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REAT changes in the taste of the British public in almost every pursuit, have passed since the production of the several Works from which the contents of this Volume are derived, and it may be remarked that the reading taste of this utilitarian age has led to the neglect of those efforts of genius that contri
buted to the amusement and instruction of our fathers :--the names of Addison, Hawkesworth, Steele, and other of our essayists, are now rarely mentioned. The Rambler, Idler, Spectator, Bee, &c., are seldom to be met with on the shelves of modern collectors of books. The reason for this may be found in the fact that the larger portion of the contents of the works alluded to, is devoted to the correction of the eyils of
of society, that no longer exist in those particular phases. Still the British Essayists have many lessons of wisdom, in the form of tale or fable,
which are applicable to all time; and, amongst them, are some of Oriental character, generally clothed with the gorgeous imagery of the East, and they thus serve to exhibit the power of our native language, to convey a lifelike picture of the habits and manners of the Arab and the Moslem. The taste that prevailed for reading only what was useful and profitable having wearied, the appetite of the great mass of the public sought relief in stimulants which the French school of Dumas and Sand, with its numerous imitators, readily supplied ; and, as happily in most cases, when left to themselves, the people get right at last, the vendors of this mental poison have begun to find it a losing trade.
Recurring to those fountains of truth from whence, in our early days, we drew draughts of inspiration, and our memory dwelling on the interest with which our mind was impressed with the fate of imaginary heroes and heroines, as well as the golden dreams of happiness and splendour, which the fairy palaces and exhaustless treasures of the East presented to our imagination, we have in this Volume selected a few of those moral narratives, in the belief that the youth of the present day will look with favour on those delights of our own boyhood.
The whole of the Tales are the productions of European authors, and they embody all that ingenious fiction, splendid imagery, and supernatural agency, skilfully introduced, which characterise all really Oriental stories ; and,
like them, convey morality, not in the austere form of imperative precept and dictatorial aphorism, but in the more pleasing shape of example. Let us, however, not be misunderstood; we do not desire to depreciate the efforts of those who approach the hearts of the young by the direct road; but, knowing by experience, there are many who seek to while away the passing hours of leisure in the gardens of fiction, we venture to hope that this attempt to strew flowers in the paths of truth, will not be thrown away. There is a morality of idea not arranged in a system of principles in regular order, but the result of lessons, examples, and accidental associations of pleasure and pain, acted upon by events or narratives that have impressed us with admiration, pity, or indignant resentment, which, in conveying to us moral truths, have so impressed them on our hearts that they have become indelibly fixed there.