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Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham, 1854-70. London, 1897.

Eighteenth Century Letters. Johnson: Lord Chesterfield. London, 1898. Unpublished Letters of Dean Swift, edited by George Birkbeck Hill, D.C.L., LL.D., Hon. Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford. London, 1899. Boswell's Proof Sheets. The Boswell Centenary. Included in Johnson Club Papers by Various Hands. London, 1899.

The Memoirs of the Life of Edward Gibbon, with Various Observations and Excursions by Himself, edited by George Birkbeck Hill, D.C.L., LL.D., Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford. London, 1900. Letters written by a Grandfather, selected by Lucy Crump. London, 1903. Contributed articles and reviews to the following magazines and newspapers:-Macmillan, Cornhill, Contemporary, Atlantic Monthly, Times, Saturday Review, Pall Mall Gazette, and Speaker.




HE Booksellers having determined to publish a Body of English Poetry I was persuaded to promise them

In the first edition (PREFACES BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL TO THE WORKS OF THE ENGLISH POETS. BY SAMUEL JOHNSON. London. 1779-81, 12m0. 10 vols.) the advertisement is dated March 15, 1779.

[Mr. Edward Dilly, the bookseller, writing to Boswell on Sept. 26, 1777, gives the following account of 'this plan so happily conceived' in the early part of that year-'The first cause that gave rise to this undertaking, I believe, was owing to the little trifling edition of The Poets, printing by the Martins, at Edinburgh, and to be sold by Bell, in London. Upon examining the volumes which were printed, the type was found so extremely small, that many persons could not read them; not only this inconvenience attended it, but the inaccuracy of the press was very conspicuous. These reasons, as well as the idea of an invasion of what we call our Literary Property, induced the London Booksellers to print an elegant and accurate edition of all the English Poets of reputation, from Chaucer to the present time.

'Accordingly a select number of the most respectable booksellers met on the occasion; and, on consulting together, agreed that all the proprietors of copy-right in the various Poets should be summoned together; and when their opinions were given, to proceed immediately on the business. Accordingly a meeting was

held, consisting of about forty of the most respectable booksellers of London, when it was agreed that an elegant and uniform edition of The English Poets should be immediately printed, with a concise account of the life of each authour, by Dr. Samuel Johnson; and that three persons should be deputed to wait upon Dr. Johnson, to solicit him to undertake the Lives, viz., T. Davies, Strahan, and Cadell. The Doctor very politely undertook it, and seemed. exceedingly pleased with the proposal. As to the terms, it was left entirely to the Doctor to name his own: he mentioned two hundred guineas it was immediately agreed. to; and a farther compliment, I believe, will be made him. A committee was likewise appointed to engage the best engravers, viz., Bartolozzi, Sherwin, Hall, etc. Likewise another committee for giving directions about the paper, printing, etc., so that the whole will be conducted with spirit, and in the best manner, with respect to authourship, editorship, engravings, etc., etc. My brother will give you a list of the Poets we mean to give, many of which are within the time of the Act of Queen Anne, which Martin and Bell cannot give, as they have no property in them; the proprietors are almost all the booksellers in London, of consequence.' Boswell's Life of Johnson, ed. by G. Birkbeck Hill, iii. 110.

Johnson 'had bargained for two hundred guineas, and the book

a Preface to the Works of each Author; an undertaking, as it was then presented to my mind, not very extensive' or difficult.

My purpose was only to have allotted to every Poet an Advertisement, like those which we find in the French Miscellanies, containing a few dates and a general character; but I have been led beyond my intention, I hope, by the honest desire of giving useful pleasure.

In this minute kind of History the succession of facts is not easily discovered, and I am not without suspicion that some of Dryden's works are placed in wrong years3. I have followed Langbaine, as the best authority for his plays; and if I shall hereafter obtain a more correct chronology will publish it, but I do not yet know that my account is erroneous*.

