Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/282

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that though they started at eleven, they did not reach the coast till seven at night. Yet they had been told that the distance was but eight miles. To add to the gloom, it was here that Johnson dis- covered that he had lost that famous piece of timber, his huge oak- stick. Seeing how late it was, Col, who throughout had been their guide, " determined that they should pass the night at Macquarrie's, in the Island of Ulva, which lies between Mull and Inchkenneth." The ferry-boat unfortunately was on the other side of the narrow channel. The wind was so high that their shouts could not be heard, and the darkness was too great for their signals to be seen. They might have been forced to spend the night on the shore had there not chanced to be lying in the little Sound of Ulva a ship from Londonderry. In its long-boat they were ferried over. In this same Sound less than a year later, on the night of September 25, 1774, poor Col lost his life. " His boat," says Sir Walter Scott, " was swamped by the intoxication of the sailors, who had partaken too largely of Macquarrie's wonted hospitality." Here, perhaps, the Macleanes will some day set up a memorial to the unhappy youth. " Col does every thing for us," said Johnson : "We will erect a statue to Col. 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, it is Col. He is hospitable; and he has an intrepidity of talk whether he understands the subject or not." His untimely end was regretted by those who only knew "this amiable man " by the reports of our two travellers. " At the death of Col," said Boswell, " my wife wept much." ' " There is great lamentation here," wrote Johnson from Lichfield, "for the death of Col. Lucy is of opinion that he was wonderfully handsome." Though they were in the land of second-sight there was no shadow thrown by coming events on the very liberal entertainment provided by their host. Nevertheless the Chief of Diva's Isle had a sea of troubles of his own to oppose. He was almost overwhelmed with the stormy waters, not of Loch Gyle, but of debt. " His ancestors," wrote Johnson to Mrs. Thrale, " had reigned in Ulva beyond memory, but he has reduced himself by his negligence and folly to the necessity of selling this venerable patrimony." His house was a strange mixture of luxury and squalor. The room in which Johnson slept was unbearded, and through a broken

1 Croker's Boswell, p. 826.

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