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Johnson's imaginary seraglio.

(Sept. 16.

the advantage of wearing linen. JOHNSON. ‘All animal substances are less cleanly than vegetable. Wool, of which flannel is made, is an animal substance; flannel therefore is not so cleanly as linen. I remember I used to think tar dirty; but when I knew it to be only a preparation of the juice of the pine, I thought so no longer. It is not disagreeable to have the gum that oozes from a plum-tree upon your fingers, because it is vegetable ; but if you have any candle-grease, any tallow upon your fingers, you are uneasy till you rub it off. I have often thought, that if I kept a seraglio, the ladies should all wear linen gowns,-or cotton; I mean stuffs made of vegetable substances. I would have no silk; you cannot tell when it is clean: It will be very nasty before it is perceived to be so. Linen detects its own dirtiness.'

To hear the grave Dr. Samuel Johnson, “that majestick teacher of moral and religious wisdom,' while sitting solemn in an arm-chair in the Isle of Sky, talk, ex cathedra, of his keeping a seraglio', and acknowledge that the supposition had often been in his thoughts, struck me so forcibly with ludicrous contrast, that I could not but laugh immoderately. He was too proud to submit, even for a moment, to be the object of ridicule, and instantly retaliated with such keen sarcastick wit, and such a variety of degrading images, of every one of which I was the object, that, though I can bear such attacks as well as most men, I yet found myself so much the sport of all the company, that I would gladly expunge from my mind every trace of this severe retort.

Talking of our friend Langton's house in Lincolnshire, he said, the old house of the family was burnt. A temporary building was erected in its room ; and to this day they have been always adding as the family increased. It is like a shirt made for a man when he was a child, and enlarged always as he grows older.'

We talked to-night of Luther's allowing the Landgrave of Hesse two wives, and that it was with the consent of the

See ante, iii. 418.

Sept. 17.]



wife to whom he was first married. JOHNSON. “There was no harm in this, so far as she was only concerned, because volenti non fit injuria. But it was an offence against the general order of society, and against the law of the Gospel, by which one man and one woman are to be united. No man can have two wives, but by preventing somebody else from having one.'

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17. After dinner yesterday, we had a conversation upon cunning. M‘Leod said that he was not afraid of cunning people; but would let them play their tricks about him like monkeys. “But, (said I,) they'll scratch;' and Mr. M'Queen added, 'they'll invent new tricks, as soon as you find out what they do.' JOHNSON. “Cunning has effect from the credulity of others, rather than from the abilities of those who are cunning. It requires no extraordinary talents to lie and deceive'.' This led us to consider whether it did not require great abilities to be very wicked. JOHNSON. “It requires great abilities to have the power of being very wicked; but not to be very wicked. A man who has the power, which great abilities procure him, may use it well or ill; and it requires more abilities to use it well, than to use it ill. Wickedness is always easier than virtue; for it takes the short cut to every thing. It is much easier to steal a hundred pounds, than to get it by labour, or any other way. Consider only what act of wickedness requires great abilities to commit it, when once the person who is to do it has the power; for there is the distinction. It requires great


· Every man wishes to be wise, and they who cannot be wise are almost always cunning ... nor is caution ever so necessary as with associates or opponents of feeble minds.' The Idler, No. 92. In a letter to Dr. Taylor Johnson says :—To help the ignorant commonly requires much patience, for the ignorant are always trying to be cunning.' Notes and Queries, 6th S. v. 462. Churchill, in The Journey (Poems, ed. 1766, ii. 327), says :

• 'Gainst fools be guarded ; 'tis a certain rule, Wits are safe things, there's danger in a fool.'



Mr. M Queen's Temple of Anaitis. (Sept. 17.

abilities to conquer an army, but none to massacre it after it is conquered.

