« PrejšnjaNaprej »
PROSE WORKS OF SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D. 15
Review of Goldsmith's Traveller, a Poem, in the Critical Review.
1765. The Plays of William Shakspeare, in eight volumes, 8vo. with
1766. The Fountains, a Fairy Tale, in Mrs. Williams's Miscellanies.
1767. Dedication to the King of Mr. Adams's Treatise on the Globes.
1769. Character of the Reverend Mr. Zachariah Mudge, in the London
1770. The False Alarm. acknowl.
1771. Thoughts on the late Transactions respecting Falkland's Islands.
1772. Defence of a Schoolmaster; dictated to me for the House of
Argument in Support of the Law of Vicious Intromission; dic-
Proposals for publishing the Works of Mrs. Charlotte Lennox, in
Three Volumes Quarto. acknowl.
Preface to Baretti's Easy Lessons in Italian and English. intern. evid.
Taxation no Tyranny; an Answer to the Resolutions and Address
of the American Congress. acknowl.
Argument on the Case of Dr. Memis; dictated to me for the Court
of Session in Scotland. acknowl.
Argument to prove that the Corporation of Stirling was corrupt;
1776. Argument in Support of the Right of immediate, and personal
reprehension from the Pulpit; dictated to me. acknowl.
Proposals for publishing an Analysis of the Scotch Celtick Lan-
1777. Dedication to the King of the Posthumous Works of Dr. Pearce,
Additions to the Life and Character of that Prelate; prefixed to
those Works. acknowl.
Various Papers and Letters in Favour of the Reverend Dr. Dodd.
1780. Advertisement for his Friend Mr. Thrale to the Worthy Electors
of the Borough of Southwark. acknowl.
The first Paragraph of Mr. Thomas Davies's Life of Garrick,
1781. Prefaces Biographical and Critical to the Works of the most
Argument on the Importance of the Registration of Deeds; dic-
A CHRONOLOGICAL CATALOGUE, ETC.
On the Distinction between TORY and WHIG; dictated to me. acknowl.
On Vicarious Punishments, and the great Propitiation for the Sins of the World, by JESUS CHRIST; dictated to me. acknowl. Argument in favour of Joseph Knight, an African Negro, who claimed his Liberty in the Court of Session in Scotland, and obtained it; dictated to me. acknowl.
Defence of Mr. Robertson, Printer of the Caledonian Mercury, against the Society of Procurators in Edinburgh, for having inserted in his Paper a ludicrous Paragraph against them; demonstrating that it was not an injurious Libel; dictated to me. acknowl.
1782. The greatest part, if not the whole, of a Reply, by the Reverend Mr. Shaw, to a Person at Edinburgh, of the Name of Clark, refuting his arguments for the authenticity of the Poems published by Mr. James Macpherson as Translations from Ossian. intern. evid.
1784. List of the Authours of the Universal History, deposited in the British Museum, and printed in the Gentleman's Magazine for December, this year. acknowl.
Letters to Mrs. Thrale. acknowl.
Prayers and Meditations, which he delivered to the Rev. Mr.
Such was the number and variety of the Prose Works of this extraordinary man, which I have been able to discover, and am at liberty to mention; but we ought to keep in mind, that there must undoubtedly have been many more which are yet concealed; and we may add to the account, the numerous Letters which he wrote, of which a considerable part are yet unpublished. It is hoped that those persons in whose possession they are, will favour the world with them.
'After my death I wish no other herald,
1 See Dr. Johnson's letter to Mrs. Thrale, dated Ostick in Skie, September 30, 1773:- Boswell writes a regular Journal of our travels, which I think contains as much of what I say and do, as all other occurrences together; "for such a faithful chronicler is Griffith."'
THE LIFE OF
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
To write the Life of him who excelled all mankind in writing the lives of others, and who, whether we consider his extraordinary endowments, or his various works, has been equalled by few in any age, is an arduous, and may be reckoned in me a presumptuous task.
Had Dr. Johnson written his own life, in conformity with the opinion which he has given 1, that man's life may every be best written by himself; had he employed in the preservation of his own history, that clearness of narration and elegance of language in which he has embalmed so many eminent persons, the world would probably have had the most perfect example of biography that was ever exhibited. But although he at different times, in a desultory manner, committed to writing many particulars of the progress of his mind and fortunes, he never had persevering diligence enough to form them into a regular composition. Of these memorials a few have been preserved; but the greater part was consigned by him to the flames, a few days before his death.
