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But feeling conscious that the perfectibility of your judgments can only be equalled by the disinterestedness of your monthly criticisms, I shall fearlessly commit myself to the ordeal of such uniform gentleness, candour, and undeviating honour, a string of terms in every respect synonymous with your inquisitorial avocations. I have the honour to be,
with all becoming deference,
your most obediently devoted,
and very humble servant,
APOLOGY FOR A PREFACE.
SAMPSON slew his thousands with the jawbone of an ass: then wherefore should not I perform similar exploits with the quill of a goose? The beast, in propria persona, is no more terrific than the bird, and the bone was as harmless as the feather, till wielded in the grasp of that redoubted champion of the Israelites. Philistines, therefore, (I would say scribes), it is at ye I point the lance unbated by the poison of envy, nor barbed with the thorn of individual malice; for, believe me, I am as inimical to the premeditated cruelty of the one as superior to the dastardly meanness of the other.
I am well aware that the contents of the following pages will not prove palatable to many readers; and, perhaps, there are but few writers who would
thus dare, en masse, a legion of individuals in many respects gifted with far superior talents to those of the person who has devoted his labours to the completion of this Herculean undertaking.
As I do not pretend to arrogate to myself perfectibility in a literary sense, I have, no doubt, in some instances, been guilty of error; and whensoever such failing may appear to the disparagement of mental worth, I must certainly take shame to myself for a most unpardonable want of discernment; but, on the other hand, if it shall be found that I have committed to paper the language of approval, where a contrary stricture was required, I can only assert, that a lack of acumen upon my part will be amply compensated for when it is remembered, that
'Praise undeserved is satire in disguise.'
Every walk of literature possesses its determined advocates; but there is no branch springing from
the main stock which has so many ramifications, and is consequently attended by such a host of admirers, as the class of writers denominated poets; therefore, when once a son of the Muse has enchanted with the strain of his lyre, the entrancing charm, like that of the basilisk, inebriates the senses of the reader, and from that moment he conceives it impossible that any mediocre performance can depreciate the sublimity of the scribe: it is an absolute assurance of the validity of this statement which first impelled the writer to attempt the subject matter of the ensuing pages, which are only offered as a corrective dose to curb that mental effervescence which, running wild from the track of sober judgment, receives, with indiscriminate plaudit, the flights of legitimate talent, and the bastard ebullitions of rant and bathos.
As I have been sufficiently explicit in the progress of my pages, it would be superfluous to descant further upon this topic; a long preface to a reader is like a monotonous and undeviating
route to the traveller, who, anxious to arrive at the termination of his journey, beholds the object constantly in vista without seeming to approximate towards the desired goal. In order, therefore, to escape this charge, which is too frequently, and with justice alleged against the sons and daughters of literature, I shall, though arrogantly, conclude by stating, that
Good wine needs no bouche.