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political parties by Hume, Johnson's contemporary, as correct, we should say that, by sym. pathy and disposition at all events, he should be ticketed as a Whig. That great writer, to whom Johnson, forming his opinion upon Boswell's Parliament House 'clash,' was remarkably and indeed absurdly unfair, writes thus: 'I have frequently observed, in comparing the conduct of the court and the country party (i.e. the Tories and the Whigs), that the former are commonly less assuming and dogmatical in conversation, more apt to make concessions, and though not, perhaps, more susceptible of conviction, yet more able to bear contradiction than the latter, who are apt to fly out upon any opposition, and to regard one as a mercenary, designing fellow, if he argues with any coolness and impartiality, or makes any concessions to their adversaries.' One would almost say from this, that Johnson had sat to Hume for his portrait of a representative not of the court but of the country party. But, in truth, Johnson would probably have been unable to give reasons for the political faith that was in him ; he used a certain jargon, and he seems to have in time talked himself into a certain political creed. But it is for his moral judgments that Johnson will, in future, be chiefly remembered. There are few men whose moral instincts have been so trustworthy as his, and who on that account can be considered such good guides in the conduct of life. Johnson--that is to say, Boswell's Johnson—the autocrat of the Literary Club, the Mitre, and the Streatham dining-table, as a moralist, belongs to the same class as Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Antoninus, whose object is the maintenance of moral health, not the propagating of such all-sustaining principles as the greatest good of the greatest number,' or the equal freedom of all,' and who stand to moralists, generally and perhaps properly so-called, in much the same relation that the family doctor does to the theorist who, by some discovery, revolutionizes the whole practice of medicine. Johnson is, indeed, much coarser in the fibre than the great pagan moralists, as was to be expected from his being an Englishman ; but in type he is essentially the same. We question if there is any book in the English language which contains so many truly 'good advices' regarding the conduct of life as Boswell's Life of Johnson ; there is no social subject, from the taking of a wife to the drinking of a glass of wine or the settlement of a debt, upon which Johnson does not say something which is worth attending to, and in nine cases out of ten is worth acting upon. Nor does Johnson more love good sense than he hates nonsense of all kind. Mr. Carlyle himself is scarcely a more formidable opponent of unvercity, sentimentality, affectation. At the same time, no man was more impressionable than Johnson, more capable of genuine love, and also, it must be added, of genuine hate. While, for artificial grievances, such as the loss of a fortune, he had not tears, but rather contempt, none could weep like him with those that wept over such real sorrows as the loss of a much-loved friend or relation. One has but to read his replies to Boswell's fussy letters, about that self-conscious person's own difficulties and worries, to see how deep and minute an interest he took in the affairs of one who had actually obtained a place in his heart, and how sound and, above all things, honest an adviser he could be. His playfulness and gallantry where females were concerned, though they sat somewhat clumsily upon him, were thoroughly natural and those of a gentleman. Naturally, simply, yet heartily, lived Samuel Johnson, and as he lived, he wrote. And if veracity and freedom from all kinds of affectation constitute heroism, it would be difficult to find a truer hero among men of letters than Johnson.

As a literary man, Johnson will be chiefly remembered for his Dictionary, a piece of solid work, which no one but himself in his century, at least, could have executed. Few people, we suspect, now read his Ramblers ; and in course of time they will probably be consigned to the limbo of oblivion. Rasselas still holds its position, and for honest opinion and wellcondensed information, if not for delicate criticism, we still go to the Lives of the Poets. In all probability, Johnson's poetry, which is of the didactic and solidly satiric character, will be more appreciated when the popular taste again inclines, as it promises to do, toward that description of verse. In these days of controversy on the function of prayer, such lines as these, from his Vanity of Human Wishes, may be interesting :

Still raise for good the supplicating voice,
But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice;
Safe in His hand, whose eye discerns afar
The secret ambush of a specious prayer-

a man.

