A JOURNEY TO THE WESTERN ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND by Samuel Johnson
We left Auknasheals and the Macraes its the
afternoon, and in the evening came to Ratiken, a high hill on which a road is cut, but so
steep and narrow, that it is very difficult. There is now a design of making another way
round the bottom. Upon one of the precipices, my horse, weary with the steepness of the
rise, staggered a little, and I called in haste to the Highlander to hold him. This was
the only moment of my journey, in which I thought myself endangered.
Having surmounted the hill at last, we were told that at Glenelg, on the
sea-side, we should come to a house of lime and slate and glass. This image of
magnificence raised our expectation. At last we came to our inn weary and peevish, and
began to inquire for meat and beds.
Of the provisions the negative catalogue was very copious. Here was
no meat, no milk, no bread, no eggs, no wine. We did not express much satisfaction. Here
however we were to stay. Whisky we might have, and I believe at last they caught a fowl
and killed it. We had some bread, and with that we prepared ourselves to be contented,
when we had a very eminent proof of Highland hospitality. Along some miles of the way, in
the evening, a gentleman's servant had kept us company on foot with very little notice on
our part. He left us near Glenelg, and we thought on him no more till he came to us again,
in about two hours, with a present from his master of rum and sugar. The man had mentioned
his company, and the gentleman, whose name, I think, is Gordon, well knowing the penury of
the place, had this attention to two men, whose names perhaps he had not heard, by whom
his kindness was not likely to be ever repaid, and who could be recommended to him only by
We were now to examine our lodging. Out of one of the beds, on which
we were to repose, started up, at our entrance, a man black as a Cyclops from the forge.
Other circumstances of no elegant recital concurred to disgust us. We had been frighted by
a lady at Edinburgh, with discouraging representations of Highland lodgings.
Sleep, however, was necessary. Our Highlanders had at last found
some hay, with which the inn could not supply them. I directed them to bring a bundle into
the room, and slept upon it in my riding coat. Mr. Boswell being more delicate, laid
himself sheets with hay over and under him, and lay in linen like a gentleman.
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