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ANECDOTES, AND CHARACTERS,
BOOKS AND MEN:
BY THE REV. JOSEPH SPENCE.
ARRANGED WITH NOTES
BY THE LATE EDMUND MALONE, ESQ.
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE-STREET.
PERHAPS there never was a literary collection existing only in Manuscript, with which the public appear to be so familiar as the present one of SPENCE'S ANECDOTES; for since the days of Warton and Johnson, who were first permitted the use of this literary curiosity, it has been frequently referred to for many interesting particulars respecting some modern authors; but its miscellaneous nature, by enlarging its sphere of amusement, remains to be discovered.
In one respect the present transcript
from the manuscript may be considered as preferable to the original itself; for where information on the same subject lies scattered and unconnected, and sometimes repeated, its completeness will be apt to escape from those who cannot take in the dependent parts at one view. It was to obtain this purpose that the present copy was carefully arranged by the late Mr. MALONE, who has also added some notes, and preserved others of SPENCE. Mr. MALONE is indeed the true Editor of this Work: it is well known that his taste for literary anecdotes was keen, and his skill in literary history excelled that of any man of letters of his day.
The great value of the present collection must always rest on its authenticity; every particular is sanctioned by the name of the speaker; and from
that simplicity of taste and minute correctness which mark the character of the writer, we may confidently infer, that as he never embellishes, he scrupulously delivers the identical language of the speaker.
It is rarely that men of some eminence themselves have shown that true sensibility for genius, as to write down what can only confer fame on another although our our own literature is distinguished above that of every other, by a monument of this nature which may excite our admiration as much as our gratitude. Authentic works, similar to SPENCE'S ANECDOTES, are precious, not only to the historian of literature, but of the human mind; the conversations of the eminent person will always be found to reflect not only his own character, but an image of the