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THE HE Author of the feveral pieces contained in the enfuing Volumes, had meditated a complete edition of his Works, but had made fmall progrefs in his defign even a few months before his decease, when his infirmities obliged him to abandon it. By certain papers, however, that came to my hands, he had fo far afcertained the particulars of his intended publication as to enable me to carry his purpose into execution.
Thus informed, I have, at the request of fome of his friends, taken upon myself the office of his Editor, and accordingly here prefent to view as complete a collection of the various writings of Dr. Samuel Johnson as I was able to form, and the directions he left behind him would permit me to publish.
As I food engaged, by a promife made to him a fort time before his deceaje, 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 thefe obligations than by giving to the world a fuccinct narration of the principal events of his life, interfperfed with fuch particulars as beft ferved to delineate and illuftrate his character; in the performance of which task, having endeavoured with equal care to avoid the extremes of praife 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 conflict with pain and adverfity, will either be forgiven or forgotten, and that the remembrance of bis virtues, and a reverence for the wonderful endowments of his mind, and his zeal in the employment of them to the best purposes, will be coeval with thofe excellent leffons of religion, morality, and economical wisdom, which he has left behind him.
In the Lives of the Poets I have inferted notes that contain either additional facts, or that tend to explain particular paffages. The paucity of anecdotes in this part of the Author's writings, it is prefumed, will juflify this liberty, it being a known pars
part of his character, that he was more ingenious in critical difquifition than induftrious in collecting memoirs; fo that, in many inftances, what he calls the life of a poet may more properly be termed an examen of his works.
Of the Latin pieces in the last of thefe volumes, many ivere compofed in thofe intervals of cafe, which during his laft illness he at times experienced: others, and thofe the greater number, were the employment of his thoughts, when, being retired to reft, the powers of fleep failed him, when the remiffion of pain became to him pofitive pleafure, and having no outward objects present to his view, his ever-active imagination had liberty to wander through the boundless regions of fancy, and his reafon 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 perufing, in this form, these the most recent effufions of his genius, and latest evidences of his piety.
Befides the Pieces contained in the ensuing Volumes, there is extant, of Dr. Johnson's writing,