« PreviousContinue »
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.
The English editions of this popular work have been received with much favour, and reviewed in the most respectable journals in the highest terms of commendation. The London Christian Observer says, that “the Listener listens to excellent purpose, and her remarks on what she hears well deserve to be carefully weighed. She is domesticated in families; she is a Rambler, a Spectator, and a Tatler, and, we may add, a Christian Observer; and few of us are so wise or so good that we may not be improved by her observations on life and manners, and on those minor morals of social intercourse, as well as those higher points of duty, and that devout regulation of the heart, to which she aspires to conduct those who listen to her honest and salutary advice. Her incidents and remarks, we ought to add, are given in a lively and interesting style; and her monitions are likely to be the more kindly received, as she is always cheerful and good-humoured. We wish her, by the blessing of God, every success in her pious and benevolent undertaking; and, above all, that best reward of turning many to righteousness; not only correcting their general habits, and purifying and sweetening human intercourse, but leading them in those blessed paths which conduct to everlasting life.”
The present volumes have been revised and
prepared for the press with much care. Many important alterations and additions have been made to render the whole more instructive and acceptable to the American reader. No material changes have been made in the sentiments expressed by the author: in some instances in which they were considered as inconsistent with the circumstances of society in our country, notes have been added; but it is believed that not a sentence has been omitted, or an alteration made, that will, in the least degree, diminish the interest of a single story: and although these volumes contain nearly the same quantity of matter, they are published at less than one half the cost of the English editions.
The office of Listener is not one of very honourable note, especially when determined to tell what he hears: but to deprecate the wrath of my readers against so treacherous an intermeddler with their studies and their amusements, I entreat them to consider that good may be wrought of that with which we usually work evil. If I have the misfortune to have no business of my own, and a particular talent for observing other people's—if my sight is so keen, and my hearing so acute, as to perceive what is passing where I am not present, to see through the roof, and to hear through the walls; what can I do but endeavour to make the best use of so dangerous an endowment, and employ it for the benefit of others? I whisper no idle tale in gossips' ear-I write no satires upon innocent mistakes; no dry lectures upon well-known evils; but I bear about with me as it were a reflecting glass, which I present to the actors in the scenes before me, that seeing in it what it is, they may haply discover what might be better. I may some