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Until lately, the humour of the Americans has been chiefly oral. Up to the period when the publication of the first American "Sporting Magazine" was commenced at Baltimore, in 1829, and which was immediately followed by the publication, in New York, of "The Spirit of the Times," there existed no such class of writers in the United States, as have since that recent day, conferred such popularity on this description of literature.
The New York "Constellation,"* was the only journal expressly devoted to wit and humour; but "The Spirit of the Times" soon became the general receptacle of all these fugitive productions. The
* See Porter's account of "The Spirit of the Times. VOL. I. b
ability with which it was conducted, and the circulation it enjoyed, induced the proprietors of other periodicals to solicit contributions similar to those which were attracting so much attention in that paper. Of the latter kind are the three articles from the pen of Mc Clintoch, which originally appeared in the " Portland Advertiser." The rest of the series by the same author, I have not been able to procure, as they have shared the fate of many others of no less value, that appeared in the daily press of the United States. To collect, arrange, and preserve these specimens of American humour, and present them to the British reader, in an unobjectionable shape, is the object of this compilation.
To such of the numbers contained in these volumes as I could trace the paternity, I have appended the names of the authors, and shall now conclude, by expressing to those gentlemen the very great gratification I have experienced in the perusal of their admirable sketches.