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first letter in the 35th, the 37th, the letter in the 46th, the goth, the first letter in the 56th, the 59th, 620, 66th, 730, 74th, 75th, 79th, 820, 86th, the first letter in the 8gth, the letter in the 94th, the 95th, the 96th (except the letter signed EVELINA), the 97th, and 98th, the letter in the road, and the letter in the 1o3d. Of some of their Correspondents, were they at liberty to disclose them, the names would do credit to the work; of others they are entirely ignorant, and can only return this general acknowledgement for their favours. To many of them they have to apologize for several abridgments, additions, and alterations, which sometimes the composition of the essays themselves, and sometimes the nature of the work in which they were to appear, seemed to render necessary.
The situation of the authors of the Mirror was such as neither to prompt much ambition of literary success, not to create much dependence on it. With. out this advantage, they had scarcely ventured to send abroad into the world a performance, the reception of which was liable to so much uncertainty. They foresaw many difficulties, which a publication like the MIRROR, even in hands much abler than theirs, must necessarily encounter.
The state of the times, they were sensible, was very unpropitious to a work of this sort. In a conjuncture so critical as the present, at a period so big with national danger and public solicitude, it was not to be expected that much attention should be paid to speculation or to sentiment, to minute investigations of character, or pictures of private manners, A volume which we can lay aside and resume at pleasure, may suffer less materially from the interruption of national concerns ; but a single sheet, that meaBures its daily importance with the vehịcles of public
intelligence and political disquisition, can hardly fail to be neglected.
But, exclusive of this general disadvantage, there were particular circumstances which its authors knew must be unfavourable to the MIRROR. That secrecy which they thought it necessary to keep, prevented all the aids of patronage and friendship; it even damped those common exertions to which other works are indebted, if not for fame, at least for introduction to the world. We cannot expect to create an interest in those whom we had not ventured to trust; and the claims even of merit are often little regarded, if that merit be anonymous and unknown.
The place of its publication was, in several respects, disadvantageous. There is a certain distance at which writings, as well as men, should be placed, in order to command our attention and respect. We do not easily allow a title to instruct or to amuse the Public in our neighbour, with whom we have been accustomed to compare our own abilities. Hence the fastidiousness with which, in a place so narrow as Edinburgh, home productions are commonly received ; which, if they are grave, are pronounced dull; if pathetic, are called unnatural ; if ludicrous, are termed low. In the circle around him, the man of business sees few who should be willing, and the man of genius few who are able, to be authors; and a work that comes out unsupported by established names, is liable alike to the censure of the grave, and the sneer of the witty. Even Folly herself acquires some merit from being displeased, when name or fashion has not sanctified a work from her displeasure.
This desire of levelling the pride of authorship, is in none more prevalent than in those who themselves have written. Of these the unsuccessful have a prescriptive title to criticism ; and, though established literary reputation commonly sets men above the necessity of detracting from the merit of other candidates for fame, yet there are not wanting instances of monopolists of public favour, who wish not only to enjoy, but to guide it, and are willing to confine its influence within the pale of their own circle, or their own patronage. General censure is of all things the easiest; from such men it passes unexamined, and its sentence is decisive ; nay, even a studied silence will go far to smother a production, which, if they have not the meanness to envy, they want the candour to appretiate with justice.
In point of subject, as well as of reception, the place where it appeared was unfavourable to the MIRROR. Whoever will examine the works of a similar kind that have preceded it, will easily perceive for how many topics they were indebted to local characters and temporary follies, to places of public amusement, and circumstances of reigning fashion. But, with us, besides the danger of personal application, these are hardly various enough for the subject, or important enough for the dignity of writing. There is a sort of classic privilege in the very names of places in London, which does not extend to those of Edinburgh. The Cannongate is almost as long as the Strand, but it will not bear the comparison upon paper; and Blackfriars-wynd can never vie with Drury-lane, in point of sound, however they may rank in the article of chastity. In the department of humour, these circumstances must necessarily have great weight; and, for papers of humour, the bulk of readers will generally call, because the number is much greater of those who can laugh, than of those who can think. To add to the diffi. culty, people are too proud to laugh upon easy terms with one, of whose title to make them laugh they are not apprised. A joke in writing is like a joke in conversation ; much of its wit depends upon the rank of its author.
How far the authors of this paper have been able to overcome these difficulties, it is not for them to determine. Of its merits with the Public, the Public will judge; as to themselves, they may be allowed to say, that they have found it an amusement of an elegant, and they are inclined to believe, of an use. ful kind. They imagine, that, by tracing the manners and sentiments of others, they have performed a sort of exercise which may have some tendency to cultivate and refine their own ; and, in that society which was formed by this publication, they have drawn somewhat closer the ties of a friendship, which they flatter themselves they may long enjoy, with a recollection not unpleasing, of the literary adventure by which it was strengthened and improved.
The disadvantages attending their publication they have not enumerated, by way of plea for favour, or apology for faults. They will give their volumes as they gave their papers, to the world, not meanly dependent on its favour, nor coldly indifferent to it. There is no idea, perhaps, more pleasing to an ingenuous mind, than that the sentences which it dictates in silence and obscurity, may give pleasure and entertainment to those by whom the writer has never been seen, to whom even his name is unknown. There is something peculiarly interesting in the hope of this intercourse of sentiment, this invisible sort of friend. ship, with the virtuous and the good; and the vision. ary warmth of an author may be allowed to extend it, to distant places, and to future times. If, in this hope, the authors of the Mirror may indulge, they trụst,
that, whatever may be thought of the execution, the motive of their publication will do them no dishonour; that, if they have failed in wit, they have been faultless in sentiment; and that, if they shall not be allowed the praise of genius, they have, at least, not forfeited the commendation of virtue.
END OF VOL. XXXVII.
Printed by A. Strahan,