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refpect to the use of felection, (particularly as I have here applied it) Dr. Johnson makes the beft apology for me to the public, in his Idler, vol. ii. p. 185, and which, I hope, he will accept himfelf, as an additional motive for this undertaking.
Writers of extensive comprehenfion, (fays he) have incidental remarks upon topics very remote from the principal fubject, which are often more valuable than formal treatifes, and which yet are not known, because they are not promised in the title. He that collects thofe under proper beads, is very laudably employed, for tho' he exerts no great abilities in the work, he facilitates the progrefs of others, and by making that eafy of attainment, which is already written, may give fome mind, more vigorous, or more adventurous than his own, leifure for new thoughts, and original defigns."
How far this felection is made with dgement, I must, however, trúft to the
decifion of the public, well knowing that if it is negligently, or ignorantly performed, any thing I can fay, will not excuse me; if on the contrary, I have done justice to my defign, my telling them fo will not accelerate their approbation. One thing I can affure them of, that I have made my extracts as accurately and judiciously as I could-and that whatever may be the fate of the book, I have been already repaid for my labours, by the fatisfaction they have afforded me.
November 24, 1781.
To the FOURTH EDITION.
THE very rapid and extensive fale of threes Editions of "The BEAUTIES of JOHNSON," at. the fame time that it juftifies the idea of felecting thoughts from fo celebrated a writer, calls upon the Editor to render the future Editions as acceptable to the Public as poffible. He has therefore given at the end of each Maxim a reference to the place from whence it was extracted, in order to gratify those who would wish to fee any particular fubject more. extenfively difcuffed in the original. This circumftance the Editor could only do by reference, as he begs leave to remind the Public, that this is not a Book of Essays, but of Maxims, &c. felected from Effays; his purpose being to contract diffufive reafonings into short sentences, "that they may be the more eafily impreffed on the memory, and taught by frequent recollection, to recur habitually to the mind.”
He has likewife added a few obfervations under the head of REPENTANCE, which will beft carry their own recommendation to all those who are interested in the Cause of Virtue and Religion.