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Tae commencement of a volume gives the Editor of a periodical an opportunity of standing forward and saying a few words to his readers. All the rest of the six months, like the exhibitor behind the scenes, who causes other characters to fix the attention of the spectators, he is hidden from view, and has no voice. He plans and contrives, but is neither heard nor seen.
These half-yearly opportunities are generally made use of for the purpose of giving vent to common-place congratulations and conventional expressions of gratitude. It is difficult, perhaps, to get out of the region of common-place, and above the atmosphere of conventionalism, so long as one follows the example set by the multitude of prefatory addresses with which readers are favoured. We, however, wish to regard our prefaces in another light-a light which we cannot expect to shine on those who are standing still, and which would be distasteful to those who are "advancing backwards." We are progressing, and we desire to make our prefaces record that fact. We read, that when backwoodsmen wander into the primæval forest, they cut the trees in order to mark the track. When travellers pursue their own chosen path—the path to which they hope to attract others--they set up marks to fix the past and point on to the future. This preface, then, is our mark on the tree in the great world-forest—a finger-post in our literary life-road.
We have to record for Sharpe increased numbers of readers, and to render our thanks for that, and for the promises of still greater favour which are held vut to us. But that is not all. We have to do something more. Speaking so seldom as we do, a little apparent egotism may possibly be excused. We have also to connect our success with the efforts we have made to win it. When last we spoke to our readers, we promised improvements in the Magazine. An endeavour has been made to carry them into effect, and the voices of friends and acquaintances tell, we are proud to say, the same tale as the steadily-increasing circulation, when they say, “ Sharpe is improving."
Sharpe will be yet further improved. What has been done is only an earnest of that which is to follow. To compare great things with little ones, if “Rome was not built in a day," neither can a magazine be remodelled in a few months; engagements already existing, arrangements made beforehand, prevent the improvement from being as yet more than a partial one: but the process, once commenced, requires simply the continuance of effort and the lapse of time to complete it.
We do not wish to repeat the promises we have already made-promises do not grow stronger by repetition. “A promise,” said the Persian, "remains till it is fulfilled, unless words smother it.” We do not wish to overlay our promise with words, but simply to point again to the end we desire to attain. We aspire to render Sharpe at once more amusing and more instructive; to show practically that knowledge is not necessarily heavy, nor sentiment inevitably frivolous. We shall give all our energies to that task, and we do so not only in the hope, but also the belief, that every approximation toward the realization of our object will add to the satisfaction of the public, and to our own cause for gratitude, and that thus Sharpe will be elevated to that position in the literary world which we are determined it shall deserve.
MY OLD LODGER.*
WHAT TIMOTHY THINKS.
The narrative does not break off here ; it goes on continuously, as will be seen in the next chapter; but I have thought it right to put down a few words here, to mark what I think of it. We-that is, Peter Jones on one side, and Dorothy and I on the other-disagree about this life of my Old Lodger more than ever. I have hardly patience to write down what Peter Jones says, and Dorothy only hears him at times, and very imperfectly, for Peter Jones' voice is very weak, and Dorothy is not so used to it as she is to mine. Dorothy only hears the very worst parts of his arguments, and she is of opinion that Peter is growing more wicked than ever, and getting foolish into the bargain. I do not think Peter is getting foolish, for he certainly is very clever, and I don't think either he is more wicked than he used to be. The fact seems to me to be, that he is proud of being a philosopher, and always insists on reasoning out things, just as if he could reason out everything, and will not, or perhaps cannot, believe. He has very little faith has Peter, and he convinces me more and more that reason is much smaller than faith, and not likely to make men so happy and contented. He always wants to know how I reconcile this with Providence, and how I reconcile that. Often I do not know. I do not know how to prove that the death of poor little Warner was consistent with a kind Providence, nor why old Sternfield was permitted to exercise his cruelty ; but, as I tell Peter, he cannot account for such things any more than I can; and I tell him too that we must not, if we want to see the workings of
Providence, look at a few facts by themselves, and we must not judge of what we do see authoritatively, because we do not see the end, which is in the future. And it makes me much more happy to believe that what we do see is only a part, and a small part, and the worst and darkest part of our being, and that all is working for good, than he can be when he tries to reason everything out, and refuses to believe anything; and, in consequence of doing so, sees wrong and misery and suffering by themselves, without the promise of right and joy and happiness hereafter.
