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BIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM.
PETER BAYNE, M. A.
AUTHOR OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE, SOCIAL AND
GOULD AND LINCOLN,
NEW YORK: SHELDON AND COMPANY.
CINCINNATI: GEO. S. BLANCHARD.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by
GOULD AND LINCOLN,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
The papers here published consist in part of contributions to an Edinburgh Magazine, and in part of compositions which have not previously appeared. Of the former, some have undergone only a slight revision; others have been so modified as to be materially changed in character; while several, though, save in a single instance, retaining their original titles, may be considered altogether new. The series from which the republished articles are selected was entered upon about the commencement of the author's twentysecond year, during the prosecution of theological studies in Edinburgh; the occasion of the step being an inaptitude and distaste for private tuition, and a facility and pleasure, experienced from an early age, in literary composition.
The selected essays were published, with one or two exceptions, in the two succeeding years.
* The remarks in this preface are intended to apply both to the contents of the present volume, and also to those of a SECOND SERIES, the publication of which will immediately follow.
An apology may be deemed requisite for offering to the public a work, of which even the germ is found in pieces composed at so early an age. Two considrations chiefly weighed with the writer in permitting the publication. He could not let slip the opportunity offered of bringing together that portion of his early performances, to which, however sensible of their defects, he could yet deliberately append his signature, setting them apart from that far larger portion which he would now altogether cast behind him, as mere confusions of a too much wasted youth. And still more powerfully was he influenced by the reflection, which has for a long time had a firm hold on his mind, that, where a reading public is so extended as that of America, capacities of literary enjoyment, and susceptibilities to instruction, will vary so much, both in kind and degree, that it is by no means easy,
if possible, to judge, within certain limits, from the abstract character of a book, whether it will or will not prove useless: and that, therefore, an author, abdicating, in great measure, the right to decide as to the worthiness or unworthiness of his compositions, ought to bow to the unsought expression of public will. Such an expression seemed to be found in the offer of American publishers to issue these volumes : and the author screens himself against all attack, by the plain declaration, that they would not now, perhaps would never, have appeared, but for the enterprise and generosity of Messrs. GOULD AND LINCOLN.
The general contents of these Essays, apart from