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best manner I could in the first. And, secondly, it may prove the very little value of those "cheers," of the want of which Sir Egerton Brydges* so feelingly complains, and which he considers so necessary towards the obtaining for an author, no matter what his talents, his proper share of popularity. I knew not a single critic, and scarcely a single author, when I began to write. I have never received to this day a single word of encouragement from any of those writers who were considered at one time the dispensers of reputation. Long after my name was not quite unknown in every other country where English literature is received, the great quarterly journals of my own disdained to recognise my existence. Let no man cry out then "for cheers," or for literary patronage, and let those aspirants, who are often now pleased to write to me, lamenting their want of interest and their non-acquaintance with critics, learn from the author (insignificant though he be) who addresses them in sympathy and fellowship, that a man's labours are his best patrons,-that the public is the only critic that has no interest and no motive in underrating him, that the world of an author is a mighty circle of which enmity and envy can penetrate but a petty segment, and that the pride of carving with our own hands our own name is worth all the "cheers" in the world. Long live Sidney's gallant and lofty motto, “Aut viam inveniam aut faciam!"+

* In the melancholy and painful pages of his autobiography.

+ I will either find a way or make it.




No! you cannot guess, my dear reader, how long my pen has rested over the virgin surface of this paper, before even that "No," which now stands out so bluffly and manfully, took heart and stept forth. If, peradventure, thou shouldst, O reader, be that rarity in these days-a reader who has never been an author-thou canst form no conception of the strange aspect which the first page of a premeditated composition will often present to the curious investigator into the initials of things. There is a sad mania nowa-days for collecting autographs-would that some such collector would devote his researches to the first pages of auctorial manuscripts! He would then form some idea of the felicitous significance of that idiomatic phrase, "to cudgel the brains!"-Out of what grotesque zigzags, and fantastic arabesques,-out of what irrelevant, dreamy illustrations from the sister art,-houses, and trees, and profile sketches of men, nightmares, and chimeras-out of what massacres of whole lines, prematurely and timidly ventured forth as forlorn hopes,—would he see the first intelligible words creep into actual life-shy streaks of light, emerging from the chaos! For that rash promise of mine, that each work in this edition of works so numerous, shall have its own new and special Preface, seems to me hard, in this instance, to fulfil. Another Preface! what for? Two Prefaces to "Pelham" already exist, wherein all that I would say is said! And in going back through that long and crowded interval of twenty years, since the first appearance of this work,—what shadows rise to beckon me away through the glades and allies in that dim labyrinth of the Past! Infant Hopes, scarce born ere fated, poor innocents, to die-gazing upon me with reproachful eyes, as if I myself had been their unfeeling butcher;-audacious Enterprises boldly begun, to cease in abrupt whim, or chilling doubt -looking now through the mists, zoophital or amphibious, like those borderers on the animal and vegetable life, which flash on us with the seeming flutter of a wing, to subside away into rooted stems and wither

ing leaves. How can I escape the phantom throng? How return to the starting-post, and recall the ardent emotions with which youth sprang forth to the goal? To write fitting Preface to this work, which, if not my first, was the first which won an audience and secured a reader, I must myself become a phantom, with the phantom crowd. It is the ghost of my youth that I must call up. What we are, alone hath flesh and bloodwhat we have been, like the what we shall be, is an idea; and no more! An idea how dim and impalpable! This our sense of identity, this "I" of ours, which is the single thread that continues from first to last-single thread that binds flowers changed every day, and withered every night-how thin and meagre is it of itself-how difficult to lay hold of! When we say "I remember," how vague a sentiment we utter! how different it is to say, “I feel!" And when in this effort of memory we travel back all the shadowland of years-when we say "I remember," what is it we retain, but some poor solitary fibre in the airy mesh of that old gossamer, which floated between earth and heaven-moist with the dews and sparkling in the dawn? -Some one incident, some one affection we recall, but not all the associations that surrounded it, all the companions of the brain or the heart, with which it formed one of the harmonious contemporaneous ring. Scarcely even have we traced and seized one fine filament in the broken web, ere it is lost again. In the inextricable confusion of old ideas, many that seem of the time we seek to grasp again, but were not so, seize and distract us. From the clear effort we sink into the vague reverie; the Present hastens to recall and dash us onward, and few, leaving the actual world around them when they say "I remember," do not wake as from a dream, with a baffled sigh, and murmur “No, I forget." And therefore, if a new Preface to a work written twenty years ago, should contain some elucidation of the aims and objects with which it was composed, or convey some idea of the writer's mind at that time, my pen might well rest long over the blank page;—and houses and trees, and profile sketches of men, nightmares and chimeras, and whole passages scrawled and erased might well illustrate the barren travail of one who sits down to say "I remember!"

