« AnteriorContinuar »
tleman's Magazine” for 1785, paid an ele-
resting“ Life of Samuel Johnson, LL. D.” by James Boswell, Esq. 2 vols. 4to, 1791, which are sufficiently known to the world.
His Works were collected and published by Sir John Hawkins, with his “ Life,” in eleven volumes, 1787. In this edition, the Lives of the Poets are placed first, and several pieces are attributed to Johnson without foundation. In the “ Life,” too much foreign matter is intermixed, and Johnson himself is scarcely visible in the mafs. A new edition was published in 12 vols. 8vo, 1792, with an “ Effay on his Life and Genius,” by Arthur Murphy, Esq., the former “Life” being thought too unwieldy for republication. In this edition, the order observed in the former edition is inverted, and the several pieces are chronologically arranged, omitting those attributed to him without foundation.' Some of his Prayers are printed, and feveral of his Letters added to the 12th volume. Mr. Murphy has . .
no new facts to embellish his work ; but the task which has been left him, of giving a short, yet full, a faithful, yet temperate hiftory of Johnson, has been ably executed. In the succinct review of his writings, Mr. Murphy displays his own learning, judgment, and taste. His Prayers and Meditations were published from his manuscripts, by George Strahan, A. M. Vicar of Illington, in 8vo, 1785. Letters to and from Samuel Johnson, LL. D. were published by Mrs. Piozzi, in 2 vols, 8vo, 1788. The Sermons. 8vo, 1790, left for publication, by Dr. Taylor, were unquestionably Johnson's; and the fact is now ascertained on the authority of Mr. Hayes, the editor. An imperfect collection of his Poems was published by Kearsley, in 12mo, 1785; and inserted, with confiderable additions, in the edition of “ The Works of the English Poets,?? 1790. They are reprinted in the present collection, together with the tragedy of
Irene, and several additional pieces collected from Mr. Boswell's “ Life of Johnson,” and other publications,
The religious, moral, political, and literary character of Johnson, will be better understood by this account of his life, than by any laboured and critical comments, Yet it may not be fuperfluous here to attempt to collect, into one view, his most prominent excellencies, and distinguishing particularities.
His figure and manner are more generally known than those of almost any other man. His person was large, robust, and unwieldy from corpulency. His carriage was disfigured by sudden emotions which appeared to a common observer to be involuntary and convulsive. But in the opinion of Sir Joshua Reynolds, they were the consequence of a depraved habit of accompanying his thoughts with certain untoward actions, which seemed as if they were
meant to reprobate some part of his paft conduct. Of his limbs, he is said never to have enjoyed the free and vigorous use. When he walked, it seemed the struggling gait of one in fetters; and when he rode, he appeared to have no command over his horse. His strength, however, was great, and his personal courage no less so. Among other instances, which exemplify his possession of both, it is related, that, being once at the Litchfield theatre, he fat upon a chair placed for him beside the scenes. Having had occasion to quit his seat, he found it occupied, upon his return, by an innkeeper of the town. He civilly demanded that it should be restored to him; but meeting with a rude refusal, he laid hold of the chair, and with it, of the intruder, and flung them both, without further ceremony, into the pit. At another time, having engaged in a scuffle with four men in the street, he resolutely refused to