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Western Islands of Scotland

In 1973,

BY

SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.

With a Preface by D. T. HOLMES, B.A.

PAISLEY: ALEXANDER GARDNER

Publisher by Appointment to the late Queen Victoria

HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY ^

DEXTER FUND
July 27, 1929

LONDON SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT & co., LMI).

PRINTED BY ALEXANDER GARDNER, PAISLEY

PREFACE.

HE present reprint of Dr. Johnson's Journey

to the Western Islands is issued in the hope that students of literature, as well as a

certain number of those travellers who flock North in the summer season to the lochs and straths of the Scottish Highlands, may wish to have a convenient edition of a most fascinating and instructive book. Johnson's powerful individuality made everything he wrote interesting and impressive. In none of his books do we find such shrewd insight, such hard hitting, such naïve and amusing prejudice as in the one which is now presented to the public. The Journey contains a combination of all those qualities that make a book of travels interesting. We have illuminating side-lights on the social condition of Scotland in the eighteenth century; we are introduced to a long array of famous writers, country lairds, island chieftains, and Gaelic crofters; we have the comments of a city-bred and city-loving man of letters on conditions of life that had previously made him shudder; and we have the pleasing feeling as we get towards the last paragraph, that Johnson himself has learned a great deal, and that under the genial influence of Scottish hospitality his stock of prejudices has become appreciably less. Needless to say, Boswell's spirited and entertaining story is . a desirable supplement to the more austere and formal narrative of the English moralist.

It was an undertaking of no ordinary difficulty for an old man of sixty-four years, afflicted with asthma and hypochondria, somewhat dull of hearing, and with imperfect eyesight, to accomplish a journey to the Western Islands of Scotland in the year 1773. Thanks to the facilities of rail and boat, it is now possible for a man to leave London on Monday, and long before set of sun on Tuesday, emulate Boswell by dancing a jig on the summit of Dun Can in the island of Raasay. Ere such a traveller has reached Raasay ferry, he will have seen many of the localities mentioned by Johnson : the Castle of Armadale on the lovely sound of Sleat ; Glenelg, with its ruined barracks telling of old-time turbulence; the thickly-peopled Strath of Broadford, dominated by the imposing pyramid of Ben-na-Cailleach ; and the magnificent Sound of Raasay running between the lesser isle and the lordly hills of Skye. But such hasty tours were not possible for more than a century after 1773. Johnson and Boswell were in all eighty-three days on their travels—from 14th August, the date of Johnson's arrival in Boyd's Inn at the head of the Canongate, till 9th November, when he and his friend were back again in the city of Edinburgh.

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