1773: An Extraordinary Animal

The Kongouro from New Holland (Kangaroo) 1772 by George Stubbs. ZBA5754

In his Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, James Boswell famously recounts his travels with Samuel Johnson in the highlands and western islands of Scotland. The year was 1773; Johnson was in his mid-sixties. In an 1885 edition of the work, editor Robert Carruthers provides the following note regarding a visit of the pair with Reverend Alexander Grant in Inverness:

Johnson was in high spirits. In the course of conversation he mentioned that Mr. Banks (afterwards Sir Joseph) had, in his travels in New South Wales, discovered an extraordinary animal called the kangaroo. The appearance, conformation, and habits of this quadruped were of the most singular kind; and in order to render his description more vivid and graphic, Johnson rose from his chair and volunteered an imitation of the animal. The company stared; and Mr. Grant said nothing could be more ludicrous than the appearance of a tall, heavy, grave-looking man, like Dr. Johnson, standing up to mimic the shape and motions of a kangaroo. He stood erect, put out his hands like feelers, and, gathering up the tails of his huge brown coat so as to resemble the pouch of the animal, made two or three vigorous bounds across the room!

George Stubbs: The Kongouro from New Holland (1772)

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