Implore His aid-in His decisions rest;
Secure, whate'er He gives, He gives the best.
But, when a sense of sacred Presence fires,
And strong devotion to the skies aspires,
Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind,
Obedient passions and a will resigned :
For love, which scarce collective Man can fill,
For patience, sovereign o'er transmuted ill,
For faith that, panting for a purer seat,
Counts Death kind Nature's signal for retreat-
These gifts for all, the laws of Heaven ordain,
These gifts He grants, who grants the power to gain,
With these celestial wisdom calms the mind,

And makes the happiness she cannot find.' But it was in his conversation that Johnson's literary power, like his moral excellence, came out. The presence of others had, as we have said, the effect upon him which he attributed to wine, and which caused people in his opinion to drink it-it made him forget the pain of being

He was still Hercules, but not in fetters. He thought clearly, but not in agony ; he spoke exactly, but also freely. Within the whole range of English literature, we had almost said any literature, no such pointed and finished sentences are to be found as many of those which Johnson, when company and a solid dinner had removed from his soul the burden of his self-consciousness, gave utterance to in the Mitre Tavern or at the Streatham table. Moreover, his sentences, whether spoken or written, ponderous in expression though they were, and often expressing commonplace sentiments, were carefully-finished and in every way conscientious pieces of work; and Mr. Craik says, in our opinion with perfect justice, ‘No composition at once so uniformly clear and exact, and so elaborately stately, measured, and sonorous, had proceeded habitually from any previous English pen.' Even in the world of art, therefore, Johnson ought to be gratefully remembered, as the exponent of the secondary virtues ; as reminding us that elegance is admirable as well as simplicity, that art is great as well as nature. Morally consistent, Johnson was in literature characterized by thoroughness ; and it would be difficult to say for which of the two virtues he is most to be admired or most deserving of study and imitation in an age like the present, when we seem to have too little time to be either scrupulously sensitive in morals or scrupulously exact in art.



The life of the biographer of Dr. Samuel Johnson is essentially uneventful and common. place. James Boswell was born at Edinburgh, October 29, 1740. His father was one of the Judges of the Court of Session, taking the title of Lord Auchinleck from the name of the family estate in Ayrshire. Lord Auchinleck would appear to have been a quiet, shrewd Scotsman, who thought that his son James, from his craze for great men, had a 'bee in his bonnet;' and, according to a popular anecdote, said of him on one occasion, "There's nae hope for Jamie, mon ; Jamie is gaen clean gyte. What do you think, man? He's done with Paoli, he's off wi' the land-louping scoundrel of a Corsican ; and whose tail do you think he has pinned himself to now, mon? A dominie, mon, an auld dominie ; he keepit a schule and cau'd it an acaudemy.' It was intended by James's father that he should follow the profession of advocate; and he therefore studied at the University of Glasgow; he went also in 1763 to the University of Utrecht. The same year he made the acquaintance of Johnson. Having spent a winter at Utrecht, he travelled through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy ; and at Corsica, through a letter of introduction from Rousseau, he made the acquaintance of the patriot Paoli. He published in 1768 an Account of Corsica, with Memoirs of General Pasquale di Paoli ; his enthusiasm, which he frequently manifested in very silly ways, for Corsican independence, gained him the nickname of •Corsica Boswell.' In 1766, Boswell became a member of the Faculty of Advocates ; but though he subsequently entered at the English bar, neither in Scotland nor in England was he successful or enthusiastic as a lawyer. After a series of amours, not always reputable, of which we have an amusing account in the Letters of James Boswell, addressed to the Rev. W. J. Temple, from the original MSS., a posthumous volume published in 1856, he married in 1769 an Ayrshire lady, named Montgomery, by whom he had several children, and to whom, to do Bozzy justice, he was warmly attached. In 1773, he was admitted a member of the Literary Club founded by Johnson, and from that time to Johnson's death in 1784, his life was bound up with that of the sage whom he worshipped, and may, with truth, be said to have immortalized. He accompanied Johnson to Scotland and the Hebrides in 1773, published a Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides in 1785, and in 1791 appeared in two volumes his great work, his Life of Samuel Johnson. Boswell died in London, June 19, 1795. He left two sons. The elder, Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, Baronet, was born in 1775. He was a man of great geniality, humour, and cleverness. Mr. Lockhart says that he had 'all his father Bozzy's cleverness, good-humour, and joviality, without one touch of his meaner qualities ;' and his Songs chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, which were published at Edinburgh in 1803, and which includes the much-appreciated 'Jenny dang the weaver,' have always been highly popular. Sir Alexander perished in a duel with Mr. Stuart of Duncarn in 1822, caused by some miserable newspaper personalities. James Boswell, junior, whose notes to his father's work are, many of them, highly valuable, died somewhat suddenly within about a fortnight of the death of his brother. He was a man of literary taste, as shown in his careful edition of Malone's Shakspeare, in twentyone volumes, which was published in 1821.

