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THE works of Dr. Johnson have been, occasionally, so much the object of my reading, for their fancy, judgment, and, above all, the interesting and moral observations which they contain upon life and manners, that in order to impress those observations the better on my mind, I availed myself of some leisure months last summer, to select them under proper heads, and arrange them in alphabetical order. As I proceeded in this work, I found myself bringing out, into one view, a body of maxims and observations, which I imagined would be more than useful to myself; hence I thought it a duty incumbent on me to publish them.
Such is the origin of the present publication, a publication, that as I feel it has benefited my self in the compiling, so I trust it will others in the perusal; and happy shall I be, if, by any œconomy of mine in the works of such a writer,
I can contribute to make them more generally known or remembered, as by it I am sure I shall perform an essential service to mankind.
In respect to the use of selection, (particularly as I have here applied it) Dr. Johnson makes the best apology for me to the public, in his Idler, vol. ii. p. 185, and which, I hope, he will accept himself as an additional motive for this undertaking.
"Writers of extensive comprehension (says he) have incidental remarks upon topics very remote from the principal subject, which are often more valuable than formal treatises, and which yet are not known, because they are not promised in the title. He that collects those under proper heads, is very laudably employed, for though he exerts no great abilities in the work, he facilitates the progress of others, and by making that easy of attainment, which is already written, may give some mind, more vigorous or more adventurous than his own, leisure for new thoughts, and original designs.”
How far this selection is made with judgment, I must, however, trust to the decision of the public, well knowing that if it is negligently or ignorantly performed, any thing I can say will not excuse me; if, on the contrary, I have A 3
Ditto from Mr. Boswell's Life of Johnson (lately