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in the most playful and frolicksome manner, he observed Bcau 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 always 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 disappointed of its gratifications.
My dear Sir,
London, April 20, 1791.
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 imputed, in a considerable degree, to the extraordinary zeal which has been shewn by distinguished persons in all quarters to supply 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 memory?.
The labour and anxious attention with which I have collected
* How much delighted would Bos and Mr. Boswell have produced well have been, had he been shewn their quartos. Horace Walpole's the following passage, recorded by Letters, viii. 557. Miss Burney, in an account she gives 2 The delay was in part due to of a conversation with the Queen : Boswell's dissipation and place-huntTHE QUEEN :-“Miss Burney, have ing, as is shewn by the following you heard that Boswell is going to passages in his Letters to Temple:publish a life of your friend Dr. ‘Feb. 24, 1788, I have been wretchJohnson?' 'No, ma'am!' I tell edly dissipated, so that I have not you as I heard, I don't know for the written a line for a fortnight.' p. 266. truth of it, and I can't tell what he Nov. 28, 1789, Malone's hospitality, will do. He is so extraordinary a
my other invitations, and partiman that perhaps he will devise cularly my attendance at Lord Lonssomething extraordinary.' Mme. dale's, have lost us many evenings.' D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 400. 'Dr. John Ib. p. 311. “June 21, 1790, How son's history,' wrote Horace Walpole, unfortunate to be obliged to interon June 20, 1785, though he is going rupt my work! Never was a poor to have as many lives as a cat, might ambitious projector more mortified. be reduced to four lines; but I shall I am suffering without any prospect wait to extract the quintessence till of reward, and only from my own Sir John Hawkins, Madame Piozzi, folly. Ib. p. 326.
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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 some distance of timė, contemplate with wonder; and I must be allowed to suggest, that the nature of the work, in other respects, as it consists of innumerable detached particulars, all which, even the most minute, I have spared no pains to ascertain with a scrupulous
' 'You cannot imagine what labour, discern. Oh! he is a very good man; what perplexity, what vexation I have I love him indeed ; so cheerful, so endured in arranging a prodigious gay, so pleasant ! but at the first, multiplicity of materials, in supplying oh! I was indeed angry.' Mme. omissions, in searching for papers, D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 155. Boswell buried in different masses, and all not only recorded the conversations, this besides the exertion of compos
he often stimulated them. On one ing and polishing; many a time have occasion ‘he assumed,' he said, 'an air I thought of giving it up.' Letters of ignorance to incite Dr. Johnson to of Boswell, p. 311.
talk, for which it was often necessary 2 Boswell writing to Temple in to employ some address.' See post, 1775, says :—'I try to keep a journal, April 12, 1776. “Tom Tyers,' said and shall shew you that I have done Johnson, 'described me the best. He tolerably; but it is hardly credible once said to me, “Sir, you are like what ground I go over, and what a a ghost : you never speak till you variety of men and manners I con are spoken to." Boswell's Hebrides, template in a day; and all the time Aug. 20, 1773. Boswell writing of I myself am pars magna, for my this Tour said :-I also may be alexuberant spirits will not let me lowed to claim some merit in leading listen enough. Ib. p. 188. Mr. the conversation; I do not mean Barclay said that he had seen Bos leading, as in an orchestra, by playwell lay down his knife and fork, ing the first fiddle; but leading as one and take out his tablets, in order does in examining a witness-startto register a good anecdote.' Croker's ing topics, and making him pursue Boswell, p. 837. The account given them.' Ib. Sept. 28. One day he by Paoli to Miss Burney, shows that recorded :-'I did not exert myself very early in life Boswell took out to get Dr. Johnson to talk, that I his tablets :--'He came to my coun might not have the labour of writing try, and he fetched me some letter of down his conversation. Ib. Sept. 7. recommending him ; but I was of His industry grew much less towards the belief he might be an impostor, the close of Johnson's life. Under and I supposed in my minte he was May 8, 1781, he records :- Of his an espy; for I look away from him, conversation on that and other occa. and in a moment I look to him sions during this period, I neglected again, and I behold his tablets. Oh! to keep any regular record.'
On he was to the work of writing down May 15, 1783:—'I have no minute of all I say. Indeed I was angry. But any interview with Johnson (from soon I discover he was no impostor May 1] till May 15. May 15, 1784:and no espy ; and I only find I was Of these days and others on which myself the monster he had come to I saw him I have no memorials.'
