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Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/37

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negative recompense has been yet granted to very few.

I have, notwithstanding this discourage- ment, attempted a Dictionary of the English Language, which, while it was employed in the cultivation of every species of literature, has itself been hitherto neglected ; suffered to spread under the direction of chance, into wild exuberance ; resigned to the tyranny of time and fashion ; and exposed to the corruptions of ignorance and caprices of innovation.

When I took the first survey of my under- taking, I found our speech copious without order, and energetic without rule ; wherever I turned my view, there was perplexity to be disentangled and confusion to be regulated ; choice was to be made out of boundless variety, without any established principle of selection; adulterations were to be detected, without a settled test of purity ; and modes of expression to be rejected or received, without the suffrages of any writers of classical reputation or ac- knowledged authority. . . .

When first I engaged in this work, I re- solved to leave neither words nor things unexamined, and pleased myself with a pro- spect of the hours which I should revel away in the feasts of literature, the obscure recesses of northern learning which I should enter

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