Page images
PDF
EPUB

bending himself with a few friends in the most reserved; and though I tell nothing but the playful and frolicksonie manner, he observed truth, I have still kept in my mind that the Beau Nash approaching; upon which he whole truth is not always to be exposed. suddenly stopped. “My boys,” said he, This, however, I have managed so as to “ let us be grave-here comes a fool.” occasion no diminution of the pleasure which The world, my friend, I have found to be my book should afford, though malignity a great fool as to that particular on which may sometimes be disappointed of its gratiit has become necessary to speak very plain- fications. I am, my dear sir, your much ly. I have therefore in this work been more I obliged friend and faithful humble servant,

JAMES BOSWELL. London, 20th April, 1791.

MR. BOSWELL'S ADVERTISEMENTS.

TO THE FIRST EDITION. I at last deliver to the world a work severity. I have also been extremely carewhich I have long promised, and of which, ful as to the exactness of my quotations; I am afraid, too high expectations have been holding that there is a respect due to the raised. The delay of its publication must publick, which should oblige every authour be imputed, in a considerable degree, to the to attend to this, and never to presume to extraordinary zeal which has been shown introduce them with, “ I think I have read," by distinguished persons in all quarters to or “If I remember right,” when the origisupply me with additional information con- nals may be examined. cerning its illustrious subject; resembling I beg leave to express my warmest thanks in this the grateful tribes of ancient nations, to those who have been pleased to favour of which every individual was eager to me with communications and advice in throw a stone upon the grave of a departed the conduct of my work. But I cannot hero, and thus to share in the pious office sufficiently acknowledge my obligations to of erecting an honourable monument to his my friend Mr. Malone, who was so good as memory.

to allow me to read to him almost the whole The labour and anxious attention with of my manuscript, and made such remarks which I have collected and arranged the as were greatly for the advantage of the materials of which these volumes are com- work; though it is but fair to him to menposed, will hardly be conceived by those tion, that upon many occasions I differed who read them with careless facility. The from him, and followed my own judgment. stretch of mind and prompt assiduity by I regret exceedingly that I was deprived of which so many conversations were pre- the benefit of his revision, when not more served, I myself, at some distance of time, than one halfof the book had passed through contemplate with wonder; and I must be the press; but after having completed his allowed to suggest, that the nature of the very laborious and admirable edition of work, in other respects, as it consists of in- Shakspeare, for which he generously would numerable detached particulars, all which, accept of no other reward but that fame even the most minute, I have spared no which he has so deservedly obtained, he pains to ascertain with a scrupulous au- fulfilled his promise of a long-wished-for thenticity, has occasioned a degree of trou- visit to his relations in Ireland; from whence ble far beyond that of any other species of his safe return finibus Aticis is desired by composition. Were I to detail the books his friends here, with all the classical arwhich I have consulted, and the inquiries dour of Sic te Diva potens Cypri; for there which I have found it necessary to make by is no man in whom more elegant and worvarious channels, I should probably be thy qualities are united; and whose society, thought ridiculously ostentatious. Let me therefore, is more valued by those who know only observe, as a specimen of my trouble, him. that I have sometimes been obliged to run It is painful to me to think, that while I half over London, in order to fix a date cor- was carrying on this work, several of those rectly; which, when I had accomplished, I to whom it would have been most interestwell knew would obtain me no praise, ing have died. Such melancholy disapthough a failure would have been to my dis- pointments we know to be incident to hucredit. And after all, perhaps, hard as it manity; but we do not feel them the less. may be, I shall not be surprised if omissions Let me particularly lament the Reverend or mistakes be pointed out with invidious Thomas Warton and the Reverend Dr. Adams. Mr. Warton, amidst his variety have thought myself in the company and of genius and learning, was an excellent of the party almost throughout. It has biographer. His contributions to my col- given very general satisfaction; and those lection are highly estimable; and as he had who have found most fault with a passage a true relish of my “ Tour to the Hebrides," here and there, have agreed that they could I trust I should now have been gratified not help going through, and being enterwith a larger share of his kind approbation. tained with the whole. I wish, indeed, Dr. Adams, eminent as the head of a col- some few gross expressions had been softlege, as a writer, and as a most amiable ened, and a few of our hero's foibles had man, had known Johnson from his early been a little more shaded; but it is useful to years, and was his friend through life. see the weaknesses incident to great niinds; What reason I had to hope for the counte- and you have given us Dr. Johnson's aunance of that venerable gentleman to this thority that in history all ought to be told.” work will appear from what he wrote to me Such a sanction to my faculty of giving upon a former occasion from Oxford, No- a just representation of Dr. Johnson I could vember 17, 1785:—“Dear sir, I hazard this not conceal. Nor will I suppress my satletter, not knowing where it will find you, isfaction in the consciousness, that by reto thank you for your very agreeable Tour,' cording so considerable a portion of the which I found here on my return from the wisdom and wit of “the brightest ornament country, and in which you have depicted of the eighteenth century!,” I have largely our friend so perfectly to my fancy, in every provided for the instruction and entertainattitude, every scene and situation, that I ment of mankind.

