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afford a desirable entertainment to those of more enlarged under standing, and cultivated taste.
It is not however, on account of the dissemination of knowledge alone that the editor calls the attention of the public to this work; but because it is equally adapted to the extirpation of error. Facts, especially when they respect distant objects, are often imperfectly known, or much misrepresented by those who communicate them to the public. When this happens, in the ordinary modes of publication, such misrepresentations cannot be casily discovered. It may be long before such publications fall in the way of those who know the facts with precision : and when this at last does happen, it requires so great an exertion, in these circumstances, to put matters to rights, that few persons find themselves disposed to undertake the task. Even when this difficulty is overcome, the task is but imperfectly accomplished. Thousands may have been misled by the supposed fact, who may never have an opportunity of meeting with its refutation. These, in their turn, may reason upon the fact, and publish it in other works. Error may thus be propagated among millions who never shall have an opportunity of geting these false notions corrected. This could not happen, should the intended miscellany meet with as general a circulation as it is naturally susceptible of. In that case, the publication would foon fall into the hands of some one who would know with precision the facts that occurred in it, even with respect to very diftant objects : And as errors of this fort might be rectified, in many cases, by a few lines, which would cost little trouble to write, and be attended with no expence, nór be accompanied with obloquy nor any other disagreeable effect to the writer, there seems to be no room to doubt, that the native love of truth, which is congenial to the human mind, would prompt such persons cheerfully to point out errors wherever they occurred; and as these corrections would come in fucceflion to be read by the very, persons who had been at first milled, the evil would be quickly rectified, and this great inlet to error be stopped up nearly at its source. Doubtful facts also, that occurred in other writings, might thus be af. certained; and error be at last so thoroughly ferretted out from all its intricate retreats, as to make TRUTH to reign triumphant over all the regions of science. Such, then, being the great objects aimed at in this apparently humble work, it will not be wondered at that the editor not only does not wish to conceal his name from the public, but is even proud to have given birth to such an undertaking. If his former writings possess any merit at all, they owe it entirely to an unremitting desire in him to promote the general good of mankind; and he trusts, that his efforts to render as perfect as he can, this much greater and more useful performance, may entitle him to hope for a continuance, and an extension even, of that favour, which he has, on all former occasions, fo liberally experienced from an ever, indulgent public. Should he fail in this attempt, he shall regret it as a misfortune, and ascribe it to the weakness of his powers, that have not been sufficient to rouse the public attention to a subject of such universal moment; and to the accidental waywardness of the times. If, however,
he meet with the encouragement that the boldness of the attempt, and probable utility of the work, seem to merit, no exertion on his part shall be wanting. Of his own application at least
, while health shall be continued, he can speak with a reafonable degree of certainty ; on the liberal asliftance of his literary friends in Britain, he can with a well grounded confidence rely; and he has every reason to expect that his communications from abroad will be valuable alike for their authenticity, variety and importance. It is not, however, on the communications from abroad that he places his chief reliance, nor on the voluntary assistance of private literary friends; he hopes for communications ou interesting subjects, as they occasionally occur, from literary characters in Britain who are entire strangers to him, and will be at all times ready to make fuch returns as the writers of such essays shall be willing to accept, in proportion to the merit of their performances. He shall only add, that conciseness and comprehensive brevity will ever be to him great recommendations.
The editor cannot pretend to announce this work to his readers as a newspaper. It may serve, however, as a concise register of important occurrences, that admits of being conveniently bound up, to be consulted occasionally, and thus to preserve the recollection of events long after those papers that announced them more fully at the time, shall have been suffered to perish. Though this performance cannot therefore boast the merit of announcing news, it may serve very completely the purpose of an useful remembrancer to those who wish to preserve a distinct recollection of the succession of past events.
