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PREFACE BY THE EDITOR.
It is with feelings of high satisfaction and most sincere gratitude, that I beg leave to offer to the Public
the five hundredth volume of my
Collection of British Authors. Never could I have flattered myself, that I should be able to achieve such a result, when more than eighteen years ago, I published the first volume ** of the Series, incited to the undertaking by the high opinion and enthusiastic fondness, which I have ever entertained for English literature: a literature springing from the self same root as the literature of Germany, and cultivated in the beginning by the same Saxon race, which is still flourishing on this and on the other side of the Atlantic. As a German-Saxon it gave me particular pleasure to
* A glance at my list of authors will shew that America has contributed no small part to my Collection. Nevertheless I did not deem it necessary to alter the title under which
my undertaking was started as I thought that the term "British Authors” might not improperly be applied to writers employing the language common to the two nations on either side of the Atlantic.
** “Pelham, by Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton,” published Sept. 1st 1841.
promote the literary interest of my Anglo-Saxon cousins, by rendering English literature as universally known as possible beyond the limits of the British Empire. This extension, which I conceived to be dependent in some degree on the realisation of my
scheme, I am really proud to say has been accomplished.
And why should I not be proud, when looking upon the splendid series formed by these five hundred volumes, containing the works of the classical aristocracy of English literature, especially of modern times? Few names can be mentioned of those, who have essentially contributed to the literary glory of Great-Britain, that have not found their representatives in this “Collection,” which is, I believe, unrivalled in extent as well as in the influence it has exercised upon the public not only in Germany, or even in Europe, but throughout the whole civilised world by diffusing the standard works of British literature in cheap, correct and elegant editions.
Neither must I omit to mention that this Collection was the first undertaking in which the principle of international copyright was respected and carried on to a practical result. The Treaties now concluded between many of the civilised nations for the protection of literary property have created a new era in that part of legislation. May they prove to be the forerunners of Laws of general authority.
I was fortunate enough to win for my undertaking the approbation of a great majority of the most eminent