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ADVERTISEMENT TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
The works of Dr. Johnson have so long stood the test of public opinion, that an apo logy for offering a new edition is hardly necessary. While a part of his works are advantageously known to the general reader, there are many of them, from various causes, which have not been so extensively read. Among these causes, may be stated the fact that some of them have never been published in this country at all; while Jthers have never been contained in any uniform edition of his works. It may also ne added, that so far as the works of Dr. Johnson have been published, the price iemanded for them has prevented their coming within the reach of the great mass of eaders.
The present is the only complete edition of Dr. Johnson's works which has been published in this country. It will be found to contain much that is valuable in itself, beside many papers of much curiosity, including every variety of subject which a mind 80 comprehensive as his might naturally embrace. The American reader will also here find a surer test by which the intellectual powers Dr. ohnson
appreciated ;- for although these have been acknowledged to be of the highest cast, yet it has been a general impression that they were more particularly confined to one species of literature—that of purifying and elevating the standard of the English language.
The Political tracts of Dr. Johnson are but little known to the great mass of readers in this country. The author, with his usual vigour, entered fully into the political feelings of the times in which he lived. The relations between this country and Great Britain at that period, are, as a matter of history, interesting to all Ameri
Dr. Johnson defended with much tenacity the original rights of the Indians, and denounced the wrongs imposed upon them by the English and French. In allusion to the war between the French and English, about the year 1756, which began in this country, he says, “The American war between the French and us is therefore only a quarrel between two robbers for the spoils of a passenger.” And yet when we had become colonies to Great Britain he equally defended the most odious features of government toward the colonies.
A specimen of this may be found in a paper entitled “ Taxation no tyranny-an answer to the resolutions and address of the American Congress 1775," (vol. ii. p. 425.) Could he have foreseen the progress and termination of the struggle which was then commencing, he might have uttered as a truth, what he then indited as a bitter sarcasm. “ The heroes of Boston, if the Stamp Act had not been repealed, would have left their town, their port, and their trade, have resigned the splendour of opulence, and quitted the delight of neighbourhood, to disperse themselves over the country, where they would till the ground, and fish in the rivers, and
range the mountains, and be free.”
As an essayist, Dr. Johnson may be placed upon a par with the writers of the Spectator. Although, in this species of his writing, there may not be found that sprightliness and lively manner which at once wins the attention, yet there is solidity and beauty which will bear thorough and close examination, and stand the severest test of scrutiny and time.
Although not exactly within the compass of the present volumes, we may say a word in relation to the great Dictionary of Dr. Johnson. This is undoubtedly at the head of all similar works in the English language, and will stand as a monument of the author's genius, and unparalleled research and industry, so long as the lan guage shall be spoken and read.
Previous to the completion of this work, no general standard for the English lan guage was acknowledged. The intention of the author was to supply this deficiency -in his own words “ the chief intent of it is to preserve the purity, and ascertain the meaning of our English idiom.” In fulfilling this task, Dr. Johnson accomplished what falls to the lot of few men in any undertaking. He made that work which was the first standard of the English language so perfect, that not one of all who followed him, has been able to improve it. Some few indeed have enjoyed an ephemeral celebrity; but while they are gradually sinking into oblivion, the value and beauty of this great work is becoming more and more appreciated. We cannot but admire the deiermination of Dr. Johnson to undertake this work, which he knew would add iittle or nothing to his literary fame during his lifetime. “I knew,” says he, “ that the work in which I engaged is generally considered as a drudgery for the blind, as the proper toil for artless industry; a task that requires neither the light of learning, nor the activity of genius, but may be successfully performed without any higher quality than that of bearing burdens with dull patience, and beating the tract of the alphabet with sluggish resolution."
There is one consideration alone which should entitle the works of Dr. Johnson to an attentive, and often repeated perusal. It is the perfection of style and elegance of diction with which they are written. In this they may be set down as models.
180. The study of life not to be neglected for the 119 The great extremes in which happiness is
276 138 The condition of authors with regard to
The meanness of regulating our
188 Favour often gained with little assistance 2 Invitation to correspondents
190 The history of Abouzaid, the son of Morad 284 6 Lady's performance on horseback .
knowledge of the town
18 Drugget vindicated.
202 The different acceptations of poverty. Cyn | 22 Imprisonment of debtors
203 The pleasures of life to be sought in pros-
24 Man does not always think
208 The Rambler's reception. His design : : 308 32 Sleep
34 Punch and conversation
84 On the diversity of the English character
329 53 Mischiefs of good company,
92 Observations on Virg Pastorals
332 56 Virtuosos whimsical