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Preliminary Discourse To The London Chronicle
by [?]

JANUARY 1, 1757.

It has always been lamented, that of the little time allotted to man, much must be spent upon superfluities. Every prospect has its obstructions, which we must break to enlarge our view; every step of our progress finds impediments, which, however eager to go forward, we must stop to remove. Even those who profess to teach the way to happiness, have multiplied our encumbrances, and the author of almost every book retards his instructions by a preface.

The writers of the Chronicle hope to be easily forgiven, though they should not be free from an infection that has seized the whole fraternity, and instead of falling immediately to their subjects, should detain the reader for a time with an account of the importance of their design, the extent of their plan, and the accuracy of the method which they intend to prosecute. Such premonitions, though not always necessary when the reader has the book complete in his hand, and may find, by his own eyes, whatever can be found in it, yet may be more easily allowed to works published gradually in successive parts, of which the scheme can only be so far known as the author shall think fit to discover it.

The paper which we now invite the publick to add to the papers with which it is already rather wearied than satisfied, consists of many parts, some of which it has in common with other periodical sheets, and some peculiar to itself.

The first demand, made by the reader of a journal, is, that he should find an accurate account of foreign transactions and domestick incidents. This is always expected, but this is very rarely performed. Of those writers who have taken upon themselves the task of intelligence, some have given and others have sold their abilities, whether small or great, to one or other of the parties that divide us; and without a wish for truth or thought of decency, without care of any other reputation than that of a stubborn adherence to their abettors, carry on the same tenour of representation through all the vicissitudes of right and wrong, neither depressed by detection, nor abashed by confutation, proud of the hourly increase of infamy, and ready to boast of all the contumelies that falsehood and slander may bring upon them, as new proofs of their zeal and fidelity.

With these heroes we have no ambition to be numbered; we leave to the confessors of faction the merit of their sufferings, and are desirous to shelter ourselves under the protection of truth. That all our facts will be authentick, or all our remarks just, we dare not venture to promise: we can relate but what we hear, we can point out but what we see. Of remote transactions, the first accounts are always confused, and commonly exaggerated: and in domestick affairs, if the power to conceal is less, the interest to misrepresent is often greater; and, what is sufficiently vexatious, truth seems to fly from curiosity, and as many inquiries produce many narratives, whatever engages the publick attention is immediately disguised by the embellishments of fiction. We pretend to no peculiar power of disentangling contradiction or denuding forgery, we have no settled correspondence with the antipodes, nor maintain any spies in the cabinets of princes. But as we shall always be conscious that our mistakes are involuntary, we shall watch the gradual discoveries of time, and retract whatever we have hastily and erroneously advanced.

In the narratives of the daily writers every reader perceives somewhat of neatness and purity wanting, which, at the first view, it seems easy to supply; but it must be considered, that those passages must be written in haste, and, that there is often no other choice, but that they must want either novelty or accuracy; and that, as life is very uniform, the affairs of one week are so like those of another, that by any attempt after variety of expression, invention would soon be wearied, and language exhausted. Some improvements, however, we hope to make; and for the rest we think that, when we commit only common faults, we shall not be excluded from common indulgence.