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5 65 1827
There is not a more common error than that of attaching undue importance to our own times; yet we surely hazard little in affirming, that, in works of fancy, this age fairly surpasses all others, or, if an exception must be made, can only be equalled by the age of Sidney and Spenser, Shakspeare and Ben Johnson. The important station which the Novel has of late years taken in English literature—a station which ignorance and prejudice had long denied it has afforded free and honourable scope for the exertion of talents that might otherwise have lain dormant; and it is creditable to the literary character of the country, that among the many who may have been induced, by the unparalleled success of one 'mighty master,' to follow his path, the greater part—instead of servilely tracing his footsteps, as has been by some insinuated-have marked out their own way, and relied on their own strength.
The present volume may be considered as a consequence of that spirit, and those productions, which distinguish modern literature. When the market is full, the samples are many, says the proverb ; and the nature of the samples will, of course, be more readily questioned than the necessity for producing them.—In selecting our Specimens, we have endeavoured that they should be characteristic of their respective authors, and at the same time, complete in themselves--so that the volume might constitute a valuable collection of
scenes and stories, independent of its professed object. We are
Glasgow, August, 1825.