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With a Frontispiece,



"Je suis peu sévère, mais sage-
Philosophe, mais amoureux-

Mon art est de me rendre heureux,

J'y réussis-en faut-il d'avantage?"

"A complete gentleman, who, according to Sir Fopling, ought to dress well, dance well, fence well,
have a genius for love-letters, and an agreeable voice for a chamber."-ETHEREGE.





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I BELIEVE if we were to question every author upon the subject of his literary grievances, we should find that the most frequent of all complaints, was less that of being unappreciated, than that of being misunderstood. All of us write perhaps with some secret object, for which the world cares not a straw and while each reader fixes his peculiar moral upon a book, no one, by any chance, hits upon that which the author had in his own heart designed to inculcate. Hence this Edition of "PELHAM" acquires that appendage in the shape of an explanatory preface which the unprescient benevolence of the author did not inflict on his readers when he first confided his work to their candour and discretion. Even so, some Candidate for Parliamentary Honours first braves the hustings;-relying only on the general congeniality of sentiment between himself and the Electors-but alas! once chosen, the liberal confidence, which took him upon trust is no more, and when he reappears to commend himself to the popular suffrage, he is required to go into the ill-bred egotisms of detail—and explain all that he has done and all that he has failed to do, to the satisfaction of an enlightened but too inquisitive constituency.

It is a beautiful part in the economy of this world, that nothing is without its use; every weed in the great thoroughfares of life has a honey, which Observation can easily extract; and we may glean no unimportant wisdom from Folly itself, if we distinguish while we survey, and satirise while we share it. It is in this belief that these volumes have their origin. I have

*Viz., the Second Edition.

not been willing that even the common-places of society should afford neither a record nor a moral; and it is therefore from the common-places of society that the materials of this novel have been wrought. By treating trifles naturally, they may be rendered amusing, and that which adherence to Nature renders amusing, the same cause also may render instructive: for Nature is the source of all morals, and the enchanted well, from which not a single drop can be taken, that has not the power of curing some of our diseases.

I have drawn for the hero of my Work, such a person as seemed to me best fitted to retail the opinions and customs of the class and age to which he belongs; a personal combination of antitheses—a fop and a philosopher, a voluptuary and a moralist—a trifler in appearance, but rather one to whom trifles are instructive, than one to whom trifles are natural- —an Aristippus on a limited scale, accustomed to draw sage conclusions from the follies he adopts, and while professing himself a votary of Pleasure, desirous in reality to become a disciple of Wisdom. Such a character I have found it more difficult to pourtray than to conceive: I have found it more difficult still, because I have with it nothing in common,* except the taste for observation, and some experience in the scenes among which it has been cast; and it will readily be supposed that it is no easy matter to survey occurrences the most familiar through a vision, as it were, essentially and perpetually different from that through which oneself has been accustomed to view them. This difficulty in execution will perhaps be my excuse in failure; and some additional indulgence may be reasonably granted to an author who has rarely found in the egotisms of his hero a vent for his own.

With the generality of those into whose hands a novel upon manners is likely to fall, the lighter and less obvious the method in which reflection is conveyed, the greater is its chance to be received without distaste and remembered without aversion. This will be an excuse, perhaps, for the appearance of frivolities not indulged for the sake of the frivolity; under that which has most the semblance of levity I have often been the most diligent in my endeavours to inculcate the substances of truth. The shallowest stream, whose bed every passenger imagines he surveys, may deposit some golden grains on the plain through which it flows; and we may weave

* I regret extremely that by this remark I should be necessitated to relinquish the flattering character I have for so many months borne, and to undeceive not a few of my most indulgent critics, who in reviewing my work have literally considered the Author and the Hero one flesh. "We have only," said one of them, "to complain of the Author's egotisms; he is perpetually talking of himself!"-Poor gentleman! from the first page to the last, the Author never utters a syllable. [The few marginal notes in which the Author himself speaks, were not added till the present Edition.j

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