« PreviousContinue »
Elegy on a Blackbird
HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL
HIS elegant and instructive paper was projected by Dr. John HAWKESWORTH soon after the RAMBLER was concluded, and in conjunction with Dr. JOHNSON, who, having experienced the inconveniences of solitary authorship in an undertaking of this kind, laid down a regular plan, and allotted distinct departments to certain writers. Of this plan we have some information from a letter written by Dr. JOHNSON to Mr. afterwards Dr. JOSEPH WARTON.
We have considered," says Dr. J. " that a paper should consist of pieces of imagination, pictures of life, and disquisitions of literature. The part which depends on the imagination is very well supplied, as you will find when you read the paper; for descriptions of life, there is now a treaty almost made with an author and an authoress : and the province of criticism and literature they are very desirous to assign to
the commentator on Virgil*.” This letter is dated March 8, 1753, and about a month afterwards Mr. WARTON accepted the province of criticism and literature, for which he was certainly eminently qualified. The “part which depends on imagination" was supplied by HAWKESWORTH, THORNTON, and JOHNSON himself. Who the author and authoress about to be engaged for descriptions of life, were, does not appear, but the negociation did not take place, as the whole papers except six or seren numbers, was written by Drs. HAWKESWORTH, THORNTON, JOHNSON, and WARTON. In respect to style, THORNTON stands alonet; his province was humour, and be was not given to studious decorations. HAWKESWORTH was a professed and most successful imitator of Dr. JOHNSON : Mr. WARTON, not without some intervals of humour, kept to his province of literature and criticism, but with occasional efforts in the solemn manner of JOHNSON, as will be spe'cified hereafter.
The first number was published on Tuesday, Nov.' 7, 1752, in the folio size, and quantity of the RAMBLER, and at the same price. At the bottom of the last page is the following notice :
Printed for "J. PAYNE, at Pope's Head, in Paternoster-Row, where letters to the ADVENTUR
are received. These Numbers will be formed into 'regular volumes, to each of which will be
**BoʻS VELE's Life of Johnson.
f In the last Edition to this Preface, I was so far misled by f Sir John HAWKINS 'and Mr. BOSWELL, as to state that the Papers now attributed to BONNEL THORNTON, were written by Dr. BATHURST.