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It is related of the great Dr. Clarke, that when in one of his leisure hours he was unbending himself with a few friends in the most playful and frolicksome manner, he observed Beau Nash approaching; upon which he suddenly stopped :—“My boys, (said he,) let us be grave: here comes a fool.” The world, my friend, I have found to be a great fool, as to that particular, on which it has become necessary to speak very plainly. I have, therefore, in this work been more reserved; and though I tell nothing but the truth, I have still kept in my mind that the whole truth is not always to be exposed. This, however, I have managed so as to occasion no diminution of the pleasure which my book should afford; though malignity may sometimes be disappointed of its gratifications.
| At last deliver to the world a Work which I have long promised
, and of which, I am afraid, too bigh expectations have been raised. The delay of its publication must be imputed, in a considerable degree, to the extraordinary zeal which has been pewn by distinguished persons in all quarters to supply me with additional information concerning its illustrious Subject ; resembling in this the grateful tribes of ancient nations, of which every individual was eager to throw a
to throw a stone upon the grave of a departed Hero, and thus to share in the pious office of erecting an honourable monument to his memory.
The labour and anxious attention with which I have collected and
arranged the materials of which thefe volumes are composed, will hardly be conceived by those who read them with careless facility. The stretch of mind and prompt asiduity by which so many conversations were preserved, I myself, at some distance of time, contemplate with wonder; and I must be allowed to fuggeft, that the nature of the work in other respects, as it consists of innumerable detached particulars, all which, even the most minute, I have spared no pains to ascertain with a
fcrupulous authenticity, has occafioned a degree of trouble far beyond that of any other species of composition. Were I to detail the books which I have consulted, and the inquiries which I have found it necesary to make by various channels, I should probably be thought ridiculously oftentatious. Let me only observe, as a specimen of my trouble, that I have sometimes had to run half over London, in order to fix a date correctly; which, when I had accomplished, I well knew would obtain me no praise, though a failure would have been to my difcredit. And after all perhaps, hard as it may be, I shall not be furprized if omissions or mistakes be pointed out with invidious severity. I have also been extremely careful as to the exactness of my quotations ; holding that there is a respect due to the Publick which should oblige every Authour to attend to this, and never to prefume to introduce them with_“I think I have read ;"-or," If I remember right;"when the originals may be examined.
I beg leave to express my warmest thanks to those who have been pleased to favour me with communications and advice in the conduct of my Work. But I cannot
fufficiently acknowledge my obligations to my friend Mr. Malone, who was so good as to allow me to read to him almost the whole of my manuscript, and made such remarks as were greatly for the advantage of the Work; though it is but fair to him to mention, that upon many occasions I differed from him, and followed my own judgement. I regret exceedingly that I was deprived of the benefit of his revision, when but about one half of the book had passed through the press; but after having completed his very laborious and admirable edition of Shakspeare, for
which he generously would accept of no other reward but that fame which be has so deservedly obtained, be fulfilled his promise of a long-wished-for vist to his relations in Ireland; from whence his safe return finibus Atticis is defired by his friends here, with all the classical ardour of Sic te Diva potens Cypri; for there is no man in whom more elegant and worthy qualities are united; and whose society therefore is more valued by those who know him.
It is painful to me to think, that while I was carrying on this Work, several of those to whom it would have been most interesting have died. Such melancholy disappointments we know to be incident to humanity ; but we do not feel them the less. Let me particularly lament the Reverend Thomas Warton, and the Reverend Dr. Adams. Mr. Warton, amidst his variety of genius and learning, was an excellent Biographer. His contributions to my
Collection are highly estimable; and as he had a true relish “ Tour to the Hebrides,” I trust I should now have been gratified with a larger share of his kind approbation. Dr. Adams, eminent as the Head of a College, as a writer, and as a most amiable man, had known Johnson from his early years, and was his friend through life. What reason I had to hope for the countenance of that venerable Gentleman to this Work, will appear from what he wrote to me upon a former occasion from Oxford, November 17, 1785:-“Dear Sir, I hazard this letter, not knowing where it will find you, to thank you for your very agreeable • Tour,' which I found here on my return from the country, and in which
have depicted our friend so perfectly to my fancy, in every attitude, every scene and Gtuation, that I have thought myself in the