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of all kinds of good things suffer the most. In this Concordance the general reader, moreover, may find much to delight him. Johnson's trade was wit and wisdom', and some of his best wares are here set out in a small space. It was, I must confess, with no little pleasure that in revising my proof-sheets I found that the last line in my Concordance and the last line in my six long volumes is Johnson's quotation of Goldsmith's fine saying: 'I do not love a man who is zealous for nothing.'
In the 'forward' references in the notes to other passages in the book, the reader may be surprised at finding that while often I only give the date under which the reference will be found, frequently I am able to quote the page and volume. The explanation is a simple one: two sets of compositors were generally at work, and two volumes were passing through the press simultaneously.
In the selection of the text which I should adopt I hesitated for some time. In ordinary cases the edition which received the author's final revision is the one which all future editors should follow. The second edition, which was the last that was brought out in Boswell's lifetime, could not, I became convinced, be conveniently reproduced. As it was passing through the press he obtained many additional anecdotes and letters. These he somewhat awkwardly inserted in an Introduction and an Appendix. He was engaged on his third edition when he died. 'He had pointed out where some of these materials should be inserted,' and ‘in the margin of the copy which he had in part revised he had written notes'.' His interrupted labours were completed by Edmond Malone, to whom he had read aloud almost the whole of his original manuscript, and who had helped him in the revision of the first half of the book when it was in type'. 'These notes,' says Malone, are faithfully preserved.' He 'Post, iii. 155, n. 2, 442. 3 Post, i. 8.
Post, i. 17, 18.
adds that 'every new remark, not written by the author, for the sake of distinction has been enclosed within crotchets'.' In the third edition therefore we have the work in the condition in which it would have most approved itself to Boswell's own judgment. In one point only, and that a trifling one, had Malone to exercise his judgment. But so skilful an editor was very unlikely to go wrong in those few cases in which he was called upon to insert in their proper places the additional material which the author had already published in his second edition. Malone did not, however, correct the proof-sheets. I thought it my duty, therefore, in revising my work to have the text of Boswell's second edition read aloud to me throughout. Some typographical errors might, I feared, have crept in. In a few unimportant cases early in the book I adopted the reading of the second edition, but as I read on I became convinced that almost all the verbal alterations were Boswell's own. Slight errors, often of the nature of Scotticisms, had been corrected, and greater accuracy often given. Some of the corrections and additions in the third edition that were undoubtedly from his hand were of considerable importance.
I have retained Boswell's spelling in accordance with the wish that he expressed in the preface to his Account of Corsica. If this work,' he writes, 'should at any future period be reprinted, I hope that care will be taken of my orthography'.' The punctuation too has been preserved.
I should be wanting in justice were I not to acknowledge that I owe much to the labors of Mr. Croker. No one can know better than I do his great failings as an editor. His remarks and criticisms far too often deserve the contempt that Macaulay so liberally poured on them. Without being deeply versed in books, he was shallow in himself. Johnson's strong character was never known to him. Its breadth and 1 Post, i. 17, 18. 2 Post, iv. 37, n. I.
length, and depth and height were far beyond his measure. With his writings even he shows few signs of being familiar. Boswell's genius, a genius which even to Lord Macaulay was foolishness, was altogether hidden from his dull eye. No one surely but a blockhead,' a 'barren rascal',' could with scissors and paste-pot have mangled the biography which of all others is the delight and the boast of the English-speaking world. He is careless in small matters, and his blunders are numerous. These I have only noticed in the more important cases, remembering what Johnson somewhere points out, that the triumphs of one critic over another only fatigue and disgust the reader. Yet he has added considerably to our knowledge of Johnson. He knew men who had intimately known both the hero and his biographer, and he gathered much that but for his care would have been lost for ever. He was diligent and successful in his search after Johnson's letters, of so many of which Boswell with all his persevering and pushing diligence had not been able to get a sight. The editor of Mr. Croker's Correspondence and Diaries' goes, however, much too far when, in writing of Macaulay's criticism, he says: 'The attack defeated itself by its very violence, and therefore it did the book no harm whatever. Between forty and fifty thousand copies have been sold, although Macaulay boasted with great glee that he had smashed it.' The book that Macaulay attacked was withdrawn. That monstrous medley reached no second edition. In its new form all the worst excrescences had been cleared away, and though what was left was not Boswell, still less was it unchastened Croker. His repentance, however, was not thorough. He never restored the text to its old state; wanton transpositions of passages still remain, and numerous insertions break the narrative. It was my good fortune to become a sound Boswellian before I even looked at his * vol. ii. p. 47.
