“Il ny’a que le premier pas qui coute”
Such is recorded to have been the reply of a lady to the old story of a certain saint’s having walking like an inhabitant of the moon, some miles with his head under his arm after it had been cut off, and so excellent and applicable has it been thought that it is applied to almost every work undertaken. In addition to the aboe (though I am doubtful which saying first arose). “A good beginning is a half ending” has been used as a stimulus to the exertions of authors and authorlings. Yet I question very much whether the two together have not done a great deal of harm, and that the consequences have too frequently been a magnificent exordium, ending (to use the words of a recent publication) in a “Muscipular abortion.”
These reflections arose in my mind when first I conceived the idea of writing a periodical paper, which paper by the bye, I do not intend to fill up with the chaste classical language of a Spectator, but surely to serve as a vehicle to convey the whims that arise in the brain, and to endeavour to contribute to the amusement of those who honour me with a perusal.
But I must first beg leave to decline the honor I may perhaps be thought aspiring to, of Prose Writer to the Attic Chest, and shall begin by acquainting my readers not who I am, but who I am not. I am not — I am not — I am not — in fact I am not anybody, and consequently I must be Nobody, that is my name, and for the title of my effusions, I propose calling them, not any name indicative of my being a spy upon the actions of my fellow creatures. No, I disdain such an idea, and indeed any such epithet would be at variance with my intentions and the contents of this paper.
I intend to call it — but before I tell the name, I must state my reasons for adopting it. I was induced to assume it in preference to any other because — In fact I intend to leave it to the judgment of the Society to baptize my bantling and throw the responsibility of so weighty a decision off my own shoulders onto those of the members on this principle
“Two heads are better than one.”
In the meantime as I cannot at present boast of a very numerous circle of correspondents, I solicit that honour from the Attic Society, which I beg most respectfully to inform that I shall always be happy to insert their letters in this miscellany, on these express conditions
1st — That the subject be on Literature, the Calamities or Felicities of Authors or any similar subject.
2d — That no one presume to criticize any production except myself.
3d — That no letter exceed 30 lines, on this principle, “Brevity is the Soul of Wit.”
4th — That a motto in some of the living languages (only) be sent with each letter. Russian and other similar ones excepted.
5th — That in all letters which are argumentative, the reasonings be conducted logically.
6th and lastly — That the letters be written in a fair plain hand.
Having thus far developed my plan &c., I must hasten to close this paper, for the shortness of which I find three reasons.
1st — The general practice.
2d — A want of correspondence to fill up, and
3d — The great unreasonableness of anyone’s expecting that the whole book of ideas should be brought forward at first.