Johnson's Letters to Hester Thrale and
A Journey to the Western Islands of
In this chapter we move from large-scale to small-scale issues. Here we shall be looking at the process of composition, by setting Johnson published Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland alongside the remarks he made, as it were, on the hoof. The aim will be to show how the final text of the book has been put together to create a particular view of Scotland and of Johnson's experiences on his trip.
It is well known that the materials which Johnson employed in the composition of his Journey ( 1775) included a series of letters which he had written to Hester Thrale while he was on tour with Boswell.1 Indeed, of the recognized sources, the letters form the only surviving corpus of material to be utilized directly in the text of the Journey, so far as can be definitely established. It is therefore surprising that no full comparison has ever been made of the contents of the letters and of the relevant portions of the Journey. Major editions of Johnson's book have been prepared by R. W. Chapman, Mary Lascelles and J. D. Fleeman, but though they make reference in varying degrees to the series of letters, none of them has the space to record the variants, omissions, and additions.2 It is the aim of this chapter to give a fuller account of the____________________