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vivid impression, so far as person, manners, disposition, and conversation are concerned. We do but name him, or open a book which he has written, and the sound or action recall to the imagination at once his form, his merits, his peculiarities, nay, the very uncouthness of his gestures, and the deep impressive tone of his voice. We learn not only what he said, but form an idea how he said it; and have, at the same time, a shrewd guess of the secret motive why he did so, and whether he spoke in sport or in anger, in the desire of conviction, or for the love of debate. It was said of a noted wag, that his bonmots did not give full satisfaction when published, because he could not print his face. But with respect to Dr. Johnson, this has been in some degree accomplished; and, although the greater part of the present generation never saw him, yet he is, in our mind's eye, a personification as lively as that of Siddons in Lady Macbeth, or Kemble in Cardinal Wolsey. All this, as the world knows, arises from his having found in James Boswell such a biographer as no man but himself ever had, or ever deserved to have. Considering the eminent persons to whom it relates, and the quantity of miscellaneous information and entertaining gossip which it brings together, his Life of Johnson may be termed, without exception, the best parlour-window book that ever was written.” — Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. i. p. 260.
"Boswell was the very prince of retail wits and philosophers. One principal attraction of his Life of Johnson is the contrast which, in some respects, it presents to the Doctor's own works. Instead of the pompous common-places which he was in the habit of piling together and rounding into periods in his closet, his behaviour and conversation in company might be described as a continued exercise of spleen, an indulgence of irritable humours, a masterly display of character. He made none but home-thrusts, but desperate lounges, but palpable hits. No turgidity; no flaccidness; no bloated flesh: all was
muscular strength and agility. It was this vigorous and voluntary exercise of his faculties, when freed from all restraint, in the intercourse of private society, that has left such a rich harvest for his Biographer; and it cannot be denied that it has been well and carefully got in. Other works furnish us with curious particulars, but minute and disjointed: :- - they want picturesque grouping and dramatic effect. We have the opinions and sayings of eminent men: but they do not grow out of the occasion: we do not know at whose house such a thing happened, nor the effect it had on those who were present. We have good things served up in sandwiches, but we do not sit down, as in Boswell, to an ordinary of fine discourse.' There is no eating and drinking going on. We have nothing like Wilkes's plying Johnson with the best bits at Dilly's table, and overcoming his Tory prejudices by the good things he offered, and the good things he said; nor does any Goldsmith drop in after tea, with his peach-coloured coat, like one dropped from the clouds, bewildered with his finery and the success of a new work.". No. lxvi. 1820.
"The Life of Johnson' is one of the best books in the world. It is assuredly a great, a very great, work. Homer is not more decidedly the first of heroic poets, - Shakspeare is not more decidedly the first of dramatists, Demosthenes is not more decidedly the first of orators, than Boswell is the first of biographers. He has distanced all his competitors so decidedly, that it is not worth while to place them: Eclipse is first, and the rest nowhere. We are not sure that there is in the whole history of the human intellect so singular a phenomenon as this book. Many of the greatest men that ever lived have written biography — Boswell has beaten them all. This book resembles nothing so much as the conversation of the inmates of the Palace of Truth.". No. cxii. 1832.
"Our vivacious neighbours, more fond of talk, found a pleasure, when silent, in writing down the talk of others,
even to their Arlequiniana, for Harlequin too must talk in France. Of their flock, the bell-wether is the Menagiana. Yet the four volumes are eclipsed by the singular splendour of Boswell's Johnson. All other Ana are usually confined to a single person, and chiefly run on the particular subject connected with that person; but Boswell's is the Ana of all mankind; nor can the world speedily hope to receive a similar gift; for it is scarcely more practicable to find another Boswell than another Johnson." No. xlvi. 1820.
"Boswell's Life of Johnson is, we suspect, the richest dictionary of wit and wisdom any language can boast. Even if it were possible to consider his delineation of Johnson merely as a character in a novel of the period, the world would have owed him, and acknowledged, no trivial obligation. But what can the best character in any novel ever be, compared to a full-length of the reality of genius? and what specimen of such reality will ever surpass the OMNIS Votivâ veluti depicta tabellâ VITA SENIS?'. - the first, and as yet by far the most complete picture of the whole life and conversation of one of that rare order of beings, the rarest, the most influential of all, whose mere genius entitles and enables them to act as great independent controlling powers upon the general tone of thought and feeling of their kind, and invests the very soil where it can be shown they ever set foot, with a living and sacred charm of interest, years and ages after the loftiest of the contemporaries, that did or did not condescend to notice them, shall be as much forgotten as if they had never strutted their hour on the glittering stage? Boswell's Johnson' is, without doubt, - excepting, yet hardly excepting, a few immortal monuments of creative genius, that English book which, were this island to be sunk to-morrow, with all that it inhabits, would be most prized in other days and countries, by the students of us and of our history.' To the influence of Boswell we owe, probably, three fourths of what is most entertaining, as well as no inconsiderable portion of whatever is most instructive, in all the books of memoirs that have subsequently appeared."— No. xci. 1832.
The graphical embellishments of the present Vo
I. A whole-length portrait of Johnson, from an original painting in the possession of Mr. Archdeacon Cambridge, the son of the Doctor's friend, Richard Owen Cambridge, Esq., of Twickenham ; and "considered," says the proprietor, " by all who knew him, to be an exact representation of his figure, appearance, and action."
II. A view of the market-place of Lichfield, with the house and shop of Michael Johnson, in which the Doctor was born; and,
III. A copy of a curious drawing, representing the principal visiters at Tunbridge Wells, in 1748 ; among whom appear Doctor and Mrs. Johnson, Garrick, Speaker Onslow, Lord Chatham, Miss Chudleigh, and several other distinguished individuals. The names of the persons are fac-similes of the hand-writing of Richardson the novelist.
In the Appendix will be found some Notices of Michael Johnson, father of the Doctor; and the whole of the extraordinary Fragment, first published in 1805, under the title of "An Account of the Life of Dr. Samuel Johnson, from his Birth to his Eleventh Year, written by Himself."
Introduction. Johnson's Birth and Parentage. - He in-
herits from his Father "a vile Melancholy."— His Account
of the Members of his Family.. Traditional Stories of his
Precocity. Taken to London to be touched by Queen
mens of his School Exercises and early Verses. He leaves
Enters at Pembroke College, Oxford. His College Life.
The "Morbid Melancholy" lurking in his constitution
gains Strength. Translates Pope's Messiah into Latin