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of divinity, politics, metaphysics, &c., shall endeavour to call the attention of
the reader to some remarks on a few of
the various consequences
supposed to arise from the perusal of novels, romances, and poems of a particular class: in other words, to the ordinary contents of a circulating library.
Vanity already prompts me to be lieve that this my little volume has itself some chance of a place in one of those repositories, and therefore a chance of being read. Already, methinks, I see it take its post in a sky-blue or rose-coloured covering, upon the counter or in
the window; and that this first and important difficulty being surmounted, every thing else, connected with its reputation, will follow of course.
It will receive condemnation or praise it matters not which-from the over, thrown
reviewers; be turned over,
down, taken up again, cut open, read, and returned to the shop with the usual and flattering marks of having seen service; viz. a leaf or two torn out, scratches of pins, scorings of thumbnails, and divers marginal illustrations, executed by means of a crow-quill, or a black-lead pencil.
But if, contrary to these suggestions of a vain heart, it should be the lot of my book to take rank amongst the charte inepta; to lie in cold obstruction on the highest shelf, and constitute a sort of fee-simple to the first spider that gets possession of it, I must console myself with the reflection of having tried to merit a happier fate..
Before I examine the effects of which the light reading alluded to may be thought productive, I shall arrange the different orders of works of fancy under their proper heads.
Thus, to borrow a phrase from the
system of the naturalist, the word novel is a generical term; of which romances, histories, memoirs, letters, tales, lives, and adventures, are the spécies. And these again have their appropriate characters; and are either merry, mournful, or of a mixed kind.
Of these, all, except the romance, profess to be resemblances of truth: that is to say, representations of manners and persons actually living, or who have lived on this our planet. And their object, when they happen to have one, is, or should be, to teach us, by virtuous and vicious examples, what
we ought to follow, and what to
With regard to such productions as are termed romances, it can hardly be expected that I should do more than their authors, and discover a design of instructing the reader where no such design is to be found: of these truly enormous performances, therefore, I shall say little or nothing; but proceed to consider the nature of the novel, properly so called: wishing it, however, to be understood that there are some volumes passing under that name which are in most points unexceptionable;