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which, I dare say, the very errors of the press are most religiously preserved.
I cannot but regret, indeed, that there is still wanting one principal ornament to these little volumes; I mean, the dedication. Not that there are wanting persons highly deserving of all the praises, which the most obsequious and most devoted author could possibly lavish on them: for in all ages, and in all nations, these have always abounded. Latin authors, for example, have never failed to pay their compli ments to the illustrious family of the Issimi; such as the laudatissimi, the eminentissimi, the commendatissimi, the famigeratissimi, the doctissimi, the nobilissimi, &c. and among our own writers no less respect has been shewn to the numerous race of the most famous, the most ingenious, the most learned, the most eminent, &c. It is but justice, that those who offer the incense should "live by the altar:" Yet, notwithstanding I gave notice to any rich citizen, nobleman, or others, that my dedication should be disposed of to the best bidder, I have received no overtures on that head. In the city this course of exchange has not yet been established; and among people of quality, the market has been over-stocked, and flattery is become a mere drug; while some of them, who have taken up the trade themselves, have, perhaps, considered me as a rival or interloper in the business.
It remains only, to give an account of the authors concerned in this work. I am sorry that I do not know the names of any of the volunteers, to whom I have been greatly indebted: and as to those, who have engaged for the drudgery of the week, various sconjectures have been formed about them. Some are ure, that the papers signed T are written by Mr. Such an one, because it is the first letter of his name; and others, by another, because it is not: O is the mark of the Honourable or Lord
they know it by the style: And W must be the work of a certain famous wit, and no other:-Aut Erasmus, aut Diabolus. But to put this matter out of all doubt, and to satisfy the curiosity of my readers, all I am at liberty at present to divulge is, that none of the papers (to my knowledge) were written by the Honourable or Lord, or — -, Esquire; but that those which are marked with a T, and those with an O, and those with a W, (as well as those which hereafter may perhaps be signed N,) are furnished by the ingenious and learned gentleman, who has subscribed his name to this paper.
T, O, W, N.
N° 71. THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 1755.
Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se
I write, as I would talk; am short, and clear;
AMONG the several degrees of authors, there are none perhaps, who have more obstacles to surmount at their setting out, than the writers of periodical essays. Talk with a modern critic, and he will tell you, that a new paper is a vain attempt after the inimitable Spectator and others; that all the proper subjects are already pre-occupied, and that it is equally impossible
to find out a new field for observation, as to discover
a new world. With these prejudices the public are prepared to receive us; and while they expect to be cloyed with the stale repetition of the same fare, though tossed up in a different manner, they sit down
with but little relish for the entertainment.
That the Spectator first led the way, must undoabtedly be acknowledged: but that his followers must for that reason be always supposed to tread in his steps, can by no means be allowed. In the high road of life there are several extensive walks, as well as byepaths, which we may strike into, without the necessity of keeping the same beaten track with those that have gone before us. New objects for ridicule will continually present themselves; and even the same characters will appear different by being differently disposed, as in the same pack of cards, though ever so often shuffled, there will never be two hands exactly alike.
After this introduction I hope to be pardoned, if I indulge myself in speaking a word or two concerning my own endeavours to entertain the public. And first, whatever objections the reader may have had to the subjects of my papers, I shall make no apology for the manner, in which I have chose to treat them. The dread of falling into (what they are pleased to call) colloquial barbarisms, has induced some unskilful writers to swell their, bloated diction with uncouth phrases and the affected jargon of pedants. For my own part, I never go out of the common way of expression, merely for the sake of introd.cing a more sounding word with a Latin termination. The English language is sufficiently copious and expressive without any further adoption of new terms; and the native words seem to me to have far more force than any foreign auxiliaries, however pompously ushered
in: as British soldiers fight our battles better than the troops taken into our pay.
The subjects of my essays have been chiefly such, as I thought might recommend themselves to the public notice by being new and uncommon. For this reason I purposely avoided the worn-out practice of retailing scraps of morality, and affecting to dogmatize on the common duties of life. In this point, indeed, the Spectator is inimitable; nor could I hope to say any thing new upon these topics after so many excellent moral and religious essays, which are the principal ornament of that work. I have therefore contented myself with exposing vice and folly by painting mankind in their natural colours, without assuming the rigid air of a preacher, or the moroseness of a philosopher. I have rather chose to undermine our fashionable excesses by secret sapping, than to storm them by open assault. In a word, upon all occasions I have endeavoured to laugh people into a better behaviour: as I am convinced, that the sting of reproof is not less sharp for being concealed; and advice never comes with a better face, than when it comes with a laughing one.
There are some points in the course of this work, which perhaps might have been treated with a more serious air. I have thought it my duty to take every opportunity of exposing the absurd tenets of our mo dern Free-thinkers and Enthusiasts. The Enthusiast is, indeed, much more difficult to cure than the Freethinker; because the latter, with all his bravery, cannot but be conscious that he is wrong; whereas the former may have deceived himself into a belief, that he is certainly in the right; and the more he is opposed, the more he considers himself as patiently suffering for the truth's sake." Ignorance is too stubborn to yield to conviction; and on the other
hand those, whom "a little learning has made mad," are too proud and self-sufficient to hearken to the sober voice of reason. The only way left us, therefore, is to root out superstition, by making it's followers ashamed of themselves: and as for our Free-thinkers, it is but right to turn their boasted weapons of ridicule against them; and as they themselves endeavour to banter others out of every serious and virtuous notion, we too (in the language of the psalmist) should "laugh them to scorn, and have them in derision."
It is with infinite pleasure, that I find myself so much encouraged to continue my labours, by the kind reception which they have hitherto met with from the public: and Mr. Baldwin with no less pleasure informs me, that as there are but few numbers left of the folio edition, he intends to collect them into two pocket_volumes. The reader cannot conceive, how much I already pride myself on the charming figure, which my works will make in this new form: and I shall endeavour to render these volumes as complete as I possibly can, by several considerable additions and amendments. Though contracted into the small space of a twelves volume, I still hope to maintain my former dignity; like the devils in Milton's Pandæmo nium,
To smallest forms
Reduc'd their shapes immense, and were at large.
The Spectator has very elegantly compared his single papers, as they came out, to " cherries on a stick," of the dearness of which the purchasers cannot complain, who are willing to gratify their taste with choice fruit at it's earliest production. I have con. sidered my own papers as so many flowers, which joined together would make up a pretty nosegay; and though each of them, singly taken, may not be equally admired for their odours, they may receive an addi❤. tional fragrance by a happy union of their sweets.