Chapter 30 (5 references)
Dr M'Pherson's Dissertations on Scottish Antiquities, which he had looked at when at Corrichatachin, being mentioned, he remarked, that 'you might read half an hour, and ask yourself what you had been reading: there were so many words to so little matter, that there was no getting through the book'. As soon as we reached the shore, we took leave of Kingsburgh, and mounted our horses. We passed through a wild moor, in many places so soft that we were obliged to walk, which was very fatiguing to Dr Johnson. Once he had advanced on horseback to a very bad step. There was a steep declivity on his left, to which he was so near, that there was not room for him to dismount in the usual way. He tried to alight on the other side, as if he had been a 'young buck' indeed, but in the attempt he fell at his length upon the ground; from which, however, he got up immediately without being hurt. During this dreary ride, we were sometimes relieved by a view of branches of the sea, that universal medium of connection amongst mankind. A guide, who had been sent with us from Kingsburgh, explored the way (much in the same manner as, I suppose, is pursued in the wilds of America) by observing certain marks known only to the inhabitants. We arrived at Dunvegan late in the afternoon. The great size of the castle, which is partly old and partly new, and is built upon a rock close to the sea, while the land around it presents nothing but wild, moorish, hilly, and craggy appearances, gave a rude magnificence to the scene. Having dismounted, we ascended a flight of steps, which was made by the late Macleod, for the accomodation of persons coming to him by land, there formerly being, for security, no other access to the castle but from the sea; so that visitors who came by the land were under the necessity of getting into a boat, and sailed round to the only place where it could be approached. We were introduced into a stately dining-room, and received by Lady Macleod, mother of the laird, who, with his friend Talisker, having been detained on the road, did not arrive till some time after us.
Chapter 39 (5 references)
His notion as to the poems published by Mr M'Pherson, as the works of Ossian, was not shaken here. Mr M'Queen always evaded the point of authenticity, saying only that Mr M'Pherson's pieces fell far short of those he knew in Erse, which were said to be Ossian's. JOHNSON. 'I hope they do. I am not disputing that you may have poetry of great merit; but that M'Pherson's is not a translation from ancient poetry. You do not believe it. I say before you, you do not believe it, though you are very willing that the world should believe it.' Mr M'Queen made no answer to this. Dr Johnson proceeded, 'I look upon M'Pherson's Fingal to be as gross an imposition as ever the world was troubled with. Had it been really an ancient work, a true specimen how men thought at that time, it would have been a curiosity of the first rate. As a modern production, it is nothing.' He said, he could never get the meaning of an Erse song explained to him. They told him, the chorus was generally unmeaning. 'I take it,' said he, 'Erse songs are like a song which I remember: it was composed in Queen Elizabeth's time, on the Earl of Essex; and the burthen was
Chapter 40 (5 references)
I took Fingal down to the parlour in the morning, and tried a test proposed by Mr Roderick M'Leod, son to Ulinish. Mr M'Queen had said he had some of the poem in the original. I desired him to mention any passage in the printed book, of which he could repeat the original. He pointed out one in page 50 of the quarto edition, and read the Erse, while Mr Roderick M'Leod and I looked on the English; and Mr M'Leod said, that it was pretty like what Mr M'Queen had recited. But when Mr M'Queen read a description of Cuchullin's sword in Erse, together with a translation of it in English verse, by Sir James Foulis, Mr M'Leod said, that was much more like than Mr M'Pherson's translation of the former passage. Mr M'Queen then repeated in Erse a description of one of the horses in Cuchillin's car. Mr M'Leod said, Mr M'Pherson's English was nothing like it.
Chapter 45 (5 references)
We set out about four. Young Corrichatachin went with us. We had a fine evening, and arrived in good time at Ostig, the residence of Mr Martin M'Pherson, minister of Slate. It is a pretty good house, built by his father, upon a farm near the church. We were received here with much kindness by Mr and Mrs M'Pherson, and his sister, Miss M'Pherson, who pleased Dr Johnson much, by singing Erse songs, and playing on the guittar. He afterwards sent her a present of his Rasselas. In his bed-chamber was a press stored with books, Greek, Latin, French, and English, most of which had belonged to the father of our host, the learned Dr M'Pherson; who, though his Dissertations have been mentioned in a former page as unsatisfactory, was a man of distinguished talents. Dr Johnson looked at a Latin paraphrase of the song of Moses, written by him, and published in the Scots Magazine for 1747, and said, 'It does him honour; he has a great deal of Latin, and good Latin.' Dr M'Pherson published also in the same magazine, June 1739, an original Latin ode, which he wrote from the Isle of Barra, where he was minister for some years. It is very poetical, and exhibits a striking proof how much all things depend upon comparison: for Barra, it seems, appeared to him so much worse than Sky, his natale solum, that he languished for its 'blessed mountains', and thought himself buried alive amongst barbarians where he was. My readers will probably not be displeased to have a specimen of this ode:
Chapter 49 (5 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.'