« PreviousContinue »
mind, while they would not derogate from the deeper points brought forward for investigation.-How I came by the story itself, is of no consequence.
It remains to explain why I have been ambitious to address this work to you, Sir. Simply because I believe you agree with me on almost every one of the subjects discussed: for it is my pride as well as pleasure to think I may apply to you a sentiment uttered, on a very different occasion, to very different persons,—“ tibi eadem quæ mihi, bona malaque esse intellexî.” In a word, without glancing at your high public character, which might well deem itself above the patronage of a mere private story, no name
I might have fixed upon could be more appropriate i to a work, the object of which is to recommend good
sense, proper moderation, and sound Theology, in opposition to all extremes, whether of ambition, refinement, or dangerous scepticism.
To return to the work itself, if it detach but one man, or one woman, from the headlong career which most are pursuing, and induce them to look for a while into themselves, as God and nature intended them to do, its end will be answered.
I am, Sir,
THE EDITOR'S PREFACE.
The world would be little interested in knowing how the manuscript of the following pages came into the Editor's hands; for there was neither romance nor sentiment attending it. It was in the most ordinary and every-day manner that he was called upon to pronounce his opinion, as to the advisableness of giving it to the public, and was afterwards entrusted with the province of preparing it for the press.
This however amounts to a confession, that the responsibility of publishing the work belongs to the Editor, and not the Author. He thinks it necessary, therefore, to explain, that the manuscript, as it came into his own absolute and unrestricted possession, to do with it as he pleased, came also with the name of the Author studiously concealed. Whether the Author be dead or alive, what was his situation in life, his politics, his connections, his country, or his habits,—all this can only be distantly guessed at,
The internal evidence, combined with a few other circumstances, induces the belief that he was a person once not unknown to the world.
But all this is of small importance; for it was the work itself, not the Author, that influenced the Editor in deciding upon its publication. He is however by no means sanguine of its success, and owns that he does not think it will please the many, if he is not doubtful even of the few.
Whoever expects a novel, will be disappointed. Variety and incident are equally wanting: the Editor had almost said interest, but that his own feelings forbade. Yet what can be expected from mere domestic occurrences and conversations, among
three or four individuals attached to one another, in a remote corner of the kingdom? There is, however, a history of mind, as well as of heart, together with a manner of relating it, which those who like it at all will not quit. Some of the subjects, too, are of the very first consequence to the reason and the soul of man: and if it should seem strange that these are mixed up with the history of a very sweet passion, and with one or two episodes approaching to downright romance; if poetry and feeling peep out amid the gravest, and, as some may think, the coldest discussions; this only serves to shew that reason and love are not such imcompatible things as they have been supposed.
EDITOR S PREFACE.
A question has arisen in the Editor's mind, whether the work is one of fiction, or whether it is not a reality. It is at all events very inartificially con-. structed; and this is one reason for supposing it to be not fiction. We do not know which of two is the hero; and if he who gives his name to the work may be supposed to be so, he is full of faults, many of which make him appear weak, and sometimes ridiculous. He is irresolute, splenetic, changeable, and always in extremes; full of prejudice, a spoiled child, an epicure, and a dupe.
What then could possess the Author (if he was really in the regions of fiction, and had a power over facts) to chuse such a man for his hero?
And yet, with all his faults, there is a sense of honour, a loftiness, and a real refinement about Tremaine, which, blended as they are with his disappointments, and allied to a kind nature, make him an object of sincere regard.
But is the work then not a fiction? Were there ever such
persons as Tremaine and his friends ? such conversations as are here related ? and such places as Woodington, Evelyn Hall, or St. Jules ?
As to all this, the Editor himself (like the reader) can only be allowed to guess; and if his guesses do not mislead him as to the author, the scenes and persons represented may be considered as any thing but imaginary.