The following is from The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides by James Boswell available on www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/6018
Ulva to Lochbuie via Inchkenneth and
Sunday, 17th October (Ulva to Inchkenneth)
Being informed that there was nothing worthy of observationin Ulva, we took boat, and proceeded to Inchkenneth, where we were introduced byour friend Col to Sir Allan M’Lean, the chief of his clan, and totwo youngladies, his daughters. Inchkenneth is a pretty little island, a mile long, andabout half a mile broad, all good land.
As we walked up from the shore, Dr Johnson’s heart wascheered by the sight of a road marked with cart-wheels, as on the main land; athing which we had not seen for a long time. It gave us a pleasure similar tothat which a traveller feels, when, whilst wandering on what he fears is adesert island, he perceives the print of human feet.
Military men acquire excellent habits of having allconveniencies about them. Sir Allan M’Lean, who had been long in the army, andhad now a lease of the island, had formed a commodious habitation, though itconsisted but of a few small buildings, only one story high. He had, in hislittle apartments, more things than I could enumerate in a page or two.
Among other agreeable circumstances, it was not the least,to find here a parcel of the Caledonian Mercury, published since we leftEdinburgh; which I read with that pleasure which every man feels who has beenfor some time secluded from the animated scenes of the busy world.
Dr Johnson found books here. He bade me buy BishopGastrell’s Christian Institutes, which was lying in the room. He said, ‘I do notlike to read any thing on a Sunday, but what is theological; not that I wouldscrupulously refuse to look at any thing which a friend should shew me in anewspaper; but in general, I would read only what is theological. I read justnow some of Drummond’s Travels, before I perceived what books were here. I thentook up Derham’s Physico-Theology.
Every particular concerning this island having been so welldescribed by Dr Johnson, it would be superfluous in me to present the publickwith the observations that I made upon it, in my Journal.
I was quite easy with Sir Allan almost instantaneously. Heknew the great intimacy that had been between my father and his predecessor, SirHector, and was himself of a very frank disposition. After dinner, Sir Allansaid he had got Dr Campbell about a hundred subscribers to his BritanniaElucidata (a work since published under the title of A Political Survey of GreatBritain), of whom he believed twenty were dead, the publication having been solong delayed. JOHNSON. ‘Sir, I imagine the delay of publication is owing tothis; that, after publication, there will be no more subscribers, and few willsend the additional guinea to get their books: in which they will be wrong; forthere will be a great deal of instruction in the work. I think highly ofCampbell. In the first place, he has very good parts. In the second place, hehas very extensive reading; not, perhaps, what is properly called learning, buthistory, politicks, and, in short, that popular knowledge which makes a man veryuseful. In the third place, he has learned much by what is called the vox viva.He talks with a great many people.’
Speaking of this gentleman, at Rasay, he told us, that heone day called on him, and they talked of Tull’s Husbandry. Dr Campbell saidsomething. Dr Johnson began to dispute it. ‘Come,’ said Dr Campbell, ‘we do notwant to get the better of one another: we want to encrease each other’s ideas.’Dr Johnson took it in good part, and the conversation then went on coolly andinstructively. His candour in relating this anecdote does him much credit, andhis conduct on that occasion proves how easily he could be persuaded to talkfrom a better motive than ‘for victory’.
Dr Johnson here shewed so much of the spirit of ahighlander, that he won Sir Allan’s heart: indeed, he has shewn it during thewhole of our tour. One night, in Col, he strutted about the room with abroad-sword and target, and made a formidable appearance; and, another night, Itook the liberty to put a large blue bonnet on his head. His age, his size, andhis bushy grey wig, with this covering on it, presented the image of a venerablesenachi: and, however unfavourable to the Lowland Scots, he seemed much pleasedto assume the appearance of an ancient Caledonian. We only regretted that hecould not be prevailed with to partake of the social glass. One of his argumentsagainst drinking, appears to me not convincing. He urged, that, ‘in proportionas drinking makes a man different from what he is before he has drunk, it isbad; because it has so far affected his reason’. But may it not be answered,that a man may be altered by it FOR THE BETTER; that his spirits may beexhilarated, without his reason being affected? On the general subject ofdrinking, however, I do not mean positively to take the other side. I am dubius,non improbus.
