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lasting, and extensive, proportionate to the felicity which he diffused through a wide circle of admirers and friends1.
In reflecting that the illustrious subject of this Work, by being more extensively and intimately known, however elevated before, has risen in the veneration and love of mankind, I feel a satisfaction beyond what fame can afford. We cannot, indeed, too much or too often admire his wonderful powers of mind, when we consider that the principal store of wit and wisdom which this Work contains, was not a particular selection from his general conversation, but was merely his occasional talk at such times as I had the good fortune to be in his company; and, without doubt, if his discourse at other periods had been collected with the same attention, the whole tenor of what he uttered would have been found equally excellent.
His strong, clear, and animated enforcement of religion, morality, loyalty, and subordination, while it delights and improves the wise and the good, will, I trust, prove an effectual antidote to that detestable sophistry which has been lately imported
Sir Joshua in his will left £200 to Mr. Boswell 'to be expended, if he thought proper, in the purchase of a picture at the sale of his paintings, to be kept for his sake.' Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 636.
Of the seventy-five years that Johnson lived, he and Boswell did not spend two years and two months in the same neighbourhood. Excluding the time they were together on their tour to the Hebrides, they were dwelling within reach of each other a few weeks less than two years. Moreover, when they were apart, there were great gaps in their correspondence. Between Dec. 8, 1763, and Jan. 14, 1766, and again between Nov. 10, 1769 and June 20, 1771, during which periods they did not meet, Boswell did not receive a single letter from Johnson. The following table shows the times they were in the same neighbourhood.
1763, May 16 to Aug. 6, London.
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from France, under the false name of Philosophy, and with a malignant industry has been employed against the peace, good order, and happiness of society, in our free and prosperous country; but thanks be to GOD, without producing the pernicious effects which were hoped for by its propagators.
It seems to me, in my moments of self-complacency, that this extensive biographical work, however inferior in its nature, may in one respect be assimilated to the ODYSSEY. Amidst a thousand entertaining and instructive episodes the HERO is never long out of sight; for they are all in some degree connected with him; and HE, in the whole course of the History, is exhibited by the Authour for the best advantage of his readers.
Quid virtus et quid sapientia possit,
Utile proposuit nobis exemplar Ulyssen'.'
Should there be any cold-blooded and morose mortals who really dislike this Book, I will give them a story to apply. When the great Duke of Marlborough, accompanied by Lord Cadogan, was one day reconnoitering the army in Flanders, a heavy rain came on, and they both called for their cloaks. Lord Cadogan's servant, a good humoured alert lad, brought his Lordship's in a minute. The Duke's servant, a lazy sulky dog, was so sluggish, that his Grace being wet to the skin, reproved him, and had for answer with a grunt, I came as fast as I could, upon which the Duke calmly said, 'Cadogan, I would not for a thousand pounds have that fellow's temper.'
There are some men, I believe, who have, or think they have, a very small share of vanity. Such may speak of their literary fame in a decorous style of diffidence. But I confess, that I am so formed by nature and by habit, that to restrain the effusion of delight, on having obtained such fame, to me would be truly painful. Why then should I suppress it? Why out of the abundance of the heart' should I not speak?? Let me then
''To shew what wisdom and what
The poet sets Ulysses in our
Francis. Horace, Ep. i. 2. 17.
me, my friends and countrymen, while I with honest zeal maintain your cause -allow me to indulge a little more my own egotism and vanity. They are the indigenous plants of my mind; they distinguish it. I may prune their luxuriancy; but I must not entirely
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mention with a warm, but no insolent exultation, that I have been regaled with spontaneous praise of my work by many and various persons eminent for their rank, learning, talents and accomplishments; much of which praise I have under their hands to be reposited in my archives at Auchinleck'. An honourable and reverend friend speaking of the favourable reception of my volumes, even in the circles of fashion and elegance, said to me, you have made them all talk Johnson,—Yes, I may add, I have Johnsonised the land; and I trust they will not only talk, but think, Johnson.
