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whom I have long known a worthy man and an obliging friend.
In the strangely mixed scenes of human existence, our feelings are often at once pleasing and painful. Of this truth, the progress of the present Work furnishes a striking instance. It was highly gratifying to me that my friend, Sir Joshua REYNOLDS, to whom it is inscribed, lived to peruse it, and to give the strongest testimony to its fidelity; but before a second edition, which he contributed to improve, could be finished, the world has been deprived of that most valuable man; a loss of which the regret will be deep, and lasting, and extensive, proportionate to the felicity which he diffused through a wide circle of admirers and friends.
In reflecting that the illustrious subject of this Work, by being more extensively and intimately known, however elevated before, has risen in the veneration and love of mankind, I feel a satisfaction beyond what fame can afford. We cannot, indeed, too much or too often admire his wonderful powers of mind, when we consider that the principal store of wit and wisdom which this Work contains was not a particular selection from his general conversation, but was merely his occasional talk at such times as I had the good fortune to be in his company; and, without doubt, if his discourse at other periods had been collected with the same attention, the whole tenour of what he uttered would have been found equally excellent.
His strong, clear, and animated enforcement of religion, morality, loyalty, and subordination, while it delights and improves the wise and the good, will, I trust, prove an effectual antidote to that detestable sophistry which has been lately imported from France, under the false name of Philosophy, and with a malignant industry has been employed against the peace, good order, and happiness of society, in our free and prosperous country; but, thanks be to God, without producing the pernicious effects which were hoped for by its propagators. It seems to
my moments of self-complacency, that this extensive biographical Work, however inferior in its nature, may in one respect be assimilated to the ODYSSEY. Amidst a thousand entertaining and instructive episodes the Hero is 'never long out of sight; for they are all in some degree connected with him; and He, in the whole course of the History, is exhibited by the Authour for the best advantage of his readers :
-Quid virtus et quid sapientia possit, Utile proposuit nobis exemplar Ulyssen.
Should there be any cold
blooded and morose mortals who really dislike this Book, I will give them a story to apply. When the great Duke of MARLBOROUGH, accompanied by Lord Cadogan, was one day reconnoitring the army in Flanders, a heavy rain came on, and they both called for their cloaks. Lord CaDOGAN's servant, a good humoured alert lad, brought his Lordship’s in a minute. The Duke's servant, a lazy sulky dog, was so sluggish, that his Grace being wet to the skin, reproved him, and had for answer with a grunt, “I came as fast as I could ;' upon which the Duke calmly said, “CADOGAN, I would not for a thousand pounds have that fellow's temper."
There are some men, I believe, who have, or think they have, a very small share of vanity. Such may speak of their literary fame in a decorous style of diffidence. But I confess, that I am so formed by nature and by habit, that to restrain the effusion of delight, on having obtained such fame, to me would be truly painful. Why then should I suppress it? Why “out of the abundance of the heart” should I not speak? Let me then mention with a warm, but no insolent exultation, that I have been regaled with spontaneous praise of my Work by many and various persons eminent for their rank, learning, talents, and accomplishments; much of which praise I have under
XX ADVERTISEMENT TO THE SECOND EDITION.
their hands to be reposited in my archives at Auchinleck. An honourable and reverend friend speaking of the favourable reception of my volumes, even in the circles of fashion and elegance, said to me, “you have made them all talk Johnson.”—Yes, I may add, I have Johnsonised the land; and I trust they will not only talk, but think, Johnson.
To enumerate those to whom I have been thus indebted, would be tediously ostentatious. I cannot however but name one, whose praise is truly valuable, not only on account of his knowledge and abilities, but on account of the magnificent, yet dangerous embassy, in which he is now employed, which makes every thing that relates to him peculiarly interesting. Lord MACARTNEY favoured me with his own copy of my book, with a number of notes, of which I have availed myself. On the first leaf I found in his Lordship’s hand-writing, an inscription of such high commendation, that even I, vain as I am, cannot prevail on myself to publish it.
(July 1, 1793.]
SEVERAL valuable letters, and other curious matter, having been communicated to the Authour too late to be arranged in that chronological order which he had endeavoured uniformly to observe in his work, he was obliged to introduce them in his Second Edition, by way of ADDENDA, as commodiously as he could. In the present edition they have been distributed in their proper places. In revising his volumes for a new edition, he had pointed out where some of these materials should be inserted; but unfortunately, in the midst of his labours, he was seized with a fever, of which, to the great regret of all his friends, he died on the 10th of May, 1795. All the Notes that he had written in the margin of the copy which he had in part revised, are here faithfully pre