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loves to contemplate. Next to the poffefsion of great powers, the most enviable qualities, are a capacity to discover, and an inclination to honour them. To the credit of Thrale, let it be recorded, that the patron of literature and talents, of which Johnson fought in vain for the traces in Chesterfield, he found realized in Thrale.
In July of this year, he was complimented by the University of Dublin with the degree of Doctor of Laws, as the Diploma expresses it, ob egregiam scriptorem elegantiam et utilitatem, though he does not appear to have taken the title in consequence of it. In October, he at length gave to the world his edition of The Plays of William Shakspeare, with the Corrections and Illustrations of various Commentators; to which are added, Notes by Sam. Johnson, 8vo; which, as far as it fell short of affording that ample satisfaction which was expected from it, may be ascribed to his not having “read the books
which the author read, traced his knowledge to the source, and compared his copies with their originals ;” a promise he gave, but was not able to perform. Sir John Hawkins thinks it a meagre work; he complains of the paucity of the notes, of Johnson's want of industry, and indeed unfitness for the office of a Scholiaft. It was treated with great illiberality by Dr. Ken: rick, in the first part of a “ Review” of it, which was never completed. It is to be admitted, that he has neither so fully reformed the text, by accurate collations of the first editions, nor fo fairly illustrated his author, in his notes, by quotations from the “ writers who lived at the fame time, immediately preceded, or immediately followed him," as has been done by other able and ingenious critics, who have followed him; Mr. Steevens, Mr. Capel, Mr. Malone, Mr. Reed, &c. 'whose labours have left little to add to the commentaries on
Shakspeare. But what he did as a commentator, has no small share of merit, though his researches were not so ample, and his investigations fo acute as they might have been. He has enriched his edition with a concise account of each play, and of its characteristic excellence. In the sagacity of his emendatory criticisms, and the happiness of his interpretations of obscure passages, he surpasses every editor of this poet. Mr. Malone confesses, “ that Johnfon's vigorous and comprehensive underftanding threw more light on his author, than all his predecessors had done.” His Preface has been pronounced by Mr. Malone, to be the finest composition in our language; and having regard to its subject and extent, it certainly would be difficult to name one poffefsing a superior claim to such superlative praise. Whether we consider the beauty and vigour of its compofition, the abundance and classical selec
tion of its allusions, the justness of the general precepts of criticism, and its accurate estimate of the excellencies or defects of his author, it is equally admirable. He seems to raise his talents upon a level with those of his poet, upon whose works he sits as a critical judge, to rival, by the lustre of his praises, the splendour of the original, and to follow this eagle of British poetry through all his gyres, with as keen an eye, and upon as strong a wing. The Preface to his Diaionary, correct as it is, must yield the palm of excellence to that prefixed to his Shakspeare; but it yields it only because the subject was less favourable to the full display of his powers.
In 1766, he removed from the InnerTemple Lane, to a good house in Johnson's Court, Fleet Street, in which he accommodated Miss Williams with an apartment on the ground floor, while Mr. Levett occupied his post in the garret.
This year he only wrote the Dedication to the King, of Gwyn's “ London and Westminster Improved,” and furnished the Preface, and the following pieces for Miss Williams's “ Miscellanies in Prose and Verse,” 4to : The Ant; “To Miss —, on her giving the Author a Gold and Silk Network Purse of her own weaving ;” “ The Happy Life;" On the Death of Stephen Gray, the Ele&trician; and “ The Fountains,” a Fairy Tale, in Prose. The first sketch of the poem on Stephen Gray, was written by Miss Williams, but Johnson told Mr. Bofwell, “ that he wrote it all over again, except two lines.” This publication was encouraged by a genteel subscription.
In 1767, he only wrote the Dedication to the King, for Mr. Adams's “Treatise on the Globes.” In February, he was honoured by a private conversation with the king, in the library at Buckingham House, “ which gratified his monarchic enthusiasm.” The