As it turned out, Johnson enjoyed their Scottish journey (although the land was not quite so wild and barbaric as perhaps he had hoped), and Boswell delighted in it. The year was 1773, they were sixty-three and thirty-two years old, and had been friends for ten years.
Their journals, published together here, perfectly complement each other. Johnson’s majestic prose and hawk eye for curious detail take in everything from the stone arrowheads found in the Hebrides, to the ‘medicinal’ waters of Loch Ness and ‘the mischiefs of emigration’. Meanwhile, it is very lucky that as Johnson was observing Scotland, Boswell was observing Johnson. His record is perceptive, highly entertaining and full of sardonic wit; for him, as for us, it is an appetizer for The Life of Johnson.