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Monday, Oct. 18. - We agreed to pass the day with Sir Allan, and he engaged to have every thing in order for our voyage to-morrow.
Being now soon to be separated from our amiable friend young Col, his merits were all remembered. At Ulva he had appeared in a new character, having given us a good prescription for a cold. On my mentioning him with warmth, Dr Johnson said, “ Col does every thing for us : we will erect a statue to Col.” “ Yes,” said I, “and we will have him with his various attributes and characters, like Mercury, or any other of the heathen gods. We will have him as a pilot; we will have him as a fisherman, as a hunter, as a husbandman, as a physician.” I this morning took a spade, and dug a little grave in the floor of a ruined chapel (), near Sir Allan M‘Lean's house, in which I buried some human bones I found there. Dr. Johnson praised me for what I had done, though he owned he could not have done it. He showed in the chapel at Rasay his horror at dead men's bones. He showed it again at Col's house. In the charter-room there was a remarkably large shin-bone, which was said to have been a bone of John Garve, one of the lairds. Dr. Johnson would not look at it, but
was received by Sir Allan M.Lean, were still to be seen, and some tatters of the paper hangings were to be seen on the walls. Sir George Onesiphorus Paul was at Inchkenneth with the same party of which I was a member. He seemed to me to suspect many of the Highland tales which he heard, but he showed most incredulity on the subject of Johnson's having been entertained in the wretched huts of which we saw the ruins. He took me aside, and conjured me to tell him the truth of the matter. “ This Sir Allan,” said he, “was he a regular baronet, or was his title such a traditional one as you find in Ireland ?” I assured my excellent acquaintance that, “ for my own part, I would have paid more respect to a knight of Kerry, or knight of Glynn; yet Sir Allan M Lean was a regular baronet by patent;” and, having given him this information, I took the liberty of asking him, in return, whether he would not in conscience prefer the worst cell in the jail at Gloucester (which he had been very active in overlooking while the building was going on) to those exposed hovels where Johnson had been entertained by rank and beauty. He looked round the little islet, and allowed Sir Ailan had some advantage in exercising ground; but in other respects he thought the compulsory tenants of Gloucester had greatly the advantage. Such was his opinion of a place, concerning which Johnson has recorded that “it wanted little which palaces could afford." WALTER SCOTT.
At breakfast, I asked, “ What is the reason that we are angry at a trader's having opulence ? ” Johnson. “Why, Sir, the reason is (though I don't undertake to prove that there is a reason) we see no qualities in trade that should entitle a man to superiority. We are not angry at a soldier's getting riches, because we see that he possesses qualities which we have not. If a man returns from a battle, having lost one hand, and with the other full of gold, we feel that he deserves the gold; but we cannot think that a fellow, by sitting all day at a desk, is entitled to get above us.” BOSWELL. “ But, Sir, may we not suppose a merchant to be a man of an enlarged mind, such as Addison in the Spectator describes Sir Andrew Freeport to have been ?” JOHNSON. Why, Sir, we may suppose any fic
(1) Mr. Boswell does not tell us that he had visited this chapel the evening before; but Johnson says to Mrs. Thrale, “ Boswell, who is very pious, went into it at night to perform his devotions, but came back in haste, for fear of spectres." Letters, vol. i. p. 173. — C.
titious character. We may suppose a philosophical day-labourer, who is happy in reflecting that, by his labour, he contributes to the fertility of the earth, and to the support of his fellow-creatures; but we find no such philosophical day-labourer. A merchant may, perhaps, be a man of an enlarged mind; but there is nothing in trade connected with an enlarged mind.”
I mentioned that I had heard Dr. Solander say he was a Swedish Laplander. Johnson. “ Sir, I don't believe he is a Laplander. The Laplanders are not much above four feet high. He is as tall as you; and he has not the copper colour of a Laplander.” BOSWELL. “ But what motive could he have to make himself a Laplander ?” Johnson.
Why, Sir, he must either mean the word Laplander in a very extensive sense, or may mean a voluntary degradation of himself. For all my being the great man that you see me now, I was originally a barbarian ;' as if Burke should say, ' I came over a wild Irishman'
which he might say in his present state of exaltation.” (1)
Having expressed a desire to have an island like Inchkenneth, Dr. Johnson set himself to think what would be necessary for a man in such a situation.
“ Sir, I should build me a fortification, if I came to live here; for, if you have it not, what should hinder a parcel of ruffians to land in the night, and
(1) Solander was born in Nordland, in Sweden, in 1796. In 1768 he accompanied Banks in his voyage with Cook. The Biog. Dict. says, that "he was a short fair man, rather fat, with small eyes, and good-humoured countenance.' -C.
carry off every thing you have in the house, which, in a remote country, would be more valuable than cows and sheep? add to all this the danger of having your throat cut.” BOSWELL. “I would have a large dog." Johnson. “ So you may, Sir; but a large dog is of no use but to alarm.” He, however, I apprehend, thinks too lightly of the power of that animal. I have heard him say, that he is afraid of no dog. “ He would take him up by the hinder legs, which would render him quite helpless ; and then knock his head against a stone, and beat out his brains.” Topham Beauclerk told me, that at his house in the country, two large ferocious dogs were fighting. Dr. Johnson looked steadily at them for a little while ; and then, as one would separate two little boys, who are foolishly hurting each other, he ran up to them, and cuffed their heads till he drove them asunder. But few men have his intrepidity, Herculean strength, or presence of mind. Most thieves or robbers would be afraid to encounter a mastiff.
I observed, that when young Col talked of the knds belonging to his family, he always said “ my ands.” For this he had a plausible pretence; for he told me, there has been a custom in this family, that the Laird resigns the estate to the eldest son when he comes of age, reserving to himself only a certain life-rent. He said, it was a voluntary custom; but I think I found an instance in the charterroom, that there was such an obligation in a contract of marriage. If the custom was voluntary, it was only curious; but if founded on obligation, it
might be dangerous ; for I have been told, that m Otaheite, whenever a child is born (a son, I think), the father loses his right to the estate and honours, and that this unnatural, or rather absurd custom, occasions the murder of
children. Young Col told us he could run down a greyhound; “ for,” said he, “ the dog runs himself out of breath, by going too quick, and then I get up with him."( ) I accounted for his advantage over the dog, by remarking that Col had the faculty of reason, and knew how to moderate his pace, which the dog had not sense enough to do. Dr. Johnson said, “ He is a noble animal. He is as complete an islander as the mind can figure. He is a farmer, a sailor, a hunter, a fisher: he will run you down a dog : if any man has a tail (2), it is Col. He is hospitable; and he has an intrepidity of talk, whether he understands the subject or not. I regret that he is not more intellectual.”
Dr. Johnson observed, that there was nothing of which he would not undertake to persuade a Frenchman in a foreign country. “I'll carry a Frenchman to St. Paul's Churchyard, and I'll tell him, 'by our jaw you may walk half round the church, but, if you walk round the whole, you will be punished capitally ;' and he will believe me at once. Now, no Englishman would readily swallow such a thing:
(1) This is not spoken of hare-coursing, where the game
is taken or lost before the dog gets out of wind; but in chasing deer with the great Highland greyhound, Col's exploit is feasible enough.— Walter Scott.
(2) In allusion to Monboddo's theory, that a perfect man would have a tail. - C.