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that their acquaintance lasted, periods equivalent in the whole to about three. quarters of a year only' fell under the personal notice of Boswell—and thus has been left many a long hiatus-valde deflendus, but now, alas, quite irreparable !
Mr. Boswell endeavoured, indeed, to fill up these chasms as well as he could with Johnson's letters to his absent friends ; but much the largest, and, for this purpose, the most valuable part of his correspondence, was out of his reach ; namely, that which Dr. Johnson for twenty years maintained with Mrs. Thrale, and which she published in 1788, in two volumes octavo. For the copyright of these, Mr. Boswell says, in a tone of admiring envy, “ she received five hun. dred pounds.” The publication, however, was not very successful-it never reached a second edition, and is now almost forgotten. But through these let. ters are scattered almost the only information we have relative to Johnson during the long intervals between Mr. Boswell's visits; and from them he has occasion. ally but cautiously (having the fear of the copyright law before his eyes) made interesting extracts.
These letters being now public property, the editor has been at liberty to fol. low up Mr. Boswell's imperfect example, and he has therefore made numerous and copious selections from them, less as specimens of Johnson's talents for letter-writing, than as notices of his domestic and social life during the intervals of Mr. Boswell's narrative. Indeed, as letters, few of Johpson's can have any great charm for the common reader; they are full of good sense and good-na. ture, but in forms too didactic and ponderous to be very amusing. If the editor could have ventured to make so great an alteration in Mr. Boswell's original plan, he would—instead of adding so many letters 2—have been inclined to have omitted all, except those which might be remarkable for some peculiar merit, or which might tend to complete the history of Johnson's life. In the large ex. tracts which have been made from Mrs. Thrale's correspondence, he has been guided entirely by this latter object.
The most important addition, however, which the editor has made, is one that needs no apology-he has incorporated with the LIFE the whole of the TOUR TO THE HEBRIDEs, which Mr. Boswell published in one volume in 1785, and which, no doubt, if he could legally have done so, he would himself have in. corporated in the Life-of which indeed he expressly tells us, he looks on the Tour but as a portion. It is only wonderful, that since the copyright has ex. pired, any edition of the Life of Johnson should have been published without the addition of this, the most original, curious, and amusing portion of the whole biography.
The Prayers and Meditations, published with rather too much haste after Johnson's death by Dr. Strahan, have also been made use of to an extent which was forbidden to Mr. Boswell. What Dr. Strahan calls Meditations 3 are, in fact,
i It appears from the Life, that Mr. Boswell visited England a dozen times during his acquaintance with Dr. Johnson, and that the number of days on which they met were about 180, to which is to be added the time of the Tour, during which they met daily from the 18th August, to the 22d November, 1773; in the whole about 276 days. The number of pages in the late editions of the two works is 2529, of which, 1320 are occupied by the history of these 276 days; so that little less than an hundredth part of Dr. Johnson's life occupies above one half of Mr. Boswell's works. Every one must regret that his personal intercourse with his great friend was not more frequent or more continued ; but the editor could do but little towards rectifying this disproportion, except by the insertion of the correspondence with Mrs. Thrale.--Ed.
2 The number of original letters in this edition is about 100—the number of those collected from various publications (including the extracts from Mrs. Piozzi's) is about 200.-Ed.
3 These Meditations have been the cause of much ridicule and some obloquy, which would be not wholly undeserved if it were true, as Dr. Strahan thoughtlessly gave the world to suppose, that they were arranged by Dr. Johnson, and delivered to Dr. Strahan for the express purpose of publi. calion. An inspection of the original manuscripts (now properly and fortunately lodged in Pembroke College) has convinced the editor (and, as he is glad to find, every body else who has examined them), that the opinion derived from Dr. Strahan's statement echoed by Mr. Boswell, is wholly un. founded. In the confusion of a mind which the approach of death was beginning to affect, and in the agitation which a recent attempt to spoliate two of his note books had occasioned, Dr. Johnson seems to have given Dr. Strahan a confused bundle of loose papers--scraps, half-sheets, and a few leaves
nothing but Diaries of the author's moral and religious state of mind, intermixed with some notices of his bodily health and of the interior circumstances of his domestic life. Mr. Boswell had ventured to quote some of these : the present editions contains all that appear to offer any thing of interest.
The editor has also incorporated in this work a small volume, published in 1802, but now become scarce, containing an Account of Dr. Johnson's Early Life, saritten by himself, and a curious correspondence with Miss Boothby, of which Mr. Boswell had given one, and Mrs. Piozzi three or four letters'.
