Imatges de pÓgina
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POETRY AND WORKS OF IMAGINATION.

Hymn to Ignorance.

The Palace of Sloth:-a vision.

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Johnson's extraordinary facility of composition, when he shook off his constitutional indolence, and resolutely sat down to write, is admirably described by Mr. Courtenay, in his "Poetical Review," which I have several times quoted:

"While through life's maze he sent a piercing view,

His mind expansive to the object grew.

With various stores of erudition fraught,

The lively image, the deep searching thought,
Slept in repose; but when the moment press'd,
The bright ideas stood at once confess'd;
Instant his genius sped its vigorous rays,
And o'er the letter'd world diffused a blaze.
As womb'd with fire the cloud electric flies,
And calmly o'er the horizon seems to rise:
Touch'd by the pointed steel, the lightning flows,
And all th' expanse with rich effulgence glows."

We shall in vain endeavour to know with exact precision every production of Johnson's pen. He owned to me that he had written about forty sermons; but as I understood that he had given or sold them to different persons, who were to preach them as their own, he did not consider himself at liberty to acknowledge them. Would those who were thus aided by him, who are still alive, and the friends of those who are dead, fairly inform the world, it would be obligingly gratifying a reasonable curiosity, to which there should, I think, now be no objection. Two volumes of them, published since his death, are sufficiently ascertained. See Vol. VII. p. 326. I have before me in his handwriting a fragment of twenty quarto leaves, of a translation into English of Sallust, De Bello Catilinario. When it was done I have no notion: but it seems to have no

very superior merit to mark it as his. Besides the publications heretofore mentioned, I am satisfied, from internal evidence, to admit also as genuine the following, which, notwithstanding all my chronological care, escaped me in the course of this work : :

"Considerations on the Case of Dr. Trapp's Sermons,"† published in 1739, in the "Gentleman's Magazine." It is a very ingenious defence of the right of abridging an author's work, without being held as infringing his property. This is one of the nicest questions in the Law of Literature; and I cannot help thinking, that the indulgence of abridging is often exceedingly injurious to authors and booksellers, and should in very few cases be permitted. At any rate, to prevent difficult and uncertain discussion, and give an absolute security to authors in the property of their labours, no abridgment whatever should be permitted till after the expiration of such a number of years as the legislature may be pleased to fix.

But, though it has been confidently ascribed to him, I cannot allow that he wrote a dedication to both houses of parliament of a book entitled "The Evangelical History Harmonised." He was no croaker, no declaimer against the times. He would not have written "That we are fallen upon an age in which corruption is not barely universal, is universally confessed." Nor, " Rapine preys on the public without opposition, and perjury betrays it without inquiry." Nor would he, to excite a speedy reformation, have conjured up such phantoms of terror as these:-" A few years longer, and perhaps all endeavours will be in vain. We may be swallowed by an earthquake; we may be delivered to our enemies." This is not Johnsonian.

There are, indeed, in this dedication several sentences constructed upon the model of those of Johnson. But the imitation of the form, without the spirit of his style, has been so general, that this of itself is not sufficient evidence. Even our newspaper writers aspire to it. In an account of the funeral of Edwin, the comedian, in "The Diary" of Nov. 9. 1790, that

son of drollery is thus described :— "A man who had so often cheered the sullenness of vacancy, and suspended the approaches of sorrow." And in "The Dublin Evening Post," August 16. 1791, there is the following paragraph : :-"It is a singular circumstance, that in a city like this, containing 200,000 people, there are three months in the year during which no place of public amusement is open. Long vacation is here a vacation from pleasure, as well as business; nor is there any mode of passing the listless evenings of declining summer, but in the riots of a tavern, or the stupidity of a coffee-house."

I have not thought it necessary to specify every copy of verses written by Johnson, it being my intention to publish an authentic edition of all his poetry, with notes.

No. V.

A

CHRONOLOGICAL CATALOGUE

OF

THE PROSE WORKS

OF

SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D. (1)

Το

N. B. To those which he himself acknowledged is added acknowl. those which may be fully believed to be his from internal evidence is added intern. evid.

1735. ABRIDGMENT and translation of Lobo's Voyage to Abyssinia, acknowl.

1738. Part of a translation of Father Paul Sarpi's History of the Council of Trent, acknowl.

N. B. As this work, after some sheets were printed, suddenly stopped, I know not whether any part of it is now to be found.

(1) I do not here include his poetical works; for, excepting his Latin translation of Pope's Messiah, his London, and his Vanity of Human Wishes, imitated from Juvenal, his Prologue on the opening of DruryLane Theatre by Mr. Garrick, and his Irene, a Tragedy, they are very numerous and in general short; and I have promised a complete edition of them, in which I shall, with the utmost care, ascertain their authenticity, and illustrate them with notes and various readings. — BOSWELL The meaning of this sentence, and particularly of the word cxcepting, is not very clear. Perhaps Mr. Boswell wrote, "they are not very numerous, which would be less obscure.-C.

FOR THE GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE.

Preface, intern. evid.

Life of Father Paul, acknowl.

1739. A complete vindication of the Licenser of the Stage from the malicious and scandalous aspersions of Mr. Brooke, author of Gustavus Vasa, acknowl.

1740.

1741.

Marmor Norfolciense: or an Essay on an ancient prophetical inscription in monkish rhyme, lately discovered near Lynne in Norfolk, by PROBUS BRITANNICUS, acknowl.

FOR THE GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE.

Life of Boerhaave, acknowl.

Address to the Reader, intern. evid.

Appeal to the Public in behalf of the Editor, intern. evid.

Considerations on the case of Dr. Trapp's Sermons; a

plausible attempt to prove that an author's work may be abridged without injuring his property, acknowl. 1 (1) * Address to the Reader in May.

FOR THE GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE.

Preface, intern. evid.

Life of Admiral Drake, acknowl.
Life of Admiral Blake, acknowl.

Life of Philip Barretier, acknowl.
Essay on Epitaphs, acknowl.

FOR THE GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE.

Preface, intern. evid.

A free translation of the Jests of Hierocles, with an introduction, intern. evid.

Debate on the Humble Petition and Advice of the

Rump Parliament to Cromwell, in 1657, to assume

(1) These and several other articles, which are marked with an asterisk, were suggested to Mr. Malone by Mr. Chalmers as probably written by Dr. Johnson; they are therefore placed in this general list.-C.

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