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AUTHOR OF “A PLAIN AND EAsy Account of THE BRITISH FUNGI,” “MICROSCOPIC FUNGI,”
SCIENCE-G O S SIP,
I crave forbearance for having thought that even the busiest mind might not be a stranger to those moments of repose, when the clock of time clicks drowsily behind the door, and trifles become the amusement of the wise and great.
o would almost be
|\\ } lieve, to look §s with horror on the face that can wear a smile, or to shudder at the sound of a hearty laugh. Let us hope that the torments of enduring Christmas have not driven any such to the extremity of renouncing mankind for ever, and all association with laughing bipeds. It is related of two ancient worthies, who flourished, we know not how many centuries ago, that one passed his life in smiles and the other in tears. One laughed continually at the follies of his race, the other wept for them, as though their follies were crimes. That was the spectator of a continual comedy, this an actor in a tragedy without end. Each of these had his followers; perhaps some may be living at this hour, or else we can scarcely account for the fact that the harmless enjoyments of some of the human species can cause sighs and sorrows in others of the same great family. Not only will a season of festivity plant thorns in the morbid bosoms of such men, but “the trifles which become the amusement of the wise and great" in moments of repose are magnified into monsters that disturb their rest, and inflict upon them an etermal nightmare. It has been whispered abroad that we, in our humble endeavours to “Gossip” freely over the little extracts which we collect from the book of Nature are giving offence. Not that we act as “snappers up of unconsidered trifles,” but because we give to them an undignified name. On the threshold of the temple of Janus, with our first volume under our arm, we again announce our
1, Vol. II.
o some minds, we
Loxo FELLow. “Outre ller.”
name, however undignified it may be, and with it gain admission to the fireside of thousands, whilst the same talisman excludes us, we hope, only from the drawing-rooms of a few. Parents seldom give to their children names which satisfy all their friends, and we cannot hope to be more successful than they. Yet, after all, a name may degenerate, or become dignified, by its associations. We make no great pretensions, our desire being to gossip with our readers, as a man chats to his friend, of passing events in which we are interested, to ask and answer queries, and pass a pleasant half-hour in talking of scientific subjects in the language of the fireside, and not as sarans. We do not aspire to be an oracle in Natural History, nor to enter deeply into the mysteries of Science, neither do we think it beneath our dignity to confess ourselves Gossipers, or criminal to unbend ourselves and seek amusement, as well as instruction, in trifles.
There is moreover a charge of frivolity to which we will scarcely advert, since our readers are the best judges of their own feelings, and if any of them should consider a long face and a grim visage the best style of physiognomy for a monthly visitor, who just drops in for a chat, we would not hurt his feelings by hinting at doubts of his sanity. Manner, or matter, we imagine our verdict must be, that as to changing the title, we couldn’t if we would, and as to the substance, we wouldn’t if we could. Not that we are above consulting our friends or taking their advice, but because we believe that in this decision we only represent the feelings of those whom it is our privilege and interest to serve—the supporters, readers, and contributors to our journal. If we were, ever so politely, solicited to commit personal suicide, we think that we should feel bound, as politely, to decline the honour of selfsacrifice at the shrine of friendship. So, when invited to perform a similar act figuratively, our impulse is strongly in favour of self-preservation. Therefore we trim the quill, poke the fire, dust the glasses, snuff the candle, and settle down for another year of SciENCE-GossIP.