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[The following paragraphs are extracted from Sir Walter Scott's Preface to his Life and Works of Swift, in nineteen volumes, 8vo, of which the first edition appeared in 1814, and the second in 1824.
The Refera ences in the present volume are to the edition of 1824.]
No’Author in the British language has enjoyed the extensive popularity of the celebrated Dean of St Patrick's. Neither the local and temporary nature of the subjects on which his pen was frequently engaged, nor other objections of a more positive nature, have affected the brilliancy of his reputation. In spite of the antiquated and unpopular nature of his politics,—in spite of the misanthropical and indelicate tone of some of his writings, and the trifling character of others,—the vivid and original power of his genius has supported him in the general opinion, to an extent only equalled by his friend Pope, and far surpassing any other of those geniuses who flourished in the Augustan age of Queen Anne,
Yet, of all authors, perhaps, who ever wrote, Swift appears to have been the most inattentive to literary reputation, and to have flung from him his numerous productions, with the least interest in their future fate. The valuable and laborious edition of Mr Nichols, was the first which presented to the public any thing resembling a complete collection of Swift's works; and, unquestionably, those who peruse it must admire the labour and accuracy of the editor. It has nevertheless been generally understood, that fugitive pieces of the Dean of St Patrick's, letters and anecdotes throwing light on his remarkable history and character, still remain excluded from this ample collection; and, above all, that a distinct and combined account of his life, selected from the various sources afforded by his contradictory biographers and commentators, continued to be a desideratum.
In the Biographical Memoir, it has been the object of the Editor to condense the information afforded by Mr Sheridan, Lord Orrery, Dr Delany, Deane Swift, Dr Johnson, and others, into one distinct and comprehensive narrative.
OF VOLUME SECOND.