It had an odd coincidence with what might be said of my connecting myself with Dr Johnson.

After church, we walked down to the Quay. We then went to Macbeth's castle. I had a romantick satisfaction in seeing Dr Johnson actually in it. It perfectly corresponds with Shakspeare's description, which Sir Joshua Reynolds has so happily illustrated, in one of his notes on our immortal poet:

This castle hath a pleasant seat: the air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself Unto our gentle sense, &c.

Just as we came out of it, a raven perched on one of the chimney-tops, and croaked. Then I repeated

'... The raven himself is hoarse. That croaks the fatal enterance of Duncan Under my battlements.'

We dined at Mr Keith's. Mrs Keith was rather too attentive to Dr Johnson, asking him many questions about his drinking only water. He repressed that observation, by saying to me, 'You may remember that Lady Errol took no notice of this.'

Dr Johnson has the happy art (for which I have heard my father praise the old Earl of Aberdeen) of instructing himself, by making every man he meets tell him something of what he knows best. He led Keith to talk to him of the Excise in Scotland, and, in the course of conversation, mentioned that his friend Mr Thrale, the great brewer, paid twenty thousand pounds a year to the revenue; and that he had four casks, each of which holds sixteen hundred barrels--above a thousand hogsheads.

After this there was little conversation that deserves to be remembered. I shall therefore here again glean what I have omitted on former days. Dr Gerard, at Aberdeen, told us, that when he was in Wales, he was shewn a valley inhabited by Danes, who still retain their own language, and are quite a distinct people. Dr Johnson thought it could not be true, or all the kingdom must have heard of it. He said to me, as we travelled, 'these people, sir, that Gerard talks of, may have somewhat of a PEREGRINITY in their dialect, which relation has augmented to a different language'. I asked him if peregrinity was an English word: he laughed, and said, 'No.' I told him this was the second time that I had heard him coin a word. When Foote broke his leg, I observed that it would make him fitter for taking off George Faulkner as Peter Paragragh, poor George having a wooden leg. Dr Johnson at that time said, 'George will rejoice at the DEPEDITATION of Foote'; and when I challenged that word, laughed, and owned he had made it, and added that he had not made above three or four in his dictionary. [Footnote: When upon the subject of this PEREGRINITY, he told me some particulars concerning the compilation of his Dictionary, and concerning his throwing off Lord Chesterfield's patronage, of which very erroneous accounts have been circulated. These particulars, with others which he afterwards gave me--as also his celebrated letter to lord Chesterfield, which he dictated to me--I reserve for his Life.]

Having conducted Dr Johnson to our inn, I begged permission to leave him for a little, that I might run about and pay some short visits to several good people of Inverness. He said to me, 'You have all the old-fashioned principles, good and bad.' I acknowledge I have. That of attention to relations in the remotest degree, or to worthy persons, in every state whom I have once known, I inherit from my father. It gave me much satisfaction to hear every body at Inverness speak of him with uncommon regard. Mr Keith and Mr Grant, whom we had seen at Mr M'Aulay's, supped with us at the inn. We had roasted kid, which Dr Johnson had never tasted before. He relished it much.

Monday, 30th August

This day we were to begin our EQUITATION, as I said; for I would needs make a word too. It is remarkable, that my noble, and to me most constant friend, the Earl of Pembroke (who, if there is too much ease on my part, will please to pardon what his benevolent, gay, social intercourse, and lively correspondence, have insensibly produced) has since hit upon the very same word. The title of the first edition of his lordship's very useful book was, in simple terms, A Method of Breaking Horses and Teaching Soldiers to Ride. The title of the second edition is, Military Equitation.

We might have taken a chaise to Fort Augustus, but, had we not hired horses at Inverness, we should not have found them afterwards: so we resolved to begin here to ride. We had three horses, for Dr Johnson, myself, and Joseph, and one which carried our portmanteaus, and two Highlanders who walked along with us, John Hay and Lauchland Vass, whom Dr Johnson has remembered with credit in his Journey, though he has omitted their names. Dr Johnson rode very well.

About three miles beyond Inverness, we saw, just by the road, a very complete specimen of what is called a Druid's temple. There was a double circle, one of very large, the other of smaller stones. Dr Johnson justly observed, that, 'to go and see one druidical temple is only to see that it is nothing, for there is neither art nor power in it; and seeing one is quite enough'.

James Boswell
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

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