« PreviousContinue »
Library. It is some relief to my conscience to know that the task was rendered lighter to him by his intimate familiarity with its treasures, and by the deep love for literature with which he is inspired.
There are other thanks due which I cannot here fittingly express. “An author partakes of the common condition of humanity; he is born and married like another man; he has hopes and fears, expectations and disappointments, griefs and joys like a courtier or a statesman'. In the hopes and fears, in the expectations and disappointments, in the griefs and joys—nay, in the very labours of his literary life, if his hearth is not a solitary one, he has those who largely share.
I have now come to the end of my long labours. • There are few things not purely evil,' wrote Johnson, of which we can say without some emotion of uneasiness, this is the last?' From this emotion I cannot feign that I am free. My book has been my companion in many a sad and many a happy hour. I take leave of it with a pang of regret, but I am cheered by the hope that it may take its place, if a lowly one, among the works of men who have laboured patiently but not unsuccessfully in the great and shining fields of English literature.
G. B. H. CLARENS, SWITZERLAND:
March 16, 1887.
Johnson's Works, ed. 1825, vol. iv. p. 446.
Post, i. 384, n. 3.
TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
MY DEAR SIR,
EVERY liberal motive that can actuate an Au. thour in the dedication of his labours, concurs in directing me to you, as the person to whom the following Work should be inscribed.
If there be a pleasure in celebrating the distinguished merit of a contemporary, mixed with a certain degree of vanity not altogether inexcusable, in appearing fully sensible of it, where can I find one, in complimenting whom I can with more general approbation gratify those feelings? Your excellence not only in the Art over which you have long presided with unrivalled fame, but also in Philosophy and elegant Literature, is well known to the present, and will continue to be the admiration of future ages. Your equal and placid temper', your variety of conversation, your true politeness, by which you are so amiable in private society, and that enlarged hospitality which has long made your house a common centre of union for the great, the accomplished, the learned, and the ingenious; all these qualities I can, in perfect confidence of not being accused of flattery, ascribe to you.
If a man may indulge an honest pride, in having it known to the world, that he has been thought worthy of particular
Johnson said of him :
—Sir Joshua Reynolds is the same all the year round;' post, March 28, 1776. Boswell elsewhere describes him as he who used to be looked upon as perhaps the most happy man in the world. Letters of Boswell, p. 344. 1.-1
attention by a person of the first eminence in the age in which he lived, whose company has been universally courted, I am justified in availing myself of the usual privilege of a Dedication, when I mention that there has been a long and uninterrupted friendship between us.
If gratitude should be acknowledged for favours received, I have this opportunity, my dear Sir, most sincerely to thank you for the many happy hours which I owe to your kindness,-for the cordiality with which you have at all times been pleased to welcome me,- for the number of valuable acquaintances to whom you have introduced me,- for the noctes cænæque Deum', which I have enjoyed under your roof?.
If a work should be inscribed to one who is master of the subject of it, and whose approbation, therefore, must ensure it credit and success, the Life of Dr. Johnson is, with the greatest propriety, dedicated to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was the intimate and beloved friend of that great man; the friend, whom he declared to be the most invulnerable man he knew; whom, if he should quarrel with him, he should find the most difficulty how to abuse!' You, my dear Sir, studied him, and knew him well: you venerated and admired him. Yet, luminous as he was upon the whole, you
"O noctes cænæque Deum!'
O joyous nights ! delicious feasts !
Francis. Horace, Sat. ii. 6. 65.
perceived all the shades which mingled in the grand composition; all the little peculiarities and slight blemishes which marked the literary Colossus. Your very warm commendation of the specimen which I gave in my Journal of a er to the Hebrides, of my being able to preserve his conversation in an authentick and lively manner, which opinion the Publick has confirmed, was the best encourage. ment for me to persevere in my purpose of producing the whole of my stores'.
In one respect, this Work will, in some passages, be different from the former. In my Tour, I was almost unbound. edly open in my communications, and from my eagerness to display the wonderful fertility and readiness of Johnson's wit, freely shewed to the world its dexterity, even when I was myself the object of it. I trusted that I should be liberally understood, as knowing very well what I was about, and by no means as simply unconscious of the pointed effects of the satire. I own, indeed, that I was arrogant enough to suppose that the tenour of the rest of the book would sufficiently guard me against such a strange imputation. But it seems I judged too well of the world; for, though I could scarcely believe it, I have been undoubtedly informed, that many persons, especially in distant quarters, not penetrating enough into Johnson's character, so as to understand his mode of treating his friends, have arraigned my judgement, instead of seeing that I was sensible of all that they could observe.
It is related of the great Dr. Clarke', that when in one of
" 'I surely have the art of writing agreeably. The Lord Chancellor [Thurlow) told me he had read every word of my Hebridian Journal;' he could not help it; adding, 'could you give a rule how to write a book that a man must read ? I believe Longinus could not.' Letters of Boswell, p. 322.
: Boswell perhaps quotes from memory the following passage ir Goldsmith's Life of Nash :- The doctor was one day conversing with Locke and two or three more of his learned and intimate companions with that freedom, gaiety, and cheerfulness, which is ever the result of innocence. In the midst of their mirth and laughter, the