In one particular department, he proposes to adopt a method that his friends make him hope will give general fatisfaction. In all the newspapers, mention is made of the several bills that are introduced into parliament; but unless it be from the debates that occur on the pafling of these bills, the public are no farther informed of their contents than the name by which they are announced suggests. Many persons, therefore, have expressed an earnest wish, that a distinct and authentic account could be given of the characteristic peculiarities of each of these bills, in some performance that can easily be obtained by the public at large. This the editor intends to attempt in the present work. Instead of giving a diary of the transactions of parliament, as in a newfpaper, he proposes to give a separate history of the rise and progress of each particular bill, announcing always at the beginning the particular objects of the bill, and tracing the amendments it received in each step of its progress through the house; and thus explaining the state in which it is left when passed into a law, or finally rejected ; adding himself such occasional remarks as the fubject naturally suggests. By this mode of procedure, the account of parliamentary proceedings must indeed be delayed till towards the end of each festion of parliament, as it is propoied never to lose sight of one bill till it be finally palled into a law, or rejected. But as the daily proceedings in parliament can be found in every newspaper, this delay can be attended with little inconvenience to the reader; and it hoped he will receive a satisfaction, in seeing the faune subject discused soon after, and placed in a light somewhat new; and which, from the manner af treating it, if the execution be tolerable, should be more clear and satisfactory than the ordinary accounts of parliamentary proceedings. How far he shall succeed in this department, the public will decide : but it is extremely obvious, that few things are so much wanted in this country, as a more general publication than at present takes place of the laws that affect individuals; and he hopes that this attempt, in a work so much within the reach of all ranks of people, will be received with indulgent candour,
The uncommon lowness of price at which this work is offered to the public, has been adopted, that its circulation might be the more extenfive, with a view to render this, and other articles of useful information, acceslible to the great body of the people : and the editor warmly begs leave to solicit the attention and patronage of the public at large in this attempt ; for it is by an extensive circulation alone, that the general attention can be so much engaged, as to effect all the purposes this publication is naturally fitted to accomplish. His utmost zeal, however, can prompt him to go no farther, than to be anxious that those who wish well to the undertaking may have an opportunity of once feeing the work, and of judging for themselves of its merit; and if upon trial they shall find it unworthy of their patronage, it is but juit and proper they should then give up. Had private emolument been the chief object with the editor, he is well aware that he would have better succeeded by affixing a muchhigher price to it. The more general extenfion of knowledge, however, is certainly a much greater object to aim at.
Still farther to stimulate the attention of the public, and to call forth the latent sparks of genius that may lie hid from public view; it is the wish of the editor to give a fet of premiunis, annually, rather honorary than lucrative, for the best dissertations on literary subjects. The extent of these premiums, and the variety of subjects selected for them, must ultiniately depend upon the encouragement the public shall give to this undertaking. As a beginning however, the fol, lowing incitements are humbly offered to such ingenious youths as arc willing to engage in the honourable contest for literary glory. It is needless to add, that it is the honour of the victory, rather than the value of the premium, that must constitute the principal reward.
To conclude, the editor will thankfully avail himself of every hint, tending to render his work more perfect in any respect ; nor does he despair of being able to furnish a miscellany, that thall be entitled ya fome fare of the public attention.
PREMIUMS PROPOSED FOR LITERARY ESSAYS, &c.
First. For the best written, and the mof characterific Sketch of the life of any of the great men or philosophers that follow ; viz. Gallileo; Columbus ; Don Henry of Portugal ; Tycho Brabe; Friar Bacon ; Alfred; Charlemagne ; Cofmo, or Lorenzo de Medicis ; Cardinal Ximenes ; Gusavus Vefa; The Czar Peter the Great ; Bacon Lord Verulam ; The Bishop of Chiapa ; The Abbè de Saint Pierre ; or any other great fatesman or philosopher who appeared in Europe between the revival of letters, and the beginning of the prefent century ; A GOLD MEDAL,Or FIVE GUINEAS.
In these sketches, Ariking characterifical traits, expreffive of the peculiar genius and cast of mind of the person, contrafted with the prevailing manners of the people, and modes of thinking at the time, will be chicfly valued. Brevity and force will be bigb recommendations ; but pompous panegyric will be viewed in a very different light. Let facts speak for themselves : for it is faas, wben fairly represented, that confitute the chief, and indeed the only excellence of the kind of painting bere aimed at. The firm boldness and accuracy of the touches, not the allurements of gaudy colouring, are here wanted.
SECOND. For the beft and most Ariking characteristical fleetch of any eminent flatesman, pbilosopher, or artis now living, or who has died witbin the prefent century; A GOLD MEDAL,-or five GUINEAS.
