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Acajou And Zirphile
by [?]

“Mathematics, which has succeeded to erudition, begins to be unfashionable; we know at present indeed that one may be as great a dizzard in resolving a problem as in restoring a reading. Everything is compatible with genius, but nothing can give it.

“For the bel esprit, so much envied, so much sought after, it is almost as ridiculous to pretend to it, as it is difficult to attain. Thus the scholar is contemned, the mathematician tires, the man of wit and genius is hissed. What is to be done?”

Having told the whimsical origin of this tale, Du Clos continues: “I do not know, my dear Public, if you will approve of my design; however, it appears to me ridiculous enough to deserve your favour; for, to speak to you like a friend, you appear to unite all the stages of human life, only to experience all their cross-accidents. You are a child to run after trifles; a youth when driven by your passions; and, in mature age, you conclude you are wise, because your follies are of a more solemn nature, for you grow old only to dote; to talk at random, to act without design, and to believe you judge, because you pronounce sentence.

“I respect you greatly; I esteem you but little; you are not worthy of being loved. These are my sentiments respecting you; if you insist on others from me, in that case,

“I am,
“Your most humble and obedient servant.”

The caustic pleasantry of this “Epistle Dedicatory” was considered by some mawkish critics so offensive, that when the editor of the “Cabinet de Fees,” a vast collection of fairy tales, republished this little playful satire and whimsical fancy-piece, he thought proper to cancel the “Epistle:” concluding that it was entirely wanting in that respect with which the public ought to be addressed! This editor, of course, was a Frenchman: we view him in the ridiculous attitude of making his profound bow, and expressing all this “high consideration” for this same “Public,” while, with his opera-hat in his hand, he is sweeping away the most poignant and delectable page of Acajou and Zirphile.

[Footnote 1:
See ante. vol. i. p. 71. ]

[Footnote 2:
The plates of the original edition are in the quarto form; they have been poorly reduced in the common editions in twelves. ]