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THIS VOLUME IS INSCRIBED
TO ONE OF
'THE BEST ENGLISH COMIC WRITERS OF HIS TIME,
AS A TOKEN OF
THE EDITOR'S SINCERE ATTACHMENT AND RESPECT.
The Lectures forming this volume were delivered at the Surrey Institution in 1818, and published immediately afterwards. The present Edition, however, contains some ad htions from other sources, collected by the author, ap parintly with a view to a reprint of the volume, wuch additions are distinguished by brackets. Some of the are taken from an article contributed by the author to the Morning Chronicle in, I think, 1813, and the rist are critical prefaces, written by my father for Mr. Oxberry's Editions of the various Plays reinarhed upon. Having determined upon the speedy publication, in a collertive form, of the whole of my father's writings on Art, ane! Artists, together with some potencus on these suleis not hitherto edited, I at first conceived it advisable to transfer the Lecture on Hogarth' to this latter work, where, p*18sibly, in some points of view, it might appear better placed ; but, on reflection, I have retained that Lecture in its on. ginal position; for, after all, Hogarth was a comic writer, and one of our best; the only difference is, that he wrote on canvass.
Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be. We weep at what thwarts or exceeds our desires in serious matters: we laugh at what only disappoints our expectations in trifles. We shed tears from sympathy with real and necessary distress; as we burst into laughter from want of sympathy with that which is unreasonable and unnecessary, the absurdity of which provokes our spleen or mirth, rather than any serious reflections on it.
To explain the nature of laughter and tears, is to account for the condition of human life; for it is in a manner compounded of these two! It is a tragedy or a comedy—sad or merry, as it happens. The crimes and misfortunes that are inseparable from it, shock and wound the mind when they once seize upon it, and when the pressure can no longer be borne, seek relief in tears: the follies and absurdities that men commit, or the odd accidents that befal them, afford us amusement from the very rejection of these false claims upon our sympathy, and end in laughter. If everything that went wrong, if every vanity or