« PrejšnjaNaprej »
attention by a person of the first eminence in the age in which he lived, whose company has been universally courted, I am justified in availing myself of the usual privilege of a Dedication, when I mention that there has been a long and uninterrupted friendship between us.
If gratitude should be acknowledged for favours received, I have this opportunity, my dear Sir, most sincerely to thank you for the many happy hours which I owe to your kindness, for the cordiality with which you have at all times been pleased to welcome me,-for the number of valuable acquaintances to whom you have introduced me, for the noctes cœnæque Deûm', which I have enjoyed under your roof'.
If a work should be inscribed to one who is master of the subject of it, and whose approbation, therefore, must ensure it credit and success, the Life of Dr. Johnson is, with the greatest propriety, dedicated to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was the intimate and beloved friend of that great man; the friend, whom he declared to be 'the most invulnerable man he knew; whom, if he should quarrel with him, he should find the most difficulty how to abuse. You, my dear Sir, studied him, and knew him well: you venerated and admired him. Yet, luminous as he was upon the whole, you
O noctes cœnæque Deum!'
'O joyous nights! delicious feasts!
At which the gods might be my guests.'
'Six years before this Dedication Sir Joshua had conferred on him another favour. I have a proposal to make to you,' Boswell had written to him, 'I am for certain to be called to the English bar nex February. Will you now do my picture? and the price shall be pai out of the first fees which I receive as a barrister in Westminste Hall. Or if that fund should fail, it shall be paid at any rate fiv years hence by myself or my representatives.' Boswell told him a the same time that the debts which he had contracted in his father' lifetime would not be cleared off for some years. The letter was en dorsed by Sir Joshua:-'I agree to the above conditions; and th portrait was painted. Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 477.
• See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 24, 1773.
perceived all the shades which mingled in the grand composition; all the little peculiarities and slight blemishes which marked the literary Colossus. Your very warm commendation of the specimen which I gave in my Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, of my being able to preserve his conversation in an authentick and lively manner, which opinion the Publick has confirmed, was the best encourage. ment for me to persevere in my purpose of producing the whole of my stores'.
In one respect, this Work will, in some passages, be different from the former. In my Tour, I was almost unboundedly open in my communications, and from my eagerness to display the wonderful fertility and readiness of Johnson's wit, freely shewed to the world its dexterity, even when I was myself the object of it. I trusted that I should be liberally understood, as knowing very well what I was about, and by no means as simply unconscious of the pointed effects of the satire. I own, indeed, that I was arrogant enough to suppose that the tenour of the rest of the book would sufficiently guard me against such a strange imputation. But it seems I judged too well of the world; for, though I could scarcely believe it, I have been undoubtedly informed, that many persons, especially in distant quarters, not penetrating enough into Johnson's character, so as to understand his mode of treating his friends, have arraigned my judgement, instead of seeing that I was sensible of all that they could observe.
It is related of the great Dr. Clarke', that when in one of
''I surely have the art of writing agreeably. The Lord Chancellor [Thurlow] told me he had read every word of my Hebridian Journal ;' he could not help it; adding, 'could you give a rule how to write a book that a man must read? I believe Longinus could not.' Letters of Boswell, p. 322.
'Boswell perhaps quotes from memory the following passage in Goldsmith's Life of Nash:-'The doctor was one day conversing with Locke and two or three more of his learned and intimate companions with that freedom, gaiety, and cheerfulness, which is ever the result of innocence. In the midst of their mirth and laughter, the
his leisure hours he was unbending himself with a few friends in the most playful and frolicksome manner, he ob served Beau Nash approaching; upon which he suddenly stopped:- My boys, (said he,) let us be grave: here comes a fool.' The world, my friend, I have found to be a great fool, as to that particular, on which it has become necessary to speak very plainly. I have, therefore, in this Work been more reserved'; and though I tell nothing but the truth, I have still kept in my mind that the whole truth is not al ways to be exposed. This, however, I have managed so as to occasion no diminution of the pleasure which my book should afford; though malignity may sometimes be disap pointed of its gratifications.
