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THE Author of the following Essays and Tales has addressed a letter to us, part of which we extract, as an introduction to these volumes.
• As far as I am able to invest you with the exclusive right of publishing, in the United States, an edition of these prose writings, I do so, by this letter.
Some of them, you will take note, have never been printed in their present state before.
• You will find, amongst these selected papers, some which were written as early as 1820, and one as late (I think) as 1848 or 1849 ;some which pretend to be “lively," and a few which are strictly severe ";- several essays, chiefly on poetical subjects, none which are very elaborate ;- and a story or two, in which the pathos perhaps predominates, while the moral (like the light under the bushel) is hidden from the careless observer.
One of the pieces I think had better be omitted. I refer to an essay on English poetry, -written hastily, many years ago, — very imperfect, — by no means coming up to my idea of the subject at that time, – and very far below it now.
You have at present such admirable writers of prose fiction in America, (amongst others, Mr. Hawthorne, and Mr. Longfellow,) that I might reasonably feel a little diffident as to the reception which my little pieces of prose are likely to encounter from your countrymen. But my critics - English as well as American have for the most part been always so goodnatured to my efforts, that I have no hesitation in throwing myself upon their kindness once again.'
B. W. PROCTER. LONDON, OCTOBER 13, 1852.
We have taken the liberty of including in these volumes, the 'Essay on English Poetry,' referred to by Mr. Procter as a piece he thinks · had better be omitted,' as that article, on its appearance in the Edinburgh Review, was very generally perused, and highly commended by the public.
Boston, Nov. 1852.