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watch them. A maid showed 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 (1) 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.” (2)
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."
(2) 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.
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." (1) 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. (2)
(1) This phrase, now so common, excited some surprise and criticism when used by General Wolfe, in his despatch from before Quebec. See London Gazette Extraordinary, 16th October, 1759.-C.
(2) Johnson thus describes this scene to Mrs. Thrale: "I ordered hay to be laid thick upon the bed, and slept upon it in my great coat. Boswell laid sheets upon his bed, and reposed in linen, like a gentleman."-Letters vol. i. p. 137.-C.
Isle of Sky. - Armidale.
Sir Alexander - Parish Church of Slate. Ode on Sky.-Corrichatachin.-Highland Hospitality.-Ode to Mrs. Thrale.-Country Life.-Macpherson's Dissertations.Second Sight.-Sail to Rasay.-Fingal -Homer.-Rasay.—Infidelity.— Bentley.—Mallet, -Hooke.-Duchess of Marlborough.-Heritable Ju risdictions.- ·Insular Life.-Laird of Macleod.
Thursday, Sept. 2.-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 Macdonald came down to receive us. He and his lady (formerly Miss Boswell(), or 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 Scot
(1) The Yorkshire branch of the family have generally spelt the name Bosville. Their estates are now possessed by Lord Macdonald.
land 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. (1)
Sir Alexander Macdonald having been an Eton scholar (2), and being a gentleman of talents, Dr.
(1) Instead of finding the head of the Macdonalds surrounded with his clan, and a festive entertainment, we had a small company, and cannot boast of our cheer. The particulars are minuted in my "Journal," but I shall not trouble the public with them. I shall mention but one characteristic circumstance. My shrewd and hearty friend, Sir Thomas (Wentworth) Blacket, Lady Macdonald's uncle, who had preceded us in a visit to this chief, upon being asked by him, if the punch-bowl, then upon the table, was not a very handsome one, replied, "Yes, if it were full."-Boswell's First Edit.
Johnson, in a letter to Mrs. Thrale, says, "We had a passage of about twelve miles to the point where Sir Alexander Macdonald resided, having come from his seat, in the middle of the island, to a small house on the shore, as we believe, that he might with less reproach entertain us meanly. If he aspired to meanness, his retrograde ambition was completely gratified; but he did not succeed equally in escaping reproach. He had no cook, nor I suppose much provision; nor had the lady the common decencies of her tea-table: we picked up our sugar with our fingers. Boswell was very angry, and reproached him with his improper parsimony.' Letters, vol. i. p. 137. And again: "I have done thinking of Sir Alexander Macdonald, whom we now call Sir Sawney; he has disgusted all mankind by injudicious parsimony, and given occasion to so many stories, that Boswell has some thoughts of collecting them, and making a novel of his life.".
These passages leave no doubt as to the person meant in the various allusions to the mean and parsimonious landlord and chieftain, which the reader will find in the subsequent parts of the Tour.-C.
(2) See his Latin verses addressed to Dr. Johnson, in the Appendix, No. II.-B.-Indifferent, and, indeed, unintelligible, as these verses are, they probably suggested to Dr. Johnson's mind the writing those Latin verses in Skye and Inch-Kenneth, which we shall see presently.-C.