Of Boswell not much need be said. The great service he did the world was to write the Life of Johnson, and that service is so great that it ought to be allowed to cover a multitude of sins. Let us also say, with Mr. Carlyle, ‘Boswell wrote a good book, because he had a

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heart and an eye to discern wisdom and an utterance to render it forth ; because of his free insight, his lively talent, above all, his love and childlike open-mindedness.' The great vice of Boswell is his utter want of, and inability to appreciate, reticence. His exposure of selfconsciousness is positively indecent ; his deficiency in taste is absolutely incredible. Take a proof or two of this from his Letters to Temple. "When Wilkes and I sat together, each glass of wine produced a flash of wit like gunpowder thrown on the fire-Puff! puff!' David Hume, on one occasion, spoke disparagingly of some of Johnson's sentiments, whereupon Boswell retorted by sheer impertinence. Yet he thus comments on the affair : “Davy was finely punished for his treatment of my revered friend, and he deserved it richly, both for his petulance to so great a character, and for his talking so before me !' Sir John Hawkins was Boswell's special object of aversion, and he expresses it in this fashion : ‘Hawkins is, no doubt, very malevolent. Observe how he talks of me as quite unknown.' As another evidence of the character of the man, take the following portrait of one of his numerous loves, whom he himself describes as La belle Irlandaise; it is the bathos of love, and Boswell all over : ‘Figure to yourself, Temple, a young lady just sixteen, formed like a Grecian nymph, with the sweetest countenance, full of sensibility, accomplished, with a Dublin education, always half the year in the north of Ireland, her father a counsellor-at-law, with an estate of £1000 a year, and above £10,000 in ready money ; her mother a sensible, well-bred woman; she the darling of her parents, and no other child but her sister. She is cousin to some cousins of mine in this country.' Lastly, who but Bozzy, overwhelmed with distress at the loss of his wife, would yet have noticed, much less placed on record, the fact that “there were nineteen carriages followed the hearse' that conveyed her to her last resting-place?

But it is in these and such things that Boswell shows to the least advantage ; he was utterly unable to see the proportions either of men or of things, and, above all, of himself. The bulk of his critics have, however, inferred that he had no good side. This is a mistake. Boswell was certainly neither a very great nor even a very good man, but was not deficient in vivacity; he was a bon camarade as well as a bon vivant ; and, if we may believe various authorities, he sometimes, perhaps unconsciously, was capable of flashes of wit. It is also apparent that many of his impulses were good. He was kindly in disposition, and his domestic affections were strong; and much, as we know, is forgiven to those that love much. Then, again, although little remarkable in himself, he had the knack of discovering truly remarkable men : Johnson, Rousseau, and even Paoli, his admiration for whom procured him so much ridicule, were, after all, really worth knowing and writing about. And, finally, in days of payment by results,' we are bound to accord some little merit to the author of one book which is universally admitted to be the first in its own department of literature.

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Dedication to Sir Joshua Reynolds


CHAP. XVI. 1763-1765.-Boswell writes to John-

Advertisement to the First Edition

xiv son-His Answer-Visit to the Langton Family

Subsequent Editions


-Institution of the Literary Club-Diploma of


LL.D. from Trinity College, Dublin


CHAP. I.-Introductory


CHAP. XVII. 1765-1766. -- Introduction to the

CHAP. II. 1709-1716.- Birth and Infancy of John- Thrales - Edition of Shakspeare – Goldsmith's
son-His Parents---Anecdotes of his childhood Traveller and Deserted Village


-Touched by the King for Scrofula

4 CHAP, XVIII. 1766-1767.- The Latin in Boswell's


1716-1781.-School Days at Lichfield Thesis --Johnson introduced to George III. at
-His Uncle Cornelius Ford-Sent to School at Buckingham House-Visits Lichfield .