In these sketches, originality and strength of thought, and an exact knoza ledge of the buman mind, will be principally fougbt for: Brevity and clegance in the file and manner will be greatly esteemed; but without candour and impartiality, they cannot be admitted. The censure and the praise of party zuriters tend alike to deface all truly characteristical traits, and to disguise inftead of elucidating the subject. This must be bere avoided.
Third. For the best original miscellancous essay, fory, apologue, or tale, illuftrative of life and manners ; or effufion or disquisition on any subject that tends to intereff the beart, and amuse the imagination, in profe; A GOLD MEDAL
An original turn of thought; a correctness and purity of language; eafe and elegance of arrangement, and
sprightliness of ftile, when devoid of affectation ; will be accounted principal excellencies. Subjects that are cheerful and sportive will be preferred to:those that are grave and folemn. But let not affectation be mistaken for eafe, nor pertnes, for wit and humour : Neither should folemnity be confounded with pathos ; for the truly pathetic can never fail to please.
He begs leave to repeat, that in these sketches or efsays, comprehensive brevity is principally required. It is not by quantity that the editor of this miscellany means to :ftimate the value of the performances offered to bim: but much the reverse. Those essays wb comprebend much in small ids wilt tberefore be always deemed the most valuable. He can never be at a loss for materials to fill bis pages; and therefore is anxious that the effays offered to bim foould be compressed into us small a space as is consistent with elegance and perspicuity.
or FIVE GUINEAS.
Fourth. For the best original effay, in verse; ode, tale, epifle, fonnet, or scort poetic effusion of any kind ; A SIĻVER MEDAL,-or TWO GUINEAS.
Fifth. For the most spirited translation, or elegant imitation of any select poem in foreign languages, whether ancient or medern; A SILVER MEDAL,
Or TWO GUINEAS.
The editor, when be offers thefe two lafi premiums, does it not without fear and besitation. All the fine arts are pleasing and attractive ; but none of them, be believes, is so generally seductive to youthful minds, as the allurements of poetry. While imagination is warm, and before a faculty of observing things accurately, has formed a juft taste for imitative beauties, a facility in making verfes is often mistaken for a poetic talent ; and the feductions of self love keep up the illusion. To these causes, be is sensible, we owe those numerous uninterefting verses that are perpetually issuing from the press, which ferve to disguß ibe man of taste, and make bim turn from the fight of verse, tbough be would be enraptured with genuine poetry, foould it fall in bis way. Should these small allurements call forth a number of trifles of this fort, the editor would feel be bad placed bimself in very disagreeable circumstances; for if it be unpleasing even to read such things, it would become in this case extremely difresing, from the unavoidable recollection, that pain must be given by rejecting them. The pleasure, bowever, be would feel at calling fortb, were it but a single line of genuine poetry, that modest merit might bave otherwise suppressed, induced him to propose these small premiums. Tbe effe&t they produce will determine whether in future they fall be continued or withdrawn. It
may not be improper also to bint, that it will be requisite that translations and imitations from the poets in foreign or dead languages, be made chiefly from Juch passages as bave not already appeared in 'Englifo. A repetition of what has already been done cannot be admitted, unlefs it poljefs very superior excellence. There is a spirit, and fire, and beroic ardour, conspicuous in “ The Songs of a Pruffian Grenadier," by Gleim ; and a yet higher degree of artless energy in “ The Songs of an Amazon ," by Weise, that would be bigbly captivating to most readers, were they known ; and among the Lyric pieces of Metaftafro, there is a brevity, a fimplicity, an elegance and pathos, that bas beer feldom imitated in the English language. It has perhaps been thought the genius of the language did not admit of it. Neither was it thought that a bonnet cquld be written in English, that could posess those seductive charms that had been admired for two bundred years in the writings of Petrarcb, till a lady, well known in the annals of polite literature, very lately jewed, that for this species of poetry, no language was more happy than our own. Under the plastic power of genius, language becomes an inflrument capable of every thing : Where genius is wanting, it is a tool of very circumscribed powers.
Ef ays intended for this competition, written in the Engliso language, will be received any time before the of May* 1791, addressed, pos paid, to the Editor, at the printing house of Mundell and Son, Edinburgh. To each essay must be prefixed a few words as a motto; the same motto, in the same band writ
* The editor confidering that many per fons have not had an opportunity of seeing the Prefpeétus who may with to become comples, tao aulassed the time to receiving papers beyond What was at firk propofei.