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I have a vast deal to say for myself in this Preface; and yet I am in the condition of many an ignorant person, I don't very well know how to say it; but I will not take up much of those persons' time who read

prefaces, I will merely tell them how this little volume was chiefly written.—I was sitting one evening among a family party, most of whom think me rather a superior personage; (not that I am). The children were just gone to bed : the tea-things had been removed : many fair fingers were plying their bright needles with delicate speed. I was alone idle, seeming to admire, with earnest attention, the slight firmness of an unfinished purse, intended for me; though,

perhaps, I could not help looking more at the small fingers round which the silver and green silk were twined.—“ Will you read aloud to us this evening ?” asked one of my fair companions ; but I took it into my head to say, that I would write for their amusement, and I wrote part of one of the Tales in this book, to my own surprise, for I never could relate a story: of course they all admired it, except one who was sleepy and went to bed when I was about to begin reading; there were eyes, though, which looked applause not at all sleepily, but those eyes always look kindly on me.

The next evening, my story was resumed, and soon after, with some others, finished; and then, I was advised to publish. “What,” I said, “ publish these hasty sketches ;” and I raised up one eyebrow, an odd habit of that said eyebrow, which has telegraphic communications with my feelings of surprise. Vanity is easily excited, and as easily persuaded ; and a short time after, I actually presented the following Tales to my publisher, which he accepted.

“ be

scraps of

“ Shall you publish under your own name ?” I was asked. “Oh, no," I replied, cause I have really written these Tales after tea, amid a quiet family circle, and I have brought them to you just as they were put together; two only have been copied from the odd

paper on which I first wrote them. Now, if I mention this in my own name, no one will believe it, or it


be said, that I have no right to trouble the public with such hasty productions; besides, if I make it known, many wise heads will shake in judgement over that name, and say,

Very childish performances these, for a man of Trinity.”

By concealing my name, though the same opinions may be entertained, and I may hear them, still I remain unknown.

I must say a few more words on ny strange little volume.

The tales are addressed chiefly to young grown-up persons. I am aware, that “The Childhood of Charles Spenser” may be deemed only fit for a child's perusal, but I am one of those who delight in observing children and their man



The mind turns to such simplicity and freshness, as the eye to the first daisies of spring, to the first green blades of young wheat. There is a truth even in the falsehoods of children, which is not to be found in the lie of after-life. With all its proneness to deceit, the mind has not yet learned the art of concealing falsehood : some inconsistent simplicity still lingers: habit has not given a second nature to natural sinfulness: the enemy may have sown tares with the wheat, but the tares are no higher than the tender blades, and they have not yet choked them with their rank and cumbrous growth.

I have been vain enough to introduce what has been hinted to me to be very gentlemanly poetry : in this volume it may modestly make its appearance ; should it deserve notice, even here, it will not be passed over ; should it not, at least nobody can say that I have much pretension.

On one point I must make a few more remarks. I have purposely interwoven Religion with every Tale.

Tale. I do not say that I

have succeeded in shewing Religion in its true and happy light, but I have tried not to degrade the cause I have undertaken. I know, as I have, upon another occasion, remarked, that Religion is like pure snow, to preserve its dazzling whiteness unsullied, it should be touched only by delicately clean fingers. The persons mentioned in my stories, would not appear to the world (if they should act as I mean, and think they would) to obtrude Religion so as to disgust the careless and profane ; their faith would be seen chiefly in its beautiful and happy effects, in its ennobling the least actions, and rendering its professors more disposed to make allowances for the failings of others. They would appear to the world as the outside of a watch, where the golden hands are moving regularly over the white dial. In my Tales, I would strive to point out the works of the watch, the main-spring of such beautiful order. I have seen such effects produced and preserved by that inner spring; and I cannot resist, even in this humble manner, attempting to prove how much real joy there

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