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been there, Johnson and Boswell had never come together, or had soon and finally separated again. Thus does poor Bozzy stand out to us as an ill-assorted, glaring mixture of the highest and the lowest.
As for the book itself, we have rated it beyond any other product of the eighteenth century; all Johnson's own writings stand on a quite inferior level to it. Rough Samuel and sleek, wheedling James were, and are not. Their life and whole personal environment has melted into air. The Mitre Tavern still stands in Fleet Street; but where now is its scot-and lot-paying, beef-and-ale loving, cocked-hatted, potbellied landlord; its rosy-faced, assiduous landlady, with all her shining brass-pans, waxed tables, well-filled larder-shelves; her cooks, and bootjacks, and errand-boys, and watery-mouthed hangers-on? Gone! Gone! The becking waiter, who with wreathed smiles, was wont to spread for Samuel and Bozzy their supper of the gods, has long since pocketed his last sixpence; and vanished, sixpences and all, like a ghost at cock-crowing. The bottles they drank out of are all broken, the chairs they sat on all rotted and burnt; the very knives and forks they ate with have rusted to the heart, and become brown oxide of iron, and mingled with the indiscriminate clay. All, all has vanished; in every deed and truth, like that baseless fabric of Prospero's air-vision. Of the Mitre Tavern nothing but the bare walls remain there; of London, of England, of the
World, nothing but the bare walls remain; and these also decaying, only slower.
Now this book of Boswell's, this is precisely a revocation of the edict of destiny; so that Time shall not utterly, not so soon by several centuries, have dominion over us. A little row of naptha-lamps, with its line of naptha-light, burns clear and holy through the dead night of the past; they who are gone are still here; though hidden, they are revealed; though dead, they yet speak. There it shines, that little miraculously lamplit pathway, shedding its feebler and feebler twilight into the boundless dark oblivion—for all that our Johnson touched has become illuminated for us; on which miraculous little pathway we can still travel, and see wonders.
THE LIFE OF
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
To write the Life of him who excelled all mankind in writing the lives of others, and who, whether we consider his extraordinary endowments, or his various works, has been equalled by few in any age, is an arduous, and may be reckoned in me a presumptuous task.
Had Dr. Johnson written his own life, in conformity with the opinion which he has given, that every man's life may be best written by himself; had he employed in the preservation of his own history, that clearness of narration and elegance of language in which he has embalmed so many eminent persons, the world would probably have had the most perfect example of biography that was ever exhibited. But although he at different times, in a desultory manner, committed to writing many particulars of the progress of his mind and fortunes, he never had persevering diligence enough to form them into a regular composition. Of these memorials a few have been preserved; but the greater part was consigned by him to the flames, a few days before his death.
As I had the honor and happiness of enjoying his friendship for upwards of twenty years; as I had the scheme of writing his life constantly in view; as
Boswell's Life of Johnson....
...George Birkbeck Hill
Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson During the Last
Essay on Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson...
The Hero as Man of Letters..
Life of Johnson.
Eighteenth Century Vignettes
Dr. Johnson and Fanny Burney...
The Salon and English Letters.
Dr. Johnson and His Circle.....
. Chauncey Tinker
. Chauncey Tinker .John Bailey Mowbray Morris
Boswell's Life of Johnson..
Letters of Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann..Lord Dover
Inns and Taverns in Old England.....
Life of Goldsmith...
Life of James Boswell...