In the evening, Sir Allan informed us that it was thecustom of his house to have prayers every Sunday; and Miss M’Lean read theevening service, in which we all joined. I then read Ogden’s second and ninthsermons on prayer, which, with their other distinguished excellence, have themerit of being short. Dr Johnson said, that it was the most agreeable Sunday hehad ever passed; and it made such an impression on his mind, that he afterwardswrote the following Latin verses upon Inchkenneth:
Monday, 18th October (Inchkenneth)
We agreed to pass this day with Sir Allan, and he engagedto have every thing in order for our voyage to-morrow.
Being now soon to be separated from our amiable friendyoung Col, his merits were all remembered. At Ulva he had appeared in a newcharacter, having given us a good prescription for a cold. On my mentioning himwith warmth, Dr Johnson said, ‘Col does every thing for us: we will erect astatue to Col.’ ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘and we will have him with his various attributesand characters, like Mercury, or any other of the heathen gods. We will have himas a pilot; we will have him as a fisherman, as a hunter, as a husbandman, as aphysician.’
I this morning took a spade, and dug a little grave in thefloor of a ruined chapel, near Sir Allan M’Lean’s house, in which I buried somehuman bones I found there. Dr Johnson praised me for what I had done, though heowned, he could not have done it. He shewed in the chapel at Rasay his horrourat dead men’s bones. He shewed it again at Col’s house. In the charter-roomthere was a remarkable large shin-bone; which was said to have been a bone ofJohn Garve, one of the lairds. Dr Johnson would not look at it; but startedaway.
At breakfast, I asked, ‘What is the reason that we areangry at a trader’s having opulence?’ JOHNSON. ‘Why, sir, the reason is (thoughI don’t undertake to prove that there is a reason), we see no qualities in tradethat should entitle a man to superiority. We are not angry at a soldier’sgetting riches, because we see that he possesses qualities which we have not. Ifa man returns from a battle, having lost one hand, and with the other full ofgold, we feel that he deserves the gold; but we cannot think that a fellow, bysitting all day at a desk, is entitled to get above us.’ BOSWELL. ‘But, sir, maywe not suppose a merchant to be a man of an enlarged mind, such as Addison inthe Spectator describes Sir Andrew Freeport to have been?’ JOHNSON. ‘Why, sir,we may suppose any fictitious character. We may suppose a philosophicalday-labourer, who is happy in reflecting that, by his labour, he contributes tothe fertility of the earth, and to the support of his fellow-creatures; but wefind no such philosophical day-labourer. A merchant may, perhaps, be a man of anenlarged mind; but there is nothing in trade connected with an enlarged mind.’
I mentioned that I heard Dr Solander say he was a SwedishLaplander. JOHNSON. ‘Sir, I don’t believe he is a Laplander. The Laplanders arenot much above four feet high. He is as tall as you; and he has not the coppercolour of a Laplander.’ BOSWELL. ‘But what motive could he have to make himselfa Laplander?’ JOHNSON. ‘Why, sir, he must either mean the word Laplander in avery extensive sense, or may mean a voluntary degradation of himself. "For allmy being the great man that you see me now, I was originally a barbarian"; as ifBurke should say, "I came over a wild Irishman," which he might say in hispresent state of exaltation.’
