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No. 54. Essay on Hearers ............CAMBRIDGE 55. Proposals for a new Extinguisher 56. Adventures of a Hearer 57. On the Contempt usually bestowed on

Parsons, Authors, and Cuckolds · MOORE 58. Calamities which attend Male Beauty..........

W. WHITEHEAD 59. Architecture improved by a mixture

of the Gothic and Chinese.... 60. On the Absurdity of giving Vails to

Servants ... 61. Increase of Robberies by the Increase

of the Metropolis-French Aca

demies 62. Distinctions of Vis, Visit, and Visita

tion ........ 63. On the Sustenance of the Mind-In

stances of Idleness
64. Instance of a Taste in Books without

a Relish of Learning-Lord Fini-
cal's Library

....... HON, HAMILTON BOYLE

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ADVERTISEMENT.

The Second Edition of the World was published in sıx VOLUMES ; to each of which was prefixed a Dedication. In all subsequent Editions it was republished in four; and three of the Dedications prefixed to the last Volume. They are here reprinted together, as hath been done with the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian.

HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL

PREFACE

TO

THE WORLD.

The work, on the history of which we now enter, differs from all its predecessors in its general style, and in the interest it creates, although the tendency may ultimately be the same. We have here no philosophy of morals, no indignant censure of the grosser vices, no critical disquisitions; and, in general, scarcely any thing serious. Irony is the predominant feature; a figure of rhetoric, and an expression of contempt, which requires delicacy in order to be successful, and pure intention in order to be safe. It does not appear, however, in itself to be more dangerous than any other species of wit; and, in this country, at least, if we except the political poets, there are few instances of very flagrant abuse. As employed in this paper,

b

VOL. XXII.

it is employed for purposes to execute which, in the opinion of the writers, other methods had been tried without success. The authors of The World affected to consider the follies of their day as beneath their serious notice, and therefore tried what good might be done by turning them into ridicule, under the mask of defence or apology; and thus ingeniously demonstrated that every defence of what is in itself absurd and wrong, must either partake of the ridiculous, or be intolerable and repugnant to common sense and reason. With such intentions, notwithstanding their apparent good humour, they may, perhaps, in the apprehension of many readers, appear more severe censors of the foibles of the age, than any who have gone before them.

The design, as professed in the first paper, was, to ridicule, with novelty and good humour, the fashions, foibles, vices, and absurdities of that part of the human species which calls itself The World; and this the principal writers were enabled to execute with facility, from the knowledge incident to their rank in life, the elevated sphere in which they moved, their intercourse with a part of society not easily accessible to authors in general, and the good sense which prevented them from being blinded by the glare, or enslaved by the authority of fashion.

But although the continued use of irony may not be dangerous, they appear to have experienced that it is often liable to misconstruction. One of the most ingenious contributors *, who

Richard Owen Cambridge, Esq., who died while the first edition of this work was in the press.

took a very lively interest in the success of the work, has delivered his opinion on this subject with shrewdness and candour. As an excuse for not having given a serious turn to the generality of these Essays, he observes, that papers of pleasantry, enforcing some lesser duty, or reprehending some fashionable folly, will be of more real use than the finest writing, or the most virtuous moral, which few or none will be at pains to read through; and he adds, most probably with a view to the Adventurer and Rambler, that the demand for moral Essays, “ of which many excellent ones have been produced, had of late fallen very short of their acknowledged merit.”

But, after contending more amply for the plan adopted in these papers, he candidly allows, that there is a danger lest the habit of levity should tend to the admission of any thing contrary to the design of such a work. In writings of humour, figures are sometimes used of so delicate a nature, that it shall often happen that some people will see things in a direct contrary sense to what the author and the majority of readers understand them. To such the most innocent irony may appear irreligion or wickedness. But in the misapprehension of this figure, it is not always the reader that is to blame. A great deal of irony may seem very clear to the writer, which may not be so properly managed as to be safely trusted to the various capacities and apprehensions of all sorts of readers. In such cases, the conductor of a paper will be liable to various kinds of censure, though, in rea

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