7 MARCH 1835, Page 20


Tint week has been distinguished by the commencement of two literary undertakings, both of which deserve high encouragement for the spirit that prompted them, the value of the works them- selves, and the amusement they will afford. We allude to Bo. welts Life of Johnson,by MURRAY; and to the Life, Letters, and Poems of Cott-per,by SAUNDERS and OTLEY. Though the genius, writings, character, and career of JOHNSON and COWPER, were so totally different as to defy comparison, yet to the lover of biogra- phy (and who is not a lover of a mode of composition which comes pore immediately home to our common sympathies than any

other ?) they afford many points which possess a community of in- terest. Both were afflicted with a constitutional melancholy that embittered their life, and more or less clouded their reason. In e ci case the mania turned upon religion—infusing doubt anti (tie id into the stern and practical intellect of JOHNSON, over- wh !liming the sensitively delicate mind of COWPER with despair. No.., by a peculiar concurrence of circumstances, are the events in the lives of these men unknown, or the workings of their inmost thoughts concealed, or even their very mental infirmities hidden from us in mere conjecture or vague generality. They fell upon a prying age, and their celebrity attracted its notice: the fame and conversational powers of JOHNSON excited the attention of a polished and observing circle, and the evangelism of COWPER drew as much regard from the members of the religious sectim with which he mixed. Yet all this would not have lel to a com- plete biography, had the men been less reserved . but it was the fate of JOHNSON to pour out his soul in talk, which BOSWELL and others gathered up; whilst COWPER exhibited himself iti delightful epistles, which his friends happily preserved. The result is the perfect reflection of two minds, which the philosopher may study for improvement, and the most heedless for pleasure.

On its first announcement, we stated the scope and objects of Mr. MURRAY'S Life of Johnson. The text of the First Volume brings down the Life to the hero's forty-fourth year (1753), and closes with the account of the nocturnal festivity held to celebrate the birth of Mrs. LENOX'S first (literary) child, when JOHNSON stuck the " magnificent hot apple-pie" witii bay-leaves, and the club loft not the Devil tavern till eight in the morning. Our reacquaintance with the work only confirms the opinion we for- merly pronounced, that it is one of the most readable of books. Every page has entertainment of one kind or another, from the Preface, where BoswEnn exhibits his characteristic vanity, to the Appendix, which contains the scarce fragment of JOHNSON'S autobiography, with its second-hand account of his babyhood, the touching reminiscences of his mother and his boyish home, and the narrative of' the books he read at school, the authors who were difficult, and the" lessons which gave us trouble."

The new edition of COWPER is edited by the Reverend T. S. GRIMSHAWE. We have not read enough to pronounce upon his competency for the task. His plan is to take the biography of HAYLEY for a basis, revise or alter it where he deems it neces- sary in order to exhibit more distinctly the religious character of COWPER, and to interweave under their proper dates all the letters of the poet, many of which HAYLEY rejected, and some of which he never saw. This, indeed, besides its external elegance, is the distinguishing characteristic of the new edition—it will be more complete than any other can be; for it will contain much that is copyright, and some things published for the first time.