To Henry P. Prescott, Strong Drink and Tobacco Smoke (1869)
[vii] Though having no special knowledge of the subject treated ot in this book, I have endeavoured to see if safe through the press for the sake of its writer, who was a very old friend of mine. The son of an actor who stood high in the estimation of the past generation of playgoers, but who died while his children were young, Henry Paul Prescott was very early thrown upon the world to shift for himself. Gifted with much natural taste and feeling for art, he tried as a boy to carve out a career for himself among the painters. But before starvation overtook him, he was fortunate enough to find shelter in the Excise, Mr. Wood, long the chairman of the Board, who had known his father and always took a kindly interest in the fortunes of Prescott and his elder brother, providing places for both in the service over which he presided.
It was while serving in the lower grades of the Inland Revenue hierarchy that my friend acquired the [viii] familiarity with the character of malt, hops, and tobacco, which is evidenced in the following paper.
He took to the microscope, partly for the love of it, partly for its usefulness in his profession, and partly, I think, because it gave him an excuse for the practice of etching, an art of which he was passionately fond, and in which the plates which accompany this work show that he had attained no mean proficiency.
For years past the preparation of these plates, and of the text which accompanies them, had been the solace and occupation of his leisure; and it was his great ambition to publish them. But a few months ago he fell into a rapid consumption, that which carried off his elder brother twenty years ago, and died without having seen more than the first sheet in type.
Critical readers will note much room for improvement in the text of the little book; but on the whole, it seemed to me better not to attempt to do more than remove obvious errors, or supply the place of obvious deficiencies in a work which pretends to be but an imperfect memorial of an incomplete life.