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afford a desirable entertainment to those of more enlarged understanding, and cultivated taste.
It is not however, on account of the dissemination of Inoivltdgt 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 easily discovered. It may be long before such, publications fall in the way of those who know the facts with precision: aad 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 talk. 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 soon fall into the hands of some one who would know with precision the facts that occurred in it, even with respect to very distant objects: And as errors of this fort might be rectified, in many cafes, by a few lines, which would cost little trouble to write, and be attended with no expence, nor 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 j and as these corrections would come in succession to be read by the very persons who had been at first misled, 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 ascertained; 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 (hall regret it as a misfortune, aud ascribe it to the weakness of his powers, that have not been sufficient to rouse the public attention to a sobject of such universal moment; and to the accidental waywardness of the times. lf> 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 (hall be continued, he can speak with a reasonable degree of certainty; Oh the liberal assistance 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 such 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 satisfaction. 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 pasting 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 he given of the characteristic peculiarities of each of these bills, in some performance rhat can easily be obtained by the public at large. This the editor intends to attempt in the present work. Instead ol giving a diary of the transactions of parliament, as in a newspaper, he propoies 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 subject naturally suggests. By this mode of procedure, the account of parliamentary proceedings must indeed be delayed till towards the end of each session of parliament, as it is proposed never to lose sight of one bill till it be finally passed 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 is hoped he will receive a satisfaction, iu feeing the fame subject discussed soon after, and placed in a light somewhat new; and which, from the manner of 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 thii 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 rer ceived 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 extensive, with a view to render this, and other articles of useful information, accessible to the great body of the people: aud the editor warmly begs leave to solicit tht 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 seeing the work, and of judging for themselves of its merit; and if upon trial they shall find it unworthy os their patronage, it is but just and proper they should then give it up. Had private emolument been the chief object with the editor, he is well aware that fee would have better succeeded by affixing a muchhigherprice to it. The more general extension os 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 set of premiums, 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 ultimately depend upon the encouragement the public shall give to this undertaking. J^s a beginning however, the sol* lowing incitements arc humbly offered to such ingenious youths as are 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 (he principal reward.
To conclude, the editor will thankfully avaii himself of every hint, tending to render his work more perfect in any respect; nor does ha despair of being able to furnish a miscellany, that shall be entitled vi some share os the public attention.
PREMIUMS PROPOSED FOR LITERARY ESSAYS, *e.
FiRST. For the best written, and the most cbaraclerijlic Jietcb os the Use •/any ofthe great men or philosophers tbatfollviv; viz. Gallileo; Columbus; Bon Henry ofPortugal; Tycho Brake; Friar Bacon; Alfred; Charlemagne; Cosmo, or Lorenzo de HÆedicis; Cardinal Ximenes; Gusavus . r^afa; ¥tt Czar Peter the Great; Bacon Lord Verulam; The Bishop of Chios a; Tie Abbe de Saint Pierre; or any other great salesman or philosopher who appeared in Europe between the revival of letters, and the beginning of the present century i A Gold Medal,—or Five GUINEAS.
In these sketches, flriking charatJerifiieal traits, ewprtfltvc of the peculiar genius and cas of mind of the person, contrased with the prevailing manners os the people, and modes of thinking at the time, "will be chiefly valued. Brevity and force nv'dl be high recommendations; but pompous panegyric will be viewed in a very different light. Let faffs speak for themselves: For it is fails, ivhen fairly represented, that constitute the chief, and indeed the only excellence of the kind os painting here aimed at. The srm boldness and accuracy of the touches, not the allurements of gaudy colouring, are here wanted.
Second. For the bes and mos striking ebara 61 erisical sketch ef any eminent sates/nan, philosopher, or artis note living, or who has died "within the Present century; A GOLD MEDAL, Os FIVE GUINEAS.
In these sketches, originality and srength''of thought, and an exacJ knowledge of the human mind, will be principally fought for: Brevity and elegance in tht stile and manner will be greatly eseemed; but without candour and impartiality, they cannot be admitted. The censure and the praise of party writers tend alike to deface all truly charatHerisical traits, and to disguise instead os elucidating the subject. This must be here avoided.
