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which form the most valuable part of the ensuing pages, are correctly related. To them therefore I wish to appeal, for the accuracy of the portrait here exhibited to the world.
As one of those who were intimately acquainted with him, you have a title to this address. You have obliging. ly taken the trouble to peruse the original manuscript of this Tour, and can vouch for the strict fidelity of the present publication. Your literary alliance with our much-lamented friend, in consequence of having undertaken to render one of his labours more complete, by your edition of Shakspeare, a work which I am confident will not disappoint the expectations of the publick, gives you another claim. But I have a still more powerful inducement to prefix your name to this volume, as it gives me an opportunity of letting the world know that I enjoy the honour and happiness of your friendship; and of thus publickly testifying the sincere regard with
which I am,
My dear Sir,
Your very faithful
and obedient servant,
London, 30th September, 1785.
BY correcting the errours of the press in the former edition, and some inaccuracies for which the authour alone is answerable, and by supplying some additional notes, I have endeavoured to render this work more deserving of the very high honour which the publick has been pleased to shew it; the whole of the first impression having been sold in a few weeks.
LONDON, 20th Dec. 1785.
IN republishing a work, which has so much interested and amused the literary world, and has so long subjected its author to the sarcasms of foes, or to the plaudits of friends, it seems but the bounden duty of the American editor, to suffer the author in this place to offer those vindications which he afterwards saw fit to annex to his “Life of Johnson.”
They are calculated in a peculiar manner to do away the prejudices of many of his readers.--Many who might otherwise think him weak in detailing the foibles of his illustrious friend, or over vain in the too favourable mention of himself, will be inclined to ascribe them to his candour, or to that unconcern which a man may manifest who knows he has not departed from the truth. That he was proud of the commendation and love of him, to whose transcendant genius, all paid homage, there can be no doubt : for he has often and cheerfully asserted it. But surely Mr. Boswell has often condescended to expose himself in terms, to which no man of ostentatious vanity could have submitted. With what naiveté and unconcern does he for instance, tell us, that “Johnson told him, that he (Mr. B.) got into the Literary Club, by assiduously recommending himself to the members; that several wished to keep him out; and that Burke doubted his fitness, &c.” Mr. Boswell speaking of this work, says: “I was almost unboundedly open in my communications, and from my eagerness to display the wonderful fertility and readiness of Johnson's wit, freely shewed to the world its dexterity, even when I was myself the object of it. I trusted that I should be liberally understood, as knowing very well what I was about, and by no means as simply unconscious of the pointed effects of the satire. I own, indeed, that I was arrogant enough to suppose that the tenour of the rest of the book would sufficiently guard me against such a strange imputation.-But it seems I judged too well of the world.” And again, in another place; “I am fully aware of the objections which may be made to the minuteness of my detail of Johnson's conversations, and how happily it is adapted for the petty exercise of ridicule by men of superficial understanding, and ludicrous fancy; but I remain firm and confident in my opinion that minute particulars are frequently characteristick, and always amusing, when they relate to a distinguished man,-of one thing I am certain, that considering the value set upon the little we have of the table-talk and other anecdotes of our celebrated writers, and how earnestly it is regretted that we have not more, I am justified in preserving too many rather than too few of Johnson's sayings.
In addition to his own opinion thus given, we think it pertinent to subjoin the opinion which his friend John Courtenay, Esq. has given of his abilities as a Journalist and Biographer.
“ With Reynolds' pencil, vivid, bold, and true,
Philadelphia, May, 1810.