James Boswell was a Scottish lawyer, a diarist, and an author. He was also a man whose dissolute lifestyle led to a premature death from the effects of venereal disease and alcohol, yet whose two volume biography of Samuel Johnson, published in 1791, was viewed in its day - and remains - a classic contribution to the art of the biographer. Between the middle of August and the beginning of November 1773, Boswell and Johnson undertook a grand tour of north east and north west Scotland plus a number of the islands of the Inner Hebrides. In doing so they were inspired by the writings of the author Martin Martin whose book A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland had been published in 1703.
Johnson and Boswell both published accounts of their tour. Boswell's account was not published until 1786 as a precursor to his biography of the life of Johnson, but was written with he benefit of copious notes taken at the time. Johnson's account, A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland, was published in 1775, only two years after the journey, but largely from memory.
Both books can be read on Undiscovered Scotland. Although the two authors took dramatically different approaches to writing, organising and presenting their work, each is divided here into "matching" sections: so that a given section below can be compared directly with the section of the same name in our presentation of Johnson's Book, except the "Introduction & Edinburgh" section, which has no counterpart.
Like other eBooks whose texts are reproduced on Undiscovered Scotland, The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D. by James Boswell is long out of copyright. What sets the Undiscovered Scotland version apart is the cross linking between the text of the book and features elsewhere on the site, allowing the reader to explore beyond the text itself, finding out more about the places and people mentioned. We have changed the dated subheadings to give an indication of location, and these also use the modern names of some of the places referred to by Boswell by names no longer in use.
The one location we've not been able to tie down on a modern map is "Anoch", mentioned by both Johnson and Boswell: and neither does it appear on the 1855 OS map. Boswell describes this as 11 miles beyond Fort Augustus which, following the line of the old military road, would place it near to the junction between the modern A87 and A837 roads. Perhaps it has disappeared as a result of clearance like many Highland settlements: or perhaps there is a link with the nearby Ceannacroc Bridge and Lodge?
We have not been totally faithful to Boswell's text in reproducing the book here. His approach was squirrel-like, including a broad range of ephemera sometimes not relevant to the subject. We have kept the copies of letters, the quotations and the sections of verse: but extended sections of Latin verse and inscriptions have been omitted, as have some of his more self-justifying footnotes inserted in the second edition. Some footnotes have been kept where they add value to the text.