« PreviousContinue »
Monday, March 26, 1770.
Aliquid jamdudum invadere magnum
HENI determined to publish the HIBERNIAN CHRONICLE, my view was to entertain my readers with something above the common run of news papers. I confidered them as fo many guests, for whom it was both my intereft and inclination, to provide every dish which the place and season could afford, so as that every one may be pleafed. A perpetual round of political anecdotes, and a conftant re-publication of incidents, either false or nugatory, seemed to me no proper food for the palates of many friends to whofe approbation I afpired; and I imagined that an intermixture of little effays, on any useful or amufing fubject, would be an agreeable relief from that te-dious fameness, which clogs and difcredits the periodical publications in this part of the kingdom.
I was the more encouraged to form such a design, as I have had many opportunities of knowing, that, tho' we are a commercial people, a proper relifh for matters of taste and literature is far from being de⚫ ficient among us. All books of eminence meet with a ready demand. Profeffors of useful fciences are encouraged. The company of men of learning and genius is fought after, and a polite attention paid to them, very different from that ignorant roughnefs, and illiberal referve, by which other trading places are diftinguifhed. Fadeed it would not be eafy to find, in any town of equal fize, fo many perfons engaged in commerce, who have had a liberal education; and among those who are without that advantage, a good will towards letters generally prevails, and a zealous defire of repairing the deficiency by proportionable application. This dif pofition among my fellow-citizens is gaining daily ground, and with pleafure I can fay, that the perufal of our best English authors forms a confiderable fhare of our relaxations from the fatigue of business.
From confidering these circumstances, I was induced to hope that my plan would not only meet with the public approbation, but also be confiderably and promptly affifted. In the first article I have fucceeded beyond my moft fanguine expectation; and I am fincerely grateful for the very kind and fingular degree of encouragement with which I have been honoured. Indeed I have reason to be more particularly thankful, as I have had but a few occafional opportunities of deferving the favour of the public, by prefenting them with any original effays. Some
Some, indeed, I have received worthy of a place in the best collection; and that they have not been more frequent, is owing, I am convinced, more to the timidity of young fayifts, than to any other cause. The novelty of such matters in this city is a great difcouragement. A kind of falfe modesty prevails,. and a terrible apprehenfion of being even fufpected of committing any thing to the prefs. To obviate all thefe difficulties and take upon me the whole odium of the defign, I have determined to commence author myself, and open the field of Speculation.
This refolution may appear, at first fight, to be a bold one, and occafion many jests at my expence ; as my capital for such a branch of bufinefs may be doubted. But I must beg leave to inform my readers, that I am by no means absolutely unqualified for fuch an undertaking There is nothing more common than to fee the apothecary, from fitting in the midst of the Materia Medica, become fuddenly a very ufeful practitioner in phyfic. I have been, all my life furrounded with literature; and, befides imbibing the effluvia of my books, being always curious, and fometimes idle, I have frequently had recourfe to their infides, for an addition to my stock of knowledge. A zealous affiduity will do a great deal; and I have run through most of the eminent writers in our language, not without gleaning confiderably as I paffed. My ideas, it is true, are very mifcellaneous, and not as regularly claffed as in more scholaftic heads; yet perhaps they may not be the lefs amufing. I have skimmed the surface of divinity, poetry, ethics, hiftory, criticism, travels, fables, trade, law, logic and romance; all which, mixing odly in my brain, B. 2
may produce fomething like originality. I feel indeed, a kind of literary Plethora, from which I muft endeavour to relieve myself. If I have any deficiency, it is in the learned languages, of which, I am forry to fay, I know no more, than the general tendency of a few Latin fentences, which I have happened to collect from tranflations. These, however, shall be made the most of, and prefixed as mottos to my papers, as long as my ftock will laft. On the whole, I hope to prove at least a good recruiting officer; and, tho' I ftand fingle at first, to have about me in a fhort time a little army of effayifts.
I am, at all events, entitled to that indulgence which a new and fpirited attempt deferves, and to that protection which is due to a fincere defire of pleafing. On this principle I expect, that, when I grow dull, the inan of tafte will pardon me; the ladies, when I am prolix; and the fcholar, when I offend against the niceties of Louth. All fuch errors must be placed to the account of inability. But, when I defignedly tranfgrefs against truth, delicacy, or good nature, I fhall neither deferve nor defire to be forgiven.
Let it not however be understood that I mean to rely entirely on my own ftrength. My intention is to fet an example for abler heads to improve on, and to open a regular channel through which the effufions of better geniuses may flow. I wish to be the means of giving life and being to thofe many valuable articles of knowledge, which may otherwise go to the grave with the poffeffors. Several there are among us, who are fully equal to the task of improving and amufing the public, if they but knew their own powers. Every one who thinks, as well as reads, must have
formed many peculiar obfervations on the subjects of science, and several just and entertaining remarks in the way of criticifm; and it is hardly poffible for a perfon of good fenfe, to be daily converfant in the world, without feeing fome thing new in the theory of the human heart, and forming many useful inferences from the variety of life and manners. These may indeed be too much scattered and unconnected to be shaped into a regular treatife; but in the form of a fhort effay, would make their appearance to the public with every advantage. Little compofitions of this kind claim an exemption from rigid rules, which gives free play to the fancy, and takes off that anxiety after method, which has ruined many productions, and prevented many more. To bury a talent, or keep fecreted any thing, how foever minute, that can tend to make others wifer, happier, or better, is inconsistent with a liberal and feeling mind; and where the chief difficulty of compofition is removed by the nature of the plan, and the author is fecured from all poffibility of public knowledge, I cannot but hope that neither diffidence, indolence, nor diffipation, will prevent the due exertion of abilities,
This method of publication I therefore open to the ingenious of all claffes and denominations, and call earnestly on them to fupport my infant fcheme. The invidious name of author I take entirely to myself. A receptacle for any favours fent to me fhall be provided, as private as can be defired; fo that each perfon may avow as much of his performances as he chufes, and no more. If he finds by the public voice, that he had overvalued his production, let it be laid at my door: if applaufe fhould give a fanétion