Boswell's Life of Johnson, 1740

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Edited, from the two-volume Oxford edition of 1904, by Jack Lynch.
In 1740 he wrote for the Gentleman's Magazine the “Preface,”+ “the Life of Admiral Blake,”* and the first parts of those of “Sir Francis Drake,”* and “Philip Barretier,”*1 both which he finished the following year. He also wrote an “Essay on Epitaphs,”* and an “Epitaph on Phillips, a Musician,”* which was afterwards published with some other pieces of his, in Mrs. Williams's Miscellanies. This Epitaph is so exquisitely beautiful, that I remember even Lord Kames, strangely prejudiced as he was against Dr. Johnson, was compelled to allow it very high praise. It has been ascribed to Mr. Garrick, from its appearing at first with the signature G; but I have heard Mr. Garrick declare, that it was written by Dr. Johnson, and give the following account of the manner in which it was composed. Johnson and he were sitting together; when, amongst other things, Garrick repeated an Epitaph upon this Phillips by a Dr. Wilkes, in these words:
 “Exalted soul! whose harmony could please The love-sick
virgin, and the gouty ease; Could jarring discord, like Amphion,
move To beauteous order and harmonious love; Rest here in peace,
till angels bid thee rise, And meet thy blessed Saviour in the
Johnson shook his head at these common-place funeral lines, and said to Garrick, I think, Davy, I can make a better.” Then stirring about his tea for a little while, in a state of meditation, he almost extempore produced the following verses:
 “Phillips, whose touch harmonious could remove The pangs
of guilty power or hapless love; Rest here, distress'd by
poverty no more, Here find that calm thou gav'st so oft before;
Sleep, undisturb'd, within this peaceful shrine, Till angels
wake thee with a note like thine!”2 
At the same time that Mr. Garrick favoured me with this anecdote, he repeated a very pointed Epigram by Johnson, on George the Second and Colley Cibber, which has never yet appeared, and of which I know not the exact date. Dr. Johnson afterwards gave it to me himself:
 “Augustus still survives in Maro's strain, And Spenser's
verse prolongs Eliza's reign; Great George's acts let tuneful
Cibber sing; For Nature form'd the Poet for the King.” 


1. [To which in 1742 he made very large additions, which have never yet been incorporated in any edition of Barretier's Life. -- A. CHALMERS.]

2. [The epitaph of Phillips is in the porch of Wolverhampton church. The prose part of it is curious:
	      “Near this place lies CHARLES CLAUDIUS PHILLIPS,
	      Whose absolute contempt of riches and inimitable
	      performances upon the violin, made him the
	      admiration of all that knew him.  He was born in
	      Wales, made the tour of Europe,
and, after the experience of both kinds of fortune
		  Died in 1732.”
Mr. Garrick appears not to have recited the verses correctly, the original being as follows. One of the various readings is remarkable, as it is the germ of Johnson's concluding line:
 “Exalted soul, thy various sounds could please The
love-sick virgin, and the gouty ease; Could jarring
crowds, like old Amphion, move To beauteous order
and harmonious love; Rest here in peace, till Angels bid thee
rise, And meet thy SAVIOUR's consort in the skies.”
Dr. Wilkes, the authour of these lines, was a Fellow of Trinity College, in Oxford, and rector of Pitchford, in Shropshire: he collected materials for a history of that county, and is spoken of by Brown Willis, in his History of Mitred Abbies, vol. ii, p. 189. But he was a native of Staffordshire; and to the antiquities of that county was his attention chiefly confined. Mr. Shaw has had the use of his papers. -- BLAKEWAY.]