Chapter 15 (3 references)
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.]
Chapter 35 (3 references)
Mr Donald M'Queen went away today, in order to preach at Bracadale next day. We were so comfortably situated at Dunvegan, that Dr Johnson could hardly be moved from it. I proposed to him that we should leave it on Monday. 'No, sir,' said he, 'I will not go before Wednesday. I will have some more of this good.' However, as the weather was at this season so bad, and so very uncertain, and we had a great deal to do yet, Mr M'Queen and I prevailed with him to agree to set out on Monday, if the day should be good. Mr M'Queen though it was inconvenient for him to be absent from his harvest, engaged to wait on Monday at Ulinish for us. When he was going away, Dr Johnson said, 'I shall ever retain a great regard for you'; then asked him if he had the Rambler. Mr M'Queen said, 'No; but my brother has it' JOHNSON. 'Have you the Idler?' M'QUEEN. 'No, sir.' JOHNSON. 'Then I will order one for you at Edinburgh, which you will keep in remembrance of me.' Mr M'Queen was much pleased with this. He expressed to me, in the strongest terms, his admiration of Dr Johnson's wonderful knowledge, and every other quality for which he is distinguished. I asked Mr M'Queen, if he was satisfied with being a minister in Sky. He said he was; but he owned that his forefathers having been so long there, and his having been born there, made a chief ingredient in forming his contentment. I should have mentioned, that on our left hand, between Portree and Dr Macleod's house, Mr M'Queen told me there had been a college of the Knights Templars; that tradition said so; and that there was a ruin remaining of their church, which had been burnt: but I confess Dr Johnson has weakened my belief in remote tradition. In the dispute about Anaitis, Mr M'Queen said, Asia Minor was peopled by Scythians, and, as they were the ancestors of the Celts, the same religion might be in Asia Minor and Sky. JOHNSON. 'Alas! sir, what can a nation that has not letters tell of its original? I have always difficulty to be patient when I hear authors gravely quoted, as giving accounts of savage nations, which accounts they had from the savages themselves. What can the M'Craas tell about themselves a thousand years ago? There is no tracing the connection of ancient nations, but by language; and therefore I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigree of nations. If you find the same language in distant countries, you may be sure that the inhabitants of each have been the same people; that is to say, if you find the languages a good deal the same; for a word here and there being the same, will not do. Thus Butler, in his Hudibras, remembering that Penguin, in the Straits of Magellan, signifies a bird with a white head, and that the same word has, in Wales, the signification of a white-headed wench (PEN head, and GUIN white), by way of ridicule, concludes that the people of those Straits are Welch.'
Chapter 49 (3 references)
Dr Johnson said, that 'a chief and his lady should make their house like a court. They should have a certain number of the gentlemen's daughters to receive their education in the family, to learn pastry and such things from the housekeeper, and manners from my lady. That was the way in the great families in Wales; at Lady Salisbury's, Mrs Thrale's grandmother, and at Lady Philips's. I distinguish the families by the ladies, as I speak of what was properly their province. There were always six young ladies at Sir John Philips's: when one was married, her place was filled up. There was a large school-room, where they learnt needlework and other things.' I observed, that, at some courts in Germany, there were academies for the pages, who are the sons of gentlemen, and receive their education without any expence to their parents. Dr Johnson said, that manners were best learnt at those courts. 'You are admitted with great facility to the prince's company, and yet must treat him with much respect. At a great court, you are at such a distance that you get no good.' I said, 'Very true: a man sees the court of Versailles, as if he saw it on a theatre.' He said, 'The best book that ever was written upon good breeding, Il Corteggiano, by Castiglione, grew up at the little court of Urbino, and you should read it.' I am glad always to have his opinion of books. At Mr M'Pherson's, he commended Whitby's Commentary, and said, he had heard him called rather lax; but he did not perceive it. He had looked at a novel, called The Man of the World, at Rasay, but thought there was nothing in it. He said to-day, while reading my Journal, 'This will be a great treasure to us some years hence.'