« AnteriorContinuar »
Samuel Johnson, LL.D.
IN FOURTEEN YOLUMES,
PAINTED FOR JOHN STOCKDALE, PICCADILLY; AN>
G. G. J. AND J. ROBINSON, PATER-NOSTER-Row,
THE performances contained in the present
- Volume, are such, as it is presumed, ought to have made a part of the Edition of Dr. Johnfon's Works lately published. Their authenticity will need no other proof than the internal evidence they exhibit, though were such proof required, except in one or two instances, it might without much difficulty be produced. The merit of the several pieces will hardly be controverted. Why they were omitted is of no importance to enquire.
The reluctance which Dr. Johnson always shewed to giving any information concerning his anonymous works, and his filence to all enquiries on that subject, have left much to conjecture, and been the cause of some mistakes. It is incredible, that he should have assumed to himself the works of other writers, and therefore it is more probable, that he tacitly acquiesced to enquiries which he was resolved not to satisfy . and would not contradict. Those who knew him best are convinced, that he left no directions behind him on the subject of any Edition of his A 2
Works, or such only as on a strict enquiry would be found to be too hastily admitted.
That this excellent Writer, in whose praise too much cannot be said, should have neglected to publish a complete Edition of his works in his life-time, will be a subject of regret with many, and not without reason; but when it is confidered with what care he wrote, how little he altered, and how little room there is for alteration, it will diminish some of our concern. It was very justly observed by a celebrated female writer, that were an angel to give the imprimatur, Dr. Johnson's works were among those very few which would not be lefsened by a line *. It may be further observed, that nothing really written by him has been yet brought to light which can in any degree disgrace his memory. Whatever injury his character has sustained, no part of it can with justice be imputed to his writings.
The publication of Posthumous Works is liable to many objections : From the inequalities of some of our best writers, it has been often found injurious to their reputation, to collect every scattered fragment of their productions. Still more injurious may it be thought to revive such performances as the more mature judgment of
* Piozzi's Anecdotes, p. 182.