J. BOSWELL. London, 20th April, 1791.

TO THE SECOND EDITION. That I was anxious for the success of a In reflecting that the illustrious subject work which had employed much of my time of this work, by being more extensively and and labour, I do not wish to conceal; but intimately known, however elevated before, whatever doubts I at any time entertained, has risen in the veneration and love of manhave been entirely removed by the very fa- kind, I feel a satisfaction beyond what fame vourable reception with which it has been can afford. We cannot, indeed, too much honoured. That reception has excited my or too often admire his wonderful powers best exertions to render my book more of mind, when we consider that the principerfect; and in this endeavour I have had pal store of wit and wisdom which this work the assistance not only of some of my par- contains was not a particular selection from ticular friends, but of many other learned his general conversation, but was merely and ingenious men, by which I have been his occasional talk at such times as I had enabled to rectify some mistakes, and to en- the good fortune to be in his company; and, rich the work with many valuable additions. without doubt, if his discourse at other peThese I have ordered to be printed sepa- riods had been collected with the same atrately in quarto, for the accommodation of tention, the whole tenour of what he utthe purchasers of the first edition. May I be tered would have been found equally expermitted to say that the typography of both cellent. editions does honour to the press of Mr. His strong, clear, and animated enforceHenry Baldwin, now Master of the Wor- ment of religion, morality, loyalty, and shipful Company of Stationers, whom I subordination, while it delights and imhave long known as a worthy man and an proves the wise and the good, will, I trust, obliging friend.

prove an effectual antidote to that detestaIn the strangely mixed scenes of human ble sophistry which has been lately importexistence, our feelings are often at once pleas- ed from France, under the false name of ing and painful. Of this trutlı, the progress philosophy, and with a malignant industry of the present work furnishes a striking has been employed against the peace, good instance. It was highly gratifying to me order, and happiness of society, in our free that my friend, Sir Joshua Reynolds, to and prosperous country: but, thanks be to whom it is inscribed, lived to peruse it, and God, without producing the pernicious efto give the strongest testimony to its fidel- fects which were hoped for by its propagaity; but before a second edition, which he tors. contributed to improve, could be finished, It seems to me, in my moments of selfthe world has been deprived of that most complacency, that this extensive biographvaluable man; a loss of which the regret ical work, however inferior in its nature, will be deep and lasting, and extensive, may in one respect be assimilated to the proportionate to the felicity which he diffused through a wide circle of admirers and i See Mr. Malone's Preface to his edition of friends.

Shakspeare. --BOSWELL.