Having expressed a desire to have an island likeInchkenneth, Dr Johnson set himself to think what would be necessary for a manin such a situation. ‘Sir, I should build me a fortification, if I came to livehere; for, if you have it not, what should hinder a parcel of ruffians to landin the night, and carry off every thing you have in the house, which, in aremote country, would be more valuable than cows and sheep? Add to all this thedanger 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, Iapprehend, 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, whichwould render him quite helpless, and then knock his head against a stone, andbeat out his brains.’ Topham Beauclerk told me, that at his house in thecountry, two large ferocious dogs were fighting. Dr Johnson looked steadily atthem for a little while; and then, as one would separate two little boys, whoare foolishly hurting each other, he ran up to them, and cuffed their heads tillhe drove them asunder. But few men have his intrepidity, Herculean strength, orpresence of mind. Most thieves or robbers would be afraid to encounter amastiff.
I observed, that, when young Col talked of the landsbelonging to his family, he always said, ‘MY lands’. For this he had a plausiblepretence; for he told me, there has been a custom in this family, that the lairdresigns the estate to the eldest son when he comes of age, reserving to himselfonly a certain life-rent. He said, it was a voluntary custom; but I think Ifound an instance in the charter-room, that there was such an obligation in acontract of marriage. If the custom was voluntary, it was only curious; but iffounded on obligation, it might be dangerous; for I have been told, that inOtaheite, whenever a child is born (a son, I think), the father loses his rightto the estate and honours, and that this unnatural, or rather absurd custom,occasions the murder of many 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 getup with him.’ I accounted for his advantage over the dog, by remarking that Colhad the faculty of reason, and knew how to moderate his pace, which the dog hadnot sense enough to do. Dr Johnson said, ‘He is a noble animal. He is ascomplete 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 it is Col. He ishospitable; and he has an intrepidity of talk, whether he understands thesubject or not. I regret that he is not more intellectual.’
Dr Johnson observed, that there was nothing of which hewould not undertake to persuade a Frenchman in a foreign country. I’ll carry aFrenchman to St Paul’s Church-yard, and I’ll tell him, "by our law you may walkhalf round the church; but, if you walk round the whole, you will be punishedcapitally", and he will believe me at once. Now, no Englishman would readilyswallow such a thing: he would go and inquire of somebody else.’ The Frenchman’scredulity, I observed, must be owing to his being accustomed to implicitsubmission; whereas every Englishman reasons upon the laws of his country, andinstructs his representatives, who compose the legislature.
This day was passed in looking at a small island adjoiningInchkenneth, which afforded nothing worthy of observation; and in such socialand gay entertainments as our little society could furnish.
Tuesday, 19th October (Inchkenneth to Icolmkill)
After breakfast we took leave of the young ladies, and ofour excellent companion Col, to whom we had been so much obliged. He had now putus under the care of his chief; and was to hasten back to Sky. We parted fromhim with very strong feelings of kindness and gratitude; and we hoped to havehad some future opportunity of proving to him the sincerity of what we felt; butin the following year he was unfortunately lost in the Sound between Ulva andMull; and this imperfect memorial, joined to the high honour of being tenderlyand respectfully mentioned by Dr Johnson, is the only return which theuncertainty of human events has permitted us to make to this deserving youngman.
Sir Allan, who obligingly undertook to accompany us toIcolmkill had a strong good boat, with four stout rowers. We coasted along Mulltill we reached Gribon, where is what is called Mackinnon’s cave, compared withwhich that at Ulinish is inconsiderable. It is in a rock of a great height,close to the sea. Upon the left of its entrance there is a cascade, almostperpendicular from the top to the bottom of the rock. There is a tradition thatit was conducted thither artificially, to supply the inhabitants of the cavewith water. Dr Johnson gave no credit to this tradition. As, on the one hand,his faith in the Christian religion is firmly founded upon good grounds; so, onthe other, he is incredulous when there is no sufficient reason for belief;being in this respect just the reverse of modern infidels, who, however nice andscrupulous in weighing the evidences of religion, are yet often so ready tobelieve the most absurd and improbable tales of another nature, that Lord Haileswell observed, a good essay might be written Sur la credulite des Incredules.
