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Let me have my Pleasures of Memory in connection with this book, by dedicating it to a Poet whose writings (as all the world knows) are replete with generous and earvest feeling; and to a Man whose daily life (as all the world does not know) is one of active sympathy with the poorest and humblest of his kind.
Your faithful friend,
When the author commenced this work, he proposed to himself three objects.
First. To establish a periodical, which should enable hin) to present, under one general head, and not as separate and distinct publications, certain fictions which he had it in contemplation to write.
Secondly. To produce these Tales in weekly numbers; hoping that to shorten the intervals of communication between himself and his readers, would be to knit more closely the pleasant relations they had held, for Forty Months.
Thirdly. In the execution of this weekly task, to have as much regard as its exigencies would permit, to each story as a whole, and to the possibility of its publication at some distant day, apart from the machinery in which it had its origin.
The characters of Master Humphrey and his three friends, and the little fancy of the clock, were the result of these considerations. When he sought to interest his readers in those who talked, and read, and listened, he revived Mr. Pickwick and his humble friends; not with any intention of reopening an exhausted and abandoned mine, but to connect them in the thoughts of those whose favourites they had been, with the tranquil enjoyments of Master Humphrey.
It was never the author's intention to make the Members of Master Humphrey's Clock, active agents in the stories they are supposed to relate. Having brought himself in the commencement of his undertaking to feel an interest in these quiet creatures, and to imagine them in their old chamber of meeting, eager listeners to all he had to tell, the author hoped—as authors will — to succeed in awakening some of his own emotions in the bosoms of his readers. Imagining Master Humphrey in his chimney-corner, resuming night after night, the narrative, say, of the Old Curiosity Shop - picturing to himself the various sensations of his hearers - thinking how Jack Redburn might incline to poor Kit, and perhaps lean too favourably even towards the lighter vices of Mr. Richard Swiveller how the deaf gentleman would have his favorite, and Mr. Miles his and how all these gentle spirits would trace some faint reflection of their past lives in the varying current of the tale he has insensibly fallen into the belief that they are present to his readers as they are to him, and has forgotten that like one whose vision is disordered he may be conjuring up bright figures where there is nothing but empty space.
The short papers which are to be found at the beginning of this volume were indispensable to the form of publication and the limited extent of each number, as no story of lengthened interest could be begun until “The Clock” was wound up and fairly going.