[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]






[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


The occasion of my connexion with this volume, will appear from the following extract from an unfinished note in Mr. Bethune’s handwriting, which I received a few days before his death :


I almost wish I could have seen yourself, though it had been for never so short a time. There are many manuscripts which I should fearlessly put into your hand which otherwise I'must burn indiscriminately, not choosing to leave them to the criticism of others.'

On my arrival at Mountpleasant, my friend, who was then in a very weak state, attempted to make a selection from his papers, of such as he had a wish to have preserved; but perceiving him quite unfit for the excitement and exertion attendant on this, and fearing that he might destroy not a few which might contribute, one way or other, to illustrate his mental character and history, I succeeded in persuading him to consign the whole into my hands, assuring him that it would be my earnest endeavour to fulfil, to the utmost of my power, what I might conceive to be his wishes concerning them.

Of my attempt to perform the duty thus devolving on me, this volume is the result. The materials for it have been derived chiefly from his correspondence, from unpublished pieces in verse, and from such information respecting him, as his friends could supply.

To his correspondents, who have, so far as applied to, with one or two exceptions, kindly furnished me with the use of his letters or with copies, I owe, and now beg to tender, my best thanks. Through their kindness, I have been enabled to present a considerable amount of what I am led to anticipate will be found interesting autobiography; which I have always used in preference to narration of my own, both as more intrinsically valuable, and as likely to be more acceptable to the reader.

[blocks in formation]

My labour in regard to the letters imbodied in this volume, has been chiefly that connected with selection and arrangement. Correction, as to the composition, they have needed almost none. I do not know if a dozen alterations of this kind have been made in the whole series.

As to the selections from his Poetical Remains the case has been somewhat different. Few of them seem to have undergone that repeated and

severe revision which this sort of composition pei culiarly demands. In the want of this, liowever,

I have resorted more to excision, than to alteration with a view to correction; and what I have attempted in this latter way, I contemplate with as little satisfaction as any part of my labours. I at first thought of printing such alterations in italics or within brackets, but a distaste for the patched and barbarous appearance it would have presented in some places deterred me from this. The parts so altered, however, are but few, and the reader accustomed to distinguish styles of writing will be very likely to detect most of them.

That the volume will be found chargeable with con

« ForrigeFortsett »