The weather this day was rather better than any that we had since we came to Dunvegan. Mr. M'Queen had often mentioned a curious piece of antiquity near this, which he called a temple of the Goddess ANAITIS. Having often talked of going to see it, he and I set out after breakfast, attended by his servant, a fellow quite like a savage. I must observe here, that in Sky there seems to be much idleness; for men and boys follow you, as colts follow passengers upon a road. The usual figure of a Sky-boy, is a lown with bare legs and feet, a dirty kilt, ragged coat and waistcoat, a bare head, and a stick in his hand, which, I suppose, is partly to help the lazy rogue to walk, partly to serve as a kind of a defensive weapon. We walked what is called two miles, but is probably four, from the castle, till we came to the sacred place. The country around is a black dreary moor on all sides, except to the sea-coast, towards which there is a view through a valley; and the farm of Bay shews some good land. The place itself is green ground, being well drained by means of a deep glen on each side, in both of which there runs a rivulet with a good quantity of water, forming several cascades, which make a considerable appearance and sound. The first thing we came to was an earthern mound, or dyke, extending from the one precipice to the other. A little farther on was a strong stone-wall, not high, but very thick, extending in the same manner. On the outside of it were the ruins of two houses, one on each side of the entry or gate to it. The wall is built all along of uncemented stones, but of so large a size as to make a very firm and durable rampart. It has been built all about the consecrated ground, except where the precipice is steep enough to form an inclosure of itself. The sacred spot contains more than two acres. There are within it the ruins of many houses, none of them large,-a cairn, and many graves marked by clusters of stones. Mr. M'Queen insisted that the ruin of a small building, standing east and west,


Sept. 17.)

Family portraits.


was actually the temple of the Goddess ANAITIS, where her statue was kept, and from whence processions were made to wash it in one of the brooks. There is, it must be owned, a hollow road, visible for a good way from the entrance; but Mr. M'Queen, with the keen eye of an antiquary, traced it much farther than I could perceive it. There is not above a foot and a half in height of the walls now remaining; and the whole cxtent of the building was never, I imagine, greater than an ordinary Highland house. Mr. M'Queen has collected a great deal of learning on the subject of the temple of ANAITIS; and I had endeavoured, in my Journal, to state such particulars as might give some idea of it, and of the surrounding scenery; but from the great difficulty of describing visible objects', I found my account so unsatisfactory, that my readers would probably have exclaimed

And write about it, Goddess, and about it';' and therefore I have omitted it.

When we got home, and were again at table with Dr. Johnson, we first talked of portraits. He agreed in thinking them valuable in families. I wished to know which he preferred, fine portraits, or those of which the merit was resemblance. JOHNSON. Sir, their chief excellence is being like.' BOSWELL. 'Are you of that opinion as to the portraits of ancestors, whom one has never seen?' JOHNSON. “It then becomes of more consequence that they should be like; and I would have them in the dress of the times, which makes a piece of history. One should like to see how Rorie More looked. Truth, Sir, is of the greatest value in these things'.' Mr. M'Queen observed, that if you

i See ante, p. 197.

· For thee we dim the eyes, and stuff the head
With all such reading as was never read;
For thee explain a thing till all men doubt it,
And write about it, goddess, and about it.'

The Dunciad, iv. 249. Genius is chiefly exerted in historical pictures; and the art of the painter of portraits is often lost in the obscurity of his subject. But


Records not consulted by historians. (Sept. 17.

think it of no consequence whether portraits are like, if they are but well painted, you may be indifferent whether a piece of history is true or not, if well told.

Dr. Johnson said at breakfast to-day, that it was but of late that historians bestowed pains and attention in consulting records, to attain to accuracy'. Bacon, in writing his history of Henry VII, does not seem to have consulted any, but to have just taken what he found in other histories, and blended it with what he learnt by tradition. He agreed with me that there should be a chronicle kept in every considerable family, to preserve the characters and transactions of successive generations.

After dinner I started the subject of the temple of ANAITIS. Mr. M'Queen had laid stress on the name given to the place by the country people,-Ainnit; and added, “I knew not what to make of this piece of antiquity, till I met with the Anaitidis delubrum in Lydia, mentioned by Pausanias and the elder Pliny.' Dr. Johnson, with his usual acuteness, examined Mr. M'Queen as to the meaning of the word Ainnit, in Erse; and it proved to be a water-place, or a place near water, 'which,' said Mr. M'Queen,' agrees with all the descriptions of the temples of that goddess, which were situated near rivers, that there might be water to wash the statue.' JOHNSON. “Nay, Sir, the argument from the


it is in painting as in life; what is greatest is not always best. I should grieve to see Reynolds transfer to heroes and to goddesses, to empty splendour and to airy fiction, that art which is now employed in diffusing friendship, in reviving tenderness, in quickening the affections of the absent, and continuing the presence of the dead.' The Idler, No. 45.

Southey wrote thirty years later :-I find daily more and more reason to wonder at the miserable ignorance of English historians, and to grieve with a sort of despondency at seeing how much that has been laid up among the stores of knowledge has been neglected and utterly forgotten.' Southey's Life, ii. 264. On another occasion he said of Robertson :-To write his introduction to Charles V, without reading these Laws (the Laws of Alonso the Wise), is one of the thousand and one omissions for which he ought to be called rogue, as long as his volumes last.' Ib. p. 318.


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