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"I HATE a Preface!" Such will probably be the reader's exclamation on opening this volume. I will, however, pursue the subject a little further in the form of a dialogue.
Author." I entirely agree in your dislike of a Preface; for a good book needs none, and a dull book cannot be mended by it."
Reader." If then you coincide in my opinion, why write a Preface? Judging from appearances, your book is long enough without one!"
A." Do not be too severe; it is precisely because the road which we propose to travel together is of considerable extent, that I wish to warn you at the outset of the nature of the scenery, and the entertainment you are likely to meet with, in order that you may, if these afford you no attraction, turn aside and seek better amusement and occupation elsewhere."
R." That seems plausible enough; yet, how can I be assured that the result will fulfil your promise? I once travelled in a stage coach, wherein was suspended, for the benefit of passengers, a coloured print of the watering-place which was our destination; it represented a magnificent hotel, with extensive gardens and shrubberies, through the shady walks of which, gaily attired parties were promenading on horseback and on foot. When we arrived, I found myself at a large, square, unsightly inn by the sea-side, where neither flower, shrub, nor tree was to be seen; and on inquiry, I was informed that the print represented the hotel as the proprietor intended it to be! Suppose I were to meet with a similar disappointment in my journey with you?"