To enumerate those to whom I have been thus indebted, would be tediously ostentatious. I cannot however but name one whose praise is truly valuable, not only on account of his knowledge and abilities, but on account of the magnificent, yet dangerous embassy, in which he is now employed, which makes every thing that relates to him peculiarly interesting. Lord MACARTNEY favoured me with his own copy of my book, with a number of notes, of which I have availed myself. On the first leaf I found in his Lordship's hand-writing, an inscription of such high commendation, that even I, vain as I am, cannot prevail on myself to publish it.
[July 1, 17933]
clear it of them; for then I should be no longer "as I am;" and perhaps there might be something not so good.'
'See post, April 17, 1778, note.
Lord Macartney was the first English ambassador to the Court of Pekin. He left England in 1792 and returned in 1794.
'Boswell writing to Temple ten days earlier had said:-' Behold my
hand! the robbery is only of a few shillings; but the cut on my head and bruises on my arms were sad things, and confined me to bed, in pain, and fever, and helplessness, as a child, many days. . . . This shall be a crisis in my life: I trust I shall henceforth be a sober regular man. Indeed, my indulgence in wine has, of late years especially, been excessive.' Letters of Boswell, p. 346.
SEVERAL valuable letters, and other curious matter, having been communicated to the Author too late to be arranged in that chronological order which he had endeavoured uniformly to observe in his work, he was obliged to introduce them in his Second Edition, by way of ADDENDA, as commodiously as he could. In the present edition these have been distributed in their proper places. In revising his volumes for a new edition, he had pointed out where some of these materials should be inserted; but unfortunately in the midst of his labours, he was seized with a fever, of which, to the great regret of all his friends, he died on the 19th of May, 1795'. All the Notes that he had written in the
On this day his brother wrote to Mr. Temple: ‘I have now the painful task of informing you that my dear brother expired this morning at two o'clock; we have both lost a kind, affectionate friend, and I shall never have such another.' Letters of Boswell, p. 357. What was probably Boswell's last letter is as follows:
'MY DEAR TEMPLE,
'I would fain write to you in my own hand, but really cannot. [These words, which are hardly legible, and probably the last poor Boswell ever wrote, afford the clearest evidence of his utter physical prostration.] Alas, my friend, what a state is this! My son James is to write for me what remains of this letter, and I am to dictate. The pain which continued for so many weeks was very severe
indeed, and when it went off I thought myself quite well; but I soon felt a conviction that I was by no means as I should be so exceedingly weak, as my miserable attempt to write to you afforded a full proof. All then that can be said is, that I must wait with patience. But, O my friend! how strange is it that, at this very time of my illness, you and Miss Temple should have been in such a dangerous state. Much occasion for thankfulness is there that it has not been worse with you. Pray write, or make somebody write frequently. I feel myself a good deal stronger today, notwithstanding the scrawl. God bless you, my dear Temple! I ever am your old and affectionate friend, here and I trust hereafter,
'JAMES BOSWELL.' Ib. p. 353.
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margin of the copy which he had in part revised, are here faithfully preserved; and a few new Notes have been added, principally by some of those friends to whom the Author in the former editions acknowledged his obligations. Those subscribed with the letter B, were communicated by Dr. Burney: those to which the letters J B are annexed, by the Rev. J. Blakeway, of Shrewsbury, to whom Mr. Boswell acknowledged himself indebted for some judicious remarks on the first edition of his work: and the letters J B-0. are annexed to some remarks furnished by the Author's second son, a Student of Brazen-Nose College in Oxford. Some valuable observations were communicated by James Bindley, Esq. First Commissioner in the Stamp-Office, which have been acknowledged in their proper places. For all those without any signature, Mr. Malone is answerable.-Every new remark, not written by the Author, for the sake of distinction has been enclosed within crotchets in one instance, however, the printer by mistake has affixed this mark to a note relative to the Rev. Thomas Fysche Palmer, which was written by Mr. Boswell, and therefore ought not to have been thus distinguished.
I have only to add, that the proof-sheets of the present edition not having passed through my hands, I am not answerable for any typographical errours that may be found in it. Having, however, been printed at the very accurate press of Mr. Baldwin, I make no doubt it will be found not less perfect than the former edition; the greatest care having been taken, by correctness and elegance to do justice to one of the most instructive and entertaining works in the English language.
April 8, 1799.
• Malone died on May 25, 1812.