My dear Charles Graves,-Having adopted your suggestion that I should reprint some papers, biographical and critical, which I have contributed to various periodicals during the last twenty-five years, I speedily found myself in the position rather of a critic than of an author. With the personal notices, consisting mainly of matters of fact, I had not much fault to find: with the critical it was far otherwise. For a man's opinions vary in a quarter of a century as do his bodily tissues, and upon many points I found myself as editor at loggerheads with myself as writer. I hold, however, that a collection of this sort, if it is to have any value at all, must be a genuine reprint, and not a Bowdlerised or sterilized version of the original. Such freshness as comes from the pen of a writer who is keen at the moment of carrying out his task, is lost in any process of cool and calculating reconsideration, and therefore I have left them alone (misprints and glaringly bad grammar excepted) in their original sin, such severity as is in them un-eliminated, and such immature and hasty judgments as crop up at intervals uncorrected by later experience.
For the human failings of a writer sometimes throw a sidelight (however dim and flickering) upon the history and progress of the time: and therefore I have even included such a red-hot and frankly brutal article as 'The Wagner Bubble,' not because I value my own diatribes, or because I want to trample again upon the opinions which called it forth, but because it illustrates the difference of the estimation in which Wagner was held in this country in 1888 and 1908. Similarly, the transformation which the critical attitude towards what was 'the new English school' in the eighties has undergone in twenty years, would scarcely be appreciated by my readers if some of my younger tiltings at the Powers that Were disappeared from these pages.