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can subject the usages of the world to himself instead of being conquered by them, and gradually grow wise by the very foibles of his youth.

This tale, with the sketches written at the same period, was sent anonymously to a celebrated publisher, who considered the volume of too slight a nature for separate publication, and recommended me to select the best of the papers for a magazine. I was not at that time much inclined to a periodical mode of publishing, and thought no more of what, if * nugœ to the reader, had indeed been difficiles to the author. Soon afterwards I went abroad. On my return I sent a collection of letters to Mr. Colburn for publication, which, for various reasons, I afterwards worked up into a fiction, and which (greatly altered from their original form) are now known to the public under the name of "Falkland."

While correcting the sheets of that tale for the press, I was made aware of many of its faults. But it was not till it had been fairly before the public that I was sensible of its greatest; namely, a sombre colouring of life, and the indulgence of a vein of sentiment, which, though common enough to all very young minds in their first bitter experience of the disappointments of the world, had certainly ceased to be new in its expression, and had never been true in its philosophy.

The effect which the composition of that work produced upon my mind was exactly similar to that which (if I may reverently quote so illustrious an example) Goethe informs us the writing of "Werter" produced upon his own. I had rid my bosom of its "perilous stuff,"-I had confessed my sins, and was absolved,-I could return to real life and its wholesome objects. Encouraged by the reception which "Falkland" met with, flattering though not brilliant, I resolved to undertake a new and more important fiction. I had long been impressed with the truth of an observation of Madame de Staël, that a character at once gay and sentimental is always successful on the stage. I resolved to attempt a similar character for a novel, making the sentiment, however, infinitely less prominent than the gaiety. My boyish attempt of the "Memoirs of a Gentleman" occurred to me, and I resolved upon this foundation to build my fiction. After a little consideration I determined, however, to enlarge and ennoble the original character: the character itself, of the clever man of the world corrupted by the world, was not new; it had already been represented by Mackenzie, by Moore in "Zeluco," and in some measure by the mastergenius of Richardson itself, in the incomparable portraiture of Lovelace. The moral to be derived from such a creation seemed to me also equivocal and dubious. It is a moral of a gloomy and hopeless school. We live in

* Nuga, trifles; difficiles, difficult.

the world; the great majority of us, in a state of civilization, must, more or less, be men of the world. It struck me that it would be a new, an useful, and perhaps a happy moral, to show in what manner we might redeem and brighten the common-places of life; to prove (what is really the fact) that the lessons of society do not necessarily corrupt, and that we may be both men of the world, and even, to a certain degree, men of pleasure, and yet be something wiser-nobler-better. With this idea I formed in my mind the character of Pelham; revolving its qualities long and seriously before I attempted to describe them on paper. For the formation of my story, I studied with no slight attention the great works of my predecessors, and attempted to derive from that study certain rules and canons to serve me as a guide; and, if some of my younger contemporaries whom I could name would only condescend to take the same preliminary pains that I did, I am sure that the result would be much more brilliant. It often happens to me to be consulted by persons about to attempt fiction, and I invariably find that they imagine they have only to sit down and write. They forget that art does not come by inspiration, and that the novelist, dealing constantly with contrast and effect, must, in the widest and deepest sense of the word, study to be an artist. They paint pictures for Posterity without having learned to draw.

Few critics have, hitherto, sufficiently considered, and none, perhaps, have accurately defined, the peculiar characteristics of prose fiction in its distinct schools and multiform varieties of the two principal species, the Narrative and Dramatic, I chose for "Pelham" my models in the former; and when it was objected, at the first appearance of that work, that the plot was not carried on through every incident and every scene, the critics evidently confounded the two classes of fiction I have referred to, and asked from a work in one what ought only to be the attributes of a work in the other: the dazzling celebrity of Scott, who deals almost solely with the dramatic species of fiction, made them forgetful of the examples, equally illustrious, in the narrative form of romance, to be found in Smollett, in Fielding, and Le Sage. Perhaps, indeed, there is in "Pelham" more of plot and of continued interest, and less of those incidents that do not either bring out the character of the hero, or conduce to the catastrophe, than the narrative order may be said to require, or than is warranted by the great examples I have ventured to name.

After due preparation, I commenced and finished the first volume of "Pelham." Various circumstances then suspended my labours, till several months afterwards I found myself quietly buried in the country, and with so much leisure on my hands, that I was driven, almost in self-defence from ennui, to continue and conclude my attempt.

It may serve perhaps to stimulate the courage and sustain the hopes of others to remark, that "the Reader" to whom the MS. was submitted by the publisher, pronounced the most unfavourable and damning opinion upon its chances of success,-an opinion fortunately reversed by Mr. Ollier, the able and ingenious author of "Inesilla," to whom it was then referred. The book was published, and I may add, that for about two months it. appeared in a fair way of perishing prematurely in its cradle. With the exception of two most flattering and generously-indulgent notices in the "Literary Gazette" and the "Examiner," and a very encouraging and friendly criticism in the "Atlas," it was received by the critics with indifference or abuse. They mistook its purport, and translated its satire literally. But about the third month it rose rapidly into the favour it has since continued to maintain. Whether it answered all the objects it attempted I cannot pretend to say; one at least I imagine that it did answer: I think, above most works, it contributed to put an end to the Satanic mania,— to turn the thoughts and ambition of young gentlemen without neckcloths, and young clerks who were sallow, from playing the Corsair, and boasting that they were villains. If, mistaking the irony of Pelham, they went to the extreme of emulating the foibles which that hero attributes to himself -those were foibles at least more harmless, and even more manly and noble, than the conceit of a general detestation of mankind, or the vanity of storming our pity by lamentations over imaginary sorrows, and sombre hints at the fatal burthen of inexpiable crimes.*

Such was the history of a publication, which, if not actually my first, was the one whose fate was always intended to decide me whether to conclude or continue my attempts as an author.

I can repeat, unaffectedly, that I have indulged this egotism, not only as a gratification to that common curiosity which is felt by all relative to the early works of an author, who, whatever be his faults and demerits, has once obtained the popular ear;-but also as affording, perhaps, the following lessons to younger writers of less experience but of more genius than myself. First, in attempting fiction, it may serve to show the use of a critical study of its rules, for to that study I owe every success in literature I have obtained; and in the mere art of composition, if I have now attained to even too rapid a facility, I must own that that facility has been purchased by a most laborious slowness in the first commencement, and a resolute refusal to write a second sentence until I had expressed my meaning in the

* Sir Reginald Glanville was drawn purposely of the would-be Byron School as a foil to Pelham. For one who would think of imitating the first, ten thousand would be unawares attracted to the last.

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, la acnting 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


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