Imatges de pÓgina
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steady light which can soothe the heart and cheer the spirit from the cradle to the grave, and beams like the one glittering star o'er the tempest-tost mariner, which guides him to home and safety, through the wild roar of winds and the weary waste of fathomless waters. The subject on which I write is not foreign to the great object of your labours ; and, that you may not deny it the meed of your approbation, is the fervent hope of, my Lords and Gentlemen,

Your most obedient,

Humble Servant,

K. C. M.

PREFACE.

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It is, I think, but a bad compliment which authors generally pay the Public, when they apologize for laying their works before it, and plead the encouragement of some“ partial and approving friend,” as their only excuse for occupying the time of their readers with the perusal of volumes, which, with much mock humility, they profess to consider unworthy their attention. I do not commence with any of these apologies, because I have too real a deference for public taste, to offer any work to its inspection, the subject of which I do not think worthy its consideration. I am not aware that the ideas I have developed in the following pages have appeared before, or been discussed by any, of the many talented authors, the bright scintillations of whose genius have shed such a dazzling lustre on the present Augustan æra of literature. As one who has deviated from the beaten track therefore, and entered the first on a wide and unexplored region, I claim the indulgent attention of my readers, and, should they discover many errors in my mode of advocating my opinions, let the no

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velty of the subject plead my excuse, without throwing any discredit on those opinions themselves, which, suggested by chance rather than intent study, have nevertheless been strongly confirmed by experience and reflection.

That my attention should have been directed to a question so serious and momentous, will scarcely excite a feeling of surprise in the readers of the present day, who are accustomed to find, even in their lightest reading, the gravest and most abstruse subjects adequately discussed.

The perusal of Novels is no longer time wasted in idle and uninstructive, if not pernicious delineations of characters and incidents which find no parallel in real life, and unfit the mind for graver study or more abstract contemplation. Many Authors of both sexes, highly gifted with information and genius, have introduced a new style into these species of writings; and while raising the Novel to a new and more elevated standard, have also prepared mere Novel readers to enter into, and appreciate disquisitions and abstruse speculations which, a century since, would never have advanced beyond the page of the Philosopher or shelf of the Student and Divine. If so much is allowed to the Novel, some extension of privilege may also be demanded for the Pamphlet-and these few pages claim no higher title-but it is hoped their subject may not prove uninteresting

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to a reading and reflecting Public, who may justly make it their boast, that at no period or in no age did their approbation carry so far the general diffusion of knowledge, and consequent improvement in liberality of sentiment and toleration towards opinions and arguments which though new, may not prove wholly unfounded or unworthy of examination

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