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PREFACE.

THERE are few living authors that are more deservedly popular than WASHINGTON IRVING, and if any proof were wanting of the general estimation in which he is held, the Publishers of the present volume might refer with pleasure to the extensive patronage conferred on their former editions.

In selecting the following pieces from the various productions of the accomplished American, the Compiler, though necessarily restricted to economy of space, has been careful to consult the reputation of his author, as well as the interest and pleasure of his readers. If he has not in every instance exercised the soundest discretion, he can at least aver, that he is unconscious of having omitted any thing that could contribute to place the fine talents of Irving in the most favourable point of view that was possible.

It has been said of the latter, that he rivals and even excels some of the most popular English authors, particularly Addison, Goldsmith, and Mackenzie. The present selections, if they do not completely decide the point, will at least enable the reader to draw an accurate parallel between him and those celebrated classical writers.

With a view to afford sufficient scope for the talents of the Engraver, it was necessary to give rather a preponderance to humorous subjects; but generally speaking, it will be found that the collection is sufficiently miscellaneous, both to display Irving's varied talents as an author, and to gratify, even to satiety, the lovers of the grave and the pathetic, as well as every amateur of elegant composition. In short, although it is not for the Publishers to determine the merit of their own work, they think they may flatter themselves, that, making due allowance for the narrow limits of a pocket volume, they have done as much justice to their author as if the volume had been got up on a far more ambitious and extensive scale.

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