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· I shall not shrink from the comparison, if I may but be permitted to make one observation before my readers venture to taste my honey. Let me assure them then, that though it has undoubtedly been collected from a great variety of melliferous sources, it has not been gathered indiscriminately from “ every opening flower.” I have been careful to avoid all those literary rhododendrons, kalmias, andromedas, &c. which, according to certain discoveries in natural history, (see Edinburgh Review, No. LXXIII.) might be likely to yield more poison than sweets. America has generally had the credit of producing these mischievous plants in greatest abundance, but I must confess, that in my literary flights, I have found no want of them in the conservatories of Europe : whether the productions of Greece, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, or England. I would wish it to be understood
therefore, that in making my collections I have been very circumspect and cautious; desiring above all things to prepare only such honey as might prove perfectly wholesome, and free from every deleterious mixture whatsoever.
If I am to be set forth by comparisons, I should rather resemble myself to a man, who having mounted his favourite hobbykorse to ride about his own grounds in peace and quietness, had been unexpectedly run away with, and carried so far beyond his original intentions, and his own home, as to be neither able nor very willing to give much account of himself to bystanders. That my book will appear an odd one I doubt not, but the subject in general must be admitted to be grand if not şublime; and if I should sometimes seem to be descending below its proper dignity, let it be recollected that Homer did not
disdain to write upon frogs and mice; Virgil on a gnat ; Lucian on a fly; Apuleius on an ass; Favorinus on a quartan ague ; Synesius on baldness ; Erasmus on Folly ; Pope on a lock of hair ; Burns on a haggis, twa dogs, a calf, a mouse, and (as well as the clever but scurrilous Peter Pindar) on an animal still more obnoxious.
But I have cases to cite still more in point, where playfulness of writing is connected with the utmost gravity of character, and where even the wise may be said to have actually played the fool; Lord Bacon's Apothegms, little better than a jest book, may surely be cited in proof; and yet his Lordship, so far from being ashamed of such amusing fooleries, defends himself by a reference to authors of more ancient celebrity. “ Julius Cæsar,” says he, “ did write a collection of Apothegms, as appears in an Epistle of Cicero ; so did
Macrobius, a Consular man. I need say no more for a writing of that nature.” But he enters still further into the subject; as if bent upon upholding the credit of such miscellaneous works as the present. “ Certainly such collections are of excellent use; they are mucrones Verborum, pointed speeches ; the words of the wise are as goads, saith Solomon. Cicero prettily calls them Salinas, Salt-pits, that you may extract Salt out of, and sprinkle it where you will. They serve to be interlaced in continual speech. They serve if you take out the kernel of them, and make them your own.” And he condescends even to give a precise account of his proceedings. “ I have,” says he, “ for my recreation, among more serious studies, collected some few of them, not omitting any, because they are vulgar, (for many vulgar ones are excellent good,) and add
ing many new that otherwise would have died.” I would not for the world be thought to compare any work of my own with the works of Lord Bacon, but I trust my collections may at least appear to be as inoffensive as his Lordship's.
Bishop Earle's celebrated work, entitled
Microcosmography, or a Piece of the World discovered, in Essays and Characters,” reprinted not long ago by a very amiable and distinguised member of a certain University, has in it, undoubtedly, some sly pieces of satire, quite as playful as any thing to be found in the following work; nor did his Right Reverence scruple to play even with the same toys as myself, as any body may see by turning to the following characters, “ An Upstart Knight;" “ An Attorney ;' “ A meer Great Man;" and “ A Herald !"
But I have a more regular authority