It is now a year and a half since I finished my first book, and the public have been almost as appreciative and generous in their praise of it as my nieces were. Kind letters of all sorts have poured in, and I have been overwhelmed with suggestions about the future, and what I should or should not do. Some have said - and I admit that these, in all friendliness, are the most earnest in their heartfelt appeals - that I should rest on my laurels and write no more. They urge that a second book always falls flat. If on the same subject as the first, it is generally a failure. If on a new subject, it is apt to be outside the writer's experience. And then they quote several incontestable examples which jump to the recollection of everybody. I really agree with this view of the case up to the point of not acting upon it. Nothing can ever bear being done a second time. This is one of the sadnesses of life, and I do not for a moment anticipate that No. 2 can please in the same kind of way as did No. 1. The method not being new, my readers will know pretty well what to expect; and this, probably, will immensely sharpen their critical judgment. Then there were those who said and wrote - and need I state that they are the flatterers who come most home to the author's heart, as is but natural' - 'We have read your book; we like it; we have found it useful and helpful, entertaining or suggestive. Cannot you give us more?' To these I answered: 'Give me time and I will try.' The result was that throughout the last year I have been making various notes about my life, things I saw and things I did, exactly as they occurred. These very likely will prove less interesting than former notes, which were more or less connected with the life that was behind me. One newspaper had it that I must have a very good memory. As a matter of fact, I have no memory at all, but from my youth I have kept, more or less continuously, commonplace books - a jumble of all sorts of things as I came across them in my very desultory reading. These notes were often so carelessly kept as not even to acknowledge where I stole the thought that gave me pleasure. This accounts for my having quotations at hand. Another reviewer kindly said I had a 'marked grace of style.' My dear old mother used to say she never considered a compliment was worth having that was not totally undeserved! I never had the slightest idea of possessing any style at all. But what is style? It is a weary topic when so much is said about 'getting style' (like 'getting religion'). Schopenhauer's remarks on the subject are worth noticing. He writes: 'There is no quality of style that can be got by reading writers who possess it. But if the qualities exist in us - exist, that is to say, potentially - we can call them forth and bring them into consciousness. We can learn the purposes to which they can be put. We can be strengthened in an inclination to use them, or get courage to do so. The only way in which reading can form style is by teaching us the use to which we can put our own natural gifts. We must have these gifts before we can learn the use of them. Without them, reading teaches us nothing.'

One friend wrote: 'I should have liked the book still better if the moral, and domestic reflections had been jumbled up with the rest, instead of being put like an appendix at the end.' With this I entirely agree, but my judgment in the matter was overruled by others. The most general criticism has been that the various subjects in the book are not kept enough apart. Some asked: 'Won't you write a cookery book alone? or a gardening book alone?' I could only say that I am no specialist. Dozens of such books exist and are much better than any I could write. I am and must remain an ignorant amateur. My mind only works, as I said before, on the lines of collecting knowledge, sweet and bitter, as I walk along life's way. What I have I can give, but I can neither create nor imagine. The accusations of the sudden jumps from gardening to surgery, or from cooking to art, which astonished my readers, are perfectly true. But are not these violent and sudden contrasts a marked characteristic of modern life? Do we not, many of us, any morning, go from our letters or newspapers - containing, perhaps, the most tragic human stories, affecting ourselves or those we love - to the ordering of the dinner for the friend who is to come in the evening, or seeing that the carriage or the fly is not forgotten for the guest who is leaving before noon? Such is life. So my months must remain quite as varied as before. It is sad to have to repeat the un-English name of 'Pot-Pourri,' which annoyed so many and was never very satisfactory to myself; but this book in no way aims at being more than a continuation of the first, a kind of second volume, a giving more to those who ask for it. The word 'potpourri' is so generally accepted in England to mean a sweet and pleasant mixture, that we do not realise that the original word meant a mixed stew, as do its synonyms of 'hotch-potch' and 'olla podrida,' a favourite Spanish dish consisting of a mixture of various kinds of meat chopped fine and stewed with vegetables.

Most of the letters I received were of kindly and affectionate appreciation. But some frankly criticised, while others marked short-comings. As usual, however, in such cases perfectly incompatible qualities were required. For instance, most of my gardening friends were disappointed at the information about gardening being so elementary, telling them little they did not know. They very likely overrated what I had to tell them, but they entirely missed the point of my omitting to make my information as detailed and special as I could have done - first, because I referred them to real gardening books, and secondly because I wanted what I did tell to be particularly addressed to beginners with small gardens who wished to do their best, but had little time to spend in the study of other books. On the other hand the ignorant amateurs, for whom it was specially written, mournfully complained that it still did not begin enough at the beginning. To these I always answered that Mr. Robinson must have realised this difficulty, as some years ago he reprinted the 'Amateur Gardener,' by Mrs. Loudon (Fredk. Warne & Co.), which is full of this elementary information, and to be had from any bookseller for the sum of ninepence.