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24 INTRODUCTION.

seen him that ni^ht in Col when " he strutted about the room with

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a broad-sword anil target," and that other night when Boswell " put a large blue bonnet on the top of his bushy grey wig." '

The motives which led him on his adventurous journey were not those which every summer and autumn bring travellers in swarms, not only from England, but from the mainland of Europe, from across the wide Atlantic, from India, from Southern Africa, from Australia and New Zealand to these Highlands of poetry and romance. " I got," he said, " an acquisition of more ideas by my tour than by anything that I remember. I saw quite a different system of life." 1 It was life, not scenery, which he went to study. On his return to the south of Scotland he was asked " how he liked the Highlands. The question seemed to irritate him, for he answered, ' How, Sir, can you ask me what obliges me to speak unfavourably of a country where I have been hospitably enter- tained ? Who can like the Highlands ? I like the inhabitants very well.' ' The love of wild scenery was in truth only beginning as his life was drawing to its close. " It is but of late," wrote Pennant in 17/2, "that the North Britons became sensible of the beauties of their country ; but their search is at present amply rewarded. Very lately a cataract of uncommon height was dis- covered on the Bruar." ' Fifteen years later Burns, in his Humble Petition of Brtiar Water, shows that the discovery had been fol- lowed up :

" Here haply too at vernal dawn Some musing Bard may stray,

And eye the smoking dewy lawn And misty mountain grey."

But in the year 1773 Johnson could say without much, if indeed any exaggeration, that " to the southern inhabitants of Scotland the state of the mountains and the islands is equally unknown with that of Borneo and Sumatra ; of both they have only heard a little and guess the rest." 3 Staffa had been just discovered by Sir Joseph Banks. It seems almost passing belief, but yet it is strictly true, that Staffa Staffa, as one of the wonders of creation was unknown till the eve of Johnson's visit to the Hebrides. The neighbouring islanders of course had seen it, but had seen it without curiosity or emotion. They were like the impassive

1 Boswell's>/5w, v. 324. ' Tour in Scotland (ed. 1776), ii. 59. The

1 Ib. iv. 199. Bruar is near Blair-Athole.

3 Ib. v. 377. ' Johnson's Works, ix. 84.

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