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For an author to write a preface to his own book, as modern prefaces are frequently written, or as those in the olden times invariably were, requires no little portion of what our Gallic neighbours call “ Hardisse de la effronte :" and yet, if a preface must be written, no one perhaps is more proper to furnish that “weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable" part of the work, than he who has written the text itself.
The question proposed by multitudes of readers is, “are prefaces at all necessary ?” In the minds of such, they bear the same relation to a book, as a lodge does to a mansion. The eye of the visitor being fixed upon the only object of attraction which meets his vision, the mansion, the lodge is passed by unnoticed, in order to explore the “many chambered” abode of the great. This, however, arises not so much from the uselessness of prefaces, as from the general want of interest which they possess. The great, or legitimate design of a preface is, to introduce the reader to a brief acquaintance with the work, before he enters upon the work itself: but in how many instances this is done, is best known by those who read most.
The present volume is a collection of unconnected facts; each of which contains some evident, and useful moral, or some striking display of an all-directing Providence. The neutral ground, which is as frequently occupied by the champions of infidelity, as by the advocates of truth, is altogether left to the undistarbed
possession of the former too numerous class, while the imperishable verities of the Book of God, form the strong position which is here taken.
The writer has long been convinced in his judgment, that there is no necessity that recourse should be had to the impure fictions of the novel-writer by trade, either for deep interests, or extensive entertainment. The every day affairs of ordinary life, furnish sufficient subjects for all these purposes, and, in many instances, possess much more that is interesting and wonderful, than the most fanciful and creative imagination can conceive. A few such facts are here collected ; and if they do not prove what has been stated, it is not because they possess not interest in themselves, but from want of skill in him who has ventured to employ them.
That all that might have been made of them has not been made, is most certain ; and partly because it was not intended. All that was designed to be done, was, to exhibit them in such a dress, as might render them acceptable to a class of persons whose prejudices it was necessary in some degree to consult and please, with a hope that they might so far interest in their commencement, as to induce an attentive perusal of the whole, and that the moral advantages which the Tales exhibit, might equally be realized. Should these results follow, although only in the experience of a few, they will stimulate to renewed exertion in the field of literary toil, and impart a pleasure of the most exalted kind, to the heart of
OR, THE LAST EMBRACE.
LEND me your ears and patience, my good sirs
FOURTEEN years have passed away in the ceaseless whirl of time, since the impressions, a sketch of which I am about to give, were made; but the feelings, never to be forgotten while the heart throbs with life, have frequently, since then, been resuscitated from the oblivion of buried years, and in all the vigour and impressiveness of actual vision, have passed before me.