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. 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 dressed 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 shows, and did not wish her well, though he wrote her Apology, might see its ill tendency, and yet insert it at her desire. (1) He was acting only ministerially.” I apprehend, however, that Hooke was bound to give his best advice. I speak as a lawyer. Though have had clients whose causes I could not, as a private man, approve; yet, if I undertook them, I

(1) [See antè, Vol. I. p. 178.1

would not do any thing that might be prejudicial to them, even at their desire, without warning them of their danger.

Saturday, Sept. 11.-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 Macleod, 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. 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

He has

(1) The late General Macleod, born in 1754. In 1776, he entered the army, raising, then, an independent company, and in 1780, the second battalion of the forty-second, which he led to India, where he served with great distinction. On his return home, he became M.P. for the county of Inverness, as his grandfather had been; but so far from extinguishing the debt on his estate, he increased it; for though he had sold a great tract of land in Harris, he left at his death, in 1801, the original debt of 50,000l. increased to 70,000l.-C.-[An autobiographical fragment by General Macleod, was communicated to Mr. Croker by that gentleman's son, the late M. P. for Sudbury, and will be found in the Appendix to this volume, No. IV.]


a kindness to than Macleod." Such was the honourable eulogium on this young chieftain, pronounced by an accurate observer, whose praise was never lightly bestowed.

There is neither justice of peace nor constable in Rasay. Sky has Mr. Macleod 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 sets 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 satisfied 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 energetic 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 mechanics, agriculture, and such subjects, rather than on science and wit. Last night Lady Rasay showed 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.

of our

They dance here every night. The queen 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. (1) There seemed to be no jealousy,

(1) She had been some time at Edinburgh, to which she again went, and was married [1777] to my worthy neighbour,

« VorigeDoorgaan »