw before us a beautiful
bay, well defended by a rocky coast; a good family mansion; a fine
verdure about it, with a considerable number of trees; and beyond it
hills and mountains in gradation of wildness. Our boatmen sung with
great spirit. Dr Johnson observed, that naval musick was very ancient.
As we came near the shore, the singing of our rowers was succeeded by
that of reapers, who were busy at work, and who seemed to shout as
much as to sing, while they worked with a bounding activity. Just as
we landed, I observed a cross, or rather the ruins of one, upon a
rock, which had to me a pleasing vestige of religion. I perceived a
large company coming out from the house. We met them as we walked up.
There were Rasay himself; his brother Dr Macleod; his nephew the Laird
of M'Kinnon; the Laird of Macleod; Colonel Macleod of Talisker, an
officer in the Dutch service, a very genteel man, and a faithful
branch of the family; Mr Macleod of Muiravenside, best known by the
name of Sandie Macleod, who was long in exile on account of the part
which he took in 1745; and several other persons. We were welcomed
upon the green, and conducted into the house, where we were introduced
to Lady Rasay, who was surrounded by a numerous family, consisting of
three sons and ten daughters. The Laird of Rasay is a sensible,
polite, and most hospitable gentleman. I was told that his island of
Rasay, and that of Rona (from which the eldest son of the family has
his title), and a considerable extent of land which he has in Sky, do
not altogether yield him a very large revenue: and yet he lives in
great splendour; and so far is he from distressing his people, that,
in the present rage for emigration, not a man has left his estate.

It was past six o'clock when we arrived. Some excellent brandy was
served round immediately, according to the custom of the Highlands,
where a dram is generally taken every day. They call it a scatch. On a
side-board was placed for us, who had come off the sea, a substantial
dinner, and a variety of wines. Then we had coffee and tea. I observed
in the room several elegantly bound books and other marks of improved
life. Soon afterwards a fiddler appeared, and a little ball began.
Rasay himself danced with as much spirit as any man, and Malcolm
bounded like a roe. Sandie Macleod, who has at times an excessive flow
of spirits, and had it now, was, in his days of absconding, known by
the name of M'Cruslick, which it seems was the designation of a kind
of wild man in the Highlands, something between Proteus and Don
Quixotte; and so he was called here. He made much jovial noise. Dr
Johnson was so delighted with this scene, that he said, 'I know not
how we shall get away.' It entertained me to observe him sitting by,
while we danced, sometimes in deep meditation, sometimes smiling
complacently, sometimes looking upon Hooke's Roman History, and
sometimes talking a little amidst the noise of the ball, to Mr Donald
M'Queen, who anxiously gathered knowledge from him. He was pleased
with M'Queen and said to me, 'This is a critical man, sir. There must
be great vigour of mind to make him cultivate learning so much in the
isle of Sky, where he might do without it. It is wonderful how many of
the new publications he has. There must be a snatch of every
opportunity.' Mr M'Queen told me that his brother (who is the fourth
generation of the family following each other as ministers of the
parish of Snizort) and he joined together, and bought from time to
time such books as had reputation. Soon after we came in, a black cock
and grey hen, which had been shot, were shewn, with their feathers on,
to Dr Johnson, who had never seen that species of bird before. We had
a company of thirty at supper; and all was good humour and gaiety,
without intemperance.

Thursday, 9th September

At breakfast this morning, among a profusion of other things, there
were oat-cakes, made of what is called graddaned meal, that is, meal
made of grain separated from the husks, and toasted by fire, instead
of being threshed and kiln dried. This seems to be bad management, as
so much fodder is consumed by it. Mr M'Queen however defended it, by
saying, that it is doing the thing much quicker, as one operation
effects what is otherwise done by two. His chief reason however was,
that the servants of Sky are, according to him, a faithless pack, and
steal what they can; so that much is saved by the corn passing but
once through their hands, as at each time they pilfer some. It appears
to me, that the graddaning is a strong proof of the laziness of the
highlanders, who will rather make fire act for them, at the expence of
fodder, than labour themselves. There was also, what I cannot help
disliking at breakfast, cheese: it is the custom over all the
Highlands to have it; and it often smells very strong, and poisons to
a certain degree the elegance of an Indian repast. The day was
showery; however, Rasay and I took a walk, and had some cordial
conversation. I conceived a more than ordinary regard for this worthy
gentleman. His family has possessed this island above four hundred
years. It is the remains of the estate of Macleod of Lewis, whom he
represents. When we returned, Dr Johnson walked with us to see the old
chapel. He was in fine spirits. He said, 'This is truely the
patriarchal life: this is what we came to find.'

After dinner, M'Cruslick, Malcolm, and I, went out with guns, to try
if we could find any black-cock; but we had no sport, owing to a heavy
rain. I saw here what is called a Danish fort. Our evening was passed
as last night was. One of our company, I was told, had hurt himself by
too much study, particularly of infidel metaphysicians, of which he
gave a proof, on second sight being mentioned. He immediately retailed
some of the fallacious arguments of Voltaire and Hume against miracles
in general. Infidelity in a Highland gentleman appeared to me
peculiarly offensive. I was sorry for him, as he had otherwise a good
character. I told Dr Johnson that he had studied himself into
infidelity. JOHNSON. 'Then he must study himself out of it again. That
is the way. Drinking largely will sober him again.'

Friday, 10th September

Having resolved to explore the island of Rasay, which could be done
only on foot, I last night obtained my fellow-traveller's permission
to leave him for a day, he being unable to take so hardy a walk. Old
Mr Malcolm M'Cleod, who had obligingly promised to accompany me, was
at my bedside between five and six. I sprang up immediately, and he
and I, attended by two other gentlemen, traversed the country during
the whole of this day. Though we had passed over not less than
four-and-twenty miles of very rugged ground, and had a Highland dance
on the top of Dun Can, the highest mountain in the island, we returned
in the evening not at all fatigued, and piqued ourselves at not being
outdone at the nightly ball by our less active friends, who had
remained at home.

My survey of Rasay did not furnish much which can interest my readers;
I shall therefore put into as short a compass as I can, the
observations upon it, which I find registered in my journal. It is
about fifteen English miles long, and four broad. On the south side is
the laird's family seat, situated on a pleasing low spot. The old
tower of three stories, mentioned by Martin, was taken down soon after
1746, and a modern house supplies its place. There are very good
grass-fields and corn-lands about it, well dressed. I observed,
however, hardly any inclosures, except a good garden plentifully
stocked with vegetables, and strawberries, raspberries, currants, &c.

On one of the rocks just where we landed, which are not high, there is
rudely carved a square, with a crucifix in the middle. Here, it is
said, the lairds of Rasay, in old times, used to offer up their
devotions. I could not approach the spot, without a grateful
recollection of the event commemorated by this symbol.

A little from the shore, westward, is a kind of subterraneous house.
There has been a natural fissure, or separation of the rock, running
towards the sea, which has been roofed over with long stones, and
above them turf has been laid. In that place the inhabitants used to
keep their oars. There are a number of trees near the house, which
grow well; some of them of a pretty good size. They are mostly plane
and ash. A little to the west of the house is an old ruinous chapel,
unroofed, which never has been very curious. We here saw some human
bones of an uncommon size. There was a heel-bone, in particular,
which Dr Macleod said was such, that if the foot was in proportion, it
must have been twenty-seven inches long. Dr Johnson would not look at
the bones. He started back from them with a striking appearance of
horrour. Mr M'Queen told us, it was formerly much the custom, in these
isles, to have human bones lying above ground, especially in the
windows of churches. On the south of the chapel is the family burying
place. Above the door, on the east end of it, is a small bust or image
of the Virgin Mary, carved upon a stone which makes part of the wall.
There is no church upon the island. It is annexed to one of the
parishes of Sky; and the minister comes and preaches either in Rasay's
house, or some other house, on certain Sundays. I could not but value
the family seat more, for having even the ruins of a chapel close to
it. There was something comfortable in the thought of being so near a
piece of consecrated ground. Dr Johnson said, 'I look with reverence
upon every place that has been set apart for religion'; and he kept
off his hat while he was within the walls of the chapel.

The eight crosses, which Martin mentions as pyramids for deceased
ladies, stood in a semicircular line, which contained within it the
chapel. They marked out the boundaries of the sacred territory within
which an asylum was to be had. One of them, which we observed upon our
landing, made the first point of the semicircle. There are few of them
now remaining. A good way farther north, there is a row of buildings
about four feet high: they run from the shore on the east along the
top of a pretty high eminence, and so down to the shore on the west,
in much the same direction with the crosses. Rasay took them to be the
marks for the asylum; but Malcolm thought them to be false sentinels,
a common deception, of which instances occur in Martin, to make
invaders imagine an island better guarded. Mr Donald M'Queen, justly
in my opinion, supposed the crosses which form the inner circle to be
the church's land-marks.

The south end of the island is much covered with large stones or rocky
strata. The laird has enclosed and planted part of it with firs, and
he shewed me a considerable space marked out for additional

Dun Can is a mountain three computed miles from the laird's house. The
ascent to it is by consecutive risings, if that expression may be used
when vallies intervene, so that there is but a short rise at once; but
it is certainly very high above the sea. The palm of altitude is
disputed for by the people of Rasay and those of Sky; the former
contending for Dun Can, the latter for the mountains in Sky, over
against it. We went up the east side of Dun Can pretty easily. It is
mostly rocks all around, the points of which hem the summit of it.
Sailors, to whom it is a good object as they pass along, call it
Rasay's cap. Before we reached this mountain, we passed by two lakes.
Of the first, Malcolm told me a strange fabulous tradition. He said,
there was a wild beast in it, a sea-horse, which came and devoured a
man's daughter; upon which the man lighted a great fire, and had a sow
roasted at it, the smell of which attracted the monster. In the fire
was put a spit. The man lay concealed behind a low wall of loose
stones, and he had an avenue formed for the monster, with two rows of
large flat stones, which extended from the fire over the summit of the
hill, till it reached the side of the loch. The monster came, and the
man with the red-hot spit destroyed it. Malcolm shewed me the little
hiding-place, and the rows of stones. He did not laugh when he told
this story. I recollect having seen in the Scots Magazine, several
years ago, a poem upon a similar tale, perhaps the same, translated
from the Erse, or Irish, called Albin and the Daughter of Mey.

There is a large tract of land, possessed as a common, in Rasay. They
have no regulations as to the number of cattle. Every man puts upon it
as many as he chooses. From Dun Can northward, till you reach the
other end of the island, there is much good natural pasture
unincumbered by stones. We passed over a spot, which is appropriated
for the exercising ground. In 1745, a hundred fighting men were
reviewed here, as Malcolm told me, who was one of the officers that
led them to the field. They returned home all but about fourteen. What
a princely thing is it to be able to furnish such a band! Rasay has
the true spirit of a chief. He is, without exaggeration, a father to
his people.

There is plenty of lime-stone in the island, a great quarry of
free-stone, and some natural woods, but none of any age, as they cut
the trees for common country uses. The lakes, of which there are many,
are well stocked with trout. Malcolm catched one of four-and-twenty
pounds weight in the loch next to Dun Can, which, by the way, is
certainly a Danish name, as most names of places in these islands are.

The old castle, in which the family of Rasay formerly resided, is
situated upon a rock very near the sea: the rock is not one mass of
stone, but a concretion of pebbles and earth, so firm that it does not
appear to have mouldered. In this remnant of antiquity I found nothing
worthy of being noticed, except a certain accommodation rarely to be
found at the modern houses of Scotland, and which Dr Johnson and I
fought for in vain at the Laird of Rasay's new-built mansion, where
nothing else was wanting. I took the liberty to tell the laird it was
a shame there should be such a deficiency in civilized times. He
acknowledged the justice of the remark. But perhaps some generations
may pass before the want is supplied. Dr Johnson observed to me, how
quietly people will endure an evil, which they might at any time very
easily remedy; and mentioned as an instance, that the present family
of Rasay had possessed the island for more than four-hundred years,
and never made a commodious landing place, though a few men with
pickaxes might have cut an ascent of stairs out of any part of the
rock in a week's time.

The north end of Rasay is as rocky as the south end. From it I saw the
little Isle of Fladda, belonging to Rasay, all fine green ground; and
Rona, which is of so rocky a soil that it appears to be a pavement. I
was told however that it has a great deal of grass, in the
interstices. The laird has it all in his own hands. At this end of the
island of Rasay is a cave in a striking situation. It is in a recess
of a great cleft, a good way up from the sea. Before it the ocean
roars, being dashed against monstrous broken rocks; grand and aweful
propugnacula. On the right hand of it is a longitudinal cave, very low
at the entrance, but higher as you advance. The sea having scooped it
out, it seems strange and unaccountable that the interior part, where
the water must have operated with less force, should be loftier than
that which is more immediately exposed to its violence. The roof of it
is all covered with a kind of petrifications formed by drops, which
perpetually distil from it. The first cave has been a place of much
safety. I find a great difficulty in describing visible objects. I
must own too that the old castle and cave, like many other things, of
which one hears much, did not answer my expectations. People are every
where apt to magnify the curiosities of their country.

This island has abundance of black cattle, sheep, and goats; a good
many horses, which are used for ploughing, carrying out dung, and
other works of husbandry. I believe the people never ride. There are
indeed no roads through the island, unless a few detached beaten
tracks deserve that name. Most of the houses are upon the shore; so
that all the people have little boats, and catch fish. There is great
plenty of potatoes here. There are black-cock in extraordinary
abundance, moor-fowl, plover and wild pigeons, which seemed to me to
be the same as we have in pigeon-houses, in their state of nature.
Rasay has no pigeon-house. There are no hares nor rabbits in the
island, nor was there ever known to be a fox, till last year, when one
was landed on it by some malicious person, without whose aid he could
not have got thither, as that animal is known to be a very bad
swimmer. He has done much mischief. There is a great deal of fish
caught in the sea round Rasay; it is a place where one may live in
plenty, and even in luxury. There are no deer; but Rasay told us he
would get some.

They reckon it rains nine months in the year in this island, owing to
its being directly opposite to the western coast of Sky, where the
watery clouds are broken by high mountains. The hills here, and indeed
all the healthy grounds in general, abound with the sweet-smelling
plant which the highlanders call gaul, and (I think) with dwarf
juniper in many places. There is enough of turf, which is their fuel,
and it is thought there is a mine of coal. Such are the observations
which I made upon the island of Rasay, upon comparing it with the
description given by Martin, whose book we had with us.

There has been an ancient league between the families of Macdonald and
Rasay. Whenever the head of either family dies, his sword is given to
the head of the other. The present Rasay has the late Sir James
Macdonald's sword. Old Rasay joined the Highland army in 1745, but
prudently guarded against a forfeiture, by previously conveying his
estate to the present gentleman, his eldest son. On that occasion, Sir
Alexander, father of the late Sir James Macdonald, was very friendly
to his neighbour. 'Don't be afraid, Rasay,' said he; 'I'll use all my
interest to keep you safe; and if your estate should be taken, I'll
buy it for the family.' And he would have done it.

Let me now gather some gold dust--some more fragments of Dr Johnson's
conversation, without regard to order of time. He said, he thought
very highly of Bentley; that no man now went so far in the kinds of
learning that he cultivated; that the many attacks on him were owing
to envy, and to a desire of being known, by being in competition with
such a man; that it was safe to attack him, because he never answered
his opponents, but let them die away. It was attacking a man who would
not beat them, because his beating them would make them live the
longer. And he was right not to answer; for, in his hazardous method
of writing, he could not but be often enough wrong; so it was better
to leave things to their general appearance, than own himself to have
erred in particulars. He said, Mallet was the prettiest drest puppet
about town, and always kept good company. That, from his way of
talking, he saw, and always said, that he had not written any part of
the Life of the Duke of Marlborough, though perhaps he intended to do
it at some time, in which case he was not culpable in taking the
pension. That he imagined the duchess furnished the materials for her
Apology, which Hooke wrote, and Hooke furnished the words and the
order, and all that in which the art of writing consists. That the
duchess had not superior parts, but was a bold frontless woman, who
knew how to make the most of her opportunities in life. That Hooke got
a LARGE sum of money for writing her Apology. That he wondered Hooke
should have been weak enough to insert so profligate a maxim, as that
to tell another's secret to one's friend, is no breach of confidence;
though perhaps Hooke, who was a virtuous man, as his History shews,
and did not wish her well, though he wrote her Apology, might see its
ill tendency, and yet insert it at her desire. He was acting only
ministerially. I apprehend, however, that Hooke was bound to give his
best advice. I speak as a lawyer. Though I have had clients whose
causes I could not, as a private man, approve; yet, if I undertook
them, I would not do any thing that might be prejudicial to them, even
at their desire, without warning them of their danger.

Saturday, 11th September

It was a storm of wind and rain; so we could not set out. I wrote some
of this Journal, and talked awhile with Dr Johnson in his room, and
passed the day, I cannot well say how, but very pleasantly. I was here
amused to find Mr Cumberland's comedy of the Fashionable Lover, in
which he has very well drawn a Highland character, Colin M'Cleod, of
the same name with the family under whose roof we now were. Dr Johnson
was much pleased with the Laird of Macleod, who is indeed a most
promising youth, and with a noble spirit struggles with difficulties,
and endeavours to preserve his people. He has been left with an
incumbrance of forty thousand pounds debt, and annuities to the amount
of thirteen hundred pounds a year. Dr Johnson said, 'If he gets the
better of all this, he'll be a hero; and I hope he will. I have not
met with a young man who had more desire to learn, or who has learnt
more. I have seen nobody that I wish more to do a kindness to than
Macleod.' Such was the honourable elogium, on this young chieftain,
pronounced by an accurate observer, whose praise was never lightly

There is neither justice of peace, nor constable in Rasay. Sky has Mr
M'Cleod of Ulinish, who is the sheriff substitute, and no other
justice of peace. The want of the execution of justice is much felt
among the islanders. Macleod very sensibly observed, that taking away
the heritable jurisdictions had not been of such service in the
islands, as was imagined. They had not authority enough in lieu of
them. What could formerly have been settled at once, must now either
take much time and trouble, or be neglected. Dr Johnson said, 'A
country is in a bad state, which is governed only by laws; because a
thousand things occur for which laws cannot provide, and where
authority ought to interpose. Now destroying the authority of the
chiefs set the people loose. It did not pretend to bring any positive
good, but only to cure some evil; and I am not well enough acquainted
with the country to know what degree of evil the heritable
jurisdictions occasioned.' I maintained hardly any; because the chiefs
generally acted right, for their own sakes.

Dr Johnson was now wishing to move. There was not enough of
intellectual entertainment for him, after he had satisfyed his
curiosity, which he did, by asking questions, till he had exhausted
the island; and where there was so numerous a company, mostly young
people, there was such a flow of familiar talk, so much noise, and so
much singing and dancing, that little opportunity was left for his
energetick conversation. He seemed sensible of this; for when I told
him how happy they were at having him there, he said, 'Yet we have not
been able to entertain them much.' I was fretted, from irritability of
nerves, by M'Cruslick's too obstreperous mirth. I complained of it to
my friend, observing we should be better if he was gone. 'No, sir,'
said he. 'He puts something into our society, and takes nothing out of
it.' Dr Johnson, however, had several opportunities of instructing the
company; but I am sorry to say, that I did not pay sufficient
attention to what passed, as his discourse now turned chiefly on
mechanicks, agriculture and such subjects, rather than on science and
wit. Last night Lady Rasay shewed him the operation of wawking cloth,
that is, thickening it in the same manner as is done by a mill. Here
it is performed by women, who kneel upon the ground, and rub it with
both their hands, singing an Erse song all the time. He was asking
questions while they were performing this operation, and, amidst their
loud and wild howl, his voice was heard even in the room above.

They dance here every night. The queen of our ball was the eldest Miss
Macleod, of Rasay, an elegant well-bred woman, and celebrated for her
beauty over all those regions, by the name of Miss Flora Rasay.
[Footnote: She had been some time at Edinburgh, to which she again
went, and was married to my worthy neighbour, Colonel Mure Campbell,
now Earl of Loudoun; but she died soon afterwards, leaving one
daughter.] There seemed to be no jealousy, no discontent among them;
and the gaiety of the scene was such, that I for a moment doubted
whether unhappiness had any place in Rasay. But my delusion was soon
dispelled, by recollecting the following lines of my fellow-traveller:

  Yet hope not life from grief or danger free,
  Nor think the doom of man revers'd for thee!

Sunday, 12th September

It was a beautiful day, and although we did not approve of travelling
on Sunday, we resolved to set out, as we were in an island from whence
one must take occasion as it serves. Macleod and Talisker sailed in a
boat of Rasay's for Sconser, to take the shortest way to Dunvegan.
M'Cruslick went with them to Sconser, from whence he was to go to
Slate, and so to the main land. We were resolved to pay a visit at
Kingsburgh, and see the celebrated Miss Flora Macdonald, who is
married to the present Mr Macdonald of Kingsburgh; so took that road,
though not so near. All the family, but Lady Rasay, walked down to the
shore to see us depart. Rasay himself went with us in a large boat,
with eight oars, built in his island; as did Mr Malcolm M'Cleod, Mr
Donald M'Queen, Dr Macleod, and some others. We had a most pleasant
sail between Rasay and Sky; and passed by a cave, where Martin says
fowls were caught by lighting fire in the mouth of it. Malcolm
remembers this. But it is not now practised, as few fowls come into

We spoke of death. Dr Johnson on this subject observed, that the
boastings of some men, as to dying easily, were idle talk, proceeding
from partial views. I mentioned Hawthornden's Cypress Grove, where it
is said that the world is a mere show; and that it is unreasonable for
a man to wish to continue in the show-room, after he has seen it. Let
him go cheerfully out, and give place to other spectators. JOHNSON.
'Yes, sir, if he is sure he is to be well, after he goes out of it.
But if he is to grow blind after he goes out of the show-room, and
never to see any thing again; or if he does not know whither he is to
go next, a man will not go cheerfully out of a show-room. No wise man
will be contented to die, if he thinks he is to go into a state of
punishment. Nay, no wise man will be contented to die, if he thinks he
is to fall into annihilation: for however unhappy any man's existence
may be, he yet would rather have it, than not exist at all. No; there
is no rational principle by which a man can die contented, but a trust
in the mercy of God, through the merits of Jesus Christ.' This short
sermon, delivered with an earnest tone, in a boat upon the sea, which
was perfectly calm, on a day appropriated to religious worship, while
every one listened with an air of satisfaction, had a most pleasing
effect upon my mind.

Pursuing the same train of serious reflection, he added, that it
seemed certain that happiness could not be found in this life, because
so many had tried to find it, in such a variety of ways, and had not
found it.

We reached the harbour of Portree, in Sky, which is a large and good
one. There was lying in it a vessel to carry off the emigrants, called
the Nestor. It made a short settlement of the differences between a
chief and his clan:

  ... Nestor componere lites
  Inter Peleiden festinat & inter Atriden.

We approached her, and she hoisted her colours. Dr Johnson and Mr
M'Queen remained in the boat: Rasay and I, and the rest went on board
of her. She was a very pretty vessel, and, as we were told, the
largest in Clyde. Mr Harrison, the captain shewed her to us. The cabin
was commodious, and even elegant. There was a little library, finely
bound. Portree has its name from King James the Fifth having landed
there in his tour through the Western Isles, Ree in Erse being King,
as Re is in Italian; so it is Port-Royal. There was here a tolerable
inn. On our landing, I had the pleasure of finding a letter from home;
and there were also letters to Dr Johnson and me, from Lord Elibank,
which had been sent after us from Edinburgh. His lordship's letter to
me was as follows:

Dear Boswell,

I flew to Edinburgh the moment I heard of Mr Johnson's arrival; but so
defective was my intelligence, that I came too late. It is but justice
to believe, that I could never forgive myself, nor deserve to be
forgiven by others, if I was to foil in any mark of respect to that
very great genius.--I hold him in the highest veneration: for that
very reason I was resolved to take no share in the merit, perhaps
guilt, of inticing him to honour this country with a visit.--I could
not persuade myself there was any thing in Scotland worthy to have a
Summer of Samuel Johnson bestowed on it; but since he has done us that
compliment, for heaven's sake inform me of your motions. I will attend
them most religiously; and though I should regret to let Mr Johnson go
a mile out of his way on my account, old as I am, I shall be glad to
go five hundred miles to enjoy a day of his company. Have the charity
to send a council-post [Footnote: A term in Scotland for a special
messenger, such as was formerly sent with dispatches by the lords of
the council.] with intelligence; the post does not suit us in the
country. At any rate write to me. I will attend you in the north, when
I shall know where to find you.

I am,
  My dear Boswell,
  Your sincerely
  Obedient humble servant,
  August 21st, 1773.

The letter to Dr Johnson was in these words:

Dear Sir,

I was to have kissed your hands at Edinburgh, the moment I heard of
you; but you were gone.

I hope my friend Boswell will inform me of your motions. It will be
cruel to deprive me an instant of the honour of attending you. As I
value you more than any King in Christendom, I will perform that duty
with infinitely greater alacrity than any courtier. I can contribute
but little to your entertainment; but, my sincere esteem for you gives
me some tide to the opportunity of expressing it.

I dare say you are by this time sensible that things are pretty much
the same, as when Buchanan complained of being born solo et seculo
inerudito. Let me hear of you, and be persuaded that none of your
admirers is more sincerely devoted to you, than,

Dear Sir,
  Your most obedient,
  And most humble servant,

Dr Johnson, on the following Tuesday, answered for both of us, thus:

My Lord,

On the rugged shore of Skie, I had the honour of your lordship's
letter, and can with great truth declare, that no place is so gloomy
but that it would be cheered by such a testimony of regard, from a
mind so well qualified to estimate characters, and to deal out
approbation in its due proportions. If I have more than my share, it
is your lordship's fault; for I have always reverenced your judgment
too much, to exalt myself in your presence by any false pretensions.

Mr Boswell and I are at present at the disposal of the winds, and
therefore cannot fix the time at which we shall have the honour of
seeing your lordship. But we should either of us think ourselves
injured by the supposition that we would miss your lordship's
conversation, when we could enjoy it; for I have often declared that I
never met you without going away a wiser man.

I am, my Lord,
  Your lordship's most obedient
  And most humble servant,

At Portree, Mr Donald M'Queen went to church and officiated in Erse,
and then came to dinner. Dr Johnson and I resolved that we should
treat the company, so I played the landlord, or master of the feast,
having previously ordered Joseph to pay the bill.

Sir James Macdonald intended to have built a village here, which would
have done great good. A village is like a heart to a country. It
produces a perpetual circulation, and gives the people an opportunity
to make profit of many little articles, which would otherwise be in a
good measure lost. We had here a dinner, et praeterea nihil. Dr
Johnson did not talk. When we were about to depart, we found that
Rasay had been before-hand with us, and that all was paid: I would
fain have contested this matter with him, but seeing him resolved, I
declined it. We parted with cordial embraces from him and worthy
Malcolm. In the evening Dr Johnson and I remounted our horses,
accompanied by Mr M'Queen and Dr Macleod. It rained very hard. We rode
what they call six miles, upon Rasay's lands in Sky, to Dr Macleod's
house. On the road Dr Johnson appeared to be somewhat out of spirits.
When I talked of our meeting Lord Elibank, he said, 'I cannot be with
him much. I long to be again in civilized life; but can stay but for a
short while' (he meant at Edinburgh). He said, 'Let us go to Dunvegan
to-morrow.' 'Yes,' said I, 'if it is not a deluge.' 'At any rate,' he
replied. This shewed a kind of fretful impatience; nor was it to be
wondered at, considering our disagreeable ride. I feared he would give
up Mull and Icolmkill, for he said something of his apprehensions of
being detained by bad weather in going to Mull and Iona. However I
hoped well. We had a dish of tea at Dr Macleod's, who had a pretty
good house, where was his brother, a half-pay officer. His lady was a
polite, agreeable woman. Dr Johnson said, he was glad to see that he
was so well married, for he had an esteem for physicians. The doctor
accompanied us to Kingsburgh, which is called a mile farther; but the
computation of Sky has no connection whatever with real distance.

I was highly pleased to see Dr Johnson safely arrived at Kingsburgh,
and received by the hospitable Mr Macdonald, who, with a most
respectful attention, supported him into the house. Kingsburgh was
completely the figure of a gallant highlander, exhibiting 'the
graceful mien and manly looks', which our popular Scotch song has
justly attributed to that character. He had his tartan plaid thrown
about him, a large blue bonnet with a knot of black ribband like a
cockade, a brown short coat of a kind of duffil, a tartan waistoat
with gold buttons and gold button-holes, a bluish philibeg, and tartan
hose. He had jet black hair tied behind, and was a large stately man,
with a steady sensible countenance.

There was a comfortable parlour with a good fire, and a dram went
round. By and by supper was served, at which there appeared the lady
of the house, the celebrated Miss Flora Macdonald. She is a little
woman, of a genteel appearance, and uncommonly mild and well bred. To
see Dr Samuel Johnson, the great champion of the English Tories,
salute Miss Flora Macdonald in the isle of Sky, was a striking sight;
for though somewhat congenial in their notions, it was very improbable
they should meet here.

Miss Flora Macdonald (for so I shall call her) told me, she heard upon
the main land, as she was returning home about a fortnight before,
that Mr Boswell was coming to Sky, and one Mr Johnson, a young English
buck, with him. He was highly entertained with this fancy. Giving an
account of the afternoon which we passed at Anock, he said, 'I, being
a BUCK, had miss in to make tea.' He was rather quiescent tonight, and
went early to bed. I was in a cordial humour, and promoted a cheerful
glass. The punch was excellent. Honest Mr M'Queen observed that I was
in high glee, 'my governour being gone to bed'. Yet in reality my
heart was grieved, when I recollected that Kingsburgh was embarrassed
in his affairs, and intended to go to America. However, nothing but
what was good was present, and I pleased myself in thinking that so
spirited a man should be well every where. I slept in the same room
with Dr Johnson. Each had a neat bed, with tartan curtains, in an
upper chamber.

Monday, 13th September

The room where we lay was a celebrated one. Dr Johnson's bed was the
very bed in which the grandson of the unfortunate King James the
Second [Footnote: I do not call him the Prince of Wales, or the
Prince, because I am quite satisfied that the right which the House of
Stuart had to the throne is extinguished. I do not call him the
Pretender, because it appears to me as an insult to one who is still
alive, and, I suppose, thinks very differently. It may be a
parliamentary expression; but it is not a gentlemanly expression. I
KNOW, and I exult in having it in my power to tell, that the ONLY
PERSON in the world who is intitled to be offended at this delicacy,
thinks and feels as I do; and has liberality of mind and generosity of
sentiment enough to approve of my tenderness for what even HAS BEEN
Blood Royal. That he is A PRINCE by COURTESY, cannot be denied;
because his mother was the daughter of Sobiesky, king of Poland. I
shall, therefore, ON THAT ACCOUNT ALONE, distinguish him by the name
of PRINCE CHARLES EDWARD.] lay, on one of the nights after the failure
of his rash attempt in 1745-6, while he was eluding the pursuit of the
emissaries of government, which had offered thirty thousand pounds as
a reward for apprehending him. To see Dr Samuel Johnson lying in that
bed, in the isle of Sky, in the house of Miss Flora Macdonald, struck
me with such a group of ideas as it is not easy for words to describe,
as they passed through the mind. He smiled and said, 'I have had no
ambitious thoughts in it.' [Footnote: This perhaps, was said in
allusion to some lines ascribed to Pope, on his lying, at John Duke of
Argyle's, at Adderbury, in the same bed in which Wilmot, Earl of
Rochester, had slept.

  With no poetick ardour fir'd,
  I press the bed where Wilmot lay.
  That here he liv'd; or here expir'd.
  Begets no numbers, grave or gay.]

The room was decorated with a great variety of maps and prints. Among
others, was Hogarth's print of Wilkes grinning, with the cap of
liberty on a pole by him. That too was a curious circumstance in the
scene this morning; such a contrast was Wilkes to the above group. It
reminded me of Sir William Chambers's Account of Oriental Gardening,
in which we are told all odd, strange, ugly, and even terrible
objects, are introduced, for the sake of variety; a wild extravagance
of taste which is so well ridiculed in the celebrated Epistle to him.
The following lines of that poem immediately occurred to me;

  Here too, O king of vengeance! in thy fane,
  Tremendous Wilkes shall rattle his gold chain.

Upon the table in our room I found in the morning a slip of paper, on
which Dr Johnson had written with his pencil these words:

  Quantum cedat virtutibus aurum.
  [Footnote: With virtue weigh'd, what worthless trash is gold!]

What he meant by writing them I could not tell. [Footnote: Since the
first edition of this book, an ingenious friend has observed to me,
that Dr Johnson had probably been thinking on the reward which was
offered by government for the apprehension of the grandson of King
James II and that he meant by these words to express his admiration of
the Highlanders, whose fidelity and attachment had resisted the golden
temptation that had been held out to them.] He had caught cold a day
or two ago, and the rain yesterday having made it worse, he was become
very deaf. At breakfast he said, he would have given a good deal
rather than not have lain in that bed. I owned he was the lucky man;
and observed, that without doubt it had been contrived between Mrs
Macdonald and him. She seemed to acquiesce; adding, 'You know young
BUCKS are always favourites of the ladies.' He spoke of Prince Charles
being here, and asked Mrs Macdonald, 'WHO was with him? We were told,
madam, in England, there was one Miss Flora Macdonald with him.' She
said, 'they were very right'; and perceiving Dr Johnson's curiosity,
though he had delicacy enough not to question her, very obligingly
entertained him with a recital of the particulars which she herself
knew of that escape, which does so much honour to the humanity,
fidelity, and generosity, of the Highlanders. Dr Johnson listened to
her with placid attention, and said, 'All this should be written

From what she told us, and from what I was told by others personally
concerned, and from a paper of information which Rasay was so good as
to send me, at my desire, I have compiled the following abstract,
which, as it contains some curious anecdotes, will, I imagine not be
uninteresting to my readers, and even, perhaps, be of some use to
future historians.

Prince Charles Edward, after the battle of Culloden, was conveyed to
what is called the Long Island, where he lay for some time concealed.
But intelligence having been obtained where he was, and a number of
troops having come in quest of him, it became absolutely necessary for
him to quit that country without delay. Miss Flora Macdonald, then a
young lady, animated by what she thought the sacred principle of
loyalty, offered, with the magnanimity of a heroine, to accompany him
in an open boat to Sky, though the coast they were to quit was guarded
by ships. He dressed himself in women's clothes, and passed as her
supposed maid, by the name of Betty Bourke, an Irish girl. They got
off undiscovered, though several shots were fired to bring them to,
and landed at Mugstot, the seat of Sir Alexander Macdonald. Sir
Alexander was then at Fort Augustus, with the Duke of Cumberland; but
his lady was at home. Prince Charles took his post upon a hill near
the house. Flora Macdonald waited on Lady Margaret, and acquainted her
of the enterprise in which she was engaged. Her ladyship, whose active
benevolence was ever seconded by superior talents, shewed a perfect
presence of mind, and readiness of invention, and at once settled that
Prince Charles should be conducted to old Rasay, who was himself
concealed with some select friends. The plan was instantly
communicated to Kingsburgh, who was dispatched to the hill to inform
the Wanderer, and carry him refreshments. When Kingsburgh approached,
he started up, and advanced, holding a large knotted stick, and in
appearance ready to knock him down, till he said, 'I am Macdonald of
Kingsburgh, come to serve your highness.' The Wanderer answered, 'It
is well,' and was satisfied with the plan.

Flora Macdonald dined with Lady Margaret, at whose table there sat an
officer of the army, stationed here with a party of soldiers, to watch
for Prince Charles in case of his flying to the isle of Sky. She
afterwards often laughed in good humour with this gentleman, on her
having so well deceived him.

After dinner, Flora Macdonald on horseback, and her supposed maid, and
Kingsburgh, with a servant carrying some linen, all on foot, proceeded
towards that gentleman's house. Upon the road was a small rivulet
which they were obliged to cross. The Wanderer, forgetting his assumed
sex, that his clothes might not be wet, held them up a great deal too
high. Kingsburgh mentioned this to him, observing, it might make a
discovery. He said he would be more careful for the future. He was as
good as his word; for the next brook they crossed, he did not hold up
his clothes at all, but let them float upon the water. He was very
awkward in his female dress. His size was so large, and his strides so
great, that some women whom they met reported that they had seen a
very big woman, who looked like a man in woman's clothes, and that
perhaps it was (as they expressed themselves) the PRINCE, after whom
so much search was making.

At Kingsburgh he met with a most cordial reception; seemed gay at
supper, and after it indulged himself in a cheerful glass with his
worthy host. As he had not had his clothes off for a long time, the
comfort of a good bed was highly relished by him, and he slept soundly
till next day at one o'clock.

The mistress of Corrichatachin told me, that in the forenoon she went
into her father's room, who was also in bed, and suggested to him her
apprehensions that a party of the military might come up, and that his
guest had better not remain here too long. Her father said, 'Let the
poor man repose himself after his fatigues; and as for me, I care not,
though they take off this old grey head ten or eleven years sooner
than I should die in the course of nature.' He then wrapped himself in
the bed-clothes, and again fell fast asleep.

On the afternoon of that day, the Wanderer, still in the same dress,
set out for Portree, with Flora Macdonald and a man servant. His shoes
being very bad, Kingsburgh provided him with a new pair, and taking up
the old ones, said, 'I will faithfully keep them till you are safely
settled at St James's. I will then introduce myself by shaking them at
you, to put you in mind of your night's entertainment and protection
under my roof.' He smiled, and said, 'Be as good as your word!'
Kingsburgh kept the shoes as long as he lived. After his death, a
zealous Jacobite gentleman gave twenty guineas for them. Old Mrs
Macdonald, after her guest had left the house, took the sheets in
which he had lain, folded them carefully, and charged her daughter
that they should be kept unwashed, and that, when she died, her body
should be wrapped in them as a winding sheet. Her will was religiously

Upon the road to Portree, Prince Charles changed his dress, and put on
man's clothes again; a tartan short coat and a waistcoat, with
philibeg and short hose, a plaid, and a wig and bonnet.

Mr Donald M'Donald, called Donald Roy, had been sent express to the
present Rasay, then the young laird, who was at that time at his
sister's house, about three miles from Portree, attending his brother,
Dr Macleod, who was recovering of a wound he had received at the
battle of Culloden. Mr M'Donald communicated to young Rasay the plan
of conveying the Wanderer to where old Rasay was; but was told that
old Rasay had fled to Knoidart, a part of Glengary's estate. There was
then a dilemma what should be done. Donald Roy proposed that he should
conduct the Wanderer to the main land; but young Rasay thought it too
dangerous at that time, and said it would be better to conceal him in
the island of Rasay, till old Rasay could be informed where he was,
and give his advice what was best. But the difficulty was, how to get
him to Rasay. They could not trust a Portree crew, and all the Rasay
boats had been destroyed, or carried off by the military except two
belonging to Malcolm M'Leod, which he had concealed somewhere.

Dr Macleod being informed of this difficulty, said he would risk his
life once more for Prince Charles; and it having occurred, that there
was a little boat upon a fresh water lake in the neighbourhood, young
Rasay and Dr Macleod, with the help of some women, brought it to the
sea, by extraordinary exertion, across a Highland mile of land, one
half of which was bog, and the other a steep precipice.

These gallant brothers, with the assistance of one little boy, rowed
the small boat to Rasay, where they were to endeavour to find Captain
M'Leod, as Malcolm was then called, and get one of his good boats,
with which they might return to Portree, and receive the Wanderer; or,
in case of not finding him, they were to make the small boat serve,
though the danger was considerable.

Fortunately, on their first landing, they found their cousin Malcolm,
who, with the utmost alacrity, got ready one of his boats, with two
strong men. John M'Kenzie, and Donald M'Friar. Malcolm, being the
oldest man, and most cautious, said, that as young Rasay had not
hitherto appeared in the unfortunate business, he ought not to run any
risk; but that Dr Macleod and himself, who were already publickly
engaged, should go on this expedition. Young Rasay answered, with an
oath, that he would go, at the risk of his life and fortune. 'In God's
name then,' said Malcolm, 'let us proceed.' The two boatmen, however,
now stopped short, till they should be informed of their destination;
and M'Kenzie declared he would not move an oar till he knew where they
were going. Upon which they were both sworn to secrecy; and the
business being imparted to them, they were eager to put off to sea
without loss of time. The boat soon landed about half a mile from the
inn at Portree.

All this was negotiated before the Wanderer got forward to Portree.
Malcolm M'Leod, and M'Friar, were dispatched to look for him. In a
short time he appeared, and went into the publick house. Here Donald
Roy, whom he had seen at Mugstot, received him, and informed him of
what had been concerted. He wanted silver for a guinea, but the
landlord had only thirteen shillings. He was going to accept of this
for his guinea; but Donald Roy very judiciously observed, that it
would discover him to be some great man; so he desisted. He slipped
out of the house, leaving his fair protectress, whom he never again
saw; and Malcolm Macleod was presented to him by Donald Roy, as a
captain in his army. Young Rasay and Dr Macleod had waited, in
impatient anxiety, in the boat. When he came, their names were
announced to him. He would not permit the usual ceremonies of respect,
but saluted them as his equals.

Donald Roy staid in Sky, to be in readiness to get intelligence, and
give an alarm in case the troops should discover the retreat to Rasay;
and Prince Charles was then conveyed in a boat to that island in the
night. He slept a little upon the passage, and they landed about
day-break. There was some difficulty in accommodating him with a
lodging, as almost all the houses in the island had been burnt by
soldiery. They repaired to a little hut, which some shepherds had
lately built, and having prepared it as well as they could, and made a
bed of heath for the stranger, they kindled a fire, and partook of
some provisions which had been sent with him from Kingsburgh. It was
observed, that he would not taste wheat-bread, or brandy, while
oat-bread and whisky lasted; 'for these,' said he, 'are my own
country's bread and drink'. This was very engaging to the Highlanders.

Young Rasay being the only person of the company that durst appear
with safety, he went in quest of something fresh for them to eat; but
though he was amidst his own cows, sheep, and goats, he could not
venture to take any of them for fear of a discovery, but was obliged
to supply himself by stealth. He therefore caught a kid, and brought
it to the hut in his plaid, and it was killed and drest, and furnished
them a meal which they relished much. The distressed Wanderer, whose
health was now a good deal impaired by hunger, fatigue, and watching,
slept a long time, but seemed to be frequently disturbed. Malcolm told
me he would start from broken slumbers, and speak to himself in
different languages, French, Italian, and English. I must however
acknowledge, that it is highly probable that my worthy friend Malcolm
did not know precisely the difference between French and Italian. One
of his expressions in English was, 'O God! Poor Scotland!'

