Monday, 6th September
We set out, accompanied by Mr Donald M'Leod (late of Canna) as our guide. We rode for some time along the district of Slate, near the shore. The houses in general are made of turf, covered with grass. The country seemed well peopled. We came into the district of Strath, and passed along a wild moorish tract of land till we arrived at the shore. There we found good verdure, and some curious whin-rocks, or collections of stones like the ruins of the foundations of old buildings. We saw also three cairns of considerable size.
About a mile beyond Broadfoot, is Corrichatachin, a farm of Sir Alexander Macdonald's, possessed by Mr M'Kinnon, [Footnote: That my readers may have my narrative in the style of the country through which I am travelling, it is proper to inform them, that the chief of a clan is denominated by his SURNAME alone, as M'Leod, M'Kinnon. M'Intosh. To prefix MR to it would be a degradation from THE M'Leod, &c. My old friend, the Laird of M'Farlane, the great antiquary, took it highly amiss, when General Wade called him Mr M'Farlane. Dr Johnson said, he could not bring himself to use this mode of address: it seemed to him to be too familiar, as it is the way in which, in all other places, intimates or inferiors are addressed. When the chiefs have TITLES, they are denominated by them, as SIR JAMES GRANT. SIR ALLAN M'LEAN. The other Highland gentlemen, of landed property, are denominated by their ESTATES, as RASAY, BOISDALE; and the wives of all of them have the title of ladies. The TACKSMEN, or principal tenants, are named by their farms, as KINGSBURGH, CORRICHATACHIN; and their wives are called the MISTRESS of Kingsburgh, the MISTRESS of Corrichatachin. Having given this explanation, I am at liberty to use that mode of speech which generally prevails in the Highlands and the Hebrides.] who received us with a hearty welcome, as did his wife, who was what we call in Scotland a LADY-LIKE woman. Mr Pennant, in the course of his tour to the Hebrides, passed two nights at this gentleman's house. On its being mentioned, that a present had here been made to him of a curious specimen of Highland antiquity, Dr Johnson said, 'Sir, it was more than he deserved: the dog is a Whig.'
We here enjoyed the comfort of a table plentifully furnished, the satisfaction of which was heightened by a numerous and cheerful company; and we for the first time had a specimen of the joyous social manners of the inhabitants of the Highlands. They talked in their own ancient language, with fluent vivacity, and sung many Erse songs with such spirit, that, though Dr Johnson was treated with the greatest respect and attention, there were moments in which he seemed to be forgotten. For myself, though but a lowlander, having picked up a few words of the language, I presumed to mingle in their mirth, and joined in the choruses with as much glee as any of the company. Dr Johnson being fatigued with his journey, retired early to his chamber, where he composed the following Ode, addressed to Mrs Thrale:
Permeo terras, ubi nuda rupes Saxeas miscet nebulis ruinas, Torva ubi rident steriles coloni Rura labores.
Pervagor gentes, hominum ferorum Vita ubi nullo decorata cultu Squallet informis, tugurique fumis Foeda latescit.
Inter erroris salebrosa longi, Inter ignotae strepitus loquelae, Quot modis mecum, quid agat, requiro, Thralia dulcis
Seu viri curas pia nupta mulcet, Seu fovet mater sobolem benigna. Sive cum libris novitate pascet Sedula mentem;
Sit memor nostri, fideique merces, Stet fides constans, meritoque blandum Thraliae discant resonare nomen Littora Skiae.
Scriptum in Skia, Sept. 6, 1773.