i 5 (> THE HAPPY VALLEY.
could see." To this part ol my tour I had long looked forward. It is many a year since 1 first formed the wish to visit that " narrow valley not very flowery, but sufficiently verdant," where Johnson planned the history of his tour.
" I sat down on a bank (lie says) such as a writer of romance might have delighted to feign. I had indeed no trees to whisper over my head, but a clear rivulet streamed at my feet. The day was calm, the air was soft, and all was rude- ness, silence, and solitude. Before me and on either side were high hills, which by- hindering the eye from ranging, forced the mind to find entertainment for itself. Whether I spent the hour well I know not, for here I first conceived the thought of this narration."
In a letter to Mrs. Thrale he describes the same scene, but makes no mention of the book which he had in mind.
" I sat down to take notes on a green bank, with a small stream running at my feet, in the midst of savage solitude, with mountains before me, and on either hand covered with heath. I looked around me, and wondered that I was not more affected, but the mind is not at all times equally ready to be put in motion. If my mistress and master, and Queeney ' had been there, we should have produced some reflections among us either poetical or philosophical, for though solitude be the nurse of woe, 2 conversation is often the parent of remarks and discoveries."
My hopes of finding this classical rivulet were great. A kind correspondent, the Rev. Alexander Matheson, minister of Glen Shiel, had been told by some old people of the neighbourhood that they knew by tradition the exact spot. Though he had nearly twenty miles to come, he undertook to show me it. I arrived at the little inn at Glume earlier than he had expected, and there meeting him found to my disappointment that I had passed the spot some six or seven miles. Both horses and travellers were too weary to retrace their steps. The tradition of the old people had on further investigation proved to be worthless. Like myself he had been at first misled by Boswell's narrative, which places this happy valley at the western end of Glen Shiel. But on looking at Johnson's account, aided too by his own knowledge of the locality, he had detected the error. The rivulet by which they had made their noonday halt must have been in Glen Clunie, near the eastern end of the loch, for Johnson describes how after their rest " they continued their journey along the side of a loch which at last ended in a river broad and shallow. Beyond it is a valley called Glen Shiel." For my disappointment there was some con-
1 He means Mr. and Mrs. Thrale and their li'iitiiient. Pope, in Donne's Satires Versifad (iv. eldest daughter. 185), calls " solitude the nurse of sense."
- Johnson is quoting 1'arnell's Hyntn to Con-