Johnson and Boswell in Scotland : a journey to the Hebrides

by Pat Rogers

Paper Book, 1993



Call number

DA880 .H4J6 1993


New Haven : Yale University Press, c1993.


Samuel Johnson and James Boswell spent the autumn of 1773 touring through the Lowlands and Highlands of Scotland as far west as the islands of Skye, Raasay, Coll, Mull, Inchkenneth and Iona. Both kept detailed notes of their impressions, and later published separate accounts of their journey. These works contain some of the finest pieces of travel writing ever produced: they are also magnificent historical documents as well as portraits of two extraordinary men of letters. Together they paint a vivid picture of a society which was still almost unknown to the Europe of the Enlightenment. Entertaining, profound, and marvellously readable, they are a valuable chronicle of a lost age and a fascinating people. For the first time, Ronald Black's edition brings together Johnson's and Boswell's accounts of each of the six stages of the two men's journey - Lowlands, Skye, Coll, Mull and back to the mainland. Illustrated with prints by Thomas Rowlandson, it includes a critical introduction, translations of the Latin texts and brief notes.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member charlie68
The first book by Johnson was good the second by Boswell was better, at least more humourous, with the recording of the sayings of Johnson. I thought it was fascinating to travel with these two gentleman during the time when there were no trains and tours were pretty well rustic. The time in which
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they travelled too, when Scotland or Old Scotland was disappearing, and the peaceful and the more refined Scotland we know today was taking its place.
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LibraryThing member Cecrow
Samuel Johnson being the creator of the first English dictionary, I expected this journal to be a challenging and thorough chronicle. At least to begin with it seems surprisingly the contrary, sparse in general descriptions and more often fastening onto some specific detail or aspect (local
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education, the clergy, etc.) I also found it to be full of platitudes. Once he gets to the isles, his real destination of interest, he becomes much more thorough. Johnson's story is rather dry but there were interesting bits to glean throughout every so many pages: one standout was his commentary on ruins that pass into nothing, after which all is forgotten - a troubling note in a journal written in the 1770s. The British disarmed Scotland after Culloden and Johnson provides enough coverage of the results to give anti-gun lobbyists a good lead. He journeys past Loch Ness with not a mention of the monster (no one "saw it" until 1933), but describes the Second Sight and other local legends.I enjoyed following his journey with an atlas (although I can't seem to google up a reliable image that traces the route), and if I lived in the area I'd be tempted to follow at least a portion of his steps and see the contrast with today.
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Original publication date

1775-01 (Johnson)
1785 (Boswell)
1924 (Chapman)

Physical description

xxii, 330 p.; 27 cm


0300052103 / 9780300052107


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