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authenticity, has occasioned a degree of trouble far beyond that of any other species of composition. Were I to detail the books which I have consulted, and the inquiries which I have found it necessary to make by various channels, I should probably be thought ridiculously ostentatious. Let me only observe, as a specimen of my trouble, that I have sometimes been obliged to run half over London, in order to fix a date correctly; which, when I had accomplished, I well knew would obtain me no praise, though a failure would have been to my discredit. And after all, perhaps, hard as it may be, I shall not be surprised if omissions or mistakes be pointed out with invidious severity. I have also been extremely careful as to the exactness of my quotations ; holding that there is a respect due to the publick which should oblige every Authour to attend to this, and never to presume to introduce them with,-'I think I have read ;'-or,-'If I remember right;'-when the originals may be examined'.
I beg leave to express my warmest thanks to those who have been pleased to favour me with communications and advice in the conduct of my Work. But I cannot sufficiently acknowledge my obligations to my friend Mr. Malone, who was so good as to allow me to read to him almost the whole of my manuscript, and make such remarks as were greatly for the advantage of the Work?; though it is but fair to him to mention, that upon many occasions I differed from him, and followed my own judgement.
It is an interesting question how bon used of Tillemont :-'His infar Boswell derived his love of truth imitable accuracy almost assumes the from himself, and how far from John character of genius.' Gibbon's Misc. son's training. He was one of John Works, i. 213. son's school. He himself quotes Rey 2 “The revision of my Life of Johnnolds's observation, that all who were son, by so acute and knowing a critic of his school are distinguished for a as Mr. Malone, is of most essential love of truth and accuracy, which consequence, especially as he is they would not have possessed in the Johnsonianissimus.' Letters of Bossame degree if they had not been well, p. 310. A few weeks earlier he acquainted with Johnson' (post, under had written :-Yesterday afternoon March 30, 1778). Writing to Temple Malone and I made ready for the in 1789, he said :-Johnson taught press thirty pages of Johnson's Life; me to cross-question in common life.' he is much pleased with it; but I Letters of Boswell, p. 280.
feel a sad indifference she had lately tations, nevertheless, are not unfre lost his wife), and he says, “I have quently inaccurate. Yet to him might not the use of my faculties." Ib. fairly be applied the words that Gib
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I regret exceedingly that I was deprived of the benefit of his revision, when not more than one half of the book had passed through the press; but after having completed his very laborious and admirable edition of Shakspeare, for which he generously would accept of no other reward but that fame which he has so deservedly obtained, he fulfilled his promise of a long-wishedfor visit to his relations in Ireland; from whence his safe return finibus Atticis is desired by his friends here, with all the classical ardour of Sic te Diva potens Cypri'; for there is no man in whom more elegant and worthy qualities are united ; and whose society, therefore, is more valued by those who know him.
It is painful to me to think, that while I was carrying on this Work, several of those to whom it would have been most interesting have died. Such melancholy disappointments we know to be incident to humanity; but we do not feel them the less. Let me particularly lament the Reverend Thomas Warton, and the Reverend Dr. Adams. Mr. Warton, amidst his variety of genius and learning, was an excellent Biographer. His contributions to my Collection are highly estimable; and as he had a true relish of my Tour to the Hebrides, I trust I should now have been gratified with a larger share of his kind approbation. Dr. Adams, eminent as the Head of a College, as a writer, and as a most amiable man, had known Johnson from his early years, and was his friend through life. What reason I had to hope for the countenance of that venerable Gentleman to this Work, will appear from what he wrote to ine upon a former occasion from Oxford, November 17, 1785Dear Sir, I hazard this letter, not knowing where it will find you, to thank you for your very agreeable Tour, which I found here on my return from the country, and in which you have depicted our friend so perfectly to my fancy, in every attitude, every scene and situation, that I have thought myself in the company, and of the party almost throughout. It has given very general satisfaction ; and those who have found most fault with a passage here and there, have agreed that they could not help going through, and being entertained with the whole. I wish, indeed, some few gross expressions had been softened, and a few of our hero's foibles had " Horace, Odes, i. 3. I.
Hume's Essay on Miracles. See • He had published an answer to post, March 20, 1776.