Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (Everyman's Library)

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9780460003872: Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (Everyman's Library)

A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1775) is a travel narrative by Samuel Johnson about an eighty-three-day journey through Scotland, in particular the islands of the Hebrides, in the late summer and autumn of 1773. The sixty-three-year-old Johnson was accompanied by his thirty-two-year-old friend of many years James Boswell, who was also keeping a record of the trip, published in 1785 as A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. The two narratives are often published as a single volume, which is beneficial for comparing two perspectives of the same events, although they are very different in approach---Johnson focused on Scotland, and Boswell focused on Johnson. (Boswell went on to write a famous biography of Johnson.) Highland Scotland was still a relatively wild place in 1773. Marauding privateers and slave-ships worked the coasts (seven slavers were reported in 1774 alone). The destruction of Scottish forests was in full swing. The Scottish clan system had been dismantled by Act of Parliament, the population had been disarmed and wearing of the tartan was prohibited. Scotch whisky was distilled illegally and profusely (Johnson noted the custom of the skalk, or drinking whisky before breakfast). The rule of law was by no means properly established, and the power of the clan chieftains was curtailed but was often the only real authority. Johnson and Boswell toured the Highlands and islands by carriage, on horseback and by boat, planning the stages of their journey to stay at the houses of the local gentry. They were astounded when they visited their colleague Lord Monboddo at Monboddo House and saw him in his primitive attire as a farmer, a quite different picture from his image as an urbane Edinburgh Court of Session jurist, philosopher and proto-evolutionary thinker. This part of Scotland in 1773 was a romantic place. It was relatively empty of people and nearly unspoiled by commerce, roads, and other trappings of modern life – Johnson noted that in some Highland islands money had not yet become custom. Indeed, with no money or roads parts of Scotland were more akin to the 8th century than 18th. Once Johnson reached the West Highlands, there were few roads, none at all on the Isle of Skye, and so they traveled by horseback, usually along the ridge of a hill with a local guide who knew the terrain and the best route for the season. "Journies made in this manner are rather tedious and long. A very few miles requires several hours", Johnson wrote. He deplored the depopulation of the Highlands: "Some method to stop this epidemic desire of wandering, which spreads its contagion from valley to valley, ought to be sought with great diligence".

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About the Author:

James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck; (29 October 1740 – 19 May 1795), was a Scottish biographer and diarist, born in Edinburgh. He is best known for the biography he wrote of one of his contemporaries, the English literary figure Samuel Johnson, which the modern Johnsonian critic Harold Bloom has claimed is the greatest biography written in the English language. Boswell's surname has passed into the English language as a term (Boswell, Boswellian, Boswellism) for a constant companion and observer, especially one who records those observations in print. In A Scandal in Bohemia, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes affectionately says of Dr. Watson, who narrates the tales, "I am lost without my Boswell."

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James Boswell
Published by Everyman's Library (1958)
ISBN 10: 0460003879 ISBN 13: 9780460003872
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James Boswell
Published by Everyman's Library (1958)
ISBN 10: 0460003879 ISBN 13: 9780460003872
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
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Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
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