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propriety of losing some blood. The note contains these words :—“Si per te licet,' imperatur nuncio Holderum ad me deducere.” Johnson should rather have written “imperatum est. .” But the meaning of the words is perfectly clear. “ If you say yes, the messenger has orders to bring Holder to me. Mr Croker translates the words as follows: “If you consent, pray tell the messenger to bring Holder to me." * If Mr Croker is resolved to write on points of classical learning, we would advise him to begin by giving an hour every morning to our old friend Corderius.
Indeed we cannot open any volume of this work in any place, and turn it over for two minutes in any direction, without lighting on a blunder. Johnson, in his Life of Tickell, stated that a poem entitled the Royal Progress, which appears in the last volume of the Spectator, was written on the accession of George I. The word "arrival" was afterwards substituted for “accession.” “ The reader will observe,” says Mr Croker, " that the Whig term accession, which might imply legality, was altered into a statement of the simple fact of King George's arrival.”+ Now Johnson, though a bigoted Tory, was not quite such a fool as Mr Croker here represents
him to be. In the Life of Granville, Lord Lansdowne, which stands a very few pages from the Life of Tickell, mention is made of the accession of Anne, and of the accession of George I. The word arrival was used in the Life of Tickell for the simplest of all reasons. It was used because the subject of the poem called the Royal Progress was the arrival of the king, and not his accession, which took place near two months before his arrival.
The editor's want of perspicacity is indeed very amusing. He is perpetually telling us that he cannot understand something in the text which is as plain as language can make it. "Mattaire,” said Dr Johnson, "wrote Latin verses from time to time, and published a set in his old age, which he called Senilia, in which he shows so little learning or taste in writing, as to make Carteret a dactyl." # Hereupon we have this note : “The editor does not understand this objection, nor the following observation.” The following observation, which Mr Croker cannot understand, is simply this : "In matters of genealogy,” says Johnson, “it is necessary to give the bare names as they are. But in poetry and in prose of any elegance in the writing, they require to have inflection given to them.” If Mr Croker had told Johnson that this was unintelligible, the doctor would probably have replied, as he replied on another occasion, “I have found you a reason, sir ; I am not bound to find you an understanding." Every body who knows any thing of Latinity knows that, in genealogical tables, Joannes Baro de Carteret, or Vicecomes de Carteret, may be tolerated, but that in compositions which pretend to elegance, Carteretus, or some other form which admits of inflection, ought to be used.
All our readers have doubtless seen the two distichs of Sir William Jones, respecting the division of the time of a lawyer. One of the distichs is translated from some old Latin lines ; the other is original. The former runs thus :
" Six hours to sleep, to law's grave study six,
Four spend in prayer, the rest on nature fix." “Rather,” says Sir William Jones,
* Six hours to law, to soothing slumbers seven,
Ten to the world allot, and all to heaven." The second couplet puzzles Mr Croker strangely. “Sir William," says he, “has shortened his day to twenty-three hours, and the general advice of all to heaven,' destroys the peculiar appropriation of a certain period to religious exercises." $ Now, we did not think that it was in human dulness to miss the meaning of the lines so completely. Sir William distributes twenty| IV. 425
$ V. 233.
* V. 17.
1 IV. 335
three hours among various employments. One hour is thus left for devotion. The reader expects that the verse will end with “and one to heaven.” The whole point of the lines consists in the unexpected substitution of “all” for "one.” The conceit is wretched enough ; but it is perfectly intelligible, and never, we will venture to say, perplexed man, woman, or child before.