While they were in the hut, M'Kenzie and M'Friar, the two boatmen,
were placed as sentinels upon different eminences; and one day an
incident happened, which must not be omitted. There was a man
wandering about the island, selling tobacco. Nobody knew him, and he
was suspected to be a spy. M'Kenzie came running to the hut, and told
that this suspected person was approaching. Upon which the three
gentlemen, young Rasay, Dr Macleod, and Malcom, held a council of war
upon him, and were unanimously of opinion that he should instantly be
put to death. Prince Charles, at once assuming a grave and even severe
countenance, said, 'God forbid that we should take away a man's life,
who may be innocent, while we can preserve our own.' The gentlemen
however persisted in their resolution, while he as strenuously
continued to take the merciful side. John M'Kenzie, who sat watching
at the door of the hut, and overheard the debate, said in Erse, 'Well,
well; he must be shot. You are the king, but we are the parliament,
and will do what we choose.' Prince Charles, seeing the gentlemen
smile, asked what the man had said, and being told it in English, he
observed that he was a clever fellow, and, notwithstanding the
perilous situation in which he was, laughed loud and heartily. Luckily
the unknown person did not perceive that there were people in the hut,
at least did not come to it, but walked on past it, unknowing of his
risk. It was afterwards found out that he was one of the Highland
army, who was himself in danger. Had he come to them, they were
resolved to dispatch him; for, as Malcolm said to me, 'We could not
keep him with us, and we durst not let him go. In such a situation, I
would have shot my brother, if I had not been sure of him.' John
M'Kenzie was at Rasay's house, when we were there.[Footnote: This old
Scottish Member of Parliament, I am Informed, is still living (1785).]
About eighteen years before, he hurt one of his legs when dancing, and
being obliged to have it cut off, he now was going about with a wooden
leg. The story of his being a Member of Parliament is not yet
forgotten. I took him out a little way from the house, gave him a
shilling to drink Rasay's health, and led him into a detail of the
particulars which I have just related. With less foundation, some
writers have traced the idea of a parliament, and of the British
constitution, in rude and early times. I was curious to know if he had
really heard, or understood, any thing of that subject, which, had he
been a greater man, would probably have been eagerly maintained. 'Why,
John,' said I, 'did you think the king should be controuled by a
parliament?' He answered, 'I thought, sir, there were many voices
against one.'

The conversation then turning on the times, the Wanderer said, that to
be sure, the life he had led of late was a very hard one; but he would
rather live in the way he now did, for ten years, than fall into the
hands of his enemies. The gentlemen asked him, what he thought his
enemies would do with him, should he have the misfortune to fall into
their hands. He said, he did not believe they would dare to take his
life publickly, but he dreaded being privately destroyed by poison or
assassination. He was very particular in his inquiries about the wound
which Dr Macleod had received at the battle of Culloden, from a ball
which entered at one shoulder, and went cross to the other. The doctor
happened still to have on the coat which he wore on that occasion. He
mentioned, that he himself had his horse shot under him at Culloden;
that the ball hit the horse about two inches from his knee, and made
him so unruly that he was obliged to change him for another. He threw
out some reflections on the conduct of the disastrous affair at
Culloden, saying, however, that perhaps it was rash in him to do so. I
am now convinced that his suspicions were groundless; for I have had a
good deal of conversation upon the subject with my very worthy and
ingenious friend, Mr Andrew Lumisden, who was under secretary to
Prince Charles, and afterwards principal secretary to his father at
Rome, who, he assured me, was perfectly satisfied both of the
abilities and honour of the generals who commanded the highland army
on that occasion. Mr Lumisden has written an account of the three
battles in 1745-6, at once accurate and classical. Talking of the
different Highland corps, the gentlemen who were present wished to
have his opinion which were the best soldiers. He said, he did not
like comparisons among those corps: they were all best.

He told his conductors, he did not think it advisable to remain long
in any one place; and that he expected a French ship to come for him
to Lochbroom, among the Mackenzies. It then was proposed to carry him
in one of Malcolm's boats to Lochbroom, though the distance was
fifteen leagues coastwise. But he thought this would be too dangerous,
and desired that at any rate, they might first endeavour to obtain
intelligence. Upon which young Rasay wrote to his friend, Mr M'Kenzie
of Applecross, but received an answer, that there was no appearance of
any French ship.

It was therefore resolved that they should return to Sky, which they
did, and landed in Strath, where they reposed in a cow-house belonging
to Mr Niccolson of Scorbreck. The sea was very rough, and the boat
took in a good deal of water. The Wanderer asked if there was danger,
as he was not used to such a vessel. Upon being told there was not, he
sung an Erse song with much vivacity. He had by this time acquired a
good deal of the Erse language.

Young Rasay was now dispatched to where Donald Roy was, that they
might get all the intelligence they could; and the Wanderer, with much
earnestness, charged Dr Macleod to have a boat ready, at a certain
place about seven miles off, as he said he intended it should carry
him upon a matter of great consequence; and gave the doctor a case,
containing a silver spoon, knife, and fork, saying, 'keep you that
till I see you', which the doctor understood to be two days from that
time. But all these orders were only blinds; for he had another plan
in his head, but wisely thought it safest to trust his secrets to no
more persons than was absolutely necessary. Having then desired
Malcolm to walk with him a little way from the house, he soon opened
his mind, saying, 'I deliver myself to you. Conduct me to the Laird of
M'Kinnon's country.' Malcolm objected that it was very dangerous, as
so many parties of soldiers were in motion. He answered. 'There is
nothing now to be done without danger.' He then said, that Malcolm
must be the master, and he the servant; so he took the bag, in which
his linen was put up, and carried it on his shoulder; and observing
that his waistcoat, which was of scarlet tartan, with a gold twist
button, was finer than Malcolm's, which was of a plain ordinary
tartan, he put on Malcolm's waistcoat, and gave him his; remarking at
the same time, that it did not look well that the servant should be
better dressed than the master.

Malcolm, though an excellent walker, found himself excelled by Prince
Charles, who told him, he should not much mind the parties that were
looking for him, were he once but a musquet shot from them; but that
he was somewhat afraid of the highlanders who were against him. He was
well used to walking in Italy, in pursuit of game; and he was even now
so keen a sportsman, that, having observed some partridges, he was
going to take a shot; but Malcolm cautioned him against it, observing
that the firing might be heard by the tenders who were hovering upon
the coast.

As they proceeded through the mountains, taking many a circuit to
avoid any houses, Malcolm, to try his resolution, asked him what they
should do, should they fall in with a party of soldiers: he answered.
'Fight to be sure!' Having asked Malcolm if he should be known in his
present dress, and Malcolm having replied he would, he said, 'Then
I'll blacken my face with powder.' 'That,' said Malcolm, 'would
discover you at once.'

'Then,' said he, 'I must be put in the greatest dishabille possible.'
So he pulled off his wig, tied a handkerchief round his head, and put
his night-cap over it, tore the ruffles from his shirt, took the
buckles out of his shoes, and made Malcolm fasten them with strings;
but still Malcolm thought he would be known. 'I have so odd a face,'
said he, 'that no man ever saw me but he would know me again.'

He seemed unwilling to give credit to the horrid narrative of men
being massacred in cold blood, after victory had declared for the army
commanded by the Duke of Cumberland. He could not allow himself to
think that a general could be so barbarous.

When they came within two miles of M'Kinnon's house, Malcolm asked if
he chose to see the laird. 'No,' said he, 'by no means. I know
M'Kinnon to be as good and as honest a man as any in the world, but he
is not fit for my purpose at present. You must conduct me to some
other house; but let it be a gentleman's house.' Malcolm then
determined that they should go to the house of his brother-in-law, Mr
John M'Kinnon, and from thence be conveyed to the main land of
Scotland, and claim the assistance of Macdonald of Scothouse. The
Wanderer at first objected to this, because Scothouse was cousin to a
person of whom he had suspicions. But he acquiesced in Malcolm's

When they were near Mr John M'Kinnon's house, they met a man of the
name of Ross, who had been a private soldier in the Highland army. He
fixed his eyes steadily on the Wanderer in his disguise, and having at
once recognized him, he clapped his hands, and exclaimed, 'Alas! is
this the case?' Finding that there was now a discovery, Malcolm asked,
'What's to be done?' 'Swear him to secrecy,' answered Prince Charles.
Upon which Malcolm drew his dirk, and on the naked blade, made him
take a solemn oath, that he would say nothing of his having seen the
Wanderer, till his escape should be made publick.

Malcolm's sister, whose house they reached pretty early in the
morning, asked him who the person was that was along with him. He said
it was one Lewis Caw, from Crieff, who being a fugitive like himself,
for the same reason, he had engaged him as his servant, but that he
had fallen sick. 'Poor man!' said she, 'I pity him. At the same time
my heart warms to a man of his appearance.' Her husband was gone a
little way from home; but was expected every minute to return. She set
down to her brother a plentiful Highland breakfast. Prince Charles
acted the servant very well, sitting at a respectful distance, with
his bonnet off. Malcolm then said to him, 'Mr Caw, you have as much
need of this as I have; there is enough for us both: you had better
draw nearer and share with me.' Upon which he rose, made a profound
bow, sat down at table with his supposed master, and eat very
heartily. After this there came in an old woman, who, after the mode
of ancient hospitality, brought warm water, and washed Malcolm's feet.
He desired her to wash the feet of the poor man who attended him. She
at first seemed averse to this, from pride, as thinking him beneath
her, and in the periphrastick language of the highlanders and the
Irish, said warmly, 'Though I wash your father's son's feet, why
should I wash his father's son's feet?' She was however persuaded to
do it.

They then went to bed, and slept for some time; and when Malcolm
awaked, he was told that Mr John M'Kinnon, his brother-in-law, was in
sight. He sprang out to talk to him before he shoulld see Prince
Charles. After saluting him, Malcolm, pointing to the sea, said,
'What, John, if the prince should be prisoner on board one of those
tenders?' 'God forbid!' replied John. 'What if we had him here?' said
Malcolm. 'I wish we had,' answered John; 'we should take care of him.'
'Well, John,' said Malcolm, 'he is in your house.' John, in a
transport of joy, wanted to run directly in, and pay his obeisance;
but Malcolm stopped him, saying, 'Now is your time to behave well, and
do nothing that can discover him.' John composed himself, and having
sent away all his servants upon different errands, he was introduced
into the presence of his guest, and was then desired to go and get
ready a boat lying near his house, which, though but a small leaky
one, they resolved to take, rather than go to the Laird of M'Kinnon.
John M'Kinnon, however, thought otherwise; and upon his return told
them, that his chief and Lady M'Kinnon were coming in the laird's
boat. Prince Charles said to his trusty Malcolm. 'I am sorry for this,
but must make the best of it.' M'Kinnon then walked up from the shore,
and did homage to the Wanderer. His lady waited in a cave, to which
they all repaired, and were entertained with cold meat and wine. Mr
Malcolm M'Leod being now superseded by the Laird of M'Kinnon, desired
leave to return, which was granted him, and Prince Charles wrote a
short note, which he subscribed 'James Thompson', informing his
friends that he had got away from Sky, and thanking them for their
kindness; and he desired this might be speedily conveyed to young
Rasay and Dr Macleod, that they might not wait longer in expectation
of seeing him again. He bade a cordial adieu to Malcolm, and insisted
on his accepting of a silver stock-buckle, and ten guineas from his
purse, though, as Malcolm told me, it did not appear to contain above
forty. Malcolm at first begged to be excused, saying, that he had a
few guineas at his service; but Prince Charles answered, 'You will
have need of money. I shall get enough when I come upon the main

The Laird of M'Kinnon then conveyed him to the opposite coast of
Knoidart. Old Rasay, to whom intelligence had been sent, was crossing
at the same time to Sky; but as they did not know of each other, and
each had apprehensions, the two boats kept aloof.

These are the particulars which I have collected concerning the
extraordinary concealment and escapes of Prince Charles, in the
Hebrides. He was often in imminent danger. The troops traced him from
the Long Island, across Sky, to Portree, but there lost him.

Here I stop, having received no farther authentic information of his
fatigues and perils before he escaped to France. Kings and subjects
may both take a lesson of moderation from the melancholy fate of the
House of Stuart; that kings may not suffer degradation and exile, and
subjects may not be harrassed by the evils of a disputed succession.

Let me close the scene on that unfortunate House with the elegant and
pathetick reflections of Voltaire, in his Histoire Generale. 'Que les
hommes prives,' says that brilliant writer, speaking of Prince
Charles, 'qui se croyent malheureux, jettent les yeux sur ce prince et
ses ancetres.'

In another place he thus sums up the sad story of the family in

II n'y a aucun exemple dans l'histoire d'une maison si longtems
infortunee. Le premier des Rois d'Ecosse, qui eut le nom de Jacques,
apres avoir ete dix-huit ans prisonnier en Angleterre, mourut
assassine, avec sa femme, par la main de ses sujets. Jacques II, son
fils, fut tue a vingt-neuf ans en combattant centre les Anglois.
Jacques III, mis en prison par son peuple, fut tue ensuite par les
revoltes, dans une battaille. Jacques IV perit dans un combat qu'il
perdit. Marie Stuart, sa petite fille, chassee, de son trone, fugitive
en Angleterre, ayant langui dix-huit ans en prison, se vit condamnee a
mort par des juges Anglais, et eut la tete tranchee. Charles I, petit
fils de Marie, Roi d'Ecosse et d'Angleterre, vendu par les Ecossois,
et juge a mort par les Anglais, mourut sur un echauffaut dans la place
publique. Jacques, son fils, septieme du nom, et deuxieme en
Angleterre, fut chasse de ses trois royaumes; et pour comble de
malheur on contesta a son fils sa naissance; le fils ne tenta de
remonter sur le trone de ces peres, que pour faire perir ses amis par
des bourreaux; et nous avons vu le Prince Charles Edouard, reunuissant
en vain les vertus de ses peres, et le courage du Roy Jean Sobieski,
son ayeul maternel, executer les exploits et essuyer les malheurs les
plus incroyables. Si quelque chose justifie ceux qui croyent une
fatalite a laquelle rien ne peut se soustraire, c'est cette suite
continuelle de malheurs qui a persecute la maison de Stuart, pendant
plus de trois-cent annees.

The gallant Malcolm was apprehended in about ten days after they
separated, put aboard a ship and carried prisoner to London. He said,
the prisoners in general were very ill treated in their passage; but
there were soldiers on board who lived well, and sometimes invited him
to share with them: that he had the good fortune not to be thrown into
jail, but was confined in the house of a messenger, of the name of
Dick. To his astonishment, only one witness could be found against
him, though he had been so openly engaged; and therefore, for want of
sufficient evidence, he was set at liberty. He added, that he thought
himself in such danger, that he would gladly have compounded for
banishment. Yet, he said, he should never be so ready for death as he
then was. There is philosophical truth in this. A man will meet death
much more firmly at one time than another. The enthusiasm even of a
mistaken principle warms the mind, and sets it above the fear of
death; which in our cooler moments, if we really think of it, cannot
but be terrible, or at least very awful.

Miss Flora Macdonald being then also in London, under the protection
of Lady Primrose, that lady provided a post-chaise to convey her to
Scotland, and desired she might choose any friend she pleased to
accompany her. She chose Malcolm. 'So,' said he, with a triumphant
air, 'I went to London to be hanged, and returned in a post-chaise
with Miss Flora Macdonald.'

Mr Macleod of Muiravenside, whom we saw at Rasay, assured us that
Prince Charles was in London in 1759, and that there was then a plan
in agitation for restoring his family. Dr Johnson could scarcely
credit this story, and said, there could be no probable plan at that
time. Such an attempt could not have succeeded, unless the King of
Prussia had stopped the army in Germany; for both the army and the
fleet would, even without orders, have fought for the King, to whom
they had engaged themselves.

Having related so many particulars concerning the grandson of the
unfortunate King James the Second; having given due praise to fidelity
and generous attachment, which, however erroneous the judgement may
be, are honourable for the heart; I must do the highlanders the
justice to attest, that I found every where amongst them a high
opinion of the virtues of the King now upon the throne, and an honest
disposition to be faithful subjects to his majesty, whose family had
possessed the sovereignty of this country so long, that a change, even
for the abdicated family, would now hurt the best feelings of all his

The abstract point of right would involve us in a discussion of remote
and perplexed questions; and after all, we should have no clear
principle of decision. That establishment, which, from political
necessity, took place in 1688, by a breach in the succession of our
kings, and which, whatever benefits may have accrued from it,
certainly gave a shock to our monarchy, the able and constitutional
Blackstone, wisely rests on the solid footing of authority: 'Our
ancestors having most indisputably a competent jurisdiction to decide
this great and important question, and having, in fact decided it, it
is now become our duty, at this distance of time, to acquiesce in
their determination.' [Footnote: Commentaries on the Laws of England,
Book I. chap. 3.]

Mr Paley, the present Archdeacon of Carlisle, in his Principles of
Moral and Political Philosophy, having, with much clearness of
argument, shewn the duty of submission to civil government to be
founded neither on an indefeasible jus divinum, nor on COMPACT, but on
EXPEDIANCY, lays down this rational position:

Irregularity in the first foundation of a state, or subsequent
violence, fraud, or injustice, in getting possession of the supreme
power, are not sufficient reasons for resistance, after the government
is once peaceably settled. No subject of the British Empire conceives
himself engaged to vindicate the justice of the Norman claim or
conquest, or apprehends that his duty in any manner depends upon that
controversy. So likewise, if the house of Lancaster, or even the
posterity of Cromwell, had been at this day seated upon the throne of
England, we should have been as little concerned to enquire how the
founder of the family came there. [Footnote: Book VI. chap. 3. Since I
have quoted Mr Archdeacon Paley upon one subject, I cannot but
transcribe, from his excellent work, a distinguished passage in
support of the Christian Revelation. After shewing, in decent but
strong terms, the unfairness of the INDIRECT attempts of modern
infidels to unsettle and perplex religious principles, and
particularly the irony, banter, and sneer, of one whom he politely
calls 'an eloquent historian', the archdeacon thus expresses himself:

'Seriousness is not constraint of thought; nor levity, freedom. Every
mind which wishes the advancement of truth and knowledge, in the most
important of all human researches, must abhor this licentiousness, as
violating no less the laws of reasoning than the rights of decency.
There is but one description of men to whose principles it ought to be
tolerable. I mean that class of reasoners who can see LITTLE in
Christianity even supposing it to be true. To such adversaries we
address this reflection. Had Jesus Christ delivered no other
declaration than the following, "The hour is coming in the which all
that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth,
--they that have done well unto the resurrection of life, and they
that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation," he had
pronounced a message of inestimable importance, and well worthy of
that splendid apparatus of prophecy and miracles with which his
mission was introduced and attested--a message in which the wisest of
mankind would rejoice to find an answer to their doubts, and rest to
their inquiries. It is idle to say that a future state had been
discovered already. It had been discovered as the Copernican System
was; it was one guess amongst many. He alone discovers who PROVES; and
no man can prove this point but the teacher who testifies by miracles
that his doctrine comes from God' (Book V. chap. 9).

If infidelity be disingenuously dispersed in every shape that is
likely to allure, surprise, or beguile the imagination--in a fable, a
tale, a novel, a poem, in books of travels, of philosophy, of natural
history, as Mr Paley has well observed--I hope it is fair in me thus
to meet such poison with an unexpected antidote, which I cannot doubt
will be found powerful.]

In conformity with this doctrine, I myself, though fully persuaded
that the House of Stuart had originally no right to the crown of
Scotland; for that Baliol, and not Bruce, was the lawful heir; should
yet have thought it very culpable to have rebelled, on that account,
against Charles the First, or even a prince of that house much nearer
the time, in order to assert the claim of the posterity of Baliol.

However convinced I am of the justice of that principle, which holds
allegiance and protection to be reciprocal, I do however acknowledge,
that I am not satisfied with the cold sentiment which would confine
the exertions of the subject within the strict line of duty. I would
have every breast animated with the FERVOUR of loyalty; with that
generous attachment which delights in doing somewhat more than is
required, and makes 'service perfect freedom'. And, therefore, as our
most gracious Sovereign, on his accession to the throne, gloried in
being born a Briton; so, in my more private sphere, Ego me nunc
denique natum gratulor. I am happy that a disputed succession no
longer distracts our minds; and that a monarchy, established by law,
is now so sanctioned by time, that we can fully indulge those feelings
of loyalty which I am ambitious to excite. They are feelings which
have ever actuated the inhabitants of the Highlands and the Hebrides.
The plant of loyalty is there in full vigour, and the Brunswick graft
now flourishes like a native shoot. To that spirited race of people I
may with propriety apply the elegant lines of a modern poet, on the
'facile temper of the beauteous sex':

  Like birds new-caught, who flutter for a time.
  And struggle with captivity in vain;
  But by-and-by they rest, they smooth their plumes.
  And to NEW MASTERS sing their former notes. [Footnote: Agis, a
  tragedy, by John Home.]

Surely such notes are much better than the querulous growlings of
suspicious Whigs and discontented Republicans.

Kingsburgh conducted us in his boat, across one of the lochs, as they
call them, or arms of the sea, which flow in upon all the coasts of
Sky, to a mile beyond a place called Grishinish. Our horses had been
sent round by land to meet us. By this sail we saved eight miles of
bad riding. Dr Johnson said, 'When we take into the computation what
we have saved, and what we have gained, by this agreeable sail, it is
a great deal.' He observed, 'it is very disagreeable riding in Sky.
The way is so narrow, one only at a time can travel, so it is quite
unsocial; and you cannot indulge in meditation by yourself, because
you must be always attending to the steps which your horse takes.'
This was a just and clear description of its inconveniencies.

The topick of emigration being again introduced, Dr Johnson said, that
'a rapacious chief would make a wilderness of his estate'. Mr Donald
M'Queen told us, that the oppression, which then made so much noise,
was owing to landlords listening to bad advice in the letting of their
lands; that interested and designed people flattered them with golden
dreams of much higher rents than could reasonably be paid; and that
some of the gentlemen tacksmen, or upper tenants, were themselves in
part the occasion of the mischief, by over-rating the farms of others.
That many of the tacksmen, rather than comply with exorbitant demands,
had gone off to America, and impoverished the country, by draining it
of its wealth; and that their places were filled by a number of poor
people, who had lived under them, properly speaking, as servants, paid
by a certain proportion of the produce of the lands, though called
sub-tenants. I observed, that if the men of substance were once
banished from a Highland estate, it might probably be greatly reduced
in its value; for one bad year might ruin a set of poor tenants, and
men of any property would not settle in such a country, unless from
the temptation of getting land extremely cheap; for an inhabitant of
any good county in Britain, had better go to America than to the
Highlands or the Hebrides. Here, therefore was a consideration that
ought to induce a chief to act a more liberal part, from a mere motive
of interest, independent of the lofty and honourable principle of
keeping a clan together, to be in readiness to serve his king. I
added, that I could not help thinking a little arbitrary power in the
sovereign, to control the bad policy and greediness of the chiefs,
might sometimes be of service. In France a chief would not be
permitted to force a number of the king's subjects out of the country.
Dr Johnson concurred with me, observing, that 'were an oppressive
chieftain a subject of the French king, he would probably be
admonished by a LETTER'.

During our sail, Dr Johnson asked about the use of the dirk, with
which he imagined the highlanders cut their meat. He was told, they
had a knife and fork besides, to eat with. He asked, how did the women
do? and was answered, some of them had a knife and fork too; but in
general the men, when they had cut their meat, handed their knives and
forks to the women, and they themselves eat with their fingers. The
old tutor of Macdonald always eat fish with his fingers, alledging
that a knife and fork gave it a bad taste. I took the liberty to
observe to Dr Johnson, that he did so. 'Yes,' said he; 'but it is
because I am short-sighted, and afraid of bones, for which reason I am
not fond of eating many kinds of fish, because I must use my fingers.'

Dr M'Pherson's Dissertations on Scottish Antiquities, which he had
looked at when at Corrichatachin, being mentioned, he remarked, that
'you might read half an hour, and ask yourself what you had been
reading: there were so many words to so little matter, that there was
no getting through the book'. As soon as we reached the shore, we took
leave of Kingsburgh, and mounted our horses. We passed through a wild
moor, in many places so soft that we were obliged to walk, which was
very fatiguing to Dr Johnson. Once he had advanced on horseback to a
very bad step. There was a steep declivity on his left, to which he
was so near, that there was not room for him to dismount in the usual
way. He tried to alight on the other side, as if he had been a 'young
buck' indeed, but in the attempt he fell at his length upon the
ground; from which, however, he got up immediately without being hurt.
During this dreary ride, we were sometimes relieved by a view of
branches of the sea, that universal medium of connection amongst
mankind. A guide, who had been sent with us from Kingsburgh, explored
the way (much in the same manner as, I suppose, is pursued in the
wilds of America) by observing certain marks known only to the
inhabitants. We arrived at Dunvegan late in the afternoon. The great
size of the castle, which is partly old and partly new, and is built
upon a rock close to the sea, while the land around it presents
nothing but wild, moorish, hilly, and craggy appearances, gave a rude
magnificence to the scene. Having dismounted, we ascended a flight of
steps, which was made by the late Macleod, for the accomodation of
persons coming to him by land, there formerly being, for security, no
other access to the castle but from the sea; so that visitors who came
by the land were under the necessity of getting into a boat, and
sailed round to the only place where it could be approached. We were
introduced into a stately dining-room, and received by Lady Macleod,
mother of the laird, who, with his friend Talisker, having been
detained on the road, did not arrive till some time after us.

We found the lady of the house a very polite and sensible woman, who
had lived for some time in London, and had there been in Dr Johnson's
company. After we had dined, we repaired to the drawing-room, where
some of the young ladies of the family, with their mother, were at
tea. This room had formerly been the bed-chamber of Sir Roderick
Macleod, one of the old lairds; and he chose it, because, behind it,
there was a considerable cascade, the sound of which disposed him to
sleep. Above his bed was this inscription: SIR RORIE M'LEOD OF
DUNVEGAN, KNIGHT. GOD SEND GOOD REST! Rorie is the contraction of
Roderick. He was called Rorie More, that is, great Rorie, not from his
size, but from his spirit. Our entertainment here was in so elegant a
style, and reminded my fellow-traveller so much of England, that he
became quite joyous. He laughed, and said, 'Boswell, we came in at the
wrong end of this island.' 'Sir,' said I, 'it was best to keep this
for the last.' He answered, 'I would have it both first and last.'

Tuesday, 14th September

Dr Johnson said in the morning, 'Is not this a fine lady?' There was
not a word now of his 'impatience to be in civilized life'; though
indeed I should beg pardon--he found it here. We had slept well, and
lain long. After breakfast we surveyed the castle, and the garden. Mr
Bethune, the parish minister, Magnus M'Leod, of Claggan, brother to
Talisker, and M'Leod, of Bay, two substantial gentlemen of the clan,
dined with us. We had admirable venison, generous wine; in a word, all
that a good table has. This was really the hall of a chief. Lady
M'Leod had been much obliged to my father, who had settled by
arbitration, a variety of perplexed claims between her and her
relation, the Laird of Brodie, which she now repaid by particular
attention to me. M'Leod started the subject of making women do penance
in the church for fornication. JOHNSON. 'It is right, sir. Infamy is
attached to the crime, by universal opinion, as soon as it is known. I
would not be the man who would discover it, if I alone knew it, for a
woman may reform; nor would I commend a parson who divulges a woman's
first offence; but being once divulged, it ought to be infamous.
Consider, of what importance to society the chastity of women is. Upon
that all the property in the world depends. We hang a thief for
stealing a sheep; but the unchastity of a woman transfers sheep, and
farm and all, from the right owner. I have much more reverence for a
common prostitute than for a woman who conceals her guilt. The
prostitute is known. She cannot deceive: she cannot bring a strumpet
into the arms of an honest man, without his knowledge.' BOSWELL.
'There is, however, a great difference between the licentiousness of a
single woman, and that of a married woman.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir; there
is a great difference between stealing a shilling, and stealing a
thousand pounds; between simply taking a man's purse, and murdering
him first, and then taking it. But when one begins to be vicious, it
is easy to go on. Where single women are licentious, you rarely find
faithful married women.' BOSWELL. 'And yet we are told that in some
nations in India, the distinction is strictly observed.' JOHNSON.
'Nay, don't give us India. That puts me in mind of Montesquieu, who is
really a fellow of genius too in many respects; whenever he wants to
support a strange opinion, he quotes you the practice of Japan or of
some other distant country, of which he knows nothing. To support
polygamy, he tells you of the island of Formosa, where there are ten
women born for one man. He had but to suppose another island, where
there are ten men born for one woman, and so make a marriage between
them.' [Footnote: What my friend treated as so wild a supposition, has
actually happened in the western islands of Scotland, if we may
believe Martin, who tells it of the islands of Col and Tyr-yi, and
says that it is proved by the parish registers.]

At supper, Lady Macleod mentioned Dr Cadogan's book on the gout.
JOHNSON. 'It is a good book in general, but a foolish one in
particulars. It is good in general, as recommending temperance and
exercise, and cheerfulness. In that respect it is only Dr Cheyne's
book told in a new way; and there should come out such a book every
thirty years, dressed in the mode of the times. It is foolish, in
maintaining that the gout is not hereditary, and that one fit of it,
when gone, is like a fever when gone.' Lady Macleod objected that the
author does not practice what he teaches. [Footnote: This was a
general reflection against Dr Cadogan, when his very popular book was
first published. It was said, that whatever precepts he might give to
others, he himself indulged freely in the bottle. But I have since had
the pleasure of becoming acquainted with him, and, if his own
testimony may be believed (and I have never heard it impeached), his
course of life, has been conformable to his doctrine.] JOHNSON. 'I
cannot help that, madam. That does not make his book the worse. People
are influenced more by what a man says, if his practice is suitable to
it, because they are blockheads. The more intellectual people are, the
readier will they attend to what a man tells them. If it is just, they
will follow it, be his practice what it will. No man practises so well
as he writes. I have, all my life long, been lying till noon; yet I
tell all young men, and tell them with great sincerity, that nobody
who does not rise early will ever do any good. Only consider! You read
a book; you are convinced by it; you do not know the authour. Suppose
you afterwards know him, and find that he does not practice what he
teaches; are you to give up your former conviction At this rate you
would be kept in a state of equilibrium, when reading every book, till
you knew how the authour practised.' 'But,' said Lady M'Leod, 'you
would think better of Dr Cadogan, if he acted according to his
principles.' JOHNSON. 'Why, madam, to be sure, a man who acts in the
face of light, is worse than a man who does not know so much; yet I
think no man should be the worse thought of for publishing good
principles. There is something noble in publishing truth, though it
condemns one's self.' I expressed some surprize at Cadogan's
recommending good humour, as if it were quite in our power to attain
it. JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, a man grows better humoured as he grows older.
He improves by experience. When young, he thinks himself of great
consequence, and every thing of importance. As he advances in life, he
learns to think himself of no consequence, and little things of little
importance; and so he becomes more patient, and better pleased. All
good humour and complaisance are acquired. Naturally a child seizes
directly what it sees, and thinks of pleasing itself only. By degrees,
it is taught to please others, and to prefer others; and that this
will ultimately produce the greatest happiness. If a man is not
convinced of that, he never will practice it. Common language speaks
the truth as to this: we say, a person is well BRED.

As it is said, that all material motion is primarily in a right line,
and is never per circuitum, never in another form, unless by some
particular cause; so it may be said intellectual motion is.' Lady
M'Leod asked, if no man was naturally good. JOHNSON. 'No, madam, no
more than a wolf.' BOSWELL. 'Nor no woman, sir?' JOHNSON. 'No, sir.'
Lady M'Leod started at this, saying, in a low voice, 'This is worse
than Swift.'

M'Leod of Ulinish had come in the afternoon. We were a jovial company
at supper. The laird, surrounded by so many of his clan, was to me a
pleasing sight. They listened with wonder and pleasure, while Dr
Johnson harangued. I am vexed that I cannot take down his full train
of eloquence.

Wednesday, 15th September

The gentlemen of the clan went away early in the morning to the
harbour of Lochbradale, to take leave of some of their friends who
were going to America. It was a very wet day. We looked at Rorie
More's horn, which is a large cow's horn, with the mouth of it
ornamented with silver curiously carved. It holds rather more than a
bottle and a half. Every laird of M'Leod, it is said, must, as a proof
of his manhood, drink it off full of claret, without laying it down.
From Rorie More many of the branches of the family are descended; in
particular, the Talisker branch; so that his name is much talked of.
We also saw his bow, which hardly any man now can bend, and his
glaymore, which was wielded with both hands, and is of a prodigious
size. We saw here some old pieces of iron armour, immensely heavy. The
broadsword now used, though called the glaymore (i.e. the great
sword), is much smaller than that used in Rorie More's time. There is
hardly a target now to be found in the Highlands. After the disarming
act, they made them serve as covers to their butter-milk barrels; a
kind of change, like beating spears into pruning-hooks. Sir George
Mackenzie's Works (the folio edition) happened to lie in a window in
the dining room. I asked Dr Johnson to look at the Characteres
Advocatorum. He allowed him power of mind, and that he understood very
well what he tells; but said, that there was too much declamation, and
that the Latin was not correct. He found fault with approprinquabant,
in the character of Gilmour. I tried him with the opposition between
gloria and palma, in the comparison between Gilmour and Nisbet, which
Lord Hailes, in his Catalogue of the Lords of Session, thinks
difficult to be understood. The words are, penes ittum gloria, penes
hunc palma. In a short Account of the Kirk of Scotland, which I
published some years ago, I applied these words to the two contending
parties, and explained them thus: 'The popular party has most
eloquence; Dr Robertson's party most influence.' I was very desirous
to hear Dr Johnson's explication. JOHNSON. 'I see no difficulty.
Gilmour was admired for his parts; Nisbet carried his cause by the
skill in law. Palma is victory.' I observed, that the character of
Nicholson, in this book resembled that of Burke: for it is said, in
one place, in omnes lusos & jocos se saepe resolvebat; [Footnote: He
often indulged himself in every species of pleasantry and wit.] and,
in another, sed accipitris more e conspectu aliquando astantium
sublimi se protrahens volatu, in praedam miro impetu descendebat.
[Footnote: But like the hawk, having soared with a lofty flight to a
height which the eye could not reach, he was want to swoop upon his
quarry with wonderful rapidity.] JOHNSON. 'No, sir; I never heard
Burke make a good joke in my life.' BOSWELL. 'But, sir, you will allow
he is a hawk.' Dr Johnson, thinking that I meant this of his joking,
said, 'No, sir, he is not the hawk there. He is the beetle in the
mire.' I still adhered to my metaphor. 'But he SOARS as the hawk.'
JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir; but he catches nothing.' M'Leod asked, what is the
particular excellence of Burke's eloquence? JOHNSON. 'Copiousness and
fertility of allusion; a power of diversifying his matter, by placing
it in various relations. Burke has great information, and great
command of language; though, in my opinion, it has not in every
respect the highest elegance.' BOSWELL. 'Do you think, sir, that Burke
has read Cicero much?' JOHNSON. 'I don't believe it, sir. Burke has
great knowledge, great fluency of words, and great promptness of
ideas, so that he can speak with great illustration on any subject
that comes before him. He is neither like Cicero, nor like
Demosthenes, nor like any one else, but speaks as well as he can.'

In the 65th page of the first volume of Sir George Mackenzie, Dr
Johnson pointed out a paragraph beginning with 'Aristotle', and told
me there was an error in the text, which he bade me try to discover. I
was lucky enough to hit it at once. As the passage is printed, it is
said that the devil answers EVEN in ENGINES. I corrected it to--EVER
in AENIGMAS. 'Sir,' said he, 'you are a good critick. This would have
been a great thing to do in the text of an ancient authour.'

Thursday, 16th September

Last night much care was taken of Dr Johnson, who was still distressed
by his cold. He had hitherto most strangely slept without a night-cap.
Miss M'Leod made him a large flannel one, and he was prevailed with to
drink a little brandy when he was going to bed. He has great virtue,
in not drinking wine or any fermented liquor, because, as he
acknowledged to us, he could not do it in moderation. Lady M'Leod
would hardly believe him, and said, 'I am sure, sir, you would not
carry it too far.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, madam, it carried me. I took the
opportunity of a long illness to leave it off. It was then prescribed
to me not to drink wine; and having broken off the habit, I have never
returned to it.'

In the argument on Tuesday night, about natural goodness, Dr Johnson
denied that any child was better than another, but by difference of
instruction; though, in consequence of greater attention being paid to
instruction by one child than another, and of a variety of
imperceptible causes, such as instruction being counteracted by
servants, a notion was conceived, that of two children, equally well
educated, one was naturally much worse than another. He owned, this
morning, that one might have a greater aptitude to learn than another,
and that we inherit dispositions from our parents. 'I inherited,' said
he, 'a vile melancholy from my father, which has made me mad all my
life, at least not sober.' Lady M'Leod wondered he should tell this.
'Madam,' said I, 'he knows that with that madness he is superior to
other men.'

I have often been astonished with what exactness and perspicuity he
will explain the process of any art. He this morning explained to us
all the operation of coining, and, at night, all the operation of
brewing, so very clearly, that Mr M'Queen said, when he heard the
first, he thought he had been bred in the Mint; when he heard the
second, that he had been bred a brewer.

I was elated by the thought of having been able to entice such a man
to this remote part of the world. A ludicrous, yet just image
presented itself to my mind, which I expressed to the company. I
compared myself to a dog who has got hold of a large piece of meat,
and runs away with it to a corner, where he may devour it in peace,
without any fear of others taking it from him. 'In London, Reynolds,
Beauclerk, and all of them, are contending who shall enjoy Dr
Johnson's conversation. We are feasting upon it, undisturbed, at

It was still a storm of wind and rain. Dr Johnson however walked out
with M'Leod, and saw Rorie More's cascade in full perfection. Colonel
M'Leod, instead of being all life and gaiety, as I have seen him, was
at present grave, and somewhat depressed by his anxious concern about
M'Leod's affairs, and by finding some gentlemen of the clan by no
means disposed to act a generous or affectionate part to their chief
in his distress, but bargaining with him as with a stranger. However,
he was agreeable and polite, and Dr Johnson said, he was a very
pleasing man. My fellow-traveller and I talked of going to Sweden;
and, while we were settling our plan, I expressed a pleasure in the
prospect of seeing the king. JOHNSON. 'I doubt, sir, if he would speak
to us.' Colonel M'Leod said, 'I am sure Mr Boswell would speak to
HIM.' But, seeing me a little disconcerted by his remark, he politely
added, 'and with great propriety'. Here let me offer a short defence
of that propensity in my disposition, to which this gentleman alluded.
It has procured me much happiness. I hope it does not deserve so hard
a name as either forwardness or impudence. If I know myself, it is
nothing more than an eagerness to share the society of men
distinguished either by their rank or their talents, and a diligence
to attain what I desire. If a man is praised for seeking knowledge,
though mountains and seas are in his way, may he not be pardoned,
whose ardour, in the pursuit of the same object, leads him to
encounter difficulties as great, though of a different kind?

After the ladies were gone from table, we talked of the highlanders
not having sheets; and this led us to consider the advantage of
wearing linen. JOHNSON. 'All animal substances are less cleanly than
vegetables. Wool, of which flannel is made, is an animal substance;
flannel therefore is not so cleanly as linen. I remember I used to
think tar dirty; but when I knew it to be only a preparation of the
juice of the pine, I thought so no longer. It is not disagreeable to
have the gum that oozes from a plumb-tree upon your fingers, because
it is vegetable, but if you have any candle-grease, any tallow upon
your fingers, you are uneasy till you rub it off. I have often
thought, that, if I kept a seraglio, the ladies should all wear linen
gowns, or cotton--I mean stuffs made of vegetable substances. I would
have no silk; you cannot tell when it is clean: it will be very nasty
before it is perceived to be so. Linen detects its own dirtiness.'

To hear the grave Dr Samuel Johnson, 'that majestick teacher of moral
and religious wisdom', while sitting solemn in an arm-chair in the
Isle of Sky, talk, ex cathedra, of his keeping a seraglio, and
acknowledge that the supposition had OFTEN been in his thoughts,
struck me so forcibly with ludicrous contrast, that I could not but
laugh immoderately. He was too proud to submit, even for a moment, to
be the object of ridicule, and instantly retaliated with such keen
sarcastick wit, and such a variety of degrading images, of every one
of which I was the object, that, though I can bear such attacks as
well as most men, I yet found myself so much the sport of all the
company, that I would gladly expunge from my mind every trace of this
severe retort.

Talking of our friend Langton's house in Lincolnshire, he said, 'the
old house of the family was burnt. A temporary building was erected in
its room; and to this day they have been always adding as the family
increased. It is like a shirt made for a man when he was a child, and
enlarged always as he grows older.'

We talked to-night of Luther's allowing the Landgrave of Hesse two
wives, and that it was with the consent of the wife to whom he was
first married. JOHNSON. 'There was no harm in this, so far as she was
only concerned, because volenti non fit injuria. But it was an offence
against the general order of society, and against the law of the
Gospel, by which one man and one woman are to be united. No man can
have two wives, but by preventing somebody else from having one.'

Friday, 17th September

After dinner yesterday, we had a conversation upon cunning. M'Leod
said that he was not afraid of cunning people; but would let them play
their tricks about him like monkeys. 'But,' said I, 'they scratch';
and Mr M'Queen added, 'they'll invent new tricks, as soon as you find
out what they do.' JOHNSON. 'Cunning has effect from the credulity of
others, rather than from the abilities of those who are cunning. It
requires no extraordinary talents to lie and deceive.' This led us to
consider whether it did not require great abilities to be very wicked.
JOHNSON. 'It requires great abilities to have the POWER of being very
wicked; but not to BE very wicked. A man who has the power, which
great abilities procure him, may use it well or ill; and it requires
more abilities to use it well, than to use it ill. Wickedness is
always easier than virtue; for it takes the short cut to every thing.
It is much easier to steal a hundred pounds, than to get it by labour,
or any other way. Consider only what act of wickedness requires great
abilities to commit it, when once the person who is to do it has the
power; for THERE is the distinction. It requires great abilities to
conquer an army, but none to massacre it after it is conquered.'

