Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/241

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camels, and Hindoos, with Highland scenery in the background. Just before he started for the East he dined at the house of one of his tacksmen, or chief tenants, " who said that all the dishes should be the produce of Macleod's estate and the shores thereof. Amongst a profusion of other dishes there were thirteen different kinds of fish." ' He died in 1802 at the early age of forty-six.

Fortunate as Johnson was in having this amiable and high- spirited youth for his host, scarcely less fortunate was he in his hostess, the Laird's mother, Lady Macleod. The title which she bore was one of courtesy. Up to this time the wives of Highland lairds, and also of Scotch judges, seem commonly to have been addressed as Lady. Johnson's hostess at Lochbuie, the wife of the laird, is called Lady Lochbuie by Boswell. The change to the modern usage had, however, begun ; for Ramsay of Ochtertyre, speaking of the year 1 769, says that, "Somebody asked Lord Auchin- leck before his second marriage if the lady was to be called Mrs. Boswell, according to the modern fashion." " Johnson was not wholly a stranger to his hostess. " I had once," he writes, " attracted her notice in London." She was able to render his stay pleasant, for from her long residence in England, " she knew all the arts of southern elegance, and all the modes of English economy." In his talk she took great delight, though when one day she heard him maintain "that no man was naturally good more than a wolf, and no woman either," she said in a low voice, ' This is worse than Swift.'" Knox, who visited Dunvegan in 1786 records the following anecdote :

" Lady Macleod, who had repeatedly helped Dr. Johnson to sixteen dishes or upwards of tea, asked him if a small basin would not save him trouble, and be more agreeable. 'I wonder, Madam,' answered he roughly, 'why all the ladies ask me such impertinent questions. It is to save yourselves trouble, Madam, and not me.'

It is not likely that Knox had the story at first hand, for when he visited Dunvegan, the Castle was occupied by a Major Alexander Macleod, who had married a daughter of Flora Mac- donald. It is probable, therefore, that Lady Macleod was not living there at the time. The number of cups of tea may have grown as the story passed from one to another. We shall find in the next chapter that at Ulinish Johnson was reported to have

1 Knox's Tour, p. 152. * Scotland and Scotsmen of the Eighteenth Century, i. 173.

3 Knox's Tour, p. 143.

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