« السابقةمتابعة »
author, like that of a Roman conqueror, is celebrated by sarcasms and libels, as well as by applause and pomp. Nothing can be more just than Fontenelle's epigram on this subject.
Dans la lice ou tu vas courir
Songe un peu combien tu hazardes;
What must be the surprize of a writer, emerging from his peaceful cabinet to some degree of reputation, to find that he has created himself. bitter enemies, among persons totally unknown to him, simply by obtaining the applause of others!
Even the voice of fame seldom reaches the ear of the solitary, original writer distinctly; it is difficult for him to distinguish the silence of approbation from that of neglect. But the bustling, clamorous cabal sometimes pass off their interested noise for the acclamations of the public. What remains, then, for the author of his own book? The pleasure
of composition; the consciousness of some talent; and the liberty of reading and praising only the best writers.
Many curious anecdotes might be given, of literary manufacturers; for a book generally goes through as many hands as a pin, before publication. One of the most successful compositions of this kind was the Turkish Spy, which still retains a considerable degree of popularity. Dunton says, it was a compilation, conducted by Nat. Crouch, who was one of that voluminous, and opulent body of authors, the London booksellers. Of the same kind was the Athenian Oracle, projected and executed by Dunton himself, and some of his authors; but much indebted for its success, to his own fluency in writing bad prose, and execrable verse. These mingled compositions generally betray themselves, by the discordant nature of their materials. The small sprig of gold, which attracted the first notice of the observer, quickly
tapers off, and disappears in the chinks and crannies of barren rocks.
But no where is the original author more puzzled, than in writing his own preface. This is usually supplied, like the prologue to a play, by some obliging friend. Nor is it discreditable to acknowledge this difficulty, since even Cervantes owns, that he had more trouble in composing his preface, than his immortal work itself.* Yet a preface is still required, (like the obeisance of the last century, on entering a room,) however familiar
may be the subject, or however
gay the work.
Behold, then, worthy reader, a preface to this small book, Had it been composed by some other hand than mine, it might have possessed superior claims to attention; but I could then have
* Porque te sé decir, que aunque me costó algun trabajo componerla, ninguno tuve por mayor que hacer esta prefacion que vas leyendo. Muchas veces tomé la pluma para escribilla, y muchas la dexé por no sabes lo que escribiria,
Prologo del Quixote.
derived no satisfaction from public approbation. For I have seen reason to believe, that fame, acquired by appropriating the labours of others, neither improves the head nor the heart of the usurper.
The preface was formerly a supplication to the reader, for mercy and favour, somewhat in the style of Bayes's prologue: of late, it has rather consisted of an explanation of the author's claims to respect, and a declaration of his literary alliances, under colour of acknowledgements to his friends. My own opinion has always been, that it ought to bear some relation to the book which it is designed to introduce; and as nothing can be more miscellaneous than my volumes, I trust it will not be thought irrelevant, if the preface should partake of their nature.