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“With age decayed, with courts and business tired,
Caring for nothing but what ease required,
Such were the words of a man, one of the most eminent of bis time, whether we consider bis character for arts, arms, general literature, or poetry; whether as a courtier a politician, or a man of quality. What business then bave i with them, will your ladyship say, resembling him in none of these particulars ? My answer is, that if I do not in anything else, I resemble him in the four lines I have quoted. It is certain (though I do not like, even at seventy-six, to talk of “age decayed”) that I am not a little older than when I first had the honor and good fortune of being known to you ; that I have done with courts; am tired of business ; and now care for uothing but what ease requires.
Were I, therefore, wise, perhaps I should pot again launch forth in the bazardous craft of authorship. But as the illustrious Sheffield did not refrain froin doing this, though all the reasons he has enumerated forbade him, so I, having perhaps as much leisure lest as bis Grace had when he ventured once more on the ocean of letters, presume to follow his exa ample. Pray heaven I may like him, safely return into
To pursue the figure I have adopted, I feel like one of those ancient mariners, who after having passed much of their time in making voyages (whether prosperous or not,) do not
*Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham.
like to be laid up on shore for the rest of their lives, short as they may be. Their fancy represents that there may still remain some creek or coast which they have not explored ; and not willing that their bark should be moored in idleness, they once more weigh anchor, and give her sails to the breeze. In plain English, though tired of business, yet more tired of having nothing to do, I, like the nobleman I have quoted, once more enlist
" Amidst the adventurous rovers of the pen." Very good,” you may reply ; " but what have I to do with all this, that you chose to address me upon it?"
More perhaps than you are aware of. For though a name can do little for a work which cannot do anything for itself, yet if that work can stand at all of itself, such a name as yours, like a Corinthian capital, may give that elegance and oruament to the shaft which are necessary to make it coinplete.
This I should say, if there were no other reason to make me wish to inscribe this labor of mine to your ladyship. But on its perusal, all my readers (at least all who know you) will perceive ample and appropriate reason for the wish. For who that may take the trouble of investigating the character of Bertha, in the following pages, and remeinbers the graces of
your young years—but above all, who that has witnessed the delightful affection and mutual esteem that have so long united you and your revered and noble father-but must allow that the delineation of such a portrait is most appropriately dedicated to you? How justly might I not also extend this still farther, and following you from girlhood to uaturer years, give the same reason for recommending the character of Lady Hungerford to your protection. At all events, I have a secret, but deep-felt pleasure, in thinking, that in being allowed thus to address you,a friendship which has gilded so many years of my life, and bas been marked with such kindness and condescension ou your part, may be told to the world ; and, if so, what can it tell of me but honor ?
As to the work itself, if it beguile an hour of your time, by anything like amusement ; or, if in thus addressing it to you, I may cause you to believe that I have been as con
stant in my devotion to you (though in a different way) as Clifford was to Bertba ; I shall be richly paid for the care it bas cast me.
With this I am, as I have long-long been--your most obliged and attached friend and servant,
Okeover Hall, Staffordshire.
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
My motives (if the world care for an author's motives) for engaging in this work, I have, in part, detailed in the preceding episile to the noble person there addressed.
The work has at least innocently, if not usefully, filled a great deal of leisure, and adds one more Picture of Human Life to those which (with whatever success) I have already presumed to offer to the world. One, however, seemned to be still wanting to the series, and that was, the impressions inade by men and manners on a very young and unsophisticated mind, just starting into lise, beginning even from his boyish days; and this, the total inexperience of the hero, and the very varied knowledge of those whom I inay call his tutors, gave me, I thought, a good opportunity to accomplish.
For the better promotion of iny object, it was necessary that the view taken should not be the mere bird's eye view of a man surveying the world at his ease from a comfortable retreat, but that he should be himself an actor, encountering and overcoming difficulties, and earning by exertion and reflection whatever knowledge he might acquire.
Then again, as in all epics, whether in prose or verse, some great passion must predominate and pervade the whole, in order to produce and continue the action, what could I do better than to make the hero, as a lover, the mirror of constancy? Such love at least teaches this lesson, among the thousands taught by ihis all-pervading passion—that, whatever its good or ill success, where the object is well chosen, and the love pure, it ennobles ibe nind, and keeps it stainless, delicate, and honorable, through all vicissitudes.