Mr. Duppa published in 1806, with copious explanatory notes, a diary which Johnson had kept during a Tour through North Wales, made, in 1775, in compa. ny with Mr. Thrale and his family. Mr. Boswell had, it appears, inquired in vain for this diary: if he could have obtained it, he would, no doubt, have in. serted it, as he did the similar notes of the Tour in France in the succeeding year. By the liberality of Mr. Duppa, the editor has been enabled to incorpo. rate this volume with the present edition.
The editor will now recapitulate the publications which will be found, in the whole or in part, in the volumes of the present edition.
1. The whole of Mr. Malone's edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson, 4 vols. 8vo.
2. The whole of the first and most copious edition of Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides, 1 vol. 8vo.
3. The whole (though differently arranged) of Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes of Dr. Johnson, 1 vol. sm. 8vo.
4. The whole of Dr. Johnson's Tour in Wales, with notes, by R. Duppa, Esq., 1 vol. 12mo.
5. The whole of an Account of the Early Life of Dr. Johnson, with his Corres. pondence with Miss Boothby, 1 vol. 16mo.
6. A great portion of the Letters to and from Dr. Johnson, published by H. L. Piozzi, 2 vols. 8vo.
7. Large extracts from the Life of Dr. Johnson, by Sir J. Hawkins, 1 vol. 8vo.
8. All, that had not been already anticipated by Mr. Boswell or Mrs. Piozzi, of the “ Apophthgems, Sentiments, and Opinions of Dr. Johnson," published by Sir J. Hawkins, in his edition of Johnson's works.
9. Extracts from Sketches of Dr. Johnson, by Thomas Tyers, Esq., a pam. phlet, in 8vo.
10. Extracts from Murphy's Essay on the Life of Dr. Johnson, from Mr. Nich. ols' and Mr. Stevens' contributions to the Gentleman's and London Magazines, and from the Lives and Memoirs of Cumberland, Cradock, Miss Hawkins, Lord Charlemont, the Wartons, and other friends and acquaintances of Dr. Johnson.
11. The whole of a Poetical review of the Character of Dr. Johnson, by John Courtenay, Esq., in 4to.
But besides these printed materials, the editor has been favoured with many papers connected with Dr. Johnson, his life, and society, hitherto unpublished. Of course, his first inquiries were directed towards the original manuscript of Mr. Boswell's Journal, which would no doubt have enabled him to fill up all the blanks and clear away much of the obscurity that exist in the printed LIFE. It was to be hoped that the archives of Auchinleck, which Mr. Boswell frequently and pompously mentions, would contain the original materials of these works, which he himself, as well as the world at large, considered as his best claims to stitched together. The greater part of these papers were the Prayers, the publication of which, no doubt (for Dr. Strahan says so), Dr. Johnson sanctioned; but mixed with them were those Diaries to which it is probable that Dr. Johnson did not advert, and which there is every reason to suppose he never could have intended to submit to any human eye but his own. Well understood, as the secret confessions of his own contrite conscience, they do honour to Dr. Johnson's purity and piety; but very different would be their character, if it appeared that he had ostentatiously prepared them for the press. See more on this subject in the notes, vol. i. p. 97, and vol. ii. November 16, 1781. -ED.
1 This correspondence will be found in the Appendix to vol. i.-Ed.
2 Mr. Boswell, in his subsequent editions, omitted some and softened down other passages, which, the reason for the alterations having gone by, are restored.-Ed.
distinction. And the editor thought that he was only fulfilling the duties of courtesy in requesting from Mr. Boswell's representative any information which he might be disposed to afford on the subject. To that request the editor has never received any answer: though the same inquiry was afterwards, on his behalf, repeated by Sir Walter Scott, whose influence might have been expected to have produced a more satisfactory result.
But the editor was more fortunate in other quarters. The Reverend Doctor Hall, Master of Pembroke College, was so good as to collate the printed copy of the Prayers and Meditations with the original papers, now (most appropriately)
deposited in the library of that college, and some, not unimportant, light has I been thrown on that publication by the personal inspection of the papers which
he permitted the editor to make.
Doctor Hall has also elucidated some facts and corrected some mistatements in Mr. Boswell's account of Johnson's earlier life, by an examination of the college records ; and he has found some of Johnson's college exercises, one or two specimens of which have been selected as likely to interest the classical reader. He has also been so obliging as to select and copy several letters written by Dr. Johnson to his early and constant friends, the daughters of Sir Thomas Aston, which, having fallen into the hands of Mrs. Parker, were by her son, the Reverend S. H. Parker, presented to Pembroke College. The papers derived from this source are marked Pemb. MSS. Dr. Hall, feeling a fraternal interest in the most illustrious of the sons of Pembroke, has continued (as will appear in the course of the work), to favour the editor with his valuable assistance.
