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The Papers here collected, were commenced by the particular desire of one whose name cannot be written without a renewal of the regret, felt so deeply, by so many, for his untimely loss. The brilliancy of Theodore Hook's wit, vivid but innocuous as summer lightning, was only equalled by the goodness of his heart, and when he sank,
“ Like a bright exhalation in the evening,”
he left a dark void, which those who had the happiness of enjoying his charming society, can never hope to see brightened again. For his sparkling conversation flowed continually, and without effort, like an exuberant Artesian well. There was no straining for effect : all was easy-springing from the gaiety of a soul warmed by the presence of those whom he loved.
These pages appeared in the New Monthly Magazine under his editorship. When the inimitable Thomas Hood—another irreparable loss—succeeded the lamented Theodore, the “Recreations” were continued at his request ; and they were concluded, when that periodical passed into the able hands of William Harrison Ainsworth.
The “Recreations” have had the good fortune to receive some marks of public approbation ; but the author, who sketched them as a relief from more severe studies and duties, would never have thought of reprinting them, had not the great Comparative Anatomist named in the dedication, and other scientific friends, urged their re-publication, under the impression that when brought together, they might form a hand-book which might cherish, or even awaken, a love for Natural History.
LONDON, MAY, 1847.