Dryden's Remarks on Rymer have been somewhere printed 5

sellers spontaneously added a third hundred; on this occasion Dr. Johnson observed to me "Sir, I have always said the booksellers were a generous set of men. Nor, in the present instance, have I reason to complain. The fact is, not that they have paid me too little, but that I have written too much." The Lives were soon published in a separate edition; when, for a few corrections, he was presented with another hundred guineas.' Nichols's Lit. Anec. viii. 416. In Mr. Morrison's Collection of Autographs, &c., vol. ii, 'is Johnson's receipt for 100 from the proprietors of The Lives of the Poets for revising the last edition of that work.' It is dated Feb. 19, 1783. Underneath, in Johnson's autograph, are these words: "It is great impudence to put Johnson's Poets on the back of books which Johnson neither recommended nor revised. He recommended only Blackmore on the Creation, and Watts. How then are they John-son's? This is indecent."' Boswell's Johnson, iv. 35.


The poets whom Johnson recommended were Blackmore, Watts, Pomfret, and Yalden. Post, WATTS, i.]

Mrs. Boscawen wrote to Mrs. Delany on Nov. 16, 1779: 'I hope you will get Dr. Johnson's Prefaces to

the Lives, &c., of the Poets, which however is not easy, because they are not to be bought unless you buy also a perfect litter of poets in fillagree (that is very small print, whereas one already possesses said poets in large letter) therefore I could not possibly give ten guineas for this smaller edition, but a friend of mine, to whom Dr. Johnson presented them, was so kind as to lend them to me.' Mrs. Delany's Auto. and Corres. v. 493.


' In the first edition,—' tedious.'

[Johnson on May 3, 1777, wrote to Boswell, who had seen the forthcoming work advertised, 'I am engaged to write little Lives, and little Prefaces to a little edition of The English Poets.' Boswell's Johnson, iii. 109.]

3 Johnson does not always give Dryden's plays in their chronological order. See post, DRYDEN, 64 n. 4.

In the first edition a passage follows here relating to Dryden's funeral. See post, DRYDEN, 154 n. 2, where this passage is given and the subject discussed.

5 [In Colman's Beaumont and Fletcher, 1778. Eng. Poets, 1790, vol. i. p. 4 n. In the first edition of

the Lives the sentence runs-'I have been told that Dryden's Remarks,' &c.]


before. The former edition I have not seen. scribed for the press from his own manuscript '.


This was tran

As this undertaking was occasional and unforeseen I must be supposed to have engaged in it with less provision of materials than might have been accumulated by longer premeditation 2. Of the later writers at least I might, by attention and enquiry, have gleaned many particulars, which would have diversified and enlivened my Biography. These omissions, which it is now useless to lament, have been often supplied by the kindness of Mr. STEEVENS and other friends; and great assistance has been given me by Mr. SPENCE'S Collections, of which I consider the communication as a favour worthy of publick acknowledgement 3.

The Advertisement of the first edition ends here.

Malone writing of the Lives says, 'Dr. Johnson having, as he himself told me, made no preparation for that difficult and extensive undertaking, not being in the habit of extracting from books and committing to paper those facts on which the accuracy of literary history in a great measure depends, and being still less inclined to go through the tedious and often unsatisfactory process of examining ancient registers, &c.; he was under the necessity of trusting much to his own most retentive memory,' &c. Malone's Dryden, i. 2.

The errors Johnson often makes

in quoting verses and other passages are those of a man who had such a stock of words at his command that in copying he substituted one for another-sometimes for the better. They show that vast as were the powers of his memory, they were not always strictly accurate.

3 This valuable collection is the property of the Duke of Newcastle, who, upon the application of Sir Lucas Pepys, was pleased to permit it to be put into the hands of Dr. Johnson, who I am sorry to think made but an awkward return.' Johnson did not own to whom he was obliged; so that the acknowledgement is unappropriated to his Grace.' Boswell's Johnson, iv. 63.

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