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The scheme of this publication was to supply—in a cheap and portable volumea selection from the best authors, duly varying from the serious to the comic, and blending verse with prose—but, above all, printed in large type on good paper, for the sake of the eyes and nerves of those public benefactors who undertake to read aloud at those popular gatherings which give a specific title to this series.
The Editor begs again most gratefully to acknowledge, on behalf of the publishers and of himself, the ready kindness with which those authors to whom he has applied have granted him the requisite permission to select from their writings. The work, he cannot but feel, would have been more perfect could he have incorporated with it “ The King of Brentford's Testament” and some other poems by the late Mr. Thackeray. The fate, however, of an application made to the holders of that great writer's copyrights by the editor of the Lyra Elegantiarum convinced him that any similar request made by him would be fruitless. He regrets also that in another case his application was refused, on grounds which it would seem have been since abandoned, as selections from the
ALI BEN NOUS.
BY THOMAS HOOD.
Men and monkeys are equally prone to imitation; only that the brutes prefer to ape mankind, whereas the human animals delight in copying each other. Nor do they always choose the best models, and even when they do so, they imitate them so abominably that the worst originals would be infinitely better. A pest on all such serviles ! and may they meet with the fate
of the followers of Ali Ben Nous ! a personage not mentioned by Mr. Lane in his splendid edition of the “ Arabian Nights," and of which by the way he has made One Thousand and Two by the addition of one Knight as the publisher.
Ali Ben Nous, according to the Eastern chronicle, was a Philosopher of the sect of Diogenes—an old Boy, it will be remembered, who lived in a sugar hogshead, without getting any sweeter in his temper. The whole ambition of our Cynic was to resemble as little as possible the race he despised, and as a matter of course, nothing so aggravated his natural spleen as to find himself copied by any human being. Nevertheless, such is the apishness of our nature, that in spite of the repulsiveness of his doctrine, and the austerities of his practice, he