To The Authors Of The Monthly And Critical Reviews
GENTLEMEN, The liberty which I take in addressing to you the trifling production
of a few idle hours, will doubtless move your wonder, and probably your
contempt. I will not, however, with the futility of apologies, intrude upon your time,
but briefly acknowledge the motives of my temerity; lest, by a premature exercise
of that patience which I hope will befriend me, I should lessen its benevolence,
and be accessary to my own condemnation.
Without name, without recommendation, and unknown alike to success and
disgrace, to whom can I so properly apply for patronage, as to those who publicly
profess themselves Inspectors of all literary performances?
The extensive plan of your critical observations,-which, not confined to works of
utility or ingenuity, is equally open to those of frivolous amusement,-and, yet
worse than frivolous, dullness,-encourages me to seek for your protection, since,-
perhaps for my sins!-it intitles me to your annotations. To resent, therefore, this
offering, however insignificant, would ill become the universality of your
undertaking; though not to despise it may, alas! be out of your power.
The language of adulation, and the incense of flattery, though the natural
inheritance, and constant resource, from time immemorial, of the Dedicator, to
me offer nothing but the wistful regret that I dare not invoke their aid. Sinister
views would be imputed to all I could say; since, thus situated, to extol your
judgment, would seem the effect of art, and to celebrate your impartiality, be
attributing to suspecting it.
As magistrates of the press, and Censors for the public,-to which you are bound
by the sacred ties of integrity to exert the most spirited impartiality, and to which
your suffrages should carry the marks of pure, dauntless, irrefragable truth-to
appeal to your MERCY, were to solicit your dishonour; and therefore,-though 'tis
sweeter than frankincense, more grateful to the senses than all the odorous
perfumes of Arabia, and though
It droppeth like the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath,
I court it not! to your justice alone I am intitled, and by that I must abide. Your
engagements are not to the supplicating authors; but to the candid public, which
will not fail to crave
The penalty and forfeit of your bond.
No hackneyed writer, inured to abuse, and callous to criticism, here braves your
severity;-neither does a half-starved garretteer,
Oblig'd by hunger-and request of friends,
implore your lenity: your examination will be alike unbiassed by partiality and
prejudice;-no refractory murmuring will follow your censure, no private interest
will be gratified by your praise.
Let not the anxious solicitude with which I recommend myself to your notice,
expose me to your derision. Remember, Gentlemen, you were all young writers
once, and the most experienced veteran of your corps may, by recollecting his
first publication, renovate his first terrors, and learn to allow for mine. For though
Courage is one of the noblest virtues of this nether sphere; and though scarcely