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THE HE events of the life of JOHNSON, brighteft ornament of the eighteenth century," who has written the lives of fo many eminent perfons, and so much enriched our national ftock of criticism and biography, have been related by friend and foe, by panegyrifts and fatirical defamers, by the lovers of anecdote, and the followers of party, with a diligence of research, a minutenefs of detail, a variety of illuftration, and a felicity of defcription, unexampled in the records of literary biogra
Befides several flight sketches of his life, by unknown authors, taken, fometimes with a favourable, flattering pencil, fometimes in the broader ftyle of caricature, which lie fcattered in the periodical publications of the laft ten years; voluminous biographical accounts of him have been given to the world by Thomas Tyers, Efq. Mrs. Piozzi, Dr. Towers, Sir John Hawkins, James Bofwell, Efq. and Arthur Murphy, Efq. who were his most intimate friends, and wrote from perfonal knowledge. Their feveral publications, which place his character in very different, and often oppofite points of light, by exhibiting a striking likeness of the features of his mind, which were ftrong and prominent, and by recording fo confiderable a portion of his wisdom and wit, have exquifitely gratified the lovers of literary anecdotes, and largely contributed to the inftruction and entertainment of man
kind. The publications of Mr. Tyers, Mrs. Piozzi, Dr. Towers, and Mr. Murphy, come under the description of “ Biographical Sketches," Anecdotes," and Effays." Thofe of Sir John Hawkins and Mr. Bofwell are more elaborately compofed, and entitle them to the exclufive appellation of his biographers.
On an attentive perufal, it will be found that the narrative of Sir John Hawkins contains a collection of curious anecdotes and obfervations, which few men but its author could have brought together; but a very small part of it relates to the perfon who is the fubject of the work. He appears to be a worthy, and often a well-informed man, but he poffeffes neither animation nor correctnefs, expansion of intellect, nor elegance of tafte. He writes without much feeling or fentiment; his work is heavy, cold, and prolix; but we discover in it many gleams of good fenfe,
and openings of humanity, fometimes checked by ignorance, and fometimes by prejudice.
The narrative of Mr. Bofwell is written with more comprehension of mind, accuracy of intelligence, clearness of narration, and elegance of language; and is more ftrongly marked by the defiderium chari capitis, which is the first feature of affectionate remembrance. He was peculiliarly fitted for the task of recording the fayings and actions of this extraordinary man, by his affiduous attention. From the commencement of his acquaintance with him in 1763, he had the scheme of writing his life conftantly in view; and continued his collections, with his approbation and affiftance, with unwearied diligence, and meritorious perfeverance, for upwards of twenty years. He gave a specimen of his being able to preserve his conversation, in an authentic and lively