This work is part of the "Book-Lovers Library" series which was edited by Henry B. Wheatley (1838 - 1917). Wheatley was a historian, librarian and scholar of repute and editor of the Book-Lovers Library series. Quoted from the author's "Preface."
"Many articles have been written on book dedications, notably the one in D'Israeli's CURIOSITIES OF LITERATURE; and the late Mr. Huth printed privately an interesting and
valuable volume (edited by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt), in which a large number of dedications and prefaces are reproduced; but I believe that the present is the first instance of a book being entirely devoted to the history of this topic."
"In the following pages I have attempted to trace the subject through its three phases. In its first stage dedications are seen as the spontaneous expression of an author's love and respect for his friend or his patron. In the second we travel through those years when all sense of shame was absent from the mind of the author, who sold his praises to the highest bidder. In the third we come back to a condition of things resembling the first, for at the present day the dedication is only used by an author who wishes to associate his book with some friend, as the patron has ceased to exist. Many of our great authors, from Shakespeare
downwards, are included in the list of dedicators, and I have tried to give specimens of the work of most of them. Dryden and Johnson stand out from this class, the former as a pleader for patronage for himself in terms quite unworthy of so great a man, and the latter as the dignified spokesman of others, and not as a beggar for himself."
"Although some of the examples will be familiar to all readers, many are from less known sources, and these will, I hope, give a certain freshness to the quotations as a whole. There is, however, a delicate flavour of antiquity and a certain quaint charm in the old print of the books from which many of the dedications have been drawn that seems to depart when the same sentences are printed in modern type, and we are apt sometimes to wonder what it was that we originally admired. The bouquet has fled while we were in the act of removing
the cork from the bottle."
"If my kind friend the reader will in fancy replace the blurred type, — if he will put himself in the place of those who lived in another age than ours, and had little or nothing in common with
modern lines of thought, he will the better be able to appreciate the value of my gatherings, and he will too, I hope, be ready to acknowledge the claim I have ventured to set up, that this volume will be the means of throwing some light on a not unimportant chapter of literary history."