The height of this cave I cannot tell with any tolerableexactness: but it seemed to be very lofty, and to be a pretty regular arch. Wepenetrated, by candlelight, a great way; by our measurement, no less than fourhundred and eighty-five feet. Tradition says, that a piper and twelve men onceadvanced into this cave, nobody can tell how far; and never returned. At thedistance to which we proceeded the air was quite pure; for the candle burnedfreely, without the least appearance of the flame growing globular; but as wehad only one, we thought it dangerous to venture farther, lest, should it havebeen extinguished, we should have had no means of ascertaining whether we couldremain without danger. Dr Johnson said, this was the greatest natural curiosityhe had ever seen.
We saw the island of Staffa, at no very great distance, butcould not land upon it, the surge was so high on its rocky coast.
Sir Allan, anxious for the honour of Mull, was stilltalking of its woods, and pointing them out to Dr Johnson, as appearing at adistance on the skirts of that island, as we sailed along. JOHNSON. ‘Sir, I sawat Tobermorie. what they called a wood, which I unluckily took for HEATH. If youshew me what I shall take for FURZE, it will be something.’
In the afternoon we went ashore on the coast of Mull, andpartook of a cold repast, which we carried with us. We hoped to have procuredsome rum or brandy for our boatmen and servants, from a publick-house near wherewe landed; but unfortunately a funeral a few days before had exhausted all theirstore. Mr Campbell however, one of the Duke of Argyle’s tacksmen, who lived inthe neighbourhood, on receiving a message from Sir Allan, sent us a liberalsupply.
We continued to coast along Mull, and passed by Nuns’Island, which, it is said, belonged to the nuns of Icolmkill, and from which, wewere told, the stone for the buildings there was taken. As we sailed along bymoonlight, in a sea somewhat rough, and often between black and gloomy rocks, DrJohnson said, ‘If this be not ROVING AMONG THE HEBRIDES, nothing is.’ Therepetition of words which he had so often previously used, made a strongimpression on my imagination; and, by a natural course of thinking, led me toconsider how our present adventures would appear to me at a future period.
I have often experienced, that scenes through which a manhas passed, improve by lying in the memory: they grow mellow. Acti labores suntjucundi. This may be owing to comparing them with present listless ease. Evenharsh scenes acquire a softness by length of time  and some are like veryloud sounds, which do not please, or at least do not please so much, till youare removed to a certain distance. They may be compared to strong coarsepictures, which will not bear to be viewed near. Even pleasing scenes improve bytime, and seem more exquisite in recollection, than when they were present; ifthey have not faded to dimness in the memory. Perhaps, there is so much evil inevery human enjoyment, when present–so much dross mixed with it–that itrequires to be refined by time; and yet I do not see why time should not meltaway the good and the evil in equal proportions; why the shade should decay, andthe light remain in preservation.
[1: I have lately observed that this thought has beenelegantly expressed by Cowley:
Things which offend when presentand affright.
In memory, well painted, movedelight.]
After a tedious sail, which, by our following variousturnings of the coast of Mull, was extended to about forty miles, it gave us nosmall pleasure to perceive a light in the village of Icolmkill, in which almostall the inhabitants of the island live, close to where the ancient buildingstood. As we approached the shore, the tower of the cathedral, just discernablein the air, was a picturesque object.
When we had landed upon the sacred place, which, as long asI can remember, I had thought on with veneration, Dr Johnson and I cordiallyembraced. We had long talked of visiting Icolmkill; and, from the lateness ofthe season, were at times very doubtful whether we should be able to effect ourpurpose. To have seen it, even alone, would have given me great satisfaction;but the venerable scene was rendered much more pleasing by the company of mygreat and pious friend, who was no less affected by it than I was; and who hasdescribed the impressions it should make on the mind, with such strength ofthought, and energy of language, that I shall quote his words, as conveying myown sensations much more forcibly than I am capable of doing:
We are now treading that illustrious island, which was oncethe luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and rovingbarbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. Toabstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it wereendeavoured, and would be foolish if it were possible. Whatever withdraws usfrom the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, the distant, or thefuture, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinkingbeings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as mayconduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified bywisdom, bravery or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose patriotismwould not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not growwarmer among the ruins of Iona!
