18 VIII 1773
8 IV 2013


Bozzy and Johnson met at Boyd’s Inn, near the Canongate. Before they could set off for the north, Boswell had to show off his friend – the best known man then alive, as he supposed him to be in parlours and howffs, introduce him to ‘the finest prospect in Europe’, and record more Johnsoniana.

Johnson, however, records the whirl of experiences that was his stay in Edinburgh as simply,

   a city
   too well known
   to admit description

Just as later they will skirt Culloden, another gap – not in the record but in the experience itself – was Boswell’s omission to introduce Johnson to David Hume, with whom Boswell was on friendly terms. Moray McLaren suggests that Boswell knew ‘the introduction would not have come off… Johnson would have recognised [Hume] as an enemy, a world-class enemy, and have been compelled to offer a challenge. It would for Boswell have been a painful and embarrassing encounter.’

Their 100-day tour was baptised by the Firth of Forth, which Johnson baptised ‘the Frith’, on the banks of the boreal Lethe.

Boswell writes, ‘I told him the port here was the mouth of the river or water of Leith. Not LETHE, said Mr Nairne. Why, sir, said Dr Johnson, when a Scotchman sets out from this port for England, he forgets his native country. NAIRNE: I hope, sir, you will forget England here. JOHNSON: Then 'twill be still more Lethe.”’

From here, they embarked on the pun-boat to Kinghorn.

the Frith   fresh   with fretted light


McLaren, Moray The Highland Jaunt (1954)