The weather this day was rather better than any that we had since we
came to Dunvegan. Mr M'Queen had often mentioned a curious piece of
antiquity near this which he called a temple of the goddess Anaitis.
Having often talked of going to see it, he and I set out after
breakfast, attended by his servant, a fellow quite like a savage. I
must observe here, that in Sky there seems to be much idleness; for
men and boys follow you, as colts follow passengers upon a road. The
usual figure of a Sky boy, is a lown with bare legs and feet, a dirty
kilt, ragged coat and waistcoat, a bare head, and a stick in his hand,
which, I suppose, is partly to help the lazy rogue to walk, partly to
serve as a kind of a defensive weapon. We walked what is called two
miles, but is probably four, from the castle, till we came to the
sacred place. The country around is a black dreary moor on all sides,
except to the sea-coast, towards which there is a view through a
valley, and the farm of Bay shews some good land. The place itself is
green ground, being well drained, by means of a deep glen on each
side, in both of which there runs a rivulet with a good quantity of
water, forming several cascades, which make a considerable appearance
and sound. The first thing we came to was an earthen mound, or dyke,
extending from the one precipice to the other. A little farther on,
was a strong stone-wall, not high, but very thick, extending in the
same manner. On the outside of it were the ruins of two houses, one on
each side of the entry or gate to it. The wall is built all along of
uncemented stones, but of so large a size as to make a very firm and
durable rampart. It has been built all about the consecrated ground,
except where the precipice is deep enough to form an enclosure of
itself. The sacred spot contains more than two acres. There are within
it the ruins of many houses, none of them large, a cairn, and many
graves marked by clusters of stones. Mr M'Queen insisted that the ruin
of a small building, standing east and west, was actually the temple
of the goddess Anaitis, where her statue was kept, and from whence
processions were made to wash it in one of the brooks. There is, it
must be owned, a hollow road visible for a good way from the entrance;
but Mr M'Queen, with the keen eye of an antiquary, traced it much
farther than I could perceive it. There is not above a foot and a half
in height of the walls now remaining; and the whole extent of the
building was never, I imagine, greater than an ordinary Highland
house. Mr M'Queen has collected a great deal of learning on the
subject of the temple of Anaitis; and I had endeavoured, in my
journal, to state such particulars as might give some idea of it, and
of the surrounding scenery; but from the great difficulty of
describing visible objects, I found my account so unsatisfactory, that
my readers would probably have exclaimed

And write about it, Goddess, and about it; and therefore I have
omitted it. When we got home, and were again at table with Dr Johnson,
we first talked of portraits. He agreed in thinking them valuable in
families. I wished to know which he preferred, fine portraits, or
those of which the merit was resemblance. JOHNSON. 'Sir, their chief
excellence is being like.' BOSWELL. 'Are you of that opinion as to the
portraits of ancestors, whom one has never seen?' JOHNSON. 'It then
becomes of more consequence that they should be like; and I would have
them in the dress of the times, which makes a piece of history. One
should like to see how Rorie More looked. Truth, sir, is of the
greatest value in these things.' Mr M'Queen observed, that if you
think it of no consequence whether portraits are like, if they are but
well painted, you may be indifferent whether a piece of history is
true or not, if well told.

Dr Johnson said at breakfast to day, 'that it was but of late that
historians bestowed pains and attention in consulting records, to
attain to accuracy. Bacon, in writing his History of Henry VII, does
not seem to have consulted any, but to have just taken what he found
in other histories, and blended it with what he learnt by tradition.'
He agreed with me that there should be a chronicle kept in every
considerable family, to preserve the characters and transactions of
successive generations.

After dinner I started the subject of the temple of Anaitis. Mr
M'Queen had laid stress on the name given to the place by the country
people, Ainnit; and added, 'I knew not what to make of this piece of
antiquity, till I met with the Anaitidis delubrum in Lydia, mentioned
by Pausanias and the elder Pliny.' Dr Johnson, with his usual
acuteness, examined Mr M'Queen as to the meaning of the word Ainnit,
in Erse; and it proved to be a WATER-PLACE, or a place near water,
'which,' said Mr M'Queen, 'agrees with all the descriptions of the
temples of that goddess, which were situated near rivers, that there
might be water to wash the statue'. JOHNSON. 'Nay, sir, the argument
from the name is gone. The name is exhausted by what we see. We have
no occasion to go to a distance for what we can pick up under our
feet. Had it been an accidental name, the similarity between it and
Anaitis might have had something in it; but it turns out to be a mere
physiological name.' Macleod said, Mr M'Queen's knowledge of etymology
had destroyed his conjecture. JOHNSON. 'You have one possibility for
you, and all possibilities against you. It is possible it may be the
temple of Anaitis. But it is also possible that it may be a
fortification; or it may be a place of Christian worship, as the first
Christians often chose remote and wild places, to make an impression
on the mind; or, if it was a heathen temple, it may have been built
near a river, for the purpose of lustration; and there is such a
multitude of divinities, to whom it may have been dedicated, that the
chance of its being a temple of Anaitis is hardly any thing. It is
like throwing a grain of sand upon the sea-shore today, and thinking
you may find it tomorrow. No, sir, this temple, like many an ill-built
edifice, tumbles down before it is roofed in.' In his triumph over the
reverend antiquarian, he indulged himself in a conceit; for, some
vestige of the ALTAR of the goddess being much insisted on in support
of the hypothesis, he said, 'Mr M'Queen is fighting pro aris et

It was wonderful how well time passed in a remote castle, and in
dreary weather. After supper, we talked of Pennant. It was objected
that he was superficial. Dr Johnson defended him warmly. He said,
'Pennant has greater variety of inquiry than almost any man, and has
told us more than perhaps one in ten thousand could have done, in the
time that he took. He has not said what he was to tell; so you cannot
find fault with him, for what he has not told. If a man comes to look
for fishes, you cannot blame him if he does not attend to fowls.'
'But,' said Colonel M'Leod, 'he mentions the unreasonable rise of
rents in the Highlands, and says, "the gentlemen are for emptying the
bag, without filling it"; for that is the phrase he uses. Why does he
not tell how to fill it?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, there is no end of negative
criticism. He tells what he observes, and as much as he chooses. If he
tells what is not true, you may find fault with him; but, though he
tells that the land is not well cultivated, he is not obliged to tell
how it may be well cultivated. If I tell that many of the highlanders
go bare-footed, I am not obliged to tell how they may get shoes.
Pennant tells a fact. He need go no farther, except he pleases. He
exhausts nothing; and no subject whatever has yet been exhausted. But
Pennant has surely told a great deal. Here is a man six feet high, and
you are angry because he is not seven.' Notwithstanding this eloquent
Oratio pro Pennantio, which they who have read this gentleman's TOURS,
and recollect the Savage and the Shopkeeper at Monboddo will probably
impute to the spirit of contradiction. I still think that he had
better have given more attention to fewer things, than have thrown
together such a number of imperfect accounts.

Saturday, 18th September

Before breakfast, Dr Johnson came up to my room, to forbid me to
mention that this was his birthday; but I told him I had done it
already; at which he was displeased; I suppose from wishing to have
nothing particular done on his account. Lady M'Leod and I got into a
warm dispute. She wanted to build a house upon a farm which she has
taken, about five miles from the castle, and to make gardens and other
ornaments there; all of which I approved of; but insisted that the
seat of the family should always be upon the rock of Dunvegan.
JOHNSON. 'Ay, in time we'll build all round this rock. You may make a
very good house at the farm; but it must not be such as to tempt the
Laird of M'Leod to go thither to reside. Most of the great families of
England have a secondary residence, which is called a jointure-house:
let the new house be of that kind.' The lady insisted that the rock
was very inconvenient; that there was no place near it where a good
garden could be made; that it must always be the rude place; that it
was a Herculean labour to make a dinner here. I was vexed to find the
alloy of modern refinement in a lady who had so much old family
spirit. 'Madam,' said I, 'if once you quit this rock, there is no
knowing where you may settle. You move five miles first, then to St
Andrews, as the late laird did; then to Edinburgh; and so on till you
end at Hampstead, or in France. No, no; keep to the rock: it is the
very jewel of the estate. It looks as if it had been let down from
heaven by the four corners, to be the residence of a chief. Have all
the comforts and conveniencies of life upon it, but never leave Rorie
More's cascade.' 'But,' said she, 'is it not enough if we keep it?
Must we never have more convenience than Rorie More had? He had his
beef brought to dinner in one basket, and his bread in another. Why
not as well be Rorie More all over, as live upon his rock? And should
not we tire, in looking perpetually on this rock? It is very well for
you, who have a fine place, and every thing easy, to talk thus, and
think of chaining honest folks to a rock. You would not live upon it
yourself.' 'Yes, madam,' said I, 'I would live upon it, were I Laird
of M'Leod, and should be unhappy if I were not upon it.' JOHNSON (with
a strong voice, and most determined manner). 'Madam, rather than quit
the old rock, Boswell would live in the pit; he would make his bed in
the dungeon.' I felt a degree of elation, at finding my resolute
feudal enthusiasm thus confirmed by such a sanction. The lady was
puzzled a little. She still returned to her pretty farm--rich ground,
fine garden. 'Madam,' said Dr Johnson, 'were they in Asia, I would not
leave the rock.' My opinion on this subject is still the same. An
ancient family residence ought to be a primary object; and though the
situation of Dunvegan be such that little can be done here in
gardening, or pleasure-ground, yet, in addition to the veneration
acquired by the lapse of time, it has many circumstances of natural
grandeur, suited to the seat of a Highland chief: it has the sea,
islands, rocks, hills, a noble cascade; and when the family is again
in opulence, something may be done by art.

Mr Donald M'Queen went away today, in order to preach at Bracadale
next day. We were so comfortably situated at Dunvegan, that Dr Johnson
could hardly be moved from it. I proposed to him that we should leave
it on Monday. 'No, sir,' said he, 'I will not go before Wednesday. I
will have some more of this good.' However, as the weather was at this
season so bad, and so very uncertain, and we had a great deal to do
yet, Mr M'Queen and I prevailed with him to agree to set out on
Monday, if the day should be good. Mr M'Queen though it was
inconvenient for him to be absent from his harvest, engaged to wait on
Monday at Ulinish for us. When he was going away, Dr Johnson said, 'I
shall ever retain a great regard for you'; then asked him if he had
the Rambler. Mr M'Queen said, 'No; but my brother has it' JOHNSON.
'Have you the Idler?' M'QUEEN. 'No, sir.' JOHNSON. 'Then I will order
one for you at Edinburgh, which you will keep in remembrance of me.'
Mr M'Queen was much pleased with this. He expressed to me, in the
strongest terms, his admiration of Dr Johnson's wonderful knowledge,
and every other quality for which he is distinguished. I asked Mr
M'Queen, if he was satisfied with being a minister in Sky. He said he
was; but he owned that his forefathers having been so long there, and
his having been born there, made a chief ingredient in forming his
contentment. I should have mentioned, that on our left hand, between
Portree and Dr Macleod's house, Mr M'Queen told me there had been a
college of the Knights Templars; that tradition said so; and that
there was a ruin remaining of their church, which had been burnt: but
I confess Dr Johnson has weakened my belief in remote tradition. In
the dispute about Anaitis, Mr M'Queen said, Asia Minor was peopled by
Scythians, and, as they were the ancestors of the Celts, the same
religion might be in Asia Minor and Sky. JOHNSON. 'Alas! sir, what can
a nation that has not letters tell of its original? I have always
difficulty to be patient when I hear authors gravely quoted, as giving
accounts of savage nations, which accounts they had from the savages
themselves. What can the M'Craas tell about themselves a thousand
years ago? There is no tracing the connection of ancient nations, but
by language; and therefore I am always sorry when any language is
lost, because languages are the pedigree of nations. If you find the
same language in distant countries, you may be sure that the
inhabitants of each have been the same people; that is to say, if you
find the languages a good deal the same; for a word here and there
being the same, will not do. Thus Butler, in his Hudibras, remembering
that Penguin, in the Straits of Magellan, signifies a bird with a
white head, and that the same word has, in Wales, the signification of
a white-headed wench (PEN head, and GUIN white), by way of ridicule,
concludes that the people of those Straits are Welch.'

A young gentleman of the name of M'Lean, nephew to the Laird of the
Isle of Muck, came this morning; and, just as we sat down to dinner,
came the Laird of the Isle of Muck himself, his lady, sister to
Talisker, two other ladies their relations, and a daughter of the late
M'Leod of Hamer, who wrote a treatise on the second sight, under the
designation of Theophilus Insulanus. It was somewhat droll to hear
this laird called by his title. Muck would have founded ill; so he was
called Isle of Muck, which went off with great readiness. The name, as
now written, is unseemly, but is not so bad in the original Erse,
which is MOUACH, signifying the Sows' Island. Buchanan calls it Insula
Porcorum. It is so called from its form. Some call it Isle of MONK.
The laird insists that this is the proper name. It was formerly
church-land belonging to Icolmkill, and a hermit lived in it. It is
two miles long, and about three quarters of a mile broad. The laird
said, he had seven score of souls upon it. Last year he had eighty
persons inoculated, mostly children, but some of them eighteen years
of age. He agreed with the surgeon to come and do it, at half a crown
a head. It is very fertile in corn, of which they export some; and its
coasts abound in fish. A taylor comes there six times in a year. They
get a good blacksmith from the Isle of Egg.

Sunday, 19th September

It was rather worse weather than any that we had yet. At breakfast Dr
Johnson said, 'Some cunning men choose fools for their wives, thinking
to manage them, but they always fail. There is a spaniel fool and a
mule fool. The spaniel fool may be made to do by beating. The mule
fool will neither do by words or blows; and the spaniel fool often
turns mule at last: and suppose a fool to be made do pretty well, you
must have the continual trouble of making her do. Depend upon it, no
woman is the worse for sense and knowledge.' Whether afterwards he
meant merely to say a polite thing, or to give his opinion, I could
not be sure; but he added, 'Men know that women are an over-match for
them, and therefore they choose the weakest or most ignorant. If they
did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much
as themselves.' In justice to the sex, I think it but candid to
acknowledge, that, in a subsequent conversation, he told me that he
was serious in what he had said.

He came to my room this morning before breakfast, to read my Journal,
which he has done all along. He often before said, 'I take great
delight in reading it.' Today he said, 'You improve: it grows better
and better.' I observed, there was a danger of my getting a habit of
writing in a slovenly manner. 'Sir,' said he, 'it is not written in a
slovenly manner. It might be printed, were the subject fit for
printing.' [Footnote: As I have faithfully recorded so many minute
particulars, I hope I shall be pardoned for inserting so flattering an
encomium on what is now offered to the publick.] While Mr Beaton
preached to us in the dining-room, Dr Johnson sat in his own room,
where I saw lying before him a volume of Lord Bacon's works, the Decay
of Christian Piety, Monboddo's Origin of Language, and Sterne's
Sermons. He asked me today, how it happened that we were so little
together: I told him, my Journal took up much time. Yet, on
reflection, it appeared strange to me, that although I will run from
one end of London to another, to pass an hour with him, I should omit
to seize any spare time to be in his company, when I am settled in the
same house with him. But my Journal is really a task of much time and
labour, and he forbids me to contract it.

I omitted to mention, in its place, that Dr Johnson told Mr M'Queen
that he had found the belief of the second sight universal in Sky,
except among the clergy, who seemed determined against it. I took the
liberty to observe to Mr M'Queen, that the clergy were actuated by a
kind of vanity. 'The world,' say they,'takes us to be credulous men in
a remote corner. We'll shew them that we are more enlightened than
they think.' The worthy man said, that his disbelief of it was from
his not finding sufficient evidence; but I could perceive that he was
prejudiced against it.

After dinner to-day, we talked of the extraordinary fact of Lady
Grange's being sent to St Kilda, and confined there for several years,
without any means of relief. [Footnote: The true story of this lady,
which happened In this century, is as frightfully romantick as if it
had been the fiction of a gloomy fancy. She was the wife of one of the
Lords of Session in Scotland, a man of the very first blood of his
country. For some mysterious reasons, which have never been
discovered, she was seized and carried off in the dark, she knew not
by whom, and by nightly journies was conveyed to the Highland shores,
from whence she was transported by sea to the remote rock of St Kilda,
where she remained, amongst its few wild inhabitants, a forlorn
prisoner, but had a constant supply of provisions, and a woman to wait
on her. No inquiry was made after her, till she at last found means to
convey a letter to a confidential friend, by the daughter of a
Catechist who concealed it in a clue of yarn. Information being thus
obtained at Edinburgh, a ship was sent to bring her off; but
intelligence of this being received, she was conveyed to M'Leod's
island of Herries, where she died.

In Carstares's State Papers, we find an authentick narrative of
Connor, a Catholick priest, who turned Protestant, being seized by
some of Lord Seaforth's people, and detained prisoner in the island of
Herries several years: he was fed with bread and water, and lodged in
a house where he was exposed to the rains and cold. Sir James Ogilvy
writes (June 18, 1667) that the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Advocate,
and himself, were to meet next day, to take effectual methods to have
this redressed. Connor was then still detained (p. 310). This shews
what private oppression might in the last century be practised in the

In the same collection, the Earl of Argyle gives a picturesque account
of an embassy from 'the great M'Neil of Barra', as that insular chief
used to be denominated. 'I received a letter yesterday from M'Neil of
Barra, who lives very far off, sent by a gentleman in all formality,
offering his service, which had made you laugh to see his entry. His
style of his letter runs as if he were of another kingdom' (p. 643).]
Dr Johnson said, if M'Leod would let it be known that he had such a
place for naughty ladies, he might make it a very profitable island.
We had, in the course of our tour, heard of St Kilda poetry. Dr
Johnson observed, 'it must be very poor, because they have very few
images.' BOSWELL. 'There may be a poetical genius shewn in combining
these, and in making poetry of them.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, a man cannot make
fire but in proportion as he has fuel. He cannot coin guineas but in
proportion as he has gold.' At tea he talked of his intending to go to
Italy in 1775. M'Leod said, he would like Paris better. JOHNSON. 'No,
sir; there are none of the French literati now alive, to visit whom I
would cross a sea. I can find in Buffon's book all that he can
say.'[Footnote: I doubt the justice of my fellow-traveller's remark
concerning the French literati, many of whom, I am told, have
considerable merit in conversation, as well as in their writings. That
of Monsieur de Buffon, in particular, I am well assured is highly
instructive and entertaining.]

After supper he said, 'I am sorry that prize-fighting is gone out;
every art should be preserved, and the art of defence is surely
important. It is absurd that our soldiers should have swords, and not
be taught the use of them. Prize-fighting made people accustomed not
to be alarmed at seeing their own blood, or feeling a little pain from
a wound. I think the heavy glaymore was an ill-contrived weapon. A man
could only strike once with it. It employed both his hands, and he
must of course be soon fatigued with wielding it; so that if his
antagonist could only keep playing a while, he was sure of him. I
would fight with a dirk against Rorie More's sword. I could ward off a
blow with a dirk, and then run in upon my enemy. When within that
heavy sword, I have him; he is quite helpless, and I could stab him at
my leisure, like a calf. It is thought by sensible military men, that
the English do not enough avail themselves of their superior strength
of body against the French; for that must always have a great
advantage in pushing with bayonets. I have heard an officer say, that
if women could be made to stand, they would do as well as men in a
mere interchange of bullets from a distance: but, if a body of men
should come close up to them, then to be sure they must be overcome;
now (said he), in the same manner the weaker-bodied French must be
overcome by our strong soldiers.'

The subject of duelling was introduced. JOHNSON. 'There is no case in
England where one or other of the combatants MUST die: if you have
overcome your adversary by disarming him, that is sufficient, though
you should not kill him; your honour, or the honour of your family, is
restored, as much as it can be by a duel. It is cowardly to force your
antagonist to renew the combat, when you know that you have the
advantage of him by superior skill. You might just as well go and cut
his throat while he is asleep in his bed. When a duel begins, it is
supposed there may be an equality; because it is not always skill that
prevails. It depends much on presence of mind; nay on accidents. The
wind may be in a man's face. He may fall. Many such things may decide
the superiority. A man is sufficiently punished, by being called out,
and subjected to the risk that is in a duel.' But on my suggesting
that the injured person is equally subjected to risk, he fairly owned
he could not explain the rationality of duelling.

Monday, 20th September

When I awaked, the storm was higher still. It abated about nine, and
the sun shone; but it rained again very soon, and it was not a day for
travelling. At breakfast, Dr Johnson told us, 'there was once a pretty
good tavern in Catharine Street in the Strand, where very good company
met in an evening, and each man called for his own half pint of wine,
or gill, if he pleased: they were frugal men, and nobody paid but for
what he himself drank. The house furnished no supper; but a woman
attended with mutton-pies, which any body might purchase. I was
introduced to this company by Cumming the Quaker, and used to go there
sometimes when I drank wine. In the last age, when my mother lived in
London, there were two sets of people, those who gave the wall, and
those who took it; the peaceable and the quarrelsome. When I returned
to Lichfield, after having been in London, my mother asked me, whether
I was one of those who gave the wall, or those who took it. Now, it is
fixed that every man keeps to the right; or, if one is taking the
wall, another yields it, and it is never a dispute.' He was very
severe on a lady, whose name was mentioned. He said, he would have
sent her to St Kilda. That she was as bad as negative badness could
be, and stood in the way of what was good: that insipid beauty would
not go a great way; and that such a woman might be cut out of a
cabbage, if there was a skilful artificer.

M'Leod was too late in coming to breakfast. Dr Johnson said, laziness
was worse than the toothache. BOSWELL. 'I cannot agree with you, sir;
a bason of cold water, or a horse whip, will cure laziness.' JOHNSON.
'No, sir; it will only put off the fit; it will not cure the disease.
I have been trying to cure my laziness all my life, and could not do
it.' BOSWELL. 'But if a man does in a shorter time what might be the
labour of a life, there is nothing to be said against him.' JOHNSON
(perceiving at once that I alluded to him and his Dictionary).
'Suppose that flattery to be true, the consequence would be, that the
world would have no right to censure a man; but that will not justify
him to himself.'

After breakfast, he said to me, 'A Highland chief should now endeavour
to do every thing to raise his rents, by means of the industry of his
people. Formerly, it was right for him to have his house full of idle
fellows; they were his defenders, his servants, his dependants, his
friends. Now they may be better employed. The system of things is now
so much altered, that the family cannot have influence but by riches,
because it has no longer the power of ancient feudal times. An
individual of a family may have it; but it cannot now belong to a
family, unless you could have a perpetuity of men with the same views.
M'Leod has four times the land that the Duke of Bedford has. I think,
with his spirit, he may in time make himself the greatest man in the
king's dominions; for land may always be improved to a certain degree.
I would never have any man sell land, to throw money into the funds,
as is often done, or to try any other species of trade. Depend upon
it, this rage of trade will destroy itself. You and I shall not see
it; but the time will come when there will be an end of it. Trade is
like gaming. If a whole company are gamesters, play must cease; for
there is nothing to be won. When all nations are traders, there is
nothing to be gained by trade, and it will stop first where it is
brought to the greatest perfection. Then the proprietors of land only
will be the great men.' I observed, it was hard that M'Leod should
find ingratitude in so many of his people. JOHNSON. 'Sir, gratitude is
a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people.'
I doubt of this. Nature seems to have implanted gratitude in all
living creatures. The lion, mentioned by Aulus Gellius, had it.
[Footnote: Aul. Gellius, Lib. v. c. xiv.] It appears to me that
culture, which brings luxury and selfishness with it, has a tendency
rather to weaken than promote this affection.

Dr Johnson said this morning, when talking of our setting out, that he
was in the state in which Lord Bacon represents kings. He desired the
end, but did not like the means. He wished much to get home, but was
unwilling to travel in Sky. 'You are like kings too in this, sir,'
said I, 'that you must act under the direction of others.'

Tuesday, 21st September

The uncertainty of our present situation having prevented me from
receiving any letters from home for some time, I could not help being
uneasy. Dr Johnson had an advantage over me, in this respect, he
having no wife or child to occasion anxious apprehensions in his mind.
It was a good morning; so we resolved to set out. But, before quitting
this castle, where we have been so well entertained, let me give a
short description of it.

Along the edge of the rock, there are the remains of a wall, which is
now covered with ivy. A square court is formed by buildings of
different ages, particularly some towers, said to be of great
antiquity; and at one place there is a row of false cannon of stone.
There is a very large unfinished pile, four stories high, which we
were told was here when Leod, the first of this family, came from the
Isle of Man, married the heiress of the M'Crails, the ancient
possessors of Dunvegan, and afterwards acquired by conquest as much
land as he had got by marriage. He surpassed the house of Austria; for
he was felix both bella genere et nubere. John Breck M'Leod, the
grandfather of the late laird, began to repair the castle, or rather
to complete it: but he did not live to finish his undertaking. Not
doubting, however, that he should do it, he, like those who have had
their epitaphs written before they died, ordered the following
inscription, composed by the minister of the parish, to be cut upon a
broad stone above one of the lower windows, where it still remains to
celebrate what was not done, and to serve as a memento of the
uncertainty of life, and the presumption of man:

Joannes Macleod Beganoduni Dominus gentis suae Philarchus, Durinesiae
Haraiae Vaternesiae, &c: Baro D. Florae Macdonald matrimoniali vinculo
conjugatus turrem hanc Beganodunensem proavorum habitaculum longe
vetustissimum diu penitus labefectatam Anno aerae vulgaris MDCLXXXVI

  Quern stabilire juvat proavorum tecta vetusta,
  Omne scelus fugiat, justitiamque colat.
  Vertit in aerias turres magalia virtus,
  Inque casas humiles tecta superba nefas.

M'Leod and Talisker accompanied us. We passed by the parish church of
Durinish. The church-yard is not enclosed, but a pretty murmuring
brook runs along one side of it. In it is a pyramid erected to the
memory of Thomas Lord Lovat, by his son Lord Simon, who suffered on
Towerhill. It is of free-stone, and, I suppose, about thirty feet
high. There is an inscription on a piece of white marble inserted in
it, which I suspect to have been the composition of Lord Lovat
himself, being much in his pompous style:

This pyramid was erected by SIMON LORD FRASER of LOVAT, in honour of
Lord THOMAS his Father, a Peer of Scotland, and Chief of the great and
ancient clan of the FRASERS. Being attacked for his birthright by the
family of ATHOLL, then in power and favour with KING WILLIAM, yet, by
the valour and fidelity of his clan, and the assistance of the
CAMPBELLS, the old friends and allies of his family, he defended his
birthright with such greatness and fermety of soul, and such valour
and activity, that he was an honour to his name, and a good pattern to
all brave Chiefs of clans. He died in the month of May, 1699, in the
63d year of his age, in Dunvegan, the house of the LAIRD of MAC LEOD,
whose sister he had married: by whom he had the above SIMON LORD
FRASER, and several other children. And, for the great love he bore to
the family of MAC LEOD, he desired to be buried near his wife's
relations, in the place where two of her uncles lay. And his son LORD
SIMON, to shew to posterity his great affection for his mother's
kindred, the brave MAC LEODS, chooses rather to leave his father's
bones with them, than carry them to his own burial-place, near Lovat.

I have preserved this inscription, though of no great value, thinking
it characteristical of a man who has made some noise in the world. Dr
Johnson said, it was poor stuff, such as Lord Lovat's butler might
have written.

I observed, in this church-yard, a parcel of people assembled at a
funeral, before the grave was dug. The coffin, with the corpse in it,
was placed on the ground, while the people alternately assisted in
making a grave. One man, at a little distance, was busy cutting a long
turf for it, with the crooked spade which is used in Sky; a very
aukward instrument. The iron part of it is like a plough-coulter. It
has a rude tree for a handle, in which a wooden pin is placed for the
foot to press upon. A traveller might, without further inquiry, have
set this down as the mode of burying in Sky. I was told, however, that
the usual way is to have a grave previously dug.

I observed to-day, that the common way of carrying home their grain
here is in loads on horse-back. They have also a few sleds, or cars,
as we call them in Ayrshire, clumsily made, and rarely used.

We got to Ulinish about six o'clock, and found a very good farm-house,
of two stories. Mr M'Leod of Ulinish, the sheriff-substitute of the
island, was a plain honest gentleman, a good deal like an English
justice of peace; not much given to talk, but sufficiently sagacious,
and somewhat droll. His daughter, though she was never out of Sky, was
a very well-bred woman. Our reverend friend, Mr Donald M'Queen, kept
his appointment, and met us here.

Talking of Phipps's voyage to the North Pole, Dr Johnson observed,
that it 'was conjectured that our former navigators have kept too near
land, and so have found the sea frozen far north, because the land
hinders the free motion of the tide; but, in the wide ocean, where the
waves tumble at their full convenience, it is imagined that the frost
does not take effect'.

Wednesday, 22d September

In the morning I walked out, and saw a ship, the Margaret of Clyde,
pass by with a number of emigrants on board. It was a melancholy
sight. After breakfast, we went to see what was called a subterraneous
house, about a mile off. It was upon the side of a rising-ground. It
was discovered by a fox's having taken up his abode in it, and in
chasing him, they dug into it. It was very narrow and low, and seemed
about forty feet in length. Near it, we found the foundations of
several small huts, built of stone. Mr M'Queen, who is always for
making every thing as ancient as possible, boasted that it was the
dwelling of some of the first inhabitants of the island, and observed,
what a curiosity it was to find here a specimen of the houses of the
Aborigines, which he believed could be found no where else; and it was
plain that they lived without fire. Dr Johnson remarked, that they who
made this were not in the rudest state; for that it was more difficult
to make it than to build a house; therefore certainly those who made
it were in possession of houses, and had this only as a hiding-place.
It appeared to me, that the vestiges of houses, just by it, confirmed
Dr Johnson's opinion.

From an old tower, near this place, is an extensive view of Loch
Braccadil, and, at a distance, of the isles of Barra and South Uist;
and on the landside, the Cuillin, a prodigious range of mountains,
capped with rocky pinnacles in a strange variety of shapes. They
resemble the mountains near Corte in Corsica, of which there is a very
good print. They make part of a great range for deer, which, though
entirely devoid of trees, is in these countries called a forest.

In the afternoon, Ulinish carried us in his boat to an island
possessed by him, where we saw an immense cave, much more deserving
the title of antrum immane than that of the Sybil described by Virgil,
which I likewise have visited. It is one hundred and eighty feet long,
about thirty feet broad, and at least thirty feet high. This cave, we
were told, had a remarkable echo; but we found none. They said it was
owing to the great rains having made it damp. Such are the excuses by
which the exaggeration of Highland narratives is palliated. There is a
plentiful garden at Ulinish (a great rarity in Sky), and several
trees; and near the house is a hill, which has an Erse name,
signifying 'the hill of strife', where, Mr M'Queen informed us,
justice was of old administered. It is like the mons placiti of Scone,
or those hills which are called laws, such as Kelly law, North Berwick
law, and several others. It is singular that this spot should happen
now to be the sheriff's residence.

We had a very cheerful evening, and Dr Johnson talked a good deal on
the subject of literature. Speaking of the noble family of Boyle, he
said, that all the Lord Orrerys, till the present, had been writers.
The first wrote several plays; the second was Bentley's antagonist;
the third wrote the Life of Swift, and several other things; his son
Hamilton wrote some papers in the Adventurer and World. He told us, he
was well acquainted with Swift's Lord Orrery. He said, he was a
feeble-minded man; that, on the publication of Dr Delany's Remarks on
his book, he was so much alarmed that he was afraid to read them. Dr
Johnson comforted him, by telling him they were both in the right;
that Delany had seen most of the good side of Swift, Lord Orrery most
of the bad. M'Leod asked, if it was not wrong in Orrery to expose the
defects of a man with whom he lived in intimacy. JOHNSON. 'Why no,
sir, after the man is dead; for then it is done historically.' He
added, 'If Lord Orrery had been rich, he would have been a very
liberal patron. His conversation was like his writings, neat and
elegant, but without strength. He grasped at more than his abilities
could reach; tried to pass for a better talker, a better writer, and a
better thinker than he was. There was a quarrel between him and his
father, in which his father was to blame; because it arose from the
son's not allowing his wife to keep company with his father's
mistress. The old lord shewed his resentment in his will--leaving his
library from his son, and assigning, as his reason, that he could not
make use of it.'

I mentioned the affectation of Orrery, in ending all his letters on
the Life of Swift in studied varieties of phrase, and never in the
common mode of 'I am', &c. an observation which I remember to have
been made several years ago by old Mr Sheridan. This species of
affectation in writing, as a foreign lady of distinguished talents
once remarked to me, is almost peculiar to the English. I took up a
volume of Dryden, containing the Conquest of Granada, and several
other plays, of which all the dedications had such studied
conclusions. Dr Johnson said, such conclusions were more elegant, and,
in addressing persons of high rank (as when Dryden dedicated to the
Duke of York), they were likewise more respectful. I agreed that THERE
it was much better: it was making his escape from the royal presence
with a genteel sudden timidity, in place of having the resolution to
stand still, and make a formal bow.

Lord Orrery's unkind treatment of his son in his will, led us to talk
of the dispositions a man should have when dying. I said, I did not
see why a man should act differently with respect to those of whom he
thought ill when in health, merely because he was dying. JOHNSON. 'I
should not scruple to speak against a party, when dying; but should
not do it against an individual. It is told of Sixtus Quintus, that on
his death-bed, in the intervals of his last pangs, he signed
death-warrants.' Mr M'Queen said, he should not do so; he would have
more tenderness of heart. JOHNSON. 'I believe I should not either; but
Mr M'Queen and I are cowards. It would not be from tenderness of
heart; for the heart is as tender when a man is in health as when he
is sick, though his resolution may be stronger. Sixtus Quintus was a
sovereign as well as a priest; and, if the criminals deserved death,
he was doing his duty to the last. You would not think a judge died
ill, who should be carried off by an apoplectick fit while pronouncing
sentence of death. Consider a class of men whose business it is to
distribute death: soldiers, who die scattering bullets. Nobody thinks
they die ill on that account.'

Talking of biography, he said, he did not think that the life of any
literary man in England had been well written. Beside the common
incidents of life, it should tell us his studies, his mode of living,
the means by which he attained to excellence, and his opinion of his
own works. He told us, he had sent Derrick to Dryden's relations, to
gather materials for his Life; and he believed Derrick had got all
that he himself should have got; but it was nothing. He added, he had
a kindness for Derrick, and was sorry he was dead.

His notion as to the poems published by Mr M'Pherson, as the works of
Ossian, was not shaken here. Mr M'Queen always evaded the point of
authenticity, saying only that Mr M'Pherson's pieces fell far short of
those he knew in Erse, which were said to be Ossian's. JOHNSON. 'I
hope they do. I am not disputing that you may have poetry of great
merit; but that M'Pherson's is not a translation from ancient poetry.
You do not believe it. I say before you, you do not believe it, though
you are very willing that the world should believe it.' Mr M'Queen
made no answer to this. Dr Johnson proceeded, 'I look upon M'Pherson's
Fingal to be as gross an imposition as ever the world was troubled
with. Had it been really an ancient work, a true specimen how men
thought at that time, it would have been a curiosity of the first
rate. As a modern production, it is nothing.' He said, he could never
get the meaning of an Erse song explained to him. They told him, the
chorus was generally unmeaning. 'I take it,' said he, 'Erse songs are
like a song which I remember: it was composed in Queen Elizabeth's
time, on the Earl of Essex; and the burthen was

"Radaratoo, radarate, radara tadara tandore."'

'But surely,' said Mr M'Queen, 'there were words to it, which had
meaning.' JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, sir, I recollect a stanza, and you shall
have it:

  "O! then bespoke the prentices all,
  Living in London, both proper and tall,
  For Essex's sake they would fight all.
  Radaratoo, radarate, radara, tadara, tandore."'

[Footnote: This droll quotation, I have since found, was from a song
in honour of the Earl of Essex, called 'Queen Elizabeth's Champion',
which is preserved in a collection of Old Ballads, in three volumes,
published in London in different years, between 1720 and 1730. The
full verse is as follows:

  Oh! then bespoke the prentices all,
  Living in London, both proper and tall,
  In a kind letter sent straight to the Queen,
  For Essex's sake they would fight all.
  Raderer too, tandaro te,
  Raderer, tenderer, tan do re.]

When Mr M'Queen began again to expatiate on the beauty of Ossian's
poetry, Dr Johnson entered into no further controversy, but, with a
pleasant smile, only cried, 'Ay, ay; Radaratoo, radarate.'

Thursday, 23d September

I took Fingal down to the parlour in the morning, and tried a test
proposed by Mr Roderick M'Leod, son to Ulinish. Mr M'Queen had said he
had some of the poem in the original. I desired him to mention any
passage in the printed book, of which he could repeat the original. He
pointed out one in page 50 of the quarto edition, and read the Erse,
while Mr Roderick M'Leod and I looked on the English; and Mr M'Leod
said, that it was pretty like what Mr M'Queen had recited. But when Mr
M'Queen read a description of Cuchullin's sword in Erse, together with
a translation of it in English verse, by Sir James Foulis, Mr M'Leod
said, that was much more like than Mr M'Pherson's translation of the
former passage. Mr M'Queen then repeated in Erse a description of one
of the horses in Cuchillin's car. Mr M'Leod said, Mr M'Pherson's
English was nothing like it.

When Dr Johnson came down, I told him that I had now obtained some
evidence concerning Fingal; for that Mr M'Queen had repeated a passage
in the original Erse, which Mr M'Pherson's translation was pretty
like; and reminded him that he himself had once said, he did not
require Mr M'Pherson's Ossian to be more like the original than Pope's
Homer. JOHNSON. 'Well, sir, this is just what I always maintained. He
has found names, and stories, and phrases, nay passages in old songs,
and with them has blended his own compositions, and so made what he
gives to the world as the translation of an ancient poem.' If this was
the case, I observed, it was wrong to publish it as a poem in six
books. JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir; and to ascribe it to a time too when the
Highlanders knew nothing of BOOKS, and nothing of SIX; or perhaps were
got the length of counting six. We have been told, by Condamine, of a
nation that could count no more than four. This should be told to
Monboddo; it would help him. There is as much charity in helping a man
down-hill, as in helping him up-hill.' BOSWELL. 'I don't think there
is as much charity.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir, if his TENDENCY be downwards.
Till he is at the bottom, he flounders; get him once there, and he is
quiet. Swift tells, that Stella had a trick, which she learned from
Addison, of encouraging a man in absurdity, instead of endeavouring to
extricate him.'

Mr M'Queen's answers to the inquiries concerning Ossian were so
unsatisfactory, that I could not help observing, that, were he
examined in a court of justice, he would find himself under a
necessity of being more explicit. JOHNSON. 'Sir, he has told Blair a
little too much, which is published; and he sticks to it. He is so
much at the head of things here, that he has never been accustomed to
be closely examined; and so he goes on quite smoothly.' BOSWELL. 'He
has never had any body to work him.' JOHNSON. 'No, sir; and a man is
seldom disposed to work himself; though he ought to work himself, to
be sure.' Mr M'Queen made no reply. [Footnote: I think it but justice
to say, that I believe Dr Johnson meant to ascribe Mr M'Queen's
conduct to inaccuracy and enthusiasm, and did not mean any severe
imputation against him.]

Having talked of the strictness with which witnesses are examined in
courts of justice, Dr Johnson told us, that Garrick, though accustomed
to face multitudes, when produced as a witness in Westminster Hall,
was so disconcerted by a new mode of publick appearance, that he could
not understand what was asked. It was a cause where an actor claimed a
free benefit; that is to say, a benefit without paying the expence of
the house; but the meaning of the term was disputed. Garrick was
asked, 'Sir, have you a free benefit?' 'Yes.' 'Upon what terms have
you it?' 'Upon...the terms...of ...a FREE BENEFIT.' He was dismissed
as one from whom no information could be obtained. Dr Johnson is often
too hard on our friend Mr Garrick. When I asked him, why he did not
mention him in the Preface to his Shakspeare, he said, 'Garrick has
been liberally paid for any thing he has done for Shakspeare. If I
should praise him, I should much more praise the nation who paid him.
He has not made Shakspeare better known; [Footnote: It has been
triumphantly asked, 'Had not the plays of Shakspeare lain dormant for
many years before the appearance of Mr Garrick? Did he not exhibit the
most excellent of them frequently for thirty years together, and
render them extremely popular by his own inimitable performance?' He
undoubtedly did. But Dr Johnson's assertion has been misunderstood.
Knowing as well as the objectors what has been just stated, he must
necessarily have meant, that 'Mr Garrick did not as A CRITICK make
Shakspeare better known; he did not ILLUSTRATE any one PASSAGE in any
of his plays by acuteness of disquisition, sagacity of conjecture:'
and what had been done with any degree of excellence in THAT way was
the proper and immediate subject of his preface. I may add in support
of this explanation the following anecdote, related to me by one of
the ablest commentators on Shakspeare, who knew much of Dr Johnson:
'Now I have quitted the theatre,' cries Garrick, 'I will sit down and
read Shakspeare.' ''Tis time you should,' exclaimed Johnson, 'for I
much doubt if you ever examined one of his plays from the first scene
to the last.'] he cannot illustrate Shakspeare: So I have reasons
enough against mentioning him, were reasons necessary. There should be
reasons FOR it.' I spoke of Mrs Montague's very high praises of
Garrick. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is fit she should say so much, and I should
say nothing. Reynolds is fond of her book, and I wonder at it; for
neither I, nor Beauclerk, nor Mrs Thrale, could get through it.'
[Footnote: No man has less inclination to controversy than I have,
particularly with a lady. But as I have claimed, and am conscious of
being entitled to, credit, for the strictest fidelity, my respect for
the publick obliges me to take notice of an insinuation which tends to
impeach it.

Mrs Piozzi (late Mrs Thrale), to her Anecdotes of Dr Johnson, added
the following postscript:

Naples, Feb. 10, 1786.

Since the foregoing went to the press, having seen a passage from Mr
Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides, in which it is said, that I could not
get through Mrs Montague's Essay on Shakspeare, I do not delay a
moment to declare, that, on the contrary, I have always commended it
myself, and heard it commended by every one else; and few things would
give me more concern than to be thought incapable of tasting, or
unwilling to testify my opinion of its excellence.

It is remarkable that this postscript is so expressed, as not to point
out the person who said that Mrs Thrale could not get through Mrs
Montague's book; and therefore I think it necessary to remind Mrs
Piozzi, that the assertion concerning her was Dr Johnson's, and not
mine. The second observation that I shall make on this postscript is,
that it does not deny the fact asserted, though I must acknowledge
from the praise it bestows on Mrs Montague's book, it may have been
designed to convey that meaning.

What Mrs Thrale's opinion is or was, or what she may or may not have
said to Dr Johnson concerning Mrs Montague's book, it is not necessary
for me to inquire. It is only incumbent on me to ascertain what Dr
Johnson said to me. I shall therefore confine myself to a very short
state of the fact.

The unfavourable opinion of Mrs Montague's book, which Dr Johnson is
here reported to have given, is known to have been that which is
uniformly expressed, as many of his friends well remember. So much for
the authenticity of the paragraph, as far as it relates to his own
sentiments. The words containing the assertion, to which Mrs Piozzi
objects, are printed from my manuscript Journal, and were taken down
at the time. The Journal was read by Dr Johnson, who pointed out some
inaccuracies, which I corrected, but did not mention any inaccuracy in
the paragraph in question: and what is still more material, and very
flattering to me, a considerable part of my Journal, containing this
it for some time in her possession, and returned it to me, without
intimating that Dr Johnson had mistaken her sentiments.

