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without opening the eye, are passing by those • spirits in prison,' as though they were empty cells, or as if their inmates were born to remain in a chrysalis state, without ever expanding the cramped wings of the inborn Psyche ! Under these circumstances it is the noblest task of one who undertakes to teach solid truth by airy fiction, to exhibit characters in whom the divine image is covered over by mean integuments, and by the still more complete disguise of a ridiculous appearance.
These remarks may account for what appears a mere idiosyncrasy of taste; and they may serve, moreover, as Prolegomena, that is, a key, or learned introduction, to the profound philosophy that is bound up in the “wart on aunt Hetty's nose,' and the hidden charms of the bilious parrot.'
The author hopes that the hearty welcome with which her child has been received on its first introduction to society, while it gratifies the mater-nal vanity, will quicken the parental heart to higher efforts, though in a more obscure, and on that account more congenial sphere of duty. Concerning the private history of the young aspirant to favor, there is, in the tale which she herself tells, no plot or mystery to set off her modest pretensions. It may be mentioned, however, that she passed a strict novitiate of two years in the obscurity of a drawer; after which, the question
PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION.
whether she should come forth, or be doomed to take the veil of perpetual retirement from the world, was decided by the bolder judgment of some of her nearest relations.
With regard to defects in the book, the author can only say, that she is sensible there must be many that have not been noticed and corrected. All she has to plead in self-vindication is, that • she has done what she could.' With this conviction, she could not, with a clear conscience, attempt to propitiate public opinion, in the way of a certain obscure poet, in a German town, who, on presenting the burgomaster on his birthday with an humble congratulation in rhyme, received the praises that were graciously bestowed on his poetic offering with the modest reply, “O your High-mightiness, if I had taken pains, I could have written a much better poem.”
SKETCHES OF MARRIED LIFE.
“I make a broken delivery of the business."
“Walk in! La! was it only you, Jerry, that was knocking so loud ?” said Ruth to a trim, brisk little man, as he entered the wellfurnished kitchen in which she was employed at her customary work. “And so, Jerry, you have found out, at your house, that riches take to themselves wings, and fly away; and that a light purse is a heavy curse."
“ And what if we have, Ruth? nobody knows whose turn may come next; and I should think you might ask a-body to sit down, before you begin to twit him of his misfortunes, or, what is worse, of his friends'; for I call Mr. Selmar my friend, especially now he is poor.”
“Well, well; do sit down, Jerry; I know it is hard for empty bags to stand upright.”
Jerry did not much like the application of the proverb to himself, or his master's purse; but he loved his ease, and could not resist the offer of a chair from Ruth, who had a power over him which his philosophy had never enabled him to explain. So he seated himself, as he said, with a look of offended pride, “I did think, Ruth, that you were a more feeling person, and had better manners; but I have not eat a peck of salt with you yet.”
“A peck of nonsense, Jerry; I don't mean any harm, you know; I am sorry enough for Mr. Selmar; but one must either laugh or cry at such things, and my notion is, it is best to laugh. I can tell you that I respect Mr. Selmar as much as I ever did, and more too, if he has behaved honorably."
“If he has behaved honorably!” repeated Jerry indignantly; "a likely story, that Mr. Selmar could behave otherwise than honorably. Why, he is going to sell every thing he has ; give up his elegant lodgings, sell his gig, and his horses, even Robinette, his beautiful saddlehorse; and, more than all, he means to wait upon himself; for he told me this morning I must look out for a place, because he could not afford to keep me. But come! I'm in a great hurry; do take this note to Miss Amy; I suppose there is no answer to it, and I can't stay, either.”
“Poh! Jerry, you always say that. I can tell you that he that's in a hurry fishes in an empty pond. Here, John,” she said to the footman, “carry up this billet to Miss Amy, and tell her that Jerry brought it, and that he is in no hurry at all, and will wait just as long as she pleases for an answer.”
“Well, now, if that isn't funny,” drawled out Jerry, half vexed and half amused. “I never in all
life saw such a queer woman.' “Never mind, Jerry; crooked sticks make even fires. But come, tell me all about Mr. Selmar; has he lost all ?”
“ All !” groaned out Jerry.
“ Not a word; every body knows that it was brought on by the failure of others who owed him money, and he has given up all he has, and he means to deny himself every thing. Why, I tell you, Ruth, he means even to part with me.'
“ May-be that's the gain of a loss, Jerry. But that's acting like a man; now I respect