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LETTERS TO X

TO

SPEEDWELL

AND

HENRY

FROM

H. J. MASSINGHAM

“True virtue is indeed nothing else but true taste.”-Fielding.

LONDON

CONSTABLE & COMPANY LTD,

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PREFACE

THESE letters were written two, three and four years ago, many of them, indeed, before the war. I come back to them, therefore, almost as an alter ego, almost in the guise of the grim, impartial critic who will read them and judge them. But why should the conceit of my later maturity assume that I could have written better ones to-day? If they are bad, I am no better ; if pleasant enough, no worse. I will commit myself no further than to say that they are different from what they would be, if I wrote them now. Some things I meet here full in the face, I now see as through a glass darkly ; others, casually visiting these pages, have come to live with me. Above all, if not wiser, I am certainly older and sadder than when I wrote this book-not two, three and four

years

older. For these are times when we outpace our years. The old gentleman who prods me with the tip of his sickle and forces me into a run, enables me all the same to look backwards in a fuller perspective. At least, such as they are, I can see youth in these letters, a youth I can never expect to compass again. I fancy, too, that I still possess enough of present *youth to laugh both at and with the plumper youth of the past. Wherefore, go little book!

H. J. M. June, 1919.

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