When the first edition of my Journal was passing through the press, it
occurred to me, that a peculiar delicacy was necessary to be observed
in reporting the opinion of one literary lady concerning the
performance of another; and I had such scruples on that head, that in
the proof sheet I struck out the name of Mrs Thrale from the above
paragraph, and two or three hundred copies of my book were actually
printed and published without it; of these Sir Joshua Reynolds's copy
happened to be one. But while the sheet was working off, a friend, for
whose opinion I have great respect, suggested that I had no right to
deprive Mrs Thrale of the high honour which Dr Johnson had done her,
by stating her opinion along with that of Mr Beauclerk, as coinciding
with, and, as it were, sanctioning his own. The observation appeared
to me so weighty and conclusive, that I hastened to the printing
house, and, as a piece of justice, restored Mrs Thrale to that place
from which a too scrupulous delicacy had excluded her.

On this simple state of facts I shall make no observation whatever.]

Last night Dr Johnson gave us an account of the whole process of
tanning, and of the nature of milk, and the various operations upon
it, as making whey, &c. His variety of information is surprizing; and
it gives one much satisfaction to find such a man bestowing his
attention on the useful arts of life. Ulinish was much struck with his
knowledge; and said, 'He is a great orator, sir; it is musick to hear
this man speak.' A strange thought struck me, to try if he knew any
thing of an art, or whatever it should be called, which is no doubt
very useful in life, but which lies far out of the way of a
philosopher and poet; I mean the trade of a butcher. I enticed him
into the subject, by connecting it with the various researches into
the manners and customs of uncivilized nations, that have been made by
our late navigators into the South Seas. I began with observing, that
Mr (now Sir Joseph) Banks tells us, that the art of slaughtering
animals was not known in Otaheite, for, instead of bleeding to death
their dogs (a common food with them), they strangle them. This he told
me himself; and I supposed that their hogs were killed in the same
way. Dr Johnson said, 'This must be owing to their not having knives,
though they have sharp stones with which they can cut a carcase in
pieces tolerably.' By degrees, he shewed that he knew something even
of butchery. 'Different animals,' said he, 'are killed differently. An
ox is knocked down, and a calf stunned; but a sheep has its throat
cut, without any thing being done to stupify it. The butchers have no
view to the ease of the animals, but only to make them quiet, for
their own safety and convenience. A sheep can give them little
trouble. Hales is of opinion, that every animal should be blooded,
without having any blow given to it, because it bleeds better.'
BOSWELL. 'That would be cruel.' JOHNSON. 'No, sir; there is not much
pain, if the jugular vein be properly cut.' Pursuing the subject, he
said, the kennels of Southwark ran with blood two or three days in the
week; that he was afraid there were slaughter-houses in more streets
in London than one supposes (speaking with a kind of horrour of
butchering), and yet, he added, 'any of us would kill a cow, rather
than not have beef.' I said we COULD not. 'Yes,' said he, 'any one
may. The business of a butcher is a trade indeed, that is to say,
there is an apprenticeship served to it; but it may be learnt in a

I mentioned a club in London, at the Boar's Head in Eastcheap, the
very tavern where Falstaff and his joyous companions met; the members
of which all assume Shakspeare's characters. One is Falstaff, another
Prince Henry, another Bardolph, and so on. JOHNSON. 'Don't be of it,
sir. Now that you have a name, you must be careful to avoid many
things, not bad in themselves, but which will lessen your character.
[Footnote: I do not see why I might not have been of this club without
lessening my character. But Dr Johnson's caution against supposing
one's self concealed in London, may be very useful to prevent some
people from doing many things, not only foolish, but criminal.] This
every man who has a name must observe. A man who is not publickly
known may live in London as he pleases, without any notice being taken
of him; but it is wonderful how a person of any consequence is
watched. There was a Member of Parliament, who wanted to prepare
himself to speak on a question that was to come in the House; and he
and I were to talk it over together. He did not wish it should be
known that he talked with me; so he would not let me come to his
house, but came to mine. Some time after he had made his speech in the
house, Mrs Cholmondeley, a very airy lady, told me, "Well, you could
make nothing of him!" naming the gentleman, which was a proof that he
was watched. I had once some business to do for government, and I went
to Lord North's. Precaution was taken that it should not be known. It
was dark before I went; yet a few days after I was told, "Well, you
have been with Lord North." That the door of the Prime Minister should
be watched, is not strange; but that a Member of Parliament should be
watched, or that my door should be watched, is wonderful.'

We set out this morning on our way to Talisker, in Ulinish's boat,
having taken leave of him and his family. Mr Donald M'Queen still
favoured us with his company, for which we were much obliged to him.
As we sailed along Dr Johnson got into one of his fits of railing at
the Scots. He owned that they had been a very learned nation for a
hundred years, from about 1550 to about 1650; but that they afforded
the only instance of a people among whom the arts of civil life did
not advance in proportion with learning; that they had hardly any
trade, any money, or any elegance, before the Union; that it was
strange that, with all the advantages possessed by other nations, they
had not any of those conveniences and embellishments which are the
fruit of industry, till they came in contact with a civilized people.
'We have taught you,' said he, 'and we'll do the same in time to all
barbarous nations, to the Cherokees, and at last to the Ouran-
Outangs'; laughing with as much glee as if Monboddo had been present.
BOSWELL. 'We had wine before the Union.' JOHNSON. 'No, sir; you had
some weak stuff, the refuse of France, which would not make you
drunk.' BOSWELL. 'I assure you, sir, there was a great deal of
drunkenness.' JOHNSON. 'No, sir; there were people who died of
dropsies, which they contracted in trying to get drunk.'

I must here gleen some of his conversation at Ulinish, which I have
omitted. He repeated his remark, that a man in a ship was worse than a
man in a jail. 'The man in a jail,' said he, 'has more room, better
food, and commonly better company, and is in safety.' 'Ay; but,' said
Mr M'Queen, 'the man in the ship has the pleasing hope of getting to
shore.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I am not talking of a man's getting to shore;
but a man while he is in a ship: and then, I say, he is worse than a
man while he is in a jail. A man in a jail MAY have the "pleasing
hope" of getting out. A man confined for only a limited time, actually
HAS it.' M'Leod mentioned his schemes for carrying on fisheries with
spirit, and that he would wish to understand the construction of
boats. I suggested that he might go to a dock-yard and work, as Peter
the Great did. JOHNSON. 'Nay, sir, he need not work. Peter the Great
had not the sense to see that the mere mechanical work may be done by
any body, and that there is the same art in constructing a vessel,
whether the boards are well or ill wrought. Sir Christopher Wren might
as well have served his time to a bricklayer, and first, indeed, to a

There is a beautiful little island in the Loch of Dunvegan, called
Isa. M'Leod said, he would give it to Dr Johnson, on condition of his
residing on it three months in the year; nay one month. Dr Johnson was
highly amused with the fancy. I have seen him please himself with
little things, even with mere ideas like the present. He talked a
great deal of this island--how he would build a house there, how he
would fortify it, how he would have cannon, how he would plant, how he
would sally out and TAKE the isle of Muck; and then he laughed with
uncommon glee, and could hardly leave off. I have seen him do so at a
small matter that struck him, and was a sport to no one else. Mr
Langton told me, that one night he did so while the company were all
grave about him: only Garrick, in his significant smart manner,
darting his eyes around, exclaimed, 'VERY jocose, to be sure!' M'Leod
encouraged the fancy of Dr Johnson's becoming owner of an island; told
him, that it was the practice in this country to name every man by his
lands; and begged leave to drink to him in that mode: 'Island Isa,
your health!' Ulinish, Talisker, Mr M'Queen, and I, all joined in our
different manners, while Dr Johnson bowed to each, with much good

We had good weather, and a fine sail this day. The shore was varied
with hills, and rocks, and corn-fields, and bushes, which are here
dignified with the name of natural wood. We landed near the house of
Ferneley, a farm possessed by another gentleman of the name of M'Leod,
who, expecting our arrival, was waiting on the shore, with a horse for
Dr Johnson. The rest of us walked. At dinner, I expressed to M'Leod
the joy which I had in seeing him on such cordial terms with his clan.
'Government,' said he, 'has deprived us of our ancient power; but it
cannot deprive us of our domestick satisfactions. I would rather drink
punch in one of their houses' (meaning the houses of his people) 'than
be enabled by their hardships, to have claret in my own.' This should
be the sentiment of every chieftain. All that he can get by raising
his rents, is more luxury in his own house. Is it not better to share
the profits of his estate, to a certain degree, with his kinsmen, and
thus have both social intercourse and patriarchal influence?

We had a very good ride, for about three miles, to Talisker, where
Colonel M'Leod introduced us to his lady. We found here Mr Donald
M'Lean, the young Laird of Col (nephew to Talisker), to whom I
delivered the letter with which I had been favoured by his uncle,
Professor M'Leod, at Aberdeen. He was a little lively young man. We
found he had been a good deal in England, studying farming, and was
resolved to improve the value of his father's lands, without
oppressing his tenants, or losing the ancient Highland fashions.

Talisker is a better place than one commonly finds in Sky. It is
situated in a rich bottom. Before it is a wide expanse of sea, on each
hand of which are immense rocks; and, at some distance in the sea,
there are three columnal rocks rising to sharp points. The billows
break with prodigious force and noise on the coast of Talisker. There
are here a good many well-grown trees. Talisker is an extensive farm.
The possessor of it has, for several generations, been the next heir
to M'Leod, as there has been but one son always in that family. The
court before the house is most injudiciously paved with the round
blueish-grey pebbles which are found upon the sea-shore; so that you
walk as if upon cannon-balls driven into the ground.

After supper, I talked of the assiduity of the Scottish clergy, in
visiting and privately instructing their parishioners, and observed
how much in this they excelled the English clergy. Dr Johnson would
not let this pass. He tried to turn it off, by saying, 'There are
different ways of instructing. Our clergy pray and preach.' M'Leod and
I pressed the subject, upon which he grew warm, and broke forth: 'I do
not believe your people are better instructed. If they are, it is the
blind leading the blind; for your clergy are not instructed
themselves.' Thinking he had gone a little too far, he checked
himself, and added, 'When I talk of the ignorance of your clergy, I
talk of them as a body: I do not mean that there are not individuals
who are learned' (looking at Mr M'Queen). 'I suppose there are such
among the clergy in Muscovy. The clergy of England have produced the
most valuable books in support of religion, both in theory and
practice. What have your clergy done, since you sunk into
presbyterianism? Can you name one book of any value, on a religious
subject, written by them?' We were silent. 'I'll help you. Forbes
wrote very well; but I believe he wrote before episcopacy was quite
extinguished.' And then pausing a little, he said, 'Yes, you have
Wishart against Repentance.' [Footnote: This was a dexterous mode of
description, for the purpose of his argument; for what he alluded to
was, a sermon published by the learned Dr William Wishart, formerly
principal of the college at Edinburgh, to warn men AGAINST confiding
in a death-bed REPENTANCE, of the inefficacy of which he entertained
notions very different from those of Dr Johnson.] BOSWELL. 'But, sir,
we are not contending for the superior learning of our clergy, but for
their superior assiduity.' He bore us down again, with thundering
against their ignorance, and said to me, 'I see you have not been well
taught; for you have not charity.' He had been in some measure forced
into this warmth, by the exulting air which I assumed; for, when he
began, he said, 'Since you will drive the nail!' He again thought of
good Mr M'Queen, and, taking him by the hand, said, 'Sir, I did not
mean any disrespect to you.'

Here I must observe, that he conquered by deserting his ground, and
not meeting the argument as I had put it. The assiduity of the
Scottish clergy is certainly greater than that of the English. His
taking up the topick of their not having so much learning, was, though
ingenious, yet a fallacy in logick. It was as if there should be a
dispute whether a man's hair is well dressed, and Dr Johnson should
say, 'Sir, his hair cannot be well dressed; for he has a dirty shirt.
No man who has not clean linen has his hair well dressed.' When some
days afterwards he read this passage, he said, 'No, sir; I did not say
that a man's hair could not be well dressed because he has not clean
linen, but because he is bald.'

He used one argument against the Scottish clergy being learned, which
I doubt was not good. 'As we believe a man dead till we know that he
is alive; so we believe men ignorant till we know that they are
learned.' Now our maxim in law is, to presume a man alive, till we
know he is dead. However, indeed, it may be answered, that we must
first know he has lived; and that we have never known the learning of
the Scottish clergy. Mr M'Queen, though he was of opinion that Dr
Johnson had deserted the point really in dispute, was much pleased
with what he said, and owned to me, he thought it very just; and Mrs
M'Leod was so much captivated by his eloquence, that she told me 'I
was a good advocate for a bad cause.'

Friday, 24th September

This was a good day. Dr Johnson told us, at breakfast, that he rode
harder at a fox chase than any body. 'The English,' said he, 'are the
only nation who ride hard a-hunting. A Frenchman goes out upon a
managed horse, and capers in the field, and no more thinks of leaping
a hedge than of mounting a breach. Lord Powerscourt laid a wager, in
France, that he would ride a great many miles in a certain short time.
The French academicians set to work, and calculated that, from the
resistance of the air, it was impossible. His lordship however
performed it.'

Our money being nearly exhausted, we sent a bill for thirty pounds,
drawn on Sir William Forbes and Co. to Lochbraccadale, but our
messenger found it very difficult to procure cash for it; at length,
however, he got us value from the master of a vessel which was to
carry away some emigrants. There is a great scarcity of specie in Sky.
Mr M'Queen said he had the utmost difficulty to pay his servants'
wages, or to pay for any little thing which he has to buy. The rents
are paid in bills, which the drovers give. The people consume a vast
deal of snuff and tobacco, for which they must pay ready money; and
pedlers, who come about selling goods, as there is not a shop in the
island, carry away the cash. If there were encouragement given to
fisheries and manufacturers, there might be a circulation of money
introduced. I got one-and-twenty shillings in silver at Portree, which
was thought a wonderful store.

Talisker, Mr M'Queen, and I, walked out, and looked at no less than
fifteen different waterfalls near the house, in the space of about a
quarter of a mile. We also saw Cuchullin's well, said to have been the
favourite spring of that ancient hero. I drank of it. The water is
admirable. On the shore are many stones full of crystallizations in
the heart.

Though our obliging friend, Mr M'Lean, was but the young laird, he had
the title of Col constantly given him. After dinner he and I walked to
the top of Prieshwell, a very high rocky hill, from whence there is a
view of Barra, the Long Island, Bernera, the Loch of Dunvegan, part of
Rum, part of Rasay, and a vast deal of the isle of Sky. Col, though he
had come into Sky with an intention to be at Dunvegan, and pass a
considerable time in the island, most politely resolved first to
conduct us to Mull, and then to return to Sky. This was a very
fortunate circumstance; for he planned an expedition for us of more
variety than merely going to Mull. He proposed we should flee the
islands of Egg, Muck, Col, and Tyr-yi. In all these islands he could
shew us every thing worth seeing; and in Mull he said he should be as
if at home, his father having lands there, and he a farm.

Dr Johnson did not talk much to-day, but seemed intent in listening to
the schemes of future excursion, planned by Col. Dr Birch, however,
being mentioned, he 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 you, "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, 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, 25th September

It was resolved that we should set out, in order to return to Slate,
to be in readiness to take 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,
  Prisoners are, as well as we."'

I suppose he had been thinking of our confined situation. He would
fain have gone 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.

We took leave of M'Leod and Talisker, from whom we parted with regret.
Talisker, having been bred to physick, 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.

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, 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 shewed 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

Dr Johnson went to bed soon. When one bowl of punch was finished, I
rose, and was near the door, in my way up stairs 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, 26th September

I awaked at noon, with a severe head-ach. 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 good-humoured 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 sculk 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.' [Footnote: My ingenuously relating
this 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 criticks should not have had
sagacity enough to perceive that here, as in every other part of 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 criticks 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 talk for an authour
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 ought not to complain that some are found who cannot or will
not understand him.] I took my host's advice, and drank some brandy,
which I found an effectual cure for my head-ach. When I rose, I went
into Dr Johnson's room, and taking up Mrs M'Kinnon's prayer-book, 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 a divine interposition.

Mrs M'Kinnon told us at dinner, that old Kingsburgh, 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 M'Donald; 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 the 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,
  Tell me where my mistress lies,
  And I'll be with her before the rise,
  Fiddle and aw' together.

  May our affairs abroad succeed,
  And may our king come home with speed,
  And all pretenders shake for dread,
  And let HIS health go round.

  To all our injured friends in need,
  This side and beyond the Tweed!
  Let all pretenders shake for dread,
  And let HIS health go round.
  Green sleeves, &c.

While the examination was going on, the present Talisker, who was
there as one of M'Leod's militia, could not resist the pleasantry of
asking Kingsburgh, in allusion to his only song, 'Had she GREEN
SLEEVES?' Kingsburgh gave him no answer. Lady Margaret M'Donald was
very angry at Talisker for joking on such a serious occasion, as
Kingsburgh was really in danger of his life. Mrs M'Kinnon added that
Lady Margaret was quite adored in Sky. That when she travelled through
the island, the people ran in crowds before her, and took the stones
off the road, lest her horse should stumble and she be hurt. Her
husband, Sir Alexander, is also remembered with great regard. We were
told that every week a hogshead of claret was drunk at his table.

This was another day of wind and rain; but good cheer and good society
helped to beguile the time. I felt myself comfortable enough in the
afternoon. I then thought that my last night's riot was no more than
such a social excess as may happen without much moral blame; and
recollected that some physicians maintained, that a fever produced by
it was, upon the whole, good for health: so different are our
reflections on the same subject, at different periods; and such the
excuses with which we palliate what we know to be wrong.

Monday, 27th September

Mr Donald M'Leod, our original guide, who had parted from us at
Dunvegan, joined us again to-day. The weather was still so bad that we
could not travel. I found a closet here, with a good many books,
beside those that were lying about. Dr Johnson told me, he found a
library in his room at Talisker; and observed, that it was one of the
remarkable things of Sky, that there were so many books in it.

Though we had here great abundance of provisions, it is remarkable
that Corrichatachin has literally no garden: not even a turnip, a
carrot or a cabbage. After dinner, we talked of the crooked spade used
in Sky, already described, and they maintained that it was better than
the usual garden-spade, and that there was an art in tossing it, by
which those who were accustomed to it could work very easily with it.
'Nay,' said Dr Johnson, 'it may be useful in land where there are many
stones to raise; but it certainly is not a good instrument for digging
good land. A man may toss it, to be sure; but he will toss a light
spade much better: its weight makes it an incumbrance. A man MAY dig
any land with it; but he has no occasion for such a weight in digging
good land. You may take a field-piece to shoot sparrows; but all the
sparrows you can bring home will not be worth the charge.' He was
quite social and easy amongst them; and, though he drank no fermented
liquor, toasted Highland beauties with great readiness. His
conviviality engaged them so much, that they seemed eager to shew
their attention to him, and vied with each other in crying out, with a
strong Celtick pronunciation, 'Toctor Shonson, Toctor Shonson, your

This evening one of our married ladies, a lively pretty little woman,
good-humouredly sat down upon Dr Johnson's knee, and, being encouraged
by some of the company, put her hands round his neck, and kissed him.
'Do it again,' said he, 'and let us see who will tire first.' He kept
her on his knee some time, while he and she drank tea. He was now like
a BUCK indeed. All the company were much entertained to find him so
easy and pleasant. To me it was highly comick, to see the grave
philosopher--the Rambler--toying with a Highland beauty! But what
could he do? He must have been surly, and weak too, had he not behaved
as he did. He would have been laughed at, and not more respected,
though less loved.

He read to-night, to himself, as he sat in company, a great deal of my
Journal, and said to me, 'The more I read of this, I think the more
highly of you.' The gentlemen sat a long time at their punch, after he
and I had retired to our chambers. The manner in which they were
attended struck me as singular: the bell being broken, a smart lad lay
on a table in the corner of the room, ready to spring up and bring the
kettle, whenever it was wanted. They continued drinking, and singing
Erse songs, till near five in the morning, when they all came into my
room, where some of them had beds. Unluckily for me, they found a
bottle of punch in a corner, which they drank; and Corrichatachin went
for another, which they also drank. They made many apologies for
disturbing me. I told them, that, having been kept awake by their
mirth, I had once thoughts of getting up, and joining them again.
Honest Corrichatachin said, 'To have had you done so, I would have
given a cow.'

Tuesday, 28th September

The weather was worse than yesterday. I felt as if imprisoned. Dr
Johnson said, it was irksome to be detained thus: yet he seemed to
have less uneasiness, or more patience, than I had. What made our
situation worse here was, that we had no rooms that we could command;
for the good people had no notion that a man could have any occasion
but for a mere sleeping-place; so, during the day, the bed-chambers
were common to all the house. Servants eat in Dr Johnson's; and mine
was a kind of general rendezvous of all under the roof, children and
dogs not excepted. As the gentlemen occupied the parlour, the ladies
had no place to sit in, during the day, but Dr Johnson's room. I had
always some quiet time for writing in it, before he was up; and, by
degrees, I accustomed the ladies to let me sit in it after breakfast,
at my Journal, without minding me.

Dr Johnson was this morning for going to see as many islands as we
could; not recollecting the uncertainty of the season, which might
detain us in one place for many weeks. He said to me, 'I have more the
spirit of adventure than you.' For my part, I was anxious to get to
Mull, from whence we might almost any day reach the main land.

Dr Johnson mentioned, that the few ancient Irish gentlemen yet
remaining have the highest pride of family; that Mr Sandford, a friend
of his, whose mother was Irish, told him, that O'Hara (who was true
Irish, both by father and mother) and he, and Mr Ponsonby, son to the
Earl of Besborough, the greatest man of the three, but of an English
family, went to see one of those ancient Irish, and that he
distinguished them thus: 'O'Hara, you are welcome! Mr Sandford, your
mother's son, is welcome! Mr Ponsonby, you may sit down.'

He talked both of threshing and thatching. He said, it was very
difficult to determine how to agree with a thresher. 'If you pay him
by the day's wages, he will thresh no more than he pleases; though, to
be sure, the negligence of a thresher is more easily detected than
that of most labourers, because he must always make a sound while he
works. If you pay him by the piece, by the quantity of grain which he
produces, he will thresh only while the grain comes freely, and,
though he leaves a good deal in the ear, it is not worth while to
thresh the straw over again; nor can you fix him to do it
sufficiently, because it is so difficult to prove how much less a man
threshes than he ought to do. Here then is a dilemma: but, for my
part, I would engage him by the day; I would rather trust his idleness
than his fraud.' He said, a roof thatched with Lincolnshire reeds
would last seventy years, as he was informed when in that county; and
that he told this in London to a great thatcher, who said, he believed
it might be true. Such are the pains that Dr Johnson takes to get the
best information on every subject.

He proceeded: 'It is difficult for a farmer in England to find day-
labourers, because the lowest manufacturers can always get more than a
day-labourer. It is of no consequence how high the wages of
manufacturers are; but it would be of very bad consequence to raise
the wages of those who procure the immediate necessaries of life, for
that would raise the price of provisions. Here then is a problem for
politicians. It is not reasonable that the most useful body of men
should be the worst paid; yet it does not appear how it can be ordered
otherwise. It were to be wished, that a mode for its being otherwise
were found out. In the mean time, it is better to give temporary
assistance by charitable contributions to poor labourers, at times
when provisions are high, than to raise their wages; because, if wages
are once raised, they will never get down again.'

Happily the weather cleared up between one and two o'clock, and we got
ready to depart; but our kind host and hostess would not let us go
without taking a 'snatch', as they called it; which was in truth a very
good dinner. While the punch went round, Dr Johnson kept a close
whispering conference with Mrs M'Kinnon, which, however, was loud enough
to let us hear that the subject of it was the particulars of Prince
Charles's escape. The company were entertained and pleased to observe
it. Upon that subject, there was something congenial between the soul of
Dr Samuel Johnson, and that of an isle of Sky farmer's wife. It is
curious to see people, how far soever removed from each other in the
general system of their lives, come close together on a particular point
which is common to each. We were merry with Corrichatachin, on Dr
Johnson's whispering with his wife. She, perceiving this, humorously
cried, 'I am in love with him. What is it to live and not to love?' Upon
her saying something, which I did not hear, or cannot recollect, he
seized her hand eagerly, and kissed it.

As we were going, the Scottish phrase of 'honest man!' which is an
expression of kindness and regard, was again and again applied by the
company to Dr Johnson. I was also treated with much civility; and I
must take some merit from my assiduous attention to him, and from my
contriving that he shall be easy wherever he goes, that he shall not
be asked twice to eat or drink any thing (which always disgusts him),
that he shall be provided with water at his meals, and many such
little things, which, if not attended to would fret him. I also may be
allowed to claim some merit in leading the conversation: I do not mean
leading, as in an orchestra, by playing the first fiddle; but leading
as one does in examining a witness--starting topics, and making him
pursue them. He appears to me like a great mill, into which a subject
is thrown to be ground. It requires, indeed, fertile minds to furnish
materials for this mill. I regret whenever I see it unemployed; but
sometimes I feel myself quite barren, and having nothing to throw in.
I know not if this mill be a good figure; though Pope makes his mind a
mill for turning verses.

We set out about four. Young Corrichatachin went with us. We had a
fine evening, and arrived in good time at Ostig, the residence of Mr
Martin M'Pherson, minister of Slate. It is a pretty good house, built
by his father, upon a farm near the church. We were received here with
much kindness by Mr and Mrs M'Pherson, and his sister, Miss M'Pherson,
who pleased Dr Johnson much, by singing Erse songs, and playing on the
guittar. He afterwards sent her a present of his Rasselas. In his
bed-chamber was a press stored with books, Greek, Latin, French, and
English, most of which had belonged to the father of our host, the
learned Dr M'Pherson; who, though his Dissertations have been
mentioned in a former page as unsatisfactory, was a man of
distinguished talents. Dr Johnson looked at a Latin paraphrase of the
song of Moses, written by him, and published in the Scots Magazine for
1747, and said, 'It does him honour; he has a great deal of Latin, and
good Latin.' Dr M'Pherson published also in the same magazine, June
1739, an original Latin ode, which he wrote from the Isle of Barra,
where he was minister for some years. It is very poetical, and
exhibits a striking proof how much all things depend upon comparison:
for Barra, it seems, appeared to him so much worse than Sky, his
natale solum, that he languished for its 'blessed mountains', and
thought himself buried alive amongst barbarians where he was. My
readers will probably not be displeased to have a specimen of this

  Hei mihi! quantos patior dolores,
  Dum procul specto juga ter beata;
  Dum ferae Barrae steriles arenas
  Solus oberro.

  Ingemo, indignor, crucior, quod inter
  Barbaros Thulen lateam colentes;
  Torpeo languens, morior sepultus,
  Carcere coeco.

After wishing for wings to fly over to his dear country, which was in
his view, from what he calls 'Thule', as being the most western isle
of Scotland, except St Kilda; after describing the pleasures of
society, and the miseries of solitude, he at last, with becoming
propriety, has recourse to the only sure relief of thinking
men--Sursum corda, the hope of a better world--and disposes his mind
to resignation:

  Interim fiat, tua, rex, voluntas:
  Erigor sursum quoties subit spes
  Certa migrandi Solymam supernam,
  Numinis aulam.

He concludes in a noble strain of orthodox piety:

  Vita tum demum vocitanda vita est.
  Tum licet gratos socios habere,
  Seraphim et sanctos Triadem verendam

Wednesday, 29th September

After a very good sleep, I rose more refreshed than I had been for
some nights. We were now at but a little distance from the shore, and
saw the sea from our windows, which made our voyage seem nearer. Mr
M'Pherson's manners and address pleased us much. He appeared to be a
man of such intelligence and taste as to be sensible of the
extraordinary powers of his illustrious guest. He said to me, 'Dr
Johnson is an honour to mankind; and, if the expression may be used,
is an honour to religion.'

Col, who had gone yesterday to pay a visit at Camuscross, joined us
this morning at breakfast. Some other gentlemen also came to enjoy the
entertainment of Dr Johnson's conversation. The day was windy and
rainy, so that we had just seized a happy interval for our journey
last night. We had good entertainment here, better accommodation than
at Corrichatachin, and time enough to ourselves. The hours slipped
along imperceptibly. We talked of Shenstone. Dr Johnson said, he was a
good layer-out of land, but would not allow him to approach excellence
as a poet. He said, he believed he had tried to read all his Love
Pastorals, but did not get through them. I repeated the stanza,

'"She gazed as I slowly withdrew;
  My path I could hardly discern;
  So sweetly she bade me adieu,
  I thought that she bade me return."'

He said, 'That seems to be pretty.' I observed that Shenstone, from
his short maxims in prose, appeared to have some power of thinking;
but Dr Johnson would not allow him that merit. He agreed, however,
with Shenstone, that it was wrong in the brother of one of his
correspondents to burn his letters; 'for,' said he, 'Shenstone was a
man whose correspondence was an honour.' He was this afternoon full of
critical severity, and dealt about his censures on all sides. He said,
Hammond's Love Elegies were poor things. He spoke contemptuously of
our lively and elegant, though too licentious, lyrick bard, Hanbury
Williams, and said, 'he had no fame, but from boys who drank with

While he was in this mood, I was unfortunate enough, simply perhaps,
but, I could not help thinking, undeservedly, to come within 'the
whiff and wind of his fell sword'. I asked him, if he had ever been
accustomed to wear a night-cap. He said 'No.' I asked, if it was best
not to wear one. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I had this custom by chance, and
perhaps no man shall ever know whether it is best to sleep with or
without a night-cap.' Soon afterwards he was laughing at some
deficiency in the Highlands, and said, 'One might as well go without
shoes and stockings.' Thinking to have a little hit at his own
deficiency, I ventured to add, 'or without a night-cap, sir'. But I
had better have been silent; for he retorted directly, 'I do not see
the connection there' (laughing). 'Nobody before was ever foolish
enough to ask whether it was best to wear a night-cap or not. This
comes of being a little wrong-headed.' He carried the company along
with him: and yet the truth is, that if he had always worn a
night-cap, as is the common practice, and found the Highlanders did
not wear one, he would have wondered at their barbarity; so that my
hit was fair enough.

Thursday, 30th September

There was as great a storm of wind and rain as I have almost ever
seen, which necessarily confined us to the house; but we were fully
compensated by Dr Johnson's conversation. He said, he did not grudge
Burke's being the first man in the House of Commons, for he was the
first man every where; but he grudged that a fellow who makes no
figure in company, and has a mind as narrow as the neck of a vinegar
cruet, should make a figure in the House of Commons, merely by having
the knowledge of a few forms, and being furnished with a little
occasional information. [Footnote: He did not mention the name of any
particular person; but those who are conversant with the political
world will probably recollect more persons than one to whom this
observation may be applied.] He told us, the first time he saw Dr
Young was at the house of Mr Richardson, the author of Clarissa. He
was sent for, that the doctor might read to him his Conjectures on
Original Composition, which he did, and Dr Johnson made his remarks;
and he was surprised to find Young receive as novelties, what he
thought very common maxims. He said, he believed Young was not a great
scholar, nor had studied regularly the art of writing; that there were
very fine things in his Night Thoughts, though you could not find
twenty lines together without some extravagance. He repeated two
passages from his Love of Fame--the characters of Brunetta and Stella,
which he praised highly. He said Young pressed him much to come to
Wellwyn. He always intended it, but never went. He was sorry when
Young died. The cause of quarrel between Young and his son, he told
us, was, that his son insisted Young should turn away a clergyman's
widow, who lived with him, and who, having acquired great influence
over the father, was saucy to the son. Dr Johnson said, she could not
conceal her resentment at him, for saying to Young, that 'an old man
should not resign himself to the management of any body.' I asked him,
if there was any improper connection between them. 'No, sir, no more
than between two statues. He was past fourscore, and she a very coarse
woman. She read to him, and, I suppose, made his coffee, and frothed
his chocolate, and did such things as an old man wishes to have done
for him.'

Dr Dodridge being mentioned, he observed that 'he was author of one of
the finest epigrams in the English language. It is in Orton's Life of
him. The subject is his family-motto, Dum vivimus, vivamus; which, in
its primary signification, is, to be sure, not very suitable to a
Christian divine; but he paraphrased it thus:

  "Live, while you live, the EPICURE would say,
  And seize the pleasures of the present day.
  Live, while you live, the sacred PREACHER cries,
  And give to God each moment as it flies.
  Lord, in my views let both united be;
  I live in PLEASURE, when I live to THEE."'

I asked if it was not strange that government should permit so many
infidel writings to pass without censure. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is mighty
foolish. It is for want of knowing their own power. The present family
on the throne came to the crown against the will of nine tenths of the
people. Whether those nine tenths were right or wrong, it is not our
business now to inquire. But such being the situation of the royal
family, they were glad to encourage all who would be their friends.
Now you know every bad man is a Whig; every man who has loose notions.
The Church was all against this family. They were, as I say, glad to
encourage any friends; and therefore, since their accession, there is
no instance of any man being kept back on account of his bad
principles; and hence this inundation of impiety.' I observed that Mr
Hume, some of whose writings were very unfavourable to religion, was,
however, a Tory. JOHNSON. 'Sir, Hume is a Tory by chance, as being a
Scotchman; but not upon a principle of duty; for he has no principle.
If he is any thing, he is a Hobbist.'

There was something not quite serene in his humour to night, after
supper; for he spoke of hastening away to London, without stopping
much at Edinburgh. I reminded him, that he had General Oughton and
many others to see. JOHNSON. 'Nay, I shall neither go in jest, nor
stay in jest. I shall do what is fit.' BOSWELL. 'Ay, sir, but all I
desire is, that you will let me tell you when it is fit.' JOHNSON.
'Sir, I shall not consult you.' BOSWELL. 'If you are to run away from
us, as soon as you get loose, we will keep you confined in an island.'
He was, however, on the whole, very good company. Mr Donald M'Leod
expressed very well the gradual impression made by Dr Johnson on those
who are so fortunate as to obtain his acquaintance. 'When you see him
first, you are struck with awful reverence; then you admire him; and
then you love him cordially.'

I read this evening some part of Voltaire's History of the War in
1741, and of Lord Kames against Hereditary Indefeasible Right. This is
a very slight circumstance, with which I should not trouble my reader,
but for the sake of observing, that every man should keep minutes of
whatever he reads. Every circumstance of his studies should be
recorded; what books he has consulted; how much of them he has read;
at what times; how often the same authors; and what opinions he formed
of them, at different periods of his life. Such an account would much
illustrate the history of his mind.

Friday, 1st October

I shewed to Dr Johnson verses in a magazine, on his Dictionary,
composed of uncommon words taken from it:

Little of Anthropopathy has he, &c."

He read a few of them, and said, 'I am not answerable for all the
words in my Dictionary.' I told him, that Garrick kept a book of all
who had either praised or abused him. On the subject of his own
reputation, he said, 'Now that I see it has been so current a topick,
I wish I had done so too; but it could not well be done now, as so
many things are scattered in newspapers.' He said he was angry at a
boy of Oxford, who wrote in his defence against Kenrick; because it
was doing him hurt to answer Kenrick. He was told afterwards, the boy
was to come to him to ask a favour. He first thought to treat him
rudely, on account of his meddling in that business; but then he
considered, he had meant to do him all the service in his power, and
he took another resolution; he told him he would do what he could for
him, and did so, and the boy was satisfied. He said, he did not know
how his pamphlet was done, as he had read very little of it. The boy
made a good figure at Oxford, but died. He remarked, that attacks on
authors did them much service. 'A man who tells me my play is very
bad, is less my enemy than he who lets it die in silence. A man, whose
business it is to be talked of, is much helped at being attacked.'
Garrick, I observed, had been often so helped. JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir;
though Garrick had more opportunities than almost any man, to keep the
publick in mind of him, by exhibiting himself to such numbers, he
would not have had so much reputation, had he not been so much
attacked. Every attack produces a defence; and so attention is
engaged. There is no sport in mere praise, when people are all of a
mind.' BOSWELL. 'Then Hume is not the worse for Seattle's attack?'
JOHNSON. 'He is, because Beattie has confuted him. I do not say, but
that there may be some attacks which will hurt an author. Though Hume
suffered from Beattie, he was the better for other attacks.' (He
certainly could not include in that number those of Dr Adams, and Mr
Tytler.) BOSWELL. 'Goldsmith is the better for attacks.' JOHNSON.
'Yes, sir; but he does not think so yet. When Goldsmith and I
published, each of us something, at the same time, we were given to
understand that we might review each other. Goldsmith was for
accepting the offer. I said, No; set reviewers at defiance. It was
said to old Bentley, upon the attacks against him, "Why, they'll write
you down." "No, sir," he replied; "depend upon it, no man was ever
written down but by himself."' He observed to me afterwards, that the
advantages authours derived from attacks, were chiefly in subjects of
taste, where you cannot confute, as so much may be said on either
side. He told me he did not know who was the authour of the Adventures
of a Guinea, but that the bookseller had sent the first volume to him
in manuscript, to have his opinion if it should be printed; and he
thought it should.

The weather being now somewhat better, Mr James M'Donald, factor to
Sir Alexander M'Donald in Slate, insisted that all the company at
Ostig should go to the house at Armidale, which Sir Alexander had left
having gone with his lady to Edinburgh, and be his guests, till we had
an opportunity of sailing to Mull. We accordingly got there to dinner;
and passed our day very cheerfully, being no less than fourteen in

Saturday, 2d October

Dr Johnson said, that 'a chief and his lady should make their house
like a court. They should have a certain number of the gentlemen's
daughters to receive their education in the family, to learn pastry
and such things from the housekeeper, and manners from my lady. That
was the way in the great families in Wales; at Lady Salisbury's, Mrs
Thrale's grandmother, and at Lady Philips's. I distinguish the
families by the ladies, as I speak of what was properly their
province. There were always six young ladies at Sir John Philips's:
when one was married, her place was filled up. There was a large
school-room, where they learnt needlework and other things.' I
observed, that, at some courts in Germany, there were academies for
the pages, who are the sons of gentlemen, and receive their education
without any expence to their parents. Dr Johnson said, that manners
were best learnt at those courts. 'You are admitted with great
facility to the prince's company, and yet must treat him with much
respect. At a great court, you are at such a distance that you get no
good.' I said, 'Very true: a man sees the court of Versailles, as if
he saw it on a theatre.' He said, 'The best book that ever was written
upon good breeding, Il Corteggiano, by Castiglione, grew up at the
little court of Urbino, and you should read it.' I am glad always to
have his opinion of books. At Mr M'Pherson's, he commended Whitby's
Commentary, and said, he had heard him called rather lax; but he did
not perceive it. He had looked at a novel, called The Man of the
World, at Rasay, but thought there was nothing in it. He said to-day,
while reading my Journal, 'This will be a great treasure to us some
years hence.'

Talking of a very penurious gentleman of our acquaintance, he
observed, that he exceeded L'Avare in the play. I concurred with him,
and remarked that he would do well, if introduced in one of Foote's
farces; that the best way to get it done, would be to bring Foote to
be entertained at his house for a week, and then it would be facit
indignatio. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I wish he had him. I, who have eaten his
bread, will not give him to him, but I should be glad he came honestly
by him.'

He said, he was angry at Thrale, for sitting at General Oglethorpe's
without speaking. He censured a man for degrading himself to a
non-entity. I observed, that Goldsmith was on the other extreme; for
he spoke at all ventures. JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir; Goldsmith, rather than
not speak, will talk of what he knows himself to be ignorant, which
can only end in exposing him.' 'I wonder,' said I, 'if he feels that
he exposes himself. If he was with two taylors...' 'Or with two
founders,' said Dr Johnson, interrupting me, 'he would fall a talking
on the method of making cannon, though both of them would soon see
that he did not know what metal a cannon is made of.' We were very
social and merry in his room this forenoon. In the evening the company
danced as usual. We performed, with much activity, a dance which, I
suppose, the emigration from Sky has occasioned. They call it
'America'. Each of the couples, after the common involutions and
evolutions, successively whirls round in a circle, till all are in
motion; and the dance seems intended to shew how emigration catches,
till a whole neighbourhood is set afloat. Mrs M'Kinnon told me, that
last year when a ship sailed from Portree for America, the people on
shore were almost distracted when they saw their relations go off;
they lay down on the ground, tumbled, and tore the grass with their
teeth. This year there was not a tear shed. The people on shore seemed
to think that they would soon follow. This indifference is a mortal
sign for the country.

We danced to night to the musick of the bagpipe, which made us beat
the ground with prodigious force. I thought it better to endeavour to
conciliate the kindness of the people of Sky, by joining heartily in
their amusements, than to play the abstract scholar. I looked on this
tour to the Hebrides as a copartnership between Dr Johnson and me.
Each was to do all he could to promote its success; and I have some
reason to flatter myself, that my gayer exertions were of service to
us. Dr Johnson's immense fund of knowledge and wit was a wonderful
source of admiration and delight to them; but they had it only at
times; and they required to have the intervals agreeably filled up,
and even little elucidations of his learned text. I was also fortunate
enough frequently to draw him forth to talk, when he would otherwise
have been silent. The fountain was at times locked up, till I opened
the spring. It was curious to hear the Hebridians, when any dispute
happened while he was out of the room, saying, 'Stay till Dr Johnson
comes: say that to HIM!'

Yesterday Dr Johnson said, 'I cannot but laugh, to think of myself
roving among the Hebrides at sixty. I wonder where I shall rove at
fourscore!' This evening he disputed the truth of what is said, as to
the people of St Kilda catching cold whenever strangers come. 'How can
there,' said he, 'be a physical effect without a physical cause?' He
added, laughing, 'the arrival of a ship full of strangers would kill
them; for, if one stranger gives them one cold, two strangers must
give them two colds; and so in proportion.' I wondered to hear him
ridicule this, as he had praised M'Aulay 247 for putting it in his
book: saying, that it was manly in him to tell a fact, however
strange, if he himself believed it. He said, the evidence was not
adequate to the improbability of the thing; that if a physician,
rather disposed to be incredulous, should go to St Kilda, and report
the fact, then he would begin to look about him. They said, it was
annually proved by M'Leod's steward, on whose arrival all the
inhabitants caught cold. He jocularly remarked, 'the steward always
comes to demand something from them; and so they fall a coughing. I
suppose the people in Sky all take a cold, when--' (naming a certain
person) 'comes.' They said, he came only in summer. JOHNSON. 'That is
out of tenderness to you. Bad weather and he, at the same time, would
be too much.'

