Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

SO.

a preparation of the juice of the pine, I thought so no longer. It is not disagreeable to have the gum that oozes from a plum-tree upon your fingers, because it is vegetable ; but if you have any candle-grease, any tallow upon your fingers, you are uneasy till you rub it off. I have often thought that, if I kept a seraglio, the ladies should all wear linen gowns, or cotton-I mean stuffs made of vegetable substances. I would have no silk ; you cannot tell when it is clean : it will be very nasty before it is perceived to be

Linen detects it own dirtiness." To hear the grave Dr. Samuel Johnson, " that majestic teacher of moral and religious wisdom,” while sitting solemn in an arm-chair in the isle of Sky, talk ex cathedrâ, of his keeping a seraglio, and acknowledge that the supposition had often been in his thoughts, struck me so forcibly with ludicrous contrast, that I could not but laugh immoderately. He was too proud to submit, even for a moment, to be the object of ridicule, and instantly retaliated with such keen sarcastic wit, and with such a variety of degrading images, of every one of which I was the object, that, though I can bear such attacks as well as most men, I yet found myself so much the sport of all the company, that I would gladly expunge from my mind every trace of this severe retort.

Talking of our friend Langton's house in Lincolnshire, he said, " the old house of the family was burnt. A temporary building was erected in its room ; and to this day they have been always adding as the family increased. It is like a shirt made for a man when he was a child, and enlarged always as he grows older."

We talked to night of Luther's allowing the Landgrave of Hesse two wives, and that it was with the consent of the wife to whom he was first married. Johnson. “There was no harm in this, so far as she was concerned, because violent non fit injuria. But it was an offence against the general order of society, and against the law of the gospel, by which one man and one woman are to be united. No man can have two wives, but by preventing somebody else from having one."

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Danvegarustle-Cunning—"Temple of Anaitis "_Family Portraits—Bacon's Henry vil

-Peana at the Tourist-Johnson's Birth-day-Languages the Pedigree of Nations-1'18 Laird of Muck-Choice of a Wife Johnson on Boswell's Journal-History of Lady Grauge -Poetry of Savages-French Literati-Prize Fighting-French and English Soldiers-Duel. ling-Change of Manners-Landed and trading Interests—Loval's Pyramid—Ulinish-Lord Orrery, &c. &c.

Friday, Sept. 17.—AFTER dinner yesterday, we had a conversation on canning. Macleod said that he was not afraid of cunning people; but would let them play their tricks about him like monkeys. "But," said I, "they'll scratch:” and Mr. McQueen added, "they'll invent new tricks, as soon as you find out what they do.” JohnSON. Cunning has effect from the credulity of others, rather than from the abilities of those who are cunning. It requires no extraordinary talents to lie and deceive." This led us to consider whether it did not require great abilities to be very wicked. JOHNson. “It requires great abilities to have the power of being very wicked; but not to be very wicked. A man who has the power, which great abilities procure him, may use it well or ill; and it requires more abilities to use it well, than to use it ill. Wickedness is always easier than virtue ; for it takes the short cut to every. thing. It is much easier to steal a hundred pounds, than to get it by labour, or any other way. Consider only what act of wickedness requires great abilities to commit it, when once the person who is to do it has the power ; for there is the distinction. It requires great abilities to conquer an rmy, but none to massacre it after it is conquered

The weather this day was rather better than any that we had since we came to Dunvegan. Mr. M'Queen had often mentioned a curious piece of antiquity near this, which he called a temple of the goddess Anaitis Having often talked of going to see it, he and I

set uut after breakfast, attended by his servant, a fellow quite like a savage. I must observe here, that in Sky there seems to be much idleness ; for men and boys follow you, as colts follow passengers upon a road. The usual figure of a Sky-boy is a lown with bare legs and feet, a dirty kilt, ragged coat and waistcoat, a bare head, and a stick in his hand, which, I suppose, is partly to help the lazy rogue to walk, partly to serve as a kind of a defensive weapon. We walked what is called two miles, but is probably four, from the castle, till we came to the sacred place. The country around is a black dreary moor on all sides, except to the sea-coast, towards which there is a view through a valley; and the farm of Bay shows some good land. The place itself is green ground, being well drained, by means of a deep glen on each side, in both of which there runs a rivulet with a good quantity of water, forming several cascades, which make a considerable appearance and sound. The first thing we came to was an earthen mound, or dyke, extending from the one precipice to the other. A little farther on was a strong stone wall, not high, but very thick, extending in the same manner. On the outside of it were the ruins of two houses, one on each side of the entry or gate to it. The wall is built all along of uncemented stones, but of so large a size as to make a very firm and durable rampart. It has been built all about the consecrated ground, except where the precipice is steep enough to form an enclosure of itself. The sacred spot contains more than two acres. There are within it the ruins of many houses, none of them largea cairn—and many graves marked by clusters of stones. Mr. M'Queen insisted that the ruin of a small building, stairding east and west, was actnally the temple of the goddess Anaitis, where ber statue was kept, and from whence processions were made to wash it in one of the brooks. There is, it must be owned, a hollow road visible for a good way from the entrance ; but Mr. M'Queen, with the keen eye of an antiquary, traced it much farther than I could perceive it. There is not above a foot and a half in height of the walls now remaining ; and the whole extent of the building was never, I imagine, greater than an ordinary Highland house. Mr. M'Queen has collected a great deal of learning on the subject of the temple of Anaitis ; and I had endeavoured, in my Jourual