Odyssey. Amidst a thousand entertaining to me would be truly painful. Why then and instructive episodes, the hero is never should I suppress it? Why “out of the long out of sight; for they are all in some abundance of the heart” should I not speak? degree connected with him; and he, in the Let me then mention with a warm, but no whole course of the history, is exhibited by insolent exultation, that I have been rethe authour for the best advantage of his galed with spontaneous praise of my work readers:

by many and various persons, eminent for

their rank, learning, talents, and accomQuid virtus et quid sapientia possit, plishments; much of which praise I have Utile proposuit nobis exemplar Ulyssen. under their hands to be reposited in my

archives at Auchinleck. An honourable Should there be any cold blooded and and reverend friend speaking of the favourmorose mortals who really dislike this book, able reception of my volumes, even in the I will give them a story to apply. When circles of fashion and elegance, said to me, the great Duke of Marlborough, accom- “ you have made them all talk Johnson.” panied by Lord Cadogan, was one day re- Yes, I may add, I have Johnsonised the connoitring the army in Flanders, a heavy land; and I trust they will not only talk but rain came on, and they both called for their think Johnson. cloaks. Lord Cadogan's servant, a good- To enumerate those to whom I have been humoured alert lad, brought his lordship's in thus indebted would be tediously ostentaa minute. The duke's servant, a lazy sulky tious. I cannot however but name one, dog, was so sluggish, that his grace being whose praise is truly valuable, not only on wet to the skin, reproved him, and had for account of his knowledge and abilities, but answer, with a grunt, “ I came as fast as I on account of the magnificent, yet dangercould;" upon which the duke calmly said, ous embassy, in which he is now employed, “ Cadogan, I would not for a thousand which makes every thing that relates to him pounds have that fellow's temper.” peculiarly interesting. Lord Macartney

There are some men, I believe, who have, l'avoured me with his own copy of my book, or think they have, a very small share of with a number of notes, of which I have vanity. Such may speak of their literary availed myself. On the first leaf I found, fame in a decorous style of diffidence. But in his lordship’s hand-writing, an inscripI confess, that I am so formed by nature tion of such high commendation, that even and by habit, that to restrain the effusion 1, vain as I am, cannot prevail on myself to of delight, on having obtained such fame, publish it.

J. BOSWELL. 1st July, 1793.

MR. MALONE'S ADVERTISEMENTS.

TO THE THIRD EDITION. SEVERAL valuable letters, and other cu- to which the letters J. B. are annexed, by rious matter, having been communicated the Rev. J. B. Blakeway, of Shrewsbury, to the authour too late to be arranged in to whom Mr. Boswell acknowledged himthat chronological order, which he had en- self indebted for some judicious remarks on deavoured uniformly to observe in his work, the first edition of his work; and the letters he was obliged to introduce them in his se- J. B—. 0. are annexed to some remarks cond edition, by way of Addenda, as com- furnished by the authour's second son, a modiously as he could. In the present edi- student of Brazen-Nose College in Oxford. tion, they have been distributed in their Some valuable observations were commuproper places. In revising his volumes for nicated by James Bindley, Esq. first coma new edition, he had pointed out where missioner in the stamp-office, which have some of these materials should be inserted; been acknowledged in their proper places. but unfortunately, in the midst of his la- For all those without any signature, Mr. bours, he was seized with a fever, of which, Malone is answerable. Every new remark, to the great regret of all his friends, he died not written by the authour, for the sake of on the 19th of May, 1795. All the notes distinction has been enclosed within crotchthat he had written in the margin of the ets; in one instance, however, the printer, copy, which he had in part revised, are here by mistake, has alfixed this mark to a note faithfully preserved; and a few new notes relative to the Rev. Thomas Fysche Palmhave been added, principally by some of er, (see vol. iv. p. 129), which was written those friends to whom the authour, in the by Mr. Boswell, and therefore ought not to former editions, acknowledged his obliga- have been thus distinguished. tions. Those subscribed with the letter B. I have only to add, that the proof-sheets were communicated by Dr. Burney; those of the present edition not having passed through my hands, I am not answerable for fect than the former edition; the greatest any typographical errors that may be found care having been taken, by correctness and in it. Having, however, been printed at elegance, to do justice to one of the most the very accurate press of Mr. Baldwin, I instructive and entertaining works in the make no doubt it will be found not less per-| English language.