Sunday, 3d October

Joseph reported that the wind was still against us. Dr Johnson said,
'A wind, or not a wind? that is the question'; for he can amuse
himself at times with a little play of words, or rather sentences. I
remember when he turned his cup at Aberbrothick, where we drank tea,
he muttered, Claudite jam rivos, pueri. I must again and again
apologize to fastidious readers, for recording such minute
particulars. They prove the scrupulous fidelity of my Journal. Dr
Johnson said it was a very exact picture of a portion of his life.

While we were chatting in the indolent stile of men who were to stay
here all this day at least, we were suddenly roused at being told that
the wind was fair, that a little fleet of herring-busses was passing
by for Mull, and that Mr Simpson's vessel was about to sail. Hugh
M'Donald, the skipper, came to us, and was impatient that we should
get ready, which we soon did. Dr Johnson, with composure and
solemnity, repeated the observation of Epictetus, that, 'as man has
the voyage of death before him, whatever may be his employment, he
should be ready at the master's call; and an old man should never be
far from the shore, lest he should not be able to get himself ready'.
He rode, and I and the other gentlemen walked, about an English mile
to the shore, where the vessel lay. Dr Johnson said, he should never
forget Sky, and returned thanks for all civilities. We were carried to
the vessel in a small boat which she had, and we set sail very briskly
about one o'clock. I was much pleased with the motion for many hours.
Dr Johnson grew sick, and retired under cover, as it rained a good
deal. I kept above, that I might have fresh air, and finding myself
not affected by the motion of the vessel, I exulted in being a stout
seaman, while Dr Johnson was quite in a state of annihilation. But I
was soon humbled; for after imagining that I could go with ease to
America or the East Indies, I became very sick, but kept above board,
though it rained hard.

As we had been detained so long in Sky by bad weather, we gave up the
scheme that Col had planned for us of visiting several islands, and
contented ourselves with the prospect of seeing Mull, and Icolmkill
and Inchkenneth, which lie near to it.

Mr Simpson was sanguine in his hopes for a-while, the wind being fair
for us. He said, he would land us at Icolmkill that night. But when
the wind failed, it was resolved we should make for the sound of Mull,
and land in the harbour of Tobermorie. We kept near the five herring
vessels for some time; but afterwards four of them got before us, and
one little wherry fell behind us. When we got in full view of the
point of Ardnamurchan, the wind changed, and was directly against our
getting into the sound. We were then obliged to tack, and get forward
in that tedious manner. As we advanced, the storm grew greater, and
the sea very rough. Col then began to talk of making for Egg, or
Canna, or his own island. Our skipper said, he would get us into the
Sound. Having struggled for this a good while in vain, he said, he
would push forward till we were near the land of Mull, where we might
cast anchor, and lie till the morning; for although, before this,
there had been a good moon, and I had pretty distinctly seen not only
the land of Mull, but up the Sound, and the country of Morven as at
one end of it, the night was now grown very dark. Our crew consisted
of one M'Donald, our skipper, and two sailors, one of whom had but one
eye; Mr Simpson himself, Col, and Hugh M'Donald his servant, all
helped. Simpson said, he would willingly go for Col, if young Col or
his servant would undertake to pilot us to a harbour; but, as the
island is low land, it was dangerous to run upon it in the dark. Col
and his servant appeared a little dubious. The scheme of running for
Canna seemed then to be embraced; but Canna was ten leagues off, all
out of our way; and they were afraid to attempt the harbour of Egg.
All these different plans were sucessively in agitation. The old
skipper still tried to make for the land of Mull, but then it was
considered that there was no place there where we could anchor in
safety. Much time was lost in striving against the storm. At last it
became so rough, and threatened to be so much worse, that Col and his
servant took more courage, and said they would undertake to hit one of
the harbours in Col. 'Then let us run for it in God's name,' said the
skipper; and instantly we turned towards it. The little wherry which
had fallen behind us, had hard work. The master begged that, if we
made for Col, we should put out a light to him. Accordingly one of the
sailors waved a glowing peat for some time. The various difficulties
that were started, gave me a good deal of apprehension, from which I
was relieved, when I found we were to run for a harbour before the
wind. But my relief was but of short duration; for I soon heard that
our sails were very bad, and were in danger of being torn in pieces,
in which case we should be driven upon the rocky shore of Col. It was
very dark, and there was a heavy and incessant rain. The sparks of the
burning peat flew so much about, that I dreaded the vessel might take
fire. Then, as Col was a sportman, and had powder on board, I figured
that we might be blown up. Simpson and he appeared a little
frightened, which made me more so; and the perpetual talking, or
rather shouting, which was carried on in Erse, alarmed me still more.
A man is always suspicious of what is saying in an unknown tongue;
and, if fear be his passion at the time, he grows more afraid. Our
vessel often lay so much on one side, that I trembled lest she should
be overset, and indeed they told me afterwards, that they had run her
sometimes to within an inch of the water, so anxious were they to make
what haste they could before the night should be worse. I now saw what
I never saw before, a prodigious sea, with immense billows coming upon
a vessel, so as that it seemed hardly possible to escape. There was
something grandly horrible in the sight. I am glad I have seen it
once. Amidst all these terrifying circumstances, I endeavoured to
compose my mind. It was not easy to do it; for all the stories that I
had heard of the dangerous sailing among the Hebrides, which is
proverbial, came full upon my recollection. When I thought of those
who were dearest to me, and would suffer severely, should I be lost, I
upbraided myself, as not having a sufficient cause for putting myself
in such danger. Piety afforded me comfort; yet I was disturbed by the
objections that have been made against a particular providence, and by
the arguments of those who maintain that it is in vain to hope that
the petitions of an individual, or even of congregations, can have any
influence with the Deity; objections which have been often made, and
which Dr Hawkesworth has lately revived, in his preface to the Voyages
to the South Seas; but Dr Ogden's excellent doctrine on the efficacy
of intercession prevailed.

It was half an hour after eleven before we set ourselves in the course
for Col. As I saw them all busy doing something, I asked Col, with
much earnestness, what I could do. He, with a happy readiness, put
into my hand a rope, which was fixed to the top of one of the masts,
and told me to hold it till he bade me pull. If I had considered the
matter, I might have seen that this could not be of the least service;
but his object was to keep me out of the way of those who were busy
working the vessel, and at the same time to divert my fear, by
employing me, and making me think that I was of use. Thus did I stand
firm to my post, while the wind and rain beat upon me, always
expecting a call to pull my rope.

The man with one eye steered; old M'Donald, and Col and his servant,
lay upon the fore-castle, looking sharp out for the harbour. It was
necessary to carry much 'cloth', as they termed it, that is to say,
much sail, in order to keep the vessel off the shore of Col. This made
violent plunging in a rough sea. At last they spied the harbour of
Lochiern, and Col cried, 'Thank God, we are safe!' We ran up till we
were opposite to it, and soon afterwards we got into it, and cast

Dr Johnson had all this time been quiet and unconcerned. He had lain
down on one of the beds, and having got free from sickness, was
satisfied. The truth is, he knew nothing of the danger we were in:
but, fearless and unconcerned, might have said, in the words which he
has chosen for the motto to his Rambler.

  Quo me cunque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes.
  [Footnote: For as the tempest drives, I shape my way. FRANCIS.]

Once, during the doubtful consultations, he asked whither we were
going; and upon being told that it was not certain whether to Mull or
Col, he cried, 'Col for my money!' I now went down, with Col and Mr
Simpson, to visit him. He was lying in philosophick tranquillity with
a greyhound of Col's at his back, keeping him warm. Col is quite the
Juvenis qui gaudet canibus. He had, when we left Talisker, two
greyhounds, two terriers, a pointer, and a large Newfoundland
water-dog. He lost one of his terriers by the road, but had still five
dogs with him. I was very ill, and very desirous to get to shore. When
I was told that we could not land that night, as the storm had now
increased, I looked so miserably, as Col afterwards informed me, that
what Shakspeare has made the Frenchman say of the English soldiers,
when scantily dieted, 'Piteous they will look, like drowned mice!'
might, I believe, have been well applied to me. There was in the
harbour, before us, a Campbelltown vessel, the Betty, Kenneth Morison
master, taking in kelp, and bound for Ireland. We sent our boat to beg
beds for two gentlemen, and that the master would send his boat, which
was larger than ours. He accordingly did so, and Col and I were
accommodated in his vessel till the morning.

Monday, 4th October

About eight o'clock we went in the boat to Mr Simpson's vessel, and
took in Dr Johnson. He was quite well, though he had tasted nothing
but a dish of tea since Saturday night. On our expressing some
surprise at this, he said, that, 'when he lodged in the Temple, and
had no regular system of life, he had fasted for two days at a time,
during which he had gone about visiting, though not at the hours of
dinner or supper; that he had drunk tea, but eaten no bread; that this
was no intentional fasting, but happened just in the course of a
literary life'.

There was a little miserable publick-house close upon the shore, to
which we should have gone, had we landed last night: but this morning
Col resolved to take us directly to the house of Captain Lauchlan
M'Lean, a descendant of his family, who had acquired a fortune in the
East Indies, and taken a farm in Col. We had about an English mile to
go to it. Col and Joseph, and some others, ran to some little horses,
called here 'Shelties', that were running wild on a heath, and catched
one of them. We had a saddle with us, which was clapped upon it, and a
straw-halter was put on its head. Dr Johnson was then mounted, and
Joseph very slowly and gravely led the horse. I said to Dr Johnson, 'I
wish, sir, THE CLUB saw you in this attitude.' [Footnote: This curious
exhibition may perhaps remind some of my readers of the ludicrous
lines, made, during Sir Robert Walpole's administration, on Mr George
(afterwards Lord) Littelton, though the figures of the two personages
must be allowed to be very different:

  But who is this astride the pony;
  So long, so lean, so lank, so bony
  Dat be de great orator, Littletony.]

It was a very heavy rain, and I was wet to the skin. Captain M'Lean
had but a poor temporary house, or rather hut; however, it was a very
good haven to us. There was a blazing peat-fire, and Mrs M'Lean,
daughter of the minister of the parish, got us tea. I felt still the
motion of the sea. Dr Johnson said, it was not in imagination, but a
continuation of motion on the fluids, like that of the sea itself
after the storm is over.

There were some books on the board which served as a chimney-piece.
Dr Johnson took up Burnet's History of his own Times. He said, 'The
first part of it is one of the most entertaining books in the English
language; it is quite dramatick: while he went about every where, saw
every where, and heard every where. By the first part, I mean so far
as it appears that Burnet himself was actually engaged in what he has
told; and this may be easily distinguished.' Captain M'Lean censured
Burnet, for his high praise of Lauderdale in a dedication, when he
shews him in his history to have been so bad a man. JOHNSON. 'I do not
myself think that a man should say in a dedication what he could not
say in a history. However, allowance should be made; for there is a
great difference. The known style of a dedication is flattery: it
professes to flatter. There is the same difference between what a man
says in a dedication, and what he says in a history, as between a
lawyer's pleading a cause, and reporting it.'

The day passed away pleasantly enough. The wind became fair for Mull
in the evening, and Mr Simpson resolved to sail next morning: but
having been thrown into the island of Col, we were unwilling to leave
it unexamined, especially as we considered that the Campbell-town
vessel would sail for Mull in a day or two, and therefore we
determined to stay.

Tuesday, 5th October

I rose, and wrote my Journal till about nine; and then went to Dr
Johnson, who sat up in bed and talked and laughed. I said, it was
curious to look back ten years, to the time when we first thought of
visiting the Hebrides. How distant and improbable the scheme then
appeared! Yet here we were actually among them. 'Sir,' said he,
'people may come to do any thing almost, by talking of it. I really
believe, I could talk myself into building a house upon island Isa,
though I should probably never come back again to see it. I could
easily persuade Reynolds to do it; and there would be no great sin in
persuading him to do it. Sir, he would reason thus: "What will it cost
me to be there once in two or three summers? Why, perhaps, five
hundred pounds; and what is that, in comparison of having a fine
retreat, to which a man can go, or to which he can send a friend " He
would never find out that he may have this within twenty miles of
London. Then I would tell him, that he may marry one of the Miss
M'Leods, a lady of great family. Sir, it is surprising how people will
go to a distance for what they may have at home. I knew a lady who
came up from Lincolnshire to Knightsbridge with one of her daughters
and gave five guineas a week for a lodging and a warm bath; that is,
mere warm water. THAT, you know, could not be had in Lincolnshire! She
said, it was made either too hot or too cold there.'

After breakfast, Dr Johnson and I, and Joseph, mounted horses, and Col
and the captain walked with us about a short mile across the island.
We paid a visit to the Reverend Mr Hector M'Lean. His parish consists
of the islands of Col and Tyr-yi. He was about seventy-seven years of
age, a decent ecclesiastick, dressed in a full suit of black clothes,
and a black wig. He appeared like a Dutch pastor, or one of the
assembly of divines at Westminster. Dr Johnson observed to me
afterwards, 'that he was a fine old man, and was as well-dressed, and
had as much dignity in his appearance as the dean of a cathedral'. We
were told, that he had a valuable library, though but poor
accomodation for it, being obliged to keep his books in large chests.
It was curious to see him and Dr Johnson together. Neither of them
heard very distinctly; so each of them talked in his own way, and at
the same time. Mr M'Lean said, he had a confutation of Bayle, by
Leibnitz. JOHNSON. 'A confutation of Bayle, sir! What part of Bayle do
you mean? The greatest part of his writings is not confutable: it is
historical and critical.' Mr M'Lean said, 'the irreligious part'; and
proceeded to talk of Leibnitz's controversy with Clarke, calling
Leibnitz a great man. JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, Leibnitz persisted in
affirming that Newton called space sensorium numinis, notwithstanding
he was corrected, and desired to observe that Newton's words were
quasisensorium numinis. No, sir, Leibnitz was as paltry a fellow as I
know. Out of respect to Queen Caroline, who patronized him, Clarke
treated him too well.'

During the time that Dr Johnson was thus going on, the old minister
was standing with his back to the fire, cresting up erect, pulling
down the front of his periwig, and talking what a great man Leibnitz
was. To give an idea of the scene, would require a page with two
columns; but it ought rather to be represented by two good players.
The old gentleman said, Clarke was very wicked, for going so much into
the Arian system. 'I will not say he was wicked,' said Dr Johnson; 'he
might be mistaken.' M'LEAN. 'He was wicked, to shut his eyes against
the Scriptures; and worthy men in England have since confuted him to
all intents and purposes.' JOHNSON. 'I know not WHO has confuted him
to ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES.' Here again there was a double talking,
each continuing to maintain his own argument, without hearing exactly
what the other said.

I regretted that Dr Johnson did not practice the art of accommodating
himself to different sorts of people. Had he been softer with this
venerable old man, we might have had more conversation; but his
forcible spirit; and impetuosity of manner, may be said to spare
neither sex nor age. I have seen even Mrs Thrale stunned; but I have
often maintained, that it is better he should retain his own manner.
Pliability of address I conceive to be inconsistent with that
majestick power of mind which he possesses, and which produces such
noble effects. A lofty oak will not bend like a supple willow.

He told me afterwards, he liked firmness in an old man, and was
pleased to see Mr M'Lean so orthodox. 'At his age, it is too late for
a man to be asking himself questions as to his belief.'

We rode to the northern part of the island, where we saw the ruins of
a church or chapel. We then proceeded to a place called Grissipol, or
the Rough Pool.

At Grissipol we found a good farm house, belonging to the Laird of
Col, and possessed by Mr M'Sweyn. On the beach here there is a
singular variety of curious stones. I picked up one very like a small
cucumber. By the by, Dr Johnson told me, that Gay's line in the
Beggar's Opera, 'As men should serve a cucumber,' &c. has no waggish
meaning, with reference to men flinging away cucumbers as too COOLING,
which some have thought; for it has been a common saying of physicians
in England, that a cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with
pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing. Mr
M'Sweyn's predecessors had been in Sky from a very remote period, upon
the estate belonging to M'Leod; probably before M'Leod had it. The
name is certainly Norwegian, from Sueno, King of Norway. The present
Mr M'Sweyn left Sky upon the late M'Leod's raising his rents. He then
got this farm from Col.

He appeared to be near fourscore; but looked as fresh, and was as
strong as a man of fifty. His son Hugh looked older; and, as Dr
Johnson observed, had more the manners of an old man than he. I had
often heard of such instances, but never saw one before. Mrs M'Sweyn
was a decent old gentlewoman. She was dressed in tartan, and could
speak nothing but Erse. She said, she taught Sir James M'Donald Erse,
and would teach me soon. I could now sing a verse of the song Hatyin
foam'eri, made in honour of Allan, the famous Captain of Clanranald,
who fell at Sherrif-muir; whose servant, who lay on the field watching
his master's dead body, being asked next day who that was, answered,
'He was a man yesterday.'

We were entertained here with a primitive heartiness. Whisky was
served round in a shell, according to the ancient Highland custom. Dr
Johnson would not partake of it; but, being desirous to do honour to
the modes 'of other times', drank some water out of the shell.

In the forenoon Dr Johnson said, 'it would require great resignation
to live in one of these islands.' BOSWELL. 'I don't know, sir; I have
felt myself at times in a state of almost mere physical existence,
satisfied to eat, drink, and sleep, and walk about, and enjoy my own
thoughts; and I can figure a continuation of this.' JOHNSON. 'Ay, sir;
but if you were shut up here, your own thoughts would torment you: you
would think of Edinburgh or London, and that you could not be there.'

We set out after dinner for Breacacha, the family seat of the Laird of
Col, accompanied by the young laird, who had now got a horse, and by
the younger Mr M'Sweyn, whose wife had gone thither before us, to
prepare every thing for our reception, the laird and his family being
absent at Aberdeen. It is called Breacacha, or the Spotted Field,
because in summer it is enamelled with clover and daisies, as young
Col told me. We passed by a place where there is a very large stone, I
may call it a ROCK--'a vast weight for Ajax'. The tradition is, that a
giant threw such another stone at his mistress, up to the top of a
hill, at a small distance; and that she in return, threw this mass
down to him. It was all in sport. Malo me petit lasciva puella.

As we advanced, we came to a large extent of plain ground. I had not
seen such a place for a long time. Col and I took a gallop upon it by
way of race. It was very refreshing to me, after having been so long
taking short steps in hilly countries. It was like stretching a man's
legs after being cramped in a short bed. We also passed close by a
large extent of sand-hills, near two miles square. Dr Johnson said,
'he never had the image before. It was horrible, if barrenness and
danger could be so.' I heard him, after we were in the house of
Breacacha, repeating to himself, as he walked about the room,

'"And smother'd in the dusty whirlwind, dies."'

Probably he had been thinking of the whole of the simile in Cato, of
which that is the concluding line; the sandy desart had struck him so
strongly. The sand has of late been blown over a good deal of meadow;
and the people of the island say, that their fathers remembered much
of the space which is now covered with sand, to have been under
tillage. Col's house is situated on a bay called Breacacha Bay. We
found here a neat new-built gentleman's house, better than any we had
been in since we were at Lord Errol's. Dr Johnson relished it much at
first, but soon remarked to me, that 'there was nothing becoming a
chief about it: it was a mere tradesman's box.' He seemed quite at
home, and no longer found any difficulty in using the Highland
address; for as soon as we arrived, he said, with a spirited
familiarity, 'Now, COL, if you could get us a dish of tea,' Dr Johnson
and I had each an excellent bed-chamber. We had a dispute which of us
had the best curtains. His were rather the best, being of linen; but I
insisted that my bed had the best posts, which was undeniable. 'Well,'
said he, 'if you HAVE the best POSTS, we will have you tied to them
and whipped.' I mention this slight circumstance, only to shew how
ready he is, even in mere trifles, to get the better of his
antagonist, by placing him in a ludicrous view. I have known him
sometimes use the same art, when hard pressed in serious disputation.
Goldsmith, I remember, to retaliate for many a severe defeat which he
has suffered from him, applied to him a lively saying in one of
Cibber's comedies, which puts this part of his character in a strong
light. 'There is no arguing with Johnson; for, IF HIS PISTOL MISSES

Wednesday, 6th October

After a sufficiency of sleep, we assembled at breakfast. We were just
as if in barracks. Every body was master. We went and viewed the old
castle of Col, which is not far from the present house, near the
shore, and founded on a rock. It has never been a large feudal
residence, and has nothing about it that requires a particular
description. Like other old inconvenient buildings of the same age, it
exemplified Gray's picturesque lines,

  Huge windows that exclude the light.
  And passages that lead to nothing.

It may however be worth mentioning, that on the second story we saw a
vault, which was, and still is, the family prison. There was a woman
put into it by the laird, for theft, within these ten years; and any
offender would be confined there yet; for, from the necessity of the
thing, as the island is remote from any power established by law, the
laird must exercise his jurisdiction to a certain degree.

We were shewn, in a corner of this vault, a hole, into which Col said
greater criminals used to be put. It was now filled up with rubbish of
different kinds. He said, it was of a great depth. 'Ay,' said Dr
Johnson, smiling, 'all such places, that ARE FILLED UP, were of a
great depth.' He is very quick in shewing that he does not give credit
to careless or exaggerated accounts of things. After seeing the
castle, we looked at a small hut near it. It is called Teigh
Franchich, i.e. the Frenchman's House. Col could not tell us the
history of it. A poor man with a wife and children now lived in it. We
went into it, and Dr Johnson gave them some charity. There was but one
bed for all the family, and the hut was very smoky. When he came out,
he said to me, 'Et hoc secundum sententiam philosophorum est esse
beatus.' BOSWELL. 'The philosophers, when they placed happiness in a
cottage, supposed cleanliness and no smoke.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, they did
not think about either.'

We walked a little in the laird's garden, in which endeavours have
been used to rear some trees; but, as soon as they got above the
surrounding wall, they died. Dr Johnson recommended sowing the seeds
of hardy trees, instead of planting.

Col and I rode out this morning, and viewed a part of the island. In
the course of our ride, we saw a turnip-field, which he had hoed with
his own hands. He first introduced this kind of husbandry into the
Western islands. We also looked at an appearance of lead, which seemed
very promising. It has been long known; for I found letters to the
late laird, from Sir John Areskine and Sir Alexander Murray,
respecting it.

After dinner came Mr M'Lean, of Corneck, brother to Isle of Muck, who
is a cadet of the family of Col. He possesses the two ends of Col,
which belong to the Duke of Argyll. Corneck had lately taken a lease
of them at a very advanced rent, rather than let the Campbells get a
footing in the island, one of whom had offered nearly as much as he.
Dr Johnson well observed, that, 'landlords err much when they
calculate merely what their land MAY yield. The rent must be in a
proportionate ratio of what the land may yield, and of the power of
the tenant to make it yield. A tenant cannot make by his land, but
according to the corn and cattle which he has. Suppose you should give
him twice as much land as he has, it does him no good, unless he gets
also more stock. It is clear then, that the Highland landlords, who
let their substantial tenants leave them, are infatuated; for the poor
small tenants cannot give them good rents, from the very nature of
things. They have not the means of raising more from their farms.'
Corneck, Dr Johnson said, was the most distinct man that he had met
with in these isles; he did not shut his eyes, or put his fingers in
his ears, which he seemed to think was a good deal the mode with most
of the people whom we have seen of late.

Thursday, 7th October

Captain M'Lean joined us this morning at breakfast. There came on a
dreadful storm of wind and rain, which continued all day, and rather
increased at night. The wind was directly against our getting to Mull.
We were in a strange state of abstraction from the world: we could
neither hear from our friends, nor write to them. Col had brought
Daille On the Fathers, Lucas On Happiness, and More's Dialogues, from
the Reverend Mr M'Lean's, and Burnet's History of his own Times, from
Captain M'Lean's; and he had of his own some books of farming, and
Gregory's Geometry. Dr Johnson read a good deal of Burnet, and of
Gregory, and I observed he made some geometrical notes in the end of
his pocket-book. I read a little of Young's Six Weeks Tour through the
Southern Counties; and Ovid's Epistles, which I had bought at
Inverness, and which helped to solace many a weary hour.

We were to have gone with Dr Johnson this morning to see the mine; but
were prevented by the storm. While it was raging, he said, 'We may be
glad we are not damnati ad metalla.'

Friday, 8th October

Dr Johnson appeared to day very weary of our present confined
situation. He said, 'I want to be on the main land, and go on with
existence. This is a waste of life.'

I shall here insert, without regard to chronology, some of his
conversation at different times.

'There was a man some time ago, who was well received for two years,
among the gentlemen of Northamptonshire, by calling himself my
brother. At last he grew so impudent as by his influence to get
tenants turned out of their farms. Allen the printer, who is of that
county, came to me, asking, with much appearance of doubtfulness, if I
had a brother; and upon being assured I had none alive, he told me of
the imposition, and immediately wrote to the country, and the fellow
was dismissed. It pleased me to hear that so much was got by using my
name. It is not every name that can carry double; do both for a man's
self and his brother'(laughing). 'I should be glad to see the fellow.
However, I could have done nothing against him. A man can have no
redress for his name being used, or ridiculous stories being told of
him in the news-papers, except he can shew that he has suffered
damage. Some years ago a foolish piece was published, said to be
written "by S. Johnson". Some of my friends wanted me to be very angry
about this. I said, it would be in vain; for the answer would be, S.
Johnson may be Simon Johnson, or Simeon Johnson, or Solomon Johnson;
and even if the full name, Samuel Johnson, had been used, it might be
said; "it is not you; it is a much cleverer fellow."

'Beauclerk and I, and Langton, and Lady Sydney Beauclerk, mother to
our friend, were one day driving in a coach by Cuper's Gardens, which
were then unoccupied. I, in sport, proposed that Beauclerk and
Langton, and myself should take them; and we amused ourselves with
scheming how we should all do our parts. Lady Sydney grew angry, and
said, "an old man should not put such things in young people's heads".
She had no notion of a joke, sir; had come late into life, and had a
mighty unpliable understanding.

'Carte's Life of the Duke of Ormond is considered as a book of
authority; but it is ill-written. The matter is diffused in too many
words; there is no animation, no compression, no vigour. Two good
volumes in duodecimo might be made out of the two in folio.'

Talking of our confinement here, I observed, that our discontent and
impatience could not be considered as very unreasonable; for that we
were just in the state of which Seneca complains so grievously, while
in exile in Corsica. 'Yes,' said Dr Johnson, 'and he was not farther
from home than we are.' The truth is, he was much nearer.

There was a good deal of rain to-day, and the wind was still contrary.
Corneck attended me, while I amused myself in examining a collection
of papers belonging to the family of Col. The first laird was a
younger son of the chieftain M'Lean, and got the middle part of Col
for his patrimony. Dr Johnson having given a very particular account
of the connection between this family and a branch of the family of
Camerons, called M'Lonich, I shall only insert the following document
(which I found in Col's cabinet), as a proof of its continuance, even
to a late period:

To the Laird of Col.

Dear Sir,

The long-standing tract of firm affectionate friendship 'twixt your
worthy predecessors and ours affords us such assurance, as that we may
have full relyance on your favour and undoubted friendship, in
recommending the bearer, Ewen Cameron, our cousin, son to the deceast
Dugall M'Connill of Innermaillie, sometime in Glenpean, to your favour
and conduct, who is a man of undoubted honesty and discretion, only
that he has the misfortune of being alledged to have been accessory to
the killing of one of M'Martin's family about fourteen years ago, upon
which alledgeance the M'Martins are now so sanguine on revenging, that
they are fully resolved for the deprivation of his life; to the
preventing of which you are relyed on by us, as the only fit
instrument and a most capable person. Therefore your favour and
protection is expected and intreated, during his good behaviour; and
failing of which behaviour, you'll please to use him as a most
insignificant person deserves.

Sir, he had, upon the alledgeance foresaid, been transported, at
Lochiel's desire, to France, to gratify the M'Martins, and upon his
return home, about five years ago, married: But now he is so much
theatened by the M'Martins, that he is not secure enough to stay where
he is, being Ardmurchan, which occasions this trouble to you. Wishing
prosperity and happiness to attend still yourself, worthy Lady, and
good family, we are, in the most affectionate manner,

Dear sir,

Your most obliged, affectionate,
  and most humble servants,
  DUGALL CAMERON, of Strone.
  DUGALL CAMERON, of Inveriskvouilline.
  DUGALL CAMERON, of Invinvalie.
  Strone, 11th March, 1737.

Ewen Cameron was protected, and his son has now a farm from the Laird
of Col, in Mull.

The family of Col was very loyal in the time of the great Montrose,
from whom I found two letters in his own hand-writing. The first is as



I must heartily thank you for all your willingness and good affection
to his Majesty's service, and particularly the sending alongs of your
son, to who I will heave ane particular respect, hopeing also that you
will still continue ane goode instrument for the advanceing ther of
the King's service, for which, and all your former loyal carriages, be
confident you shall find the effects of his Mas favour, as they can be
witnessed you by

Your very faithful friende,
  Strethearne, 20 Jan. 1646

The other is,



Having occasion to write to your fields, I cannot be forgetful of your
willingness and good affection to his Majesty's service. I acknowledge
to you, and thank you heartily for it assuring, that in what lies in
my power, you shall find the good. Mean while, I shall expect that you
will continue your loyal endeavours, in wishing those slack people
that are about you, to appear more obedient than they do, and loyal in
their prince's service; whereby I assure you, you shall find me ever

Your faithful friend,
  Petty, 17 April, 1646.
[Footnote: It is observeable that men of the first rank spelt very ill
in the last century. In the first of these letters I have preserved
the original spelling.]

I found some uncouth lines on the death of the present laird's father,
intituled 'Nature's Elegy upon the Death of Donald Maclean of Col'.
They are not worth insertion. I shall only give what is called his
Epitaph, which Dr Johnson said, 'was not so very bad'.

  Nature's minion. Virtue's wonder,
  Art's corrective here lyes under.

I asked, what 'Art's corrective' meant. 'Why, sir,' said he, 'that
the laird was so exquisite, that he set Art right, when she was

I found several letters to the late Col, from my father's old
companion at Paris, Sir Hector M'Lean, one of which was written at the
time of settling the colony in Georgia. It dissuades Col from letting
people go there, and assures him there will soon be an opportunity of
employing them better at home. Hence it appears that emigration from
the Highlands, though not in such numbers at a time as of late, has
always been practised. Dr Johnson observed, that, 'the lairds, instead
of improving their country, diminished their people'.

There are several districts of sandy desart in Col. There are
forty-eight lochs of fresh water; but many of them are very small--meer
pools. About one half of them, however, have trout and eel. There is a
great number of horses in the island, mostly of a small size. Being
over-stocked, they sell some in Tir-yi, and on the main land. Their
black cattle, which are chiefly rough-haired, are reckoned remarkably
good. The climate being very mild in winter, they never put their beasts
in any house. The lakes are never frozen so as to bear a man; and snow
never lies above a few hours. They have a good many sheep, which they
eat mostly themselves, and sell but a few. They have goats in several
places. There are no foxes; no serpents, toads, or frogs, nor any
venomous creature. They have otters and mice here; but had no rats till
lately that an American vessel brought them. There is a rabbit-warren on
the north-east of the island, belonging to the Duke of Argyle. Young Col
intends to get some hares, of which there are none at present. There are
no black-cock, muir-fowl, nor partridges; but there are snipe,
wild-duck, wild-geese, and swans, in winter; wild-pidgeons, plover, and
great number of starlings; of which I shot some, and found them pretty
good eating. Woodcocks come hither, though there is not a tree upon the
island. There are no rivers in Col; but only some brooks, in which there
is a great variety of fish. In the whole isle there are but three hills,
and none of them considerable, for a Highland country. The people are
very industrious. Every man can tan. They get oak, and birch-bark, and
lime, from the main land. Some have pits; but they commonly use tubs. I
saw brogues very well tanned; and every man can make them. They all make
candles of the tallow of their beasts, both moulded and dipped; and they
all make oil of the livers of fish. The little fish called cuddies
produce a great deal. They sell some oil out of the island, and they use
it much for light in their houses, in little iron lamps, most of which
they have from England; but of late their own blacksmith makes them. He
is a good workman; but he has no employment in shoeing horses, for they
all go unshod here, except some of a better kind belonging to young Col,
which were now in Mull. There are two carpenters in Col; but most of the
inhabitants can do something as boat-carpenters. They can all dye. Heath
is used for yellow; and for red, a moss which grows on stones. They make
broad-cloth, and tartan, and linen, of their own wool and flax,
sufficient for their own use; as also stockings. Their bonnets come from
the main land. Hard-ware and several small articles are brought annually
from Greenock, and sold in the only shop in the island, which is kept
near the house, or rather hut, used for publick worship, there being no
church in the island. The inhabitants of Col have increased considerably
within these thirty years, as appears from the parish registers. There
are but three considerable tacksmen on Col's part of the island: the
rest is let to small tenants, some of whom pay so low a rent as four,
three, or even two guineas. The highest is seven pounds, paid by a
farmer, whose son goes yearly on foot to Aberdeen for education, and in
summer returns, and acts as a school-master in Col. Dr Johnson said,
'There is something noble in a young man's walking two hundred miles and
back again, every year, for the sake of learning.'

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 handkerchief 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 eremitical
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 should 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 Ephemerae--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 or tenant. 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 Campbell-town 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 occasions. When I boasted,
at Rasay, of my independency of spirit, and that I could not be
bribed, he said, 'Yes, you may be bribed by flattery.' At the Reverend
Mr M'Lean's, Dr Johnson asked him, if the people of Col had any
superstitions. He said, 'No.' The cutting peats at the increase of the
moon was mentioned as one; but he would not allow it, saying, it was
not a superstition, but a whim. Dr Johnson would not admit the
distinction. There were many superstitions, he maintained, not
connected with religion; and this was one of them. On Monday we had a
dispute at the Captain's, whether sand-hills could be fixed down by
art. Dr Johnson said, 'How THE DEVIL can you do it?' but instantly
corrected himself, 'How can you do it?' I never before heard him use a
phrase of that nature.

He has particularities which it is impossible to explain. He never
wears a night-cap, as I have already mentioned; but he puts a
handkerchief on his head in the night. The day that we left Talisker,
he bade us ride on. He then turned the head of his horse back towards
Talisker, stopped for some time; then wheeled round to the same
direction with ours, and then came briskly after us. He sets open a
window in the coldest day or night, and stands before it. It may do
with his constitution; but most people, amongst whom I am one, would
say, with the frogs in the fable, 'This may be sport to you; but it is
death to us.' It is in vain to try to find a meaning in every one of
his particularities, which, I suppose, are mere habits, contracted by
chance; of which every man has some that are more or less remarkable.
His speaking to himself, or rather repeating, is a common habit with
studious men accustomed to deep thinking; and, in consequence of their
being thus rapt, they will even laugh by themselves, if the subject
which they are musing on is a merry one. Dr Johnson is often uttering
pious ejaculations, when he appears to be talking to himself; for
sometimes his voice grows stronger, and parts of the Lord's Prayer are
heard. I have sat beside him with more than ordinary reverence on such
occasions. [Footnote: It is remarkable, that Dr Johnson should have
read this account of some of his own peculiar habits, without saying
any thing on the subject which I hoped he would have done.]

In our tour, I observed that he was disgusted whenever he met with
coarse manners. He said to me, 'I know not how it is, but I cannot
bear low life: and I find others, who have as good a right as I to be
fastidious, bear it better, by having mixed more with different sorts
of men. You would think that I have mixed pretty well too.'

He read this day a good deal of my Journal, written in a small book
with which he had supplied me, and was pleased, for he said, 'I wish
thy books were twice as big.' He helped me to fill up blanks which I
had left in first writing it, when I was not quite sure of what he had
said, and he corrected any mistakes that I had made. 'They call me a
scholar,' said he, 'and yet how very little literature is there in my
conversation.' BOSWELL. 'That, sir, must be according to your company.
You would not give literature to those who cannot taste it. Stay till
we meet Lord Elibank.'

We had at last a good dinner, or rather supper, and were very well
satisfied with our entertainment.

Wednesday, 13th October

Col called me up, with intelligence that it was a good day for a
passage to Mull; and just as we rose, a sailor from the vessel arrived
for us. We got all ready with dispatch. Dr Johnson was displeased at
my bustling, and walking quickly up and down. He said, 'It does not
hasten us a bit. It is getting on horseback in a ship. All boys do it;
and you are longer a boy than others.' He himself has no alertness, or
whatever it may be called; so he may dislike it, as Oderunt hilarem

Before we reached the harbour, the wind grew high again. However, the
small boat was waiting, and took us on board. We remained for some
time in uncertainty what to do: at last it was determined, that, as a
good part of the day was over, and it was dangerous to be at sea at
night, in such a vessel, and such weather, we should not sail till the
morning tide, when the wind would probably be more gentle. We resolved
not to go ashore again, but lie here in readiness. Dr Johnson and I
had each a bed in the cabbin. Col sat at the fire in the forecastle,
with the captain, and Joseph, and the rest. I eat some dry oatmeal, of
which I found a barrel in the cabbin. I had not done this since I was
a boy. Dr Johnson owned that he too was fond of it when a boy; a
circumstance which I was highly pleased to hear from him, as it gave
me an opportunity of observing that, notwithstanding his joke on the
article of oats, he was himself a proof that this kind of food was not
peculiar to the people of Scotland.

Thursday, 14th October

When Dr Johnson awaked this morning, he called, 'Lanky!' having, I
suppose, been thinking of Langton; but corrected himself instantly,
and cried, 'Bozzy!' He has a way of contracting the names of his
friends. Goldsmith feels himself so important now, as to be displeased
at it. I remember one day, when Tom Davies was telling that Dr Johnson
said, 'We are all in labour for a name to Goldy's play,' Goldsmith
cried, 'I have often desired him not to call me Goldy.'

Between six and seven we hauled our anchor, and set sail with a fair
breeze; and, after a pleasant voyage, we got safely and agreeably into
the harbour of Tobermorie, before the wind rose, which it always has
done, for some days, about noon.

Tobermorie is an excellent harbour. An island lies before it, and it
is surrounded by a hilly theatre. The island is too low, otherwise
this would be quite a secure port; but, the island not being a
sufficient protection, some storms blow very hard here. Not long ago,
fifteen vessels were blown from their moorings. There are sometimes
sixty or seventy sail here: to-day there were twelve or fourteen
vessels. To see such a fleet was the next thing to seeing a town. The
vessels were from different places; Clyde, Campbelltown, Newcastle,
etc. One was returning to Lancaster from Hamburgh. After having been
shut up so long in Col, the sight of such an assemblage of moving
habitations, containing such a variety of people, engaged in different
pursuits, gave me much gaiety of spirit. When we had landed, Dr
Johnson said, 'Boswell is now all alive. He is like Antaeus; he gets
new vigour whenever he touches the ground.' I went to the top of a
hill fronting the harbour, from whence I had a good view of it. We had
here a tolerable inn. Dr Johnson had owned to me this morning, that he
was out of humour. Indeed, he shewed it a good deal in the ship; for
when I was expressing my joy on the prospect of our landing in Mull,
he said, he had no joy, when he recollected that it would be five days
before he should get to the main land. I was afraid he would now take
a sudden resolution to give up seeing Icolmkill. A dish of tea, and
some good bread and butter, did him service, and his bad humour went
off. I told him, that I was diverted to hear all the people whom we
had visited in our tour, say, 'Honest man! he's pleased with every
thing; he's always content!' 'Little do they know,' said I. He
laughed, and said, 'You rogue!'

We sent to hire horses to carry us across the island of Mull to the
shore opposite to Inchkenneth, the residence of Sir Allan M'Lean,
uncle to young Col, and chief of the M'Leans, to whose house we
intended to go the next day. Our friend Col went to visit his aunt,
the wife of Dr Alexander M'Lean, a physician, who lives about a mile
from Tobermorie.

Dr Johnson and I sat by ourselves at the inn, and talked a good deal.
I told him, that I had found, in Leandro Alberti's Description of
Italy, much of what Addison has given us in his Remarks. He said, "The
collection of passages from the Classicks has been made by another
Italian: it is, however, impossible to detect a man as a plagiary in
such a case, because all who set about making such a collection must
find the same passages; but, if you find the same applications in
another book, then Addison's learning in his Remarks tumbles down. It
is a tedious book; and, if it were not attached to Addison's previous
reputation, one would not think much of it. Had he written nothing
else, his name would not have lived. Addison does not seem to have
gone deep in Italian literature: he shews nothing of it in his
subsequent writings. He shews a great deal of French learning. There
is, perhaps, more knowledge circulated in the French language than in
any other. There is more original knowledge in English.' 'But the
French,' said I, 'have the art of accommodating literature.' JOHNSON.
'Yes, sir; we have no such book as Moreri's Dictionary.'" BOSWELL.
"Their Ana are good.' JOHNSON. 'A few of them are good; but we have
one book of that kind better than any of them; Selden's Table-talk. As
to original literature, the French have a couple of tragick poets who
go round the world, Racine and Corneille, and one comick poet,
Moliere.'--BOSWELL. 'They have Fenelon.' JOHNSON. 'Why, sir,
Telemachus is pretty well.' BOSWELL. 'And Voltaire, sir.' JOHNSON. 'He
has not stood his trial yet And what makes Voltaire chiefly circulate
is collection; such as his Universal History.' BOSWELL. 'What do you
say to the Bishop of Meaux?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, nobody reads him.'
[Footnote: I take leave to enter my strongest protest against this
judgement Bossuet I hold to be one of the first luminaries of religion
and literature. If there are who do not read him, it is full time they
should begin.] He would not allow Massillon and Bourdaloue to go round
the world. In general, however, he gave the French much praise for
their industry.

He asked me whether he had mentioned, in any of the papers of the
Rambler, the description in Virgil of the entrance into Hell, with an
application to the press; 'for,' said he, 'I do not much remember
them'. I told him, 'No.' Upon which he repeated it:

  Vestibulum ante ipsum, primisque in faucibus orci,
  Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae;
  Pallentesque habitant Morbi, tristisque Senectus,
  Et Metus, et malesuada Fames, et turpis Egestas,
  Terribiles visu formae; Lethumque, Laborque.
  [Footnote: Just in the gate, and in the jaws of hell,
  Revengeful cares, and sullen sorrows dwell;
  And pale diseases, and repining age;
  Want, fear, and famine's unresisted rage;
  Here toils and death, and death's half-brother, sleep,
  Forms terrible to view, their sentry keep. DRYDEN.]

'Now,' said he, 'almost all these apply exactly to an authour; all
these are the concomitants of a printing-house.' I proposed to him to
dictate an essay on it, and offered to write it. He said, he would not
do it then, but perhaps would write one at some future period.

