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[Composed by SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D., and published from his manuscripts by GEORGE STRAHAN, D.D., Prebendary of Rochester, and Vicar of Islington in Middlesex. The fifth edition. LONDON: printed for T. CADELL, and W. DAVIES, in the Strand. 1817.]

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[THE title of Prayers and Meditations was not sufficiently comprehensive to describe this work, including as it did long passages from Johnson's journal. Many of his papers, which in no respect differ from those printed in this collection, fell into other hands than those of the editor. Some of these were printed by Hawkins and Boswell; others have appeared from time to time in various publications. One or two, which had remained hidden in the cabinets of collectors, see the light for the first time in the present volumes.

I have collated Strahan's edition with the original manuscripts preserved in the Library of Pembroke College, Oxford. Johnson's spelling I have carefully preserved, and some passages which had been struck out, but not obliterated, I have restored. There are, however, many lines so thoroughly scored out that not a single word can be deciphered. This, it can scarcely be doubted, was done by Johnson himself.

That he should have wished his friend to publish all that is included in these Prayers and Meditations almost passes belief. Most likely, when in the weakness of his last days. he placed these papers in his hands, he forgot how much they contained that was meant for no eye but his own. Nevertheless his character gains much more than it loses by this full publication. If we are grieved by the pettiness of the records about the milk that he did, or did not put into his tea on Good Friday, on the other hand, our reverence for him is increased by the tenderness of heart and the humility which are seen in so many passages, and by the patience and courage with which he bore his grievous illnesses.]

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THESE Posthumous Devotions of Dr. Johnson will be, no doubt, welcomed by the Public, with a distinction similar to that which has been already paid to his other Works.

During many years of his life, he statedly observed certain days' with a religious solemnity; on which, and other occasions, it was his custom to compose suitable Prayers and Meditations; committing them to writing for his own use, and, as he assured me, without any view to their publication. But being last summer on a visit to Oxford to the Reverend Dr. Adams 2, and that Gentleman urging him repeatedly to engage in some work of this kind, he then first conceived a design to revise these pious effusions, and bequeath them, with enlargements, to the use and benefit of others.

Infirmities, however, now growing fast upon him, he at length changed this design, and determined to give the Manuscripts, without revision, in charge to me, as I had long shared his intimacy, and was at this time his daily attendant. Accordingly, one morning, on my visiting him by desire at an early hour, he put these Papers into my hands, with instructions for committing them to the Press, and with a promise to prepare a sketch of his own life to accompany them. But the performance of this promise also was prevented, partly by his hasty destruction of some private memoirs, which he afterwards lamented, and partly by that incurable sickness, which soon ended in his dissolution.

That the authenticity of this Work may never be called in question, the original manuscript will be deposited in the library of Pembroke College in Oxford.

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