castle the castle

The immortal tour of James Boswell and Dr Samuel Johnson into the Highlands of Scotland in 1773. An incongruous team they were…

At his first sight of Dunvegan Castle Boswell remarked with satisfaction, “This is feudal indeed.” What pleased Johnson, however, was discovering that the MacLeods, who were masters of Dunvegan, had adopted English ways and had sent their women to be educated in England. Served a “civilized” -i.e., English- tea, Johnson “became quite joyous,” for the ruder Scots, he complained, “polluted” their tea by serving it with smelly cheeses. There was one touchy moment during the travelers’ week long stay at the castle when Johnson insisted to his hostess that neither women nor men were naturally good. “Lady MacLeod started, saying low, ‘This is worse than Swift.’ ”

—Dunvegan Castle. Read More:

Boswell: …Lady MacLeod asked if no man was naturally good. JOHNSON. “No, madam, no more than a wolf.” BOSWELL. “Nor no woman, sir?” JOHNSON. “No, sir.  Lady MacLeod started, saying low, “This is worse than Swift.”…

Johnson:Not long after the dram, may be expected the breakfast, a meal in which the Scots, whether of the lowlands or mountains, must be confessed to excel us. The tea and coffee are accompanied not only with butter, but with honey, conserves, and marmalades. If an epicure could remove by a wish, in quest of sensual gratifications, wherever he had supped he would breakfast in Scotland.

In the islands however, they do what I found it not very easy to endure. They pollute the tea-table by plates piled with large slices of cheshire cheese, which mingles its less grateful odours with the fragrance of the tea.

Where many questions are to be asked, some will be omitted. I forgot to inquire how they were supplied with so much exotic luxury. Perhaps the French may bring them wine for wool, and the Dutch give them tea and coffee at the fishing season, in exchange for fresh provision. Their trade is unconstrained; they pay no customs, for there is no officer to demand them; whatever therefore is made dear only by impost, is obtained here at an easy rate. …

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