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The SHIP OF GLASS is an attempt to revive some of the more sober attractions of the old romance.
In this dry age of utilitarianism, when everything seems about resolving itself into sums and machines -to figures and fact-it may not be amiss to endeavour to qualify some of this correct rigidity by giving the reins to fancy. It may be feared whether we are not becoming too mechanical ; and, if relaxing, indulging ourselves by laughing too freely at everything which bears the shape of sentiment.
We have so many books of fact-travel, science, biography, and reality of all kinds—that a good wholesale fabrication may be welcomed as relief. In such spirit is the SHIP OF Glass offered.
The Author believes the Rye House Plot was introduced in a work of fiction published some year or two since. In the instance of ATCHERLEY there is no imitation, for the book was planned in & much more compendious form, and the two first chapters written (afterwards laid aside) so far back as the year 1836,
London, August, 1846.
THE SIIIP OF GLASS.
WHEREIN A GREAT DEAL IS SAID, THOUGH THE
READER SCARCELY GOES HIS FIRST STAGE.
“ But what's this to the purpose ? you will say.
Gent reader, nothing; a mere speculation, For which my sole excuse is—’tis my way,
Sometimes with and sometimes without occasion. I write what's uppermost, without delay;
This narrative is not meant for narration,
You know, or don't know, that great Bacon saith, Fling up a straw, 'twill show which way the
Is poesy, according as the mind glows;
A shadow which the onward soul behind throws :
That our good-natured reader may be in no doubt as to the locale or particular place of
our story, we will at once define it as being the coast of Spain in the modern province of Murcia, and somewhere between the boundary of that district and the old Moorish kingdom of Grenada, and Cape Palos on the Mediterranean.
For our time we must go back to a remote period. The settling of it in our own minds may be of certain difficulty, since if we were to carry it past the dark ages, and into those still darker, a warning fear might steal upon us that our inch of candle would be insufficient. That we should need the lantern of more antiquarian lore and more historical precision than we may boast or have industry and perseverance competent to master.
In this respectable and well-conducted dread, and with this doubtful diffidence, we own to a laudable disposition to grope about a little with our stick, as we have noticed a blind man do when arrived at a crossing and distrustful of the self-possession of Tray, or Trotter, or in w batever designation the canine creature may delight, which serves to guide his master's
trembling steps. With this inclination to pause, we say we offer our peruser the best guarantee, let alone our own sharp-sightedness and fidelity, that he shall not be carried on into the dark ages without, at all events, knowing where he is going. He shall have the option of providing himself with a better guide, more abundantly furnished with artificial illumination, even perhaps to a real bulls eye or a double lens.
Nobody shall suppose, if we can do aught to hinder it, that we have an ungenerous design to take our reader's hand, offered in all confi. dence, while he, in his simplicity and openhearted trust, shuts his eyes and resigns himself to our guidance, aud lead him into places, and forward into time where he cannot be sure of his feet. It shall not be charged upon us that we seduce him into regions that he knows so little of, as to be in danger of stumbling from ignorance of the ground on which he treads, or want of knowledge of “the time of day.” If we see anything particularly green, it shall be on the ground, and not in the optics of our companion. We will not introduce him into the dimness of bygone ages without at all events supplying him with the tinder-box to strike a light. He shall, if he pl ases, nay, we will urge it upon him, take care to ipdue his best doublemilled spectacles, or in other words, and sober and untechnical English, his superfine ground Brazil pebbles, in which, sooth to say, he shall see the sun shine at noon-day if he looks in the right place for him.
No, we abjure, and detest, and abnegate, and put behind us; and entirely and utterly put out of sight, put up, shut up, and bag out of the way, any unfair design to practise on the reader's innocence and curiosity. We will not build up towers where no towers stand; raise towns where there are not even stones ; and supply a fine race of inhabitants, and a