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possessors from distress, have exercised inquiry. The following is the best account of them we can collect:
Thomas LYDIAT was born in 1572. After passing through the studies of the university of Oxford, with applause, he was elected fellow of New college ; but his defective utterance induced him to resign his fellowship, in order to avoid entering holy orders, and to live upon a small patrimony. He was highly esteemed by the accomplished and unfortunate prince Henry, son of James the first. But his hopes of provision in that quarter were blasted by that prince's premature death ; and he then accompanied the celebrated Usher into Ireland. After two or three years, he returned to England, and poverty induced him now to accept the rectory of Okerton, near Banbury, which he had before declined. Here he imprudently became security for the debts of a relation, and, being unable to pay, was imprisoned for several years. He was released, at last, by his patron, Usher, sir W. Boswell, Dr. Pink, then warden of New college, and archbishop Laud, to whom he showed his gratitude by writing in defence of his measures of church-government. He now applied to Charles the first for his protection and encouragement to travel into the east, to collect MSS. but the embarrassed state of the king's affairs prevented his petition from receiving attention. Lastly, his well-known attachment to the royal cause drew upon him the repeated violence of the parliament troops, who plundered, imprisoned, and abused him, in the most cruel manner. He died in obscurity and indigence, in 1616. A stone was laid over his grave in Okerton church, in 1669, by the society of New college, who also erected an honorary monument to his memory in the cloisters of their college. We have dwelt thus long on Lydiat's name, because, when this poem was published, it was a subject of inquiry, who Lydiat was, though some of his contemporaries, both in England and on the continent, ranked him with lord Bacon, in mathematical and physical knowledge. For a more detailed account, see Chalmers' Biographical Dictionary, vol. xxi. whence the above facts have been extracted, and Gen
tleman's Magazine, vol. Ixviii. GALILEO, and his history, are too well known to require a note in this place.
The Vang, who told, “what ills from beauty spring," was not Lady Vane, the subject of Smollett's memoirs, in Peregrine Pickle, but, according to Mr. Malone, she was Anne Vane, mistress to Frederick prince of Wales, and died in 1736, not long before Johnson settled in London. Some account of her was published, under the title of the Secret History of Vanella, 8vo. 1732, and in other similar works, referred to in Boswell, i. 173. In Mr. Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides, we find lord Hailes objecting to the instances of unfortunate beauties selected by Johnson, and suggesting, in place of Vane and Sedley, the names of Shore and Valière.
CATHERINE SEDLEY was daughter of sir Charles Sedley, mistress of king James the second, who created her countess of Dorchester. She was a woman of a sprightly and agreeable wit, which could charm without the aid of beauty, and longer maintain its power. She had been the king's mistress before he ascended the throne, and soon after (January 2, 1685-6) was created countess of Dorchester. Sir C. Sedley, her father, looked on this title, as a splendid indignity, purchased at the expense of his daughter's honour; and when he was very active against the king, about the time of the revolution, he said, that, in gratitude, he should do his utmost to make his majesty's daughter a queen, as the king had made his own a countess. The king continued to visit her, which gave great uneasiness to the queen, who employed her friends, particularly the priests, to persuade him to break off the correspondence. They remonstrated with him on the guilt of the commerce, and the reproach it would bring on the catholic religion ; she, on the contrary, employed the whole force of her ridicule against the priests and their counsels. They, at length, prevailed, and he is said to have sent her word to retire to France, or that her pension of 4,0001. a year should be withdrawn. She then, probably, repented of having been the royal mistress, and “cursed the form that pleased the king."
See Manning and Bray's Surrey, ii. 788. where the countess's issue is also given. See, also, Christian's note on Blackstone's Com. iv. p. 65. It is remarkable, that when Johnson was asked, at a late period of his life, to whom he had alluded, under the name of Sedley, he said, that he had quite forgotten. See note on Idler, No. 36.-Ed.
It may be asserted, without a partial panegyric of the object of our praise, that the works of no single author in the wide range of British literature, not excepting, perhaps, even Addison, contain a richer and more varied fund of rational entertainment and sound instruction than those of Dr. Johnson. A correct edition of his works must, therefore, be an acceptable contribution to the mass of national literature. That the present edition has, perhaps, fairer claims on public approbation than most preceding ones, we feel ourselves justified in asserting, without envious detraction of those who have gone before us. It has been our wish and diligent endeavour to give as accurate a text as possible, to which we have subjoined notes, where elucidation seemed to be required. They have been collected with care, and will prove our impartiality by their occasional censures of the faults and failings of the writer whose works it is our office to illustrate, and our more common and more grateful task to praise. Though, being diffused over a wide space, they appear less numerous than they really are, it has been our incessant care to abstain from that method of redundant annotation, which tends to display the ingenuity or mental resources of an editor, much more than to illustrate the original writer. Notes have been chiefly introduced for the purpose of guarding our readers against some political sophisms, or to correct some hasty
But happily, in the writings to which we have devoted our time and attention, the chaff and dross lie so open to view, and are so easily separated from purer matter, that a hint is sufficient to protect the most incautious from harm. Accordingly, in our notes and prefaces we have confined ourselves to simple and succinct histories of the respective works under consideration, and have avoided, as much as might be, a burdensome repetition of criticisms or anecdotes, in almost every person's possession, or an idle pointing out of beauties which none could fail to recognise. The length of time that has elapsed since the writings of Johnson were first published, has amply developed their intrinsic merits, and destroyed the personal and party prejudices which assail a living author: but the years have been too few to render the customs and manners alluded to so obsolete as to require much illustrative research a. It may be satisfactory to subjoin, that care has been exercised in every thing that we have advanced, and that when we have erred, it has been on the side of caution.
All the usually received works of Dr. Johnson, together with Murphy's Essay on his Life and Genius, are comprised in this edition. In pursuance of our plan of brevity, we shall not here give a list of his minor and unacknowledged productions, but refer our readers to Boswell ; a new, amended, and enlarged edition of whose interesting and picturesque Memoirs we purpose speedily to present to the public, after the style and manner of the present work.
One very important addition, however, we conceive that we have made, in publishing the whole of his sermons. It has been hitherto the practice to give one or two, with a cursory notice, that Johnson's theological knowledge was scanty, or unworthy of his general fame. We have acted under a very different impression; for though Johnson was not, nor pretended to be, a polemical or controversial divine, he well knew how to apply to the right regulation of our moral conduct the lessons of that christianity which was not promulged for a sect, but for mankind; which sought not a distinctive garb in the phi
* See a remark on this subject made by Johnson, with reference to the Spectator, and all other works of the same class, which describe manners. Boswell, ii. 218, and Prefatory Notice to Rambler, vol. i.