Poor Tom Davies, after failing in business, tried to live by his pen. Johnson called him “an author generated by the corruption of a bookseller.” This is a very obvious, and even a commonplace allusion to the famous dogma of the old physiologists. Dryden made a similar allusion to that dogma before Johnson was born. Mr Croker, however, is unable to understand what the doctor meant. “The expression,” he says, quite clear.” And he proceeds to talk about the generation of insects, about bursting into gaudier life, and Heaven knows what.*
There is a still stranger instance of the editor's talent for finding out difficulty in what is perfectly plain. “No man,” said Johnson, can now be made a bishop for his learning and piety.” “From this too just observation,” says Boswell, “there are some eminent exceptions.” Mr Croker is puzzled by Boswell's very natural and simple language. " That a general observation should be pronounced too just, by the very person who admits that it is not universally just, is not a little odd.” +
A very large proportion of the two thousand five hundred notes which the editor boasts of having added to those of Boswell and Malone consists of the fiattest and poorest reflections, reflections such as the least intelligent reader is quite competent to make for himself, and such as no intelligent reader would think it worth while to utter aloud. They remind us of nothing so much as of those profound and interesting annotations which are penciled by sempstresses and apothecaries' boys on the dog-eared margins of novels borrowed from circulating libraries; “How beautiful !”. “Cursed prosy!" "I don't like Sir Reginald Malcolm at all.” “I think Pelham is a sad dandy.” Mr Croker is perpetually stopping us in our progress through the most delightful narrative in the language, to observe that really Dr Johnson was very rude, that he talked more for victory than for truth, that his taste for port wine with capillaire in it was very odd, that Boswell was impertinent, that it was foolish in Mrs Thrale to marry the music-master; and so forth.
We cannot speak more favourably of the manner in which the notes are written than of the matter of which they consist. We find in every page words used in wrong senses, and constructions which violate the plainest rules of grammar. We have the vulgarism of " mutual friend,” for “com. mon friend.” We have "fallacy” used as synonymous with “ falsehood." We have many such inextricable labyrinths of pronouns as that which fol. lows: "Lord Erskine was fond of this anecdote; he told it to the editor the first time that he had the honour of being in his company.” Lastly, we have a plentiful supply of sentences resembling those which we subjoin. “Markland, who, with Jortin and Thirlby, Johnson calls three contemporaries of great eminence." I "Warburton himself did not feel, as Mr Boswell was disposed to think he did, kindly or gratefully of Johnson.” & “ It was him that Horace Walpole called a man who never made a bad figure but as an author."|| One or two of these solecisms should perhaps be attributed to the printer, who has certainly done his best to fill both the text and the notes with all sorts of blunders. In truth, he and the editor have between them made the book so bad, that we do not well see how it could have been worse.
When we turn from the commentary of Mr Croker to the work of our old friend Boswell, we find it not only worse printed than in any other edition with which we are acquainted, but mangled in the most wanton manner. • IV. 323 III. 228,
& IV. 415 || II. 461.
1 IV. 377
Much that Boswell inserted in his narrative is, without the shadow of a rea. son, degraded to the appendix. The editor has also taken upon himself to alter or omit passages which he considers as indecorous. This prudery is quite unintelligible to us. There is nothing immoral in Boswell's book, nothing which tends to inflame the passions. He sometimes uses plain words. But if this be a taint which requires expurgation, it would be desirable to begin by expurgating the morning and evening lessons. The delicate office which Mr Croker has undertaken he has performed in the most capricious
One strong, old-fashioned, English word, familiar to all who read their Bibles, is changed for a softer synonyme in some passages, and suffered to stand unaltered in others. In one place a faint allusion made by Johnson to an indelicate subject, an allusion so faint that, till Mr Croker's note pointed it out to us, we had never noticed it, and of which we are quite sure that the meaning would never be discovered by any of those for whose sake books are expurgated, is altogether omitted. In another place, a coarse and stupid jest of Dr Taylor on the same subject, expressed in the broadest language, almost the only passage, as far as we remember, in all Boswell's book, which we should have been inclined to leave out, is suffered to remain.