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

to state such particulars as might give some idea of it, and of the surrounding scenery ; but from the great difficulty of describing visible objects, I found my account so unsatisfactory, that my readers would probably have exclaimed,

" And write about it, goddess, and about it;" and therefore I have omitted it.

When we got home, and were again at table with Dr. Johnson, we first talked of portraits. He agreed in thinking them valuable in families. I wished to know which he preferred, fine portraits, or those of which the merit was resemblance. JOHNSON. “Sir, their chief excellence is being like.” BoswELL. “ Are you of that opiniou as to the portraits of ancestors, whom one has never seen ?” Johnson. “It then becomes of more consequence that they should be like ; and I would have them in the dress of the times, which makes a piece of History. One should like to see how Rorie Moore looked. Truth, Sir, is of the greatest value in these things.” Mr. M'Queen observed, that if you think it of no consequence whether portraits are like, if they are but well painted, you may be indifferent, whether a piece of history is true or not, if well told.

Dr. Johnson said at breakfast to-day, “that it was but of late that historians bestowed pains and attention in consulting records, to attain to accuracy. Bacon, in writing his History of Henry VII., does not seem to have consulted any, but to have just taken what he found in other histories, and blended it with what he learned by tradition.” He agreed with me that there should be a chronicle kept in every considerable family, to preserve the characters and transactions of successive generations.

After dinner I started the subject of the temple of Anaitis. Mr. M'Queen bad laid stress on the name given to the place by the country people,- Ainnit; and added, "I knew not what to make of this piece of antiquity, till I met with the Anaitidis delubrum in Lydia, mentioned by Pausanias and the elder Pliny." Dr. Johnson, with his usnal acuteness, examined Mr. M‘Queen as to the meaning of the word Ainnit, in Erse; and it proved to be a water-place, or a place near water, "which," said Mr. M‘Queen, agrees with all the de scriptions of she temples of that goddess, which were situated near rivers, that there might be water to wash the statue." JOHNSON “ Nay, Sir, the argument from the name is gone. The name is exhausted by what we see. We have no occasion to go to a distance for what we can pick up under our feet. Had it been an accidental name, the similarity between it and Anaitis might have had something in it; but it turns out to be a mere physiological name." Macleod said, Mr. M‘Queen's knowledge of etymology had destroyed his conjecture. JOHNSON. “Yes, Sir ; Mr. M'Queen is like the eagle mentioned by Waller, who was shot with an arrow feathered from his own wing." Mr. M'Queen would not, however, give up his conjecture. Johnson. “You have one possibility for you, and all possibilities against you. It is possible it may be the temple of Anaitis; but it is also possible that it may be a fortification; or it may be a place of Christian worship, as the first Christians often chose remote and wild places, to make an impression on the mind; or, if it was a heathen temple, it may have been built near a river, for the purpose of lustration; and there is such a multitude of divinities, to whom it may have been dedicated, that the chance of its being a temple of Anaitis is hardly anything. It is like throwing a grain of sand apon the sea-shore to-day, and thinking you may find it to morrow. No, Sir, this temple, like many an ill-built edifice, tumbles down before it is roofed in.” In his triumph over the reverend antiquarian, he indulged himself in a conceit ; for, some vestige of the altar of the goddess being much insisted on in support of the hypothesis, he said, “Mr. MʻQueen is fighting pro aris et focis."

It was wonderful how well time passed in a remote castle, and in dreary weather. After supper, we talked of Pennant. It was objected that he was superficial. Dr. Johnson defended him warmly. He said, “Pennant has greater variety of inquiry than almost any man, and has told us more than perhaps one in ten thousand could have done, in the time that he took. He has not said what he was to tell ; so you cannot find fault with him for what he has not told If a man comes to look for fishes, you cannot blame him if he does not attend to fowls.” “But,” said Colonel Macleod," he mentions the unreasonable rise of rents in the Highlands, and says, 'the gentlemen are for emptying the bag without filling it,' for that is the phrase he uses. Why does he not tell how to fill it ?” JOHN

« ПредишнаНапред »