PRefaces are now become so Common to every little Treatise, that I wonder there is not one to the Horn-BookHornbook: a tablet of wood with a handle, on which has been mounted a leaf of paper with the alphabet or other text for study, covered with a thin sheet of translucent horn. Prefaces were an innovation mocked for padding books with useless information, or, especially by the Scriblerians, for encouraging false learning in readers who cared not to read and study the actual text.; and indeed oftentimes, like Womens Faces, are found the most Promising and Inviting part of the whole Piece. But when a thing is Usual, tho’ never so Ridiculous in the Eye of Reason, yet a Man, like him that spoiles his Stomach with a mess of Porridge before Dinner, may plead Custom to excuse his Error. I therefore hope it will be no Offence to Conform with others, and show my self a Fool in Fashion.
Some Authors are meer BeausMeer (mere) Beaus: empty-headed, silly fops or dandies. The New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew (1699) characterizes such a man as following “the Fashions nicely, Powdering his Neck, Shoulders, &c.” in Writing, and Dress up each Maggotty FlirtMaggotty Flirt: unoriginal, inconsequential idea. A flirt is a trivial jibe or witticism; infested with maggots, it is not merely outdated, but long dead and putrid. that creeps from their Mouldy Fancy, with a fine Dedication, tho’ to John-a-Nokes;John-a-Nokes: a fictitious or nameless person (like a John Doe in current usage), implying the author has pretensions of being sponsored by a wealthy or aristocratic patron. and a long Preface to a little Matter,