In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

202 PERRY AND JOHN CARROLL his father and Scotland-while yet maintaining the dignity of a Scots laird. The book includes discussion of Boswell's political opinions, of the workings of practical politics in Scotland, of Boswell's flurries as a would-be Parliamentary reformer, and of his final adherence to, and disillusioned parting from, the capricious English politician, Lord Lonsdale. Boswell's political beliefs and actions were as paradoxical as his personality. He was romantically attracted to the Stuart cause yet was in fact loyal to the House of Hanover. He was fond of the cry "Monarchy and liberty!" as a Tory response to 'Wilkes and liherty!" because he needed to combine, in Professor Brady's words, lIa sense of unshakeable stability with freedom." And he often alienated, by such actions as siding with Wilkes during the Middlesex election dispute, the very patrons whom he wished to please. While Boswell thought of himself as. independent (within the limits of his emotional Toryism), others thought of him as simply unreliable. This book gathers together valuable information on Boswell's manoeuvrings through the complexities of English and Scottish politics; but the interest of the book is perhaps somewhat limited because, in effect, Boswell had no political career and no significant political ideas. He promoted the Corsican cause cleverly but unsuccessfully, and the effects of his later political pamphlets were temporary. He never achieved a seat in the Commonsj the only political post that he held was a minor one, the Recordership of Carlisle, from which he resigned two years after his election, a mutual disgust having sprung up between him and his powerful patron, Lord Lonsdale. It is doubtful that all readers will agree with Professor Brady's thesis that a desire for a seat in Parliament was Boswell's overriding aim. In 1765 Boswell wrote to his friend John Johnston, "If I can get a seat in the house for a Parliament, I shall like it much, but shall not absolutely set my heart upon it." Surely Boswelrs ambitions were many rather than single, and, in the end, it seems, he staked his hope for immortality successfully on the Life of Samuel Johnson. (PERRY CARROLL) When Boswell set off for London and (hopefully) a Guards' uniform in 1762, he promised his friend John Johnston of Grange, with whom he became intimate at Edinburgh University, "to keep a journal every day; and send it to you weekly." The result of this promise was the now famous London Journal. The recipient of the journal, ten years older than Boswell and also trained in law, was a romantic who stimulated and fed Boswell's own nostalgia for the glorious, heroic past of Scotland. Like Boswell's most famous friend, Johnston also served as confessor, adviser, and father-figure. Their surviving correspondence extends from 1759 to 1786, the year of Johnston's death. Edited by Ralph S. Walker of McGill University, their letters have now appeared as the first volume of the Yale Research Edition of the Private Papers of Boswell. The volumes of his journal hitherto published for the general reader have been excellently and economically annotated with the purpose of illuminating the documents themselves as compositions. The Research Edition turns annotation out from the text to relate it to literary, linguistic, legal, medical, political, social, and local BOSWELL ON DISPLAY 203 history, and to biography and bibliography. In short, everything Boswell touched is to be fully explored even when the relevance of this information to him is slight. The editor rightly does not make high claims for the intrinsic interest of the correspondence with Johnston. Boswell remarked to his friend on one occasion, HI must not rob my Journal to tell you what I have seen." And this statement explains why the letters are often barren of interest. Occasionally , they are spontaneous revelations of Boswell's feelings and thoughts, but never in this correspondence does he present any part of himself not delineated with more engaging detail in his journal. As one would expect from this Yale project, Professor Walker's editing is of the highest quality. Nothing is too trivial to elicit the fullest resources of the editor's knowledge and...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 202-203
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.