Abbildungen der Seite

the ship he should next get should be called the Tour to

Hebrid. Bonnetta.

M‘Quarrie told us a strong instance of the secondsight. He had gone to Edinburgh, and taken a manservant 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! 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

1 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. (2. Com. 83.-Ed.)

» [This custom still continues in Ulva.-Walter Scott.]


Tour to 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 ? á bargain, which is a wager of skill between man and

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, which he stood upon 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

+ [Inchkenneth is a most beautiful little islet of the most verdant green, while


introduced by our friend Col to Sir Allan M'Lean, Tour to 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

all the neighbouring shore of Greban, as well as the large islands of Colinsay and Ulva, are as black as heath and moss can make them. But Ulva has a good anchorage, and Inchkenneth is surrounded by shoals. It is now uninhabited. The ruins of the huts, in which Dr. Johnson was received by Sir Allan M‘Lean, were still to be seen, and some tatters of the paper hangings were to be seen on the walls. Sir George Onesiphorus Paul was at Inchkenneth with the same party of which I was a member. He seemed to me to suspect many of the Highland tales which he heard, but he showed most incredulity on the subject of Johnson's having been entertained in the wretched huts of which we saw the ruins. He took me aside, and conjured me to tell him the truth of the matter. “ This Sir Allan,” said he, " was he a regular baronet, or was his title such a traditional one as you find in Ireland ?" I assured my excellent acquaintance that, “ for my own part, I would have paid more respect to a knight of Kerry, or knight of Glynn; yet Sir Allan M‘Lean was a regular baronet by patent;' and, having given him this information, I took the liberty of asking him, in return, whether he would not in conscience prefer the worst cell in the jail at Gloucester (which he had been very active in overlooking while the building was going on) to those exposed hovels where Johnson had been entertained by rank and beauty. He looked round the little islet, and allowed Sir Allan had some advantage in exercising ground ; but in other respects he thought the compulsory tenants of Gloucester had greatly the advantage. Such was his opinion of a place, concerning which Johnson has recorded that "it wanted little which palaces could afford.”—WALTER Scott. )


Tour to 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 world.

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 show 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 Physico-Theology.”

Every particular concerning this island having been so well described by Dr. Johnson, it would be superfluous in me to present the public 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 there 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.

[See ante, vol. ii. p. 74 and 304.--Ed.]

In the second place, he has very extensive reading ; Tour to 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 increase 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 showed so much of the spirit of a Highlander, that he won Sir Allan's heart : indeed, he has shown 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 gray 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

« ZurückWeiter »