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(JOHNSON, Samuel.) MACNICOL, Donald.

Remarks on Dr. Samuel Johnson's Journey to the Hebrides;

in which are contained, Observations on the Antiquities, Language, Genius, and Manners of the Highlanders of Scotland. By the Rev. Donald M'Nicol, A.M. Minister of Lismore in Argyleshire.

London, printed for T. Cadell, 1779 Stock Code: 132692

""A ruffian mode of impeachment""

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First edition. Donald MacNicol (17351802) was a Church of Scotland minister deeply interested in Scots Gaelic culture and the oral traditions of the highlands. His large collection of Ossianic and modern poetry was consulted by James Macpherson, translator and author of The Poems of Ossian (1773). When Dr Johnson trained his formidable arsenal on Macpherson's claims of authenticity, MacNicol leapt to his defence, believing that Johnson's attacks were a direct assault on the significance of Gaelic language and culture. His book gives a lengthy compendium of corrections and contradictions of Johnson's Journey, and pronounces in Macpherson's favour: "Imposture is the last thing of which a gentleman can be supposed guilty, it is the last thing with which he ought to be charged. To bring forward such an accusation, therefore, without proof to establish it, is a ruffian mode of impeachment" (p. 365).
Some critics have supposed that Macpherson himself interpolated certain passages in MacNicol's book, but the evidence has never fully supported this charge. Johnson, characteristically, reacted by observing that "the fellow must be a blockhead to bring out an attack that cost five shillings if they had wit, they should have kept pelting me with pamphlets" (Laird of Auchinleck, 223).

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Octavo. Uncut in marbled papers, later paper backstrip and spine label to style, edges untrimmed.


Book label of Sir Edgar MacCulloch (1808–1896), Bailiff of Guernsey; his bequest to Elizabeth College Library, Guernsey, with their oval inkstamp on the front inside cover. Signature K1 punched through but still present, a very good copy.


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