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Cabinet 16: A World Beyond

[Samuel Johnson], A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. London: Printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1775. DeB Eb 1775 J

Johnson, page 20 - 21 Jonhson, title page Dr Samuel Johnson's career in letters was extraordinary. He tackled satire, biography, essays, fiction, travel writing, political pamphlets, journalism, poetry (in Latin and English) - and that proclaimed drudgery - lexicography (see vitrine two). Perhaps Queen Anne's 'touch' to cure scrofula gave him the best start toward his greatness? He is the representative figure of his age, the eighteenth century. With James Boswell he explored Scotland in 1773. One result was A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, published in January 1775. Apart from some criticism from some Scots, it earned him the admiration of George III and 200 guineas.

[Sarah Scott and Lady Barbara Montagu], A Description of Millenium Hall. London: Printed for J. Newbery, 1762. DeB Eb 1762 S

Scott 'The Gentleman who wrote this Volume, is of too much Consequence to be obstinately contradicted…'. So reads part of advertisement to A Description of Millenium Hall, actually written by Sarah Scott (1720-1795), with input from Lady Barbara Montagu, daughter of the earl of Halifax. This Utopian novel, published anonymously in 1762, tells of a number of middle- and upper-class women who manage to escape the social pressures of the time (courtship, marriage, property) and form a separatist female community devoted to religion, arts and philanthropy. This is the first edition.

Lady Mary Montagu, Letters. 3rd ed. London: Printed for T. Becket and P. A. de Hondt, 1763. Shoults Eb 1763 M

Montagu, page 21 Montagu, title page In 1717, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu accompanied her husband, Edward Wortley Montagu, on his ambassadorial mission to the Ottoman court. During their sojourn, Lady Mary composed what would become her most famous writings: the collection of edited letters which constitute the Turkish Embassy Letters. Her letters were admired by her contemporaries, introducing to them a new and exotic world of custom, language and culture. She also attempted to redress the 'very imperfect accounts of the manners and religion of these people.' In Turkey, Lady Mary noted the practice of inoculation against smallpox. While not the first to have a child inoculated while resident there, she was the first to introduce inoculation to England.

[Thomas Pennant], A Tour in Scotland. 5th ed. London: Printed for Benjamin White, 1790. DeB Eb 1790 P

Penant, title page Pennant Dr Johnson called the travel writer and naturalist Thomas Pennant (1726-1798) 'A Whig, Sir; a sad dog', yet admitted: 'he's the best traveller I ever read; he observes more things than anyone else does.' In the dedication to the narrative of his tour of Scotland, made in 1769, Pennant tells of why he traveled north: 'struck therefore with the reflection of having never seen Scotland, I instantly ordered my baggage to be got ready, and in a reasonable time found myself on the banks of the Tweed.' We are thankful for his insatiable curiosity. Forty-two plates accompany the text; here are two illustrating Loch Leven Castle and Bass Isle from Tantellon Castle.