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PUBLIC LIE. ARY
ASTOR. LENOX AN OLD FOUNDATPNS
R 1822 L
Printed by J. L. Cox and Sons, 75, Great Queen Street,
Lincoln's Im Fields.
It is certainly remarkable that, during a period of more than sixty years, only one attempt, and that anonymous and confessedly imperfect, should have been made to collect together the Miscellaneous Works of a writer who has long taken his stand, both in verse and prose, as an English classic—"a man,” to use the expressions of Dr. Johnson, “ of such variety of powers, and such felicity of performance, that he always seemed to do best that which he was doing ; a man who had the art of being minute without tediousness, and general without confusion; whose language was copious without exuberance, exact without constraint, and easy without weakness.” This neglect is mainly to be attributed to the obscurity in which all Goldsmith's earlier, and many of his later labours, were long involved ; but which, it is hoped, the researches of the present Editor have, in a great measure, removed.
The pieces now for the first time collected are numerous ; but the Editor has said so much on most of them in his recent Life of Goldsmith, that any detailed account of them here will not be required. Some of them will, in his opinion, be found of high merit; and to the rest, the language of Goldsmith himself, in reviewing a collection of pieces, by Montesquieu, put forth under similar circumstances,* is strikingly applicable :-“ There is,” he says, “ a pleasure arising from the perusal of the very bagatelles of men renowned for their knowledge and genius; and we receive with veneration those pieces after they are dead, which would lessen them in our estimation while living: sensible that we shall enjoy them no more, we treasure up, as precious relics, every saying and word that has escaped them ; but their writings, of every kind, we deem inestimable. Cicero observes, that we behold with transport and enthusiasm the little barren spot, or ruins of a house, in which a person celebrated for his wisdom, his valour, or his learning, lived. When he coasted along the shores of Greece, all the heroes, statesmen, orators, philosophers, and poets of those famed republics, rose in his memory, and were present to his sight : how much more would he have been delighted with any of their posthumous works, however inferior to what he had before seen !"
Both the old and the new materials are accompanied with brief notes, clearing up the local and temporary allusions in which they abound; but which the lapse of another generation would probably have rendered it impossible for any diligence to explain.
* See Vol. iii. p. 486.
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