As I had the honour and happiness of enjoying his friendship for upwards of twenty years; as I had the scheme of writing his life constantly in view; as he was well apprised of this circumstance, and from time to time obligingly satisfied my inquiries, by communicating to me the incidents of his early years; as I acquired a facility in recollecting, and was very assiduous in recording, his conversation, of which the extraordinary vigour and vivacity constituted one of the first features of his character; and as I have spared no pains in obtaining materials concerning him, from every quarter where I could discover that they were to be found, and have been favoured with the most liberal communications by his friends; I flatter myself that few biographers 1 Idler, No. 84.
THE AUTHOR'S QUALIFICATIONS
have entered upon such a work as this, with more advantages; independent of literary abilities, in which I am not vain enough to compare myself with some great names who have gone before me in this kind of writing.
Since my work was announced, several Lives and Memoirs of Dr. Johnson have been published, the most voluminous of which is one compiled for the booksellers of London, by Sir John Hawkins, Knight 1, a man, whom, during my long intimacy with Dr. Johnson, I never saw in his company, I think but once, and I am sure not above twice. Johnson might have esteemed him for his decent, religious demeanour, and his knowledge of books and literary history; but from the rigid formality of his manners, it is evident that they never could have lived together with companionable ease and familiarity; nor had Sir John Hawkins that nice perception which was necessary to mark the finer and less obvious parts of Johnson's character. His being appointed one of his executors, gave him an opportunity of taking possession of such fragments of a diary and other papers as were left; of which, before delivering them up to the residuary legatee, whose property they were, he endeavoured to extract the substance. In this he has not been very successful, as I have found upon a perusal of those papers, which have been since transferred to me. Sir John Hawkins's ponderous labours, I must acknowledge, exhibit a farrago, of which a considerable portion is not devoid of entertainment to the lovers of literary gossiping; but besides its being swelled out with long unnecessary extracts from various works (even one of several leaves from
1 The greatest part of this book was written while Sir John Hawkins was alive; and I avow, that one object of my strictures was to make him feel some compunction for his illiberal treatment of Dr. Johnson. Since his decease, I have suppressed several of my remarks upon his work. But though I would not war with the dead' offensively, I think it necessary to be strenuous in defence of my illustrious friend, which I cannot be without strong animadversions upon a writer who has greatly injured him. Let me add, that though I doubt I should not have been very prompt to gratify Sir John Hawkins with any compliment in his life-time, I do now frankly acknowledge, that, in my opinion, his volume, however inadequate and improper as a life of Dr. Johnson, and however discredited by unpardonable inaccuracies in other respects, contains a collection of curious anecdotes and observations, which few men but its author could have brought together.
THE AUTHOR'S MODE OF PROCEDURE
Osborne's Harleian Catalogue, and those not compiled by Johnson, but by Oldys), a very small part of it relates to the person who is the subject of the book; and, in that, there is such an inaccuracy in the statement of facts, as in so solemn an authour is hardly excusable, and certainly makes his narrative very unsatisfactory. But what is still worse, there is throughout the whole of it a dark uncharitable cast, by which the most unfavourable construction is put upon almost every circumstance in the character and conduct of my illustrious friend; who, I trust, will, by a true and fair delineation, be vindicated both from the injurious misrepresentations of this authour, and from the slighter aspersions of a lady who once lived in great intimacy with him.
There is, in the British Museum, a letter from Bishop Warburton to Dr. Birch, on the subject of biography; which, though I am aware it may expose me to a charge of artfully raising the value of my own work, by contrasting it with that of which I have spoken, is so well conceived and expressed, that I cannot refrain from here inserting it :
I shall endeavour, (says Dr. Warburton,) to give you what satisfaction I can in any thing you want to be satisfied in any subject of Milton, and am extremely glad you intend to write his life. Almost all the life-writers we have had before Toland and Desmaiseaux, are indeed strange insipid creatures; and yet I had rather read the worst of them, than be obliged to go through with this of Milton's, or the other's life of Boileau, where there is such a dull, heavy succession of long quotations of disinteresting passages, that it makes their method quite nauseous. But the verbose, tasteless Frenchman seems to lay it down as a principle, that every life must be a book, and what's worse, it proves a book without a life; for what do we know of Boileau, after all his tedious stuff? You are the only one, (and I speak it without a compliment) that by the vigour of your stile and sentiments, and the real importance of your materials, have the art, (which one would imagine no one could have missed,) of adding agreements to the most agreeable subject in the world, which is literary history 1.'
'Nov. 24, 1737.'
1 Brit. Mus. 4320, Ayscough's Catal., Sloane MSS.