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It were superfluous to expatiate on the merits, at least as a source of amusement, of Boswell's LIFE OF Johnson. Whatever doubts may have existed as to the prudence or the propriety of the original publication—however naturally private confidence was alarmed, or individual vanity offended, the voices of criticism and complaint were soon drowned in the general applause. And no wonder— the work combines within itself the four most entertaining classes of writing—biography, memoirs, familiar letters, and that assemblage of literary anecdotes which the French have taught us to distinguish by the termination Ana.
It was originally received with an eagerness and relished with a zest which undoubtedly were sharpened by the curiosity which the unexpected publication of the words and deeds of so many persons still living could not but excite. But this motive has gradually become weaker, and may now be said to be extinct; yet we do not find that the popularity of the work, though somewhat changed in quality, is really diminished ; and as the interval which separates us from the actual time and scene