'Yes, (said he,) any one may. The business of a butcher is a trade indeed, that is to say, there is an apprenticeship served to it; but it may be learnt in a month.'
I mentioned a club in London at the Boar's Head in Eastcheap, the very tavern where Falstaff and his joyous companions met; the members of which all assume Shakspeare's characters. One is Falstaff, another Prince Henry, another Bardolph, and so on. JOHNSON. 'Don't be of it, Sir. Now that you have a name, you must be careful to avoid many things, not bad in themselves, but which will lessen your character. This every man who has a name must observe. A man who is not publickly known may live in London as he pleases, without any notice being taken of him; but it is wonderful how a person of any consequence is watched. There was a member of parliament, who wanted to prepare himself to speak on a question that was to come on in the House; and he and I were to talk it over together. He did not wish it should be known that he talked with me; so he would not let me come to his house, but came to mine. Some time after he had made his speech in the house, Mrs. Cholmondeley, a very airy lady, told me, 'Well, you could make nothing of him!' naming the gentleman; which was a proof that he was watched. I had once some business to do for government, and I went to Lord North's. Precaution was taken that it should not be known. It was dark before I went; yet a few days after I was told, 'Well, you have been with Lord North.' That the door of the prime minister should be watched is not strange; but that a member of parliament should be watched, or that my door should be watched, is wonderful.'
We set out this morning on our way to Talisker, in Ulinish's boat, having taken leave of him and his family. Mr. Donald M'Queen still favoured us with his company, for which we were much obliged to him. As we sailed along Dr. Johnson got into one of his fits of railing at the Scots. He owned that they had been a very learned nation for a hundred years, from about 1550 to about 1650; but that they afforded the only instance of a people among whom the arts of civil life did not advance in proportion with learning; that they had hardly any trade, any money, or any elegance, before the Union; that it was strange that, with all the advantages possessed by other nations, they had not any of those conveniencies and embellishments which are the fruit of industry, till they came in contact with a civilized people. 'We have taught you, (said he,) and we'll do the same in time to all barbarous nations,--to the Cherokees,--and at last to the Ouran-Outangs;' laughing with as much glee as if Monboddo had been present. BOSWELL. 'We had wine before the Union.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; you had some weak stuff, the refuse of France, which would not make you drunk.' BOSWELL. 'I assure you, Sir, there was a great deal of drunkenness.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; there were people who died of dropsies, which they contracted in trying to get drunk.'
I must here glean some of his conversation at Ulinish, which I have omitted. He repeated his remark, that a man in a ship was worse than a man in a jail. 'The man in a jail, (said he,) has more room, better food, and commonly better company, and is in safety.' 'Ay; but, (said Mr. M'Queen,) the man in the ship has the pleasing hope of getting to shore.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I am not talking of a man's getting to shore; but of a man while he is in a ship: and then, I say, he is worse than a man while he is in a jail. A man in a jail may have the "pleasing hope" of getting out. A man confined for only a limited time, actually has it.' M'Leod mentioned his schemes for carrying on fisheries with spirit, and that he would wish to understand the construction of boats. I suggested that he might go to a dock-yard and work, as Peter the Great did. JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, he need not work. Peter the Great had not the sense to see that the mere mechanical work may be done by any body, and that there is the same art in constructing a vessel, whether the boards are well or ill wrought. Sir Christopher Wren might as well have served his time to a bricklayer, and first, indeed, to a brick-maker.'
There is a beautiful little island in the Loch of Dunvegan, called Isa. M'Leod said, he would give it to Dr. Johnson, on condition of his residing on it three months in the year; nay one month. Dr. Johnson was highly amused with the fancy. I have seen him please himself with little things, even with mere ideas like the present. He talked a great deal of this island;--how he would build a house there,--how he would fortify it,--how he would have cannon,--how he would plant,--how he would sally out, and take the isle of Muck;--and then he laughed with uncommon glee, and could hardly leave off. I have seen him do so at a small matter that struck him, and was a sport to no one else. Mr. Langton told me, that one night he did so while the company were all grave about him:--only Garrick, in his significant smart manner, darting his eyes around, exclaimed, 'Very jocose, to be sure!' M'Leod encouraged the fancy of Doctor Johnson's becoming owner of an island; told him, that it was the practice in this country to name every man by his lands; and begged leave to drink to him in that mode: 'Island Isa, your health!' Ulinish, Talisker, Mr.