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manner, in his “ Journal.of a Tour to the Hebrides,” 8vo, 1786. His veneration and esteem for his friend, induced him, at a subsequent period, to go through the laborious task of digesting and arranging the immense mass of materials, which his own diligence, and the kindness of others, had furnished him, and of forming the history of his life ; which was published in 2 vols. 4to, 1791, and was received by the world with most extraordinary avidity.
Xenophon’s Memorabilia of Socrates may possibly have suggested to Mr. Boswell the idea of preserving and giving to the world the Memorabilia of his venerable friend; but he professes to have followed the model of Mason in his “Memoirs of Gray.” He has, however, the advantage of Mafon, in the quantity, variety, and richness of his materials. His work may be referred to that class of compilements known by the name of “ Books in Ana.” To com, pare it with Monnoye's edition of the Menagiana, one of the most esteemed of these publications, would not be doing justice to it. The incidental conversations between so eminent an instructor of mankind, and his friends, the numerous body of anecdotes, literary and biographical, and the letters which are occasionally interspersed, and naturally introduced, in the narrative part of Mr. Boswell's ample performance, open and disclose to the eager curiosity of rational and laudable inquiry, an immense storehouse of mental treasure, which far exceeds, in merit and value, the voluminous collections of the wise and witty sayings of the learned and ingenious men of other nations. With some venial exceptions on the score of egotism and in
discriminate admiration, his work exhibits · the most copious, interesting, and finished
picture of the life and opinions of an eminent man, that was ever executed; and is
justly esteemed one of the most instructive and entertaining books in the English language.
The eccentricities of Mr. Boswell, it is useless to detail. They have already been the subject of ridicule in various different forms and publications, by men of superficial understanding, and ludicrous fancy. Many have supposed him to be a mere relater of the sayings of others; but he possessed considerable intellectual powers, for which he has not had sufficient credit. It is manifest to every reader of any discernment, that he could never have collected such a mass of information, and just observations on human life, as his very valuable work contains, without great strength of mind, and much various knowledge; as he never could have difplayed his collections in fo lively a manner, had he not possessed a very picturesque imagination, or, in other words,
had he not had a very happy turn for poetry, as well as for humour and for wit. * This lively and ingenious biographer, is now beyond the reach of praise or censure. He died at London, May 19, 1795, in the 55th year of his age. His death is an irreparable loss to English literature. He had many failings; and many virtues, and many amiable qualities, which predominated over the frailties incident to human nature. He will be long regretted by a wide circle of friends, to whom his good qualities and social talents always made his company a valuable accession.
The facts stated in the present account are chiefly taken from the narratives of Sir John Hawkins, and Mr. Boswell; with the addition of such particulars of the progress of his mind and fortunes, as the subsequent narrative of Mr. Murphy, and the most respectable periodical publications of the last ten years have supplied.
SAMUEL JOHNSON was born at Litchfield, in Staffordshire, September 7. 1709. His father, Michael Johnson, was a native of Cubley, in Derbyshire, of obscure extraction, who settled in Litchfield as a bookfeller, and carried on that business at all the neighbouring towns on market days ; but was so respectable as to be made one of the magistrates of that city. He was a man of a large and robust body, and of a strong and active mind; but was always subject to a morbid melancholy. He was a zealous high-church-man and Jacobite; though he reconciled himself by casuistical arguments of expediency and necessity, to take the oaths imposed by the prevailing power. He was a pretty good Latin scholar, and being a man of good sense and skill in his trade, he acquired a reasonable share of wealth, of which he afterwards lost the greatest part, by engaging, unsuccessfully, in the manufacture of parch