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A STRING of APOLOGIES by way of PREFACE. From the circumstance of the present volume, being brought out under the pa. tronage, of my very numerous and respectable Subscribers, it may be naturally inferred, that, the greater part of my kind readers, must have seen my Prospectus, and, as the few who have not, may yet have an opportunity of becoming acquainted with a detail of those distressing and afflicting events, under which, I was compelled, to come once more before the public at this LATE HOUR OF MY DAY, as they are related in my sixth introductory chapter, and again alluded to, in my XLIV. XLV. and xlvi. towards the conclusion of my volume, -I deem it unnecessary to take up more of their time at present in regard to those matters -especially, as the urgency of my so doing, and the necessity of the case must appear more evident, as the reader draws towards the conclusion of his task, and finds, so truly, all these - Latter Struggles" severe, and protracted, as they have been,-end in discomfiture and consequent disappointment,
In regard to the appropriateness of my titles, and of my mottos-the kind of spirit that breathes through—and the description of materials used in the construction of my fabric-as well as the manner in which I have redeemed certain pledges -it may also be unnecessary here to say more, after what has been already stated in my concluding chapter.
But there is one particular there touched upon, which the more I think of it, I see the more reason for again resuming in this stage of my labours, and that is, to apologize still more for the numerous inaccuracies which must be supposed to abound in the composition of my work, and which cannot fail to be noticed by those who delight in such discoveries. And this, 1 conceive, I cannot do better than by now adding, to what I then said, that, instead of my work being expected to be found correct, either in its composition--construction-or grammatical accuracy, it may be rather a matter of surprise, considering the way in which I have been situated during its progress through the press, that there should be found any thing in it, distinguished by correctness in any of these particulars ;-for the apo. logy of poor Daniel Defoe, the agreeable entertainer of the juvenile years of us SEXAGENARIANS, although not perfectly to the purpose in all its points, is, as will be found, too generally applicable to my case.
But let us hear what this otherwise agreeable writer, in his preface to his Jure Divino, says for himself—“I shall say but very little in the defence of the perform. ance, but this :—it has been wrote under the heaviest weight of intolerable pressure; the greater part of it was composed in prison, and as the author has unhappily felt, the most violent and constant efforts of his enemies to destroy him ever since that, the little composure he has had, must be his short excuse for any thing incor. rect. Let any man, under millions of distracting cares, and the constant ill treatment of the world, consider the power of such circumstances over both inven. tion and expression, he will then allow, that I had been to be excused, even in worse errors than are to be found in this book.”
Now, although, there is little invention in my Narrative, and though I have not been placed, during these few months, in a situation, and under circumstances otherwise, exactly similar to those, in which, our old friend, the ingenious author of Robinson Crusoe found himself, when he gave vent to the above sorrowful repre. sentation of his case, -and held it out as the best apology he could offer for any supposeable inaccuracies, which might be found in that particular work in which he had been engaged at the time-yet, it must be allowed, by my considerate friends, that those recent sufferings must have been very acute-as well as most severely felt by the author of this humble performance-whatever was their na
ture, and from whatever source they proceeded—which could make him for a sea. son, almost despair of ever being able to bring his task to a completion; -and, to express himself, in the manner, he has repeated, at the conclusion of his XLVI. chapter as being afraid, that these, his “ LATTER STRUGGLES, would, in the end, turn out DEADLY CONFLICTS !”
Under such circumstances, it is too evident, that all present pretensions to accuracy must be laid aside, and, from the extreme severity and hardship in a case, where the business had become so exceedingly pressing, as to admit of no delay, even had not the precariousness of my health, and other considerations, impelled me forward to the completion of my object, with a rapidity which still astonishes myself, at a time when I was so ill able to bear any violent exertion of the kind -I must just trust, that the extent of my misfortunes,—and a situation so unfa. vourable to such exertions, as that in which I have been recently placed will plead at once powerfully and efficaciously for me.
