PREFACE.

TO amuse without injuring, and to instruct without offending, is the highest aim of the following pages.

They were written in a retirement almost amounting to solitude, at the request of a beloved and lamented friend, whose hours of languor, during a lingering illness, were occasionally relieved by the perusal of them; whose partiality encouraged, and whose judgement approved them.

The praise which made the performance of this work, a pleasure, can no longer be bestowed, and there fore that of the public is less anxiously desired, for the satisfaction which it might once have given, cannot now be shared.

The approbation of the wise and good is however always valuable, and they must be undeserving of it, who are insensible of its worth.

To obtain it for these volumes, the design must be considered more than the execution; and the severity of criticism must be forgotten in the consideration that it would be ill-employed on a subject of which affection prompted the undertaking, and for the errors and imperfections of which, the compassionate will accept the excuse of its having been begun and ended in the most trying moments of affliction.