[Had our tour produced nothing else but this sublimepassage, the world must have acknowledged that it was not made in vain. Thepresent respectable President of the Royal Society was so much struck on readingit, that he clasped his hands together, and remained for some time in anattitude of silent admiration.]
Upon hearing that Sir Allan M’Lean was arrived, theinhabitants, who still consider themselves as the people of M’Lean, to whom theisland formerly belonged, though the Duke of Argyle has at present possession ofit, ran eagerly to him.
We were accommodated this night in a large barn, the islandaffording no lodging that we should have liked so well. Some good hay wasstrewed at one end of it, to form a bed for us, upon which we lay with ourclothes on; and we were furnished with blankets from the village. Each of us hada portmanteau for a pillow. When I awaked in the morning, and looked round me, Icould not help smiling at the idea of the Chief of the M’Leans, the greatEnglish moralist, and myself, lying thus extended in such a situation.
Wednesday, 20th October (Icolmkill)
Early in the morning we surveyed the remains of antiquityat this place, accompanied by an illiterate fellow, as cicerone, who calledhimself a descendant of a cousin of Saint Columba, the founder of the religiousestablishment here. As I knew that many persons had already examined them, andas I saw Dr Johnson inspecting and measuring several of the ruins of which hehas since given so full an account, my mind was quiescent; and I resolved; tostroll among them at my ease, to take no trouble to investigate minutely, andonly receive the general impression of solemn antiquity, and the particularideas of such objects as should of themselves strike my attention.
We walked from the monastery of nuns to the great church orcathedral, as they call it, along an old broken causeway. They told us, thatthis had been a street; and that there were good houses built on each side. DrJohnson doubted if it was any thing more than a paved road for the nuns. Theconvent of monks, the great church, Oran’s chapel, and four other chapels, arestill to be discerned. But I must own that Icolmkill did not answer myexpectations; for they were high, from what I had read of it, and still morefrom what I had heard and thought of it, from my earliest years. Dr Johnsonsaid, it came up to his expectations, because he had taken his impression froman account of it subjoined to Sacheverel’s History of the Isle of Man, where itis said, there is not much to be seen here. We were both disappointed, when wewere shewn what are called the monuments of the kings of Scotland, Ireland, andDenmark, and of a king of France. There are only some grave-stones flat on theearth, and we could see no inscriptions. How far short was this of marblemonuments, like those in Westminster Abbey, which I had imagined here! Thegrave-stones of Sir Allan M’Lean’s family, and of that of M’Quarrie, had as goodan appearance as the royal grave-stones; if they were royal, we doubted.
My easiness to give credit to what I heard in the course ofour tour was too great. Dr Johnson’s peculiar accuracy of investigation detectedmuch traditional fiction, and many gross mistakes. It is not to be wondered at,that he was provoked by people carelessly telling him, with the utmost readinessand confidence, what he found, on questioning them a little more, was erroneous.Of this there were innumerable instances.
I left him and Sir Allan to breakfast in our barn, andstole back again to the cathedral, to indulge in solitude and devout meditation.While contemplating the venerable ruins, I reflected with much satisfaction,that the solemn scenes of piety never lose their sanctity and influence, thoughthe cares and follies of life may prevent us from visiting them, or may evenmake us fancy that their effects are only ‘as yesterday, when it is past’, andnever again to be perceived. I hoped, that, ever after having been in this holyplace, I should maintain an exemplary conduct. One has a strange propensity tofix upon some point of time from whence a better course of life may begin.
