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CHAPTER I. A. I.
NO BOOK CAN BE COMPLETE WITHOUT A PREFACE.
I see no cause but men may pick their teeth
WHO was the Inventor of Prefaces? I shall be obliged to the immortal Mr. Urban, (immortal, because like the king in law he never dies) if he will propound this question for me in his Magazine, that great lumber-room wherein small ware of all kinds has been laid up higgledypiggledy by half-penny-worths or farthingworths at a time for fourscore years, till like broken glass, rags, or rubbish it has acquired value by mere accumulation. To send a book like this into the world without a Preface would be as impossible as it is to appear at
Court without a bag at the head and a sword at the tail, for as the perfection of dress must be shown at Court, so in this history should the perfection of histories be exhibited. The book must be omni genere absolutum ; it must prove and exemplify the perfectibility of books: yea with all imaginable respect for the "Delicate Investigation," which I leave in undisputed possession of an appellation so exquisitely appropriate, I conceive that the title of THE BOOK, as a popular designation κατ' εξοχην, should be transferred from the edifying report of that Inquiry, to the present unique, unrivalled and unrivable production; a production the like whereof hath not been, is not, and will not be. Here however let me warn my Greek and Arabian translators how they render the word, that if they offend the Mufti or the Patriarch, the offence as well as the danger may be theirs: I wash my hands of both. I write in plain English, innocently and in the simplicity of my heart what may be made of it in heathen languages concerns not me.
I here present thee with a hive of bees, laden some with wax, and some with honey. Fear not to approach! are no Wasps, there are no Hornets here. If some wanton Bee should chance to buzz about thine ears, stand thy ground and hold thy hands: there's none will sting thee if thou strike not first. If any do, she hath honey in her bag will cure thee too. QUARLES.
PREFACES, said Charles Blount, Gent., who committed suicide because the law would not allow him to marry his brother's widow,—(a law be it remarked in passing, which is not sanctioned by reason, and which instead of being in conformity with scripture, is in direct opposition to it, being in fact the mere device of a corrupt and greedy church) —"Prefaces," said this flippant, ill-opinioned and unhappy man,
ever were, and still are but of two sorts, let other modes and fashions vary as they please.
Let the profane long peruke succeed the godly cropt hair; the cravat, the ruff; presbytery, popery; and popery presbytery again, yet still the author keeps to his old and wonted method of prefacing; when at the begining of his book he enters, either with a halter about his neck, submitting himself to his reader's mercy whether he shall be hanged, or no; or else in a huffing manner he appears with the halter in his hand, and threatens to hang his reader, if he gives him not his good word. This with the excitement of some friends to his undertaking, and some few apologies for want of time, books, and the like, are the constant and usual shams of all scribblers as well ancient as modern."-This was not true then, nor is it now; but when he proceeds to say, "for my part I enter the lists upon another score,”so say I with him; and my Preface shall say the rest.