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many) he hopes they will be found errors of the understanding, not of the heart: They are the first-fruits of his leisure and retirement; and as the mind of a man in that situation will naturally bring the past scenes of active life under its examination and review, it will surely be considered as a pardonable zeal for being yet serviceable to mankind, if he gives his experience and observations to the world, when he has no further expectations from it on the score of fame or fortune. These are the real motives for the publication of these Papers, and this the Author's true state of mind : To serve the cause of morality and religion is his first ambition; to point out some useful lessons for amending the education and manners of young people of either sex, and to mark the evil habits and unsocial humours of men, with a view to their reformation, are the general objects of his undertaking. He has formed his mind to be contented with the consciousness of these honest endeavours, and with a very moderate share of success : He - has ample reason notwithstanding to be more than satisfied, with the reception these Papers have already had in their probationary excursion; and it is not from any difgust, taken up in a vain conceit of his own merits, that he has more than once observed
the frauds and follies of popularity, or that he now repeats his opinion, that it is the worst guide a public man can follow, who wishes not to go out of the track of honely; for at the same time that he has seen men force their
in the world by effrontery, and heard others applauded for their talents, whose only recommendation has been their ingenuity in wickedness, he can recollect very few indeed, who have succeeded, either in fame or fortune, under the disadvantages of modesty and mcrit.
To such readers, as shall have taken up these Efsays with a candid disposition to be pleased, he will not scruple to express a hope that they have not been altogether disappointed; for though he has been unaslisted in composing them, he has endeavoured to open a variety of resources, sensible that he had many different palates to provide for. The subject of politics, however, will never be one of these resources; a subject which he has neither the will nor the capacity to meddle with. There is yet another topic, which he has been no less studious to avoid, which is personality, and though he professes to give occasional delineations of living manners, and not to make men in his closet (as some Essayists have done) he does not mean to point at individuals ; for as this is a practice which he has ever rigidly abstained from when he mixed in the world, he should hold himself without the excuse, even of temptation, if he was now to take it up, when he has withdrawn himself from the world.
In the Efrays (which he has presumed to call Literary, because he cannot strike upon any apposite title of an humbler fort) he has studied to render himself intelligible to readers of all descriptions, and the deep-read scholar will not fastidiously pronounce them shallow, only because he can fathom them with ease; for that would be to wrong both himself and their author, who, if there is any vanity in a pedantic margin of references, certainly resisted that vanity, and as certainly had it at his choice to have loaded his page with as great a parade of authorities, as any of his brother writers upon classical subjects have ostentatiously displayed. But if any learned critic, now or hereafter, shall find occasion to charge these Essays on the score of false authority or actual error, their author will most thankfully meet the investigation ; and the fair Reviewer shall find that he has either candour to adopt correction, or materials enough in reserve to maintain every warrantable assertion. The Moralist and the Divine, it is hoped, will
here find nothing to except against; it is not likely such an offence should be committed by one, who has rested all his hope in that Revelation, on which his faith is founded; whom nothing could ever divert from his aim of turning even the gayest subjects to moral purposes, and who reprobates the jest, which provokes a laugh at the expence of a blush.
The Essays of a critical fort are no less addressed to the moral objects of composition, than to those which they have more professedly in view : They are not undertaken for the invi 'ious purpose of developing errors, and stripping the laurels of departed poets, but simply for the uses of the living. The specimens already given, and those which are intended to follow in the further prosecution of the work, are proposed as disquisitions of instruction rather than of subtlety; and if they shall be found more particularly to apply to dramatic compofitions, it is because their author looks up to the stage, as the great arbiter of more important delights, than those only which concern the taste and talents of the nation; it is because he sees with serious regret the buffoonery and low abuse of humour to which it is sinking, and apprehends for the consequences such an influx of folly may lead to. It will be rea
dily granted there are but two modes of combating this abasement of the drama with any probability of success : One of these modes is, by an exposition of some one or other of the productions in question, which are supposed to contribute to its degradation; the other is, by inviting the attention of the public to an examination of better models, in which the standard works of our early dramatists abound. If the latter mode therefore should be adopted in these Essays, and the former altogether omitted, none of their readers will regret the preference that has been given upon such an alternative.
If the ladies of wit and talents do not take offence at some of these Eflays, it will be a test of the truth of their pretensions, when they discern that the raillery, pointed only at affectation and false character, has no concern with them. There is nothing in which this nation has more right to pride itself, than the genius of its women; they have only to add a little more attention to their domestic virtues, and their fame will fly over the face of the globe. If I had ever known a good match broken off on the part of the man, because a young lady had too much modesty and discretion, or was too strictly educated in the duties of a good wife, I hope I understand myself too well to obtrude