Preface to _The Keepsake_ for 1828

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The Mortal Immortal by Mary Shelley, Edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra

[This is the preface to the first volume of The Keepsake. The editor explains the reason for anonymous publications in this volume, with a clear intention to continue in the following ones.]

Preface to The Keepsake for 1828

A PREFACE is often like a trump card, of which the most is made when the hand is weakest. Ours shall be brief, from the presumed strength, not weakness, of our hand; and because, unlike a trump card, a diffuse and cringing preface rarely gains a trick. It must not, however, be dispensed with: to commence our course by sailing against the stream would only be defective policy.

We therefore introduce the KEEPSAKE as a claimant for some portion of the protection freely awarded to other individuals of the family, of which our debutant is the youngest, and, we trust, not the least deserving member.

It is unnecessary to dwell on the design and scope of the present work, the leading features of the [v] class to which it belongs being too generally known to require even an allusion. Competition, the parent of excellence, has already given birth to a crowd of literary annuals, the number of which is still increasing. The deserved popularity of these volumes, united to a persuasion, that an addition to their number, on a similar but enlarged plan, would not be unacceptable to the public, suggested the idea of this new undertaking; the principal object of which will be, to render the union of literary merit with all the beauty and elegance of art as complete as possible.

The list of embellishments in our commencing volume, and the artists by whom they are executed, inspires a confidence, that leads us unhesitatingly to challenge a comparison with any thing, in this respect, that has hitherto appeared. With regards to the literary department, we have only to state generally, that writers of the most approved talents have enlisted themselves in our cause, and have contributed the aid of some of their [vi] choicest lubrications. Our desire has been, that its pervading characteristic should be an elegant lightness, appropriate to the nature and objects of the work. If this has been accomplished, without totally precluding subjects of deeper interest, which, like shadows on the surface of a sparkling lake, heighten the brilliancy of the gayer parts and the effect of the whole, we have nothing left to wish for.

It cannot fail to be observed, as a feature peculiar to the KEEPSAKE, that the articles are published anonymously. This course was adopted, partly from a regard to the wishes of individuals, which prevented the divulgement of names in some instances, and partly from an inclination to risk the several articles on their own merits, unaided by the previous reputation of the writers. Whether this deviation from custom will meet approval remains to be known; though literary idlers will probably find amusement in tracing the hand of particular authors in their respective contributions.

It is a pleasing office, to render the thanks due [vii] to kindness and liberality. For the liberty of availing ourselves of LESLIE's picture of REBECCA, we are indebted to the politeness of the MARQUIS OF LANSDOWN; for the portrait of the lady designated as SELINA, to EARL CLANWILLIAM. The engraving accompanying the ENCHANTED STREAM is from a drawing in the possession of B. G. WINDUS, Esq.; and the originals of the PEASANT GIRL and SADAK were kindly imparted by T. GRIFFITHS, and R. LANE, Esquires. We reflect with great pleasure on the favours conferred on us, as well in the instances named, as in many others not less gratefully considered, though circumstances preclude individual acknowledgment. (i-viii)

Published @ RC

September 1997