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THE LIFE OF

SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.

TESTIMONIA

BOSWELL

After my death I wish no other herald,

No other speaker of my living actions,
To keep mine honour from corruption,
But such an honest chronicler as Griffith."

-SHAKSPEARE,

Henry VIII."

“Boswell writes a regular journal of our travels, which I think contains much of what I say and do, as of all other occurrences together ; 'for such a faithful chronicler is Griffith.'—Dr. Johnson's letter to Mrs. Thrale, dated Ostick, in Skie, September 30th, 1773.

“ The Life of Johnson ’is assuredly a great, a very great work. Homer is not more decidedly the first of heroic Poets, Shakspeare is not more decidedly the first of Dramatists, Demosthenes is not more decidedly the first of Orators, than Boswell is the first of Biographers. He has no second. He has distanced all his competitors so decidedly, that it is not worth while to place them. Eclipse is first, and the rest nowhere.”—MACAULAY.

It is not speaking with exaggeration, but with strict measured sobriety, to say that this Book of Boswell's will give us more real insight into the History of England during those [Johnson's] days than twenty other Books, falsely entitled ' Histories,' which take to themselves that special aim.”—CARLYLE.

“I shall never forget the first time I read Boswell's “Life of Johnson.' I thought of nothing else for months afterwards. It tinged my whole life, in a manner that no other book did. I felt as if I were admitted into the society, and made the intimate companion, of a class of men and women of whom I had heard much, but had known little ; and now I knew them like personal friends. I returned to the book day after day as to a company of interesting and pleasant people whose society I loved ; and I knew that when got through I was quite a different man to what I was when I began.”—ROBERT WATERS.

Great men are scarce (to use a bookseller's distinction), but great biographers are positively rare. Character—the vital principle—is the ignis fatuus of the well-intentioned and efficient biographical chronicler. The great result is attained by a striking variety of means . . . but Boswell by his striking combination of imaginative insight and historical veracity would seem likely to retain a unique position as the greatest of all masters of the resources of the biographic art."

-THOMAS SECCOMBE.

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