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A SERIES OF HIS EPISTOLARY CORRESPONDENCE
AND CONVERSATIONS WITH MANY EMINENT PERSONS;
A N D
NE VER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
THE WHOLE EXHIBITING A VIEW OF LITERATURE AND LITERARY MEN
DURING WHICH HE FLOURISHED.
| At last deliver to the world a Work which I have long promised, and
of which, I am afraid, too high expectations have been raised. The delay of its publication must be imputed, in a confiderable degree, to the extraordinary zeal which has been sewn 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,
individual was eager to throw a stone upon the grave of a departed Hero, and thus to share in the pious office of erecting an bonourable monument to his memory.
The labour and anxious attention with which I have collected and arranged the materials of which these 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 y and I must be allowed to suggest, 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 necessary to make by various channels, I Mould 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 discredit. And after all perhaps, hard as it may be, I shall not be surprized if omifions or mistakes be pointed out with invidious. feverity. 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 obliga every Authour to attend to this, and never to presume to introduce them with—" I think I have read ;"--,-" If I remember right;"when the originals may be:examined.
I beg leave to express my warmest thanks to those who bave 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 manufcript, and made such remarks as were greatly for the advantage of the TVork; though it is but fair to him to mention, that upon many occasions I differed from him, and followed my own judgement. I regret exceed-. ingly 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 kaborious and admirable edition of Shakspeare, for