BOOK I. CONTAINING AS MUCH OF THE BIRTH OF THE FOUNDLING AS IS NECESSARY OR PROPER TO ACQUAINT THE READER WITH IN THE BEGINNING OF THIS HISTORY.
1. Chapter i. The introduction to the work, or bill of fare to the feast.
The introduction to the work, or bill of fare to the feast.
An author ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a
private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public
ordinary, at which all persons are welcome for their money. In the
former case, it is well known that the entertainer provides what fare
he pleases; and though this should be very indifferent, and utterly
disagreeable to the taste of his company, they must not find any
fault; nay, on the contrary, good breeding forces them outwardly to
approve and to commend whatever is set before them. Now the contrary
of this happens to the master of an ordinary. Men who pay for what
they eat will insist on gratifying their palates, however nice and
whimsical these may prove; and if everything is not agreeable to their
taste, will challenge a right to censure, to abuse, and to d--n their
dinner without controul.
To prevent, therefore, giving offence to their customers by any such
disappointment, it hath been usual with the honest and well-meaning
host to provide a bill of fare which all persons may peruse at their
first entrance into the house; and having thence acquainted themselves
with the entertainment which they may expect, may either stay and
regale with what is provided for them, or may depart to some other
ordinary better accommodated to their taste.
As we do not disdain to borrow wit or wisdom from any man who is
capable of lending us either, we have condescended to take a hint from
these honest victuallers, and shall prefix not only a general bill of
fare to our whole entertainment, but shall likewise give the reader
particular bills to every course which is to be served up in this and
the ensuing volumes.
The provision, then, which we have here made is no other than Human
Nature. Nor do I fear that my sensible reader, though most luxurious
in his taste, will start, cavil, or be offended, because I have named
but one article. The tortoise--as the alderman of Bristol, well
learned in eating, knows by much experience--besides the delicious
calipash and calipee, contains many different kinds of food; nor can
the learned reader be ignorant, that in human nature, though here
collected under one general name, is such prodigious variety, that a
cook will have sooner gone through all the several species of animal
and vegetable food in the world, than an author will be able to
exhaust so extensive a subject.