Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/30

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4 INTRODUCTION.

an old kuly, blind of one eye, who was fond of telling how in her childhood, at the time of Johnson's visit, she had been watching the dancing in that famous farmhouse- of Corrichatachin, where Boswel got so drunk one night over the punch, and so penitent the ncx morning over a severe headache and the Epistle for the ' Sunday after Trinity. 1 A large brass button on the coat-tail of one of the dancers had struck her in her eye as he whirled round and had so injured it that she lost the sight. My informant had a story also to tell of the learned minister, the Rev. Donald Mac- queen, who accompanied Johnson in part of his tour. " A crofter seein^ the two men pass, asked the minister who was his com- panion. Macqueen replied, 'The man who made the English language.' ' Then he had very little to do,' rejoined the crofter ; meaning, according to the Gaelic idiom, that he might have been much better employed." My friendly exciseman had known also an old lady who remembered Johnson coming to her father's house in Mull. According to a custom once very common in the High- lands, though even in those days passing fast away, she had been sent for three or four years to a shepherd's hut to be fostered, was shortly after her return home that Johnson's visit was paid. He did not hide his displeasure at the roughness which still clung to her. She had not forgotten, moreover, how he found fault with the large candles, rudely 'made of pieces of old cloth twisted round and dipped in tallow.- My acquaintance ended his talk by saying : " If Dr. Johnson had returned to Scotland after publishing his book, he would have got a crack on his skull."

At Craignure, in the Isle of Mull, the landlord of the little inn had his story to tell of the untimely death of young Maclean of Col, that " amiable man," who, while the pages of Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands " were preparing to attest his virtues, perished in the passage between Ulva and Inch-Kenneth." ' My host's great- grandmother, a Macquarrie of Ulva, on the night when the boat was upset, had been watching the cattle near the fatal shore. An old woman who was to have been her companion had failed her, so that she was alone. She saw nothing, and heard no cries. " A

Novell's Johnson, v. 258. with horses; but it is not mentioned that they

  • My informant placed the scene of this story went to his house-they certainly did not pass a

at the house of a Captain or Colonel Campbell night there. See Boswell's Johnson, v. 332, in Mull. There was a Mr. Campbell, one of the 340.

Duke of Argyle's tacksmen, or chief tenants, in 3 Johnson's Works, ix. 142.

that island, who furnished Boswell and Johnson

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