« ForrigeFortsett »
Author of the “ Prophecy of Duncannon Fays of Loch Lomond
-"Sicilian Boy"_" Maniae of the Desert"- &c. fc.
* The conclusion of the work renders the beginning reprehensible ; one would imagine them to be two different books, which ought not to be read by the same people. If you intended to exhibit rational personages, why would you expose them before they were become go ?"
"My young folks are amiable; but to love them at thirty, it is necessary to have known ibom when they were ten years younger. One must have lived with them a long time to be pleased with their company; and to relish their virtuen, it is necessary we should first have deplored their failings."
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY J, M‘GOWAN AND SON
GREAT WINDMILL STREET,
The events which form the substance of the following composition, or at least the domestic occurrence upon which they are founded (since unfortunately for humanity they are more than fiction) swims yet in my memory, as the half deciphered elements of a disjointed dream, which far from being totally obliterated, though defaced by time, and faded from the height of their deformity, still float before the imagination; nevertheless, I think it necessary to remark that many of its scenes are sketched from observation, and adhesion to their tendency, as far as was consistent with my design, accurately preserved: the letters, &c. of Sunderland (of which the originals were in my possession) are verbally transcribed, and the success of the atrocious confederates, Mountdale and Clairfort, too faithfully depicted: but fully to demonstrate the agonizing penitence of their unhappy victims, to paint the SOFTOws of maternal solicitude, or to pencil the feelings of the forsaken father, what flow of diction could suffice-what language be found adequate ?
I know that one of the faults likely to be imputed to me on perusing the following pages, is having for the sake of originality or feature, gone beyond the bounds of strictest probity in depicting the foibles or virtues of mankind, and in their warmth of colouring, ontstepped the limits prescribed by human experience; I know that those little acquainted with the traits or passions of humanity, except as they are discernable in the common occurrences of bustle and dissipation, and wholly ignorant of the effects produced upon the mind by No. 1.
the influence of reflection, of sorrow, and of solitude, will unhesitatingly charge me with exaggerating the portrait, and rendering it dissimilar to the universal model-nature: I am aware that notwithstanding what I have advanced, it may still be doubted by many whether such characters as Sunderland and Emily, or even the benevolent pastor, are ever to be encountered in real life, or have any existence in the creation; hence contending and concluding the chain of circumstanoes connecting them together, cannot be otherwise than fictitious, and badly delineated : and all this merely because during their own insipid progress, they have met or observed no one who might have exactly resembled the description.
To such profound cavillers as these, on whom alike the flash of nature and the flower of sentiment make but little impression, I cannot, for the sake of brevity, better reply than by adopting a phrase of the justly celebrated Rousseau—“or what importance can it be to you, ye people of the world ? Certainly, to you, it is all a fiction.”
To such as these, who carp at singularity of sentiment, because incapable of deviating themselves, or even extending their ideas, beyond the hackneyed sphere prescribed by their own narrow understandings; also, to that bigotted class of beings who hourly inculcate a false sophistry that supersedes the true purposes of existence, contemners of real philanthrophy—the myrmidons of virtue-sapping the very basis of its noblest feature, and substituting for active benevolence, superstition and credulity, I could point out a moral worthy their attention; but suffice it to observe here, that within this simple selection of nature's choicest productions and her bitterest weeds
“ Latet anguis in berba,"