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HE following History hath been chiefly
compiled from original manuscripts, which the writer had the honour to be entrusted with by the reverend and learned prelate, the Bishop of Gloucester, the intimate friend of Mr. POPE.
As a composition of this nature ought to be compleat in itself, without reference to
other work, the reader will, nevertheless, unavoidably meet with some repetitions of matter, which is already perhaps familiar to him.
In those instances, where the writer hath been indebted to others, more especially in what he hath borrowed from the Commentary and Notes, he hath, for the most part, followed the very words of the author, from whom the passages are taken. As in justice to the public, he would not prefume to alter expressions which he could not mend; fo in justice to himself, he would not
incur the suspicion, of attempting to conceal the trųe owner, by a pitiful variation.
With respect to the critical animadversions on Mr. Pope's writings, and genius, he is far from being over anxious to make others adopt his sentiments. He will think it fufficient, if his remarks should engage the reader to review his own opinions. Where he hath presumed to differ from the most respectable authorities, he would be rather understood to propose a doubt, than to offer a contradiction : he is not so vain, jo make light of the opinions of others; nor yet so modest, to suppress his own. It will give himn less concern, however, to expose his want of judgment, than to be conscious of the despicable insincerity of feigning a conviction, which he does not feel,
To some, perhaps, the extracts will appear too copious, and he once entertained thoughts of referring to the passages, he judged proper 'to select. But, beside the great trouble and inceffant interruption, which this would have occasioned to the reader, it occurred to him that it would be impossible, more especially in our
author's moral and dida&ic pieces, fully and candidly to exemplify the beauties and blemishes of his compositions, without giving a short connected view of the plan of each piece, and of his chain of reafoning; which contributes, in some instances, to constitute the peculiar excellencies and faults, which are most material to be remarked.
It would, to a few perhaps, have been fufficient to have pointed out particular beauties by inverted commas, or other marks of distinction; and the writer is aware of the oftentation of citing fine passages with general applauses, and empty exclamations, at the ends of them. But he recollected, that flight intimations do not always strike precipitate readers. Besides, it is scarce possible sometimes, when we are smitten with a fine passage, to suppress those involuntary bursts of applause--Euge! atque belle ! though, in truth, they are but empty exclamations.
Whenever such may have escaped from his pen, he trusts that the candid reader will ascribe them to a solicitude, which made him rather carneft to do justice to the poet's merit, than to raise an admiration of his own judgment.
Should the following sheets, which have been the fruit of a leisure vacation, be deemed by his graver friends, too foreign from the line of his profession; he hath only to answer, that as the nature of the human mind requires diversity to preserve the edge of attention, so, to him, no kind of relaxation could have been more agreeable: and in his choice, he is justified by the authority of the great Lord Coke---After making certain allotments of time, not much perhaps to the taste of a modern student, this great fage of the law thus directs the application of the remainder
Quod fupereft, ultro facris largire camenis.