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SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
A NEW EDITION,
IN TWELVE VOLUMES.
AN ESSAY ON HIS LIFE AND GENIUS,
By ARTHUR MURPHY, Esq.
VOLUME THE FIRST.
It is no slight honour to introduce to the British public a new and complete edition of the works of that admirable writer, that profound critic, that high-loned moralist, that great and good man, Dr. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
If, by merit alone, an author ever commanded success and ensured a durability of fame, Dr. JOHNSON is that author. Nearly forty years have elapsed since his death, and his writings yet live and flourish in all the freshness of yesterday ; exciting new admiration, calling forth new praise, and, amidst hosts of competitors, maintaining the first rank in public favour. Much has repeatedly been said of the beautiful diction displayed by the wits of Queen Anne's reign, a period misnomered the Augustan age of Britain. It is true that the style then introduced was easy, clear, and smooth ; but it was at the same time loose, tame, flat, and nerveless; and,
by the reader of pure taste, more of simple nature, more of sterling English vigour, will be discovered in the comparatively rough and unformed sentences of DRYDEN, than in the flowing periods of his successors. Of Johnson it may be truly said, that he united more than the vigour of DRYDEN with more than the polish of Addison, superadding a correctness and a richness, a harmony and an eloquence, a grandeur and a sublimity entirely his own, and constituting a model for present and for future times.
It was a remark of Dr. Johnson's, that he who would make himself master of the English language must devote his days and his nights to the study of ADDISON. This remark was just when it was penned; but, ever since, it has applied with far greater propriety to the writings of Johnson himself; for it was JOHNSON who first reduced the English language to a systematic form, and proved, by example, the copiousness the variety, the extent of its power.
His Rambler,” his “ Lives of the Poets,” his
Preface to Shakespeare," his “ Preface" to that colossal monument of his fame, the “ English Dictionary," sustain this assertion.