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"Nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice," like most of the precepts of our unrivalled poet, is a part of our moral law. The artist ought to wish it to be the guide of his biographer. The biographer may in pity, or in mercy, deviate from the first part of the precept, but never from the last. If, by obeying the whole, the good of those for whom he writes is to be attained, let him obey the precept in its utmost extent. With these views of the subject I have written this work.
When I undertook the task I had no notion of the importance or magnitude of what I had undertaken. It has grown upon and but for the interest which has been taken in the subject by the most enlightened men of our country, I could not have accomplished as much as I now place before the public. To name those who have assisted me, would be to name the best of our artists and of our authors.
I publish by subscription, because I need the immediate return of the cost of publication. I am my own publisher, because I wish to have the sole control of the work. I know that my intentions are good, and that I have done the best in my power to fulfil them.
To those who have assisted me in the work I dedicate it with thanks.
NEW-YORK, Oct. 1834.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.