We complain, however, much more of the additions than of the omissions. We have half of Mrs Thrale's book, scraps of Mr Tyers, scraps of Mr Murphy, scraps of Mr Cradock, long prosings of Sir John Hawkins, and connecting observations by Mr Croker himself, inserted into the midst of Boswell's text. To this practice we most decidedly object. An editor might as well publish Thucydides with extracts from Diodorus interspersed, or incorporate the Lives of Suetonius with the History and Annals of Tacitus. Mr Croker tells us, indeed, that he has done only what Boswell wished to do, and was prevented from doing by the law of copyright. We doubt this greatly. Boswell has studiously abstained from availing himself of the information given by his rivals, on many occasions on which he might have cited them without subjecting himself to the charge of piracy. Mr Croker has himself, on one occasion, remarked very justly that Boswell was un. willing to owe any obligation to Hawkins. But, be this as it may, if Boswell had quoted from Sir John and from Mrs Thrale, he would have been guided by his own taste and judgment in selecting his quotations. On what Boswell quoted he would have commented with perfect freedom; and the borrowed passages, so selected, and accompanied by such comments, would have become original. They would have dovetailed into the work. No hitch, no crease, would have been discernible. The whole would appear one and indivisible,
"Ut per læve severos
Effundat junctura ungues." This is not the case with Mr Croker's insertions. They are not chosen as Boswell would have chosen them. They are not introduced as Boswell would have introduced them. They differ from the quotations scattered through the original Life of Johnson, as a withered bough stuck in the ground differs from a tree skilfully transplanted with all its life about it.
Not only do these anecdotes disfigure Boswell's book ; they are themselves disfigured by being inserted in his book. The charm of Mrs Thrale's little volume is utterly destroyed. The feminine quickness of observation, the feminine softness of heart, the colloquial incorrectness and vivacity of style, the little amusing airs of a half-learned lady, the delightful garrulity, the “ dear Doctor Johnson," the “it was so comical," all disappear in Mr Croker's quotations. The lady ceases to speak in the first person ; and her anecdotes, in the process of transfusion, become as flat as Champagne in decanters, or Herodotus in Beloe's version. Sir John Hawkins, it is true, loses nothing; and for the best of reasons. Sir John had nothing to lose.
The course which Mr Croker ought to have taken is quite clear. He should have reprinted Boswell's narrative precisely as Boswell wrote it ; and in the notes or the appendix he should have placed any anecdotes which he might have thought it advisable to quote from other writers. This would have been a much more convenient course for the reader, who has now constantly to keep his eye on the margin in order to see whether he is perusing Boswell, Mrs Thrale, Murphy, Hawkins, Tyers, Cradock, or Mr Croker. We greatly doubt whether even the Tour to the Hebrides ought to have been inserted in the midst of the Life. There is one marked distinction between the two works. Most of the Tour was seen by Johnson in manuscript. It does not appear that he ever saw any part of the Life.
We love, we own, to read the great productions of the human mind as they were written. We have this feeling even about scientific treatises ; though we know that the sciences are always in a state of progression, and that the alterations made by a modern editor in an old book on any branch of natural or political philosophy are likely to be improvements. Some errors have been detected by writers of this generation in the speculations of Adam Smith. A short cut has been made to much knowledge at which Sir Isaac Newton arrived through arduous and circuitous paths. Yet we still look with peculiar veneration on the Wealth of Nations and on the Principia, and should regret to see either of those great works garbled even by the ables: hands. But in works which owe much of their interest to the character and situation of the writers the case is infinitely stronger. What man of taste and feeling can endure rifacimenti, harmonies, abridgments, expurgated editions? Who ever reads a stage-copy of a play when he can procure the original? Who ever cut open Mrs Siddons's Milton? Who ever got through ten pages of Mr Gilpin's translation of John Bunyan's Pilgrim into modern English? Who would lose, in the confusion of a Diatessaron, the peculiar charm which belongs to the narrative of the disciple whom Jesus loved ? The feeling of a reader who has become intimate with any great original work is that which Adam expressed towards his bride :
“ Should God create another Eve, and I
Would never from my heart." No substitute, however exquisitely formed, will fill the void left by the original. The second beauty may be equal or superior to the first; but still it is not she.
