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IN a singular old book, once very celebrated, a

demon is represented carrying a scholar to the banks of the Tagus to show him the monument of a dramatic writer built in a church near Amaraz, to which place he had retired after a long and merry life at Madrid. This writer had furnished the theatre with comedies so seriously offensive that he repented before he died; and to express his penitence, he ordered a sort of funeral pile to be engraved on his tomb, representing books containing some of the pieces he had written, and Modesty setting fire to them with a lighted torch. This incident, whether fabulous or not, is admonitory. Every writer of books should ponder what he is doing, lest he should make himself work for subsequent and unavailing repentance. Books live when we are dead. This is not a mere truism : it is, indeed, a


self-evident, but by no means an unimportant truth. We have kept it in mind throughout the following pages. We are somewhat lively, but have written nothing, so far as we can judge, that will cause regret and repentance.

Moderate humour, when intended to check evils that cannot be counteracted in any other way, ought not to give offence :

“He that doth take offence before 'tis meant,

Is in himself offending."

We have but too frequently ascertained the truth of this in our intercourse with fault finders. The epithets, “eccentric,” “queer” and “odd” have sometimes been applied to our publications, not very good-naturedly, but in a way and manner quite as eccentric, queer and odd as anything we have written can be supposed to be. Democritus of old was a celebrated philosopher. Some that did not like him said he was insane. Hippocrates, an eminent physician, was ordered to inquire into the nature of his disorder. The physician had a conference with the philosopher, and the result was his declared conviction that Democritus was a man of sound mind and that his enemies were insane. It is certainly something like madness to censure a man, and in a quiet, genteel and invisible way, injure him for being a little queer. Some of these severe censurers are thought by their friends to possess vast powers

of mind” (!) But such“ vast powers" are not visible to us yet. We see no loftiness of

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