« PreviousContinue »
favourable opportunity may come.
I have in hand a Selection of the Wit and Wisdom of Dr. Johnson. I purpose, moreover, to collect and edit all of his letters that are not in the Life. Some hundreds of these were published by Mrs. Piozzi; many more are contained in Mr. Croker's edition ; while others have already appeared in Notes and Queries', Not a few, doubtless, are still lurking in the desks of the collectors of autographs. As a letter - writer Johnson stands very high. While the correspondence of David Garrick has been given to the world in two large volumes, it is not right that the letters of his far greater friend should be left scattered and almost neglected. He that sees before him to his third dinner,' says Johnson, ‘has a long prospect'.' My prospect is still longer; for, if health be spared, and a fair degree of public favour shown, I see before me to my third book. When I have published my Letters, I hope to enter upon a still more arduous task in editing the Lives of the Poets.
In my work I have received much kind assistance, not only from friends, but also from strangers to whom I had applied in cases where special knowledge could alone throw light on some obscure point. My acknowledgments I have in most instances made in my notes. In some cases, either through want of opportunity or forgetfulness, this has not been done. I gladly avail myself of the present opportunity to remedy this deficiency. The Earl of Crawford and Balcarres I have to thank for so liberally allowing the original of the famous Round Robin, which is in his Lordship's possession, to be reproduced by a photographic process for this edition. It is by the kindness of Mr. J. L. G. Mowat, M.A., Fellow and Bursar of Pembroke College, Oxford, that I have been able to make a careful examination of the Johnsonian manuscripts
'To this interesting and accurate publication I am indebted for many valuable notes.
· Post, iii. 59, n. 3.
in which our college is so rich. If the vigilance with which he keeps guard over these treasures while they are being inspected is continued by his successors in office, the college will never have to mourn over the loss of a single leaf. To the Rev. W. D. Macray, M.A., of the manuscript department of the Bodleian, to Mr. Falconer Madan, M.A., Sub-Librarian of the same Library, and to Mr. George Parker, one of the Assistants, I am indebted for the kindness with which they have helped me in my inquiries. To Mr. W. H. Allnutt, another of the Assistants, I owe still more. When I was abroad, I too frequently, I fear, troubled him with questions which no one could have answered who was not well versed in bibliographical lore. It was not often that his acuteness was baffled, while his kindness was never exhausted. My old friend Mr. E. J. Payne, M.A., Fellow of University College, Oxford, the learned editor of the Select Works of Burke published by the Clarendon Press, has allowed me, whenever I pleased, to draw on his extensive knowledge of the history and the literature of the eighteenth century. Mr. C. G. Crump, B.A., of Balliol College, Oxford, has traced for me not a few of the quotations which had baffled my search. To Mr. G. K. Fortescue, Superintendent of the Reading Room of the British Museum, my most grateful acknowledgments are due. His accurate and extensive knowledge of books and his unfailing courtesy and kindness have lightened many a day's heavy work in the spacious room over which he so worthily presides. But most of all am I indebted to Mr. C. E. Doble, M.A., of the Clarendon Press. He has read all my proofsheets, and by his almost unrivalled knowledge of the men of letters of the close of the seventeenth and of the beginning of the eighteenth centuries, he has saved my notes from some blunders and has enriched them with much valuable information. In my absence abroad he has in more in stances than I care to think of consulted for me the Bodleian
Library. It is some relief to my conscience to know that the task was rendered lighter to him by his intimate familiarity with its treasures, and by the deep love for literature with which he is inspired.
There are other thanks due which I cannot here fittingly express. 'An author partakes of the common condition of humanity; he is born and married like another man; he has hopes and fears, expectations and disappointments, griefs and joys like a courtier or a statesman' In the hopes and fears, in the expectations and disappointments, in the griefs and joys—nay, in the very labours of his literary life, if his hearth is not a solitary one, he has those who largely share.
I have now come to the end of my long labours. There are few things not purely evil,' wrote Johnson, of which we can say without some emotion of uneasiness, this is the last,' From this emotion I cannot feign that I am free. My book has been my companion in many a sad and many a happy hour. I take leave of it with a pang of regret, but I am cheered by the hope that it may take its place, if a lowly one, among the works of men who have laboured patiently but not unsuccessfully in the great and shining fields of English literature.
G. B. H. CLARENS, SWITZERLAND:
March 16, 1887.
Johnson's Works, ed. 1825, vol. iv. p. 446.
· Post, i. 384, n. 3.
MY DEAR SIR,
EVERY liberal motive that can actuate an Authour in the dedication of his labours, concurs in directing me to you, as the person to whom the following Work should be inscribed.
If there be a pleasure in celebrating the distinguished merit of a contemporary, mixed with a certain degree of vanity not altogether inexcusable, in appearing fully sensible of it, where can I find one, in complimenting whom I can with more general approbation gratify those feelings? Your excellence not only in the Art over which you have long presided with unrivalled fame, but also in Philosophy and elegant Literature, is well known to the present, and will continue to be the admiration of future ages. Your equal and placid temper', your variety of conversation, your true politeness, by which you are so amiable in private society, and that enlarged hospitality which has long made your house a common centre of union for the great, the accomplished, the learned, and the ingenious; all these qualities I can, in perfect confidence of not being accused of fattery, ascribe to you.
If a man may indulge an honest pride, in having it known to the world, that he has been thought worthy of particular
Johnson said of him :—Sir Joshua Reynolds is the same all the year round;' post, March 28, 1776. Boswell elsewhere describes him as he who used to be looked upon as perhaps the most happy man in the world.' Letters of Boswell, p. 344. I.-I