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BURTON.

CHAPTER I.

Good people all, of ev'ry sort,

Give ear unth my song,
And if you find it wond'rous short,
It cannot hold you long.

GOLDSMITH's Elegy.

The Introduction.

CUSTOM is

very like a pig-driver, and the world is his flock. There are many obstinate and hardy spirits amongst our fraternity, who would fain resist or deviate from the prescribed track; but still we go on, through mud or dust, through thick and thin, grunting and grumbling, squeaking and jostling our rough sides against each

other;

VOL, I.

B

other; and if any one gets a little off the path, he is soon lashed on again by custom, while his companions think him a pig of genius, and of an independent judgment.

It has become so much the custom now to write an introduction to every book, of every kind or description, before daring to submit it to the public, that it is scarcely a matter of choice; and whereas in ancient days we used to see preface written in large letters at the beginning of all works that pretended to more dignity than a mere pamphlet, as we used to behold day-school,boarding-school,or “ academy,indicating the places for the instruction of youth, so now“ introduction” takes precedence of every thing but the titlepage, and “ establishments for young ladies,” and “ seminaries for young gentlemen," have succeeded to the unpresuming names used by our more simple ancestors. Even the author of Waverley thinks it necessary to introduce his work to the public, sometimes telling them where he

found

found his materials, and sometimes throwing a double darkness over his shadowy personage.

Dedications have as much sunk in the stream of time as prefaces; and indeed there are few to whom dedications ought to be addressed, for there are few men so good that we can speak much in their praise without flattery, and few so wise as to be pleased with the plain tribute of truth; indeed, it is to the public alone that we can well dedicate our works. Were I to begin one, it should be thus

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TO THE WORLD.

I, who am nobody, to you who are every body, dedicate this volume of nothing, in hopes of gaining that something, which though empty itself, fills all space, and which, though destroyed in an instant, after having been acquired by years, is nevertheless the most durable of all things, fame, which, if my writings deserve it, you will give without solicitation, and

B 2

which

which if they do not, you will not yield to any importunity.

It is the custom to flatter our patrons, and I would flatter you, if I thought that it would do me any good; but I might as well attempt to cool the sun, by fanning him with a pocket handkerchief, as to gain your favour, or deprecate your wrath by compliment.

I will nevertheless fill up my dedication, by telling you, who know every thing, what few people know at all, your own character. You are the greatest of all corporate bodies, and your charter is written on the hearts of men-you are the most complicated of machines, but though particular wheels sometimes go wrong, the whole goes very exactly-you are the most upright of judges, and the most judicious of legislators—your decisions are pronounced by sages, and your laws acknowledged by all-you are a monument of inexplicability-you are infinitely divided, but firmly united-you are constantly

changing

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changing, but always the same-you are beyond comparison, for being composed of every thing, you are not like any thing, and above praise, for you are generous without feeling, at the same time that you are harsh without cruelty. Every congregation of men take to themselves your name, and attempt to usurp your power, and every individual being pretends to despise you, while he pays you the most devoted homage. You alike being incapable of gratitude for affection, and irritation from neglect, I see no reason why I should attempt to propitiate you, by formally dedicating what must always be virtually dedicated to you; but such. being the custom of your court, I have done so, and am very unwillingly obliged to subscribe myself Your obedient humble servant,

&c. Such would have been my dedication, had that sort of thing

been still in vogue, or had my work been worthy of a dedication B 3

to

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