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QU'A REGIO IN TERRIS NOSTRI NON PLENA LABORIS?
WHITTAKER AND CO., AVE MARIA LANE;
AND J. WHEELER, ST. ANN'S-STREET.
A learned and attractive writer has amused himself by recording the “Calamities of Authors"how one expired in a garret, another breathed his last in a dungeon, and a third died of starvation in the street. These are evils to which all flesh is heir. There is one, however, scarcely less acute, and infinitely more enduring, which is the especial heritage of authors—that, namely, of being compelled to write a preface to their works. Without these first-or rather lastwords, a book is not a book, and yet immeasurable perplexity is involved in their production. The preparatory process resembles most the preliminary essays of an untrained chorus, striving to bring their hundred voices into harmonious accordance, whilst each effort ends in the production of a harsh discord. An unpractised author scarcely knows how to “pitch” the tone of his prefatory address. Does he deprecate criticism? He is accused of affectation. Does he defy censure? He is charged with presumption. Does he profess readiness to submit himself to any fate which in their wisdom and candour the critics may award? Again he is deemed guilty of estimating too lightly the authority of that fearful fraternity of literary law-givers. An author is fortunate if he avoid execution on this manifold dilemma; one mode of escape, and but one, presents itself. They who perform even an unimportant office skilfully seldom fail to acquire some commendation; surely, then, he who enters the thorny path of authorship with the view of rendering to the Public a service long desired, by attempting to fill up a page of the national history which heretofore has been blank, may reasonably anticipate, even though the execution of his work be not the most able, that, if he should not earn the mede of applause, at least he will be favored by an abstinence from rigid
Manchester has had no continuous modern historian. We know much, enough perhaps, of her rise and progress to a comparatively recent date; but the point at which all historians have stayed their pen is precisely that as to which inquiry is now most active. It is pleasing to know whence this great community sprang, how it grew in wealth and population, through what trials it passed in remote times; but other and weightier considerations than those of mere literary or local curiosity are involved in an investigation of the
progress of our manufactures during the last half century, the social condition of our operative population, our existing system of local government, and our progress in the culture of science and literature. Ready means of acquiring information on these topics have long been needed; and surely he who has striven to supply them, albeit prompted to the task in part by the pardonable ambition of having his name associated with that of his native town, may fairly claim that if he be summoned at all before the “securifera caterva” of critics, their dreadful hatchets may be veiled, as of old, in the peace-proclaiming fasces, and his work be spared from actual annihilation.
Beyond the utterance of this fervent wish, little remains to be said. The Author feels bound however to state, that if censure must fall anywhere, he alone is liable to the burthen of it, inasmuch as, with scarcely an exception, he has encountered the most friendly aid in his search after information and his appeals for assistance. The various public authorities, and the representatives of local institutions, (among the latter of which the Statistical Society claims a special mention) have afforded him every facility; and he has been honoured with the conntenance and co-operation, not merely of several personal friends to whose high literary