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PREFACE.Inferior in execution to those I have abeady set before the public will perhaps these Imaginary Conversations appear- certainly for the most-part inferior are the materials.No sculptor can work in sandstone so artistically and effectively asMorePREFACE.Inferior in execution to those I have abeady set before the public will perhaps these Imaginary Conversations appear- certainly for the most-part inferior are the materials.No sculptor can work in sandstone so artistically and effectively as in alabaster and marble.In the sight of higher intelligences the Pio-Nonos, the Nicholases, the Louis-PhiHppes,, the Louis-Napoleons, and their domestics in caps and hoods, in flounces and furbelows, in ribbands and cordages, in stars and crosses, are of misshapen and friable clay, not even de meliore hito.In the sight of the Highest Intelligence of all, the poor humble Madiai, we are informed by unerring authority, are far superior to such as affect the nod and assume the attributes of deity. Grateful for the gifts that have been imparted to me, and for the few talents, easy of computation, which study and thoughtfulness and industry have added, I have been content to look no higher than the Acropolis of Athens, and to carry back with me, into the libraries of my friends, the impressions I have taken from the physiognomies of Solon and Pericles, of Phocion and Epicurus- and of placing Diogenes and Plato and Xenophonin tlieir proper light, and where they may be seen distinctly and walkt round. Pleasant as any of my hours, in that most delightful of regions, were those I spent with Aspasia and Leontion, and Theniisto- we called her Ternissa, and she preferred the name.Homely, very homely, are the countenances and figures of the Madiai. But they also have their heroism: they took the same choice as Hercules, preferring virtue to pleasure, labour to ease, rectitude to obliquity- patient of imprisonment, and worshiping God with unfaltering devotion: unterrified by the menaces of death. May they awaken, if not enthusiasm, at least benevolence! In which hope, on their behaK and for their sole emolument, I edit this volume.A great part of the prose bears a reference to those persons, and that system, under which the Madiai were deprived of freedom, of health, of air, and, what is also a necessary to life, the consolation of friendship- their crime being the worship of God as God himself commanded, and not as man commands.The poetry, where it refers to the present times, is what I wish the prose could have been, mostly panegyrical.W. S. L.