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CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
Jl. A Similitude-On.Death-Modern Prophets : Steele
-Genealogy of the Staffs: Twisden-Continental In-
- nental Intelligence
· tinental Intelligence.
BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL, AND
Of the various kinds of composition, which have been cultivated in the different ages of learning, none can be found more natural and attractive than Essay-writing: The larger works of literature, the voluminous folio, and the prolix dissertation, are often to be considered as the efforts of learned industry, or the displays of ostentatious wisdom. To supply the materials of tedious disquisition, the memory is drained, and the invention tormented: the author, not satisfied with exhibiting truth in its most useful and agreeable varieties, considers that his task is not achieved, till every collateral topic, however minute, is investigated, and the entire subject pursued to exhaustion. But the brief and lively sketches of the Essay resemble the effusions of an observing and well cultivated mind in conversation. The thoughts take the easy and natural arrangement, in which they occur to the understanding: and the writer, having said what is most pertinent and instructive, is not compelled to seize dull and cumbersome materials, in order to extend the bulk of his productions.
If the author finds Essay-writing the most natural mode of composition, it cannot be doubted that the generality of readers find it the most agreeable. Few persons are inspired with such an admiration of any writer, or possess such a thirst of literature, and such a leisure to gratify it, as to judge (like Pliny*) that the value of a treatise is increased by its magnitude. The greater part of readers are of the opinion which the Greek adage expresses, a great book is a great plague.”+. The divisions and subdivisions, the principal and the subordinate parts, the apt
• Et hercule, ut aliæ bonæ res, ita bonus liber, melior est quisque quo major. Vides ut statuas, signa, picturas, hominum denique, multorumque animalium formas, arborum etiam, si modo sint decoræ, nihil magis quam amplitudo commendet: idem orationibus evenit, quinetiam voluminibus ipsis autoritateņu quandam et pulchritudinem adjicit magnitudo. C. Plin. Epist. Corn. Tacito. Liber: 1.
* Μέγα Βιβλιον, μέγα κακόν.
ir That a