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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872,
By LEE AND SHEPARD,
Stereotyped at the Boston Stereotype Foundry,
19 Spring Lane.
TO THE READER.
Not only those who, like Lord Macaulay, “ have a kindness for Mr. Leigh Hunt,” but all lovers of the pleasant art of essay writing, should find much to amuse and interest them in this volume, which contains articles, hitherto uncollected, on an agreeable variety of subjects, from the Indicator, Examiner, Literary Examiner, Companion, Tatler, London Journal, Monthly Repository, New Monthly Magazine, and Edinburgh Review.
Most of the Wishing-Cap Papers are written in Leigh Hunt's happiest manner, and abound in rich and felicitous descriptions of nature, in loving comments on favorite authors and books, and in thoughtful and good-natured speculations on human life. Indeed, some of the essays in the collection are, it seems to me, more terse in style, more vigor
in thought, and more masculine in tone, than even the best papers in the Indicator * or the
* Not the original edition of the Indicator, but a selection from that work made by the author himself.
Seer; they show, moreover, that the genial essayist had “true capabilities of wrath,” and could battle bravely for the right, as the hacks of the Tory press learned to their cost. If, as M. Taine asserts, wit is “the art of stating things in a pleasant way,” this is a very witty book, and Leigh Hunt is a great wit, for almost all his sentences are charming examples of the brilliant Frenchman's definition of wit.
Through the courtesy of Mr. James T. Fields, I have had the opportunity of consulting Leigh Hunt's own copies of the Tatler and the Literary Examiner, containing some marginal emendations in the author's own handwriting, to which the readers of the Wishing-Cap Papers are indebted for sundry valuable corrections, and for a few little characteristic touches added to several of the chapters.
J. E. B.
MELROSE, December 4, 1872.