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Geddes 4-6-32 45 V.






WHEN this Edition of the British ESSAYISTS was undertaken by the Pro. prietors, the office of Editor was intended to be confined chiefly to the collation of the several papers with the folio originals, or with the best editions in other forms. The many errors that had crept into the most valuable of these works, and had been copied from edition to edition with out discovery and without disturbance, rendered this highly necessary; and it was a task, however laborious, which the Editor will remember with pleasure, if it

shall be found that his design has been accomplished in any considerable measure. --He was led, however, to suggest, what the Proprietors readily acceded to, that this Edition should be distinguished by some account of the history of each work, and of the lives of such of the writers as were less generally known, in the form of Preface. For the plan, therefore, as well as the execution of this, he is solely accountable, and has little to advance in defence of his attempt, or in extenuation of the errors that may be discovered, but the plea, that the times he could spare from the collation of the papers, and the correction of the press, were short and irregular, and that the materials of these Prefaces were to be sought in a variety of volumes and records, which it may probably be thought he has not been able to arrange in the happiest manner. A foundation, however, it is presumed, is laid for future investigation; and some articles of literary history have been recovered which are curious and interesting.

In tracing these, the Editor begs leave to acknowledge with respect and gratitude many valuable communications from various literary friends, particularly from Mr. Nichols, Dr. BURNEY, Rev. G. CAMBRIDGE, Rev. JOHN WARTON, Samuel Rose, Esq. of Chancery Lane, Dr. CHARLES Coote, Mr. DuPPA, and Isaac REED, Esq. of Staple Inn, a gentleman who in questions of literary history was never consulted in vain. By such assistance it is hoped something has been done to revive the attention of the public to a species of writing peculiar and highly honourable to the genius of our nation, and which has so eminently contributed to its advancement in refined taste and decorous manners.

January, 1803.

A. C.

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