1 ii. 199.
edition. It was not indeed till I came to write out my notes for the press that I examined his with any thoroughness.
'Notes,' says Johnson, are often necessary, but they are necessary evils'. To the young reader who for the first time turns over Boswell's delightful pages I would venture to give the advice Johnson gives about Shakespeare:
'Let him that is yet unacquainted with the powers of Shakespeare, and who desires to feel the highest pleasure that the drama can give, read every play from the first scene to the last with utter negligence of all his commentators. When his fancy is once on the wing, let it not stoop at correction or explanation. When his attention is strongly engaged let it disdain alike to turn aside to the name of Theobald and of Pope. Let him read on through brightness and obscurity, through integrity and corruption; let him preserve his comprehension of the dialogue and his interest in the fable. And when the pleasures of novelty have ceased let him attempt exactness and read the commentators '.'
So too let him who reads the Life of Johnson for the first time read it in one of the Pre-Crokerian editions. They are numerous and good. With his attention undiverted by notes he will rapidly pass through one of the most charming narratives that the world has ever seen, and if his taste is uncorrupted by modern extravagances, will recognise the genius of an author who, in addition to other great qualities, has an admirable eye for the just proportions of an extensive work, and who is the master of a style that is as easy as it is inimitable.
Johnson, I fondly believe, would have been pleased, perhaps would even have been proud, could he have foreseen this edition. Few distinctions he valued more highly than those which he received from his own great University. The honorary degrees that it conferred on him, the gown that it entitled him to wear, by him were highly esteemed. In the 'Johnson's Works, ed. 1825, vol. v. p. 152.
Clarendon Press he took a great interest'. The efforts which that famous establishment has made in the excellence of the typography, the quality of the paper, and the admirably-executed illustrations and facsimiles to do honor to his memory and to the genius of his biographer would have highly delighted him. To his own college he was so deeply attached that he would not have been displeased to learn that his editor had been nursed in that once famous 'nest of singing birds.' Of Boswell's pleasure I cannot doubt. How much he valued any tribute of respect from Oxford is shown by the absurd importance that he gave to a sermon which was preached before the University by an insignificant clergyman more than a year and a half after Johnson's death'. When Edmund Burke witnessed the long and solemn procession entering the Cathedral of St. Paul's, as it followed Sir Joshua Reynolds to his grave, he wrote: 'Everything, I think, was just as our deceased friend would, if living, have wished it to be; for he was, as you know, not altogether indifferent to this kind of observances'.' It would, indeed, be presumptuous in me to flatter myself that in this edition everything is as Johnson and Boswell would, if living, have wished it. Yet to this kind of observances, the observances that can be shown by patient and long labour, and by the famous press of a great University, neither man was altogether indifferent.
Should my work find favour with the world of readers, I hope again to labour in the same fields. I had indeed at one time intended to enlarge this edition by essays on Boswell, Johnson, Mrs. Thrale, and perhaps on other subjects. Their composition, would, however, have delayed publication more than seemed advisable, and their length might have rendered the volumes bulky beyond all reason. A more
See post, ii. 39, 486-8, 504.
See post, iv. 486.
Correspondence of Edmund Burke, ii. 425.