The Reverend Dr. Harwood, the historian of Lichfield, procured for the ed. itor, through the favour of Mrs. Pearson, the widow of the legatee of Miss Lucy Porter, many letters addressed to this lady by Dr. Johnson ; for which, it seems, Mr. Boswell had inquired in vain. These papers are marked Pearson MSS. Dr. Harwood supplied also some other papers, and much information collected by himself
Lord Rokeby, the nephew and heir of Mrs. Montagu, has been so kind as to communicate Dr. Johnson's letters to that lady.
Mr. Langton, the grandson of Mr. Bennet Langton, has furnished the editor with some of his grandfather's papers, and several original MSS. of Dr. John. son's Latin poetry, which have enabled the editor to explain some errors and obscurities in the published copies of those compositions.
Mr. J. F. Palmer, the grand-nephew of Sir Joshua Reynolds and of Miss Reynolds, has most liberally communicated all the papers of that lady, contain. ing a number of letters or rather notes of Dr. Johnson to her, which, however trivial in themselves, tend to corroborate all that the biographers have stated of the charity and kindness of his private life. Mr. Palmer has also contributed a paper of more importance—a MS. of about seventy pages, written by Miss Reynolds, and entitled Recollections of Dr. Johnson3. The authenticity and general accuracy of these Recollections cannot be doubted, and the editor has there. fore admitted extracts from them into the text; but as he did not receive the paper till a great portion of the work had been printed, he has given the parts which he could not incorporate with the text, in the General Appendix.
1 Sir Walter Scott and Sir James Boswell to whom, as the grandson of Mr. Boswell, the inquiries were addressed, unfortunately missed one another in mutual calls; but the editor has heard from another quarter that the original journals do not exist at Auchinleck : perhaps to this fact the silence of Sir James Boswell may be attributed. The manuscript of the l'our was, it is known, fairly transcribed, and so, probably, were portions of the Life; but it appears from a memorandum book and other papers in Mr. Anderdon's possession, that Mr. Boswell's materials were in a variety of forms; and it is feared that they have been irretrievably dispersed.—Ep.
2 Dr. Harwood has also favoured the editor with permission to engrave, for this edition, the earliest known portrait of Dr. Johnson-a miniature worn in a bracelet by his wife, which Dr. Harwood purchased from Francis Barber, Dr. Johnson's servant and legatee.--Ed.
3 A less perfect copy of these Recollections was also communicated by Mr. Gwatkin, who married one of Sir Joshua's nieces, for which the editor begs leave to offer his thanks. Ed.
Mr. Markland has, as the reader will, in some degree, see by the notes to which his name is affixed, contributed a great deal of zealous assistance -and valuable information.
He also communicated a copy of Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes, copiously anno. tated, propriâ manu, by Mr. Malone. These notes have been of use in ex. plaining some obscurities; they guide us also to the source of many of Mr. Boswell's charges against Mrs. Piozzi; and have had an effect that Mr. Ma. lone could neither have expected or wished—that of tending rather to confirm than to impeach that lady's veracity.
Mr. J. L. Anderdon favoured the editor with the inspection of a portfolio bought at the sale of the library of Mr. James Boswell, junior, which contained some of the original letters, memoranda, and note books, which had been used as materials for the LIFE. Their chief value, now, is to show that as far as we may judge from this specimen, the printed book is a faithful transcript from the original notes, except only as to the suppression of names. Mr. Anderdon's portfolio also contains Johnson's original draft of the Prospectus of the Diction. ary, and a fair copy of it (written by an amanuensis, but signed, in form, by Johnson), addressed to Lord Chesterfield, on which his lordship appears to have made a few critical notes..
Macleod, the son of the young gentleman who, in 1773, received Dr. Johnson and Mr. Boswel at his ancient castle of Dunvegan, has communicated a fragment of an autobiography of his father, which, on account as well of the mention of that visit as of the interest which the publications of both Johnson and Boswell excited about this young chieftain, the editor has preserved in the appendix to the first volume.
Through the obliging interposition of Mr. Appleyard, private secretary of Lord Spencer, Mrs. Rose, the daughter of Dr. Strahan, has favoured the editor with copies of several letters of Dr. Johnson to her father, one or two only of which Mr. Boswell had been able to obtain.
In addition to these contributions of manuscript materials, the editor has to acknowledge much and valuable assistance from numerous literary and distin. guished friends.
The venerable Lord Stowel, the friend and executor of Dr. Johnson, was one of the first persons who suggested this work to the editor : he was pleased to take a great interest in it, and kindly endeavoured to explain the obscurities which were stated to him; but he confessed, at the same time, that the appli. cation had in some instances come rather too late, and regretted that an edition on this principle had not been undertaken when full light might have been ob. tained. His lordship was also so kind as to dictate, in his own happy and pe. culiar style, some notes of his recollections of Dr. Johnson.
