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CRITICAL AND HISTORICAL,
OF THE MOST EMINENT PERSONS OF ALL AGES, COUNTRIES, CON-
DITIONS, AND PROFESSIONS,
PRINTED FOR G. G. AND J. ROBINSON, PATER-NOSTER-ROW; G. KEARSLEY, FLEET-STREET ;
OPPOSITE BOND-STREET, PICCADILLY.-ALSO AT
EDINBURGH FOR BELL AND BRADFUTE.
NOTHING can be less necessary than to make a formal display of the advantages of biographical writing. If any species of literary composition has to boast of an universal suffrage in its favour, it is that, which, by representing human characters in association with every thing distinguished in the nature, fortunes, and acquirements of man, affords in a supreme degree the union of instruction and amusement. But with respect to the principles on which a general work on biography, like that now offered to the public, may be most eligibly planned, different opinions will probably be entertained; and it cannot be impertinent to anticipate the doubts and objections which may arise on this subject in reflecting minds, by stating some of the leading considerations which have guided the authors in their present undertaking.
The most prominent circumstances attending a work of this kind, are selection, compass, and arrangement. To speak of the latter first, as requiring the least discussion; although the alphabetical order is void of all claim to ingenuity, yet its great convenience, together with the insurmountable difficulties accompanying every other method, when attempted to be put into practice, have given it the same preference with us, that it has generally obtained with our brother-writers. If any one who has conceived of peculiar advantages likely to result from some other mode of arrangement—that, for instance, according to classes of persons will make the experiment, he will pre