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In the year
danger of discovery, there was the daily risk of falling into the hands of the Americans themselves, who invariably vis itod sins of this nature more severely on the natives of the country than on the Europeans who fell into their hands. In fact, the agent of Mr. was several times arrested by the local authorities ; and, in one instance, he was actually condemned by his exasperated countrymen to the gallows. Speedy and private orders to his jailer alone saved him from au ignominious death. He was permitted to escape ; and this seeming and indeed actual peril was of great aid in supporting his assumed character among the English. By the Americans, in bis little sphere, he was denounced as a hold and inveterate Tory. In this manner he continued to serve his country in secret during the early years of the struggle, hourly environed by danger, and the constant subject of unmerited opprobrium.
Mr. was named to a high and honorable employment at a European court. Before vacating his seat in Congress, he reported to that body an outline of the circumstances related, necessarily suppressing the name of his agent, and demanding an appropriation in behalf of a man who had been of so much use, at so great risk. à suitable sum was voted, and its delivery was confided to the chairman of the secret committee. Mr.
took the necessary means to summon his agent to a personal interview. They met in a wood, at midnight. dere Mr. —complimented his companion on his fidelity and adroitness; explained the necessity of their communican tions being closed ; and finally tendered the money. The other drew back, and declined receiving it. “The country
6 has need of all its means," he said ; as for myself, I can work, or gain a livelihood in various ways." Persuasion was useless, for patriotism was uppermost in the heart of this remarkable individual ; and Mr. -departed, bearing with him the gold he had brought, and a deep respect for tho man who had so long hazarded his life, unrequited, for the cause they served in ccmmon.
The writer is under an impression that, at a later day the agent of Mr. - consented to receive a remuneration for what he had done ; but it was not until his country wan entirely in a condition to bestow it.
It is scarcely necessary to add, that an anecdote like this, simply but forcibly told by one of its principal actors, made a deep impression on all who heard it. Many years later, circumstances, which it is unnecessary to relate, and of an entirely adventitious nature, induced the writer to publish a povel, which proved to be, what he little foresaw at the time, the first of a tolerably long series. The same adventitious causes which gave birth to the book, determined its scene and its general character. The former was laid in a foreign country; and the latter embraced a crude effort to describe foreign manners.
When this tale was published, it became matter of reproach among the author's friends, that he, an American in heart as in birth, should give to the world a work which aided perhaps, in some slight degree, to feed the imaginations of the young and unpracticed among his own countrymen, by pictures drawn from a state of society so different from that to which he belonged. The writer, while he knew how much of what he had done was parely accidental, felt the reproach to be one that, in a measure, was just. As the only atonement in his power, he determined to inflict a second book, whose subject should admit of no cavil, not only on the world, but on himself. He chose patriotism for his theme; and to those who read this introduction and the book itself, it is scarcely necessary to add, that he took the hero of the anecdote just related as the best illustration of his subject.
Since the original publication of “ The Spy,” there Lave appeared several accounts of different persons who are supposed to have been in the author's mind while writing the Look. As Mr. did not mention the name of his agent. the writer never knew any more of his identity with this or that individual, than has been here explained. Both Washington and Sir Henry Clinton had an unusual number of secret emissaries ; in a war that partook so much of a do mestic character, and in which the contending parties were people of the same blood and language, it could scarcely be otherwise orders of that gallant soldier who, a quarter of a century before, was mentioned with honor, in the last chapter of this very book. Glerious as was that march, and brilliant as were its results in a military point of view, a stride was then made by the nation, in a moral sense, that has hastened it by an age, in its progress toward real independence and high political influence. The guns that filled the valley of the Aztecs with their thunder, have been heard in echoes on the other side of the Atlantic, producing equally hope or apprehension.
The style of the book has been revised by the author in This edition. In this respect, he has endeavored to make it more worthy of the favor with which it has been received; though he is compelled to admit there are faults so interwoven with the structure of the tale that, as in the case of a decayed edifice, it would cost perhaps less to reconstruct than to repair. Five-and-twenty years have been as ages with most things connected with America. Among other advances, that of her literature has not been the least. So little was expected from the publication of an original work of this description, at the time it was written, that the first volume of " The Spy” was actually printed several months,
“ before the author felt a sufficient inducement to write a lino of the second. The efforts expended on a hopeless task aro
. rarely worthy of him who makes them, however low it may be necessary to rate the standard of his general merit.
One other anecdote connected with the history of this book may give the reader some idea of the hopes of an American author, in the first quarter of the present century. As the second volume was slowly printing, from manuscript that was barely dry when it went into the compositor's nands, the publisher intimated that the work might grow to a length that would consume the profits. To set his mind di rest, the last chapter was actually written, printed, and paged, several weeks before the chapters which precede it were even thought of. This circumstance, while it cannot excuse, may serve to explain the manner in which the acturs are hurried off the scene.
A great change has come over the country since this book was originally written. The nation is passing from the gristle into the bone, and the common mind is beginning 1 keep even pace with the growth of the body politic. The march from Vera Crus to Mexico was made under the
There is now no enemy to fear, but the one that resides within. By accustoming ourselves to regard even the peo
. ple as erring beings, and by using the restraints that wisdom has adduced from experience, there is much reason to hope that the same Providence which has so well ajded de in our infancy, may continue to smile on our manhood.
COOPERATOWI, March 20, 1849.
And though amidst the calm of thought entire,
Some high and haughty features might betray
That fled composure’s intellectual ray,
GERTRUDE OF Wyoma
It was near the close of the year 1780, that a solitary traveller was seen pursuing his way through one of the numerous little valleys of West-Chester.1
The easterly wind, with its chilling dampness and increasing violence, gave unerring notice of the approach of a storm, which, as usual, might be expected to continue for several days : and the experienced eye of the traveller was turned in vain, through the darkness of the evening, in quest of some convenient shelter, in which, for the term of his confinement by the rain that already began to mix with the atmosphere in A thick mist, he might obtain such accommodations as his purposes required. Nothing however offered but the small and inconvenient tenements of the lower order of the inhabitants, with whom, in that immediate neighborhood, he did not think it either safe or politic to trust himself.
The county of West-Chester, after the British had cima tained possession of the island of New York, became com
1 As each State of the American Union has its own counties, it often hap. pens that there are several which bear the same name. The scene of this ale is in New York, whose county of West-Chester is the nearest adjoining to the city.
2 The city of New York is situate on an island called Manhattan; but it is ut one point, separated from the county of West-Chester by a creek of only