“I should like the enclosed Dedication to be printed, unless you dislike it. I like it. It is in the olden style. But if you object to it, put forth the book as it is. Only pray don’t let the Printer mistake the word curt for curst.”
The Dedication is a hoot, another Lambian put-on: “The Author wishes (what we would will for himself) plenty of good friends to stand by him, good books to solace him, prosperous events to all his honest undertakings, and a candid interpretation of his most hasty words and actions,” and so on. Then he adds: “On better consideration, pray omit that Dedication. The Essays want no Preface: they are all Preface. A Preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they do nothing else.”
The Essays of Elia was published in 1823 without a preface. In his Dictionary, Dr. Johnson defined essays as “imperfect offers, loose sallies of the mind, irregular or undigested pieces.” A Happy New Year to the readers of Anecdotal Evidence.