The Sunday evening that we sat by ourselves at Aberdeen, I asked him
several particulars of his early years, which he readily told me; and
I wrote them down before him. This day I proceeded in my inquiries,
also writing them in his presence. I have them on detached sheets. I
shall collect authentick materials for The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.
D.; and, if I survive him, I shall be one who will most faithfully do
honour to his memory. I have now a vast treasure of his conversation,
at different times, since the year 1762, when I first obtained his
acquaintance; and, by assiduous inquiry, I can make up for not knowing
him sooner. [Footnote: It is no small satisfaction to me to reflect,
that Dr Johnson read this, and, after being apprised of my intention,
communicated to me, at subsequent periods, many particulars of his
life, which probably could not otherwise have been preserved.]

A Newcastle ship-master, who happened to be in the house, intruded
himself upon us. He was much in liquor, and talked nonsense about his
being a man for 'Wilkes and Liberty', and against the ministry. Dr
Johnson was angry, that 'a fellow should come into OUR company, who
was fit for NO company'. He left us soon.

Col returned from his aunt, and told us, she insisted that we should
come to her house that night. He introduced to us Mr Campbell, the
Duke of Argyle's factor in Tyr-yi. He was a genteel, agreeable man. He
was going to Inveraray, and promised to put letters into the
post-office for us. I now found that Dr Johnson's desire to get on the
main land, arose from his anxiety to have an opportunity of conveying
letters to his friends.

After dinner, we proceeded to Dr M'Lean's, which was about a mile from
our inn. He was not at home, but we were received by his lady and
daughter, who entertained us so well, that Dr Johnson seemed quite
happy. When we had supped, he asked me to give him some paper to write
letters. I begged he would write short ones, and not EXPATIATE, as we
ought to set off early. He was irritated by this, and said, 'What must
be done, must be done: the thing is past a joke.' 'Nay, sir,' said I,
'write as much as you please; but do not blame me, if we are kept six
days before we get to the main land. You were very impatient in the
morning: but no sooner do you find yourself in good quarters, than you
forget that you are to move.' I got him paper enough, and we parted in
good humour.

Let me now recollect whatever particulars I have omitted. In the
morning I said to him, before we landed at Tobermorie, 'We shall see
Dr M'Lean, who has written the History of the M'Leans.' JOHNSON. 'I
have no great patience to stay to hear the history of the M'Leans. I
would rather hear the history of the Thrales.' When on Mull, I said,
'Well, sir, this is the fourth of the Hebrides that we have been
upon.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, we cannot boast of the number we have seen. We
thought we should see many more. We thought of sailing about easily
from island to island; and so we should, had we come at a better
season; but we, being wise men, thought it would be summer all the
year where we were. However, sir, we have seen enough to give us a
pretty good notion of the system in insular life.'

Let me not forget, that he sometimes amused himself with very slight
reading; from which, however, his conversation shewed that he
contrived to extract some benefit. At Captain M'Lean's he read a good
deal in The Charmer, a collection of songs.

Friday, 15th October

We this morning found that we could not proceed, there being a violent
storm of wind and rain, and the rivers being impassable. When I
expressed my discontent at our confinement, Dr Johnson said, 'Now that
I have had an opportunity of writing to the main land, I am in no such
haste.' I was amused with his being so easily satisfied; for the truth
was, that the gentleman who was to convey our letters, as I was now
informed, was not to set out for Inveraray for some time; so that it
was probable we should be there as soon as he: however, I did not
undeceive my friend, but suffered him to enjoy his fancy.

Dr Johnson asked, in the evening, to see Dr M'Lean's books. He took
down Willis De Anima Brutorum, and pored over it a good deal.

Miss M'Lean produced some Erse poems by John M'Lean, who was a famous
bard in Mull, and had died only a few years ago. He could neither read
nor write. She read and translated two of them; one, a kind of elegy
on Sir John M'Lean's being obliged to fly his country in 1715;
another, a dialogue between two Roman Catholick young ladies, sisters,
whether it was better to be a nun or to marry. I could not perceive
much poetical imagery in the translation. Yet all of our company who
understood Erse, seemed charmed with the original. There may, perhaps,
be some choice of expression, and some excellence of arrangement, that
cannot be shewn in translation.

After we had exhausted the Erse poems, of which Dr Johnson said
nothing, Miss M'Lean gave us several tunes on a spinnet, which, though
made so long ago, as in 1667, was still very well toned. She sung
along with it. Dr Johnson seemed pleased with the musick, though he
owns he neither likes it, nor has hardly any perception of it. At Mr
M'Pherson's, in Slate, he told us, that 'he knew a drum from a
trumpet, and a bagpipe from a guitar, which was about the extent of
his knowledge of musick'. To-night he said, that, 'if he had learnt
musick, he should have been afraid he would have done nothing else but
play. It was a method of employing the mind, without the labour of
thinking at all, and with some applause from a man's self.'

We had the musick of the bagpipe every day, at Armidale, Dunvegan, and
Col. Dr Johnson appeared fond of it, and used often to stand for some
time with his ear close to the great drone.

The penurious gentleman of our acquaintance, formerly alluded to,
afforded us a topick of conversation to-night. Dr Johnson said, I
ought to write down a collection of the instances of his narrowness,
as they almost exceeded belief. Col told us, that O'Kane, the famous
Irish harper, was once at that gentleman's house. He could not find in
his heart to give him any money, but gave him a key for a harp, which
was finely ornamented with gold and silver, and with a precious stone,
and was worth eighty or a hundred guineas. He did not know the value
of it; and when he came to know it, he would fain have had it back;
but O'Kane took care that he should not. JOHNSON. 'They exaggerate the
value; every body is so desirous that he should be fleeced. I am very
willing it should be worth eighty or a hundred guineas; but I do not
believe it.' BOSWELL. 'I do not think O'Kane was obliged to give it
back.' JOHNSON. 'No, sir. If a man with his eyes open, and without any
means used to deceive him, gives me a thing, I am not to let him have
it again when he grows wiser. I like to see how avarice defeats
itself; how, when avoiding to part with money, the miser gives
something more valuable.' Col said, the gentleman's relations were
angry at his giving away the harp-key, for it had been long in the
family. JOHNSON. 'Sir, he values a new guinea more than an old

Col also told us, that the same person having come up with a serjeant
and twenty men, working on the high road, he entered into discourse
with the serjeant, and then gave him sixpence for the men to drink.
The serjeant asked, 'Who is this fellow?' Upon being informed, he
said, 'If I had known who he was, I should have thrown it in his
face.' JOHNSON. 'There is much want of sense in all this. He had no
business to speak with the serjeant. He might have been in haste, and
trotted on. He had not learnt to be a miser: I believe we must take
him apprentice.' BOSWELL. 'He would grudge giving half a guinea to be
taught' JOHNSON. 'Nay, sir, you must teach him gratis. You must give
him an opportunity to practice your precepts.'

Let me now go back, and glean Johnsoniana. The Saturday before we
sailed from Slate, I sat awhile in the afternoon with Dr Johnson in
his room, in a quiet serious frame. I observed, that hardly any man
was accurately prepared for dying; but almost every one left something
undone, something in confusion; that my father, indeed, told me he
knew one man (Carlisle of Limekilns), after whose death all his papers
were found in exact order; and nothing was omitted in his will.
JOHNSON. 'Sir, I had an uncle who died so; but such attention requires
great leisure, and great firmness of mind. If one was to think
constantly of death, the business of life would stand still. I am no
friend to making religion appear too hard. Many good people have done
harm, by giving severe notions of it. In the same way, as to learning:
I never frighten young people with difficulties; on the contrary, I
tell them that they may very easily get as much as will do very well.
I do not indeed tell them that they will be BENTLEYS.'

The night we rode to Col's house, I said, 'Lord Elibank is probably
wondering what is become of us.' JOHNSON. 'No, no; he is not thinking
of us.' BOSWELL. 'But recollect the warmth with which he wrote. Are we
not to believe a man, when he says he has a great desire to see
another? Don't you believe that I was very impatient for your coming
to Scotland?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir; I believe you were; and I was
impatient to come to you. A young man feels so, but seldom an old
man.' I however convinced him that Lord Elibank, who has much of the
spirit of a young man, might feel so. He asked me if our jaunt had
answered expectation. I said it had much exceeded it. I expected much
difficulty with him, and had not found it 'And,' he added, 'wherever
we have come, we have been received like princes in their progress.'

He said, he would not wish not to be disgusted in the Highlands; for
that would be to lose the power of distinguishing, and a man might
then lie down in the middle of them. He wished only to conceal his

At Captain M'Lean's, I mentioned Pope's friend, Spence. JOHNSON. 'He
was a weak conceited man.' [Footnote: Mr Langton thinks this must have
been the hasty expression of a splenetick moment as he has heard Dr
Johnson speak of Mr Spence's judgement in criticism with so high a
degree of respect, as to shew that this was not his settled opinion of
him. Let me add that in the preface to the Preceptor, he recommends
Spence's Essay on Pope's Odyssey, and that his admirable lives of the
English Poets are much enriched by Spence's Anecdotes of Pope.
BOSWELL. 'A good scholar, sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why, no, sir.' BOSWELL. 'He
was a pretty scholar.' JOHNSON. 'You have about reached him.']

Last night at the inn, when the factor in Tyr-yi spoke of his having
heard that a roof was put on some part of the buildings at Icolmkill,
I unluckily said, 'It will be fortunate if we find a cathedral with a
roof on it.' I said this from a foolish anxiety to engage Dr Johnson's
curiosity more. He took me short at once. 'What, sir? How can you talk
so? If we shall FIND a cathedral roofed! As if we were going to a
terra incognita; when every thing that is at Icolmkill is so well
known. You are like some New England men who came to the mouth of the
Thames. "Come," said they, "let us go up and see what sort of
inhabitants there are here." They talked, sir, as if they had been to
go up the Susquehannah, or any other American river.'

Saturday, 16th October

This day there was a new moon, and the weather changed for the better.
Dr Johnson said of Miss M'Lean, 'She is the most accomplished lady
that I have found in the Highlands. She knows French, musick, and
drawing, sews neatly, makes shell-work, and can milk cows; in short,
she can do every thing. She talks sensibly, and is the first person
whom I have found, that can translate Erse poetry literally.' We set
out, mounted on little Mull horses. Mull corresponded exactly with the
idea which I had always had of it; a hilly country, diversified with
heath and grass, and many rivulets. Dr Johnson was not in very good
humour. He said, it was a dreary country, much worse than Sky. I
differed from him, 'O, sir,' said he, 'a most dolorous country!'

We had a very hard journey to-day. I had no bridle for my sheltie, but
only a halter; and Joseph rode without a saddle. At one place, a loch
having swelled over the road, we were obliged to plunge through pretty
deep water. Dr Johnson observed, how helpless a man would be, were he
travelling here alone, and should meet with any accident; and said,
'he longed to get to a country of saddles and bridles'. He was more
out of humour to-day, than he has been in the course of our tour,
being fretted to find that his little horse could scarcely support his
weight; and having suffered a loss, which, though small in itself, was
of some consequence to him, while travelling the rugged steeps of
Mull, where he was at times obliged to walk. The loss that I allude to
was that of the large oak-stick, which, as I formerly mentioned, he
had brought with him from London. It was of great use to him in our
wild peregrination; for, ever since his last illness in 1766, he has
had a weakness in his knees, and has not been able to walk easily. It
had too the properties of a measure; for one nail was driven into it
at the length of a foot; another at that of a yard. In return for the
services it had done him, he said, this morning he would make a
present of it to some museum; but he little thought he was so soon to
lose it. As he preferred riding with a switch, it was intrusted to a
fellow to be delivered to our baggage-man, who followed us at some
distance; but we never saw it more. I could not persuade him out of a
suspicion that it had been stolen. 'No, no, my friend,' said he, 'it
is not to be expected that any man in Mull, who has got it, will part
with it. Consider, sir, the value of such a PIECE OF TIMBER here!'

As we travelled this forenoon, we met Dr M'Lean, who expressed much
regret at his having been so unfortunate as to be absent while we were
at his house.

We were in hopes to get to Sir Allan Maclean's at Inchkenneth,
to-night; but the eight miles, of which our road was said to consist,
were so very long, that we did not reach the opposite coast of Mull
till seven at night, though we had set out about eleven in the
forenoon; and when we did arrive there, we found the wind strong
against us. Col determined that we should pass the night at
M'Quarrie's, in the island of Ulva, which lies between Mull and
Inchkenneth; and a servant was sent forward to the ferry, to secure
the boat for us: but the boat was gone to the Ulva side, and the wind
was so high that the people could not hear him call; and the night so
dark that they could not see a signal. We should have been in a very
bad situation, had there not fortunately been lying in the little
sound of Ulva an Irish vessel, the Bonnetta, of Londonderry, Captain
M'Lure, master. He himself was at M'Quarrie's; but his men obligingly
came with their long-boat, and ferried us over.

M'Quarrie's house was mean; but we were agreeably surprised with the
appearance of the master, whom we found to be intelligent, polite, and
much a man of the world. Though his clan is not numerous, he is a very
ancient chief, and has a burial place at Icolmkill. He told us, his
family had possessed Ulva for nine hundred years; but I was distressed
to hear that it was soon to be sold for the payment of his debts.

Captain M'Lure, whom we found here, was of Scotch extraction, and
properly a M'Leod, being descended of some of the M'Leods who went
with Sir Normand of Bernera to the battle of Worcester, and after the
defeat of the royalists, fled to Ireland, and, to conceal themselves,
took a different name. He told me, there was a great number of them
about Londonderry; some of good property. I said, they should now
resume their real name. The Laird of M'Leod should go over, and
assemble them, and make them all drink the large horn full, and from
that time they should be M'Leods. The captain informed us, he had
named his ship the Bonnetta, out of gratitude to Providence; for once,
when he was sailing to America with a good number of passengers, the
ship in which he then sailed was becalmed for five weeks, and during
all that time, numbers of the fish bonnetta swam close to her, and
were caught for food; he resolved therefore, that the ship he should
next get, should be called the Bonnetta.

M'Quarrie told us a strong instance of the second sight. He had gone
to Edinburgh, and taken a man-servant along with him. An old woman,
who was in the house, said one day, 'M'Quarrie will be at home to-
morrow, and will bring two gentlemen with him'; and she said, she saw
his servant return in red and green. He did come home next day. He had
two gentlemen with him; and his servant had a new red and green
livery, which M'Quarrie had bought for him at Edinburgh, upon a sudden
thought, not having the least intention when he left home to put his
servant in livery, so that the old woman could not have heard any
previous mention of it. This, he assured us, was a true story.

M'Quarrie insisted that the mercheta mulierum, mentioned in our old
charters, did really mean the privilege which a lord of a manor, or a
baron, had, to have the first night of all his vassals' wives. Dr
Johnson said, the belief of such a custom having existed was also held
in England, where there is a tenure called Borough-English, by which
the eldest child does not inherit, from a doubt of his being the son
of the tenant. [Footnote: Sir William Blackstone says in his
Commentaries, that 'he cannot find that ever this custom prevailed in
England'; and therefore he is of opinion that it could not have given
rise to Borough-English.] M'Quarrie told us, that still, on the
marriage of each of his tenants, a sheep is due to him; for which the
composition is fixed at five shillings. I suppose, Ulva is the only
place where this custom remains.

Talking of the sale of an estate of an ancient family, which was 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.

Sunday, 17th October

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 M'Lean, the chief of his clan, and to
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 conveniencies
about them. Sir Allan M'Lean, 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 story 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

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 any thing on a Sunday, but what is theological; not that
I would scrupulously refuse to look at any thing which a friend should
shew 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

Every particular concerning this island having been so well described
by Dr Johnson, it would be superfluous in me to present the publick
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 dinner,
Sir Allan said he had got Dr Campbell about a hundred subscribers to
his Britannia 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, politicks, 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. 'Come,' said Dr Campbell,
'we do not want to get the better of one another: we want to encrease
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 shewed so much of the spirit of a highlander, that he
won Sir Allan's heart: indeed, he has shewn 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 M'Lean read the evening
service, in which we all joined. I then read Ogden's second and ninth
sermons on prayer, which, with their other distinguished excellence,
have the merit of being short. Dr Johnson said, that it was the most
agreeable Sunday he had ever passed; and it made such an impression on
his mind, that he afterwards wrote the following Latin verses upon


Parva quidem regio, sed relligione priorum

  Nota, Caledonias panditur inter aquas;
  Voce ubi Cennethus populos domuisse feroces
  Dicitur, et vanos dedocuisse deos.
  Huc ego delatus placido per coerula cursu
  Scire locum volui quid daret itte novi.
  Illic Leniades humili regnabat in aula,
  Leniades magnis nobilitatus avis:
  Una duas habuit casa cum genitore puellas,
  Quas Amor undarum fingeret esse deas:
  Non tamen inculti gelidis latuere sub antris,
  Accola Danubii qualia saevus habet;
  Mollia non deerant vacuae solatia vitae,
  Sive libros poscant otia, sive lyram.
  Luxerat illa dies, legis gens docta supernae
  Spes hominum ac curas cum procul esse jubet,
  Ponti inter strepitus sacri non munera cultus
  Cessarunt; pietas hic quoque cura fuit:
  Quid quod sacrifici versavit femina libros,
  Legitimas faciunt pectora pura preces.
  Quo vagor ulterius? quod ubique requiritur hic est;
  Hic secura quies, hic et honestus amor.

Monday, 18th October

We agreed to pass this day with Sir Allan, and he engaged to have
every thing 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 every thing 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 a
ruined chapel, near Sir Allan M'Lean's house, in which I buried some
human bones I found there. Dr Johnson praised me for what I had done,
though he owned, he could not have done it. He shewed in the chapel at
Rasay his horrour at dead men's bones. He shewed it again at Col's
house. In the charter-room there was a remarkable large shin-bone;
which was said to have been a bone of John Garve, one of the lairds.
Dr Johnson would not look at it; but started away.

At breakfast, I asked, 'What is the reason that we are angry at a
trader's having opulence?' JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, the reason is (though I
don't undertake to prove that there is a reason), we see no qualities
in trade that should entitle a man to superiority. We are not angry at
a soldier's getting riches, because we see that he possesses qualities
which we have not. If a man returns from a battle, having lost one
hand, and with the other full of gold, we feel that he deserves the
gold; but we cannot think that a fellow, by sitting all day at a desk,
is entitled to get above us.' BOSWELL. 'But, sir, may we not suppose a
merchant to be a man of an enlarged mind, such as Addison in the
Spectator describes Sir Andrew Freeport to have been?' JOHNSON. 'Why,
sir, we may suppose any fictitious character. We may suppose a
philosophical day-labourer, who is happy in reflecting that, by his
labour, he contributes to the fertility of the earth, and to the
support of his fellow-creatures; but we find no such philosophical
day-labourer. A merchant may, perhaps, be a man of an enlarged mind;
but there is nothing in trade connected with an enlarged mind.'

I mentioned that I heard Dr Solander say he was a Swedish Laplander.
JOHNSON. 'Sir, I don't believe he is a Laplander. The Laplanders are
not much above four feet high. He is as tall as you; and he has not
the copper colour of a Laplander.' BOSWELL. 'But what motive could he
have to make himself a Laplander?' JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, he must either
mean the word Laplander in a very extensive sense, or may mean a
voluntary degradation of himself. "For all my being the great man that
you see me now, I was originally a barbarian"; as if Burke should say,
"I came over a wild Irishman," which he might say in his present state
of exaltation.'

Having expressed a desire to have an island like Inchkenneth, Dr
Johnson set himself to think what would be necessary for a man in such
a situation. 'Sir, I should build me a fortification, if I came to
live here; for, if you have it not, what should hinder a parcel of
ruffians to land in the night, and carry off every thing you have in
the house, which, in a remote country, would be more valuable than
cows and sheep? Add to all this the danger of having your throat cut.'
BOSWELL. 'I would have a large dog.' JOHNSON. 'So you may, sir; but a
large dog is of no use but to alarm. He, however, I apprehend, thinks
too lightly of the power of that animal. I have heard him say, that he
is afraid of no dog. 'He would take him up by the hinder legs, which
would render him quite helpless, and then knock his head against a
stone, and beat out his brains.' Topham Beauclerk told me, that at his
house in the country, two large ferocious dogs were fighting. Dr
Johnson looked steadily at them for a little while; and then, as one
would separate two little boys, who are foolishly hurting each other,
he ran up to them, and cuffed their heads till he drove them asunder.
But few men have his intrepidity, Herculean strength, or presence of
mind. Most thieves or robbers would be afraid to encounter a mastiff.

I observed, that, when young Col talked of the lands belonging to his
family, he always said, 'MY lands'. For this he had a plausible
pretence; for he told me, there has been a custom in this family, that
the laird resigns the estate to the eldest son when he comes of age,
reserving to himself only a certain life-rent. He said, it was a
voluntary custom; but I think I found an instance in the charter-room,
that there was such an obligation in a contract of marriage. If the
custom was voluntary, it was only curious; but if founded on
obligation, it might be dangerous; for I have been told, that in
Otaheite, whenever a child is born (a son, I think), the father loses
his right to the estate and honours, and that this unnatural, or
rather absurd custom, occasions the murder of many children.

Young Col told us he could run down a greyhound; 'for,' said he, 'the
dog runs himself out of breath, by going too quick, and then I get up
with him.' I accounted for his advantage over the dog, by remarking
that Col had the faculty of reason, and knew how to moderate his pace,
which the dog had not sense enough to do. Dr Johnson said, 'He is a
noble animal. He is as complete an islander as the mind can figure. He
is a farmer, a sailor, a hunter, a fisher: he will run you down a dog:
if any man has a tail it is Col. He is hospitable; and he has an
intrepidity of talk, whether he understands the subject or not. I
regret that he is not more intellectual.'

Dr Johnson observed, that there was nothing of which he would not
undertake to persuade a Frenchman in a foreign country. I'll carry a
Frenchman to St Paul's Church-yard, and I'll tell him, "by our law you
may walk half round the church; but, if you walk round the whole, you
will be punished capitally", and he will believe me at once. Now, no
Englishman would readily swallow such a thing: he would go and inquire
of somebody else.' The Frenchman's credulity, I observed, must be
owing to his being accustomed to implicit submission; whereas every
Englishman reasons upon the laws of his country, and instructs his
representatives, who compose the legislature.

This day was passed in looking at a small island adjoining
Inchkenneth, which afforded nothing worthy of observation; and in such
social and gay entertainments as our little society could furnish.

Tuesday, 19th October

After breakfast we took leave of the young ladies, and of our
excellent companion Col, to whom we had been so much obliged. He had
now put us under the care of his chief; and was to hasten back to Sky.
We parted from him with very strong feelings of kindness and
gratitude; and we hoped to have had some future opportunity of proving
to him the sincerity of what we felt; but in the following year he was
unfortunately lost in the Sound between Ulva and Mull; and this
imperfect memorial, joined to the high honour of being tenderly and
respectfully mentioned by Dr Johnson, is the only return which the
uncertainty of human events has permitted us to make to this deserving
young man.

Sir Allan, who obligingly undertook to accompany us to Icolmkill had a
strong good boat, with four stout rowers. We coasted along Mull till
we reached Gribon, where is what is called Mackinnon's cave, compared
with which that at Ulinish is inconsiderable. It is in a rock of a
great height, close to the sea. Upon the left of its entrance there is
a cascade, almost perpendicular from the top to the bottom of the
rock. There is a tradition that it was conducted thither artificially,
to supply the inhabitants of the cave with water. Dr Johnson gave no
credit to this tradition. As, on the one hand, his faith in the
Christian religion is firmly founded upon good grounds; so, on the
other, he is incredulous when there is no sufficient reason for
belief; being in this respect just the reverse of modern infidels,
who, however nice and scrupulous in weighing the evidences of
religion, are yet often so ready to believe the most absurd and
improbable tales of another nature, that Lord Hailes well observed, a
good essay might be written Sur la credulite des Incredules.

The height of this cave I cannot tell with any tolerable exactness:
but it seemed to be very lofty, and to be a pretty regular arch. We
penetrated, by candlelight, a great way; by our measurement, no less
than four hundred and eighty-five feet. Tradition says, that a piper
and twelve men once advanced into this cave, nobody can tell how far;
and never returned. At the distance to which we proceeded the air was
quite pure; for the candle burned freely, without the least appearance
of the flame growing globular; but as we had only one, we thought it
dangerous to venture farther, lest, should it have been extinguished,
we should have had no means of ascertaining whether we could remain
without danger. Dr Johnson said, this was the greatest natural
curiosity he had ever seen.

We saw the island of Staffa, at no very great distance, but could not
land upon it, the surge was so high on its rocky coast.

Sir Allan, anxious for the honour of Mull, was still talking of its
woods, and pointing them out to Dr Johnson, as appearing at a distance
on the skirts of that island, as we sailed along. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I saw
at Tobermorie. what they called a wood, which I unluckily took for
HEATH. If you shew me what I shall take for FURZE, it will be

In the afternoon we went ashore on the coast of Mull, and partook of a
cold repast, which we carried with us. We hoped to have procured some
rum or brandy for our boatmen and servants, from a publick-house near
where we landed; but unfortunately a funeral a few days before had
exhausted all their store. Mr Campbell however, one of the Duke of
Argyle's tacksmen, who lived in the neighbourhood, on receiving a
message from Sir Allan, sent us a liberal supply.

We continued to coast along Mull, and passed by Nuns' Island, which,
it is said, belonged to the nuns of Icolmkill, and from which, we were
told, the stone for the buildings there was taken. As we sailed along
by moonlight, in a sea somewhat rough, and often between black and
gloomy rocks, Dr Johnson said, 'If this be not ROVING AMONG THE
HEBRIDES, nothing is.' The repetition of words which he had so often
previously used, made a strong impression on my imagination; and, by a
natural course of thinking, led me to consider how our present
adventures would appear to me at a future period.

I have often experienced, that scenes through which a man has passed,
improve by lying in the memory: they grow mellow. Acti labores sunt
jucundi. This may be owing to comparing them with present listless
ease. Even harsh scenes acquire a softness by length of time:
[Footnote: I have lately observed that this thought has been elegantly
expressed by Cowley:

  Things which offend when present and affright.
  In memory, well painted, move delight.]

and some are like very loud sounds, which do not please, or at least
do not please so much, till you are removed to a certain distance.
They may be compared to strong coarse pictures, which will not bear to
be viewed near. Even pleasing scenes improve by time, and seem more
exquisite in recollection, than when they were present; if they have
not faded to dimness in the memory. Perhaps, there is so much evil in
every human enjoyment, when present--so much dross mixed with it--that
it requires to be refined by time; and yet I do not see why time
should not melt away the good and the evil in equal proportions; why
the shade should decay, and the light remain in preservation.

After a tedious sail, which, by our following various turnings of the
coast of Mull, was extended to about forty miles, it gave us no small
pleasure to perceive a light in the village of Icolmkill, in which
almost all the inhabitants of the island live, close to where the
ancient building stood. As we approached the shore, the tower of the
cathedral, just discernable in the air, was a picturesque object.

When we had landed upon the sacred place, which, as long as I can
remember, I had thought on with veneration, Dr Johnson and I cordially
embraced. We had long talked of visiting Icolmkill; and, from the
lateness of the season, were at times very doubtful whether we should
be able to effect our purpose. To have seen it, even alone, would have
given me great satisfaction; but the venerable scene was rendered much
more pleasing by the company of my great and pious friend, who was no
less affected by it than I was; and who has described the impressions
it should make on the mind, with such strength of thought, and energy
of language, that I shall quote his words, as conveying my own
sensations much more forcibly than I am capable of doing:

We are now treading that illustrious island, which was once the
luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving
barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of
religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be
impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish if it were
possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever
makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the
present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me,
and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us
indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by
wisdom, bravery or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose
patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose
piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona! [Footnote: Had
our tour produced nothing else but this sublime passage, the world
must have acknowledged that it was not made in vain. The present
respectable President of the Royal Society was so much struck on
reading it, that he clasped his hands together, and remained for some
time in an attitude of silent admiration.]

Upon hearing that Sir Allan M'Lean was arrived, the inhabitants, who
still consider themselves as the people of M'Lean, to whom the island
formerly belonged, though the Duke of Argyle has at present possession
of it, ran eagerly to him.

We were accommodated this night in a large barn, the island affording
no lodging that we should have liked so well. Some good hay was
strewed at one end of it, to form a bed for us, upon which we lay with
our clothes on; and we were furnished with blankets from the village.
Each of us had a portmanteau for a pillow. When I awaked in the
morning, and looked round me, I could not help smiling at the idea of
the Chief of the M'Leans, the great English moralist, and myself,
lying thus extended in such a situation.

Wednesday, 20th October

Early in the morning we surveyed the remains of antiquity at this
place, accompanied by an illiterate fellow, as cicerone, who called
himself a descendant of a cousin of Saint Columba, the founder of the
religious establishment here. As I knew that many persons had already
examined them, and as I saw Dr Johnson inspecting and measuring
several of the ruins of which he has since given so full an account,
my mind was quiescent; and I resolved; to stroll among them at my
ease, to take no trouble to investigate minutely, and only receive the
general impression of solemn antiquity, and the particular ideas of
such objects as should of themselves strike my attention.

We walked from the monastery of nuns to the great church or cathedral,
as they call it, along an old broken causeway. They told us, that this
had been a street; and that there were good houses built on each side.
Dr Johnson doubted if it was any thing more than a paved road for the
nuns. The convent of monks, the great church, Oran's chapel, and four
other chapels, are still to be discerned. But I must own that
Icolmkill did not answer my expectations; for they were high, from
what I had read of it, and still more from what I had heard and
thought of it, from my earliest years. Dr Johnson said, it came up to
his expectations, because he had taken his impression from an account
of it subjoined to Sacheverel's History of the Isle of Man, where it
is said, there is not much to be seen here. We were both disappointed,
when we were shewn what are called the monuments of the kings of
Scotland, Ireland, and Denmark, and of a king of France. There are
only some grave-stones flat on the earth, and we could see no
inscriptions. How far short was this of marble monuments, like those
in Westminster Abbey, which I had imagined here! The grave-stones of
Sir Allan M'Lean's family, and of that of M'Quarrie, had as good an
appearance as the royal grave-stones; if they were royal, we doubted.

My easiness to give credit to what I heard in the course of our tour
was too great. Dr Johnson's peculiar accuracy of investigation
detected much traditional fiction, and many gross mistakes. It is not
to be wondered at, that he was provoked by people carelessly telling
him, with the utmost readiness and confidence, what he found, on
questioning them a little more, was erroneous. Of this there were
innumerable instances.

I left him and Sir Allan to breakfast in our barn, and stole back
again to the cathedral, to indulge in solitude and devout meditation.
While contemplating the venerable ruins, I reflected with much
satisfaction, that the solemn scenes of piety never lose their
sanctity and influence, though the cares and follies of life may
prevent us from visiting them, or may even make us fancy that their
effects are only 'as yesterday, when it is past', and never again to
be perceived. I hoped, that, ever after having been in this holy
place, I should maintain an exemplary conduct. One has a strange
propensity to fix upon some point of time from whence a better course
of life may begin.

Being desirous to visit the opposite shore of the island, where Saint
Columba is said to have landed, I procured a horse from one M'Ginnis,
who ran along as my guide. The M'Ginnises are said to be a branch of
the clan of M'Lean. Sir Allan had been told that this man had refused
to send him some rum, at which the knight was in great indignation.
'You rascal!' said he. 'Don't you know that I can hang you, if I
please?' Not averting to the chieftain's power over his clan, I
imagined that Sir Allan had known of some capital crime that the
fellow had committed, which he could discover, and so get him
condemned; and said, 'How so?' 'Why,' said Sir Allan, 'are they not
all my people?' Sensible in my inadvertency, and most willing to
contribute what I could towards the continuation of feudal authority,
'Very true,' said I. Sir Allan went on: 'Refuse to send rum to me, you
rascal! Don't you know that, if I order you to go and cut a man's
throat, you are to do it?' 'Yes, an't please your honour! and my own
too, and hang myself too.' The poor fellow denied that he had refused
to send the rum. His making these professions was not merely a
pretence in presence of his chief; for after he and I were out of Sir
Allan's hearing, he told me, 'Had he sent his dog for the rum, I would
have given it: I would cut my bones for him.' It was very remarkable
to find such an attachment to a chief, though he had then no
connection with the island, and had not been there for fourteen years.
Sir Allan, by way of upbraiding the fellow, said, 'I believe you are a

The place which I went to see is about two miles from the village.
They call it Portawherry, from the wherry in which Columba came;
though, when they shew the length of his vessel, as marked on the
beach by two heaps of stones, they say, 'Here is the length of the
currach,' using the Erse word.

Icolmkill is a fertile island. The inhabitants export some cattle and
grain; and I was told, they import nothing but iron and salt. They are
industrious, and make their own woollen and linen cloth; and they brew
a good deal of beer, which we did not find in any of the other

We set sail again about mid-day, and in the evening landed on Mull,
near the house of the Reverend Mr Neal M'Leod, who having been
informed of our coming, by a message from Sir Allan, came out to meet
us. We were this night very agreeably entertained at his house. Dr
Johnson observed to me, that he was the cleanest-headed man that he
had met in the Western islands. He seemed to be well acquainted with
Dr Johnson's writings, and courteously said, 'I have been often
obliged to you, though I never had the pleasure of seeing you before.'

He told us, he had lived for some time in St Kilda, under the tuition
of the minister or catechist there, and had there first read Horace
and Virgil. The scenes which they describe must have been a strong
contrast to the dreary waste around him.

Thursday, 21st October

This morning the subject of politicks was introduced. JOHNSON.
'Pulteney was as paltry a fellow as could be. He was a Whig, who
pretended to be honest; and you know it is ridiculous for a Whig to
pretend to be honest. He cannot hold it out.' He called Mr Pitt a
meteor; Sir Robert Walpole a fixed star. He said, 'It is wonderful to
think that all the force of government was required to prevent Wilkes
from being chosen the chief magistrate of London, though the liverymen
knew he would rob their shops, knew he would debauch their daughters.'
[Footnote: I think it incumbent on me to make some observation on this
strong satirical sally on my classical companion, Mr Wilkes. Reporting
it lately from memory, in his presence, I expressed it thus: 'They
knew he would rob their shops, IF HE DURST; they knew he would debauch
their daughters, IF HE COULD, which, according to the French phrase,
may be said rencherir on Dr Johnson; but on looking into my Journal, I
found it as above, and would by no means make any addition. Mr Wilkes
received both readings with a good humour that I cannot enough admire.
Indeed both he and I (as, with respect to myself, the reader has more
than once had occasion to observe in the course of this Journal) are
too fond of a bon mot, not to relish it, though we should be ourselves
the object of it.

Let me add, in justice to the gentleman here mentioned, that at a
subsequent period, he was elected chief magistrate of London, and
discharged the duties of that high office with great honour to
himself, and advantage to the city. Some years before Dr Johnson died,
I was fortunate enough to bring him and Mr Wilkes together; the
consequence of which was, that they were ever afterwards on easy and
not unfriendly terms. The particulars I shall have great pleasure in
relating at large in my Life of Dr Johnson.]

BOSWELL. 'The history of England is so strange, that, if it were not
so well vouched as it is, it would hardly be credible.' JOHNSON. 'Sir,
if it were told as shortly, and with as little preparation for
introducing the different events, as the history of the Jewish kings,
it would be equally liable to objections of improbability.' Mr M'Leod
was much pleased with the justice and novelty of the thought. Dr
Johnson illustrated what he had said, as follows: 'Take, as an
instance, Charles the First's concessions to his parliament, which
were greater and greater, in proportion as the parliament grew more
insolent, and less deserving of trust. Had these concessions been
related nakedly, without any detail of the circumstances which
generally led to them, they would not have been believed.'

Sir Allan M'Lean bragged, that Scotland had the advantage of England,
by its having more water. JOHNSON, 'Sir, we would not have your water,
to take the vile bogs which produced it. You have too much! A man who
is drowned has more water than either of us'; and then he laughed.
(But this was surely robust sophistry: for the people of taste in
England, who have seen Scotland, own that its variety of rivers and
lakes makes it naturally more beautiful than England, in that
respect.) Pursuing his victory over Sir Allan, he proceeded: 'Your
country consists of two things, stone and water. There is, indeed, a
little earth above the stone in some places, but a very little; and
the stone is always appearing. It is like a man in rags; the naked
skin is still peeping out.'

He took leave of Mr M'Leod, saying, 'Sir, I thank you for your
entertainment, and your conversation.' Mr Campbell, who had been so
polite yesterday, came this morning on purpose to breakfast with us,
and very obligingly furnished us with horses to proceed on our journey
to Mr M'Lean's of Lochbuy, where we were to pass the night. We dined
at the house of Dr Alexander M'Lean, another physician in Mull, who
was so much struck with the uncommon conversation of Dr Johnson, that
he observed to me, 'This man is just a HOGSHEAD of sense.'

Dr Johnson said of the Turkish Spy, which lay in the room, that it
told nothing but what every body might have known at that time; and
that what was good in it, did not pay you for the trouble of reading
to find it.

After a very tedious ride, through what appeared to me the most gloomy
and desolate country I had ever beheld, we arrived, between seven and
eight o'clock, at Moy, the seat of the Laird of Lochbuy. Buy, in Erse,
signifies yellow, and I at first imagined that the loch or branch of
the sea here, was thus denominated, in the same manner as the Red Sea;
but I afterwards learned that it derived its name from a hill above
it, which being of a yellowish hue, has the epithet of Buy.

We had heard much of Lochbuy's being a great roaring braggadocio, a
kind of Sir John Falstaff, both in size and manners; but we found that
they had swelled him up to a fictitious size, and clothed him with
imaginary qualities. Col's idea of him was equally extravagant, though
very different: he told us, he was quite a Don Quixote; and said, he
would give a great deal to see him and Dr Johnson together. The truth
is, that Lochbuy proved to be only a bluff, comely, noisy old
gentleman, proud of his hereditary consequence, and a very hearty and
hospitable landlord. Lady Lochbuy was sister to Sir Allan M'Lean, but
much older. He said to me, 'They are quite Antediluvians.' Being told
that Dr Johnson did not hear well, Lochbuy bawled out to him, 'Are you
of the Johnstons of Glencro, or of Ardnamurchan?' Dr Johnson gave him
a significant look, but made no answer; and I told Lochbuy that he was
not Johnston, but Johnson, and that he was an Englishman.

Lochbuy some years ago tried to prove himself a weak man, liable to
imposition, or, as we term it in Scotland, a FACILE man, in order to
set aside a lease which he had granted; but failed in the attempt. On
my mentioning this circumstance to Dr Johnson, he seemed much
surprized that such a suit was admitted by the Scottish law, and
observed, that 'in England no man is allowed to STULTIFY himself.'
[Footnote: This maxim, however, has been controverted. See
Blackstone's Commentaries, Vol. II, p. 292; and the authorities there
quoted.] Sir Allan, Lochbuy, and I, had the conversation chiefly to
ourselves to-night: Dr Johnson, being extremely weary, went to bed
soon after supper.

Friday, 22d October

Before Dr Johnson came to breakfast, Lady Lochbuy said, 'he was a
DUNGEON of wit'; a very common phrase in Scotland to express a
profoundness of intellect, though he afterwards told me, that he never
had heard it. She proposed that he should have some cold sheep's head
for breakfast. Sir Allan seemed displeased at his sister's vulgarity,
and wondered how such a thought should come into her head. From a
mischievous love of sport, I took the lady's part; and very gravely
said, 'I think it is but fair to give him an offer of it. If he does
not choose it, he may let it alone.' 'I think so,' said the lady,
looking at her brother with an air of victory. Sir Allan, finding the
matter desperate, strutted about the room, and took snuff. When Dr
Johnson came in, she called to him, 'Do you choose any cold
sheep's-head, sir?' 'No, Madam,' said he, with a tone of surprise and
anger. 'It is here, sir,' said she, supposing he had refused it to
save the trouble of bringing it in. They thus went on at cross
purposes, till he confirmed his refusal in a manner not to be
misunderstood; while I sat quietly by, and enjoyed my success.

After breakfast, we surveyed the old castle, in the pit or dungeon of
which Lochbuy had some years before taken upon him to imprison several
persons; and though he had been fined a considerable sum by the Court
of Justiciary, he was so little affected by it, that while we were
examining the dungeon, he said to me, with a smile, 'Your father knows
something of this' (alluding to my father's having sat as one of the
judges on his trial). Sir Allan whispered me, that the laird could not
be persuaded, that he had lost his heritable jurisdiction.

We then set out for the ferry, by which we were to cross to the main
land of Argyleshire. Lochbuy and Sir Allan accompanied us. We were
told much of a war-saddle, on which this reputed Don Quixote used to
be mounted; but we did not see it, for the young laird had applied it
to a less noble purpose, having taken it to Falkirk fair WITH A DROVE

We bade adieu to Lochbuy, and to our very kind conductor. Sir Allan
M'Lean, on the shore of Mull, and then got into the ferry-boat, the
bottom of which was strewed with branches of trees or bushes, upon
which we sat. We had a good day and a fine passage, and in the evening
landed at Oban, where we found a tolerable inn. After having been so
long confined at different times in islands, from which it was always
uncertain when we could get away, it was comfortable to be now on the
main land, and to know that, if in health, we might get to any place
in Scotland or England in a certain number of days.

Here we discovered from the conjectures which were formed, that the
people on the main land were intirely ignorant of our motions; for in
a Glasgow news-paper we found a paragraph, which, as it contains a
just and well-turned compliment to my illustrious friend, I shall

We are well assured that Dr Johnson is confined by tempestuous weather
to the isle of Sky; it being unsafe to venture, in a small boat upon
such a stormy surge as is very common there at this time of the year.
Such a philosopher, detained on an almost barren island, resembles a
whale left upon the strand. The latter will be welcome to every body,
on account of his oil, his bone, etc. and the other will charm his
companions, and the rude inhabitants, with his superior knowledge and
wisdom, calm resignation, and unbounded benevolence.

Saturday, 23d October

After a good night's rest, we breakfasted at our leisure. We talked of
Goldsmith's Traveller, of which Dr Johnson spoke highly; and, while I
was helping him on with his great coat, he repeated from it the
character of the British nation, which he did with such energy, that
the tear started into his eye:

 '"Stern o'er each bosom reason holds her state.
  With daring aims irregularly great,
  Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
  I see the lords of humankind pass by,
  Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band,
  By forms unfashion'd; fresh from nature's hand;
  Fierce in their native hardiness of soul,
  True to imagin'd right, above control,
  While ev'n the peasant boasts these rights to scan,
  And learns to venerate himself as man."'

