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S. O. BEETON, 248, STRAND, W. C.

(TEN DOORS FROM TEMPLE BAR.)

LONDON:

CLAYTON AND CO., TEMPLE PRINTING WORKS,

BOUVERIE STREET, E.C.

ECA

PREFACE.

REVERED REVIEWERS,

To you, of whom I stand in solemn awe, I address my Preface. If I wrote this Preface for the General Public, it would never be read. With you the case is different; you do not read for amusement, but rather to ponder on the skill of literary competitors, to hold your judgment in suspense until the investigation has been thoroughly completed, then-I tremble at the awful thought-you give your verdict-"live" or I die." There is no appeal from your decision!

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Once I saw a Judge surrounded by all the insignia of official dignity, and I was afraid. Once I had a reviewer pointed out to me-a man who by a few strokes of his pen could make or mar the fortune of poor, struggling, but ambitious Mr. Penman. My heart stood still in his

presence!

And now I see you on your judicial bench and my small book at the bar. What will you say of it?

Nothing! The prisoner is discharged on account of his youth, and given up to his friends.

Something! The prisoner is incorrigible: "A dull attempt at humour," "A compound of vulgarity and pedantry," "A dreary mixture of silly platitudes and vapid witticism." The prisoner falls prostrate and is not expected to recover.

Everything! Yes; everything that's good and hopeful. "A capital book for a leisure hour," "An amusing trifle," "The writer has something in him," "The Odd Boy can say sharp things pleasantly." The prisoner jumps for joy!

Hurrah! Bless you, happy shade of a reviewer! You have helped me to get my foot well on the ladder, and never shall I forget your kindness to a poor unfriended chiel-never-not then if I can help it-till I cry "Boat, ahoy" to Charon on the Styx.

THE ODD Boy.

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