Marshall Waingrow (ed.), The Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell: Research Edition: Correspondence, Vol. 2: The Correspondence and Other Papers of James Boswell relating to the Making of the Life of Johnson (Second Edition)

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From Sir William Forbes, Thursday 13 October 1791

MS. Yale (C 1295).

Edinbg., 13th Octr. 1791

... I rejoice exceedingly, My Dear Sir, at the profitable issue of your publication of Dr. Johnson's life, from the perusal of which I derived a very high degree of entertainment. I found in it, indeed, several things that might, and some I must pg 346honestly confess, that I do humbly think ought to have been omitted. Yet I must at the same time add, that I met with many an[on]ymous anecdotes, to which I could easily supply a Key, from having formerly heard you relate them to me, and which you have prudently and discreetly foreborn to apply to their Authors by name. I feel regret that You did not oftner use the same precaution. You will pardon me, I hope, for this remark, and allow me the same indulgence in that respect, that You have kindly shown me on former Occasions.1...

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Editor’s Note
1 Forbes had been critical of the Tour on just these grounds, and had cautioned JB early (e.g. in his letters of 6 Dec. 1785 [C 1276] and 25 July 1787 [C 1278]) against giving offence in the Life. The subject of JB's candour (judged to be imprudent though innocent) makes up an interesting exchange between Forbes and Beattie, 9 Jan. and 12 Feb. 1786 (Forbes, An Account of the Life and Writings of James Beattie, LL.D., 1806, ii. 181 ff.).
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