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Life of Johnson - Volume 3

James Boswell

Book Overview: 

This is the third volume of the Biography of Samuel Johnson.

Samuel Johnson's Life has been documented in great detail by his friends, this biography being originally published by James Boswell, and then edited several times by other persons, such as John Croker, who have been friends of both Samuel Johnson as well as James Boswell.

Already famous during his life time, Samuel Johnson's biography attracted considerable attention when it was published after Johnson's death, and continues to be read until today.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ening is common enough; but evening gray he'd think fine[449].—Stay;—we'll make out the stanza:

"Hermit hoar, in solemn cell,
  Wearing out life's evening gray;
Smite thy bosom, sage, and tell,
  What is bliss? and which the way?"'

BOSWELL. 'But why smite his bosom, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why to shew he was in earnest,' (smiling).—He at an after period added the following stanza:

'Thus I spoke; and speaking sigh'd;
  —Scarce repress'd the starting tear;—
When the smiling sage reply'd—
  —Come, my lad, and drink some beer[450].'

I cannot help thinking the first stanza very good solemn poetry, as also the three first lines of the second. Its last line is an excellent burlesque surprise on gloomy sentimental enquirers. And, perhaps, the advice is as good as can be given . . . Read More