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first letter in the 35th, the 37th, the letter in the 46th, the 50th, the first letter in the 56th, the 59th, 620, 66th, 73, 74th, 75th, 79th, 82d, 86th, the first letter in the 89th, the letter in the 94th, the 95th, the 96th, except the letter signed EVBLINA, the 97th, and 98th, the letter in the 102d, and the letter in the 103d. 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 acknowledgment for their favours. To many of them they have to apologise for several abridgements, 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, nor to create much dependence on it. Without 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 man. ners. 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 measures its daily importance with the vehicles
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 first letter in the 35th, the 37th, 46th, the 50th, the first letter in tl 620, 66th, 730, 74th, 75th, 79th first letter in the 89th, the letter 95th, the 96th, except the letter si the 97th, and 98th, the letter in letter in the 103d. Of some of the were they at liberty to disclose would do credit to the work; o entirely ignorant, and can only acknowledgment for their favo them they have to apologise for se additions, and alterations, which position of the essays themselve nature of the work in which seemed to render necessary.
The situation of the autho such as neither to prompt m success, nor to create much out this advantage, they h send abroad into the world tion of which was liable They foresaw many diffic e the MIRROR, even frs, must necessarily he state of the tim
ud to laugh upon easy
to make them laugh ke in writing is like a its wit depends upon
of public intelligence :
But exclusive 1 2
The place of its pubicata vs. : spects, disadvantageous. There is a which writings, as well as men. in order to command our atter We do not easily allow a the amuse the Public in our 1 have been accustomed to Hence the fastidiousnes TE :
paper have been able it is not for them to the Public, the Pubthey may be allowed an amusement of an believe, of an useful tracing the manners have performed a sort ime tendency to culti
in that society which ion, they have drawn friendship, which they long enjoy, with a recolhe literary adventure by
and improved. ending their publication 1, by way of plea for favour, They will give their volumes, ers, to the world, not meanly Jur, nor coldly indifferent to it. erhaps, more pleasing to an in1, that the sentences which it dicd obscurity, may give pleasure and those by whom the writer has never whom even his name is unknown. ething peculiarly interesting in the intercourse of sentiment, this invisible Iship, with the virtuous and the good; nary warmth of an author may be altend it to distant places, and to future n this hope the authors of the MIRROR
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 can. didates 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
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 appreciate 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, that of those who can think. To add to the