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AN APOLOGY FOR A PREFACE.
“ Prologues precede the play in mournful verse,
As undertakers walk before the hearse,"
SAID Garrick, in an effusion delivered before the performance of “The Apprentice;" and Prefaces seem to be a dismal, wretched invention, intended to garnish the outskirts of books, but which truly are of little service, as they are rarely read, except by a class of weak, excellent people, who conceive it to be their duty towards an author to read every word written, from the title-page to the farewell sentence that dismisses the work.
Bien, but my American publishers, availing themselves of the fact that I am in Yankee-doodle-dom, send me a bland, business-like note, asking me to write a preface-a new preface-as they do rot care to be content with the one that Mr. Buckstone, the eminent dramatist, was good enough to write for the London edition. Now, if I were to write just such remarks as my candor and disapprobation would suggest, the aforesaid “weak, excellent people” would pronounce me ill-natured, unconventional, if not positively rude.
The fact is, I simply look on a preface to a fugitive book asma bore. If an author has a large amount of vanity in his composition, and wishes to get rid of it, I should say the preface would be the proper place to introJuce it, as it would there come least under the notice of his patrons.
There is a story told of a certain man grown conscientious, who had
committed a robbery a literary one--and he entertained secret convietions that he ought to confess the appropriation to the virtuous public. He wrote another volume, and then cast about him as to which would be the safest part of it to deposit the confession. Unfortunately, he chose the preface; and he afterwards complained that only two people had discovered in ten years the story of his own guilt. Who after this will say that prefaces are read-I will go a step beyond-worth writing'
If one were disposed, an aquatic simile might be drawn in defence of the objection. We determine upon bathing, and provide ourselves with the agreeable concomitants thereof. We start towards the water; and the proper way is, not to put one toe in the element, then a hand, and so on by timid instalments by no means ; jump in and get out of your pains! So with a book ; why saunter doubtingly on the margin of your theme? Settle on a motive, select your subject, and jump in! It is by far the better plan, and the public will like you just as well.
But, in deprecating the custom, I have written just sufficient matter to answer my publishers' purpose. The offence must rest on their shoulders, not on mine.
In conclusion, I cannot refrain from thanking the London press for the kind, amiable notices they honored the English edition with ; and Mr. John Leech, the distinguished artist, whose contributions to “Puncb" have been enjoyed all over the world, did more for the volume, I fear, than the public's most obedient servant,
NEW-YORK, October, 1853.
IS A NAPOLEON WORTH A SOU?
we are none.
We have a horror of loneliness ; or, to speak less strongly, we prefer society to solitude, unless it be when the moon-tints of purple and pearl" are very beautiful indeed ; and then, on second thoughts, it would be more agreeable to share the witchery of the view in the companionship of some " loved one,” whose spirit-pulses beat in unison with your own. Solitude does very well for philosophers and musty-crusty old cynics of the Diogenes kindred; but there is a charm and sympathy about good society which captivates our taste, though “Socialist-Politico"
Give us the merry, free-hearted, unrestrained spirit of domestic interchange any time, to the ashen, sober, buried-alive conventionalism of hermited exclusiveness. Some queer fellow-possibly Beranger's “Gentleman in Brown" has argued that those who do not love to be alone, in order to look into their hearts, have no hearts to look into; but this is the sophistry of sentiment, as some of the sincerest, kindest, most agreeable people we have ever met, were those who inclined towards the conviviality of congenial society. Your very retired, closeted people, who inclose themselves from year to year, grow politic, and, as such, are to be feared. That lean-visaged,