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But I have heard it objected, that the characters of Romance are usually of too high a sphere, to be capable of that effect upon society in general, as examples for imitation, which they might prove, were they drawn in the more humble stationis of life ; and to this I reply, that, as it is from the example of the great, that the bulk of mankind is accustomed to regulate their actions, there is at least no mischief to be apprehended from endeavouring to make the great perfect, if the lesson, conveyed through the medium of a fictitious tale, can be supposed to carry with it any weight of the kind.
Romance, from its earliest periods, has, in the persons of its heroines, taught the female world, that it is virtue which can alone give lustre to their rank and beauty; and, in those of its male characters, it has instructed the stronger sex, that they are to regard themselves as the natural protectors of the weaker, to treat the objects of their passion with the most
profound delicacy and respect, and to expect the band of her whom they love, as the reward of their virtues: and in this conduct be shown to produce bappiness to those who move in a high station, it will naturally produce the same desirable coni'sequence, if pursued by those in an inferior lauk of life:
Another objection which has been raised to Romance, is, that it frequently assumes the right of placing deceascd characters in situations through which they never passed, and of giving to historical facts false (lates, and erroneous terminations : As this charge is, in some instances, applicable to the subject of the following volumes, I feel it incumbent on me to prepare an answer for those who may bring it against me, and this it is --"A Romance,” says Dr Johnson,"means a fiction, a tale of wild adventures of love and war;” which explanation must, I think, be sufficient to prevent any one from reading them under the idea of 5
gaining gaining from them correct historical information ; and prepare them to encounter those anachronisms and mistatements which the author has been guilty of, for the purpose of augmenting or enriching his tale. Those who have perused the history of their own country, with that laudable attention which the subject demands, will not, I am inclined to think, be displeased at meeting some of its features in the guise of Romance; and those who have never examined into the events which have preceded their entrance upon the stage of life, cannot, at least, complain of their ideas upon the subject being confused by such scraps of the history of their mother country, as a Romance furnishes them with.
After the daily instances which we have of this species of composition meeting with the gicatest success, I should have deemed it quite superfluous to have written a line of defence for one more added to the number, were I not aware that
some of the reviewers are like hornets, looking out for a hole in a man's jerkin, through which they may drive their stings ; and that, probably, if I had not confessed myself conscious of some deviations from historical truth, in the matter contained in the following pages, they might have placed them to the score of my ignorance, and have taken the pains of writing me a lecture upon the subject : which trouble I now spare them.
The reviewers are, in my opinion, a very ancient community, and deserving of some respect for their antiquity. My ideas of the remote period from which they have had existence, are founded upon this expression of Solomon-"Oh that mine enemy would write a book !" and I am always tempted to understand from this sentence, that there were reviewers in his days, and that some publication of his had fallen under the lash of their censure, and provoked this wish I have for some time en
from bis lips.
tertained this opinion myself, and I think I am bound in charity to publish it, for the comfort of my brother-labourers in the toils of book-making, in order that it may console them for any mortifications they may meet with, at the hands of those gentlemen, since if so, wise a man, and so powerful a sovereign, as the great Solomon, could not, even in those days of good order and decency, escape their censure, how can insignificant indi. viduals expect to be shieldied from it, in this age of freedom and irregularity ?
To be sme, it is difficult to reconcile ourselves to the kind of rifle-fire, with which these literary gunners shoot at us, from behind trees and hedges, as it were, leaving us uncertain who it is that
pops at us; but then, we should consider that their trade must live, as well as ours, and that it appears an essential part of their history, to give weight to their oracies by their obseurity: if they were to pat their names to their performances, as