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Ulinish.-Tanners.-Butchers.-Learning of the Scots.
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 surprising (1); 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 music 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
(1) We have already seen (Vol. I. p. 31.), that he had an early opportunity of learning the details of the art of tanning. — C.
of uncivilised 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 carcass in pieces tolerably." By degrees, he showed 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. (1) 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
(1) ["At Ulinish, our friend, to pass the time,
An ox,' says he, in country and in town,
The knock is really not so strong by half,
And sheep and lambs- the butchers cut their throats.
"Those fellows only want to keep them quiet,
"Not choosing that the brutes should breed a riot.'”—-Bozzy, &c.]
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 horror 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 may be learnt in a month."
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. (1) This every man who has a name must observe. A man who is not publicly 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 (2), who wanted to prepare himself to speak on a question that was to come on
(1) 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.
(2) I suspect that Johnson's friend, Mr. William Fitzherbert, (see antè, Vol. I. p. 85, Vol. II. p. 130, and post, 15th Sept. 1777) was here meant. No speech of his is preserved -a circumstance very natural, if the anecdote alludes to an attempt of his. . C.
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 (1), 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 (2) 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, 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
(1) Mrs. Cholmondeley was a younger sister of the celebrated Margaret Woffington. She married the Hon. and Rev. George Cholmondeley.-C.
(2) No doubt about one of his political pamphlets; probably that respecting the Falkland Islands.
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 conveniencies and embellishments which are the fruit of industry, till they came in contact with a civilised 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 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 glean 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 of 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." (') Macleod mentioned his schemes for carrying on fisheries with
(1) See more on this subject, post, 18th March, 1776. — C. VOL. IV.