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Custom, that great arbiter of the affairs of Editors as well as of other men, has rendered Prefaces almost as essential to books as title pages.
Like the Prologue to a new play, their object is almost invariably to solicit the good opinion of the reader, and to persuade him into an approbation of the work. With us, however, the Preface rather resembles an Epilogue. Our play is acted, and we have now only to collect the suffrages of our auditory. The many tokens of approbation we have received during its progress, gives us a modest confidence that they will be in our favour.
When the MIRROR was first commenced, the Editor did not deem it necessary to begin with a formal address to his readers. The title “ The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction,” he deemed quite sufficient to explain its nature and objects; and he felt confident, that if those objects were sedulously kept in view, the work must ensure a large portion of the public patronage. To afford the greatest quantity of " Amusement and Instruction” at the lowest possible expense, and to enable readers in the humblest circumstances to become acquainted with the current and expensive literature of the day, were the objects for which the Mirror was commenced. How far the Editor has been successful in the execution of his plan, it does not become him to say, though he would be ungrateful did he not acknowledge that the support he has met with has surpassed his most sanguine expectations. The Editor is sensible that no inconsiderable portion of the success of the Mirror has been owing to the many valuable original contributions with which he has been favoured by correspondents, and whose services he now beg's most gratefully to acknowledge, trusting that he will continue to receive their support. To the public the debt of gratitude by the Editor is large, but it is not to be paid by a Preface, or by promises; and he will best consult his own feelings, and, he doubts not, those of his readers, if he only assures them that, sensible of their kindness, he will spare no exertions to secure the continuance of their good opinion. Of the merits of the First Volume of the Mirror now presented to the public, the Editor will leave such of his readers as may now meet with it for the first time to decide. For a view of the nature and extent of its miscellaneous contents, he will only refer to the Index, and to the List of the Embellishments, the whole of which have been expressly engraved for the work,
London, May 21, 1823.