Page:A critical examination of Dr G Birkbeck Hills "Johnsonian" Editions.djvu/9

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PREFACE

Naturally I feel some hesitation in putting forward these strictures on Dr Birkbeck Hill's Editions: for has not Mr Leslie Stephen written of "The Life" that "The edition by Dr G. B. Hill is by far the best; the notes throughout are of the highest utility?" ("Dict. Nat. Biog.," vol. xxx. p. 46). And Mr Andrew Lang, has he not declared that, to the same editor we owe "The best edition of Bozzy—the most delightful of books—the best 'Collections of Johnsoniana?'" (Longman's Magazine, February 1898, p. 374). Yet how reconcile this eulogium with the incredible catalogue of mistakes, misapprehensions, wild flounderings, and speculations, which are here set forth? With such things present there cannot be "by far the best edition," or even a fairly good one. I do not profess to explain the discrepancy, but leave it to the reader to judge for himself.

February 1898.