Third. For the bes original miscellaneous essay, sory, apologue, or tale, illustrative os list and manners ; or effusion or disquisition on anysubjeel that tends to interest the heart, and amuse the imagination, in prise; A Gold Medal,—
or FIVE GUINEAS.
An original turn os thought; a correctness and purity of language; ease and elegance of arrangement, and sprigbtUties offile, when devoid of ajfcclation; ivill be accounted principal excellencies. Sub/eels that are cheerful and sportive will Be preferred to;those that are grave and solemn. But let not association be mistaken for ease, nor pertrestfor wit and humour .* Neither should solemnity he confounded with pathos; for the truly pathetic can never fail to please.
lie begs leave to repeat, that in these sketches or essays, comprehensive brevity is principally required. It is not by quantity that tie editor of this miscellany means to estimate the value of the performances offered tof iin;; but much the reverse. Those essays which comprehend much in small bounds will therefore be always deemed the mofl valuable. He can never be at a loss for materials to Jill his pages; aud therefore is anxious that the essays offered to him should be impressed into as small a space as is consistent with elegance and perspicuity.
Fourth. For the lest original essay, in verse; ode, tale, epistle;sonnet', or Jcort poetic effusion os any kind; A SILVER MEDAL, Os TWO GUINEAS.
Fifth. For the most spirited translation, or elegant imitation os any select poem in foreign languages, •whether ancient or modern; A Silver MEDAL, «—Os TWO GUINEAS.
The editor, when he offers these two last premiums, does it not without far *nd hesitation. Ail the fine arts are pleasing and attractive; but none os them, hi believe, 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 jtst taste for imitative beauties, a facility in mating verses is often mistaken, for a poetic talent; and the seductions ofself love keep up the illuffton. To these causes, he is sensible, we crwe those numerous uninterefiing verfs that are perpetually issuing from the press, which serve to disgust the man of taste, and make him turn from the stght of verse, though he would be enraptured with genuine poetry, should it fall in his way. Should these small allurements call forth a number of tristes of this fort, the editor would feel be had placed himself in very disagreeable circumstances ; for if it be unpleastng even to readsuch things, it would become in this cafe extremely distressing, ftorn the unavoidable recollection, that pain must be given by rejecting them. The pleasure, however, he would feel at calling forth, were it but astngle line of genuine poetry, that modest merit might have otherwise suppressed, induced him to propose these small premiums. The effect they produce will determine whether in suture they shall be continued or withdrawn.
It may not be improper also to hint, that it will be requisite that translations and imitations from the poets in foreign or dead languages, be made chiefly from such passages as have Hot already appeared in 'Englifls. A repetition of what has already been done cannot be admitted, unless it possess very superior excellence. There is a spirit, and stre, and heroic ardour, conspicuous in " The Songs of a Prussian Grenadier" by Gleim; and a yet higher degree of artless energy in "The Songs of an Amazon by Wciffe, that would be highly captivating to most readers, were they known; and among the Lyric pieces of Metastasto, there is a brevity, a simplicity, an elegance and pathos, that has been seldom 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 fionnet could be written in Englijh, that could possess those seductive charms that had been admired for two hundred years in tie writings of Petrarch, till a lady, well known in the annals of polite literature, very lately fhewedy tltut for this species of poetry, no language was more Bappy than our own. Under the plastic power of genius, language becomes an instrument capable of every thing: Where genius is wantjftg> it is a tool of very circumscribed powers.
*** ^JIays intend**'sor this competition, written in the English language, ■%vill be received any time before the 1st of May * 17 91, addressed, post paid, to the Editor, at the printing bouse of Mundell and Son, Edinburgh. To each essay must be prefixed a few words as a motto; the fame motto, in the fame handwrit
# The editor consuls rfnR that nianv poi I'oi.s Jiave Bin Iia.1 an opportun itv of sfceiiiR tlic I'l-eIkectuS who may ti> Inborn*; CBBifvtlx-s, hi* »olaiic<i iht time iw rn.wivi»^ papuia ui-jo*^ »tul was at siril, proposed.