Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

204978

Harvardi College Library, Bequest of Edward Ray ibompson,

et 2:07, N. Y. December 11, 1894.

LONDON :
BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFR LA RS.

PRE FACE.

BY A FRIEND OF THE LATE ELIA.

- This poor gentleman, who for some months past had been in a declining way, hath at length paid his final tribute to nature.

To say truth, it is time he were gone. The humour of the thing, if there ever was much in it, was pretty well exhausted ; and a two years' and a half existence has been a tolerable duration for a phantom. · I am now at liberty to confess, that much which I have heard objected to my late friend's writings was well-founded. Crude they are, I grant you— a sort of unlicked, incondite things~villainously pranked in an affected array of antique modes and phrases. They had not been his, if they had been other than such; and better it is, that a writer

should be natural in a self-pleasing quaintness, than to affect a naturalness (so called) that should be strange to him. Egotistical they have been pronounced by some who did not know, that what he tells us, as of himself, was often true only (historically) of another; as in a former Essay (to save many instances)—where under the first person (his favourite figure) he shadows forth the forlorn estate of a country-boy placed at a London school, far from his friends and connections--in direct opposi. tion to his own early history. If it be egotism to imply and twine with his own identity the griefs and affections of another-making himself many, or reducing many unto himself—then is the skilful novelist, who all along brings in his hero or heroine, speaking of themselves, the greatest egotist of all; who yet has never, therefore, been accused of that narrowness. And how shall the intenser dramatist escape being faulty, who, doubtless, under cover of passion uttered by another, oftentimes gives blameless vent to his most inward feelings, and expresses his own story modestly?

My late friend was in many respects a singular character. Those who did not like him, hated him;

« PreviousContinue »