But, however favourable to me the verdict of the public may be, from these considerations, I am too well convinced, from the exalted ideas I have been led to cherish, in course of my pilgrimage, of the infinitude and variety manifested in the works of the Deity, that men's minds are as various, and as diversified, as their faces,-that it would be absolutely impossible for all my readers to think alike on some points :—this would be expecting too much from human nature, as at present constituted,--and ill in accordance with, the sage maxim, which we see so often verified, viz - That he who attempts, or expects, -to please everybody,—will please nobody."
But the fact is, I look for, and expect, no such thing ;-and while, I trust, I have endeavoured to give satisfaction to all, so far as in my power, and I could do so, without any conpromise of principle, I shall feel contented, and much gratified, to find, that, although I have not been fortunate enough to please all, I have nevertheless, given satisfaction to the greater part of my readers ;-and, in order, if possible, to make that greater part still the greater, instead of finding fault with, and being disposed to quarrel with the others, I shall endeavour to anticipate sundry objections, which some of them, according to their various turns of thinking, may possibly offer,-and do the best I can, in order to obviate them as I go along—in the hopes that, what may have appeared, when viewed separately, or hastily, as defects or blemishes in the superstructure,-may, when looked upon more considerately,—and only as part of that superstructure, will, with a little explanation, turn out to be some of its best characteristics, and greatest excel. lencies.
In the first place, then, one description of my readers may object to the ex. treme simplicity of the manner in which I have gone to work, and handled my subject--the sameness of the incidents—the common-place nature of my details —and the consequent want of extraordinary adventure, and out-of-the-way des • criptions. But, such a remark as this, is the best compliment that could have been paid me as in the case of the answer of the carter, to the architect, who came up, and put the question to him, just as he was entering upon Musselburgh Bridge" Well, my friend, wbat do you think of this bridge ”-“ 'Deed, Sir, it no deserves the name of a brigit's just like the king's hee way." The carter could not assuredly have paid the stranger, (who, it appears, turned out to be the builder of the bridge himself,) a greater compliment than he did, at that time, although unconsciously ;-and, in a work professing, as mine does, to be a faithful delineation of the events of a certain portion of realnot fictitiousLIFE,-a syrict adherence to facts, and incidents, however homely and common
some of them may appear, is, undoubtedly, the most prudent course that could have been adopted by the author; and, instead of a defect, will, it is hoped, upon second thoughts, be found, to be one of its best recommendations.
A second, may be disposed to object, not so much to the plain, straight-forward way I have gone to work, in this respect, in taking facts as they came in my way, and endeavouring to make the best of them, as, to that particular portion of my TIME, to which, I have chiefly confined myself, and which must necessarily have occasioned, that great preponderance of the rough and gloomy, over the more pleasant and sunny scenes of life. But this, alas ! as I have taken occasion to express myself at page 400 of the work itself, was not my fault ;-and what else, I may ask, in this place, could be expected from a volume, assuming, and assuming with such apparent good reason, the full-of-meaning appellation of “ LATTER STRUGGLES,”—and embracing, as it does, so melancholy a portion of my days.
To remedy this, in some measure, it will be seen, that I have gone back, in my introductory chapters, to a few incidents of a more exhilarating nature, than those which will be found to occupy the greater part of these last fifteen years of my life ; independently, of my not having passed over, without noticing, a number of incidents and little matters in due course of my narrative, which, but for the sake of variety, and lightening the subject a little, I would not perhaps have dwelt on 30 largely, or, indeed, have noticed at all,
But here, a third party may object, that the cure I have adopted is worse than the disease ;-for, that, by introducing so many stories bordering upon the mar. vellous, I must certainly have destroyed much of the simplicity of my narrative, have converted it into a medium of engendering anew, formerly exploded supersti. tious notions-and of fostering, the most absurd and delusive ideas ;-while, in al. lusion to a number of little incidents, of a more ordinary nature, he may, at once roundly assert, that such trifling matters, were not worth the mentioning.
These may appear grave charges, at first sight, let us examine them.
There is no part of my task, I believe, more liable to the first objection, than those passages which relate to Sandy Ferguson's fright, in the lonely glen betwixt Auchindown and Glass—my own Ghost story in the inn at Dalwhinnieand the strange-looking figure which I encountered on the blasted heath, near to the place, where, according to Shakspeare, Macbeth and Banquo met the witches! But, then, let it be observed, in the first place, that, I did not go out of my way in any one instance, in quest of these strange matters—and, secondiy, the use I made of the several occurrences when I had so met with them.
