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TO THE SCHOOL EDITION.
THOUGH between the reader and the author there is necessarily a communion of ideas, and sometimes of feeling, yet, in one particular, their sympathies are seldom in unison: to the former, the preface is the most uninteresting part, and accordingly is passed over unread, or perhaps is read with a sneer; while, to the latter, it is of peculiar interest, as it gives him a precious opportunity of using copiously the pronoun in the first person. This privilege I would consent, however, to waive, did not certain circumstances imperatively demand that I should make use of it.
To publish this edition without acknowledging the kindnesses shown to the prior one, would evince a culpable insensibility; while, on the other hand, it would be fulsome egotism to go into a long detail of particulars : between these two extremes, I would fain steer that middle course in which I may give vent to my emotions of lively gratitude, and at the
escape the imputation of inordinate vanity.
In one respect, and, to my own feelings, a very interesting one-I mean that of commendation and encomium—the Brief Remarker has met with success far beyond whatever I had ventured to anticipate or dared to hope. In publishing it, I drew my bow at a venture. I had calculated the risks of mischance, and found them neither few nor unappalling. I knew full well the low estimation in which American literature is held, not only by certain Europeans, but even among ourselves. Full well I knew that, with many, the book must lie under a heavy disadvantage from the unfortunate circumstance of its being of domestic fabric; that those American readers (not less numerous than respectable) who read only for fashion, would scorn to introduce to their libraries and toilets a homemade book, on the same
principle that they would scorn to attire their persons and their families with the product of domestic looms. Nor was I unaware, that most of those of my dear fellow-countrymen, who possess such rank or fortune that only a favorable word from them, dropped now and then in the ears of others, might be of inestimable value to an author, were too. entirely engrossed in the momentous concerns of pelf or of party, to read, or so much as notice, a homely publication, neither promotive of the art of acquiring money, nor possessing aught of party excitement, but merely inculcating general principles or universal truths.
But all this notwithstanding, the Brief Remarker has found favor with a large and respectable number; of which are not a few who stand high in the ranks of literature and taste. Nor is it the least of my satisfactions, that it has found the same favor with those of the different political parties and of the various religious denominations. Gladly do I embrace this opportunity to render my unfeigned thanks to all who have befriended it in any way or manner, and particularly to those respectable individuals in various places, females in part, who have taken an active interest in its success, and with their pens and their types, or by other means, recommended it to the notice of the general community ; favors the more estimable, as they were free and sponta. neous, and not a few of them from persons with whom I had never any acquaintance. If I may lay claim to any virtues, one of them is, duly to remember acts of disinterested kindness till my expiring gasp.
The present edition owes its existence chiefly to two auspicious occurrences, both unsought and unexpected; and for that reason the more highly gratifying: the one, the recommendation of the work for scholastic use by the Superintendent of our common schools; and the other, the Resolve of the Regents of the University to purchase of me two hundred copies and distribute them among all the incorporated Academies of this State, thereby aiding my means, as well as animating my hopes. Of these instances of efficient patronage, I shall never cease to entertain a proper sense, whatever may be the final success of
For the double purpose of rendering the book more appropriate and reducing its price, I have made a pretty free use, not only of the pruninghook, but the exterminator ; not merely paring away excrescences, but eradicating some parts, which, in the doting eyes of their author, seem to claim a gentler usage. The papers extruded are such as I thought less suitable for schools, and most of them have been extruded for that reason alone. To those retained I have added numerous new sentences and paragraphs, while, in sundry instances, some parts of their original have been suppressed ; and all for the sake of adapting it to its present destination. Only one whole chapter is new-the seventy-third. In short, I have endeavored to make it such a manual as had been greatly needed by myself in the green years of my own life, and such as may relieve the needs of the young and inexperienced at all times. If there be found in it improprieties of any kind, they are to be attributed to want of judgment, rather than to negligence.
Throughout the whole of these compositions I have essayed to give descriptions of life and lessons of conduct, with particular reference to American society; to describe mankind as found in whole groups or clusters, and never, even in one solitary instance, aiming to fix a stigma or cast a slur upon any particular individual. If some passages or expressions are pointed, they are pointed at foibles and follies rather than persons, and at foibles and follies belonging alike to a multitude of human beings.
The recommendations bestowed upon the first edition from so many respectable quarters, occasioned a momentary gleam of hope that there might be sufficient encouragement to reprint the Brief Remarker more entire, with necessary emendations and improvements, and in a typographical drapery calculated to give it an engaging appearance. Though the consummation of that hope might have given me some pleasure, its extinction can give me no pain. In all probability the last sands in my glass are running; and what might have been not a little gratifying to me in other days, I am reckless of now. But a flower there is that blooms in the wintery and withering bosom of age. Might I hope that these essays
will be benefiting the community, not only during tne short remainder of my life, but even after my mortal part shall have been enclosed in the grave, it would tend to smooth and gild my passage to that dreary mansion. If they should be read by many, and with profit; if they should be the means of curing peccant dispositions or erroneous conceptions in some, and of preventing them in others; if not a few, by perusing these chapters should receive real aid in the snary and perilous journey of their lives, and be made, in any respects, wiser and better thereby, I shall have attained the summit of
ambition. To the American Youth of both sexes I dedicate this little volume, and with it some of the best wishes of my heart.
Farewell, beloved pen! thou dear companion of lonely age, thou sweet beguiler of my vacant and solitary hours, I now bid thee a final adieu !
EZRA SAMPSON. Hudson, August 4, 1820.