« AnteriorContinua »
THE REVEREND BENJAMIN JOWETT, M.A.,
MASTER OF BALLIOL COLLEGE
REGIUS PROFESSOR OF GREEK IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
HONORARY LL.D. OF THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
HONORARY D.D. OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LEYDEN
HO IS NOT ONLY
AN ACUTE AND KNOWING CRITIC'
IN GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT
KINDLY INTEREST THAT HE HAS THROUGHOUT TAKEN
IN THE PROGRESS OF THIS WORK
BOSWELL'S LIFE OF JOHNSON
FIELDING, it is said, drank confusion to the man who invented the fifth act of a play. He who has edited an extensive work, and has concluded his labours by the preparation of a copious index, might well be pardoned, if he omitted to include the inventor of the Preface among the benefactors of mankind. The long and arduous task that years before he had set himself to do is done, and the last thing that he desires is to talk about it. Liberty is what he asks for, liberty to range for a time wherever he pleases in the wide and fair fields of literature. Yet with this longing for freedom comes a touch of regret and a doubt lest the “fresh woods and pastures new' may never wear the friendly and familiar face of the plot of ground within whose narrower confines he has so long been labouring, and whose every corner he knows so well. May- be he finds hope in the thought that should his new world seem strange to him and uncomfortable, ere long he may be called back to his old task, and in the preparation of a second edition find the quiet and the peace of mind that are often found alone in 'old use and wont.'
With me the preparation of these volumes has, indeed, been the work of many years. Boswell's Life of Johnson I read for the first time in my boyhood, when I was too young for it to lay any hold on me. When I entered Pembroke College, Oxford, though I loved to think that Johnson had