Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/227

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" the pleasures of this little Court." The evening of their arrival, as soon as dinner was finished, " the carpet was taken up, the fiddler of the family came, and a very vigorous and general dance was begun." According to Boswell, "Johnson was so delighted with this scene, that he said, ' I know not how we shall get away.' It entertained me to observe him sitting by, while we danced, some- times in deep meditation, sometimes smiling complacently, some- times looking upon Hooke's Rotnan Hislory,'A.\\<\ sometimes talking a little, amidst the noise of the ball, to Mr. Donald M'Oueen, who anxiously gathered knowledge from him." The same accommo- dating hospitality was shown here as at Corrichatachin in finding sleeping room for the large party that was assembled. "I had a chamber to myself," writes Johnson, " which in eleven rooms to forty people was more than my share. How the company and the family were distributed is not easy to tell. Macleod, the chieftain of Dunvegan, and Boswell and I had all single chambers on the first floor. There remained eight rooms only for at least seven-and- thirty lodgers. I suppose they put up temporary beds in the dining-room, where they stowed all the young ladies. There was a room above stairs with six beds, in which they put ten men." The patriarchal life was so complete that in this island, with a popu- lation estimated at nine hundred, 1 there was neither justice of the peace nor constable. Even in Skye there wo.s but one magistrate, and, so late as forty years ago, but one policeman. Raasay is still without a justice. The people, I was told, settle all their disputes among themselves, and keep clear of crime. Much of the land is still held on the old tribal system. " I have ascertained," writes Sir Henry Maine, " that the families which formed the village com- munities only just extinct in the Western Highlands had the lands of the village re-distributed among them by lot at fixed intervals of time."' In Raasay there are little plots of land which every year are still distributed by lot. So small are they, and so close together that it often happens that five or six families are all at the same time getting in their harvest on a strip not much larger than a couple of lawn tennis grounds.

Boswell with three Highland gentlemen spent one day in exploring the island, and in climbing to the top of Dun Can, or

1 This was Johnson's estimate, based on the Lectures an the Early History of InstUu-

number of men who took part in the Rebellion tin/is, eel. 1875, p. 101. of 1745. The population in 1881 was 750.


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