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the novels of the period, corroborated by facts from other sources. But I have not thought it necessary to adhere strictly and formally to this programme, and have therefore introduced sketches of the plots and characters of some of the most interesting and once widely-popular novels, which for various reasons remain practically unknown to the great mass of readers of the present day, and especially to the female part of them. To do this and give any thing like a just idea of the originals, without offending against decorum, is no easy task, nor do I at all flatter myself that I have succeeded. But the very difficulty is in itself a proof of the difference, in one important respect, between the taste and manners of the last and the taste and manners of the present century. In these, I think, it cannot be denied that there has been a great improvement; but I hope it will not be supposed that I mean to imply that our more decorous sins are not morally quite as bad as the vices of our coarser and more free-spoken ancestors. We may be thankful that in many aspects the state of society is better now than then: but the luxury of

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the rich is still in startling contrast with the misery of the poor, and, although vice may have lost its grossness, it still lurks like a canker in the Commonwealth. We shall have little cause to boast of our superior morality, if we

Compound for sins we are inclined to,
By damning those we have no mind to.”

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