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Entered according to the Act of Congress. in the year 1850, b
STRANGER AND TOWNSEND,
La the Clerk's office of the District Court for the sonɩnern district of New York
It would be affectation to retain, in this edition of our book, a preface that professes to doubt of its favourable reception; we find ourselves, therefore, compelled to write something new.
We are told by the Booksellers that the public is pleased with the tale, and we take this occasion to say, that we are delighted with the public. We hope that this reciprocity of good-will may continue.
Many people think, that as the United States is, in the way of works of fiction, untrodden ground, it is a fine field for the pen of an author. We can only speak of it as we have found it. It is true, that we are a people composed of emigrants from every country of the Christian world :—but they did not come here by chance, nor do they stay here through necessity. They emigrated to improve their temporal conditions; and they remain, because they have been successful. When men assemble with such commendable intentions, and under circumstances that afford a just ground for hope, whatever is peculiar in customs, is soon merged in the expedients which the most ingenious invent for their mutual benefit. It is a gene
ral remark amongst travellers, that, contrary t their expectations, they find less originality of character in this country than in England. They make the comparison with England, because we are parts of the same people, and the surprise is occasioned, that so unexpected a result should proceed from the extraordinary freedom of our government. If by originality they mean oddness and eccentricity, the observation is just; but if invention, quickness to remedy evils, and boldness of thought, be intended, it is wrong.
Common sense is the characteristic of the American people; it is the foundation of their institutions ; it pervades society, bringing the hign and the low near to each other; it tempers our religion, yielding that indulgence to each other's weakness, which should follow the mandates of God; it wears down the asperities of character-but it ruins the beau ideal.
The difficulty is only increased in works of fic tion that are founded on the customs of America when a writer attempts to engraft the scions of the imagination on the stock of history. The plant is too familiar to the senses, and the freshness of the exotic is tarnished by the connexion. This very book will, probably, be cited as an instance of the fallacy of this opinion. We wish that we could think so. “ The Spy” was introduced at a happy moment, and the historical incidents known, at
at they were capable of deep interest ; but, so far as well