Stourbridge-Arrival at Pembroke College, Ox- CHAP. XIX. 1768.-Writes Prologue to Goldsmith's

ford-Apparent Struggles with Poverty-Leaves Good-natured Man-Boswell's Account of Corsica

the University

7 -Johnson visits Oxford-Returns to London-

1731–1758. - Death of Johnson's Father
Origin of the ‘Bear' epithet

-Becomes Usher-Birmingham-Translation of CHAP. XX. 1769.-Johnson and Boswell visit Mr.
Lobo's Voyage to Abyssinia–Return to Lichfield and Mrs. Thrale - General Paoli - Goldsmith's
- Birmingham again -- First Letter to Cave- Tailor- Baretti's Trial .


Marriage with Mrs. Porter-Opens a Private CHAP. XXI.

1769-1770. -- Johnson's The False

Academy-Great part of Irene written

16 Alarm-Letters to the Wartons, etc.


CHAP. v. 1737-1741.-Johnson arrives in London CHAP. XXII. 1770.- Dr. Maxwell's Collectanea-

accompanied by Garrick--Going back to Lich-

Johnson's Political Opinions-His general mode

field---Original Ms. of Irene-- Return to London of Life-Love of Blackletter Books


with Mrs. Johnson-Reports Debates in Parlia- CHAP. XXIII. 1771.---Johnson publishes Pamphlet

ment-Poem of London-Note from Pope relat- on the Falkland Islands-Boswell's Marriage-

ing to Johnson

24 Fourth Edition of the Dictionary prepared 181

CHAP, VI. 1741-1744.- Encounter with Osborne CHAP. XXIV. 1772.---Ghost Stories -- Ranelagh -

the Bookseller-Letters to Cave-Embarrassed Hon. Thomas Erskine .


Circumstances-Life of Savage


CHAP. XXV. 1772-1773. - General Oglethorpe-


1745-1749.-Garrick and Drury Lane Goldsmith's Natural History-Johnson's Opinion
Theatre-Johnson's Prologue'--'Plan' of the

on point of Scotch Law

Dictionary-Institution of the Club in Ivy Lane CHAP. XXVI. 1773.- New Editions of the Dictionary
-Irene performed at Drury Lane Theatre . 46 and Shakspeare published-Goldsmith's She Stoops
CHAP. VIII. 1750-1751. -Commencement of the

to Conquer - Allan Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd-
Pambler-- Prologue to Comus-Progress of the Charles Townshend-Vanity of Garrick


Dictionary and Rambler

53 CHAP. XXVII. 1773. - Dinner at Beauclerk's -


1752-1764. -Close of the Rambler-

Johnson on Goldsmith-Boswell elected a mem-

Death of Mrs. Johnson-Robert Levett-Rey- ber of The Club'- Lay Patronage - Johnson


63 excites the anger of Goldsmith-Doctrine of the

CHAP. X. 1754–1755.-- Life of Cave-Lord Chester- Trinity-Reconciliation with 'Goldy',

field and Johnson--Excursion to Oxford-Degree CHAP. XXVIII. 1773.-Johnson sets out on his
of M.A.-Scheme of Life on Sundays

70 “Tour to the Hebrides'-Arrives at Edinburgh,

1756-1758.-Johnson on Booksellers-

and visits the Isles by way of Aberdeen and

Defence of Admiral Byng--Burney's Interview Inverness-Johnson writes an account of his

with Johnson

85 'Tour'-Death of Goldsmith, on whom John-

1758-1759.- The Idler-Death of John-

son composes a Greek Epitaph--Visits Wales

son's Mother-Publication of Rasselas-Contro.

with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale


versy regarding Blackfriars Bridge

92 CHAP. XXIX. 1774-1775. – Writes the Patriot-

CHAP. XII. 1760-1703. --Accession of George mi. Questions the authenticity of Ossian's Poems --

- Projected History of the War - Letters to Journey to the Western Islands published-The

Langton, Baretti, etc.--Grant of Pension . 100 Ossian Controversy


CHAP. XIV. 1703. -- First Interview of Boswell CHAP. XXX.

1775. -- Boswell revisits London

with Johnson-Meeting at The Mitre' Tavern-

-Johnson receives his Diploma of LL.D. 230

Record of his Opinions of Gray, Goldsmith, etc. 109 CHAP. XXXI. 1775.-Johnson's Opinion of Public

CHAP. XV. 1763. --Account of Goldsmith-John- Speakers - Convivial Dinners Lillibulero

son accompanies Boswell to Harwich, on his Good Friday.


intended Foreign Tour

117 CHAP. XXXII. 1775.- Dinner at Mr. Cambridge's



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