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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.

VIII. Johnson and Boswell

§ 18. Dedications

The Dictionary has the accidental interest of having occasioned the letter to the earl of Chesterfield, which is sometimes said to have given the death-blow to literary patronage. Though always an object of curiosity, the letter was first made public by Boswell in 1790. In refusing to dedicate the Dictionary, Johnson adhered to his regular practice, from which only motives of business had suggested a departure. The Plan was a letter “addressed” to Chesterfield. Only once had he dedicated a work of his own—The Voyage to Abyssinia, and that was dedicated in the person of the Birmingham bookseller. But, though he made a rule for himself, he did not condemn the custom. He accepted dedications, and he continued to supply other writers with theirs. He told Boswell that he “believed he had dedicated to all the Royal family round.” He excelled in dedications.