« ElőzőTovább »
manner, in his " Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides," 8vo, 1786. His veneration and efteem for his friend, induced him, at a fubfequent period, to go through the laborious task of digefting 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
1 poffibly have fuggefted to Mr. Bofwell the
idea of preserving and giving to the world
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 converfations between fo eminent an instructor of mankind, and his friends, the numerous body of anecdotes, literary and biographical, and the letters which are occafionally interfperfed, and naturally introduced, in the narrative part of Mr. Bofwell's ample performance, open and disclose to the eager curiofity of rational and laudable inquiry, an immense storehouse of mental treasure, which far exceeds, in merit and value, the voluminous collections of the wife and witty fayings of the learned and ingenious men of other nations. With fome venial exceptions on the score of egotism and indifcriminate admiration, his work exhibits the moft 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. Bofwell, it is useless to detail. They have already been the fubject of ridicule in various different forms and publications, by men of fuperficial understanding, and ludicrous fancy. Many have supposed him to be a mere relater of the fayings of others; but he poffeffed confiderable intellectual powers, for which he has not had fufficient credit. It is manifeft to every reader of any discernment, that he could never have collected fuch a mass of information, and just obfervations on human life, as his very valuable work contains, without great ftrength of mind, and much various knowledge; as he never could have difplayed his collections in fo lively a manner, had he not poffeffed a very picturefque imagination, or, in other words, A j
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 cenfure. He died at London, May 19, 1795, in the 55th year of his age. His death is an irreparable lofs 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 focial talents always made his company a valuable acceffion.
The facts ftated in the prefent account are chiefly taken from the narratives of Sir John Hawkins, and Mr. Bofwell; with, the addition of fuch particulars of the progrefs of his mind and fortunes, as the fubfequent narrative of Mr. Murphy, and the most refpectable periodical publications of the last ten years have fupplied.
SAMUEL JOHNSON was born at Litchfield, in Staffordshire, September 7. 1709. His father, Michael Johnfon, was a native of Cubley, in Derbyshire, of obfcure extraction, who fettled in Litchfield as a bookfeller, and carried on that bufinefs at all the neighbouring towns on market days; but was fo refpectable as to be made one of the magistrates of that city. He was a man of a large and robuft body, and of a ftrong and active mind; but was always fubject to a morbid melancholy. He was a zealous high-church-man and Jacobite ; though he reconciled himself by cafuistical arguments of expediency and neceffity, to take the oaths impofed by the prevailing power. He was a pretty good Latin fcholar, and being a man of good fenfe and skill in his trade, he acquired a reafonable share of wealth, of which he afterwards loft the greatest part, by engaging, unfuccefsfully, in the manufacture of parch