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author's nephews was Sheriff and Provost-Marshal of the capital of New South Wales. * * * * * * *
In 1887 Dr. Birkbeck Hill's edition was published by the Clarendon Press in a style worthy of that famous institution. Four stately volumes contain the biography ; the fifth is occupied with the Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides; the sixth is almost entirely filled with an index that may truly be called prodigious; all are rich in appendixes, while Croker himself was not a busier commentator. Of the vast labour spent on this edition who now needs to be told? In reverence for Johnson's memory and in admiration for his genius Dr. Hill indeed yields not even to Boswell. .... I cannot take leave of him without expressing the obligations I owe to him, and to the Delegates of the Clarendon Press, for their courtesy in permitting me the free use of these volumes, as well as to the liberality with which he has at all times offered me the results of his long devotion to the great figure of his hero.
Of the present edition there is little to say. Neither the plan nor the size of the series to which it belongs permits much indulgence in the alluring, though often dangerous, pastime of annotation, had I been disposed to exercise it. All Boswell's own notes have of course been preserved, and distinguished with the initial B..... For the rest I can claim to have done little more than feed upon my predecessors, who have indeed left little more to be done. My own contributions are few and unimportant; what has been selected from others will, I trust, be found to
COPY OF THE TITLE OF THE ORIGINAL QUARTO EDITION.]
L I F E
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
AN ACCOUNT OF HIS STUDIES
IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER;
VARIOUS ORIGINAL PIECES OF HIS COMPOSITION
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED:
THE WHOLE EXHIBITING A VIEW OF LITERATURE AND LITERARY MEN IN GREAT BRITAIN, FOR NEAR HALF A CENTURY, DURING WHICH HE
PRINTED BY HENRY BALDWIN,
SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS
MY DEAR SIR,
Every liberal motive that can actuate an author in the dedication of his labours, concurs in directing me to you, as the person to whom the following Work should be inscribed.
If there be a pleasure in celebrating the distinguished merit of a contemporary, mixed with a certain degree of vanity, not altogether inexcusable, in appearing fully sensible of it, where can I find one, in complimenting whom I can with more general approbation gratify those feelings? Your excellence, not only in the Art over which you have long presided with unrivalled fame, but also in Philosophy and elegant Literature, is well known to the present, and will continue to be the admiration of future ages. Your equal and placid temper, your variety of conversation, your true politeness, by which you are so amiable in private society, and that enlarged hospitality which has long made your house a common centre of union for the great, the accomplished, the learned, and the ingenious—all these qualities I can, in perfect confidence of not being accused of flattery, ascribe to you.
If a man may indulge an honest pride, in having it known to the world that he has been thought worthy of particular attention by a person of the first eminence in the age in which he lived, whose company has been universally courted, I am justified in availing myself of the usual privilege of a Dedication, when I
mention that there has been a long and uninterrupted friendship between us.
If gratitude should be acknowledged for favours received, I have this opportunity, my dear Sir, most sincerely to thank you for the many happy hours which I owe to your kindness,—for the cordiality with which you have at all times been pleased to welcome me—for the number of valuable acquaintances to whom you have introduced me, -for the noctes cænæque Deúm, which I have enjoyed under your roof.
If a work should be inscribed to one who is master of the subject of it, and whose approbation, therefore, must insure it credit and success, the Life of Dr. Johnson is, with the greatest propriety, dedicated to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was the intimate and beloved friend of that great man; the friend whom he declared to be “ The most invulnerable man he knew; whom, if he should quarrel with him, he should find the most difficulty how to abuse.” You, my dear Sir, studied him, and knew him well : you venerated and admired him. Yet, luminous as he was upon the whole, you perceived all the shades which mingled in the grand composition; all the little peculiarities and slight blemishes which marked the literary Colossus. Your very warm commendation of the specimen which I gave in my Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, of my being able to preserve his conversation in an authentic and lively manner, which opinion the Public has confirmed, was the best encouragement for me to persevere in my purpose of producing the whole of my stores.
In one respect, this Work will, in some passages, be different from the former. In my Tour, I was almost unboundedly open in my communications, and from my eagerness to display the wonderful fertility and readiness of Johnson's wit, freely shewed to the world its dexterity, even when I was myself the object of it. I trusted that I should be liberally understood, as knowing very well what I was about, and by no means as simply unconscious of the pointed effects of the satire. I own, indeed, that I was arrogant enough to suppose that the tenor of the rest of the book would sufficiently guard me against such a strange imputation. But it seems I judged too well of the world; for, though I could scarcely believe it, I have been undoubtedly informed, that many persons, especially in distant quarters, not penetrating
enough into Johnson's character, so as to understand his mode of treating his friends, have arraigned my judgment, instead of seeing that I was sensible of all that they could observe.
It is related of the great Dr. Clarke, that when in one of his leisure hours he was unbending himself with a few friends in the most playful and frolicsome manner, he observed Beau Nash approaching ; upon which he suddenly stopped ;—“My boys,' said he, “let us be grave: here comes a fool.” The world, my friend, I have found to be a great fool, as to that particular on which it has become necessary to speak very plainly. I have, therefore, in this work been more reserved; and though I tell nothing but the truth, I have still kept in my mind that the whole truth is not always to be exposed. This, however, I have managed so as to occasion no diminution of the pleasure which my book should afford ; though malignity may sometimes be disappointed of its gratifications.
I am, my dear Sir,
JAMES BOSWELL. LONDON, April 20, 1791.
1 Samuel Clarke (1675—1729), a celebrated divine, who during a busy and controversial life managed to offend almost all parties in turn. He was a chaplain to Queen Anne and rector of St. James's in Piccadilly. His most famous theological work was a Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God. He also published an edition of Cæsar, which was highly praised by Addison in The Spectator, and began one of Homer, which was completed by his son. Johnson coupled him for learning with Bentley, but used to warn Boswell against his unorthodoxy, though he afterwards changed his mind on this point.