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but thought there was nothing in it. (1) He said to-day, while reading my Journal, "This will be a great treasure to us some years hence."
Talking of a very penurious gentleman of ou. acquaintance, he observed, that he exceeded L'Avare in the play. I concurred with him, and remarked that he would do well, if introduced in one of Foote's farces; that the best way to get it done would be to bring Foote to be entertained at his house for a week, and then it would be facit indignatio. JOHNSON. "Sir, I wish he had him. I, who have eaten his bread, will not give him to him; but I should be glad he came honestly by him."
He said, he was angry at Thrale, for sitting at General Oglethorpe's without speaking. He censured a man for degrading himself to a non-entity. I observed, that Goldsmith was on the other extreme; for he spoke at ventures. JOHNSON. "Yes, Sir; Goldsmith, rather than not speak, will talk of what he knows himself to be ignorant, which can only end in exposing him." "I wonder," said I, "if he feels that he exposes himself. If he was with two tailors "Or with two founders," said Dr. Johnson, interrupting me," he would fall a talking on the method of making cannon, though both of them would soon see that he did not know what metal a cannon is made of." We were very social
(1) Though not, perhaps, so popular as the "Man Feeling' "of the same amiable author, the "Man of the World" is a very pathetic tale.- WALTER SCOTT.-[The Man of the World was published in 1773, without the name of the author.]
and merry in his room this forenoon. In the evening the company danced as usual. We performed, with much activity, a dance which, I suppose, the emigration from Sky has occasioned. They call it America. Each of the couples, after the common involutions and evolutions, successively whirls round in a circle, till all are in motion; and the dance seems intended to show how emigration catches, till a whole neighbourhood is set afloat. Mrs. M'Kinnon told me, that last year, when a ship sailed from Portree for America, the people on shore were almost distracted when they saw their relations go off; they lay down on the ground, tumbled, and tore the grass with their teeth. This year there was not a tear shed. The people on the shore seemed to think that they would soon follow. This indifference is a mortal sign for the country.
We danced to-night to the music of the bagpipe which made us beat the ground with prodigious force. I thought it better to endeavour to conciliate the kindness of the people of Sky, by joining heartily in their amusements, than to play the abstract scholar. I looked on this tour to the Hebrides as a copartnership between Dr. Johnson and me. Each was to do all he could to promote its success; and I have some reason to flatter myself, that my gayer exertions were of service to us. Dr. Johnson's immense fund of knowledge and wit was a wonderful source of admiration and delight to them; but they had it only at times; and they required to have the intervals agreeably filled up, and even little elucidations of his learned text. I
was also fortunate enough frequently to draw hi forth to talk, when he would otherwise have been silent. The fountain was at times locked up, till I opened the spring. It was curious to hear the Hebridians, when any dispute happened while he was out of the room, saying, "Stay till Dr. Johnson comes; say that to him!”
Yesterday, Dr. Johnson said, "I cannot but laugh, to think of myself roving among the Hebrides at sixty. I wonder where I shall rove at fourscore!" This evening he disputed the truth of what is said as to the people of St. Kilda catching cold whenever strangers come. "How can there," said he, "be a physical effect without a physical cause?" He added, laughing, "the arrival of a ship full of strangers would kill them; for, if one stranger gives them one cold, two strangers must give them two colds; and so in proportion." I wondered to hear him ridicule this, as he had praised M'Aulay for putting it in his book; saying, that it was manly in him to tell a fact, however strange, if he himself believed it. He said, the evidence was not adequate to the improbability of the thing; that if a physician, rather disposed to be incredulous, should go to St. Kilda, and report the fact, then he would begin to look about him. They said, it was annually proved by Macleod's steward, on whose arrival all the inhabitants caught cold. He jocularly remarked, "The steward always comes to demand something from them; and so they fall a coughing. (1) I sup
(1) See antè, Vol. III. p. 42., an, at least, ingenious solution of this enigma.-C.
pose the people in Sky all take a cold when (naming a certain person) comes." They said, he came only in summer. JOHNSON. "That is out of tenderness to you. Bad weather and he, at the same time, would be too much.'
IN justice to the ingenious Dr. Blacklock, I publish the following Letter from him, relative to a passage in p. 41.
"TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. "Edinburgh, Nov. 12, 1785. "DEAR SIR, Having lately had the pleasure of reading your account of the journey which you took with Dr. Samuel Johnson to the Western Isles, I take the liberty of transmitting my ideas of the conversation which happened between the Doctor and myself concerning lexicography and poetry, which, as it is a little different from the delineation exhibited in the former edition of your Journal, cannot, I hope, be unacceptable; particularly since I have been informed that a second edition of that work is now in contemplation, if not in execution: and I am still more strongly tempted to encourage that hope, from considering that, if every one concerned in the conversations related were to send you what they can recollect of these colloquial entertainments, many curious and interesting particulars might be recovered, which the most assiduous attention could not observe, nor the most tenacious memory retain. A little reflection, Sir, will convince you, that there is not an axiom in Euclid more intuitive nor more evident than the Doctor's assertion that poetry was of much easier execution than lexicography. Any mind, therefore, endowed with common sense, must have been extremely absent from itself, if it discovered the least astonishment from hearing that a poem might be