The time has been, but happily exists no longer, when it would have been necessary to offer an apology for such a book as this. In those days it was not held that Beauty is its own excuse for being; on the contrary, a spurious utilitarianism reigned supreme in literature, and fancy and imagination were told to fold their wings, and travel only in the dusty paths of every-day life. Fairy tales, and all such flights into the region of the supernatural, were then condemned as merely idle things, or as pernicious occupations for faculties that should be always directed to serious and profitable concerns. But now we have cast off that pedantic folly, let us hope for ever. We now acknowledge that innocent amusement is good for its own sake, and we do not affect to prove our advance in civilisation by our incapacity to relish those sportive creations of unrestricted fancy that have been the delight of every generation in every land from times beyond the reach of history.
The materials of the following Collection have been carefully chosen from more than a hundred volumes of the fairy lore of all nations;
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