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in public every week, yet many of the higher classes attend; a fact significant of the interest they take in the movement, and perhaps of the deficiency they may themselves feel in the simple but difficult art of reading. It will be sufficient to state that upwards of twenty-one thousand persons attended twenty-three Penny Readings given in Bath during the past winter.*
From these Readings has originated the present volume of “ Select Readings.” Almost all the pieces it contains were read in Bath, and will retain, therefore, an increased interest in the mind of those who heard them illustrated by the living voice. I have snatched time from onerous duties for this little publication, hoping it may be useful to ministers and laymen who already hold, or may wish to start “ Readings for the People ;” and also that any profits arising from its sale may help the Bath People's Hall Fund.
I beg publicly to thank all those Authors who have so generously allowed me the use of their pieces. The Volume would have been more complete but for the refusals of a few, notwithstanding the benevolent purpose for which it is published. Some have even compelled me to remove pieces which were inserted in the first edition, though placed there only from admiration of the Author, and with no pecuniary motive save to benefit the People.
If, however, I have still inserted any piece in a like manner,
* For account of this movement, see "Bath Penny Readings, their Origin and Progress," by Rev. James Fleming, B.D. Price Sixpence. R. E. Peach, Bath. Published for the benefit of the People's Hall Fund.
I trust the Author will forgive me when he knows the motive from which, and the object for which these “Select Readings,” were compiled. I stand deeply indebted to Alfred Tennyson, Esq., Charles Mackay, Esq., and Miss Eliza Cook, for their kind and generous interest in this movement, and to many others whom it would be tedious to name. I shall conclude this necessary Preface by the words of Montaigne :—“You will find here a nosegay of culled flowers, to which I have brought nothing of my own but the thread that ties them."
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