Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Front Matter >> Preface

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History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
Transcription iVPREFACE.
"things that on earth were lost or were abused,"
a sort of Astolfo's mansions of the moon,
" Which safely treasures up
Whate'er was wasted in our earthly state�"
the upper shelves of the library�where, frowning in im-
memorial dust and dignity, they enjoy the time honored
epithets of "books of reference"�a classification for
which their venerable writers never stipulated, and which
would have very imperfectly rewarded the severe toils of
elaborate authorship.
Valuable in this point of view, they are scarcely of
present value in any other. To the great portion of the
reading community they are entirely useless. For this
reason, though long since out of print, a re-publication of
them is considered unnecessary, and would, indeed, in-
volve in serious pecuniary loss the most cautious pub-
lisher. The late re-print of Hewatt, Archdale and others,
in the historical collections of Mr. Carroll, offers no exception to the general justice of this remark. A reluctant
subscription failed to pay the expenses of printing, and
but for the liberal appropriation of the state legislature,
after the risk had been incurred, that enterprising young
citizen might have had reason to repent the rashness of
his patriotism. He certainly would have gained nothing
from his publication beyond the applause which is due to
his public spirit.
The cumbrousness of the works, of South Carolina his-
tory, already existing, suggests another serious obstacle
to their circulation as popular volumes. They are neces-
sarily expensive. Books for schools and for the popular
reader�the two objects for which the present abridge-
ment is designed�must be cheap as well as compact.
Strange as the fact may appear, this truth seems to have
been only of recent discovery. It is only of late days that
it has been thought advisable to recognize the poor among
the other classes of book readers. A few years back, our
authors labored under the ambition of bringing forth big