EDM. MALONE. 8th April, 1799.

TO THE FOURTH EDITION. In this edition are inserted some new let- sand copies have been dispersed, it is not ters, of which the greater part has been necessary to say more; yet I cannot refrain obligingly communicated by the Rev. Dr. from adding, that, highly as it is now estiVyse, Rector of Lambeth. Those written mated, it will, I am confident, be still more by Dr. Johnson, concerning his mother in valued by posterity a century hence, when her last illness, furnish a new proof of his all the actors in the scene shall be numberel great piety and tenderness of heart, and with the dead; when the excellent and extherefore cannot but be acceptable to the traordinary man, whose wit and wisdom readers of this very popular work. Some are here recorded, shall be viewed at a still new notes also have been added, which, as greater distance; and the instruction and well as the observations inserted in the third entertainment they afford will at once proedition, and the letters now introduced, are duce reverential gratitude, admiration, and carefully included within crotchets, that delightl.

E. M. the authour may not be answerable for any

20th June, 1804. thing which had not the sanction of his approbation. The remarks of his friends are distinguished as formerly, except those of

[Mr. Malone published a fifth edition in 1807, Mr. Malone, to which the letter M. is now

and a sixth in 1811; Mr. Chalmers a seventh in subjoined. Those to which the letter K. 1822; and an anonymous editor another, in Oxis affixed were communicated by my learned itor would not have felt justified in making an

ford, in 1826. Of publications so recent, the edfriend, the Rev. Dr. Kearney, forinerly unpermitted use; but in fact there was little to be senior Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, borrowed from any of them, except that of Mr. and now beneficed in ihe diocess of Ra- Chalmers; and his liberality, by pointing out such phoe, in Ireland, of which he is archdea of the original sonrces of information as the editor con.

had not himself previously discovered, has enaOr a work which has been before the bled him to complete this edition with all the inpublick for thirteen years with increasing formation which Mr. Chalmers could afford. — approbation, and of which near four thou- Ed.]

1

MR. BOSWELL'S INTRODUCTION

To write the Life of him who excelled all though he at different times, in a desultory mankind in writing the lives of others, and manner, committed to writing many parwho, whether we consider his extraordina- ticulars of the progress of his mind and forry endowments, or his various works, has tunes, he never had persevering diligence been equalled by few in any age, is an ardu- enough to form them into a regular compoous, and may be reckoned in me a presump- sition. Of these memorials a few have been tuous task.

preserved; but the greater part was conHad Dr. Johnson written his own Lise, signed by him to the flames, a few days bein conformity with the opinion which he fore his death. has given?, that every man's life may be As I had the honour and happiness of best written by himself; had he employed enjoying his friendship for upwards of twenin the preservation of his own history, that ty years; as I had the scheme of writing clearness of narration and elegance of lan- his life constantly in view; as he was well guage in which he has embalmed so many apprised of this circumstance, and from time eminent persons, the world would probably to time obligingly satisfied my inquiries, by have had the most perfect example of biog- communicating to me the incidents of his raphy that was ever exhibited. But al- early years; as I acquired a facility in recol

lecting, and was very assiduous in record2 Idler, No. 84.-BOSWELL.

ing, his conversation, of which the extraor

dinary vigour and vivacity constituted one / gossiping; but besides its being swelled out of the first features of his character; and as with long unnecessary extracts from various I have spared no pains in obtaining materi- works (even one of several leaves from Osals concerning him, from every quarter borne's Harleian Catalogue, and those not where I could discover that they were to compiled by Johnson, but by Oldys), a vebe found, and have been favoured with the ry small part of it relates to the person who most liberal communications by his friends; is the subject of the book; and in that there is I fatter myself that few biographers have such an inaccuracy in the statement of facts, entered upon such a work as this with more as in so solemn an authour is hardly excuadvantages; independent of literary abilities, sable, and certainly makes his narrative vein which I am not vain enough to compare ry unsatisfactory. But what is still worse, myself with some great names who have there is throughout the whole of it a dark gone before me in this kind of writing. uncharitable cast, by which the most un

