1 IX 1773 
4 VIII 13 


The dividing mountains multiply enmities. At Auknasheals Johnson found the folk to be of a “very savage wildness of manner”. He portrayed his feelings in a Latin ode, composed two days later at Armadale.

Pervagor gentes, hominum ferorum
Vita ubi nullo decorata cultu,
Squallet informis, tigurique fumis
Faeda latescit

Through tribes I wander where barbarian clansmen
Live a rude life, unbeautified by culture,
Squalid, distorted, by but-and-ben's thick vapours
Eclipsed and filthy

Samuel Johnson, ‘Latin Ode to Thralia’ (Hesther Thrale)

The tribe were Macraes, "an indigent and subordinate clan". “Secluded by rocks”, they were representative of mountain and sheiling cultures the world over, remote from trade and the law, isolated by their ancient languages. Johnson handed out coins and thought of Herodotus’ Scythia.

Boswell knew these to be the "brave M'Craas", who had been of "considerable estimation" in the 1715 Rising, and would later mutiny on Arthur’s Seat, when in the service of the Hanoverian King.

Once, long ago,
The Milesians were brave.

In the year of 1715
The Macraes were brave

Davenport’s Anakreon (87); after Boswell (1 September)


Herodotus, Histories IV
Ross, Ian Simpson, ‘Dr. Johnson in the Gaeltacht, 1773’, in Studies in Scottish Literature, vol. 35 (2013)