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النشر الإلكتروني

COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY

The Neale Publishing Company

PREFACE

Of the verses republished in this volume and the next, some are censorious, and in these the names of real persons are used without their consent; so it seems fit that a few words be said of the matter in sober prose. Of my motive in writing and now republishing these personal satires I do not care to make either defense or explanation, except with reference to those, who, since my first censure of them, have passed away. To one having only a reader's interest in the matter it may seem that the verses relating to those might properly have been omitted from this collection. But if these pieces, or, indeed, any considerable part of my work in literature, have the intrinsic interest, which, by this attempt to preserve some of it I have assumed, their permanent suppression is impossible; it is only a question of when and by whom they will be republished. Some one will surely search them out and put them into circulation.

I conceive it to be the right of an author to have his fugitive work in newspapers and periodicals put into a more permanent form during his lifetime if he can; and this is especially true of one whose work, necessarily engendering animosities, is peculiarly exposed to challenge as unjust. That is a charge that can best be examined before time has effaced the evidence. For the death of a man whose unworth I have affirmed, I am in no way accountable, and however sincerely I may regret his pass

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ing, I can hardly be expected to consent that it shall affect my literary fortunes. If the satirist who does not accept the remarkable doctrine that while condemning a sin he should spare the sinner were bound to let the life of his work be coterminous with that of his subject his lot in letters were one of peculiar hardship.

Persuaded of the validity of all this, I have not hesitated to reprint even certain "epitaphs," which, once of the living, are now of the dead, as all the others must eventually be. The objection inheres in all forms of applied satire-my understanding of whose laws, liberties and limitations, is at least derived from reverent study of the masters. That in respect of matters herein mentioned I have followed their practice can be shown by abundant instance and example.

In arranging these verses for publication I have thought it needless to classify them as " serious," "comic," "sentimental," "satirical," and so forth. I do the reader the honor to think that he will readily discern the character of what he is reading, and I entertain the hope that his mood will accommodate itself without disappointment to that of his author.

AMBROSE BIERCE.

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