By Peter Martin, Harvard University Press, $35, 608 pages
By Jeffrey Meyers, Basic Books, $35, 552 pages
It should have been one of the great meetings in the evolution of the English language. In the late 1750s, Dr. Samuel Johnson, famed for his monumental "Dictionary of the English Language," attended a London meeting of a charity that sought to teach orphaned and abandoned children of all races throughout the American colonies. Another attendee was Benjamin Franklin, equally famous for his electricity discoveries and his authorship of the internationally popular "Poor Richard's Almanack."