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SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
MY DEAR SIR,
VERY liberal motive that can actuate an Authour in the dedication of his labours, concurs in directing me to you, as the person to whom the following work fhould be inscribed.
If there be a pleasure in celebrating the distinguished merit of a contemporary, mixed with a certain degree of vanity not altogether inexcufable, in appearing fully fenfible of it, where can I find one in complimenting whom I can with more general approbation gratify those feelings? Your excellence, not only in the Art over which you have long prefided with unrivalled
unrivalled fame, but also in Philofophy and elegant Literature, is well known to the present, and will continue to be the admiration of future ages. Your equal and placid temper, your variety of converfation, your true politeness, by which you are so amiable in private fociety, and that enlarged hospitality which has long made your house a common centre of union for the great, the accomplished, the learned, and the ingenious; all these qualities I can, in perfect confidence of not being accused of flattery, afcribe to you.
If a man may indulge an honest pride, in having it known to the world, that he has been thought worthy of particular attention by a person of the first eminence in the age in which he lived, whose company has been univerfally courted, I am justified in availing myself of the ufual privilege of a Dedication, when I mention that there has been a long and uninterrupted friendship between us.
If gratitude should be acknowledged for favours. received, I have this opportunity, my dear Sir, most fincerely to thank you for the many happy hours which
I owe to your kindness—for the cordiality with which you have at all times been pleased to welcome me—for the number of valuable acquaintances to whom you have introduced me-for the noctes cænæque Deum, which I have enjoyed under your roof.
If a work should be infcribed to one who is master of the subject of it, and whose approbation, therefore, must ensure it credit and fuccefs, the Life of Dr. Johnson is, with the greatest propriety, dedicated to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was the intimate and beloved friend of that great man; the friend, whom he declared to be "the most invulnerable man he knew; with whom, if he should quarrel, he should find the most difficulty how to abuse." You, my dear Sir, studied him, and knew him well: you venerated and admired him. Yet, luminous as he was upon the whole, you perceived all the fhades which mingled in the grand compofition, all the little peculiarities and flight blemishes which marked the literary Coloffus. Your very warm commendation of the fpecimen which I gave in my "Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides,” of my being able to preferve his converfation in an authentick and lively manner, which opinion the Publick
Publick has confirmed, was the beft encouragement for me to persevere in my purpose of producing the whole of my ftores.
In one refpect this work will in fome paffages be different from the former. In my "Tour" I was almost unboundedly open in my communications; and from my eagerness to display the wonderful fertility and readiness of Johnson's wit, freely fhewed to the world its dexterity, even when I was myself the object of it. I trusted that I should be liberally understood, as knowing very well what I was about, and by no means as fimply unconscious of the pointed effects of the fatire. I own, indeed, that I was arrogant enough to suppose that the tenor of the reft of the book would sufficiently guard me against such a strange imputation. But it seems I judged too well of the world; for, though I could fcarcely believe it, I have been undoubtedly informed, that many perfons, especially in diftant quarters, not penetrating enough into Johnson's character fo as to understand his mode of treating his friends, have arraigned my judgement, instead of seeing that I was fenfible of all that they could obferve.