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knowledge of the state of the country; but complained that he could get no distinct information about any thing, from those with whom he conversed.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 4.
My endeavours to rouse the English-bred Chieftain, in whose house we were, to the feudal and patriarchal feelings, proving ineffectual, Dr. Johnson this morning tried to bring him to our way of thinking.-JOHNSON. "Were I in your place, sir, in seven years I would make this an independant island. I would roast oxen whole, and hang out a flag as a signal to the Macdonalds to come and get beef and whiskey."-Sir Alexander was still starting difficulties.-JOHNSON. Nay, sir; if you are born to object, I have done with you. Sir, I would have a magazine of arms."-SIR ALEXANDer. "They would rust."-JOHNSON. "Let there be men to keep them clean. Your ancestors did not use to let their arms rust."
We attempted in vain to communicate to him a portion of our enthusiasm. He bore with so polite a good-nature our warm, and what some might call Gothick, expostulations, on this subject, that I should not forgive myself, were I to record all that Dr. Johnson's ardour led him to say. This day was little better than a blank.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 5,
I walked to the parish church of Slate, which is a very poor one. There are no church bells in the island. I was told there were once some; what has
become of them, I could not learn. The minister not being at home, there was no service. I went into the church, and saw the monument of Sir James Macdonald, which was elegantly executed at Rome, and has the following inscription, written by his friend, George Lord Lyttelton:
Of Six JAMES MACDONALD, BART.
Had attained to so eminent a degree of knowledge,
And in every other branch of useful and polite learning,
As few have acquired in a long life
What can rarely be found with it,
His eloquence was sweet, correct, and flowing:
But also from foreign nations,
The 25th of his life.
After a long and extremely painful illness,
Which he supported with admirable patience and fortitude,
He died at Rome,
Where, notwithstanding the difference of religion, Such extraordinary honours were paid to his memory, As had never graced that of any other British subject,
Since the death of Sir Philip Sidney.
The fame he left behind him is the best consolation
And that of all Britain.
In testimony of her love,
And as the best return she can make
To her departed son,
For the constant tenderness and affection
His much afflicted mother,
The LADY MARGARET MACDONALD,
* This extraordinary young man, whom I had the pleasure of knowing intimately, having been deeply regretted by his country, the most minute particulars concerning him must be interesting to many. I shall therefore insert his two last letters to his mother, Lady Margaret Macdonald, which her ladyship has been pleased to communicate to me.
"MY DEAR MOTHER,
Rome, July 9th, 1766. “YESTERDAY's post brought me your answer to the first letter in which I acquainted you of my illness. Your tenderness and concern upon that account are the same I have always experienced, and to which I have often owed my life. Indeed it never was in so great danger as it has been lately; and though it would have been a very great comfort to me to have had you near me, yet perhaps, I ought to rejoice, on your account, that you had not the pain of such a spectacle. I have been now a week in Rome, and wish I could continue to give you the same good account of my recovery as I did in my last; but I must own that, for three days past, I have been in a very weak and miserable state, which however seems to
Dr. Johnson said, the inscription should have been in Latin, as every thing intended to be universal and permament, should be. This being a beautiful day, beautiful day, my spirits were cheered by the mere effect of climate. I had felt a return of spleen during my stay at Armidale, and had it not been that I had Dr. Johnson to contemplate, I should have sunk into dejection: but his firmness supported me. I looked at him, as a man whose head is turning giddy at sea looks at a rock, or any fixed object. I wondered at his tranquillity.
give no uneasiness to my physicians. My stomach has been greatly out of order, without any visible cause; and the palpitation does not decrease. I am told that my stomach will soon recover its tone, and that the palpitation must cease in time. So I am willing to believe; and with this hope support the little remains of spirits which I can be supposed to have, on the forty-seventh day of such an illness. Do not imagine I have relapsed;-I only recover slower than I expected. If my letter is shorter than usual, the cause of it is a dose of physick, which has weakened me so much to-day, that I am not able to write a long letter. I will make up for it next post, and remain always Your most sincerely affectionate son,
He grew gradually worse; and on the night before his death he wrote as follows from Frescati :
"MY DEAR MOTHER,
"THOUGH I did not mean to deceive you in my last letter from Rome, yet certainly you would have very little reason to conclude of the very great and constant danger I have gone through ever since that time. My life, which is still almost entirely desperate, did not at that time appear to me so, otherwise I should have represented, in its true colours, a fact which acquires very little horror by that means, and comes with redoubled force by deception. There is no circumstance of danger and pain of which I have not had the experience, for a continual series of above a fortnight; during which time I have settled my affairs, after my death, with as much distinctness, as the hurry and the nature of the thing could admit of. In case of the worst, the Abbé Grant will be my executor in this part of the world, and Mr. Mackenzie in Scotland, where my object has been to make you and my younger brother as independent of the eldest as possible."
He said, "Sir, when a man retires into an island, he is to turn his thoughts intirely to another world. He has done with this."-BosWELL. "It appears to me, sir, to be very difficult to unite a due attention to this world, and that which is to come; for, if we engage eagerly in the affairs of life, we are apt to be totally forgetful of a future state; and, on the other hand, a steady contemplation of the awful concerns of eternity renders all objects here so insignificant, as to make us indifferent and negligent about them."-JOHNSON. "Sir, Dr. Cheyne has laid down a rule to himself on this subject, which should be imprinted on every mind: 'To ' neglect nothing to secure my eternal peace, more than if I had been certified I should die within the day: nor to mind any thing that my secular obligations and duties demanded of me, less than if I had been ensured to live fifty years more."
I must here observe, that though Dr. Johnson appeared now to be philosophically calm, yet his genius did not shine forth as in companies, where I have listened to him with admiration. The vigour of his mind was, however, sufficiently manifested, by his discovering no symptoms of feeble relaxation in the dull, " weary, flat and unprofitable" state in which we now were placed.
I am inclined to think that it was on this day he composed the following Ode upon the Isle of Sky, which a few days afterwards he shewed me at Rasay:
Ponti profundis clausa recessibus,