Since my work was announced, several favourable construction is put upon alınost Lives and Nemoirs of Dr. Johnson have been every circumstance in the character and published, the most voluminous of which conduct of my illustrious friend; who, I is one compiled for the booksellers of Lon- trust, will, by a true and fair delineation, don, by Sir John Hawkins, Knt.?, a man, be vindicated both from the injurious miswhom, during my long intimacy with Dr. representations of this authour, and from Johnson, I never saw in his company, I the slighter aspersions of a lady who once think, but once, and I am sure not above lived in great intimacy with him. twice. Johnson might have esteemed him There is, in the British Museum, a letfor his decent, religious demeanour, and his ter from Bishop Warburton to Dr. Birch, knowledge of books and literary history; on the subject of biography; which, though but from the rigid formality of his manners, I am aware it may expose me to a charge it is evident that they never could have lived of artfully raising the value of my own together with companionable ease and fa- work, by contrasting it with that of which miliarity; nor had Sir John Hawkins that I have spoken, is so well conceived and exnice perception which was necessary to pressed, that I cannot refrain from here inmark the finer and less obvious parts of serting it. Johnson's character. His being appointed

* 2 ith Nov. 1737. one of his executors gave him an opportul- “ I shall endeavour,” says Dr. Warburnity of taking possession of such fragments ton, “ to give you what satisfaction I can of a diary and other papers as were left; of in any thing you want to be satisfied in any which, before delivering them up to the re- subject of Milton, and am extremely glad siduary legatee, whose property they were, you intend to write his life. Almost all the he endeavoured to extract the substance. I lite-writers we have had before Toland and In this he has not been very successful, as Desmaiseaux, are indeed strange insipid I have found upon a perusal of those papers, creatures; and yet I had rather read which have been since transferred to me. worst of them, than be obliged to go Sir John Hawkins's ponderous labours, I through with this of Milton's, or the other's must acknowledge, exhibit a farrago, of life of Boileau, where there is such a dull, which a considerable portion is not devoid heavy succession of long quotations of disof entertainment to the lovers of literary interesting passages, that it makes their

method quite nauseous.

But the verbose, ? The greatest part of this book was written tasteless Frenchman, seems to lay it down while Sir John Hawkins was alive; and I avow, as a principle, that every life must be a book; that one object of my strictures was to make him and what's worse, it proves a book without feel some compunction for his illiberal treatment a life; for what do we know of Boileau, afof Dr. Johnson. Since his decease, I have sup- ter all his tedious stuff ? You are the only pressed several of my remarks upon his work; one (and I speak it without a compliment), But though I would not “war with the dead” that by the vigour of your style and sentioffensively, I think it necessary to be strenuous ments, and the real importance of your main defence of my illustrious friend, which I cannot be, without strong animadversions upon a writerials, have the art (which one would imter who has greatly injured him. Let me add, agine no one could have missed) of adding that though I doubt I should not have been very ject in the world, which is literary history.”

agreements to the most agreeable subprompt to gratify Sir John Hawkins with any compliment in his lifetime, I do now frankly ac

Instead of melting down my materials knowledge, that, in my opinion, his volume, how- into one mass, and constantly speaking in ever inadequate and improper as a life of Dr. my own person, by which I might have apJohnson, and however discredited by unpardona- peared to have more merit in the execution ble inaccuracies in other respects, contains a col- of the work, I have resolved to adopt and lection of curious anecdotes and observations, which few men but its author could have brought 2 British Museum, 4320, Ayscough's Catal. together. -BosWELL.

Sloane MSS.-BOSWELL.

« PreviousContinue »