Page:A critical examination of Dr G Birkbeck Hills "Johnsonian" Editions.djvu/80

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A CRITICAL EXAMINATION

letter perhaps by the printer or corrector." But this again is doubtful enough. Printers or cor rectors do not thus alter original MS. Again, if "sutile" is Johnsonian, so is "futile." For to him these pictures thus worked or embroidered would seem a "futile" occupation enough.

Johnson appealed to friends to support "a benefit for a gentlewoman of ——" the name of the place being illegible. The editor thinks that the word "is something like Lournitz," which, he speculates, "is perhaps the name of the place in South Wales whence Miss Williams came." Thus it may be Lournitz; and Lournitz may be the place from which Miss Williams came. But apart from these two wonderful "may be's," a "gentlewoman of Lournitz" would be no claim for relief. The word was clearly descriptive. "A gentlewoman of position " or of good birth, for the next words are " distressed by blindness."


JOHNSONIAN MISCELLANIES.

Dr B. Hill, having disposed of Boswell's "Life" and Johnson's "Letters," was engaged on what was to be "the work of my life," an edition of Johnson's masterpiece, the "Lives of the Poets," when Mr Leslie Stephen interposed, and somewhat adroitly suggested that he should turn aside and take up the noting of something less pretentious. Was there not Murphy, Hoole, Tom Tyers, Piozzi & Co., and such small fry? Why not note them? The editor eagerly accepted the suggestion. Hence these miscellanies. It seems these were ready three years ago. An impatient public was clamouring all the time for the work; and though we are told of "the necessity of passing all my winters abroad, on the banks of the Lake of Geneva, or on the shores of the Mediterranean," he felt it a duty to satisfy these desires. For an editor, "however he may be supported by the climate," has in such a situation to struggle with difficulties. This support of the climate is, after all, but a negative one when you are writing or noting a book, and no amount of climatic aid will supply other deficiencies. There was no need, however, for such pressing haste, for this collection has virtually been before the public for some forty years, and in another shape for some ten years, Mr Croker having supplied us with his well-known and now scarce "Johnsoniana," which Mr Napier reprinted.

Dr B. Hill, as usual, enlarges, with great minuteness, and in rather pathetic fashion, on "the difficulties" above alluded to, notably about the history of a certain "box of books," Dr B. Hill's own working tools, without which he is stranded. The box contained, we may imagine, Walpole—himself a boxful—the Rambler, and the other necessary things. It was "despatched from London to Alassio on the Riviera," where they were anxiously awaited. "It was not till full five weeks after my arrival that they reached me. Fifty-nine days had they spent" on the road. This was very bad, and it tells the tale of railway neglect sufficiently. But in the bitterness of his soul our editor makes some further dismal calculations. "They had advanced at the rate of about three-quarters of a mile an hour. They were taken to Clarens, on the