THE RIDE TO INVERARY.
��he recited these lines. They had a long ride before them through heavy rain to Inverary. Loch Awe they crossed by the ferry at Portsonachan " a pretty wide lake," as Boswell describes it, not knowing its name. Towards evening they came to a good road made by the soldiers, the first which they had seen since they left Fort Augustus more than seven weeks before. Unwearied by his long journey, Johnson that same night wrote a letter to Mrs. Thrale in which he thus describes both what he saw and what he felt.
" About ten miles of this day's journey were uncommonly amusing. We travelled with very little light in a storm of wind and rain ; we passed about fifty-five streams that crossed our way, and fell into a river that, for a very great part of our road foamed and roared beside us. All the rougher powers of nature, except thunder, were in motion, but there was no danger. I should have been sorry to have missed any of the inconveniences, to have had more light or less rain, for their co-operation crowded the scene and filled the mind."
When an old man describes such a journey as " uncommonly amusing" it is clear that he uses the term in a sense which it does not bear at present. In his Dictionary he defines amuse, "to entertain with tranquillity ; to fill with thoughts that engage the mind without distracting it." The thoughts which this stormy evening in late autumn engaged his mind amidst the wilds of Argyleshire he put forth in a fine passage when, in the quietness of his study, he came to write the account of his journey.
"The night came on while we had yet a great part of the way to go, though not so dark but that we could discern the cataracts which poured down the hills on one side, and fell into one general channel, that ran with great violence on the other. The wind was loud, the rain was heavy, and the whistling of the blast, the fall of the shower, the rush of the cataracts, and the roar of the torrent, made a nobler chorus of the rough musick of nature than it had ever been my chance to hear before."
The man who wrote this noble passage had not surely that insensibility to nature which is so often laid to his charge. He was sixty-four years old ; mounted on a pony scarcely strong enough to bear his weight, he had had a long and hard day's ride through wind and rain ; he had dined in his wet clothes in a hut warmed by a smoky turf fire, and yet at the end of the day he could say with the enthusiasm of a young poet that neither darkness nor storm would he willingly have had lessened. He was supported, no doubt, in his recollections by the comforts of the inn at Inverary which was, he said, " not only commodious, but magnificent." Perhaps he was inspired also by the gill of whisky which he called for " the