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UPWARDS of five years ago, it was suggested to me by a literary friend, that a volume, of annual recurrence, composed for the most part of light and popular literature, and embellished with Engravings of a higher order than are usually to be met with in periodical works, would be likely to prove extremely acceptable to the Public.
80 well pleased with the idea, that, having decided upon my plan, I even went so far as to solicit the aid of several distinguished writers. Some circumstances, however, occurred which prevented me from carrying my views into effect; and it was not until after the appearance
of a publication in direct and acknowledged imitation of the German Literary Almanacks, in this country, that I determined to persevere in my original intention. On consulting with my Booksellers, I found that they had an annual volume, entitled "THE GRACES,' at that time in progress; and it was only a few months ago that they intimated their desire, that I should co-operate with them in the present undertaking. These details are of no great importance to the reader, as the mere merit of having suggested the publication of works of this description belongs exclusively to our continental neighbours; and they borrow so many useful hints from English literature, that we have an undoubted right to make reprisals whenever we meet with any suggestions of theirs at all worthy of our adoption.
It would savour not a little of ostentation were
I to enumerate, in this place, the many contribu
tions from distinguished pens, which have been furnished expressly for the pages of the LITERARY SOUVENIR. A reference to its Table of Contents will show, that I have been so fortunate as to obtain the aid of an unusual number of the most popular writers of the day; and had it not been for the disadvantages resulting from the shortness of the time allowed me for the preparation of the literary portion of the volume, I should have been enabled to boast of a still longer list of eminent names. From the kind promises of continued assistance, however, which I have received, I am induced to hope that I shall be enabled to render the next volume still more interesting:
The Embellishments are, it will be seen, all engraved in the line manner, in the most finished style of the art. The publishers might, undoubtedly, have, introduced a greater number at the
same expense, could they have prevailed upon themselves to sacrifice quality to quantity. But ten elaborate line engravings, independently of external ornaments, and three plates of facsimiles of the autographs of the living Poets of Britain, in addition to the high character of a large portion of its literary contents, will, it is hoped, afford sufficient proof that no expense has been spared which could render the work deserving of the approbation of the Public.
All matter of a temporary nature, calculated to render its pages less acceptable at one part of the year than another, has been carefully excluded.
In conclusion, I beg to return my warm acknowledgments on my own account, as well as on that of my Publishers, to the Authors of the numerous and interesting contributions with which I have
been favoured,* and more especially to those writers who have kindly allowed me the countenance of their names. There is but one painful feeling connected with this avowal of obligation, and that originates in the reflection, that one of the most zealous and talented of my friends, the Reverend CHARLES ROBERT MATURIN, has been removed beyond the reach of my thanks since the sheet which contains his wild and singular legend of “ Leixlip Castle” was printed off. I still hold a beautiful Dramatic Sketch from his pen, entitled “ The Sybil's Prophecy,” which, as well as one or two articles from anonymous sources, I have been compelled to omit, in order to avoid increasing inconveniently the size of the book. On this poem,
the sudden demise of its Author has con
* I ought in common candour to mention, that the beautiful Poem from the pen of Mr. Campbell, which will be found at page 149, was not contributed by that gentleman, but transcribed from the Album of a mutual friend.