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dialogues has placed its value beyond dispute. It may, however, be observed that this species of composition may be executed in two different ways, either as direct conversation, where none but the speakers appear, which is the method used by Plato; or as the recital of a conversation, where the author himself appears, and gives an account of what passed in discourse, which is the plan generally adopted by Cicero. The reader is aware, that Mrs. Marcet, in her “ Conversations on Philosophy,” has adopted the former, while Miss Edgeworth, in her
Harry and Lucy,” has preferred the latter method. In composing the present work I have followed the plan of the last-mentioned authoress. Its advantages over the more direct conversational style appear to consist in allowing occasional remarks, which come more aptly from the author than from any of the characters engaged in the dialogue.
If scientific dialogues are less popular in our times than they were in ancient days, it must
be attributed to the frigid and insipid manner in which they have too frequently been executed; if we except the mere external forms of conversation, and that one character is made to speak, and the other to answer, they are altogether the same as if the author himself spoke throughout the whole, instead of amusing with a varied style of conversation, and with a display of consistent and well-supported characters. The introduction of a person of humour, to enliven the discourse, is sanctioned by the highest authority. Cæsar is thus introduced by Cicero, and Cynthio by Addison. In the introduction of Mr. Twaddleton, Major Snapwell, and Miss Ryland, I am well aware of the criticisms to which I have exposed myself; I have exercised my fancy with a freedom and latitude, for which, probably, there is not any precedent in a scientific work. I have even ventured so far to de. viate from the beaten track as to skirmish upon the frontiers of the Novelist, and to bring off captive some of the artillery of romance; but if, by so doing, I have enhanced the interest of my work, and furthered the accomplishment of its object, let me entreat that mere novelty may not be urged to my disparagement. If it be argued that several of my comic representations are calculated, like seasoning, to stimulate the palate of the novel reader, rather than to nourish the minds of the younger class, for whom the work was written, I may, upon such a charge, at least, plead common usage; for does not the director of a juvenile fête courteously introduce a few piquant dishes, for the entertainment of those elder personages who may attend in the character of a chaperone ? You, surely, cannot deny me the full benefit of such a precedent'; and so, Gentle Reader, I bid thee- Farewell.