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Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci
IN TWO VOLUMES.
I APPREHEND that Prefaces, wherever they may be placed in a book, are for the most part, with respect to the works themselves, Postscripts; that is to say, written after the completion of the undertaking, whatever it may be as to this, my own Preface, I freely acknowledge it to be a postscript, and am indeed, anxious that it should be received as such, though I venture, according to custom, to place it where it is. For I had much rather have it supposed, that what I now put into the hands of my readers, was written without any settled plan or design, and has imperceptibly swelled to the size it has attained,
than that I did deliberately sit down to compose any such medley of strange things, with views and intentions admitting of preliminary explanation ; indeed, I hope my readers will have, all of them, sagacity enough to discover this, from the faulty arrangement of my work; for I have no hesitation to declare, that if I had had it all ready when the first sheets were sent to the press, I should probably have made the middle the beginning, the beginning the end, and the end the middle; but it is too late now to remedy such blunders.
I have in my title-page adopted two lines from Horace, which must not be mistaken for any compliment to myself, though I hope they will be judged to express pretty fairly the nature of my performance, which is decidedly a mixture of the grave and the gay—of advice, and entertainment. But so very much, both of the “ delectando” and
“ monendo” parts, will be found to be borrowed from other authors, that the compliment, if any be suspected, must belong to them rather than to me.
I may be allowed, I trust, to fancy my readers divided into the two classes mentioned by the Spectator, the Mercurial and Saturnine'; and upon this supposition, to express a hope, that when candidly considered, the most mercurial will not think my book too grave, nor the most saturnine, too gay—that the serious parts of it will not be found to be insufferably stupid, nor the ludicrous parts altogether impertinent.
It has been usual to compare the labours of such a miscellaneous writer as myself, to the toils and wanderings of the bee, flying about,