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February 24th, 1805.
Madam, If in the usual flattering style of dedications, I should request a particular attention to these memoirs, of some person who was entitled merely by external and artificial consequence, to a publick testimony of my respect, I should do great injustice to the ingenuous nature, and independent habits of my own mind : and I should do equal injustice to yours: 'I should be stupidly insensible to the
most refined, and exalted virtue; which I have long observed, and admired: I should be guilty of inexcusable ingratitude for innumerable instances of the most generous, and sublime friendship; if I hesitated, for a moment, to whom I should, on this occasion, offer my sincere, and ardent literary tribute.
You, madam, condescended to be the humble copier of the following work. By your care, and accuracy, my attention to the press has been free from the many extremely perplexed embarrassments of my manuscript; which were occasioned partly by the lapses of my memory; and partly by the increasing, and awful mental infirmities of old age. But singularly great as I shall always deem this favour, you have far surpassed it; and you alone, in your moral progress, can rise above the acts of your preceding magnanimity.
When a most afflicting nervous disorder had weakened the powers of my
inind; and had rendered it incapable to actuate, and brighten a gloomy solitude, with the splendid beings of memory, and imagination; you quitted, at my anxious request, the genial, and charming scenes of SURREY, for the bleak, and dreary wilds of NortHUMBERLAND; you quitted the most attractive connexions, to soothe an unfortunate, and aged poet with your humane, and christian sympathy; and to animate him with your interesting, and brilliant conversation.
“ I and malice, from this hour, are friends."
After all my disappointments, and mortifications in life, my ambition has, at length, obtained a glorious homage to learning, and to genius; which would have been denied to the lumber of wealth, or to the tinsel of a star.
The almost unexampled greatness of your conduct to me, cannot be assimilated to the characteristicks of the present age; it must be thrown back into the remote, and better times of the heroick; or it must be elevated to the ethereal region of the romantick, and imaginary virtue. It may excite the surprize of common minds; of little souls it will most probably be honoured with the ridicule; with their spurious, and invidious wit.