Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland by Samuel Johnson


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland,
by Samuel Johnson

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland

Author: Samuel Johnson

Release Date: April 20, 2005 [eBook #2064]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1775 edition with the corrections noted in the 1785
errata by David Price, email



I had desired to visit the Hebrides, or Western Islands of Scotland, so
long, that I scarcely remember how the wish was originally excited; and
was in the Autumn of the year 1773 induced to undertake the journey, by
finding in Mr. Boswell a companion, whose acuteness would help my
inquiry, and whose gaiety of conversation and civility of manners are
sufficient to counteract the inconveniences of travel, in countries less
hospitable than we have passed.

On the eighteenth of August we left Edinburgh, a city too well known to
admit description, and directed our course northward, along the eastern
coast of Scotland, accompanied the first day by another gentleman, who
could stay with us only long enough to shew us how much we lost at

As we crossed the Frith of Forth, our curiosity was attracted by Inch
Keith, a small island, which neither of my companions had ever visited,
though, lying within their view, it had all their lives solicited their
notice. Here, by climbing with some difficulty over shattered crags, we
made the first experiment of unfrequented coasts. Inch Keith is nothing
more than a rock covered with a thin layer of earth, not wholly bare of
grass, and very fertile of thistles. A small herd of cows grazes
annually upon it in the summer. It seems never to have afforded to man
or beast a permanent habitation.

We found only the ruins of a small fort, not so injured by time but that
it might be easily restored to its former state. It seems never to have
been intended as a place of strength, nor was built to endure a siege,
but merely to afford cover to a few soldiers, who perhaps had the charge
of a battery, or were stationed to give signals of approaching danger.
There is therefore no provision of water within the walls, though the
spring is so near, that it might have been easily enclosed. One of the
stones had this inscription: 'Maria Reg. 1564.' It has probably been
neglected from the time that the whole island had the same king.

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