Page:A critical examination of Dr G Birkbeck Hills "Johnsonian" Editions.djvu/14
A CRITICAL EXAMINATION
very little about Boswell. At the end he is so carried away that he almost comes to think of it as his own work. " My book has been my companion," etc. " My proof sheets," etc. Even the dedication is a curious thing. It is addressed to the late Master of Balliol, Dr Jowett, and is arranged thus oddly:
"WHO IS NOT ONLY
"AN ACUTE AND KNOWING CRITIC,
Which suggests one of young John Chivery's epitaphs on himself. "The Master" must have smiled at the impressive "But also" and at his being dubbed "a knowing critic." Nor was he likely to have accepted "Johnsonianissimus," which seems a wrong form, being an English adjective, and not, as it should be, an English proper name, Latinised. The positive should be "Johnsonus," and the superlative " Johnsonissimus," not "Johnsonianissimus."
Dr. B. Hill actually extracted a promise that he would read all "my proofs " but here " the Master" showed himself a very "knowing critic," and, as our editor very frankly tells us, "after he had seen a few of the sheets, he confessed he was satisfied"
ARRANGEMENT AND LAYING OUT OF THE WORK.
Boswell's original title-page, professed to be reproduced here, is misleading, and a misdescription: "Boswell's Life of Johnson, including Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, and Johnson's Diary of a Journey into North Wales." Boswell's "Life of Johnson" does not include either of these things. His "Journal" was a separate work, and with the "Diary " he had nothing to do. A most serious blemish is the arrangement of the notes. When a work of this kind is illustrated with additions and comments by another "hand," such matter should, of course, be marked with the writer's name, so as to distinguish them from the author's. Here, strange to say, Dr B. Hill's numerous notes are unsigned, and, at first sight, appear to be the legitimate notes of the text: while we find every one of Boswell's notes marked "Boswell," as though he were some intruder or outsider. A man in his own house has no need to label his property with his name; if anything be labelled, it should be the effects of strangers. Malone, when preparing the third edition, was careful to mark every additional note by brackets and initials. Mr Croker marked all his own very voluminous notes, "Croker." But Dr B. Hill even thrusts passages of his own composition into Boswell's notes, and thus spoils their symmetry. Boswell, for instance, furnished a business-like list of Johnson's residences: "1, Bolt Court; 2, Gough Square; 3, Johnson's Court," etc. This becomes, under our editor's treatment: "17 Bolt Court, No 8 (he was here on March 15, 1776, ante II. 427). From about 1765 (ante I. 493) to Oct. 7, 1782 (post} he had, moreover, an apartment at Streatham." But Boswell was speaking of London residences. We must doubt, too, the propriety of introducing