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While the examination was going on, the present Talisker, who was there as one of Macleod's militia (1) 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 Macdonald (2) was very angry at Talisker for joking on such a serious occasion, as Kingsburgh was really in danger of his life. Mrs. McKinnon 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.(3) 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,
(1) Macleod and Macdonald, after some hesitation, which the Jacobites called treachery, took part with the Hanoverian monarch, and arrayed their clans on that side. Talisker, who commanded a body of Macleod's people, seems to have been the person who actually arrested Flora Macdonald. (Ascanius.) — But he probably did so, to prevent her falling intò ruder hands. -C.
(2) Lady Margaret was the daughter of the ninth Earl of Eglintoun, and died in March, 1799.-C.
(3) Johnson made a compliment on this subject to Lady M. Macdonald, when he afterwards met her, at dinner, in London. See 8th April, 1779.-C.
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, Sept. 27. Mr. Donald Macleod, 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, besides 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 gardenspade, 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 fieldpiece 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 show their attention to him, and vied with each other in crying out, with a strong Celtic pronunciation, "Toctor Shonson, Toctor Shonson, your health!”
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 comic, to see the grave philosopher- the Ramblertoying 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, Sept. 28.-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