31 VIII – 1 IX 1773
7 IX 2013


“Some time after dinner we were surprised by the entrance of a young woman, not inelegant either in mien or dress, who asked us whether we would have tea.  We found that she was the daughter of our host, and desired her to make it.  Her conversation, like her appearance, was gentle and pleasing.  We knew that the girls of the Highlands are all gentlewomen, and treated her with great respect, which she received as customary and due, and was neither elated by it, nor confused, but repaid my civilities without embarassment, and told me how much I honoured her country by coming to survey it. She had been at Inverness to gain the common female qualifications, and had, like her father, the English pronunciation.  I presented her with a book, which I happened to have about me, and should not be pleased to think that she forgets me.”

That is Johnson’s account. Boswell has the detail; the book he gave, the better to be remembered by, was Cocker’s Arithmetic, purchased in Inverness at the Leakey’s of the day.

In Cawdor, a volume of Sallust was gifted to Reverend MacAulay’s young son. Another gift, on Skye, to Reverend McQueen: “'Have you the Idler?' M'QUEEN. 'No, sir.' JOHNSON. 'Then I will order one for you at Edinburgh, which you will keep in remembrance of me.” In return, MacLeod offered him an island, if he would remain.

We made a palaver of offering our Cocker, in traditional Carry-On manner, at inns along the way, going so far as to purchase a brief life of Alan Turing, as our equivalent to remember us by. We have the book yet, being either too bashful (more Jim Dale than Sid James), or meeting no young ladies “with suitable qualifications” (imagine Kenneth Williams enunciating that). Now the journey is over we will send it on to Kapka, our poet friend in Kilmorack.

As the travellers left Anoch, the mood changed. Their host, MacQueen, told them stories of the ’45, in which he had taken part; Boswell, moved, writes, “I could not refrain from tears”, recalling another who was moved by similar tales: “The story of their heroism… has come down, sleeve at my eyes”, wrote Basho.


Cocker, Edward; Cocker's Arithmetick: Being a Plain and Familiar Method Suitable to the Meanest Capacity for the Full Understanding of That Incomparable Art, As It Is Now Taught by the Ablest School-Masters in City and Country (1677)