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In two former publications—The Queens of Society,' and • The Wits and Beaux of Society'—the literati of past days have been exhibited as members of social life, only; little has been said of their works, except as being connected with their career, or as illustrating their characters. They have been before the public in their full dress : all ingress to their library has been closed-all criticisms of their productions scrupulously avoided.
For it was deemed too arduous both to author and reader to wade through catalogues of books, whilst the far more exciting pages in which human destinies are unfolded lay before them. So the hero, or the heroine, of the works referred to was portrayed apart from his or her literary offspring, and like other parents, sometimes, were pleasanter company apart from their sometimes cumbersome children.
In the Literature of Society, some acquaintance with books as well as with their writers, is attempted. But it is
also endeavoured to make this effort biographical, as well as critical. What our forefathers read, as well as what they wrote; how their intellects were enlarged and refined; how they were led on from Romance to Poetry, from Poetry to works of thought and observation, are here told; and, as far as a work of so large a scope can pretend to thorough accuracy, the narrative and the descriptions lay claims to that merit: and, though in so stating an army of objectors will be raised, to research. What a position it is for an author who puts in such a claim! If, to substantiate his assertion, he gives a list of works consulted, and refers ever so briefly to dingy tomes in the worst of print, and that print on the worst of paper, he affrights a host of gentle and simple readers, who hate trouble, and like knowledge, as they like their salads, ready dressed. When, with pride at his throbbing heart, and injured innocence on his face, an author recalls all the materials of his work, yet knows he will be termed superficial and inaccurate, how he wishes that all those who, with what has been termed ‘iniquitous justice,' array his faults and catalogue his blunders, could be compelled to read over his notes, to make his extracts, even to mend his pen; and, with a touch of human bitterness does the thought arise,—to endure his headaches.
However, let us hope for the best ; and trust, that, whatever the Reviewers of this work may have to endure,—and, doubtless, it will be perused with an air of martyrdom,—the Readers (always an author's presumed best friends), will,
it is hoped, neither cherish misgivings, nor suffer from inevitable slumbers, nor throw aside the work unfinished. At all events, if the Literature of Society' be received as graciously as the 'Queens,' and the 'Wits and Beaux of Society,' the authoress will have no reason to repent of her undertaking