Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/38

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��INTRODUCTION.

��date the origin of his intended tour to Scotland " It was from malice that he started so late in the year-a malice, by the way, which nearly brought him to a watery grave. " It was not beaut, he went to find out in Scotland, but defects ; and for the northern situation of the Hebrides the advanced time of the year suited his purpose best." ' Johnson, with a discretion which other travellers in like circumstances would do well to imitate, had passed over Edinburgh with the remark that it is " a city too well known to admit description." This wise reticence is twisted into a proof of malevolence. So, too, is the brevity with which he mentions Dundee "We stopped awhile at Dundee," he recorded, "whei I remember nothing remarkable." Surely this is a very innocent sentence Even Boswell, whose record was generally far fuller, dismisses this place with three words. "We saw Dundee, ' he says a But M'Nicol at once discovered the miserable jealousy ot the Englishman. " He passes very rapidly through the town of Dundee, for fear, I suppose, of being obliged to take notice of its increasing trade." ' How delicately Johnson treated this town in his published narrative is shown by his description of it in his private letter to Mrs. Thrale. To her he had written: came to Dundee, a dirty despicable town." 8 Much as M'Nicol be- laboured Johnson, he could not refrain from claiming him as ot Scotch origin. " We are much deceived by fame," he wrote, " very near ancestor of his, who was a native of that country, did not find to his cost that a tree was not quite such a rarity in his days. This mysterious hero of the gallows was no doubt no Johnson at all, but a Johnston of Ardnamurchan, probably, or of Glencroe.

' M'Nicol is ingenious in his treatment of the great Ossian con- troversy. "The poems," he says, " must be the production either of Ossian or Mr. Macphcrson. Dr. Johnson does not vouchsafe to tell us who else was the author, and consequently the national claim remains perfectly entire. The moment Mr. Macpherson ceases to be admitted as a translator, he instantly acquires a title to the original." 8 Granted that he was a ruffian who had tried by menaces to hinder the detection of a cheat. What of that ? was a great original ruffian, and his cheat was a work of great

��' Remark, on Dr. Johnson's Jo,,rncy to the Hebrides, p. 270.

  • Boswell's/'^. v. 71. * M'tocol, p. 266.

��M'Nicol, p. 287.

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