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In submitting the pages that follow to the judgment of the public, I feel that I am bound to preface them with a few words of apology, both for themselves and for the period of their appearance.

They have taken much longer in the writing than would appear at first sight. A practised writer could probably have completed them in a week or ten days. I could under no circumstances have done that; but had there been nothing to hinder, I could, no doubt, have finished them much more quickly than I have done. But a malady which has been upon me for a long time has at length so affected my hand as to make writing always a difficulty, sometimes an impossibility ; and I have been


forced to write slowly and very little at a time. This is no excuse for inaccuracies, if there are any, or for defects of judgment, of which I am but too conscious. But it may serve to palliate the faults-of. unconnectedness and repetition. I have endeavoured to correct these faults on revision ; but I could not do so thoroughly without writing it all over again, and it hardly seemed to deserve that trouble.

The same cause will account for the inap propriateness of the appearance of this sketch at a time when there is such a widespread belief, on both sides of the Atlantic, that peace is not far distant. A good deal of the language in it may seem exaggerated and out of place at the present moment; but there was no idea of peace three months or even one month ago, and it must be more than three months since I began it


Sept. 9, 1864.

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