Helens, the son of Dr. Johnson's early friend Mr. Fitzherbert, have been so obliging as to answer some inquiries with which it was found necessary to trouble them.

How the editor may have arranged all these materials, and availed himself of so much assistance, it is not for him to decide. Situated as he was when he began and until he had nearly completed this work, he could not have ventured to undertake a more serious task; and he fears that even this desultory and gossiping kind of employment will be found to have suffered from the weightier occupations in which he was engaged, as well as from his own deficiencies.

If unfortunately he shall be found to have failed in his attempt to improve the original work, he will still have the consolation of thinking that there is no great harm done. For, as he has retrenched nothing from the best editions of the LIFE and the TOUR, and has contrived to compress all his additions within the same number of volumes, he trusts that the purchasers of this edition can have no reasonable cause to complain. The additions are carefully discriminated1, and hardly a syllable of Mr. Boswell's text or of the notes in Mr. Malone's editions have been omitted. So that the worst that can happen is that all the present editor has contributed may, if the reader so pleases, be rejected as surplusage.

Of the value of the notes with which his friends

1 By being inserted between brackets, thus [ ]. In a few instances, one or other of these marks has been by an error of the press omitted, but it is hoped that the context will always enable the reader to rectify the mistake.—ED.

2 In two or three places an indelicate expression has been omitted; and, in half a dozen instances (always, however, stated in the notes), the insertion of new matter has occasioned the omission or alteration of a few words in the text.-ED.

have favoured him, the editor can have no doubt; of his own, he will only say, that he has endeavoured to make them at once concise and explanatory. He hopes he has cleared up some obscurities, supplied some deficiencies, and, in many cases, saved the reader the trouble of referring to dictionaries and magazines for notices of the various persons and facts which are incidentally mentioned'.

In some cases he has candidly confessed, and in many more he fears he will have shown, his own ignorance; but he can say, that when he has so failed, it has not been for want of diligent inquiry after the desired information.

He has not considered it any part of his duty to defend or to controvert the statements or opinions recorded in the text; but in a few instances, in which either a matter of fact has been evidently misstated, or an important principle has been heedlessly invaded or too lightly treated, he has ventured a few words towards correcting the error.

The desultory nature of the work itself, the repétitions in some instances and the contradictions in others, are perplexing to those who may seek for Dr. Johnson's final opinion on any given subject, This difficulty the editor could not hope, and has, therefore, not attempted, to remove; it is inevitable in the transcript of table-talk so various, so loose, and so extensive; but he has endeavoured to alleviate it by occasional references to the different places where the same subject is discussed, and by a copious, and he trusts, satisfactory index.

As some proof of diligence, the editor may be allowed to state that the Variorum notes to the former edition were fewer than 1100, while the number of his additional notes is nearly 2500.—ED.

With respect to the spirit towards Dr. JOHNSON himself by which the editor is actuated, he begs leave to say that he feels and has always felt a great, but, he hopes, not a blind admiration of Dr. Johnson. For his writings he feels that admiration undivided and uninterrupted. In his personal conduct and conversation there may be occasionally something to regret and (though rarely) something to disapprove, but less, perhaps, than there would be in those of any other man, whose words, actions, and even thoughts should be exposed to public observation so nakedly as, by a strange concurrence of circumstances, Dr. Johnson's have been.

Having no domestic ties or duties, the latter portion of his life was, as Mrs. Piozzi observes, nothing but conversation, and that conversation was watched and recorded from night to night and from hour to hour with zealous attention and unceasing diligence. No man, the most staid or the most guarded, is always the same in health, in spirits, in opinions. Human life is a series of inconsistencies; and when Johnson's early misfortunes, his protracted poverty, his strong passions, his violent prejudices, and, above all, his mental infirmities are considered, it is only wonderful that a portrait so laboriously minute and so painfully faithful does not exhibit more of blemish, incongruity, and error.

The life of Dr. Johnson is indeed a most curious chapter in the history of man; for certainly there is no instance of the life of any other human being having been exhibited in so much detail, or with so much fidelity. There are, perhaps, not many men who have practised so much self-examination as to

know themselves as well as every reader knows Dr. Johnson.

We must recollect that it is not his table-talk or his literary conversations only that have been published: all his most private and most trifling correspondence-all his most common as well as his most confidential intercourses-all his most secret communion with his own conscience-and even the solemn and contrite exercises of his piety, have been divulged and exhibited to the "garish eye" of the world without reserve-I had almost said, without delicacy. Young, with gloomy candour, has said

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"Heaven's Sovereign saves all beings but himself
That hideous sight, a naked human heart.”"

What a man must Johnson have been, whose heart, having been laid more bare than that of any other mortal ever was, has passed almost unblemished through so terrible an ordeal!

The editor confesses, that if he could have had any voice as to the original publications, he probably might have shrunk from the responsibility incurred by Mrs. Piozzi, Mr. Boswell, and, above all, Dr. Strahan-even though they appear to have had (at least, in some degree) Dr. Johnson's own sanction for the disclosures they have made. But such disclosures having been made, it has appeared to the editor interesting and even important to concentrate into one full and perfect view every thing that can serve to complete a history-so extraordinary—so unique.

But while we contemplate with such interest this admirable and perfect portrait, let us not forget the painter: pupils and imitators have added draperies

and back grounds, but the head and figure are by Mr. Boswell!

Mr. Burke told Sir James Mackintosh that he thought Johnson showed more powers of mind in company than in his writings, and on another occasion said, that he thought Johnson appeared greater in Mr. Boswell's volumes than even in his own.

It was a strange and fortunate concurrence, that one so prone to talk and who talked so well, should be brought into such close contact and confidence with one so zealous and so able to record. Dr. Johnson was a man of extraordinary powers, but Mr. Boswell had qualities, in their own way, almost as rare. He united lively manners with indefatigable diligence, and the volatile curiosity of a man about town with the drudging patience of a chronicler. With a very good opinion of himself, he was quick in discerning, and frank in applauding, the excellencies of others. Though proud of his own name and lineage, and ambitious of the countenance of the great, he was yet so cordial an admirer of merit, wherever found, that much public ridicule, and something like contempt, were excited by the modest assurance with which he pressed his acquaintance on all the notorieties of his time, and by the ostentatious (but, in the main, laudable) assiduity with which he attended the exile Paoli and the low-born Johnson! These were amiable, and, for us, fortunate inconsistencies. His contemporaries indeed, not without some colour of reason, occasionally complained of him as vain, inquisitive, troublesome, and giddy; but his vanity was inoffensive-his curiosity was commonly directed towards laudable objects when he meddled, he did so, generally, from good

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