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a web of many textures

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Page 3


The author of the present volume, while preparing it for publication,
has been impressed with a due regard of its destined benefit
to the world — and to himself — and, while thus obtruding himself,
like a fist, into the public eye,

To the Publishers.

Gentlemen: It has suddenly occurred to me that a preface is
altogether unnecessary, and, therefore, I positively decline writing
one, inasmuch as I have commenced five already, and been compelled
to abandon them all, from sheer inability to complete them.
Prefaces have always seemed to me like drummers for a show,
calling upon people to “come up and see the elephant,” with a
slight exaggeration of the merit of the animal to be exhibited; and
though, in the present case, such enlargement of the fact would
not be necessary, still those disposed to be captious might read our
promises with incredulity. Mrs. Partington, no less than the Roman
dame, should be above suspicion; therefore, this heralding should be
avoided, and her name left with only its olden reputation resting
about it, like the halo of cobweb and dust about an ancient vintage
of port. Her coädjutors, Dr. Spooner, Old Roger, and Wideswarth,
representing the profound, the jolly, and the sentimental, need no
endorsement among the enlightened many who will buy this book;
and we can safely leave them, as lawyers sometimes do their cases
when they have nothing to say, without argument. Again, all will


Page IV
see for themselves the acid and sugar, and spirit and water, comprised
in the contents of the volume, — forming the components of a
sort of intellectual punch, of which they can partake to any extent,
without headache or heartache, as the sedate therein forms a judicious
corrective of the eccentric and gay which might intoxicate.
The illustrations, by Hoppin, tell their own story, and need no
further commendation than their great excellence. The local
meaning of many of the sayings and doings of the book will, of
course, be readily understood, without explanation or apology; and
the new matter will be distinguished from the old, by the quality of
novelty that generally attaches to that with which we are not familiar.
I thought somewhat of giving the name beneath each individual
represented in our frontispiece; but the idea was dispelled in a
moment, by the reflection that Mrs. Partington — the central sun of
our social system — could not be misinterpreted; while Dr. Spooner,
Prof. Wideswarth, Old Roger, and Ike, were equally well defined;
and the skill of the artist in depicting them needed no aid. Therefore,
all things considered, I think we had better let the book slip
from its dock quietly, and drift out into the tide of publication, to
be borne by this or that eddy of feeling to such success as it may
deserve, without the formality of prefatory bottle-breaking. I leave
the matter, then, as a settled thing, that we will not have a preface.

Resolutely yours,

The Author.

Note by the Publishers. — There is an axiom which says that
one needs must submit when a certain character drives; and hence
we acquiesce, deeming that if a preface cannot be had, we will do
without it.