Page:A critical examination of Dr G Birkbeck Hills "Johnsonian" Editions.djvu/28
A CRITICAL EXAMINATION
ing to the work, published twenty-three years before, we find that Boswell was speaking of only two forms of spelling, the addition of "k" to "public," and of "u" to such words as "humour," and he trusted that these forms would be adhered to. Dr B. Hill is scarcely justified in forcing or enlarging the meaning in this way.
Dr B. Hill is fond of making out "lists," to wit, "totting up " how many times Johnson was bled, or Boswell was drunk, or how many days the pair were together. It was natural, therefore, when he came to Boswell's proposal to edit Addison's Poems, that it should occur to him to make out a list of all Boswell's projected works. Accordingly, we are told that " he proposed also to publish Johnson's Poems, an account of his own travels, a collection of old Scottish tenures, etc., and a 'History of James IV.' " These items professed to exhaust the matter. But later he begins to mend his hand: " In my list of Boswell's projected works (ante, i. 225) I have omitted this, a 'History of Sweden,'" so it now seemed complete. Later again, however, in a note, we are astonished to find the editor taking the subject up once more, and giving us quite a new list. It had now grown to ten items; it looked as though our editor was picking up his information as he went along. However, here at last was a complete final list marked with numerals. But no—turning to the end of the book we find one more new and additional item. And where? Actually put into the index of Boswell's works; "to which must be added 'An Account of a Projected Tour in the Isle of Man'" (where it may be doubted if Boswell could have given an account of a tour that was merely "projected," and had not been carried out). Still, we must take our information as we get it, in these "dribs and drabs," as it is called, and rejoice that we have it at last in a complete shape,. But what will be said if I can supplement it with some half-a-dozen fresh items which have wholly escaped the editor, and which he is welcome to add to his list in his next edition? Mistakes of dates occur through the work, such as the statement that Johnson's "Plan of the Dictionary" was published in 1774 (vol. i. p. 176), and that Johnson had been sixteen years in London before he met Hogarth. As their meeting was in 1745-6, and Johnson only came to London in 1737, this cannot be accurate; while the Plan was published over twenty years before the date mentioned.