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THE publication of this volume is the outcome of a request made to me by a number of my late father's friends, whose desire it was to have in book form some of his many writings.
On undertaking the fulfilment of this wish I found myself in some perplexity, not by any means on account of dearth of material, but as to the selection of that which it would be most desirable to publish—the majority of his writings being of a technical nature. Considering this, and in view of the fact that, had he lived, it was my father's intention to have them published, the editorial articles on the British Apollo have been selected, and are now presented with a number of extracts from that quaint and humorous work.
The British Apollo, as will be learned from the succeeding chapters, is a work of extreme rarity, and one which appears to have been quite overlooked by students of the literature of the Queen Anne Period. It is a remarkable fact that the names of the members constituting the “Society of Gentlemen” (if there ever existed such a society) should never have been made known.
This anonymity, seriously considered, I believe, for the first time, is discussed in Chapter III. This article is reprinted from Notes and Queries, where it appeared on August 3rd and 24th, 1901.
It will be observed on reading this chapter that there is ventured the suggestion that Dr. Arbuthnot, one of the leading physicians of the period, may have been responsible for the replies to the medical questions at least ; certainly in the answers to the medical queries one can readily detect the hand of the skilled physician.
That the "Society of Gentlemen was not a phrase denoting a collection of hack writers, my father always believed, and this is corroborated by a perusal of the extracts. One cannot but notice in the replies the confidence of the person who is thoroughly acquainted with the subject he treats. Notwithstanding the obscurity in which its authorship lies, the British Apollo is of evident value to the student of literature ; and it was with the idea of affording a connecting link in the Evolution of Periodical Literature that the publication of this volume was conceived.
It should be mentioned that since the publication of Chapter II. it was discovered that a fourth volume was started. This appears only to have reached its twentieth nnmber.
It should also be stated that Chapters I., II., IV., V., VI., and VII. appeared in The Scots Magazine, and, as already mentioned, Chapter III. appeared in Notes and Queries.
The communication “On the Occurrence of Supernumerary Ribs in Man,” which was read before the Greenock Natural History Society, has been included in this volume, as illustrating that many of the queries and answers contained in the British Apollo are still of interest to us, as they suggest many subjects for investigation, and present numerous allusions and references for elucidation.
The remaining chapters consist of extracts from the British Apollo, and they are printed in their original form.
In conclusion, I take this opportunity of expressing my heartfelt thanks to those who have so kindly encouraged me in the performance of that from which I have derived extreme pleasure, and in which I recognise a filial duty.
WALTER N. NIVEN. 23 NEWTON STREET,