24 JANUARY 1936, Page 34


- - By J. L. Smith-Dampier Take the people mentioned in Boswell, give each of them, regardless of varying interest or importance, a complete page to him or her self, and the result is a kind of pancake, a whole per'o I rolled out completely flat. It is extraordinary how dull everybody turns out to be. But of course it is not really fair to read this compilation (Blackwell, 10s. 6d.) as a book ; it must be used merely for reference, though on minor points it -is not always quite accurate. It is difficult to see for whom it is meant. The ordinary reader of Boswell will be content with the footnotes in any reasonably good edition, while the Johnsonian will already know as much as Mr. Smith-Dampier has to tell him, or will know where to find it at first hand. Compression sometimes produces humorous results, as when we read of Loughborough, " Twice married, he died suddenly and was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral." A good deal of patient research has gone to this work, but it is a pity that a more agreeable method of displaying it could not have been found.