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INTRODUCTION

all that, that Samuel Johnson is more vivid to us in a book written by another man than in any of the books that he wrote himself. Few critics, however, have passed from this obvious fact to its yet more obvious explanation. In Johnson's books we have Johnson all alone, and Johnson had a great dislike of being all alone. He had this splendid and satisfying trait of the sane man; that he knew the one or two points on which he was mad. He did not wish his own soul to fill the whole sky; he knew that soul had its accidents and morbidities; and he liked to have it corrected by a varied companionship. Standing by itself in the wilderness, his soul was reverent, reasonable, rather sad and extremely brave. He did not wish this spirit to pervade all God's universe; but it was perfectly natural that it should pervade all his own books. By itself it amounted to something like tragedy; the religious tragedy of the ancients, not the irreligious tragedy of to-day. In the Vanity of Human Wishes, and the disappointments of Rasselas, we overhear Johnson in soliloquy. Boswell found the comedy by describing his clash with other characters.

This essential comedy of Johnson's character is one which has never, oddly enough, been put upon the stage. There was in his