"The reader is requested to observe, that, though the plan of this work is entirely his own, the compiler of it does not put it forth as in any way original in respect to language or description. It is, in fact, a much better book, than if it had been what is strictly called original, (which, indeed, must have involved an utter impossibility:) for it is a selection of some of the best materials the British Museum could furnish; sometimes worked up in his own language; and sometimes—and, indeed, very frequently
—in that of others: the compiler having, at an humble distance and with unequal steps, followed the plan which M. Rollin proposed to himself, when he composed his celebrated history of ancient times.—
"To adorn and enrich my own," says that celebrated writer, "I will be so ingenuous as to confess, that I do not scruple, nor am ashamed, to rifle whereever I come; and that I often do not cite the authors from whom I transcribe, because of the liberty I take to make some slight alterations. I have made the best use in my power of the solid reflections that occur in the Bishop of Meaux's Universal History, which is one of the most beautiful and most useful books in our language. I have also received great assistance from the learned Dean Prideaux's 'Connexion of the Old and New Testament,' in which he has traced and cleared up, in an admirable manner, the particulars relating to ancient history. I shall take the same liberty with whatever comes in my way, that may suit my design, and contribute to its perfection. I am very sensible, that it is not so much for a person's reputation to make use of other men's labours, and that it is in a manner renouncing the name and quality of author. But I am not over-fond of that title, and shall be extremely well pleased, and think myself very happy, if I can but deserve the name of a good compiler; and supply my readers with a tolerable history, who will not be over-solicitous to inquire what hand it comes from, provided they are but pleased with it."
Having followed this example,—the compiler wishes he could say with equal effect,—he will be fully satisfied, should judicious readers feel inclined to concede, that he has shown some judgment in selecting his materials, and some taste in binding "the beads of the chain," that connects them together. He disclaims, in fact, (as, in the present instance, he is bound to do), all the "divine honours" of authorship; satisfied with those of a selecter, adapter, and compiler; and happy in the hope that he has here, by means of the superior writers, whose labours he has used, furnished his readers with an useful, accurate, and amusing work.