These, by a very unusual accidents, were lost, and his lordship’s great age and increasing in. firmity have deterred the editor from again troubling him on the subject. A few points, however, in which the editor could trust to his recollection, will be found in the notes.
To his revered friend, Dr. Elrington, Lord Bishop of Ferns, the editor begs leave to offer his best thanks for much valuable advice and assistance, and for
1 This attention on the part of Lord Chesterfield renders still more puzzling Johnson's conduct to wards his lordship (see vol. i. p. 110, et seq.), and shows that there was some mistake in the statement attributed to Doctor Taylor (v. i. p. 74) that the manuscript had reached Lord Chesterfield accidentally, and without Dr. Johnson's knowiedge or consent.--Ed.
2 They were transmitted by post, addressed to Sir Walter Scott in Edinburgh for his perusal; after a considerable lapse of time, Sir Walter was written to to return them—he had never had them. It then appeared that the post office bag which contained this packet and several others had been lost, and it has never been heard of. Some of the editor's friends have reproached him with want of due caution in having trusted this packet to the post, but he thinks unjustly. There is, perhaps, no individual now alive who has despatched and received so great a number of letters as the editor, and ho can scarcely recollect an instance of a similar loss. --Ed.
a continuance of that friendly interest with which his lordship has for many years, and in more important concerns, honoured him.
Sir Walter Scott, whose personal kindness to the editor and indefatigable good-nature to every body are surpassed only by his genius, found time from his higher occupations to annotate a considerable portion of this work—the Tour to the Hebrides—and has continued his aid to the very conclusion.
The Right Honourable Sir James Mackintosh, whose acquaintance with lite. rary men and literary history, is so extensive, and who, although not of the Johnsonian circle, became early in life acquainted with most of the survivors of that society, not only approved and encouraged the editor's design, but has, as the reader will see, been good enough to contribute to its execution. It were to be wished, that he himself could have been induced to undertake the worktoo humble indeed for his powers, but which he is, of all men now living, per. haps, the fittest to execute.
Mr. Alexander Chalmers, the ingenious and learned editor of the last London edition, has, with great candour and liberality, given the present editor all the assistance in his power-regretting and wondering, like Lord Stowel and Sir James Mackintosh, that so much should be forgotten what, at no remote pe. riod, every body must have known.
To Mr. D'Israeli's love and knowledge of literary history, and to his friendly assistance, the editor is very much indebted; as well as to Mr. Ellis of the Bri. tish Museum, for the readiness he has on this and all other occasions shown to afford the editor every information in his power.
The Marquis Wellesley has taken an encouraging interest in the work, and has improved it by some valuable observations; and the Marquis of Lansdowne, Earl Spencer, Lord Bexley, and Lord St. Helens, the son of Dr. Johnson's early friend Mr. Fitzherbert, have been so obliging as to answer some inquires with which it was found necessary to trouble them.
How the editor may have arranged all these materials, and availed himselt of so much assistance, it is not for him to decide. Situated as he was when he began and until he had nearly completed this work, he could not have ventured to undertake a more serious task; and he fears that even this desultory and gossiping kind of employment will be found to have suffered from the weightier occupations in which he was engaged, as well as from his own deficiencies.
If unfortunately he shall be found to have failed in his attempt to improve the original work, he will still have the consolation of thinking that there is no great harm done. For, as he has retrenched nothing from the best editions of the Life and the Tour, and has contrived to compress all his additions within the same number of volumes, he trusts that the purchasers of this edition can have no reasonable cause to complain. The additions are carefully discriminated, and hardly a syllable 2 of Mr. Boswell's text or of the notes in Mr. Malone's editions have been omitted. So that the worst that can happen is that all the present editor has contributed may, if the reader so pleases, be rejected as sur. plusage.
Of the value of the notes with which his friends have favoured him, the editor can have no doubt; of his own, he will only say, that he has endeavoured to make them at once concise and explanatory. He hopes he has cleared up some obscurities, supplied some deficiencies, and, in many cases, saved the reader the trouble of referring to dictionaries and magazines for notices of the various persons and facts which are incidentally mentioned 3.
i By being inserted between brackets, thus ( ]. In a few instances, one or other of these marks has been by an error of the press onnitted, but it is hoped that the context will always enable the reader to rectify the mistake.-Ep.
2 In two or three pieces an indelicate expression has been omitted ; and, in half a dozen instances (always, however, stated in the notes), the insertion of new matter has occasioned the omission or alteration of a few words in the text.--Ed.
3 As some proof of diligence, the editor may be allowed to state that the Variorum notes to the former edition were fewer than 1100, while the number of his aldilional notes is nearly 2500.--Ed.