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MARVELLOUS AND RARE, ODD, CURIOUS, QUAINT
ECCENTRIC AND EXTRAORDINARY
AND ALL BOOKSELLI R3.
A BOOK OF WONDERS requires 'but a brief introduction. Our title-page tells its own tale and forms the best exposition of the contents of the volume.
Everything that is marvellous carries with it much that is instructive, and, in this sense, “ Ten Thousand Wonderful Things," may be made useful for the highest educational purposes. Events which happen in the regular course have no claim to a place in any work that professes to be a register of what is uncommon; and were we to select such Wonders only as are capable of familiar demonstration, we should destroy their right to be deemed wondrous, and, at the same time, 'defeat the very object which we profess to have in view. A marvel once explained away ceases to be a marvel. For this reason, while rejecting everything that is obviously fictitious and untrue, we have not hesitated to insert many incidents which appear at first sight to be wholly incredible.
In the present work, interesting Scenes from Nature, Curiosities of Art, Costume and Customs of a bygone period rather predominate; but we have devoted many of its pages to descriptions of remarkable Occurrences, beautiful Landscapes, stupendous Water-falls, and sublime Seapieces. It is true that some of our illustrations may not be beautiful according to the sense in which the word is generally used; but they are all the more curious and characteristic, as well as truthful, on that account ; for whatever is lost of beauty, is gained by accuracy. What is odd or quaint, strange or startling, rarely possesses much claim to the picturesque and refined. Scrape the rust off an antique coin, and, while you make it look more shining, you invariably render it worthless in the eyes of a collector. To polish up a fact which derives its value either from the strangeness of its nature, or from the quaintness of its narration, is like the obliterating process of scrubbing up a painting by one of the old masters. It looks all the cleaner for the operation, but, the chances are, it is spoilt as a work of art.
We trust it is needless to say that we have closed our pages against everything that can be considered objectionable in its tendency ; and, while every statement in this volume has been culled with conscientious care from authentic, although not generally accessible, sources, we have scrupulously rejected every line that could give offence, and endeavoured, in accordance with what we profess in our title-page, to amuse by the eccentric, to startle by the unexpected, and to astonish by the marvellous.
BASTILLE, STORMING OF THE
CAMDEN CUP, THE . . .
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