« VorigeDoorgaan »
every thing to admire and rejoice in the works of Providence ! and much to shun and reprove amongst the vagaries and follies of Man. In the fond (perhaps vain) hope of furnishing some Amusement, I may be excused, altho, the same Indulgence may not be conceded for the presumptious attempt to inform contemplative readers, In this enlightened Era of a well informed intelligent community. The public may be quite indisposed to read the following pages a galaxy of literary Authors shine of various magnitudes, in the boundless range and cycle of science, in which all are gifted (more or less) to entertain and instruct their contemporaries. It is not my ambition to propitiate the favor and indulgence of that small portion of the Public readers, who cannot or will not be pleased, at whatsoever we take aim, strike high or low, rather shall I complain like the man and his ass, who pleased none
Whether on dapple, squat, astride,
Or, trotting at his donkeys side.
Whate'er one writes, on any lay,
When we hope for honied praise we may receive a critic's cynic sting, and in lieu of floral honors, enwrapt in wreaths, and crowns, of laurel : be contented with a salute of cabbage stalks, turnips, and pommes de terre en missile. Wit may be termed a perception at a glance of the connexion of remote ideas, it requires judgement to combine discretion, how so to apply them, as to
wound slightly, those on whom we may venture to exercise that talent, moreover it may be unwise and ungenerous, to evaporate sallies of a caustic stringent nature, unless called for as a rejoinder to a jeu d'esprit from another. puns may be employed if not personally pungent and apposite. Imperfection is so congenial to human nature, that it may appear presumptuous to venture with reproof or censure: and least one may incur the just retort to our unwelcome advice.“ Physician cure thyself—" meddle not with me.“ nole me tangere
may be retorted, Sir, you are as likely to contaminate, as to correct me.”
Many who indulge in censure are not less amenable to error. Critics are not infallible judges, especially when they decide through envy, and prejudice, and mistake the dexter, for the sinister, and infer erroneous partial conclusions; yet all who use their speech, and exercise the Pen, must stand in awe of the Public suffrage, and decision, as well as await the disciplined power and talent, of the reviewers.
The head, the hand, and the heart, are well employed, in literary correspondence : the invention of one, the graphic office of the other, and the affections of the latter: are called into action to perform the pleasing task. Epistolizing to dear friends! whether on facetiæ, fami-liar, or on grave matter : furnishes, a mutual pleasure, to whom it gives, and that receives.
Proverbs embrace the wide sphere of human existence, they shew the various shades and colours of life, often elicit genius with their sarcasm and pointed satire, humour and elegance of imagery: they are seldom em
ployed in conversation ; a good proverb is distinguished from a maxim or apothegin by the brevity which condenses a metaphor: Proverbs become memorials of the manners of various eras, as quoted in Spain, France, Italy, &c. for historical and moral purposes ; they claim our attention 20 thousand may be computed among the nations of Europe.
PREFACE OR PROEM.
MANY SCRAPS OF MANUSRIPTS.
İt is almost as herculean a task, to remove prejudices, as Mountains ; I shall however venture to quote, and attempt to comment on a few of the Saws and proverbs, in common use; which may be interpreted, in a varied sense, and to reject such apparent fallacies, as tend to confirm erroneous Inferences, or rivet false conclusions on our minds. Whenever we liberate our ideas from delusions, I presume that a step is gained towards improvement and instruction, phantasma may be replaced by sterling truths, and sober sense.
Indulgent friends have persuaded me to gather up the fragments of my scattered thoughts, to compress them in print, bound in calf skin. The asses skin may be deemed a more appropriate integument for its dull contents. Brevity, it hath been said is the soul of wit, even many subjects of genuine merit may admit of compression. In these my feeble discourses it has been my aim to avoid being too prolix or diffuse. The gentle reader need not be reminded that by skipping or skimming he may still further abridge the dry leaves, the jejune pages, the passages that lead to
nothing, or leave them unperused. It is not my intention to follow in the wake of many gifted authors and poets, to invoke the muses with my votive string, aspiring to Parnassus' Mount. Should such presumption induce me to apostrophise them with “ Descend ye Nine," I might provoke their exalted puissance. Fears would come over me of an unharmonious salute from a strong invisible hand (perhaps Latona's son Apollo) wielding and dropping on my shoulders a cat-o'-nine in lieu of inspiration from Helicon. I shall therefore merely implore, or call forth, the powers that stir within
The distemper called by Juvenal “Scribendi cacoethes,” or itch of writing, appears to be infused into a great portion of the present race, in which predicament I also stand; the pen mania is almost epidemic. Some authors are cauterised with satires ; many formerly expiated the offence in the pillory when very malignant in their effusions. Many others write what they themselves alone do read, or witness the offspring of their muse still-born, or degraded to line bandboxes, or restricted in their circulation to the culinary spit enwrapping a sirloin in rotary motion, perhaps enclosing the condiments of the confectioner. Many works require excision either from the pruning knife or trenchant axe. Vive la plume.
The spirit of the age shines forth in a host of intellectual writers of either sex who do credit to themselves and their country. There are a few exceptions, admitted by all who discriminate, in which may be included the pernicious memoirs of George Barnwell, Jonathan Wild, Jack Shepherd, Eugene Aran, Tom