The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.
§ 9. Other Contributions to the Magazine
The extent of his other contributions cannot easily be determined. We have often only the evidence of style to guide us, and his editorial privileges make it difficult to apply. It is very doubtful, for instance, if the short notice, in November, 1739, of the poems of Joseph Warton and Collins printed in the previous number is, as Wooll states in his Memoirs of Warton, the work of Johnson. Our best authority is Boswell, but his list is only tentative. We know that he wrote the biographies of Sarpi, Boerhaave, Blake, Drake, Barretier, Lewis Morin, Burmann and Sydenham; and there are other articles about which there can be no reasonable doubt. The amount of his writing varies greatly from month to month. In the number for December, 1740, which contains his Essay on Epitaphs, most of the original contributions are his; in other numbers, we cannot safely ascribe to him more than the debates. The question of authorship has never been examined thoroughly; but, even with the help of Cave’s office books, there would be obstacles to a conclusive finding. In addition to his work for Cave, he had brought out, with other publishers, Marmor Norfolciense (April, 1739), an ironical discussion, with a political bearing, on the supposed discovery of a prophecy in “monkish rhyme,” and A Compleat Vindication of the Licensers of the Stage (May, 1739), an ironical attack on the rejection of Brooke’s Gustavus Vasa. Continued irony is rarely successful. Johnson did not try it again.