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AD VERTISEMEN T.
HE Author of the several pieces contained in
the ensuing Volumes, bad meditated a complete edition of bis Works, but had made small progress in his design even a few months before bis decease, when bis infirmities obliged him to abandon it. By certain papers, however, that came to my hands, be bad so far ascertained the particulars of his intended publication as to enable me to carry his purpose into execution.
Thus informed, I bave, at the request of some of his friends, taken upon myself the office of his Editor, and accordingly bere present to view as complete a collection of the various writings of Dr. Samuel Johnson as I was able to form, and the directions be left behind bim would permit me to publish.
As I stood engaged, by a promise made to him a Short time before bis decease, to be as well the guardian of his fame as an executor of his will, I thought I could no way better discharge the former of these obligations than by giving to the world a succinæ narration of the principal events of bis life, interspersed with such particulars as best served to delineate and illustrate his character ; in the performance of which task, baving endeavoured with equal care to avoid the extremes of praise and blame, I trust to the charity, the gratitude, and the justice of impartial pofterity, that the failings of a man whose whole life was a conflikt with pain and adversity, will either be forgiven or forgotten, and that the remembrance of bis virtues, and a reverence for the wonderful endowments of his mind, and bis zeal in the employment of them to the best purposes, will be cocvnl with those excellent lesons of religion, morality, and economical wisdom, which be bas left bebind him,
In the lives of the Poets I have inserted notes that contain either additional facts, or that tend to explain particular passages. The paucity of anecdites in this part of the Author's writings, it is celianed, will justify this liberty, it being a known
part of his character, that he was more ingenious in critical disquisition than industrious in collecting memoirs; so that, in many instances, what he calls the life of a poet may more properly be termed an examen of bis works.
Of the Latin pieces in the last of these volumes, many were composed in those intervals of ease, which during his last illness be at times experienced : others, and those the greater number, were the employment of his thoughts, when, being retired to rest, the powers of sleep failed him, when the remiffion of pain became to him positive pleafure, and having no outward objects present to his view, bis ever-active imagination had liberty to wander through the boundless regions of fancy, and his reason to investigate the most important and fublime truths. The originals, as they were from time to time committed to writing, were by bim delivered to Mr. Langton, with directions to publish them; and it is to that gentleman that we owe the pleasure of perusing, in this form, these the most recent effufions of bis genius, and latest evidences of his piety.
Besides the Pieces contained in the ensuing Volumes, there is extant, of Dr. Johnson's writing, S
a small volume, entitled “ Prayers and Meditations,” the profits whereof be directed to be employed for a charitable purpose, mentioned in the preface thereto. That they are not included in this edition of bis Works, will therefore need no apology.
HE general sense of mankind, and the practice
of the learned in all ages, have given a sanction to biographical history, and concurred to recommend that precept of the wife son of Sirach, in which we are exhorted to praise famous men, such as by their counsels and by their knowledge of learning were meet for the people, -and were wise and eloquent in their instructions,—and such as recited verses in writing *.' In each of these faculties did the person, whose history I am about to write, so greatly excel, that, except for my presumption in the attempt to display his worth, the undertaking may be thought to need no apology; especially if we contemplate, together with his mental endowments, those moral qualities which distinguished him, and reflect that, in an age when literary acquisitions and
• Ecclus. Chap. XLIV. Verse i, et seqq. VOL. I.