known to Johnson from his childhood. Boswell describes Macleod as "a most promising youth, who with a noble spirit struggles with difficulties, and endeavours to preserve his people. He has been left with an incumbrance of forty thousand pounds debt, and annuities to the amount of thirteen hundred pounds a year. Dr. Johnson said, ' If he gets the better of all this, he'll be a hero ; and I hope he will. I have not met with a young man who had more desire to learn, or who has learnt more. I have seen nobody that I wish more to do a kindness to than Macleod." According to Knox, who was an impartial witness, he was an excellent landlord. Distressed though he was by this heavy burthen of debt, " he raised no rents, turned out no tenants, used no man with severity, and in all respects, and under the most pressing exigences, main- tained the character of a liberal and humane friend of mankind." ' He formed at one time the design of writing his own Life. Unhappily- he left but a fragment. His father had died early, so that on the death of his grandfather, the year before Johnson's visit, he had succeeded to the property the estates in Skye, the nine inhabited isles and the islands uninhabited almost beyond number. " He did not know to within twenty square miles the extent of his territories in Skye." But vast as these domains were, the revenue which they produced was but small. One estate of eighty thousand acres was only rented at six hundred pounds a year.
" His grandfather," he writes, " had entered upon his inheritance in the most prosperous condition ; but the course of his life was expensive, his temper convivial and hospitable, and he continued to impair his fortune till his death. He was the first of our family who was led to leave the patriarchal government of the clan, and to mix in the pursuits and ambition of the world. He had always been a most beneficent chieftain, but in the beginning of 1772, his necessities having lately in- duced him to raise his rents, he became much alarmed by the new spirit which had reached his clan. Aged and infirm he was unable to apply the remedy in person ; he devolved the task on me, and gave me for an assistant our nearest male relation, Colonel Macleod, of Talisker. The estate was loaded with debt, encumbered with a numerous issue from himself and my father, and charged with some jointures. His tenants had lost in that severe winter above a third of their cattle. 2 My friend and I were empowered to grant such deductions in the rents as might seem reason- able ; but we found it terrible to decide between the justice to creditors, the neces- sities of an ancient family, and the distresses of an impoverished tenantry. I called
1 Knox's Tour through the Highlands, p. 142. covered. The snow lay long upon the ground,
2 " In the year seventy-one they had a severe a calamity hardly known before." Johnson's season remembered by the name of the Black Works, ix. 74.
Spring, from which the island has not yet re-