Tales and Novels — Volume 02 cover

Tales and Novels — Volume 02

Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849)

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TALES AND NOVELSMARIA EDGEWORTH.VOL. II. POPULAR TALES.1857.PREFACE.Some author says, that a good book needs no apology; and, as a preface is usually an apology, a book enters into the world with a better grace without one. I, however, appeal to those readers who are not gluttons, but epicures, in literature, whether they do not wish to see the bill of fare? I appeal to monthly critics, whether a preface that gives a view of the pretensions of the writer is not a good thing? The author may overvalue his subject, and very naturally may overrate the manner in which it is treated; but still he will explain his views, and facilitate the useful and necessary art which the French call reading with the thumb . We call this hunting a book , a term certainly invented by a sportsman. I leave the reader to choose which he pleases, whilst I lay before him the contents and design of these volumes.Burke supposes that there are eighty thousand readers in Great Britain, nearly one hundredth part of its inhabitants! Out of these we may calculate that ten thousand are nobility, clergy, or gentlemen of the learned professions. Of seventy thousand readers which remain, there are many who might be amused and instructed by books which were not professedly adapted to the classes that have been enumerated. With this view the following volumes[1] have been composed. The title of POPULAR TALES has been chosen, not as a presumptuous and premature claim to popularity, but from the wish that they may be current beyond circles which are sometimes exclusively considered as polite.The art of printing has opened to all classes of people various new channels of entertainment and information. Amongst the ancients, wisdom required austere manners and a length of beard to command attention; but in our days, instruction, in the dress of innocent amusement, is not denied admittance amongst the wise and good of all ranks. It is therefore hoped that a succession of stories, adapted to different ages, sexes, and situations in life, will not be rejected by the public, unless they offend against morality, tire by their sameness, or disgust by their imitation of other writers...