21-23 IX 1773
6 VIII 2013


We got to Ulinish about six o'clock, and found a very good farm-house, of two stories.” (Boswell)

Macpherson’s Ossian is discussed again, and again Johnson takes pleasure in bettering McQueen. He says, “had it been really an ancient work, a true specimen how men thought at that time, it would have been a curiosity of the first rate. As a modern production, it is nothing.” At the time most readers loved the poetry, and were uninterested in the sources; in being so critical Johnson was to some extent sticking his neck out. Nowadays, ironically, no-one reads it as poetry, but as “a true specimen how men thought at that time”; it has become a touchstone of mid 18th century sensibility, as revealing, if less entertaining, than Boswell’s Johnson.


James Macpherson, The Works of Ossian (1765)