We could get but one bridle here, which, according to the maxim detur
digniori, was appropriated to Dr Johnson's sheltie. I and Joseph rode
with halters. We crossed in a ferry-boat a pretty wide lake, and on
the farther side of it, close by the shore, found a hut for our inn.
We were much wet. I changed my clothes in part, and was at pains to
get myself well dried. Dr Johnson resolutely kept on all his clothes,
wet as they were, letting them steam before the smoky turf fire. I
thought him in the wrong; but his firmness was, perhaps, a species of

I remember but little of our conversation. I mentioned Shenstone's
saying of Pope, that he had the art of condensing sense more than any
body. Dr Johnson said, 'It is not true, sir. There is more sense in a
line of Cowley than in a page' (or a sentence of ten lines--I am not
quite certain of the very phrase) 'of Pope.' He maintained that
Archibald, Duke of Argyle, was a narrow man. I wondered at this; and
observed, that his building so great a house at Inveraray was not like
a narrow man. 'Sir,' said he, 'when a narrow man has resolved to build
a house, he builds it like another man. But Archibald, Duke of Argyle,
was narrow in his ordinary expences, in his quotidian expences.'

The distinction is very just. It is in the ordinary expences of life
that a man's liberality or narrowness is to be discovered. I never
heard the word quotidian in this sense, and I imagined it to be a word
of Dr Johnson's own fabrication; but I have since found it in Young's
Night Thoughts (Night fifth):

  Death's a destroyer of quotidian prey.

and in my friend's Dictionary, supported by the authorities of Charles
I and Dr Donne.

It rained very hard as we journied on after dinner. The roar of
torrents from the mountains, as we passed along in the dusk, and the
other circumstances attending our ride this evening, have been
mentioned with so much animation by Dr Johnson, that I shall not
attempt to say any thing on the subject.

We got at night to Inveraray, where we found an excellent inn. Even
here, Dr Johnson would not change his wet clothes.

The prospect of good accommodation cheered us much. We supped well;
and after supper, Dr Johnson, whom I had not seen taste any fermented
liquor during all our travels, called for a gill of whisky. 'Come,'
said he, 'let me know what it is that makes a Scotchman happy!' He
drank it all but a drop, which I begged leave to pour into my glass,
that I might say we had drunk whisky together. I proposed Mrs Thrale
should be our toast. He would not have HER drunk in whisky, but rather
'some insular lady', so we drank one of the ladies whom we had lately
left. He owned tonight, that he got as good a room and bed as at an
English inn.

I had here the pleasure of finding a letter from home, which relieved
me from the anxiety I had suffered, in consequence of not having
received any account of my family for many weeks. I also found a
letter from Mr Garrick, which was a regale as agreeable as a pineapple
would be in a desert. He had favoured me with his correspondence for
many years; and when Dr Johnson and I were at Inverness, I had written
to him as follows:

My dear Sir,
Sunday, 29 August, 1773

Here I am, and Mr Samuel Johnson actually with me. We were a night at
Fores, in coming to which, in the dusk of the evening, we passed over
a bleak and blasted heath where Macbeth met the witches. Your old
preceptor repeated, with much solemnity, the speech

  How far is't called to Fores? What are these
  So wither'd and so wild in their attire, etc.

This day we visited the ruins of Macbeth's castle at Inverness. I have
had great romantick satisfaction in seeing Johnson upon the classical
scenes of Shakspeare in Scotland; which I really looked upon as almost
as improbable as that 'Birnam wood should come to Dunsinane'. Indeed,
as I have always been accustomed to view him as a permanent London
object, it would not be much more wonderful to me to see St Paul's
church moving along where we now are. As yet we have travelled in
postchaises; but to-morrow we are to mount on horseback, and ascend
into the mountains by Fort Augustus, and so on to the ferry, where we
are to cross to Sky. We shall see that island fully, and then visit
some more of the Hebrides; after which we are to land in Argyleshire,
proceed by Glasgow to Auchinleck, repose there a competent time, and
then return to Edinburgh, from whence the Rambler will depart for old
England again, as soon as he finds it convenient. Hitherto we have had
a very prosperous expedition. I flatter myself servetur ad imum,
qualis ab incepto processerit. He is in excellent spirits, and I have
a rich Journal of his conversation. Look back, Davy, [Footnote: I took
the liberty of giving this familiar appellation to my celebrated
friend, to bring in a more lively manner to his remembrance the period
when he was Dr Johnson's pupil.] to Litchfield; run up through the
time that has elapsed since you first knew Mr Johnson, and enjoy with
me his present extraordinary tour. I could not resist the impulse of
writing to you from this place. The situation of the old castle
corresponds exactly to Shakspeare's description. While we were there
to-day, it happened oddly, that a raven perched upon one of the
chimney-tops, and croaked. Then I in my turn repeated,

  'The raven himself is hoarse.
  That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan,
  Under my battlements.'

I wish you had been with us. Think what enthusiastick happiness I
shall have to see Mr Samuel Johnson walking among the romantick rocks
and woods of my ancestors at Auchinleck! Write to me at Edinburgh. You
owe me his verses on great George and tuneful Cibber, and the bad
verses which led him to make his fine ones on Philips the musician.
Keep your promise, and let me have them. I offer my very best
compliments to Mrs Garrick, and ever am

Your warm admirer and friend,

To David Garrick, Esq;

His answer was as follows.

  September 14, 1773,
  Dear Sir,

You stole away from London, and left us all in the lurch; for we
expected you one night at the club, and knew nothing of your
departure. Had I payed you what I owed you, for the book you bought
for me, I should only have grieved for the loss of your company, and
slept with a quiet conscience; but, wounded as it is, it must remain
so till I see you again, though I am sure our good friend Mr Johnson
will discharge the debt for me, if you will let him. Your account of
your journey to Fores, the RAVEN, OLD CASTLE, &c. &c. made me half
mad. Are you not rather too late in the year for fine weather, which
is the life and soul of seeing places? I hope your pleasure will
continue qualis ab incepto, &c.

Your friend---[Footnote: I have suppressed my Mend's name from an
apprehension of wounding his sensibility; but I would not withhold
from my readers a passage which shews Mr Gamck's mode of writing as
the Manager of a Theatre, and contains a pleasing trait of his
domestick life. His judgment of dramatick pieces, so far as concerns
their exhibition on the stage, must be allowed to have considerable
weight. But from the effect which a perusal of the tragedy here
condemned had upon myself, and from the opinions of some eminent
criticks. I venture to pronounce that it has much poetical merit; and
Its author has distinguished himself by several performances which
shew that the epithet poetaster was, in the present Instance, much
misapplied.] threatens me much. I only wish that he would put his
threats in execution, and, if he prints his play, I will forgive him.
I remember he complained to you, that his bookseller called for the
money for some copies of his--, which I subscribed for, and that I
desired him to call again. The truth is, that my wife was not at home,
and that for weeks together I have not ten shillings in my pocket.
However, had it been otherwise, it was not so great a crime to draw
his poetical vengeance upon me. I despise all that he can do, and am
glad that I can so easily get rid of him and his ingratitude. I am
hardened both to abuse and ingratitude.

You, I am sure, will no more recommend your poetasters to my civility
and good offices.

Shall I recommend to you a play of Eschylus (the Prometheus),
published and translated by poor old Morel], who is a good scholar,
and an acquaintance of mine. It will be but half a guinea, and your
name shall be put in the list I am making for him. You will be in very
good company.

Now for the Epitaphs!

(These, together with the verses on George the Second, and Colley
Gibber, as his Poet Laureat, of which imperfect copies are gone about,
will appear in my Life of Dr Johnson.)

I have no more paper, or I should have said more to you. My love and
respects to Mr Johnson.

Yours ever,
  I can't write. I have the gout in my hand.

To James Boswell, Esq., Edinburgh.

Sunday, 24th October

We passed the forenoon calmly and placidly. I prevailed on Dr Johnson
to read aloud Ogden's sixth sermon on prayer, which he did with a
distinct expression, and pleasing solemnity. He praised my favourite
preacher, his elegant language, and remarkable acuteness; and said, he
fought infidels with their own weapons.

As a specimen of Ogden's manner, I insert the following passage from
the sermon which Dr Johnson now read. The preacher, after arguing
against that vain philosophy which maintains, in conformity with the
hard principle of eternal necessity, or unchangeable predetermination,
that the only effect of prayer for others, although we are exhorted to
pray for them, is to produce good dispositions in ourselves towards
them; thus expresses himself:

A plain man may be apt to ask, But if this then, though enjoined in
the holy Scriptures, is to be my real aim and intention, when I am
taught to pray for other persons, why is it that I do not plainly so
express it? Why is not the form of the petition brought nearer to the
meaning? Give them, say I to our heavenly father, what is good. But
this, I am to understand, will be as it will be, and is not for me to
alter. What is it then that I am doing? I am desiring to become
charitable myself; and why may I not plainly say so? Is there shame in
it, or impiety? The wish is laudable: why should I form designs to
hide it?

Or is it, perhaps, better to be brought about by indirect means, and
in this artful manner? Alas! who is it that I would impose on? From
whom can it be, in this commerce, that I desire to hide any thing?
When, as my Saviour commands me, I have 'entered into my closet, and
shut my door', there are but two parties privy to my devotions, God
and my own heart; which of the two am I deceiving?

He wished to have more books, and, upon inquiring if there were any in
the house, was told that a waiter had some, which were brought to him;
but I recollect none of them, except Hervey's Meditations. He thought
slightingly of this admired book. He treated it with ridicule, and
would not allow even the scene of the dying husband and father to be
pathetick. I am not an impartial judge; for Hervey's Meditations
engaged my affections in my early years. He read a passage concerning
the moon, ludicrously, and shewed how easily he could, in the same
style, make reflections on that planet, the very reverse of Hervey's,
representing her as treacherous to mankind. He did this with much
humour; but I have not preserved the particulars. He then indulged a
playful fancy, in making a Meditation on a Pudding, of which I hastily
wrote down, in his presence, the following note; which, though
imperfect, may serve to give my readers some idea of it.


Let us seriously reflect of what a pudding is composed. It is composed
of flour that once waved in the golden grain, and drank the dews of
the morning; of milk pressed from the swelling udder by the gentle
hand of the beauteous milk-maid, whose beauty and innocence might have
recommended a worse draught; who, while she stroked the udder,
indulged no ambitious thoughts of wandering in palaces, formed no
plans for the destruction of her fellow-creatures: milk, which is
drawn from the cow, that useful animal, that eats the grass of the
field, and supplies us with that which made the greatest part of the
food of mankind in the age which the poets have agreed to call golden.
It is made with an egg, that miracle of nature, which the theoretical
Burnet has compared to creation. An egg contains water within its
beautiful smooth surface; and an unformed mass, by the incubation of
the parent, becomes a regular animal, furnished with bones and sinews,
and covered with feathers. Let us consider; can there be more wanting
to complete the Meditation on a Pudding? If more is wanting, more may
be found. It contains salt, which keeps the sea from putrefaction:
salt, which is made the image of intellectual excellence, contributes
to the formation of a pudding.

In a magazine I found a saying of Dr Johnson's, something to this
purpose; that the happiest part of a man's life is what he passes
lying awake in bed in the morning. I read it to him. He said, 'I may,
perhaps, have said this; for nobody, at times, talks more laxly than I
do.' I ventured to suggest to him, that this was dangerous from one of
his authority.

I spoke of living in the country, and upon what footing one should be
with neighbours. I observed that some people were afraid of being on
too easy a footing with them, from an apprehension that their time
would not be their own. He made the obvious remark, that it depended
much on what kind of neighbours one has, whether it was desirable to
be on an easy footing with them, or not. I mentioned a certain
baronet, who told me, he never was happy in the country, till he was
not on speaking terms with his neighbours, which he contrived in
different ways to bring about. 'Lord ---', said he, 'stuck along; but
at last the fellow pounded my pigs, and then I got rid of him.'
JOHNSON. 'Nay, sir, My Lord got rid of Sir John, and shewed how little
he valued him, by putting his pigs in the pound.'

I told Dr Johnson I was in some difficulty how to act at Inveraray. I
had reason to think that the Duchess of Argyle disliked me, on account
of my zeal in the Douglas cause; but the Duke of Argyle had always
been pleased to treat me with great civility. They were now at the
castle, which is a very short walk from our inn; and the question was,
whether I should go and pay my respects there. Dr Johnson, to whom I
had stated the case, was clear that I ought; but, in his usual way, he
was very shy of discovering a desire to be invited there himself.
Though from a conviction of the benefit of subordination to society,
he has always shewn great respect to persons of high rank, when he
happened to be in their company, yet his pride of character has ever
made him guard against any appearance of courting the great. Besides,
he was impatient to go to Glasgow, where he expected letters. At the
same time he was, I believe, secretly not unwilling to have attention
paid him by so great a chieftain, and so exalted a nobleman. He
insisted that I should not go to the castle this day before dinner, as
it would look like seeking an invitation. 'But,' said I, 'if the duke
invites us to dine with him to-morrow, shall we accept?' 'Yes, sir,' I
think he said, 'to be sure.' But, he added, 'He won't ask us!' I
mentioned, that I was afraid my company might be disagreeable to the
duchess. He treated this objection with a manly disdain: 'THAT, sir,
he must settle with his wife.' We dined well. I went to the castle
just about the time when I supposed the ladies would be retired from
dinner. I sent in my name; and, being shewn in, found the amiable duke
sitting at the head of his table with several gentlemen. I was most
politely received, and gave his grace some particulars of the curious
journey which I had been making with Dr Johnson. When we rose from
table, the duke said to me, 'I hope you and Dr Johnson will dine with
us to-morrow.' I thanked his grace; but told him, my friend was in a
great hurry to get back to London. The duke, with a kind complacency,
said, 'He will stay one day; and I will take care he shall see this
place to advantage.' I said, I should be sure to let him know his
grace's invitation. As I was going away, the duke said, 'Mr Boswell,
won't you have some tea?' I thought it best to get over the meeting
with the duchess this night; so respectfully agreed. I was conducted
to the drawing-room by the duke, who announced my name; but the
duchess, who was sitting with her daughter, Lady Betty Hamilton, and
some other ladies, took not the least notice of me. I should have been
mortified at being thus coldly received by a lady of whom I, with the
rest of the world, have always entertained a very high admiration, had
I not been consoled by the obliging attention of the duke.

When I returned to the inn, I informed Dr Johnson of the Duke of
Argyle's invitation, with which he was much pleased, and readily
accepted of it. We talked of a violent contest which was then carrying
on, with a view to the next general election for Ayrshire; where one
of the candidates, in order to undermine the old and established
interest, had artfully held himself out as a champion for the
independency of the county against aristocratick influence, and had
persuaded several gentlemen into a resolution to oppose every
candidate who was supported by peers. 'Foolish fellows!' said Dr
Johnson. 'Didn't they see that they are as much dependent upon the
peers one way as the other. The peers have but to OPPOSE a candidate,
to ensure him success. It is said, the only way to make a pig go
forward, is to pull him back by the tail. These people must be treated
like pigs.'

Monday, 25th October

My acquaintance, the Reverend Mr John M'Aulay, one of the ministers of
Inveraray, and brother to our good friend at Calder, came to us this
morning, and accompanied us to the castle, where I presented Dr
Johnson to the Duke of Argyle. We were shewn through the house; and I
never shall forget the impression made upon my fancy by some of the
ladies' maids tripping about in neat morning dresses. After seeing for
a long time little but rusticity, their lively manner, and gay
inviting appearance, pleased me so much, that I thought, for the
moment, I could have been a knight-errant for them. [Footnote: On
reflection, at the distance of several years, I wonder that my
venerable fellow-traveller should have read this passage without
censuring my levity.]

We then got into a low one-horse chair, ordered for us by the duke, in
which we drove about the place. Dr Johnson was much struck by the
grandeur and elegance of this princely seat. He thought, however, the
castle too low, and wished it had been a story higher. He said, 'What
I admire here, is the total defiance of expence.' I had a particular
pride in shewing him a great number of fine old trees, to compensate
for the nakedness which had made such an impression on him on the
eastern coast of Scotland.

When we came in, before dinner, we found the duke and some gentlemen
in the hall. Dr Johnson took much notice of the large collection of
arms, which are excellently disposed there. I told what he had said to
Sir Alexander McDonald, of his ancestors not suffering their arms to
rust. 'Well,' said the doctor, 'but let us be glad we live in times
when arms MAY rust. We can sit to-day at his grace's table, without
any risk of being attacked, and perhaps sitting down again wounded or
maimed.' The duke placed Dr Johnson next himself at table. I was in
fine spirits; and though sensible that I had the misfortune of not
being in favour with the duchess, I was not in the least disconcerted,
and offered her grace some of the dish that was before me. It must be
owned that I was in the right to be quite unconcerned, if I could. I
was the Duke of Argyle's guest; and I had no reason to suppose that he
adopted the prejudices and resentments of the Duchess of Hamilton.

I knew it was the rule of modern high life not to drink to any body;
but, that I might have the satisfaction for once to look the duchess
in the face, with a glass in my hand, I with a respectful air
addressed her, 'My Lady Duchess, I have the honour to drink your
grace's good health.' I repeated the words audibly, and with a steady
countenance. This was, perhaps, rather too much; but some allowance
must be made for human feelings.

The duchess was very attentive to Dr Johnson. I know not how a middle
state came to be mentioned. Her grace wished to hear him on that
point. 'Madam,' said he, 'your own relation, Mr Archibald Campbell,
can tell you better about it than I can. He was a bishop of the
nonjuring communion, and wrote a book upon the subject.' [Footnote: As
this book is now become very scarce, I shall subjoin the title, which
is curious:

'The Doctrines of a Middle State between Death and the Resurrection:
Of Prayers for the Dead: And the Necessity of Purification: plainly
proved from the holy Scriptures, and the Writings of the Fathers of
the Primitive Church: And acknowledged by several learned Fathers and
great Divines of the Church of England and others since the
Reformation. To which is added, an Appendix concerning the Descent of
the Soul of Christ into Hell, while his Body lay in the Grave.
Together with the Judgment of the Reverend Dr Hickes concerning this
Book, so far as relates to a Middle State, particular Judgment, and
Prayers for the Dead as it appeared in the first Edition. And a
Manuscript of the Right Reverend Bishop Overall upon the Subject of a
Middle State, and never before printed. Also, a Preservative against
several of the Errors of the Roman Church, in six small Treatises. By
the Honourable Archibald Campbell.' Folio, 1721.] He engaged to get it
for her grace. He afterwards gave a full history of Mr Archibald
Campbell, which I am sorry I do not recollect particularly. He said,
Mr Campbell had been bred a violent Whig, but afterwards 'kept BETTER
COMPANY, and became a Tory'. He said this with a smile, in pleasant
allusion, as I thought, to the opposition between his own political
principles and those of the duke's clan. He added that Mr Campbell,
after the Revolution, was thrown in gaol on account of his tenets;
but, on application by letter to the old Lord Townshend, was released:
that he always spoke of his Lordship with great gratitude, saying,
'though a WHIG, he had humanity'.

Dr Johnson and I passed some time together, in June 1784, at Pembroke
College, Oxford, with the Reverend Dr Adams, the master, and I having
expressed a regret that my note relative to Mr Archibald Campbell was
imperfect, he was then so good as to write with his own hand, on the
blank page of my Journal, opposite to that which contains what I have
now mentioned, the following paragraph; which, however, is not quite
so full as the narrative he gave at Inveraray:

The Honourable Archibald Campbell was, I believe, the nephew of the
Marquis of Argyle. He began life by engaging in Monmouth's rebellion,
and, to escape the law, lived some time in Surinam. When he returned,
he became zealous for episcopacy and monarchy; and at the Revolution
adhered not only to the Nonjurors, but to those who refused to
communicate with the Church of England, or to be present at any
worship where the usurper was mentioned as king. He was, I believe,
more than once apprehended in the reign of King William, and once at
the accession of George. He was the familiar friend of Hicks and
Nelson; a man of letters, but injudicious; and very curious and
inquisitive, but credulous. He lived in 1743, or 44, about 75 years

The subject of luxury having been introduced, Dr Johnson defended it.
'We have now,' said he, 'a splendid dinner before us. Which of all
these dishes is unwholsome?' The duke asserted, that he had observed
the grandees of Spain diminished in their size by luxury. Dr Johnson
politely refrained from opposing directly an observation which the
duke himself had made; but said, 'Man must be very different from
other animals, if he is diminished by good living; for the size of all
other animals is increased by it.' I made some remark that seemed to
imply a belief in second sight. The duchess said, 'I fancy you will be
a METHODIST.' This was the only sentence her grace deigned to utter to
me; and I take it for granted, she thought it a good hit on my
CREDULITY in the Douglas cause.

A gentleman in company, after dinner, was desired by the duke to go to
another room, for a specimen of curious marble, which his grace wished
to shew us. He brought a wrong piece, upon which the duke sent him
back again. He could not refuse; but, to avoid any appearance of
servility, he whistled as he walked out of the room, to show his
independency. On my mentioning this afterwards to Dr Johnson, he said,
it was a nice trait of character.

Dr Johnson talked a great deal, and was so entertaining, that Lady
Betty Hamilton, after dinner, went and placed her chair close to his,
leaned upon the back of it, and listened eagerly. It would have made a
fine picture to have drawn the Sage and her at this time in their
several attitudes. He did not know, all the while, how much he was
honoured. I told him afterwards. I never saw him so gentle and
complaisant as this day.

We went to tea. The duke and I walked up and down the drawing-room,
conversing. The duchess still continued to shew the same marked
coldness for me; for which, though I suffered from it, I made every
allowance, considering the very warm part that I had taken for
Douglas, cause in which she thought her son deeply interested. Had not
her grace discovered some displeasure towards me, I should have
suspected her of insensibility or dissimulation.

Her grace made Dr Johnson come and sit by her, and asked him why he
made his journey so late in the year. 'Why, madam,' said he, 'you know
Mr Boswell must attend the Court of Session, and it does not rise till
the twelfth of August.' She said, with some sharpness, 'I KNOW NOTHING
of Mr Boswell.' Poor Lady Lucy Douglas, to whom I mentioned this,
observed, 'She knew TOO MUCH of Mr Boswell.' I shall make no remark on
her grace's speech. I indeed felt it as rather too severe; but when I
recollected that my punishment was inflicted by so dignified a beauty,
I had that kind of consolation which a man would feel who is strangled
by a SILKEN CORD. Dr Johnson was all attention to her grace. He used
afterwards a droll expression, upon her enjoying the three titles of
Hamilton, Brandon, and Argyle. Borrowing an image from the Turkish
empire, he called her a 'Duchess with three tails'.

He was much pleased with our visit at the castle of Inveraray. The
Duke of Argyle was exceedingly polite to him, and, upon his
complaining of the shelties which he had hitherto ridden being too
small for him, his grace told him he should be provided with a good
horse to carry him next day.

Mr John M'Aulay passed the evening with us at our inn. When Dr Johnson
spoke of people whose principles were good, but whose practice was
faulty, Mr M'Aulay said, he had no notion of people being in earnest
in their good professions, whose practice was not suitable to them.
The Doctor grew warm, and said, 'Sir, you are so grossly ignorant of
human nature, as not to know that a man may be very sincere in good
principles, without having good practice?'

Dr Johnson was unquestionably in the right; and whoever examines
himself candidly, will be satisfied of it, though the inconsistency
between principles and practice is greater in some men than in others.

I recollect very little of this night's conversation. I am sorry that
indolence came upon me towards the conclusion of our journey, so that
I did not write down what passed with the same assiduity as during the
greatest part of it.

Tuesday, 26th October

Mr M'Aulay breakfasted with us, nothing hurt or dismayed by his last
night's correction. Being a man of good sense, he had a just
admiration of Dr Johnson. Either yesterday morning, or this, I
communicated to Dr Johnson, from Mr M'Aulay's information, the news
that Dr Beattie had got a pension of two hundred pounds a year. He sat
up in his bed, clapped his hands, and cried, 'O brave we!' a peculiar
exclamation of his when he rejoices. [Footnote: Having mentioned, more
than once, that my Journal was perused by Dr Johnson, I think it
proper to inform my readers that this is the last paragraph which he

As we sat over our tea, Mr Home's Tragedy of Douglas was mentioned. I
put Dr Johnson in mind, that once, in a coffee-house at Oxford, he
called to old Mr Sheridan, 'How came you, sir, to give Home a gold
medal for writing that foolish play?' and defied Mr Sheridan to shew
ten good lines in it. He did not insist they should be together, but
that there were not ten good lines in the whole play. He now persisted
in this. I endeavoured to defend that pathetick and beautiful tragedy,
and repeated the following passage:

 '"... Sincerity,
  Thou first of virtues! let no mortal leave
  Thy onward path, although the earth should gape,
  And from the gulph of hell destruction cry.
  To take dissimulation's winding way."'

JOHNSON. 'That will not do, sir. Nothing is good but what is
consistent with truth or probability, which this is not. Juvenal,
indeed, gives us a noble picture of inflexible virtue:

  Esto bonus miles, tutor bonus, arbiter idem
  Integer: ambiguae si quando citabere testis,
  Incertaeque rei, Phalaris licet imperet, ut sis
  Falsus, et admoto dictet perjuria tauro,
  Summum crede nefas animam praeferre pudori,
  Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.

  [Footnote: An honest guardian, arbitrator just.
  Be thou; thy station deem a sacred trust.
  With thy good sword maintain thy country's cause;
  In every action venerate its laws:
  The lie suborn'd if falsely urg'd to swear,
  Though torture wait thee, torture firmly bear;
  To forfeit honour, think the highest shame,
  And life too dearly bought by loss of fame;
  Nor, to preserve it, with thy virtue give
  That for which only man should wish to live.

For this and the other translations to which no signature is affixed,
I am indebted to the friend whose observations are mentioned in
notes.] He repeated the lines with great force and dignity; then
added, 'And, after this, comes Johnny Hoe, with his EARTH GAPING, and
his DESTRUCTION CRYING--Pooh!' [Footnote: I am sorry that I was
unlucky in my quotation. But notwithstanding the acuteness of Dr
Johnson's criticism, and the power of his ridicule, the Tragedy of
Douglas still continues to be generally and deservedly admired.]

While we were lamenting the number of ruined religious buildings which
we had lately seen, I spoke with peculiar feeling to the miserable
neglect of the chapel belonging to the palace of Holyrood House, in
which are deposited the remains of many of the kings of Scotland, and
of many of our nobility. I said, it was a disgrace to the country that
it was not repaired: and particularly complained that my friend
Douglas, the representative of a great house, and proprietor of a vast
estate, should suffer the sacred spot where his mother lies interred,
to be unroofed, and exposed to all the inclemencies of the weather. Dr
Johnson, who, I know not how, had formed an opinion on the Hamilton
side, in the Douglas cause, slily answered, 'Sir, sir, don't be too
severe upon the gentleman; don't accuse him of want of filial piety!
Lady Jane Douglas was not HIS mother.' He roused my zeal so much that
I took the liberty to tell him he knew nothing of the cause; which I
do most seriously believe was the case.

We were now 'in a country of bridles and saddles', and set out fully
equipped. The Duke of Argyle was obliging enough to mount Dr Johnson
on a stately steed from his grace's stable. My friend was highly
pleased, and Joseph said, 'He now looks like a bishop.'

We dined at the inn at Tarbat, and at night came to Rosedow, the
beautiful seat of Sir James Colquhoun, on the banks of Lochlomond,
where I, and any friends whom I have introduced, have ever been
received with kind and elegant hospitality.

Wednesday, 27th October

When I went into Dr Johnson's room this morning, I observed to him how
wonderfully courteous he had been at Inveraray, and said, 'You were
quite a fine gentleman, when with the duchess.' He answered, in good
humour, 'Sir, I look upon myself as a very polite man': and he was
right, in a proper manly sense of the word. As an immediate proof of
it, let me observe, that he would not send back the Duke of Argyle's
horse without a letter of thanks, which I copied.

To his Grace the Duke of ARGYLE.

My Lord,

That kindness which disposed your grace to supply me with the horse,
which I have now returned, will make you pleased to hear that he has
carried me well.

By my diligence in the little commission with which I was honoured by
the duchess, I will endeavour to shew how highly I value the favours
which I have received, and how much I desire to be thought,

My lord,
  Your grace's most obedient,
  and most humble servant,
  Rosedow, Oct. 29, 1773.

The duke was so attentive to his respectable guest, that on the same
day, he wrote him an answer, which was received at Auchinleck:

To Dr JOHNSON, Auchinleck, Ayrshire. Sir,

I am glad to hear your journey from this place was not unpleasant, in
regard to your horse. I wish I could have supplied you with good
weather, which I am afraid you felt the want of.

The Duchess of Argyle desires her compliments to you, and is much
obliged to you for remembering her commission. I am, sir,

Your most obedient humble servant,


Inveraray, Oct. 29, 1773.

I am happy to insert every memorial of the honour done to my great
friend. Indeed, I was at all times desirous to preserve the letters
which he received from eminent persons, of which, as of all other
papers, he was very negligent; and I once proposed to him, that they
should be committed to my care, as his Gustos Rotulorum. I wish he had
complied with my request, as by that means many valuable writings
might have been preserved, that are now lost. [Footnote: As a
remarkable instance of his negligence, I remember some years ago to
have found lying loose in his study, and without the cover, which
contained the address, a letter to him from Lord Thurlow, to whom he
had made an application as Chancellor, in behalf of a poor literary
friend. It was expressed in such terms of respect for Dr Johnson,
that, in my zeal for his reputation, I remonstrated warmly with him on
his strange inattention, and obtained his permission to take a copy of
it; by which probably it has been preserved, as the original I have
reason to suppose is lost.]

After breakfast, Dr Johnson and I were furnished with a boat, and
sailed about upon Lochlomond, and landed on some of the islands which
are interspersed. He was much pleased with the scene, which is so well
known by the accounts of various travellers, that it is unnecessary
for me to attempt any description of it.

I recollect none of his conversation, except that, when talking of
dress, he said, 'Sir, were I to have any thing fine, it should be very
fine. Were I to wear a ring, it should not be a bauble, but a stone of
great value. Were I to wear a laced or embroidered waistcoat, it
should be very rich. I had once a very rich laced waistcoat, which I
wore the first night of my tragedy.'

Lady Helen Colquhoun being a very pious woman, the conversation, after
dinner, took a religious turn. Her ladyship defended the presbyterian
mode of publick worship; upon which Dr Johnson delivered those
excellent arguments for a form of prayer which he has introduced into
his Journey. I am myself fully convinced that a form of prayer for
publick worship is in general most decent and edifying. Solennia verba
have a kind of prescriptive sanctity, and make a deeper impression on
the mind than extemporaneous effusions, in which, as we know not what
they are to be, we cannot readily acquiesce. Yet I would allow also of
a certain portion of extempore address, as occasion may require. This
is the practice of the French Protestant churches. And although the
office of forming supplications to the throne of Heaven is, in my
mind, too great a trust to be indiscriminately committed to the
discretion of every minister, I do not mean to deny that sincere
devotion may be experienced when joining in prayer with those who use
no Liturgy.

We were favoured with Sir James Colquhoun's coach to convey us in the
evening to Cameron, the seat of Commissary Smollet. Our satisfaction
of finding ourselves again in a comfortable carriage was very great.
We had a pleasing conviction of the commodiousness of civilization,
and heartily laughed at the ravings of those absurd visionaries who
have attempted to persuade us of the superior advantages of a state of

Mr Smollet was a man of considerable learning, with abundance of
animal spirits; so that he was a very good companion for Dr Johnson,
who said to me, 'We have had more solid talk here than at any place
where we have been.'

I remember Dr Johnson gave us this evening an able and eloquent
discourse on the origin of evil, and on the consistency of moral evil
with the power and goodness of God. He shewed us how it arose from our
free agency, an extinction of which would be a still greater evil than
any we experience. I know not that he said any thing absolutely new,
but he said a great deal wonderfully well; and perceiving us to be
delighted and satisfied, he concluded his harangue with an air of
benevolent triumph over an objection which has distressed many worthy
minds: This then is the answer to the question, [words in Greek]?' Mrs
Smollet whispered me, that it was the best sermon she had ever heard.
Much do I upbraid myself for having neglected to preserve it.

Thursday, 28th October

Mr Smollet pleased Dr Johnson, by producing a collection of
news-papers in the time of the Usurpation, from which it appeared that
all sorts of crimes were very frequent during that horrible anarchy.
By the side of the high road to Glasgow, at some distance from his
house, he had erected a pillar to the memory of his ingenious kinsman,
Dr Smollet; and he consulted Dr Johnson as to an inscription for it.
Lord Kames, who, though he had a great store of knowledge, with much
ingenuity, and uncommon activity of mind, was no profound scholar, had
it seems recommended an English inscription. Dr Johnson treated this
with great contempt, saying 'An English inscription would be a
disgrace to Dr Smollet'; and, in answer to what Lord Kames had urged,
as to the advantage of its being in English, because it would be
generally understood, I observed, that all to whom Dr Smollet's merit
could be an object of respect and imitation, would understand it as
well in Latin; and that surely it was not meant for the Highland
drovers, or other such people, who pass and repass that way.

We were then shewn a Latin inscription, proposed for this monument. Dr
Johnson sat down with an ardent and liberal earnestness to revise it,
and greatly improved it by several additions and variations. I
unfortunately did not take a copy of it, as it originally stood; but I
have happily preserved every fragment of what Dr Johnson wrote:

  Quisquis ades, viator,
  Vel mente felix, vel studiis cultus,
  Immorare paululum memoriae
  Viri iis virtutibus
  Quas in homine et cive
  Et laudes, et imiteris,
  Postquam mira...
  Tali tantoque viro, suo patrueli,
  Hanc columnam,
  Amoris eheul inane monumentum,
  In ipsis Leviniae ripis,
  Quas primis infans vagitibus personuit,
  Versiculisque jam fere moriturus illustravit,
  Ponendam curavit

[Footnote: The epitaph which has been inscribed on the pillar erected
on the banks of the Leven, in honour of Dr Smollet, is as follows. The
part which was written by Dr Johnson, it appears, has been altered:
whether for the better, the reader will judge. The alterations are
distinguished by italicks [all caps].

Siste viator!
  Si lepores ingeniique venam benignam,
  Si morum callidissimum pictorem,
  Unquam es miratus,
  Immorare paululum memoriae
  Viri virtutibus HISCE
  Quas in homine et cive
  Et laudes et imiteris.
  Haud mediocriter ornati:
  Qui in literis variis versatus.
  Postquam felicitate SIBI PROPRIA
  Sese posteris commendaverat,
  Morte acerba raptus
  Anno oetatis 51
  Eheul quam procul a patria!
  Prope Liburni portum in Italia,
  Jacet sepultus.
  Tali tantoque viro, patrueli suo,
  Cui in decursu lampada
  Se pottus tradidisse decuit,
  Hanc Columnam,
  Amoris, eheul inane monumentum
  In ipsis Leviniae ripis,
  Primis infans vagitibus personuit,
  Ponendam curavit
  Abi et reminscere.
  Hoc quidem honore,
  Non modo defuncti memoriae,
  Verum ettam exemplo, prospectum esse;
  Aliis enim, si modo digni sint,
  Idem erit virtutis praemium!]

We had this morning a singular proof of Dr Johnson's quick and
retentive memory. Hay's translation of Martial was lying in a window.
I said, I thought it was pretty well done, and shewed him a particular
epigram, I think, of ten, but am certain of eight, lines. He read it,
and tossed away the book, saying 'No, it is NOT pretty well.' As I
persisted in my opinion, he said, 'Why, sir, the original is thus'
(and he repeated it); 'and this man's translation is thus,' and then
he repeated that also, exactly, though he had never seen it before,
and read it over only once, and that too, without any intention of
getting it by heart.

Here a post-chaise, which I had ordered from Glasgow, came for us, and
we drove on in high spirits. We stopped at Dunbarton, and though the
approach to the castle there is very steep, Dr Johnson ascended it
with alacrity, and surveyed all that was to be seen. During the whole
of our tour he shewed uncommon spirit, could not bear to be treated
like an old or infirm man, and was very unwilling to accept of any
assistance, insomuch that, at our landing at Icolmkill, when Sir Allan
McLean and I submitted to be carried on men's shoulders from the boat
to the shore, as it could not be brought quite close to land, he
sprang into the sea, and waded vigorously out.

On our arrival at the Saracen's Head Inn, at Glasgow, I was made happy
by good accounts from home; and Dr Johnson, who had not received a
single letter since we left Aberdeen, found here a great many, the
perusal of which entertained him much. He enjoyed in imagination the
comforts which we could now command, and seemed to be in high glee. I
remember, he put a leg up on each side of the grate, and said, with a
mock solemnity, by way of soliloquy, but loud enough for me to hear
it, 'Here am I, an ENGLISH man, sitting by a COAL fire.'

Friday, 29th October

The professors of the university being informed of our arrival, Dr
Stevenson, Dr Reid, and Mr Anderson, breakfasted with us. Mr Anderson
accompanied us while Dr Johnson viewed this beautiful city. He had
told me, that one day in London, when Dr Adam Smith was boasting of
it, he turned to him and said, 'Pray, sir, have you ever seen
Brentford?' This was surely a strong instance of his impatience, and
spirit of contradiction. I put him in mind of it to-day, while he
expressed his admiration of the elegant buildings, and whispered him,
'Don't you feel some remorse?'

We were received in the college by a number of the professors, who
shewed all due respect to Dr Johnson; and then we paid a visit to the
principal, Dr Leechman, at his own house, where Dr Johnson had the
satisfaction of being told that his name had been gratefully
celebrated in one of the parochial congregations in the Highlands, as
the person to whose influence it was chiefly owing, that the New
Testament was allowed to be translated into the Erse language. It
seems some political members of the Society in Scotland for
propagating Christian Knowledge, had opposed this pious undertaking,
as tending to preserve the distinction between the Highlanders and
Lowlanders. Dr Johnson wrote a long letter upon the subject to a
friend, which being shewn to them, made them ashamed, and afraid of
being publickly exposed; so they were forced to a compliance. It is
now in my possession, and is, perhaps, one of the best productions of
his masterly pen.

Professors Reid and Anderson, and the two Messieurs Foulis, the Elzevirs
of Glasgow, dined and drank tea with us at our inn, after which the
professors went away; and I, having a letter to write, left my
fellow-traveller with Messieurs Foulis. Though good and ingenious men,
they had that unsettled speculative mode of conversation which is
offensive to a man regularly taught at an English school and university.
I found that, instead of listening to the dictates of the Sage, they had
teazed him with questions and doubtful disputations. He came in a
flutter to me, and desired I might come back again, for he could not
bear these men. 'O ho! sir,' said I, 'you are flying to me for refuge!'
He never, in any situation, was at a loss for a ready repartee. He
answered, with quick vivacity, 'It is of two evils chooseing the least.'
I was delighted with this flash bursting from the cloud which hung upon
his mind, closed my letter directly, and joined the company.

We supped at Professor Andersen's. The general impression upon my
memory is, that we had not much conversation at Glasgow where the
professors, like their brethren at Aberdeen, did not venture to expose
themselves much to the battery of cannon which they knew might play
upon them. Dr Johnson, who was fully conscious of his own superior
powers, afterwards praised Principal Robertson for his caution in this
respect. He said to me, 'Robertson, sir, was in the right. Robertson
is a man of eminence, and the head of a college at Edinburgh. He had a
character to maintain, and did well not to risk its being lessened.'

Saturday, 30th October

We set out towards Ayrshire. I sent Joseph on to Loudoun, with a
message, that, if the earl was at home, Dr Johnson and I would have
the honour to dine with him. Joseph met us on the road, and reported
that the earl 'jumped for joy', and said, 'I shall be very happy to
see them.' We were received with a most pleasing courtesy by his
lordship, and by the countess his mother, who, in her ninety-fifth
year, had all her faculties quite unimpaired. This was a very cheering
sight to Dr Johnson, who had an extraordinary desire for long life.
Her ladyship was sensible and well-informed, and had seen a great deal
of the world. Her lord had held several high offices, and she was
sister to the great Earl of Stair.

I cannot here refrain from paying a just tribute to the character of
John Earl of Loudoun, who did more service to the county of Ayr in
general, as well as to individuals in it, than any man we have ever
had. It is painful to think that he met with much ingratitude from
persons both in high and low rank: but such was his temper, such his
knowledge of 'base mankind,' [Footnote: The unwilling gratitude of
base mankind. POPE.] that, as if he had expected no other return, his
mind was never soured, and he retained his good-humour and benevolence
to the last. The tenderness of his heart was proved in 1745-6, when he
had an important command in the Highlands, and behaved with a generous
humanity to the unfortunate. I cannot figure a more honest politician;
for, though his interest in our county was great, and generally
successful, he not only did not deceive by fallacious promises, but
was anxious that people should not deceive themselves by too sanguine
expectations. His kind and dutiful attention to his mother was
unremitted. At his house was true hospitality; a plain but a plentiful
table; and every guest, being left at perfect freedom, felt himself
quite easy and happy. While I live, I shall honour the memory of this
amiable man.

At night, we advanced a few miles farther, to the house of Mr Campbell
of Treesbank, who was married to one of my wife's sisters, and were
entertained very agreeably by a worthy couple.

Sunday, 31st October

We reposed here in tranquillity. Dr Johnson was pleased to find a
numerous and excellent collection of books, which had mostly belonged
to the Reverend Mr John Campbell, brother of our host. I was desirous
to have procured for my fellow traveller, to-day, the company of Sir
John Cuninghame, of Caprington, whose castle was but two miles from
us. He was a very distinguished scholar, long abroad, and during part
of the time lived much with the learned Cuninghame, the opponent of
Bentley as a critick upon Horace. He wrote Latin with great elegance,
and, what is very remarkable, read Homer and Ariosto through every
year. I wrote to him to request he would come to us; but unfortunately
he was prevented by indisposition.

Monday, 1st November

Though Dr Johnson was lazy, and averse to move, I insisted that he
should go with me, and pay a visit to the Countess of Eglintoune,
mother of the late and present earl. I assured him, he would find
himself amply recompensed for the trouble; and he yielded to my
solicitations, though with some unwillingness. We were well mounted,
and had not many miles to ride. He talked of the attention that is
necessary in order to distribute our charity judiciously. 'If
thoughtlessly done, we may neglect the most deserving objects; and, as
every man has but a certain proportion to give, if it is lavished upon
those who first present themselves, there may be nothing left for such
as have a better claim. A man should first relieve those who are
nearly connected with him, by whatever tie; and then, if he has any
thing to spare, may extend his bounty to a wider circle.'

