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158 PREFACE TO A UNIFORM EDITION IN nothing else under the latter-day sun not even in the mysterious department of womans attire has Fashion been more variable, or more eccentric in its variations, than in the matter ofprefaces. The eternal revolution ofletters devours its own children so rapidly that for the hardiest of them ten years count as a generation ; each succeeding decade has whims ofitsown about prefaces. Now it has been the rule to make them long and didactic, and now brief and with a twist toward flippancy. Upon occasion it has been thought desirable tothrow upon this introductory formula the respon sibilityofexplaining everything thatwastofollow in thebook, and, again, nothing has seemed further from the proper func tion of a preface than elucidation of any sort. Sometimes the prevalent mode has discouraged prefaces altogether and thus it happens that the present author, doomed to be doing in England at least something of what the English do, has never before chanced to write one. Yet now it seems that in America prefaces are much in vogue and this is an Ameri can edition.
vi Preface much as hinted at. The fourth concerns itself, indeed, with events in which Europeans took an active part ; but what they were doing, on the one side and on the other, was in its results very strictly American.