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A Collection of Letters from English authors, with a preface, giving some account of the writers; with reasons for selection, and criticism upon styles; remarks on each letter, if needful.
A Collection of Proverbs from various languages. Jan. 6th,-53.
A Dictionary to the Common Prayer, in imitation of Calmet's Dictionary of the Bible. March, 52.
A Collection of Stories and Examples, like those of Valerius Maximus. Jan. 10th, 53.
From Ælian, a volume of select Stories, perhaps from others. Jan. 28th, 53.
Collection of Travels, Voyages, Adventures, and Descriptions of Countries.
Dictionary of Ancient History and Mythology.
Treatise on the Study of Polite Literature, containing the history of learning, directions for editions, commentaries, &c.
Maxims, Characters, and Sentiments, after the manner of Bruyère, collected out of ancient authors, particularly the Greek, with Apophthegms.
Classical Miscellanies, Select Translations from ancient Greek and Latin authors.
Lives of Illustrious Persons, as well of the active as the learned, in imitation of Plutarch.
Judgment of the learned upon English Authors.
Observations on the English Language, relating to words, phrases, and modes of speech.
Minutiæ, Literariæ, Miscellaneous Reflections, Criticisms, Emendations, Notes.
History of the Constitution.
Comparison of Philosophical and Christian Morality, by sentences collected from the moralists and fathers.
Plutarch's Lives, in English, with notes.
POETRY AND WORKS OF IMAGINATION.
Hymn to Ignorance.
The Palace of Sloth:-a vision.
Coluthus, to be translated.
The Palace of Nonsense,- -a vision.
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,
With various stores of erudition fraught,
The lively image, the deep searching thought,
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.
THE PROSE WORKS
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D. (1)
N. B.-To those which he himself acknowledged is added acknowl. To 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 excepting, is not very clear. Perhaps Mr. Boswell wrote, "they are not very numerous, which would be less obscure.-C.