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speaking sourly or querulously of the slight mark, made by his earlier literary efforts, on the Public at large. It is so far the contrary, that he has been moved to write this Preface, chiefly as affording him an opportunity to express how much enjoyment he has owed to these volumes, both before and since their publication. They are the memorials of very tranquil and not unhappy years. They failed, it is true nor could it have been otherwise in winning an extensive popularity. Occasionally, however, when he deemed them entirely forgotten, a paragraph or an article from a native or foreign critic, would gratify his instincts of authorship with unexpected praise, -too generous praise, indeed, and too little alloyed with censure, which, therefore, he learned the better to inflict upon himself. And, by the by, it is a very suspicious symptom of a deficiency of the popular element in a book, when it calls forth no harsh criticism. This has been particularly the fortune of the TWICE-TOLD TALES. They made no ene
mies, and were so little known and talked about,
that those who read, and chanced to like them,
were apt to conceive the sort of kindness for the book, which a person naturally feels for a discovery of his own.
This kindly feeling (in some cases, at least) extended to the Author who, on the internal evidence of his sketches, came to be regarded as a
mild, shy, gentle, melancholic, exceedingly sensitive, and not very forcible man, hiding his blushes under an assumed name, the quaintness of which was supposed, somehow or other, to symbolize his personal and literary traits. He is by no means certain, that some of his subsequent productions have not been influenced and modified by a natural desire to fill up so amiable an outline, and to act in consonance with the character assigned to him; nor, even now, could he forfeit it without a few tears of tender sensibility. To conclude, however, - these volumes have opened the way to most agreeable associations, and to the formation of imperishable friendships; and there are many golden threads, interwoven with his present happiness, which he can follow up more or less directly, until he finds their commencement here; so that his pleasant pathway among realities seems to proceed out of the Dreamland of his youth, and to be bordered with just enough of its shadowy foliage to shelter him from the heat of the day. He is therefore satisfied with what the TWICETOLD TALES have done for him, and feels it to be far better than fame.
LENOX, January 11, 1851.
CONTENTS OF VOL. I.