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IN purchasing a new book, we cannot expect to know the plot beforehand; but we have a right to inquire into the moral tendency of the work.
The aim of the writer in the following pages has been, to assist in putting down those high notions, originating in pride and a spirit of competition, which it is well known is fast ruining a vast number of families and individuals in our country.
It is common among moralists and essayists to deplore the increase of luxury and extravagance among all classes; but, as yet, the origin of the evil has escaped animadversion; and if these pages should do no other good, it is hoped they may at least furnish a hint to those who are more competent to do justice to a very important subject. Should such be the case, the author of the following tale will not have toiled in vain.
It is a subject of regret to the writer that the facts upon which this story is founded, are of such a nature and the characters concerned of such a grade in society as necessarily to confine one almost exclusively to a certain class of individuals, who probably of all others are the most inaccessible to reproof. The evil complained of, does not -would that it did-belong to these alone. The spirit of aristocracy is as visible among the lower order of people as among the higher, while among the middling classes it rages to a greater extent than with either. The mechanic, who lords it over a handful of journeymen and apprentices, compelling them to adopt all his peculiar tenets in religion and politics, and to vote for this man, or that man, may have as much of it, as the rich idler, who lives at his ease, and looks down upon his tenants or manufacturers, as upon beings of an inferior order. And the princely magnificence which he affects, is not more ruinous or ridiculous, than the attempts of his poorer neighbors to vie with him in dress, and copy his overbearing and offensive manners. A constant desire to exalt
ourselves above those whom heaven has made our equals, is not peculiar to any one class, or to either sex, but to attack it in every quarter is not possible in the compass of one volume.
The author has some fear that the expression of political sentiment here, may be offensive to some, as it seems to be a prevailing opinion among mankind that a woman should know but little of politics, and say less; but if they take the trouble to peruse this story to the end, they will see that it could not be distinctly understood without reference to the political affairs of the day.
The story occupies a period of eight years, from the year 1801 to 1809: and it is believed there has never been a period, since the commencement of the revolution when party spirit ran higher, than during that memorable epoch. The passions of men then in a high degree of excitement, have since had time to cool, and reason, with a vast many has once more resumed her empire. Persons who were not actuated by sinister motives, generally, are in amazement when they look back to that period and review the causes of contention.
It is not then the apprehension that the sentiments themselves will be offensive, if their coming from the pen of a female can be tolerated.
We venture in conclusion, to express a hope that the interest of the story may reconcile the reader to the unfeminine subjects which are sometimes introduced, or altogether erase them from his recollection. Such as it is, however, it is cheerfully laid before the same indulgent public whose liberal patronage has hitherto amply remunerated the labors of the midnight lamp.' Who have kindly withheld the arrows of criticism, and thrown the mantle of charity over every blemish.
THE HOLBEY FAMILY.
""Tis past the midnight hour!
During the year 1800, while the canvass for the election of a new President was going on, while politicians were racking their brains, some to oppose and others to promote the cause of a favorite candidate, and every engine which avarice, ambition or cupidity, could set in motion were employed in the general stir, and frequent removals from post to post, and from town to town were taking place, "Squire Holbey,' as he was generally called in his own town, among others saw fit to remove.
His reasons for abandoning a delightful situation on the banks of the Delaware, were his own undoubtedly; though much it excited the wonder of some of his rustic neighbors, that any one so enviably situated as he appeared to be, could consent to leave his paradise of a place, and the free and wholesome air of Grove, for the smoke of the city. His journey to New York, where he had for the present concluded to locate himself, had been com