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with all my care, I have, I fear, committed many mistakes. I had to gather intelligence from various sources, written and oral, and seek original matter on all sides. In extracting a consistent narrative from my many-coloured materials, I have not, I am afraid, always reconciled contradictions, or taken the true version of a story which had many variations.
I have incurred obligations to many friends during the course of the work, but to none so much as to Mr. Lockhart, who not only suggested the undertaking, but, when in town, has been so kind as to help me in its progress, often pruning what was redundant, and bringing light to what was obscure. Mr. Southey has likewise aided me, and by his too favourable expressions regarding the merits of my first volume, encouraged me much with the rest. Lord Dover also has afforded me, in many cases, the advantage of his taste and knowledge. To the friendship of Sir Andrew Halliday I am indebted for all that is interesting in the life of Cosway; and the communications of those accomplished antiquaries, Mr. Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, of Hoddom, and Mr. David Laing, of Edinburgh, were invaluable to me when treating of artists of Scottish birth. Of the members of the Royal Academy, my friends, Mr. Chantrey and Mr. Wilkie, have assisted me the most ; not so much with direct communications,
as by conversations through which I obtained the advantage of their taste and experience.
I now bid farewell to a work which has occupied me many an evening hour. Had I been in a situation to bestow undivided attention on it, I might have rendered it worthier of my subject. As it is, I hope the public will not be less generous than a distinguished painter, who, in writing of the first five volumes, said, “I differ from you as to some small things, but I cordially agree with you in the general estimate of character, and judgment of works of genius.”
London, February 28. 1833.