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Jewish history compared—Scotland composed of stone,
He WAS OF AN ADMIRABLE PREGNANCY OF WIT, AND THAT PREGNANCY MUCH IMPROvED BY CONTINUAL STUDY FROM HIS CHILDHOOD; BY WHICH HE HAD GOTTEN SUCH A PROMPTNESS IN EXPRESSING HIS MIND, THAT HIS EXTEMPORAL SPEECHES WERE LITTLE INFERIOR TO HIS PREMEDITATED Writings. Many, No Doubt, Had Read As Much, And Perhaps More Than He; But Scarce Ever Any Concocted His Reading Into Judgement As He Did.
THE JOURNAL OF A TOUR TO THE HEBRIDES
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
DE. JOHNSON had for many years given me hopes that we should go together, and visit the Hebrides. Martin's account of those islands had impressed us with a notion, that we might there contemplate a system of life almost totally different from what we had been accustomed to see; and to find simplicity and wildness, and all the circumstances of remote time or place, so near to our native great island, was an object within the reach of reasonable curiosity. Dr. Johnson has said in his "Journey," that "he scarcely remembered how the wish to visit the Hebrides was excited;" but he told me, in summer, 1763, that his father put Martin's account into his hands when he was very young, and that he was much pleased with it.1 We reckoned there would be some inconveniences and hardships, and perhaps a little danger; but these, we were persuaded, were magnified in the imagination of every body. When I was at Forney, in 1764, I mentioned our design to Voltaire. He looked at me, as if I had talked of going to the North Pole, and said, "You do not insist on my accom
1 It is entitled, A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland. Containing—
A full account of their situation, extent, soil, product, harbours, bays, tides, anchoring places, and fisheries.
The ancient and modern government, religion and customs of the inhabitants, particularly of their Druids, heathen Temples, monasteries, churches, chapels, antiquities, monuments, forts, caves and other curiosipanying you ?"—" No, sir." "Then I am very willing you should go." I was not afraid that our curious expedition would be prevented by such apprehensions; but I doubted that it would not be possible to prevail on Dr. Johnson to relinquish, for some time, the felicity of a London life, which, to a man who can enjoy it with full intellectual relish, is apt to make existence in any narrower sphere seem insipid or irksome. I doubted that he would not be willing to come down from his elevated state of philosophical dignity; from a superiority of wisdom among the wise, and of learning among the learned; and from flashing his wit upon minds bright enough to reflect it.
He had disappointed my expectations so long, that I began to despair; but, in spring, 1773, he talked of coming to Scotland that year with so much firmness, that I hoped he was at last in earnest. I knew that, if he were once
ties of Arts and natures. Of their admirable and expeditious way of curing most diseases by simples of their own products.
A particular account of the second sight, or faculty of foreseeing things to come, by way of vision, so common among them.
A brief hint of methods to 'mprove trade in that country both by sea and land.
With a new map of the whole, describing the harbours, anchoring places and dangerous rocks, for the benefit of sailers.
To which is add a brief description of the isles of Orkney and Schetland.
By M. Martin, Gent London. 1703.
Boswell deposited his copy of this book in the Library of the Advocates, and on the back of the title-page wrote with his own hand the following note, which he also signed.
"This very book accompanied Mr. Samuel Johnson and me in our Tour to the Hebrides, in autumn 1773. Mr. Johnson told me that he had read Martin when he was very young. Martin was a native of the Isle of Sky, where a number of his relatives still remain. His book is a very imperfect performance, and he is erroneous as to many particulars, even some concerning his own island. Yet, as it is the only book upon the subject, it is very generally known. I have seen a second edition of
it. I cannot but have a kindness for him, notwithstanding his detects.
A second edition of Martin's Description appeared in 1716. It is curious that the date of publication in the first edition is wrongly given, 1673.
I owe the above information to the kind and courteous hand of J. T. Clark, Esq., Librarian of the Advocates. I must add that Mr. Croker also published this note from information supplied by Mr. Upeott.— Editor.