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Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland

Samuel Johnson

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .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.

In the evening the soldiers, whom we had passed on the road, came to spend at our inn the little money that we had given them.  They had the true military impatience of coin in their pockets, and had marched at least six miles to find the first place where liquor could be bought.  Having never been before in a place so wild and unfrequented, I was glad of their arrival, because I knew that we had made them friends, and to gain still more of their good will, we went to them, where they were carousing in the barn, and added something to our former gift.  All that we gave was not much, but it detained them in the barn, either merry or quarrelling, the whole night, and in the morning they went back to their work, with great indignation at the bad qualities of whisky.

We had gained so much the favour of our host, th. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Best of friends, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson, venture into the wild, barbarous country of Scotland. (It turns out not to be quite so barbarous, but they meet a lot of wonderful people along the way.)
As travelogues go, I have to say that I found it a bit on the dull side. Still, there are some g

A Dungeon of Wit

"But whoever surveys the world must see many things that give him pain."

This double memoir contains the companion journals of Samuel Johnson and James Boswell. Johnson was a literary (and physical) giant of a man of 64 when the younger by half Boswell, aged 32, convinced him to tour

In the autumn of l773 Boswell convinced Johnson, who was usually highly critical of all things Scottish, to go on a voyage to Scotland, traveling from the cities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen and the lowlands to the Highlands and then to some of the Hebrides islands, off the west coast of Scotland, an e

It’s taken me longer to re-read these two accounts than it took Johnson and Boswell to complete their whole tour in 1773! There are lots of classical, literary and contemporary references to follow up if you have the time and inclination, particularly in Boswell’s journal, which is more concerned wi

It’s a trip through wild, wild country without roads or inns, on horseback, on foot or under sail, where his bed for the night is sometimes a castle, though more often it’s barn straw.

It has a wonderfully alive, first-person narrative, written with quill and candle from the years just before Americ

Let's just say that going on holidays with Samuel Johnson would be a peculiar form of torture. Absolutely fascinating historically though!

Read Dr Johnson's part of this volume; don't care enough about Boswell to read his. Johnson's is, as expected, full of witty insights and powerful moral judgments.

Sir, it is surprising how people will go to a distance for what they may have at home.

In 1773, Samuel Johnson and James Boswell set out to explore the Highlands and islands of Scotland. Johnson was already past sixty (old in those days), one of the stars in the firmament of English letters. Bosw

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