BOOK XVI. CONTAINING THE SPACE OF FIVE DAYS.
1. Chapter i. Of prologues.
The same advantages may be drawn from these chapters, in which the
critic will be always sure of meeting with something that may serve as
a whetstone to his noble spirit; so that he may fall with a more
hungry appetite for censure on the history itself. And here his
sagacity must make it needless to observe how artfully these chapters
are calculated for that excellent purpose; for in these we have always
taken care to intersperse somewhat of the sour or acid kind, in order
to sharpen and stimulate the said spirit of criticism.
Again, the indolent reader, as well as spectator, finds great
advantage from both these; for, as they are not obliged either to see
the one or read the others, and both the play and the book are thus
protracted, by the former they have a quarter of an hour longer
allowed them to sit at dinner, and by the latter they have the
advantage of beginning to read at the fourth or fifth page instead of
the first, a matter by no means of trivial consequence to persons who
read books with no other view than to say they have read them, a more
general motive to reading than is commonly imagined; and from which
not only law books, and good books, but the pages of Homer and Virgil,
of Swift and Cervantes, have been often turned over.
Many other are the emoluments which arise from both these, but they
are for the most part so obvious, that we shall not at present stay to
enumerate them; especially since it occurs to us that the principal
merit of both the prologue and the preface is that they be short.