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If, Yes and Perhaps by Edward Everett Hale


Four Possibilities and Six Exaggerations, with Some Bits of Fact.



Boston: Fields, Osgood, & Co., Successors To Ticknor and Fields. 1869.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by Ticknor and Fields, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

University Press: Welch, Bigelow, & Co., Cambridge.


I dedicate this book to the youngest of my friends, now two hours old. Fun, fact, and fancy,--may his fresh life mix the three in their just proportions.

MILTON, June 6, 1868.


The title to this book has met with general opprobrium, except in a few quarters, where it was fortunately regarded as beneath contempt. Colonel Ingham even exacted an explanation by telegraph from the Editor, when he learned from the Governor-General of Northern Siberia what the title was. This explanation the Editor gave in the following note. It is, however, impossible to change the title, as he proposes. For reasons known to all statesmen, it is out of the question to swap horses in crossing a river; and all publishers know that it is equally impossible to change titles under those circumstances.


I have your note complaining of the sensational title, "somewhat affected," as you think, which I gave to our little story-book. Of course I am sorry you do not like the name; but, while you strike, I beg you to hear.

I readily acceded to your original title, and called the book in manuscript as you bade me,--

"A Few Short Sketches taken from Ancient History, Modern Travel, and the Realm of Imagination, Illustrative of the Poetry of the Bible, the History of Christianity, the Manners of the Times, and the Politics of the Present and Past Generations."

This title would, I admit, meet the views of most of our present critics. But I abandoned it on my own responsibility,--you being then beyond the telegraph, at the mouth of the Oby River,--because it occurred to me, that, under the catalogue rules of Panizzi and the lamented Jewett, we should be indexed and catalogued at "Few." I did not think that a good omen.

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