The reasons which Mr Croker has given for incorporating passages from Sir John Hawkins and Mrs Thrale with the narrative of Boswell would vin. dicate the adulteration of half the classical works in the language. If Pepys's Diary and Mrs Hutchinson's Memoirs had been published a hundred years ago, no human being can doubt that Mr Hume would have made great use of those books in his History of England. But would it, on that account, be judicious in a writer of our own times to publish an edition of Hume's History of England, in which large extracts from Pepys and Mrs Hutchinson should be incorporated with the original text? Surely not. Hume's history, be its faults what they may, is now one great entire work, the production of one vigorous mind, working on such materials as were within its reach. Additions made by another hand may supply a particular deficiency, but would grievously injure the general effect. With Boswell's book the case is stronger. There is scarcely, in the whole compass of literature, a book which bears interpolation so ill. We know no production of the human mind which has so much of what may be called the race, so much of the peculiar flavour of the soil from which it sprang. The work could never have been written if the writer had not been precisely what he was. His character is displayed in every page, and this display of character gives a delightful interest to many passages which have no other interest.
The Life of Johnson 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 no second. 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 strange a phænomenon as this book. Many of the greatest men that ever lived have written biography. Boswell was one of the smallest men that ever lived, and he has beaten them all. He was, if we are to give any credit to his own account or to the united testimony of all who knew him, a man of the meanest and feeblest intellect. Johnson described him as a fellow who had missed his only chance of immortality by not having been alive when the Dunciad was written. Beauclerk used his name as a proverbial expression for a bore. He was the laughing-stock of the whole of that brilliant society which has owed to him the greater part of its fame. He was always laying himself at the feet of some eminent man, and begging to be spit upon and trampled upon. He was always earning some ridiculous nickname, and then “ binding it as a crown unto him," not merely in metaphor, but literally. He exhibited himself, at the Shakspeare Jubilee, to all the crowd which filled Stratford-on-Avon, with a placard round his hat bearing the inscription of Corsica Boswell. In his Tour, he proclaimed to all the world that at Edinburgh he was known by the appellation of Paoli Boswell. Servile and impertinent, shallow and pedantic, a bigot and a sot, bloated with family pride, and eternally blustering about the dignity of a born gentleman, yet stooping to be a talebearer, an eavesdropper, a common butt in the taverns of London, so curious to know every body who was talked about, that, Tory and high Churchman as he was, he manoeuvred, we have been told, for an introduction to Tom Paine, so vain of the most childish distinctions, that when he had been to court, he drove to the office where his book was printing without changing his clothes, and summoned all the printer's devils to admire his new ruffles and sword ; such was this man, and such he was content and proud to be. Every thing which another man would have hidden, every thing the publication of which would have made another man hang himself, was matter of gay and clamorous exultation to his weak and diseased mind. What silly things he said, what bitter retorts he provoked, how at one place he was troubled with evil presentiments which came to nothing, how at another place, on waking from a drunken doze, he read the prayer-book and took a hair of the dog that had bitten him, how he went to see men hanged and came away maudlin, how he added five hundred pounds to the fortune of one of his babies because she was not scared at Johnson's ugly face, how he was frightened out of his wits at sea, and how the sailors quieted him as they would have quieted a child, how tipsy he was at Lady Cork's one evening and how much his merriment annoyed the ladies, how impertinent he was to the Duchess of Argyle and with what stately contempt she put down his impertinence, how Colonel Macleod sneered to his face at his impudent obtrusiveness, how his father and the very wife of his bosom laughed and fretted at his fooleries; all these things he proclaimed to all the world, as if they had been subjects for pride and ostentatious rejoicing. All the caprices of his temper, all the illusions of his vanity, all his hypochondriac whimsies, all his castles in the air, he displayed with a cool self-complacency, a perfect unconsciousness that he was making a fool of himself, to which it is impossible to find a parallel in the whole history of mankind. He has used many people ill ; but assuredly he has used nobody so ill as himself.
That such a man should have written one of the best books in the world is strange enough. But this is not all. Many persons who have conducted themselves foolishly in active life, and whose conversation has indicated no superior powers of mind, have left us valuable works. Goldsmith was very