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THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
WILLIAM, LORD MANSFIELD, . LORD CHIEF JUSTICE OF ENGLAND.
JANUARY 1, 1759.
O man, in ancient Rome, my Lord, would have
been furprized, I believe, to fee a poet infcribe his works, either to Cicero, or the younger Pliny; not to mention any more amongst her moft celebrated names. They were both, it is true, public magiftrates of the first diftinction, and had applied themselves feverely to the ftudy of the laws; in which both eminently excelled. They were, at the fame time, illuftrious orators, and employed their eloquence in the fervice of their clients and their country. But, as they had both embellished their other talents by early cultivating the finer arts, and which has fpread, we see, a peculiar light and grace over all their productions no fpecies of polite literature could be foreign to their tafte or patronage. And, in effect, we find they were the friends and protectors of the best poets their refpective ages produced.
It is from a parity of character, my Lord, and which will occur obviously to every eye, that I am induced
to place your name at the head of this collection, fuck as it is, of the different things I have written.
"Nec Phoebo gratior ulla
Quam fibi quæ Vari præfcripfit pagina nomen."
And were I as fure, my Lord, that it is deferving of your regard, as I am that these verfes were not applied with more propriety at first than they are now; the publick would univerfally justify my ambition in prefenting it to you. But, of that, the public only must and will judge, in the last appeal. There is but one thing, to befpeak their favour and your friendship, that I dare be positive in without which, you are the last perfon in Britain to whom I fhould have thought of addreffing it. And this any man may affirm of himfelf, without vanity; because it is equally in every man's power. Of all that I have written, on any occafion, there is not a line, which I am afraid to own, either as an honeft man, a good fubject, or a true lover of my country.
I have thus, my Lord, dedicated fome few moments, the first day of this new year, to fend you, according to good old cuftom, a prefent. An humble one, I confefs it is; and that can have little other value but what arifes from the difpofition of the fender. On that account, perhaps, it may not be altogether unacceptable; for it is indeed an offering rather of the heart than the head; an effufion of those sentiments, which great merit, employed to the best purpofes, naturally creates.
May you enjoy, my Lord, through the whole course of this and many more years, that found health of mind and body, which your important labours for the publick fo much want, and fo juftly merit! And may you foon have the fatisfaction to fee, what I know you fo ardently with, this destructive war, however neceffary on our part, concluded by a fafe and lafting peace! Then, and not till then, all the noble arts, no lefs ufeful than ornamental to human life, and that now languish, may again flourish, under the eye and encouragement of thofe few, who think and feel as you do, for the advantage and honour of Great Britain. I am, with the fincereft attachment,
Your most faithful