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The Scots Magazine.
Reflections for a New Year..com7
LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC
-Figures formed by Hoar-frost on
On the Importance of Political Study.55 Appointments, Promotions, &c.ammmm85
of the University of Glasgow.comme57 | Agricultural Report mmmmmmmmmmmm ib.
ERRATUM...-Page 28, for beneficially read beneficently.
FORASMUCH as it hath been the practice heretofore for the Printer to address an Epistle to the Reader, before his entering on the perusal of the more important matter of the author ; and seeing that no good reason hath been assigned for neglecting this useful practice, unless albeit the printers of these days be unable to arrange so many of their thoughts in words proper to be set forth to the public; or, whether authors are now so learned of themselves, as not to need our recommendatory laudations ; or whether there may not be any thing good enough in the books of modern days to require this trouble from their printers ;-whether all or any of these considerations have led to the neglect of the practice, we take it not upon us to say. But permission having been given, in the present instance, by the Editor of this monthly compendium of useful and entertaining literature, we gladly avail ourselves of the opportunity of saying a few words to our indulgent readers.
Courteous Reader,—You may have happened to know, or if not, be pleased to be informed, that the greater part of the knowledge disseminated in the world for these last three hundred years, has been chiefly owing to the agency of the Press, and the industry of Printers; that if it had not been for this great invention, the manuscripts of the learned might have for ever slumbered in their closets, useless to all but themselves, and the moths which fed upon them; and you would have been deprived of the delectable information and amusement which even books of the lowest class afford in such unli, mited variety. As authors were, moreover, but few in those manuscript days, compared to what they are now, it is but a fair inference, that of the immense number who have since appeared, the greater part have owed their existence and their fame to the exertions of their printers. This being the case, we hope that authors in future will allow, and printers never fail to claim, their prescriptive right of writing at least one page in every work that comes forth through their means to the world.
Indulgent Reader - In perusing the work of our hands for the last twelve months, though we trust it is fairly printed, on good paper, with a clear type, and as well as circumstances permit, yet undoubtedly thou must have observed, if thou readest very critically, some fev errors in our workmanship, which, like all other works of human creatures, (as we have no pretensions to infallibility,) bears the marks of imperfection. All that we can do in these circumstances is to acknowledge our faults, throw ourselves on thy indulgence, and endeavour to amend them in future; and it would perhaps be good for the world, if all others who commit faults were induced to follow our example. We may add, though by no means with any intention of excusing our own conduct, that it were well if the errors of those in far higher stations than ours could be as easily corrected, or that an ex post facto erratum could neutralize measures which, even from the highest authority, have sometimes every other tendency than to add to the happiness of the human race.
But Printers have the additional excuse for the errors they commit of the frequent deficiency of the manuscripts put into their hands, which, in many cases, are scarcely legible; and it is for authors who send such manuscripts to Press, to consider what a loss this must be
to the industrious men who set up the types from them, and how many additional chances of error they thus run the risk of making, which can only be corrected by a list of errata. Not unfrequently it happens, likewise, that the errors of authors themselves, displayed in wonderful variety indeed, and mixed up with the venial typographical errors of the Printer, are pointed out, with ill-judged appearances of accuracy, to readers, who, the greater part of them, but for this list, would perhaps have discovered nothing wrong, and, in some few instances, it may be, from their not perusing the book in which the errors occur. We have often been blamed for making nonsense by pointing passages wrong, which all the forms of stops, from a comma to an admiration three times repeated, would not have made sense; and the unsuccessful sale of a work has often been laid to our door, because, as mechanics, we did not produce a book which the public were inclined to read. We have not seldom been blamed (we say blamed for extracting wit and humour from the dullest of all discussions, by the accidental omission or transposition of a single letter ;-have, with more justice, been accused of transporting a modern writer to the dark ages, by the insertion of a wrong figure in a date ;-and we must acknowledge that we have sometimes erred in the opposite extreme, by making an author be quoted centuries in advance, who, in all probability, would see his work completely extinct before the termination of his own life.
These, and a thousand other errors, both of omission and commission, we acknowledge to have been guilty of in the practice of our profession, and have nearly as often made public compensation in the form of Errata. But as, in a periodical work like the present, it is not necessary to notice the omission of every letter that may have dropped out of a word, or the substitution of one for another, in the haste with which our monthly budget of information is put to press, we shall only remark a few which have been pointed out to us by critical readers, who are perhaps more intent in finding out errors in our printing than faults in their own conduct, though the latter may, in many cases, be the more prominent of the two.
One correspondent is very angry with us for having designated his dear friend as a fiend. We were very sorry for the accidental dropping out of the letter which caused the mistake, and we received his note in full time enough to mark the error in the next number ; but, upon consideration, we thought it more advisable to let the word stand as it was, than publish an erratum which might have had a tendency to lessen the moral duty of friendship, by holding it up as a cognate with the word which denotes an evil spirit. We appeal to the gentleman himself if he would have wished to see the correction recorded in our pages--for fiend read friend.
Another correspondent blames us for having inadvertently printed Polite Commissioners for Police Commissioners, and we plead guilty to the charge ; though we by no means intended to throw out a reflection on the gentlemen who filled this meritorious office previous to the appointment of those very polite commissioners who have reduced the tax from 1s. 6d. to 1s. per pound : and we would willingly have noticed the error, but from the idea that the erratum--for Polite Commissioners read Police Commissioners-might have been construed as marking our disapprobation of the mode in which they conducted their investigations.