What changes in the outer world since this book was written! What changes of thrones and dynasties! Through what cycles of hope and fear has a generation gone! And in that inner world of Thought what old ideas have returned to claim the royalty of new ones! What new ones (new ones then) have receded out of sight, in the ebb and flow of the human mind, which, whatever the cant phrase may imply, advances in no direct stedfast progress, but gains here to lose there;—a tide, not a march. So, too, in that slight surface of either world, "the manners," superficies alike of the action and the thought of an age, the ploughshares of twenty years have turned up a new soil.

The popular changes in the Constitution have brought the several classes more intimately into connection with each other; most of the old affectations of fashion and exclusiveness are out of date. We have not talked of equality, like our neighbours the French, but insensibly and naturally, the tone of manners has admitted much of the frankness of the principle, without the unnecessary rudeness of the pretence. I am not old enough yet to be among the indiscriminate praisers of the past, and therefore I recognise cheerfully an extraordinary improvement in the intellectual and moral features of the English world, since I first entered it as an observer. There is a far greater earnestness of purpose, a higher culture, more generous and genial views, amongst the young men of the rising generation than were common in the last. The old divisions of party politics remain ; but among all divisions there is greater desire of identification with the people. Rank is more sensible of its responsibilities, Property of its duties. Amongst the clergy of all sects, the improvement in zeal, in education, in active care for their flocks, is strikingly noticeable; the middle class have become more instructed and refined, and yet, (while fused with the highest in their intellectual tendencies, reading the same books, cultivating the same accomplishments)-they have extended their sympathies more largely amongst the humblest. And, in our towns especially, what advances have been made amongst the operative population! I do not here refer to that branch of cultivation which comprises the questions that belong to political inquiry, but to the general growth of more refined and less polemical knowledge. Cheap books have come in vogue as a fashion during the last twenty years-books addressed, not as cheap books were once, to the passions, but to the understanding and the taste-books not written down to the supposed level of uninformed and humble readers, but such books as refine the gentleman and instruct the scholar. The arts of design have been more appreciated-the Beautiful has been admitted into the pursuits of labour as a principle-Religion has been regaining the ground it lost in the latter half of the last century. What is technically called education (education of the school and the schoolmaster), has made less progress than it might. But that inexpressible diffusion of oral information which is the only culture the old Athenians knew, and which in the ready transmission of ideas, travels like light from lip to lip, has been insensibly educating the adult generation. In spite of all the dangers that menace the advance of the present century, I am convinced that classes amongst us are far more united than they were in the latter years of George the Fourth. A vast mass of discontent exists amongst the operatives, it is true, and Chartism is but one of its symptoms; yet that that discontent is more obvious than formerly, is a proof that men's eyes and men's ears are more open to

acknowledge its existence-to examine and listen to its causes. Thinking persons now occupy themselves with that great reality-the People; and questions concerning their social welfare, their health, their education, their interests, their rights, which philosophers alone entertained twenty years ago, are now on the lips of practical men, and in the hearts of all. It is this greater earnestness-this profounder gravity of purpose and of view, which forms the most cheering characteristic of the present time; and though that time has its peculiar faults and vices, this is not the place to enlarge on them. I have done, and may yet do so, elsewhere. This work is the picture of manners in certain classes of society twenty years ago, and in that respect I believe it to be true and faithful. Nor the less so, that under the frivolities of the hero, it is easy to recognise the substance of those more serious and solid qualities which Time has educed from the generation and the class he represents. Mr. Pelham studying Mills on Government and the Political Economists, was thought by some an incongruity in character at the day in which Mr. Pelham first appeared-the truth of that conception is apparent now, at least to the observant. The fine gentlemen of that day were preparing themselves for the after things, which were already fore-shadowed; and some of those, then best known in clubs and drawing-rooms, have been since foremost and boldest, nor least instructed, in the great struggles of public life.

I trust that this work may now be read without prejudice from the silly error that long sought to identify the author with the hero.

Rarely indeed, if ever, can we detect the real likeness of an author of fiction in any single one of his creations. He may live in each of them, but only for the time. He migrates into a new form with every new character he creates. He may have in himself a quality, here and there, in common with each, but others so widely opposite, as to destroy all the resemblance you fancy for a moment you have discovered. However this be, the author has the advantage over his work—that the last remains stationary, with its faults or merits, and the former has the power to improve. The one remains the index of its day-the other advances with the century. That in a book written in extreme youth, there may be much that I would not write now in mature manhood, is obvious; that in spite of its defects, the work should have retained to this day the popularity it enjoyed in the first six months of its birth, is the best apology that can be made for its defects.

E. B. L.

LONDON, 1848.

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