As we passed very near the castle of Dundonald, which was one of the
many residencies of the kings of Scotland, and in which Robert the
Second lived and died, Dr Johnson wished to survey it particularly. It
stands on a beautiful rising ground, which is seen at a great distance
on several quarters, and from whence there is an extensive prospect of
the rich district of Cuninghame, the western sea, the isle of Arran,
and a part of the northern coast of Ireland. It has long been
unroofed; and, though of considerable size, we could not, by any power
of imagination, figure it as having been a suitable habitation for
majesty. Dr Johnson, to irritate my old Scottish enthusiasm, was very
jocular on the homely accommodation of 'King Bob', and roared and
laughed till the ruins echoed.

Lady Eglintoune, though she was now in her eighty-fifth year, and had
lived in the retirement of the country for almost half a century, was
still a very agreeable woman. She was of the noble house of Kennedy,
and had all the elevation which the consciousness of such birth
inspires. Her figure was majestick, her manners high-bred, her reading
extensive, and her conversation elegant. She had been the admiration
of the gay circles of life, and the patroness of poets. Dr Johnson was
delighted with his reception here. Her principles in Church and state
were congenial with his. She knew all his merit, and had heard much of
him from her son, Earl Alexander, who loved to cultivate the
acquaintance of men of talents, in every department.

All who knew his lordship, will allow that his understanding and
accomplishments were of no ordinary rate. From the gay habits which he
had early acquired, he spent too much of his time with men, and in
pursuits far beneath such a mind as his. He afterwards became sensible
of it, and turned his thoughts to objects of importance; but was cut
off in the prime of his life. I cannot speak, but with emotions of the
most affectionate regret, of one, in whose company many of my early
days were passed, and to whose kindness I was much indebted.

Often must I have occasion to upbraid myself, that soon after our
return to the main land, I allowed indolence to prevail over me so
much, as to shrink from the labour of continuing my Journal with the
same minuteness as before; sheltering myself in the thought, that we
had done with the Hebrides; and not considering, that Dr Johnson's
Memorabilia were likely to be more valuable when we were restored to a
more polished society. Much has thus been irrecoverably lost.

In the course of our conversation this day, it came out, that Lady
Eglintoune was married the year before Dr Johnson was born; upon which
she graciously said to him, that she might have been his mother; and
that she now adopted him; and when we were going away, she embraced
him, saying, 'My dear son, farewell!' My friend was much pleased with
this day's entertainment, and owned that I had done well to force him

Tuesday, 2d November

We were now in a country not only 'of saddles and bridles', but of
post-chaises; and having ordered one from Kilmarnock, we got to
Auchinleck before dinner.

My father was not quite a year and a half older than Dr Johnson; but
his conscientious discharge of his laborious duty as a judge in
Scotland, where the law proceedings are almost all in writing, a
severe complaint which ended in his death, and the loss of my mother,
a woman of almost unexampled piety and goodness, had before this time
in some degree affected his spirits, and rendered him less disposed to
exert his faculties: for he had originally a very strong mind, and
cheerful temper. He assured me, he never had felt one moment of what
is called low spirits, or uneasiness, without a real cause. He had a
great many good stories, which he told uncommonly well, and he was
remarkable for 'humour, incolumi gravitate', as Lord Monboddo used to
characterize it. His age, his office, and his character, had long
given him an acknowledged claim to great attention, in whatever
company he was; and he could ill brook any diminution of it. He was as
sanguine a Whig and Presbyterian, as Dr Johnson was a Tory and Church
of England man: and as he had not much leisure to be informed of Dr
Johnson's great merits by reading his works, he had a partial and
unfavourable notion of him, founded on his supposed political tenets;
which were so discordant to his own, that, instead of speaking of him
with respect to which he was entitled, he used to call him 'a JACOBITE
FELLOW'. Knowing all this, I should not have ventured to bring them
together, had not my father, out of kindness to me, desired me to
invite Dr Johnson his house.

I was very anxious that all should be well; and begged of my friend to
avoid three topicks, as to which they differed very widely; Whiggism,
Presbyterianism, and--Sir John Pringle. He said courteously, 'I shall
certainly not talk on subjects which I am told are disagreeable to a
gentleman under whose roof I am; especially, I shall not do so to YOUR

Our first day went off very smoothly. It rained, and we could not get
out; but my father shewed Dr Johnson his library, which, in curious
editions of the Greek and Roman classicks, is, I suppose, not excelled
by any private collection in Great Britain. My father had studied at
Leyden, and been very intimate with the Gronovii, and other learned
men there. He was a sound scholar, and, in particular, had collated
manuscripts and different editions of Anacreon, and others of the
Greek lyrick poets, with great care; so that my friend and he had much
matter for conversation, without touching on the fatal topicks of

Dr Johnson found here Baxter's Anacreon, which he told me he had long
inquired for in vain, and began to suspect there was no such book.
Baxter was the keen antagonist of Barnes. His life is in the
Biographia Britannica. My father has written many notes on this book,
and Dr Johnson and I talked of having it reprinted.

Wednesday, 3d November

It rained all day, and gave Dr Johnson an impression of that
incommodiousness of climate in the west, of which he has taken notice
in his Journey; but, being well accommodated, and furnished with
variety of books, he was not dissatisfied.

Some gentlemen of the neighbourhood came to visit my father; but there
was little conversation. One of them asked Dr Johnson how he liked the
Highlands. The question seemed to irritate him, for he answered, 'How,
sir, can you ask me what obliges me to speak unfavourably of a country
where I have been hospitably entertained? Who CAN like the Highlands?
--I like the inhabitants very well.' The gentleman asked no more

Let me now make up for the present neglect, by again gleaning from the
past. At Lord Monboddo's, after the conversation upon the decrease of
learning in England, his Lordship mentioned Hermes by Mr Harris of
Salisbury, as the work of a living authour, for whom he had a great
respect. Dr Johnson said nothing at the time; but when we were in our
post-chaise, told me, he thought Harris 'a coxcomb'. This he said of
him, not as a man, but as an authour; and I give his opinions of men
and books, faithfully, whether they agree with my own, or not. I do
admit, that there always appeared to me something of affectation in Mr
Harris's manner of writing; something of a habit of clothing plain
thoughts in analytick and categorical formality. But all his writings
are imbued with learning; and all breathe that philanthropy and
amiable disposition, which distinguished him as a man. [Footnote: This
gentleman, though devoted to the study of grammar and dialecticks, was
not so absorbed in it as to be without a sense of pleasantry, or to be
offended at his favourite topicks being treated lightly. I one day met
him in the street, as I was hastening to the House of Lords, and told
him, I was sorry I could not stop, being rather too late to attend an
appeal of the Duke of Hamilton against Douglas. 'I thought,' said he,
'their contest had been over long ago.' I answered, 'The contest
concerning Douglas's filiation was over long ago; but the contest now
is, who shall have the estate.' Then, assuming the air of 'an antient
sage philosopher', I proceeded thus: 'Were I to PREDICATE concerning
him, I should say, the contest formerly was, What IS he? The contest
now is, What HAS he?' 'Right,' replied Mr Harris, smiling, 'you have
done with QUALITY, and have got into QUANTITY.']

At another time, during our tour, he drew the character of a rapacious
Highland chief with the strength of Theophrastus or la Bruyere;
concluding with these words: 'Sir, he has no more the soul of a chief,
than an attorney who has twenty houses in a street, and considers how
much he can make by them.'

He this day, when we were by ourselves, observed, how common it was
for people to talk from books; to retail the sentiments of others, and
not their own; in short, to converse without any originality of
thinking. He was pleased to say, 'You and I do not talk from books.'

Thursday, 4th November

I was glad to have at length a very fine day, on which I could shew Dr
Johnson the place of my family, which he has honoured with so much
attention in his Journey. He is, however, mistaken in thinking that
the Celtick name, Auchinleck, has no relation to the natural
appearance of it. I believe every Celtick name of a place will be
found very descriptive. Auchinleck does not signify a 'stony field',
as he has said, but a 'field of flag stones'; and this place has a
number of rocks, which abound in strata of that kind. The 'sullen
dignity of the old castle', as he has forcibly expressed it, delighted
him exceedingly. On one side of the rock on which its ruins stand,
runs the river Lugar, which is here of considerable breadth, and is
bordered by other high rocks, shaded with wood. On the other side runs
a brook, skirted in the same manner, but on a smaller scale. I cannot
figure a more romantick scene.

I felt myself elated here, and expatiated to my illustrious mentor on
the antiquity and honourable alliances of my family, and on the merits
of its founder, Thomas Boswell, who was highly favoured by his
sovereign, James IV of Scotland, and fell with him at the battle of
Flodden field; and in the glow of what, I am sensible, will, in a
commercial age, be considered as genealogical enthusiasm, did not omit
to mention what I was sure my friend would not think lightly of, my
relation to the Royal Personage, whose liberality, on his accession to
the throne, had given him comfort and independence. I have, in a
former page, acknowledged my pride of ancient blood, in which I was
encouraged by Dr Johnson: my readers therefore will not be surprised
at my having indulged it on this occasion.

Not far from the old castle is a spot of consecrated earth, on which
may be traced the foundations of an ancient chapel, dedicated to St
Vincent, and where in old times 'was the place of graves' for the
family. It grieves me to think that the remains of sanctity here,
which were considerable, were dragged away, and employed in building a
part of the house of Auchinleck, of the middle age; which was the
family residence, till my father erected that 'elegant modern
mansion', of which Dr Johnson speaks so handsomely. Perhaps this
chapel may one day be restored.

Dr Johnson was pleased, when I shewed him some venerable old trees,
under the shade of which my ancestors had walked. He exhorted me to
plant assiduously, as my father had done to a great extent.

As I wandered with my reverend friend in the groves of Auchinleck, I
told him, that, if I survived him, it was my intention to erect a
monument to him here, among scenes which, in my mind, were all
classical; for in my youth I had appropriated to them many of the
descriptions of the Roman poets. He could not bear to have death
presented to him in any shape; for his constitutional melancholy made
the king of terrours more frightful. He turned off the subject,
saying, 'Sir, I hope to see your grand-children!'

This forenoon he observed some cattle without horns, of which he has
taken notice in his Journey, and seems undecided whether they be of a
particular race. His doubts appear to have had no foundation; for my
respectable neighbour, Mr Fairlie, who, with all his attention to
agriculture, finds time both for the Classicks and his friends,
assures me they are a distinct species, and that, when any of their
calves have horns, a mixture of breed can be traced. In confirmation
of his opinion, he pointed out to me the following passage in Tacitus,
Ne armentis quidem suus honor, aut gloria frontis (De mor. Germ.
Section 5) which he wondered had escaped Dr Johnson.

On the front of the house of Auchinleck is this inscription:

  ... Quod petis, hic est;
  Est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit aequus.

It is characteristick of the founder; but the animus aequus is, alas!
not inheritable, nor the subject of devise. He always talked to me as
if it were in a man's own power to attain it; but Dr Johnson told me
that he owned to him, when they were alone, his persuasion that it was
in a great measure constitutional, or the effect of causes which do
not depend on ourselves, and that Horace boasts too much, when he
says, aequum mi animum ipse parabo.

Friday, 5th November

The Reverend Mr Dun, our parish minister, who had dined with us
yesterday, with some other company, insisted that Dr Johnson and I
should dine with him to-day. This gave me an opportunity to shew my
friend the road to the church, made by my father at a great expence,
for above three miles, on his own estate, through a range of well
enclosed farms, with a row of trees on each side of it. He called it
the Via sacra, and was very fond of it. Dr Johnson, though he held
notions far distant from those of the Presbyterian clergy, yet could
associate on good terms with them. He indeed occasionally attacked
them. One of them discovered a narrowness of information concerning
the dignitaries of the Church of England, among whom may be found men
of the greatest learning, virtue, and piety, and of a truly apostolic
character. He talked before Dr Johnson, of fat bishops and drowsy
deans; and, in short, seemed to believe the illiberal and profane
scoffings of professed satyrists, or vulgar railers. Dr Johnson was so
highly offended, that he said to him, 'Sir, you know no more of our
church than a Hottentot.' I was sorry that he brought this upon

Saturday, 6th November

I cannot be certain, whether it was on this day, or a former, that Dr
Johnson and my father came in collision. If I recollect right, the
contest began while my father was shewing him his collection of
medals; and Oliver Cromwell's coin unfortunately introduced Charles
the First, and Toryism. They became exceedingly warm, and violent, and
I was very much distressed by being present at such an altercation
between the two men, both of whom I reverenced; yet I durst not
interfere. It would certainly be very unbecoming in me to exhibit my
honoured father, and my respected friend, as intellectual gladiators,
for the entertainment of the publick; and therefore I suppress what
would, I dare say, make an interesting scene in this dramatick sketch
this account of the transit of Johnson over the Caledonian hemisphere.

Yet I think I may, without impropriety, mention one circumstance, as
an instance of my father's address. Dr Johnson challenged him, as he
did us all at Talisker, to point out any theological works of merit
written by Presbyterian ministers in Scotland. My father, whose
studies did not lie much in that way, owned to me afterwards, that he
was somewhat at a loss how to answer, but that luckily he recollected
having read in catalogues the title of Durham On the Galatians; upon
which he boldly said, 'Pray, sir, have you read Mr Durham's excellent
commentary on the Galatians?' 'No, sir,' said Dr Johnson. By this
lucky thought my father kept him at bay, and for some time enjoyed his
triumph; but his antagonist soon made a retort, which I forbear to

In the course of their altercation, Whiggism and Presbyterianism,
Toryism and Episcopacy, were terribly buffeted. My worthy hereditary
friend, Sir John Pringle, never having been mentioned, happily escaped
without a bruise.

My father's opinion of Dr Johnson may be conjectured from the name he
afterwards gave him, which was Ursa Major. But it is not true, as has
been reported, that it was in consequence of my saying that he was a
CONSTELLATION of genius and literature. It was a sly abrupt expression
to one of his brethren on the bench of the Court of Session, in which
Dr Johnson was then standing; but it was not said in his hearing.

Sunday, 7th November

My father and I went to publick worship in our parish-church, in which
I regretted that Dr Johnson would not join us; for, though we have
there no form of prayer, nor magnificent solemnity, yet, as God is
worshipped in spirit and in truth, and the same doctrines preached as
in the Church of England, my friend would certainly have shewn more
liberality, had he attended. I doubt not, however, but he employed his
time in private to very good purpose. His uniform and fervent piety
was manifested on many occasions during our tour, which I have not
mentioned. His reason for not joining in Presbyterian worship has been
recorded in a former page.

Monday, 8th November

Notwithstanding the altercation that had passed, my father who had the
dignified courtesy of an old Baron, was very civil to Dr Johnson, and
politely attended him to the post-chaise, which was to convey us to

Thus they parted. They are now in another, and a higher, state of
existence: and as they were both worthy Christian men, I trust they
have met in happiness. But I must observe, in justice to my friend's
political principles, and my own, that they have met in a place where
there is no room for Whiggism.

We came at night to a good inn at Hamilton. I recollect no more.

Tuesday, 9th November

I wished to have shewn Dr Johnson the Duke of Hamilton's house,
commonly called the Palace of Hamilton, which is close by the town. It
is an object which, having been pointed out to me as a splendid
edifice, from my earliest years, in travelling between Auchinleck and
Edinburgh, has still great grandeur in my imagination. My friend
consented to stop, and view the outside of it, but could not be
persuaded to go into it.

We arrived this night at Edinburgh, after an absence of eighty-three
days. For five weeks together, of the tempestuous season, there had
been no account received of us. I cannot express how happy I was on
finding myself again at home.

Wednesday, 10th November

Old Mr Drummond, the bookseller, came to breakfast. Dr Johnson and he
had not met for ten years. There was respect on his side, and kindness
on Dr Johnson's. Soon afterwards Lord Elibank came in, and was much
pleased at seeing Dr Johnson in Scotland. His lordship said, 'hardly
any thing seemed to him more improbable'. Dr Johnson had a very high
opinion of him. Speaking of him to me, he characterized him thus:
'Lord Elibank has read a great deal. It is true, I can find in books
all that he has read; but he has a great deal of what is in books,
proved by the test of real life.' Indeed, there have been few men
whose conversation discovered more knowledge enlivened by fancy. He
published several small pieces of distinguished merit; and has left
some in manuscript, in particular an account of the expedition against
Carthagena, in which he served as an officer in the army. His writings
deserve to be collected. He was the early patron of Dr Robertson, the
historian, and Mr Home, the tragick poet; who, when they we were
ministers of country parishes, lived near his seat. He told me, 'I saw
these lads had talents, and they were much with me.' I hope they will
pay a grateful tribute to his memory.

The morning was chiefly taken up by Dr Johnson's giving him an account
of our tour. The subject of difference in political principles was
introduced. JOHNSON. 'It is much increased by opposition. There was a
violent Whig, with whom I used to contend with great eagerness. After
his death I felt my Toryism much abated.' I suppose he meant Mr
Walmsley of Lichfield, whose character he has drawn so well in his
life of Edmund Smith.

Mr Nairne came in, and he and I accompanied Dr Johnson to Edinburgh
castle, which he owned was 'a great place'. But I must mention, as a
striking instance of that spirit of contradiction to which he had a
strong propensity, when Lord Elibank was some days after talking of it
with the natural elation of a Scotchman, or of any man who is proud of
a stately fortress in his own country, Dr Johnson affected to despise
it, observing that, 'it would make a good PRISON in ENGLAND'.

Lest it should be supposed that I have suppressed one of his sallies
against my country, it may not be improper here to correct a mistaken
account that has been circulated, as to his conversation this day. It
has been said, that being desired to attend to the noble prospect from
the Castle Hill, he replied, 'Sir, the noblest prospect that a
Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to London.' This
lively sarcasm was thrown out at a tavern in London, in my presence,
many years before.

We had with us to day at dinner, at my house, the Lady Dowager
Colvill, and Lady Anne Erskine, sisters of the Earl of Kelly; the
Honourable Archibald Erskine, who has now succeeded to that title;
Lord Elibank; the Reverend Dr Blair; Mr Tytler, the acute vindicator
of Mary Queen of Scots, and some other friends.

Fingal being talked of, Dr Johnson, who used to boast that he had,
from the first, resisted both Ossian and the giants of Patagonia,
averred his positive disbelief of its authenticity. Lord Elibank said,
'I am sure it is not McPherson's. Mr Johnson, I keep company a great
deal with you; it is known I do. I may borrow from you better things
than I can say myself, and give them as my own; but, if I should,
every body will know whose they are.' The Doctor was not softened by
this compliment. He denied merit to Fingal, supposing it to be the
production of a man who has had the advantages that the present age
affords; and said, 'nothing is more easy than to write enough in that
style if once you begin'. [Footnote: I desire not to be understood as
agreeing ENTIRELY with the opinions of Dr Johnson, which I relate
without any remark. The many imitations, however, of Fingal, that have
been published, confirm this observation in a considerable degree.]
One gentleman in company expressing his opinion 'that Fingal was
certainly genuine, for that he had heard a great part of it repeated
in the original', Dr Johnson indignantly asked him, whether he
understood the original; to which an answer being given in the
negative, 'Why then,' said Dr Johnson, 'we see to what THIS testimony
comes: thus it is.'

I mentioned this as a remarkable proof how liable the mind of man is
to credulity, when not guarded by such strict examination as that
which Dr Johnson habitually practised. The talents and integrity of
the gentleman who made the remark, are unquestionable; yet, had not Dr
Johnson made him advert to the consideration, that he who does not
understand a language, cannot know that something which is recited to
him is in that language, he might have believed, and reported to this
hour, that he had 'heard a great part of Fingal repeated in the

For the satisfaction of those on the north of the Tweed, who may think
Dr Johnson's account of Caledonian credulity and inaccuracy too
strong, it is but fair to add, that he admitted the same kind of ready
belief might be found in his own country. 'He would undertake,' he
said, 'to write an epick poem on the story of Robin Hood, and half
England, to whom the names and places he should mention in it are
familiar, would believe and declare they had heard it from their
earliest years.'

One of his objections to the authenticity of Fingal, during the
conversation at Ulinish, is omitted in my Journal, but I perfectly
recollect it. 'Why is not the original deposited in some publick
library, instead of exhibiting attestations of its existence? Suppose
there were a question in a court of justice, whether a man be dead or
alive. You aver he is alive, and you bring fifty witnesses to swear
it: I answer, "Why do you not produce the man "' This is an argument
founded on one of the first principles of the LAW OF EVIDENCE, which
Gilbert would have held to be irrefragable.

I do not think it incumbent on me to give any precise decided opinion
upon this question, as to which I believe more than some, and less
than others. The subject appears to have now become very uninteresting
to the publick. That Fingal is not from beginning to end a translation
from the Gallick, but that some passages have been supplied by the
editor to connect the whole, I have heard admitted by very warm
advocates for its authenticity. If this be the case, why are not these
distinctly ascertained? Antiquaries, and admirers of the work, may
complain, that they are in a situation similar to that of the unhappy
gentleman whose wife informed him, on her death-bed, that one of their
reputed children was not his; and, when he eagerly begged her to
declare which of them it was, she answered, 'THAT you shall never
know', and expired, leaving him in irremediable doubt as to them all.

I beg leave to say something upon second sight, of which I have
related two instances, as they impressed my mind at the time. I own, I
returned from the Hebrides with a considerable degree of faith in the
many stories of that kind which I heard with a too easy acquiescence,
without any clear examination of the evidence: but, since that time,
my belief in those stories has been much weakened, by reflecting on
the careless inaccuracy of narrative in common matters, from which we
may certainly conclude that these may be the same in what is more
extraordinary. It is but just, however, to add, that the belief in
second sight is not peculiar to the Highlands and Isles.

Some years after our tour, a cause was tried in the Court of Session
where the principal fact to be ascertained was, whether a ship-master,
who used to frequent the Western Highlands and Isles, was drowned in
one particular year, or in the year after. A great number of witnesses
from the parts were examined on each side, and swore directly contrary
to each other upon this simple question. One of them, a very
respectable chieftain, who told me a story of second sight, which I
have not mentioned, but which I too implicitly believed, had in this
case, previous to this publick examination, not only said, but
attested under his hand, that he had seen the ship-master in the year
subsequent to that in which the court was finally satisfied he was
drowned. When interrogated with the strictness of judicial inquiry,
and under the awe of an oath, he recollected himself better, and
retracted what he had formerly asserted, apologizing for his
inaccuracy, by telling the judge 'A man will SAY what he will not
SWEAR.' By many he was much censured and it was maintained that every
gentleman would be as attentive to truth without the sanction of an
oath, as with it. Dr Johnson, though he himself was distinguished at
all times by a scrupulous adherence to truth, controverted this
proposition; and, as a proof that this was not, though it ought to be,
the case, urged the very different decisions of elections under Mr
Greville's Act, from those formerly made. 'Gentlemen will not
pronounce upon oath, what they would have said, and voted in the House
without the sanction.'

However difficult it may be for men who believe in preternatural
communications, in modern times, to falsify those who are of a
different opinion, they may easily refute the doctrine of their
opponents, who impute a belief in second sight to superstition. To
entertain a visionary notion that one sees a distant or future event,
may be called superstition; but the correspondence of the fact or
event with such an impression on the fancy, though certainly very
wonderful, IF PROVED, has no more connection with superstition, than
magnetism or electricity.

After dinner, various topicks were discussed; but I recollect only one
particular. Dr Johnson compared the different talents of Garrick and
Foote, as companions, and gave Garrick greatly the preference for
elegance, though he allowed Foote extraordinary powers of
entertainment. He said, 'Garrick is restrained by some principle; but
Foote has the advantage of an unlimited range. Garrick has some
delicacy of feeling; it is possible to put him out; you may get the
better of him; but Foote is the most incompressible fellow that I ever
knew: when you have driven him into a corner, and think you are sure
of him, he runs through between your legs, or jumps over your head,
and makes his escape.'

Dr Erskine and Mr Robert Walker, two very respectable ministers of
Edinburgh, supped with us, as did the Reverend Dr Webster. The
conversation turned on the Moravian missions, and on the Methodists.
Dr Johnson observed in general, that missionaries were too sanguine in
their accounts of their success among savages, and that much of what
they tell is not to be believed. He owned that the Methodists had done
good; had spread religious impressions among the vulgar part of
mankind: but, he said, they had great bitterness against other
Christians, and that he never could get a Methodist to explain in what
he excelled others; that it always ended in the indispensible
necessity of hearing one of their preachers.

Thursday, 11th November

Principal Robertson came to us as we sat at breakfast; he advanced to
Dr Johnson, repeating a line of Virgil, which I forget. I suppose,

  Post varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum,
  [Footnote: Through various hazards and events we move.]


  ... multum ille et terris jactatus, et alto.
  [Footnote: Long labours both by sea and land he bore. DRYDEN.]

Every body had accosted us with some studied compliment on our return.
Dr Johnson said, 'I am really ashamed of the congratulations which we
receive. We are addressed as if we had made a voyage to Nova Zembla,
and suffered five persecutions in Japan.' And he afterwards remarked,
that, 'to see a man come up with a formal air, and a Latin line, when
we had no fatigue and no danger, was provoking.' I told him, he was
not sensible of the danger, having lain under cover in the boat during
the storm: he was like the chicken, that hides its head under its
wing, and then thinks itself safe.

Lord Elibank came to us, as did Sir William Forbes. The rash attempt
in 1745 being mentioned, I observed, that it would make a fine piece
of history. Dr Johnson said it would. Lord Elibank doubted whether any
man of this age could give it impartially. JOHNSON. 'A man, by talking
with those of different sides, who were actors in it, and putting down
all that he hears, may in time collect the materials of a good
narrative. You are to consider, all history was at first oral. I
suppose Voltaire was fifty years in collecting his Louis XIV which he
did in the way that I am proposing.' ROBERTSON. 'He did so. He lived
much with all the great people who were concerned in that reign, and
heard them talk of every thing: and then either took Mr Boswell's way,
of writing down what he heard, or, which is as good, preserved it in
his memory; for he has a wonderful memory.' With the leave, however,
of this elegant historian, no man's memory can preserve facts or
sayings with such fidelity as may be done by writing them down when
they are recent. Dr Robertson said, 'it was now full time to make such
a collection as Dr Johnson suggested; for many of the people who were
then in arms, were dropping off; and both Whigs and Jacobites were now
come to talk with moderation.' Lord Elibank said to him, 'Mr
Robertson, the first thing that gave me a high opinion of you, was
your saying in the Select Society, [Footnote: A society for debate in
Edinburgh, consisting of the most eminent men.] while parties ran
high, soon after the year 1745, that you did not think worse of a
man's moral character for his having been in rebellion. This was
venturing to utter a liberal sentiment, while both sides had a
detestation of each other.'

Dr Johnson observed, that being in rebellion from a notion of
another's right, was not connected with depravity; and that we had
this proof of it, that all mankind applauded the pardoning of rebels;
which they would not do in the case of robbers and murderers. He said,
with a smile, that 'he wondered that the phrase of UNNATURAL rebellion
should be so much used, for that all rebellion was natural to man'.

As I kept no journal of any thing that passed after this morning, I
shall, from memory, group together this and the other days, till that
on which Dr Johnson departed for London. They were in all nine days;
on which he dined at Lady Colvill's, Lord Hailes's, Sir Adolphus
Oughton's, Sir Alexander Dick's, Principal Robertson's, Mr McLaurin's,
and thrice at Lord Elibank's seat in the country, where we also passed
two nights. He supped at the Honourable Alexander Gordon's, now one of
our judges, by the title of Lord Rockville; at Mr Nairne's, now also
one of our judges, by the title of Lord Dunsinan; at Dr Blair's, and
Mr Tytler's; and at my house thrice, one evening with a numerous
company, chiefly gentlemen of the law; another with Mr Menzies of
Culdares, and Lord Monboddo, who disengaged himself on purpose to meet
him; and the evening on which we returned from Lord Elibank's, he
supped with my wife and me by ourselves.

He breakfasted at Dr Webster's, at old Mr Drummond's, and at Dr
Blacklock's; and spent one forenoon at my uncle Dr Boswell's, who
shewed him his curious museum; and, as he was an elegant scholar, and
a physician bred in the school of Boerhaave, Dr Johnson was pleased
with his company.

On the mornings when he breakfasted at my house, he had, from ten
o'clock till one or two, a constant levee of various persons, of very
different characters and descriptions. I could not attend him, being
obliged to be in the Court of Session; but my wife was so good as to
devote the greater part of the morning to the endless task of pouring
out tea for my friend and his visitors.

Such was the disposition of his time at Edinburgh. He said one evening
to me, in a fit of langour, 'Sir, we have been harrassed by
invitations.' I acquiesced. 'Ay, sir,' he replied; 'but how much worse
would it have been, if we had been neglected?'

From what has been recorded in this Journal, it may well be supposed
that a variety of admirable conversation has been lost, by my neglect
to preserve it. I shall endeavour to recollect some of it, as well as
I can.

At Lady Colvill's, to whom I am proud to introduce any stranger of
eminence, that he may see what dignity and grace is to be found in
Scotland, an officer observed, that he had heard Lord Mansfield was
not a great English lawyer. JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, supposing Lord
Mansfield not to have the splendid talents which he possesses, he must
be a great English lawyer, from having been so long at the bar, and
having passed through so many of the great offices of the law. Sir,
you may as well maintain that a carrier, who has driven a packhorse
between Edinburgh and Berwick for thirty years, does not know the
road, as that Lord Mansfield does not know the law of England.'

At Mr Nairne's, he drew the character of Richardson, the author of
Clarissa, with a strong yet delicate pencil. I lament much that I have
not preserved it: I only remember that he expressed a high opinion of
his talents and virtues; but observed, that 'his perpetual study was
to ward off petty inconveniencies, and procure petty pleasures; that
his love of continual superiority was such, that he took care to be
always surrounded by women, who listened to him implicitly, and did
not venture to controvert his opinions; and that his desire of
distinction was so great, that he used to give large vails to the
Speaker Onslow's servants, that they might treat him with respect'.

On the same evening, he would not allow that the private life of a
judge, in England, was required to be so strictly decorous as I
supposed. 'Why then, sir,' said I, 'according to your account, an
English judge may just live like a gentleman.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, sir--if
he CAN.'

At Mr Tytler's, I happened to tell that one evening, a great many
years ago, when Dr Hugh Blair and I were sitting together in the pit
of Drury-lane play-house, in a wild freak of youthful extravagance, I
entertained the audience PRODIGIOUSLY, by imitating the lowing of a
cow. A little while after I had told this story, I differed from Dr
Johnson, I suppose too confidently, upon some point, which I now
forget. He did not spare me. 'Nay, sir,' said he, 'if you cannot talk
better as a man, I'd have you bellow like a cow.' [Footnote: As I have
been scrupulously exact in relating anecdotes concerning other
persons, I shall not withhold any part of this story, however
ludicrous.--I was so successful in this boyish frolick, that the
universal cry of the galleries was, 'Encore the cow! Encore the cow!'
In the pride of my heart, I attempted imitations of some other
animals, but with very inferior effect. My reverend friend, anxious
for my fame, with an air of the utmost gravity and earnestness,
addressed me thus: 'My dear sir, I would CONFINE myself to the COW!']

At Dr Webster's, he said, that he believed hardly any man died without
affectation. This remark appears to me to be well founded, and will
account for many of the celebrated death-bed sayings which are

On one of the evenings at my house, when he told that Lord Lovat
boasted to an English nobleman, that though he had not his wealth, he
had two thousand men whom he could at any time call into the field,
the Honourable Alexander Gordon observed, that those two thousand men
brought him to the block. 'True, sir,' said Dr Johnson: 'but you may
just as well argue, concerning a man who has fallen over a precipice
to which he has walked too near, "His two legs brought him to
that"--is he not the better for having two legs?'

At Dr Blair's I left him, in order to attend a consultation, during
which he and his amiable host were by themselves. I returned to
supper, at which were Principal Robertson, Mr Nairne, and some other
gentlemen. Dr Robertson and Dr Blair, I remember, talked well upon
subordination and government; and, as my friend and I were walking
home, he said to me, 'Sir, these two doctors are good men, and wise
men.' I begged of Dr Blair to recollect what he could of the long
conversation that passed between

Dr Johnson and him alone, this evening, and he obligingly wrote to me
as follows:

March 3, 1785.
  Dear Sir,

... As so many years have intervened, since I chanced to have that
conversation with Dr Johnson in my house, to which you refer, I have
forgotten most of what then passed, but remember that I was both
instructed and entertained by it. Among other subjects, the discourse
happening to turn on modern Latin poets, the Dr expressed a very
favourable opinion of Buchanan, and instantly repeated, from beginning
to end, an ode of his, intituled Calendae Maiae (the eleventh in his
Miscellaneorum Liber), beginning with these words, Salvete sacris
deliciis sacrae, with which I had formerly been unacquainted; but upon
perusing it, the praise which he bestowed upon it, as one of the
happiest of Buchanan's poetical compositions, appeared to me very
just. He also repeated to me a Latin ode he had composed in one of the
western islands, from which he had lately returned. We had much
discourse concerning his excursion to those islands, with which he
expressed himself as having been highly pleased; talked in a
favourable manner of the hospitality of the inhabitants; and
particularly spoke much of his happiness in having you for his
companion; and said, that the longer he knew you, he loved and
esteemed you the more. This conversation passed in the interval
between tea and supper, when we were by ourselves. You, and the rest
of the company who were with us at supper, have often taken notice
that he was uncommonly bland and gay that evening, and gave much
pleasure to all who were present. This is all that I can recollect
distinctly of that long conversation.

Yours sincerely,


At Lord Hailes's, we spent a most agreeable day; but again I must
lament that I was so indolent as to let almost all that passed
evaporate into oblivion. Dr Johnson observed there, that 'it is
wonderful how ignorant many officers of the army are, considering how
much leisure they have for study, and the acquisition of knowledge.' I
hope he was mistaken; for he maintained that many of them were
ignorant of things belonging immediately to their own profession; 'for
instance, many cannot tell how far a musket will carry a bullet;' in
proof of which, I suppose, he mentioned some particular person, for
Lord Hailes, from whom I solicited what he could recollect of that
day, writes to me as follows:

As to Dr Johnson's observation about the ignorance of officers, in the
length that a musket will carry, my brother, Colonel Dalrymple, was
present, and he thought that the doctor was either mistaken, by
putting the question wrong, or that he had conversed on the subject
with some person out of service.

Was it upon that occasion that he expressed no curiosity to see the
room at Dumfermline, where Charles I was born? 'I know that he was
born,' said he; 'no matter where.' Did he envy us the birth-place of
the king?]

Near the end of his Journey, Dr Johnson has given liberal praise to Mr
Braidwood's academy for the deaf and dumb. When he visited it, a
circumstance occurred which was truly characteristical of our great
lexicographer. 'Pray,' said he, 'can they pronounce any LONG words?'
Mr Braidwood informed him they could. Upon which Dr Johnson wrote one
of his sequipedalia verba, which was pronounced by the scholars, and
he was satisfied. My readers may perhaps wish to know what the word
was; but I cannot gratify their curiosity. Mr Braidwood told me, it
remained long in his school, but had been lost before I made my
inquiry. [Footnote: One of the best criticks of our age 'does not wish
to prevent the admirers of the incorrect and nerveless style which
generally prevailed for a century before Dr Johnson's energetick
writings were known, from enjoying the laugh that this story may
produce, in which he is very ready to join them'. He, however,
requests me to observe, that 'my friend very properly chose a LONG
word on this occasion, not, it is believed, from any predilection for
polysyllables (though he certainly had a due respect for them), but in
order to put Mr Braidwood's skill to the strictest test, and to try
the efficacy of his instruction by the most difficult exertion of the
organs of his pupils'.]

Dr Johnson one day visited the Court of Session. He thought the mode
of pleading there too vehement, and too much addressed to the passions
of the judges. 'This,' said he, 'is not the Areopagus.'

At old Mr Drummond's, Sir John Dalrymple quaintly said, the two
noblest animals in the world were, a Scotch highlander and an English
sailor. 'Why, sir,' said Dr Johnson, 'I shall say nothing as to the
Scotch highlander; but as to the English sailor, I cannot agree with
you.' Sir John said, he was generous in giving away his money.
JOHNSON. 'Sir, he throws away his money, without thought, and without
merit. I do not call a tree generous, that sheds its fruit at every
breeze.' Sir John having affected to complain of the attacks made upon
his Memoirs, Dr Johnson said, 'Nay, sir, do not complain. It is
advantageous to an authour, that his book should be attacked as well
as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck only at one end of
the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be
struck at both ends.' Often have I reflected on this since; and,
instead of being angry at many of those who have written against me,
have smiled to think that they were unintentionally subservient to my
fame, by using a battledoor to make me virum volitare per ora.

At Sir Alexander Dick's, from that absence of mind to which every man
is at times subject, I told, in a blundering manner, Lady
Eglingtoune's complimentary adoption of Dr Johnson as her son; for I
unfortunately stated that her ladyship adopted him as her son, in
consequence of her having been married the year AFTER he was born. Dr
Johnson instantly corrected me. 'Sir, don't you perceive that you are
defaming the countess? For, supposing me to be her son, and that she
was not married till the year after my birth, I must have been her
NATURAL son.' A young lady of quality, who was present, very
handsomely said, 'Might not the son have justified the faults?' My
friend was much flattered by this compliment, which he never forgot.
When in more than ordinary spirits, and talking of his journey in
Scotland, he has called to me, 'Boswell, what was it that the young
lady of quality said of me at Sir Alexander Dick's?' Nobody will doubt
that I was happy in repeating it.

My illustrious friend, being now desirous to be again in the great
theatre of life and animated exertion, took a place in the coach,
which was to set out for London on Monday the 22d of November. Sir
John Dalrymple pressed him to come on the Saturday before, to his
house at Cranston, which being twelve miles from Edinburgh, upon the
middle road to Newcastle (Dr Johnson had come to Edinburgh by Berwick,
and along the naked coast), it would make his journey easier, as the
coach would take him up at a more reasonable hour than that at which
it sets out. Sir John, I perceived, was ambitious of having such a
guest; but, as I was well assured, that at this very time he had
joined with some of his prejudiced countrymen in railing at Dr
Johnson, and had said, he wondered how any gentleman of Scotland could
keep company with him, I thought he did not deserve the honour: yet,
as it might be a convenience to Dr Johnson, I contrived that he should
accept the invitation, and engaged to conduct him. I resolved that, on
our way to Sir John's, we should make a little circuit by Roslin
Castle, and Hawthornden, and wished to set out soon after breakfast;
but young Mr Tytler came to shew Dr Johnson some essays which he had
written; and my great friend, who was exceedingly obliging when thus
consulted, was detained so long that it was, I believe, one o'clock
before we got into our post-chaise. I found that we should be too late
for dinner at Sir John Dalrymple's, to which we were engaged: but I
would by no means lose the pleasure of seeing my friend at
Hawthornden, of seeing SAM JOHNSON at the very spot where BEN JOHNSON
visited the learned and poetical Drummond.

We surveyed Roslin Castle, the romantick scene around it, and the
beautiful Gothick chapel, and dined and drank tea at the inn; after
which we proceeded to Hawthornden, and viewed the caves; and I all the
while had Rare Ben in my mind, and was pleased to think that this
place was now visited by another celebrated wit of England.

By this time 'the waning night was growing old', and we were yet
several miles from Sir John Dalrymple's. Dr Johnson did not seem much
troubled at our having treated the baronet with so little attention to
politeness; but when I talked of the grievous disappointment it must
have been to him that we did not come to the FEAST that he had
prepared for us (for he told us he had killed a seven-year-old sheep
on purpose), my friend got into a merry mood, and jocularly said, 'I
dare say, sir, he has been very sadly distressed. Nay, we do not know
but the consequence may have been fatal. Let me try to describe his
situation in his own historical style. I have as good a right to make
him think and talk, as he has to tell us how people thought and talked
a hundred years ago, of which he has no evidence. All history, so far
as it is not supported by contemporary evidence, is romance ... Stay
now... Let us consider!' He then (heartily laughing all the while)
proceeded in his imitation, I am sure to the following effect, though
now, at the distance of almost twelve years, I cannot pretend to
recollect all the precise words:

'Dinner being ready, he wondered that his guests were not yet come.
His wonder was soon succeeded by impatience. He walked about the room
in anxious agitation; sometimes he looked at his watch, sometimes he
looked out at the window with an eager gaze of expectation, and
revolved in his mind the various accidents of human life. His family
beheld him with mute concern. "Surely," said he, with a sigh, "they
will not fail me." The mind of man can bear a certain pressure; but
there is a point when it can bear no more. A rope was in his view, and
he died a Roman death.' [Footnote: 'Essex was at that time confined to
the same chamber of the Tower from which his father Lord Capel had
been led to death, and in which his wife's grandfather had inflicted a
voluntary death upon himself. When he saw his friend carried to what
he reckoned certain fate, their common enemies enjoying the spectacle,
and reflected that it was he who had forced Lord Howard upon the
confidence of Russel, he retired, and, by a ROMAN DEATH, put an end to
his misery.' Dalrymple's Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol. I
p. 36.]

It was very late before we reached the seat of Sir John Dalrymple,
who, certainly with some reason was not in very good humour. Our
conversation was not brilliant. We supped, and went to bed in ancient
rooms, which would have better suited the climate of Italy in summer,
than that of Scotland in the month of November.

I recollect no conversation of the next day, worth preserving, except
one saying of Dr Johnson, which will be a valuable text for many
decent old dowagers, and other good company, in various circles to
descant upon. He said, 'I am sorry I have not learnt to play at cards.
It is very useful in life: it generates kindness, and consolidates
society.' He certainly could not mean deep play.

My friend and I thought we should be more comfortable at the inn at
Blackflelds, two miles farther on. We therefore went thither in the
evening, and he was very entertaining; but I have preserved nothing
but the pleasing remembrance, and his verses on George the Second and
Cibber, and his epitaph on Parnell, which he was then so good as to
dictate to me. We breakfasted together next morning, and then the
coach came, and took him up. He had, as one of his companions in it,
as far as Newcastle, the worthy and ingenious Dr Hope, botanical
professor at Edinburgh. Both Dr Johnson and he used to speak of their
good fortune in thus accidentally meeting; for they had much
instructive conversation, which is always a most valuable enjoyment,
and, when found where it is not expected, is peculiarly relished.

I have now completed my account of our tour to the Hebrides. I have
brought Dr Johnson down to Scotland, and seen him into the coach which
in a few hours carried him back into England. He said to me often,
that the time he spent in this tour was the pleasantest part of his
life, and asked me if I would lose the recollection of it for five
hundred pounds. I answered I would not; and he applauded my setting
such a value on an accession of new images in my mind.

Had it not been for me, I am persuaded Dr Johnson never would have
undertaken such a journey; and I must be allowed to assume some merit
from having been the cause that our language has been enriched with
such a book as that which he published on his return; a book which I
never read but with the utmost admiration, as I had such opportunities
of knowing from what very meagre materials it was composed.


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with Samuel Johnson, LL.D., by James Boswell


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