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The collection of the materials of this work, their composition, and their publication in weekly numbers in the columns of the Springfield Republican, originated in the wish to add value and interest to that paper, and were simply regarded, at first, as a newspaper enterprise. The initial number was issued during the first week of 1854, and but a few numbers had been presented to the public, when letters began to be received, from every quarter, expressive of the hope that the papers would be placed in a form more accordant with the character of a permanently valuable work. The writer had already become aware of the richness of the field upon which he had entered, and was only too happy to see that the importance of his undertaking was popularly appreciated. To produce a work of permanent value, rather than one of passing interest, became his leading motive, and the results are the two volumes here presented.

Since the pubhcation of the work in the Republican, it has been thoroughly revised, and portions of it entirely rewritten; and, having honestly and laboriously endeavored to make it worthy of the place which it assumes to fill, it is submitted to the people of Western Massachusetts and all interested, with that strong confidence in then-kind judgments which their constant and cheering interest in the progress of the work has been so well calculated to inspire.