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The manner in which the author became possessed of the private incidents, the characters, and the descriptions, contained in these tales, will, most probably, ever remain a secret between himself and his publisher. That the leading events are true, he presumes it is unnecessary to assert; for should inherent testimony, to prove that important point, be wanting, he is conscious that no anonymous declaration can establish its credibility.
But while he shrinks from directly yielding his authorities, the author has no hesitation in furnishing all the negative testimony in his power.
In the first place, then, he solemnly declares, that no unknown man, nor woman, has ever died in his vicinity, of whose effects he has become the possessor, by either fair means or foul. No darklooking stranger, of a morbid temperament, and of inflexible silence, has ever transmitted to him a single page of illegible manuscript. Nor has any
landlord furnished him with materials to be worked up into a book, in order that the profits might go to discharge the arrearages of a certain consumptive lodger, who made his exit so unceremo. niously as to leave the last item in his account, his funeral charges.
He is indebted to no garrulous tale-teller for beguiling the long winter evenings; in ghosts he has no faith; he never had a vision in his life; and he sleeps too soundly to dream.
He is constrained to add, that in no “puff," “squib,” “notice," "article," nor“review,” whether in daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly publication, has he been able to find a single hint that his humble powers could improve. No one regrets this fatality more than himself; for these writers generally bring such a weight of imagination to their several tasks, that, properly improved, might secure the immortality of any book, by rendering it unintelligible.
He boldly asserts, that he has derived no information from any of the learned societies—and without fear of contradiction ; for why should one so obscure be the exclusive object of their favours !
Notwithstanding he occasionally is seen in that erudite and abstemious association, the “Bread. and-Cheese Lunch," where he is elbowed by lawyers, doctors, jurists, poets, painters, editors, congressmen, and authors of every shade and quali
fication, whether metaphysical, scientific, or imaginative, he avers, that he esteems the lore which is there culled, as far too sacred to be used in any work less dignified than actual history.
Of the colleges it is necessary to speak with reverence; though truth possesses claims even superior to gratitude. He shall dispose of them by simply saying, that they are entirely innocent of all his blunders; the little they bestowed having long since been forgotten.
He has stolen no images from the deep, natural poetry of Bryant; no pungency from the wit of Halleck; no felicity of expression from the richness of Percival; no satire from the caustic pen of Paulding; no periods nor humour from Irving ; nor any high finish from the attainments exbibited by Verplanck.
At the " soirées” and “coteries des bas bleus" he did think he had obtained a prize, in the dandies of literature, who haunt thein. But experiment and analysis detected his error; as they proved these worthies unfit for any better purpose than that which their own instinct had already dictated.
He has made no impious attempt to rob Joe Miller of his jokes; the sentimentalists of their pathcs; nor the newspaper Homers of their lofty inspirations.
His presumption has not even imagined the vivacity of the eastern states; he has not analyzed
the homogeneous character of the middle; and he has left the south in the undisturbed possession of all their saturnine wit.
In short-he has pilfered from no black-letter book, nor any six-penny pamphlet; his grandmother unnaturally refused her assistance to his la. bours; and, to speak affirmatively, for once, he wishes to live in peace, and hopes to die in the fear of God.