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A Work better calculated to convey a comprehensive idea of English Literature than the Lives of the Poets can hardly be suggested. That those, who may not wish to withdraw from their other avocations so much time as is necessary for the perusal of the voluminous work of Dr. Johnson on this subject, may yet have access to the information it contains, we offer the present result of our labours to the attention of the public. We trust it will be found, on examination, to comprise, in a condensed form, all that is essential on the subject.
Every Poet of eminence is here included , and the Reader will find the Lives of Spenser, Shakespeare and Ben Jonson which the great Biographer has omitted. Of the Editors' Annotations some are calculated to confirm conjectures or elucidate facts, and others to introduce anecdotes unnoticed by the Doctor, and with which probably he was not acquainted.
In fine, the volume now offered to the public contains information, compendious indeed, but we
hope, satisfactory ; and we flatter ourselves it will be found both agreeable and useful to readers of every description.
As it may probably be expected that we should say something of so celebrated a character as Doctor Johnson who was himself a poet, we begin by a sketch of his life-The rest will follow as nearly as possible in the order of chronology; except the three last mentioned poets whose lives shall be inserted at the end of the work,
OF THE LIFE
DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON, who has been styled the brightest ornament of the 18th century, was born in the city of Litchfield in Staffordshire on the 18th of September N. S. 1709. His father was a bookseller, and more than once bore the office of chief magistrate in that city.
When arrived at a proper age for grammatical instruction, he was placed in the free school of Litchfield, of which the master must have been a skilful teacher; for Johnson, when he stood in the very front of learning, being asked how he had acquired so accurate a knowledge of the Latin tongue, replied, “My master beat me very well ; without that, Sir, I should have done nothing.
At the age of 15 Johnson was removed from Litchfield to the school of Stourbridge in Worcestershire, at which he remained little more than a year, and then returned home, where he staid two years without any settled plan of life or any regular course of study.' He read, however, a great deal in a desultory manner, as chance threw books in his way, and as inclination directed him through