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The plan of these volumes being, in several respects, different from that which was adopted for the Essays on the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, I have thought it necessary to place before the reader, in this Preface, a connected view of its construction.
It is divided, as in the former work, into five Parts, and these parts into Essays; but, for the purpose of compression, the Dissertations on Style, Humour, Ethics, &c. instead of being
given in separate essays, are interwoven with the biographical branch.
So numerous have been the Biographies and Anecdotes of Dr. JOHNSON, that, with regard to the occurrences of his life and conversation, nothing new can be expected. But, when he is considered merely in the capacity of a man of letters, the field is still open for novelty of remark and variety of illustration. I have, therefore, chiefly confined myself to the contemplation of his Literary Character, into which I have entered, I trust, more fully than will be found in any preceding work. The arrangement, too, which has been chosen for the narrative, has not, I have reason to think, been anticipated, and removes the monotony resulting from a close
adherence to chronological order. The capital work, for instance, in every province of literature which he embellished, is seized, as it occurs, in the progress of his career, for the foundation of a full consideration of whatever, at any period of his life, he produced under each department.
In this mode his powers and productions as a Poet, a BIBLIOGRAPHER, a BIOGRAPHER, an ESSAYIST, a PHILOLOGER, a NOVELLIST, a ComMENTATOR, a POLITICIAN, a TOURIST, a CRITIC, an EPISTOLARY WRITER, and a THEOLOGIAN, are dwelt upon at great length; and, though the illustration be occasionally minute, it blends sufficiently with the design, I hope, to constitute an harmonious whole.
The entire plan will be at once perceived from the following Sketch.
Essay 1. Observations on the Taste which had
been generated by Steele and Addison for Periodical Composition. Enumeration of the Periodical Papers which were written during the publication of the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian.
Essay 2. Observations on the Periodical Papers
which were written between the Close of the eighth volume of the Spectator, and the commencement of the Rambler, with some general remarks on their tendency and complexion.
Essay 1. The Literary Life of Dr. Johnson.
Essay 2. The Literary Life of Dr. Hawkesworth.