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The few books of the kind that have existed are now obsolete; and not one of those which have chanced to fall into my hands, appeared to me well adapted to answer the end proposed. They were defective in arrangement, or in diversity of subject; they were too incorrect in style for the present improved and improving age; and, from the absence of explanatory notes, could not be sufficiently intelligible to those totally unacquainted with the nature of business.
Indeed it is a matter of surprise, when we consider the rapid progress of publication within the last few years, that this deficiency has not sooner been supplied. Nor can I find any more probable reasons for it than the following.
1st. The difficulty of procuring materials for the work, and which no single house of business could supply.
2dly. The want of time, or of that portion, however small, of literary taste and acquirements, which may be considered necessary to prepare it for the press.
The former cause will operate in the case of men devoted to literary pursuits, who besides would be inadequate to the task, from their ignorance of business; the latter, in that of merchants themselves.
The difficulty alluded to is much greater than the reader may imagine.
Merchants are, usually, and, from a very proper feeling, averse to suffering their correspondence to be made public; and when they have, in some few instances, permitted a small selection to be made, for the exclusive use of a private academy, they have limited the favor to old letters and commonplace subjects; fearing that any correspondence of a
personal nature, or particularly interesting from the peculiarity or delicacy of the transactions involved (which, for such a purpose must be the more valuable) would be recognised, whatever attempts might be made to disguise it.
Having a large mass of correspondence at my command, I have been enabled to overcome this difficulty, and to submit to the public the following collection.
I have endeavoured to correct the diction, when necessary, in order to render them fair examples of the commercial style; avoiding some inelegancies, and some ungrammatical and quaint expressions, which, though frequently met with, are by no means to be commended, or admitted into such examples
are intended to be placed in the hands of the pupil at the commercial academy, or the youth who has just taken his seat at the counting-house desk. How far I have succeeded in this attempt, the reader will determine.
I have been careful to select simple transactions, and have, in many cases, given the entire correspondence relating to them, in order to shew distinctly the common routine of business. At the same time I have endeavoured, to introduce as much variety as my plan would allow, to obviate the monotony and dryness that are inseparable from the common-place occurrences of the countinghouse.
In a few instances, I have given the correspondence on one side only, for the following reasons. 1st. In order not to swell my book to too large. a size.
2nd. Because, in some transactions, the reply is, of necessity, merely an echo of the letter.
3rd. To afford to the young aspirant to commercial attainments the opportunity of writing answers, by way of exercise.
In short, it has been my principal object to furnish an appropriate Exercise-book for the use of schools; and I will venture to suggest that every pupil, destined for mercantile life, should be required to copy the following sheets from beginning to end.
Foreigners desirous of acquiring the English commercial style, may employ themselves very profitably in a similar manner.
The Appendix is a new feature in a work of this kind. In it will be found some useful information on subjects intimately connected with mercantile affairs, and which I have endeavoured to place in a clear point of view, to render them intelligible to my youthful readers.
The explanation of the German Chain Rule cannot fail to prove serviceable; since the utility of that Rule is unquestionable, and it is not generally known in this country.
PREFACE TO THE FOURTEENTH EDITION.
In the present Edition, the pages have been enlarged, the newest commercial terms embodied, and much additional matter inserted, among which will be found some correspondence with Australia (accompanied by invoices and account-sales), which, as being the first that has appeared on the subject of the commerce and productions of that rising colony, cannot fail to be highly interesting as well as useful and instructive.
To the preliminary observations some valuable hints havs been added.
The Appendix has undergone a careful revision, and been enriched with a considerable number of terms connected with commerce, trade, and the general business of life, so as to afford to the commercial novice not only a copious glossary, but a ready means of obtaining much of that knowledge which is essential to every station.
*This Work translated into French and German may also be had
of the Publishers.