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TOUR TO THE HEBRIDES
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
SOME POETICAL PIECES BY DR. JOONSON, RELATIVE TO THE TOUR, AND NEVER
BEFORE PUBLISHED ;
A SERIES OF HIS CONVERSATION, LITERARY ANECDOTES AND OPINIONS OF
MEN AND BOOKS ;
WITH AN AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT OF
THE DISTRESSES AND ESCAPE OF THE GRANDSON OF KING JAMES II.
IN THE YEAR 1746.
BY JAMES BOSWELL, Esq.
“O!'while along the stream of time, thy name
A NEW EDITION, ILLUSTRATED,
WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES,
BY ROBERT CARRUTHERS, Esq.,
NEW YORK: 56, WALKER STREET.
940, B74 1865
TAE. “ JOURNAL. OF. A TOUR TO THE HEBRIDES" first portion of his , Life of Dr. Johnson, that Mr. Boswell gave to the public. It: appeared in the autumn of 1785, about . nine months after the death of Johnson, and two editions were exhausted within a twelvemonth. A third was issued in August, 1786, and this was the last which the author lived to revise. His death,“ unexpected by his friends, and the of universal regret," says his affectionate literary associate, Malone, took place on the 19th of May, 1795.
The Journal could hardly fail to gain immediate popularity. Both: the subject, and the plan of the work were attractive. No author, perhaps, ever stood higher with his contemporaries, or was regarded with greater interest as a man, than Johnson. His writings were in all hands, and his Dictionary was looked upon as a national triumph. Garrick's epigram, that one Englishman had, in the contest for philological honours, beat forty Frenchmen, was the key-note to a whole chorus of acclamations. Then, the personal character and peculiarities of Johnson—his sturdy independence, his strong prejudices, his dogmatism, his unrivalled dexterity and power in argument, his very figure, as Boswell has observed, were all, more or less, known to the great mass of readers, from the Land's-End to the Hebrides. Fragments of his conversation, including so his weighty and pungent remarks, his witty sarcasms and lively personal sallies, had got abroad, and public curiosity was strongly excited regarding the daily lifr habits, and opinions of the great literary dictator. Immediately on his death every peri
odical was ready with its quota of biography or criticism. Mrs. Piozzi lost no time in announcing her “ Anecdotes ;" Sir John Hawkins was known to be busy with his “ Life,” and Dr. Strahan sent to the press those private “Prayers and Meditations," which afford so strange, so solemn, and so humbling a memorial of Johnson's piety and weakness.
Thus heralded, the copious, varied, and authentic Journal of Boswell made its appearance, constituting a new era in our biographical literature. Middleton, in his Life of Cicero, and Mason, in his Life of Gray, had given specimens of detailed biography, interweaving letters and journals with the narrative. The French " Ana” had shown the value of anecdote in illustrating character. Boswell acknowledged that he had taken the outline of his plan from Mason, but in reality, he worked after no model. He could have written his memoirs in no other way. He unconsciously painted Johnson as Cromwell wished to be painted by Lely: every wart and blemish was delineated. His undistinguishing veneration made little distinction between virtues and defects—between what was permanent and what was merely accidental. All was set down : the world had at last got assurance of a faithful full-length picture of a genuine man. To write the “Life of Johnson” was Boswell's special mission upon earth. For any other worldly purpose or employment he was inferior to most men, but in this he was great and inimitable. His peculiar talents, his social and inquisitive nature, his position in society, even his glaring foibles and weaknesses, fitted him for the task. We cannot appreciate his excellence unless we estimate what our lighter literature would be deprived of if his genial labours were withdrawn. How much valuable contemporary history and fine criticism would be lost! What lessons of practical wisdom, free from the formality of didactic teaching-what sportive wit, keen satire, and pregnant observation! How little should we know of that brilliant intellectual circle in