My dear Sir,
Your much obliged friend,
And faithful humble servant,
doctor, looking from the window, saw Nash's chariot stop at the doo "Boys, boys," cried the philosopher, "let us now be wise, for here a fool coming," Cunningham's Goldsmith's Works, iv. 96. D Warton in his criticism on Pope's line
Unthought of frailties cheat us in the wise,'
(Moral Essays, i. 69) says: For who could imagine that Dr. Clarke valued himself for h agility, and frequently amused himself in a private room of his hous in leaping over the tables and chairs.' Warton's Essay on Pope, 125. It is a good remark of Montaigne's,' wrote Goldsmith, th the wisest men often have friends with whom they do not care ho much they play the fool.' Forster's Goldsmith, i. 166. Mr. Sewa says in his Anecdotes, ii. 320, that in the opinion of Dr. Johnson, D Clarke was the most complete literary character that England ev produced.' For Dr. Clarke's sermons see post, April 7, 1778.
1 See post, Oct. 16, 1769, note.
I AT last deliver to the world a Work which I have long promised, and of which, I am afraid, too high expectations have been raised. The delay of its publication must be im puted, in a considerable degree, to the extraordinary zeal which has been shewn by distinguished persons in all quarters to sup ply me with additional information concerning its illustrious subject; resembling in this the grateful tribes of ancient nations, of which every individual was eager to throw a stone upon the grave of a departed Hero, and thus to share in the pious office of erecting an honourable monument to his mem ory,
'How much delighted would Boswell have been, had he been shewn the following passage, recorded by Miss Burney, in an account she gives of a conversation with the Queen :-THE QUEEN:- Miss Burney, have you heard that Boswell is going to publish a life of your friend Dr. Johnson?' 'No, ma'am !' 'I tell you as I heard, I don't know for the truth of it, and I can't tell what he will do. He is so extraordinary a man that perhaps he will devise something extraordinary.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 400. 'Dr. Johnson's history,' wrote Horace Walpole, on June 20, 1785, ‘though he is going to have as many lives as a cat, might be reduced to four lines; but I shall wait to extract the quintessence till Sir John Hawkins, Madame Piozzi, and Mr. Boswell have produced their quartos.' Horace Walpole's Letters, viii. 557.
'The delay was in part due to Boswell's dissipation and place-hunting, as is shewn by the following passages in his Letters to Temple :'Feb. 24, 1788, I have been wretchedly dissipated, so that I have not
Advertisement to the First Edition.
The labour and anxious attention with which I have collected and arranged the materials of which these volumes are composed, will hardly be conceived by those who read them with careless facility. The stretch of mind and prompt assiduity by which so many conversations were preserved, I myself, at
written a line for a fortnight.' p. 266. 'Nov. 28, 1789, Malone's hospitality, and my other invitations, and particularly my attendance at Lord Lonsdale's, have lost us many evenings.' Ib. p. 311. June 21, 1790, How unfortunate to be obliged to interrupt my work! Never was a poor ambitious projector more mortified. I am suffering without any prospect of reward, and only from my own folly.' Ib. p. 326.
1 'You cannot imagine what labour, what perplexity, what vexation I have endured in arranging a prodigious multiplicity of materials, in supplying omissions, in searching for papers, buried in different masses, and all this besides the exertion of composing and polishing; many a time have I thought of giving it up.' Letters of Boswell,
'Boswell writing to Temple in 1775, says: I try to keep a journal, and shall shew you that I have done tolerably; but it is hardly credible what ground I go over, and what a variety of men and manners I contemplate in a day; and all the time I myself am pars magna, for my exuberant spirits will not let me listen enough.' Ib. p. 188. Mr. Barclay said that he had seen Boswell lay down his knife and fork, and take out his tablets, in order to register a good anecdote.' Croker's Boswell, p. 837. The account given by Paoli to Miss Burney, shows that very early in life Boswell took out his tablets: He came to my country, and he fetched me some letter of recommending him; but I was of the belief he might be an impostor, and I supposed in my minte he was an espy; for I look away from him, and in a moment I look to him again, and I behold his tablets. Oh! he was to the work of writing down all I say. Indeed I was angry. But soon I discover he was no impostor and no espy; and I only find I was myself the monster he had come to discern. Oh! he is a very good man; I love him indeed; so cheerful, so gay, so pleasant! but at the first, oh! I was indeed angry.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 155. Boswell not only recorded the conversations, he often stimulated them. On one occasion he assumed,' he said, 'an air of ignorance to incite Dr. Johnson to talk, for which it was often necessary to employ some address.' See post, April 12, 1776. 'Tom Tyers,' said Johnson, 'described me the best. He once said to me, "Sir, you are like a ghost: you never speak till you are spoken to."' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 20, 1773. Boswell writing