An Eighteenth Century Miscellany: The Classics of the Eighteenth Century Which Typify and Reveal an Era: Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, the Earl of Chesterfield, Laurence Sterne, Horace Walpole, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Edward Gibbon, William Blake

By Louis Kronenberger | Go to book overview

PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

THE favourable manner in which this little piece has been received by the public calls upon the author to explain the grounds on which he composed it. But before he opens those motives, it is fit that he should ask pardon of his readers for having offered his work to them under the borrowed personage of a translator. As diffidence of his own abili- ties, and the novelty of the attempt, were the sole inducements to as- sume that disguise, he flatters himself he shall appear excusable. He resigned his performance to the impartial judgment of the public; de- termined to let it perish in obscurity, if disapproved; nor meaning to avow such a trifle, unless better judges should pronounce that he might own it without a blush.

It was an attempt to blend the two kinds of romance: the ancient and the modern. In the former, all was imagination and improbability; in the latter, nature is always intended to be, and sometimes has been, copied with success. Invention has not been wanting; but the great re- sources of fancy have been dammed up, by a strict adherence to com- mon life. But if in the latter species nature has cramped imagination, she did but take her revenge, having been totally excluded from old ro- mances. The actions, sentiments, conversations, of the heroes and hero- ines of ancient days, were as unnatural as the machines employed to put them in motion.

The author of the following pages thought it possible to reconcile the two kinds. Desirous of leaving the powers of fancy at liberty to ex- patiate through the boundless realms of invention, and thence of creat- ing more interesting situations, he wished to conduct the mortal agents in his drama according to the rules of probability; in short, to make them think, speak, and act, as it might be supposed mere men and women would do in extraordinary positions. He had observed, that in all in- spired writings, the personages under the dispensation of miracles, and witnesses to the most stupendous phenomena, never lose sight of their human character; whereas, in the productions of romantic story, an improbable event never fails to be attended by an absurd dialogue. The actors seem to lose their senses, the moment the laws of nature have lost their tone. As the public have applauded the attempt, the author must not say he was entirely unequal to the task he had undertaken; yet if the new route he has struck out shall have paved a road for men of brighter talents, he shall own with pleasure and modesty, that he was sensible the plan was capable of receiving greater embellishments than his imagination or conduct of the passions could bestow on it.

With regard to the deportment of the domestics, on which I have

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An Eighteenth Century Miscellany: The Classics of the Eighteenth Century Which Typify and Reveal an Era: Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, the Earl of Chesterfield, Laurence Sterne, Horace Walpole, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Edward Gibbon, William Blake
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 1
  • The Drapier's Letters to the People of Ireland - Against Receiving WOOD'S HALFPENCE 19
  • The Dunciad 103
  • The Beggar's Opera 145
  • Introduction 147
  • Letters to His Son 195
  • A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy 229
  • The Castle of Otranto a Gothic Story 307
  • PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION 309
  • PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION 312
  • The School for Scandal 383
  • PROLOGUE 388
  • EPILOGUE 449
  • Memoires of My Life and Writings 451
  • Songs of Innocence and Experience 551
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