Was it really to engender and revive a spirit of superstition ?-_or, was it not, rather, to embrace the several opportunities such occurrences afforded me, to produce a quite opposite, or contrary effect
and to endeavour, by the best explanation in my power, to root out and remove that relic of times gone by, as see in pages 191, 196 and 225, &c. where these circumstances are severally noticed.
Even in the case of my memorable dream, although it puzzled me at the time, and still puzzles me to account for fully, on the principles of those who would trace all matters of the kind, with their several ramifications, to the busy work. ings of a disordered imagination, on past impressions and recent occurrences, it will be found, I have endeavoured to account, as in page 378, for, as much of it as I possibly could, upon the above principles, according to the extent of my own perceptive faculties ;-and, after putting others in possession of a detail of the facts, in order to enable them to judge for themselves, leaving it to them, in the exercise of their own ingenuity and skill, to account for the remainder, for more
mysterious part, as they may please, mor, in the best way they can ;-without any, the smallest, attempt on my part, to dogmatize either one way or other :
Although I certainly hold, that, I would be no less inexcusable, to deny that these mysterious facts did take place, with the benign consequences which fol. lowed, merely because I did not, and cannot, comprehend how such strange im. pressions were produced, as if I were to deny that the human body which I carry about with me, received nourishment froin, and had increased in growth as I grew up by, that food, which, after being taken in at the mouth, had passed into the stomach-merely because, with my limited faculties, I cannot account for, the manner in which the assimilating process is afterwards carried on,-by which, a portion of these heterogeneous elements, become “bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh!”
And, although I am not able to explain the hidden causes of delirium, and the nature of the mysterious springs which produce those strange effects of con. juring up imaginary spectres, and making them stalk, or stand before us, in all the appearance of reality, at the solemn hour of midnight, as I so fully experienced in the instance described in page 376, &c. still it will be seen that I have traced, or have endeavoured to trace, these matters to a beneficent origin, by whatever cause, manner, or means,—they are effected.
And in regard to those, little trifling incidents, not worth the mentioning, as it may have been said, did it never strike the objector, that, for some particular reason, or reasons, these, to him, little matters, might, at the time they happened, have been deemed as of some importance to me.
.-In short, may they not still be considered in the light of some of those notched trees described in the note at page 176, or, as so many indexes, or barometers, to shew the pressure of the Hygeian atmosphere, at particular times ; which, however uninteresting they may be to some of my readers, it is still of some consequence for me to recollect.
Others of my readers, may be disposed to find fault with my having introduced too many flowers in my path-too mapy encomiums upon myself and my writings-too much matter, bearing the mark of vindication and apology ;-but, in regard to the first, he, certainly, who formed the second objection in my string, could never have considered this in the light of a defect; and, sure enough, all the flowers, and sweet and fragrant many of them were, must now appear to be all few enough, to give sufficient relief to this part of my scene, darkened as it has been, by so many procrastinated and painful conflicts.
With regard to the numerous encomiums I have inserted, I trust this will be excused, for the same reason-and will, with every thing in the shape of vindication and apology, be placed to the credit of the true and operating motive, viz. that as, by the confession of my correspondent, who wrote one of the letters alluded to in page 166, at the time my great misfortune-(and which has since led to so many misfortunes)—took place in 1816,-MY NAME then, sTOOD HIGH IN THE COMMERCIAL WORLD-it might appear, that, however unfortunate I have been since, I have done nothing to forfeit it-and that, in other matters which I have been engaged, MY NAME STANDS HIGH still.
There are others again, who, from having met with a disappointment in their early affections, or, whatever cause, have not had an opportunity of experiencing the benefits, and tasting the sweets and solaces of female society, in such a manner as to enable them to form a true estimate of the matchless value, and inesti. mable worth of the virtuous part of that interesting portion of our species,--and so may be disposed to object to my having gone too far, and been too lavish, as they may be pleased to style it, in my praises of the female sex, in devoting (as