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YOUR candour is desired on the perusal of the following sheets, as they are the product of a genius that has long been your delight and entertainment. It must be acknowledged, that a lamp almost burnt out does not give so steady and uniform a light as when it blazes in its full vigour ; but yet it is well known that by its wavering, as if struggling against its own dissolution, it sometimes darts a ray as bright
In like manner, a strong and lively genius will, in its last struggles, sometimes mount aloft, and throw forth the most striking marks of its original lustre,
Wherever these are to be found, do you, the genuine patrons of extraordinary capacities, be as liberal in your applauses of him who is now no more as you were of him whilst he was yet amongst you. And, on the other hand, if in this little work there should appear any traces of a weakened and decayed life, let your own imaginations place before your eyes a true picture in that of a hand trembling in almost its latest hour, of a body emaciated with pains, yet struggling for your entertainment; and let this affecting picture open each tender heart, and call forth a melting tear, to blot out whatever failings may be found in a work begun in pain, and finished almost at the same period with life.
It was thought proper, by the friends of the deceased, that this little piece should come into your hands as it came from the hands of the author ; it being judged that you would be better pleased to have an opportunity of observing the faintest traces of a genius you have long admired than have it patched by a different hand; by which means the marks of its true author might have been effaced.
That the success of the last written, though first published, volume of the author's posthumous pieces may be attended with some convenience to those innocents he hath left behind, will, no doubt, be a motive to encourage its circulation through the kingdom, which will engage every future genius to cxert itself for your pleasure.
The principles and spirit which breathe in every line of the small fragment begun in answer to lord Bolingbroke will unquestionably be a sufficient apology for its publication, although vital strength was wanting to finish a work so happily begun and so well designed.