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General Preface.


VOME eight or ten years since, the editor of this series

suggested to the then Book Agent at New York the propriety and usefulness of attempting to supply, in some measure, at least, a sort of general literature for fireside reading. His idea was that it should be "secular,” as distinguished from strictly “religious," designed to interest and instruct all classes of general readers, but especially adapted to the young. The suggestion was received with favor, and the editor was urged to bear the subject in mind in his miscellaneous reading, and to prepare such a work. From that time forward, he has been making a note of such matter, as it chanced to come up before him, though not with any distinct notion of publishing. His attention having been lately directed again to the subject, and the publication seeming to be called for, he has revised and retrenched his material, and now presents the result in a series of five volumes, under the general title of “Fireside Reading." Each volume, so far as the subject-matter and mode of treatment are concerned, is entirely independent in itself; and may, therefore, be purchased by itself, or the whole series together, at the option of the purchaser.

The labor of preparing the work for publication has been considerable, much more than the editor imagined it would be or he would scarcely have undertaken it amidst the laborious duties to which he was already subject. But having undertaken it, he has spared neither labor nor pains to make it what it should be—a repository of interesting and useful knowledge,

The subjects of the volumes are “Travel and Adventure,” “Historical Sketches," "Traits and Anecdotes of Animals," "Traits and Anecdotes of Birds, Fishes, and Reptiles," and “True Tales for the Spare Hour.”

The sources whence the materials for the volumes have been drawn, are too numerous to be especially indicated in every instance. The more prominent of them, however, are, “Library of Entertaining Knowl. edge,” London, 39 vols.; “Lardner's Cyclopedia,” London, 131 vols.; “Naturalist's Library,” Edinburgh, 31 vols.; "Chambers's Miscellany of Useful and Entertaining Tracts,” Edinburgh, 10 vols.; “Chambers's Papers for the People,” Edinburgh, 12 vols.; Mrs. Lee's Works on the Habits and Instincts of Animals, Birds, Fishes, etc., London, 2 vols.; “ The Modern Traveler,” London, 33 vols.; together with several of the juvenile publications of Nelson & Sons, of London and Edinburgh. This series will reveal to the American reader but little more than glimpses of the rich stores of interesting and useful knowledge contained in the above works.

We are not trenching upon the peculiar sphere of the Sunday school publishing department, whose mission is the production of a religious literature for the young of the Church and the nation. But outside of this sphere, we are endeavoring to supply a want largely felt by parents, who wish to cultivate in the minds of their children a taste for reading and literature.

We bespeak, then, a place by the fireside in every family, for these little volumes. They will, at the same time, be pleasant companions and useful instructors.



P r f a ¢ ¢.

N this volume the editor has grouped some of

the most striking narratives of excursions, exploits, adventures, shipwrecks, imprisonments, escapes, etc., on record. Some of these papers have already found a place, in one form or another, in our current literature; but they are worthy of a place more permanent, and will not merely repay a second reading, but will incite it. The editor has embodied here such narratives only as he, from the best authorities in the case, feels warranted in believing to be authentic in their essential features, if not in their minute details. Most of them are

striking illustrations of the fact that “truth is stranger than fiction.”


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