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HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
FROM THE LIBRARY OF
PROF. CERCE F. SWAIN
CHISWICK PRESS: C. WHITTINGHAM AND CO., TOOKS COURT,
EVEN as Johnson, huge, ungainly, and infirm, has been im
mortalized and glorified by the brush of Reynolds, so his wisdom and his wit, his roughness and his tenderness, have been depicted for us by Boswell.
With these masterpieces of bodily and mental portraiture before us, we may often say, "No more! the picture is perfect, the biography complete, we care for no inferior touch!" But there are other moods in which we feel that different aspects of both body and mind might have been shown. We have his portrait in repose, thoughtful, almost sublime, but we sometimes feel, "Would that an artist eye had seen him at Uttoxeter doing penance in passionate repentance! Would that some one had noted the tender pathos of the farewell look on his dying servant, Catherine Chambers; or the glee with which, when almost penniless himself, he hid pennies in the hands of sleeping children in the London streets, lest they should awake breakfastless!"
So with regard to his life and character. We sometimes fancy that another hand might give a different, not a better or a fuller representation than Boswell's. To afford satisfaction to this feeling, and gratify the desire to know all that can be known about so great a man, the different articles in this volume are brought together. In former Johnsoniana, this has been done in the form of anecdotes and sayings. Extracts from various writers were cut up into short pieces, supplied with more or less appropriate headings, and called Anecdotes or Sayings of Johnson. We have preferred where we could to give each author's article whole and intact. Where this was not possible or desirable, and extracts must be resorted to, each passage is complete in itself, and no liberties have been taken with the original text, to which full reference is given.
In making the selection and arranging the order of the various
pieces, there was no difficulty. After Boswell, who so able to describe Johnson as Mrs. Piozzi? Her "Anecdotes," now a scarce book, are here given exactly as she herself gave them to the world. Their best praise is, that after reading Boswell we can yet read them with pleasure. Indeed, if we had had no Boswell, we should still have obtained from Mrs. Piozzi's lively pages, a good notion of Johnson-a notion, however, that would have been more tender and true if it had been given by Mrs. Thrale instead of Mrs. Piozzi, who writes with something of the bitterness arising from consciousness of wrongdoing. Lord Macaulay has described Mrs. Thrale, "at the height of her prosperity and popularity, with gay spirits, quick wit, showy though superficial accomplishments, pleasing though not refined manners, a singularly amiable temper, and a loving heart." True words, to their fullest extent, excepting only the last and most important of all. A singularly amiable temper Mrs. Thrale certainly had, but “ a loving heart was surely the one thing wanting the possession of this would have preserved her loyal to her husband's memory and the claims of friendship, and saved her from an infatuation that deteriorated her own character and alienated her best friends.
Next to these "Anecdotes," we place the letters from and to Miss Hill Boothby, showing Johnson in a sad and pathetic light, as the shades of life's evening were drawing round him. These letters are especially valued from having been collected and arranged by Johnson himself. They were first published by Mr. Wright of Lichfield, in a little volume (now scarce), together with the autobiographical sketch called "Annals," which in the present edition of Boswell forms part of the Appendix to the first volume.
The biographical sketch by Tom Tyers finds a place here, because it was almost the first public tribute to Johnson at the time of his death, having been published in the "Gentleman's Magazine" only a few days after that event. Boswell calls it an entertaining little collection of fragments," and says that Tyers "had lived with Dr. Johnson in as easy a manner as almost any of his very numerous acquaintance." Tyers himself modestly claims to have "worked his little bit of gold into as much gold leaf as he could."
The recollections of Johnson by Richard Cumberland are the pleasant memories of a gentleman and a scholar, refined and