Being desirous to visit the opposite shore of the island,where Saint Columba is said to have landed, I procured a horse from one M’Ginnis,who ran along as my guide. The M’Ginnises are said to be a branch of the clan ofM’Lean. Sir Allan had been told that this man had refused to send him some rum,at which the knight was in great indignation. ‘You rascal!’ said he. ‘Don’t youknow that I can hang you, if I please?’ Not averting to the chieftain’s powerover his clan, I imagined that Sir Allan had known of some capital crime thatthe fellow had committed, which he could discover, and so get him condemned; andsaid, ‘How so?’ ‘Why,’ said Sir Allan, ‘are they not all my people?’ Sensible inmy inadvertency, and most willing to contribute what I could towards thecontinuation of feudal authority, ‘Very true,’ said I. Sir Allan went on:’Refuse to send rum to me, you rascal! Don’t you know that, if I order you to goand cut a man’s throat, you are to do it?’ ‘Yes, an’t please your honour! and myown too, and hang myself too.’ The poor fellow denied that he had refused tosend the rum. His making these professions was not merely a pretence in presenceof his chief; for after he and I were out of Sir Allan’s hearing, he told me,’Had he sent his dog for the rum, I would have given it: I would cut my bonesfor him.’ It was very remarkable to find such an attachment to a chief, thoughhe had then no connection with the island, and had not been there for fourteenyears. Sir Allan, by way of upbraiding the fellow, said, ‘I believe you are aCAMPBELL.’
The place which I went to see is about two miles from thevillage. They call it Portawherry, from the wherry in which Columba came;though, when they shew the length of his vessel, as marked on the beach by twoheaps of stones, they say, ‘Here is the length of the currach,’ using the Erseword.
Icolmkill is a fertile island. The inhabitants export somecattle and grain; and I was told, they import nothing but iron and salt. Theyare industrious, and make their own woollen and linen cloth; and they brew agood deal of beer, which we did not find in any of the other islands.
We set sail again about mid-day, and in the evening landedon Mull, near the house of the Reverend Mr Neal M’Leod, who having been informedof our coming, by a message from Sir Allan, came out to meet us. We were thisnight very agreeably entertained at his house. Dr Johnson observed to me, thathe was the cleanest-headed man that he had met in the Western islands. He seemedto be well acquainted with Dr Johnson’s writings, and courteously said, ‘I havebeen often obliged to you, though I never had the pleasure of seeing youbefore.’
He told us, he had lived for some time in St Kilda, underthe tuition of the minister or catechist there, and had there first read Horaceand Virgil. The scenes which they describe must have been a strong contrast tothe dreary waste around him.
Thursday, 21st October (Icolmkill to Lochbuie)
This morning the subject of politicks was introduced.JOHNSON. ‘Pulteney was as paltry a fellow as could be. He was a Whig, whopretended to be honest; and you know it is ridiculous for a Whig to pretend tobe honest. He cannot hold it out.’ He called Mr Pitt a meteor; Sir RobertWalpole a fixed star. He said, ‘It is wonderful to think that all the force ofgovernment was required to prevent Wilkes from being chosen the chief magistrateof London, though the liverymen knew he would rob their shops, knew he woulddebauch their daughters.’
[I think it incumbent on me to make some observation onthis strong satirical sally on my classical companion, Mr Wilkes. Reporting itlately from memory, in his presence, I expressed it thus: ‘They knew he wouldrob their shops, IF HE DURST; they knew he would debauch their daughters, IF HECOULD, which, according to the French phrase, may be said rencherir on DrJohnson; but on looking into my Journal, I found it as above, and would by nomeans make any addition. Mr Wilkes received both readings with a good humourthat I cannot enough admire. Indeed both he and I (as, with respect to myself,the reader has more than once had occasion to observe in the course of thisJournal) are too fond of a bon mot, not to relish it, though we should beourselves the object of it.
Let me add, in justice to the gentleman here mentioned,that at a subsequent period, he was elected chief magistrate of London, anddischarged the duties of that high office with great honour to himself, andadvantage to the city. Some years before Dr Johnson died, I was fortunate enoughto bring him and Mr Wilkes together; the consequence of which was, that theywere ever afterwards on easy and not unfriendly terms. The particulars I shallhave great pleasure in relating at large in my Life of Dr Johnson.]
BOSWELL. ‘The history of England is so strange, that, if itwere not so well vouched as it is, it would hardly be credible.’ JOHNSON. ‘Sir,if it were told as shortly, and with as little preparation for introducing thedifferent events, as the history of the Jewish kings, it would be equally liableto objections of improbability.’ Mr M’Leod was much pleased with the justice andnovelty of the thought. Dr Johnson illustrated what he had said, as follows:’Take, as an instance, Charles the First’s concessions to his parliament, whichwere greater and greater, in proportion as the parliament grew more insolent,and less deserving of trust. Had these concessions been related nakedly, withoutany detail of the circumstances which generally led to them, they would not havebeen believed.’
Sir Allan M’Lean bragged, that Scotland had the advantageof England, by its having more water. JOHNSON, ‘Sir, we would not have yourwater, to take the vile bogs which produced it. You have too much! A man who isdrowned has more water than either of us’; and then he laughed. (But this wassurely robust sophistry: for the people of taste in England, who have seenScotland, own that its variety of rivers and lakes makes it naturally morebeautiful than England, in that respect.) Pursuing his victory over Sir Allan,he proceeded: ‘Your country consists of two things, stone and water. There is,indeed, a little earth above the stone in some places, but a very little; andthe stone is always appearing. It is like a man in rags; the naked skin is stillpeeping out.’
He took leave of Mr M’Leod, saying, ‘Sir, I thank you foryour entertainment, and your conversation.’ Mr Campbell, who had been so politeyesterday, came this morning on purpose to breakfast with us, and veryobligingly furnished us with horses to proceed on our journey to Mr M’Lean’s ofLochbuy, where we were to pass the night. We dined at the house of Dr AlexanderM’Lean, another physician in Mull, who was so much struck with the uncommonconversation of Dr Johnson, that he observed to me, ‘This man is just a HOGSHEADof sense.’
Dr Johnson said of the Turkish Spy, which lay in the room,that it told nothing but what every body might have known at that time; and thatwhat was good in it, did not pay you for the trouble of reading to find it.
After a very tedious ride, through what appeared to me themost gloomy and desolate country I had ever beheld, we arrived, between sevenand eight o’clock, at Moy, the seat of the Laird of Lochbuy. Buy, in Erse,signifies yellow, and I at first imagined that the loch or branch of the seahere, was thus denominated, in the same manner as the Red Sea; but I afterwardslearned that it derived its name from a hill above it, which being of ayellowish hue, has the epithet of Buy.
We had heard much of Lochbuy’s being a great roaringbraggadocio, a kind of Sir John Falstaff, both in size and manners; but we foundthat they had swelled him up to a fictitious size, and clothed him withimaginary qualities. Col’s idea of him was equally extravagant, though verydifferent: he told us, he was quite a Don Quixote; and said, he would give agreat deal to see him and Dr Johnson together. The truth is, that Lochbuy provedto be only a bluff, comely, noisy old gentleman, proud of his hereditaryconsequence, and a very hearty and hospitable landlord. Lady Lochbuy was sisterto Sir Allan M’Lean, but much older. He said to me, ‘They are quiteAntediluvians.’ Being told that Dr Johnson did not hear well, Lochbuy bawled outto him, ‘Are you of the Johnstons of Glencro, or of Ardnamurchan?’ Dr Johnsongave him a significant look, but made no answer; and I told Lochbuy that he wasnot Johnston, but Johnson, and that he was an Englishman.
Lochbuy some years ago tried to prove himself a weak man,liable to imposition, or, as we term it in Scotland, a FACILE man, in order toset aside a lease which he had granted; but failed in the attempt. On mymentioning this circumstance to Dr Johnson, he seemed much surprized that such asuit was admitted by the Scottish law, and observed, that ‘in England no man isallowed to STULTIFY himself.’  Sir Allan, Lochbuy, and I, had theconversation chiefly to ourselves to-night: Dr Johnson, being extremely weary,went to bed soon after supper.