But I am forgetting what Peter Jones says about Hubert. Dorothy and I have all along thought that the evil we saw in the boy's character was owing to the way he was brought up. Peter tells us it was organisation. “He was so organised,” Peter says, “ that passion and cruelty were natural to him;" and asks us, “ Can the leopard change his spots ?" Of course we know that the leopard cannot change his spots, for that would be to make himself something else than a leopard ; and we do not mean to say that Hubert could ever have become anything but a human being, but he might still have been very different from what
A leopard, of course, must have his spots, and must have his savage nature; but for man there is a wider range, both for good and evil, than brutes have. Though it is true Hubert has sometimes shown himself savage and cruel, yet there are parts of his nature which seem to us high and holy.
It is of no use for Peter Jones to ask us why was that permitted ?" We cannot tellwe cannot see why yet. We do not know why plagues and famines and wars are permitted, but this we do know—and though Peter Jones may laugh at it, he cannot answer it-that from barbarism to civilisation, from heathenism
and paganism and darkness to Christianity, the world is going on growing safer and happier and better. We have seen that the evil an event brings with it is only temporary, while the good is eternal; and that is quite sufficient to support our belief in that Providence which is guiding all for good.
I am almost afraid that what I have written about this is not so plain and so easily understood as it should be, and I am sorry for itnot for myself, as I said before, but for others. I know that I cannot put my thoughts together so well as Peter Jones, nor express them so forcibly; I know that, because when he and I are talking together, and Dorothy hears usalthough she believes as I believe-she understands exactly what Peter Jones means, and she does not always comprehend precisely what I mean. But that does not make any difference to her. Her faith-I think it is so with most women-seems, as Peter says, more like an instinct than the faith of men. She feels it rather than reasons about it; and that, I suppose, is one reason why women, though they are weaker, are more patient and enduring in pain and trouble than we men are.
I am afraid, too, that from my want of ability to express myself quite clearly, it may not be seen what connection such remarks as I have made have with bringing this life before the world ; and I must say a few more words on that point, because I should not like to be thought wrong, and because I should be ashamed to be suspected of the vanity of wishing to write about myself without having a good object in it. What I mean to say is this: people are taught nearly as much by warning as by example, or by precept. That is how I see good coming out of evil; and if the life of Old Lodger should turn out as bad a one as I am afraid it will, I want it to be looked at as a warning. That is all I have to say now,
and I hope I have made myself understood. Now I will go back to the manuscript.
cld Sternfield used his rod, and laughed when I recounted the closing scene of my career. Mrs. Lewis did not take much apparent notice, except when I spoke of little Warner; but then she raised up her eyes with more of womanly kindness than I had seen in them before; and when I came to the point of the death-bed, put her hand upon my head, as she did the night I first came, but she did not, as then, turn up my face to look into my eyes. In persons of reserved habits, trifles serve to mark those shades of feeling which are more perceptible in lighter natures. I understand now that Mrs. Lewis's first action was one of investigation, the last, one of confidence. From that time I felt that Mrs. Lewis was kinder to me than she had been--not that she was more careful or thoughtful for my comfort-she was always thoughtful and careful-but her manner had more of that undefined tenderness, so easy to recognise, so hard to express, which makes the difference between the kindness of a man and a woman.
I think I owed that in a great measure to the tale of little Warner. If you want to evoke a woman's true nature, speak to her about children-delicate children especially. If she has any love in her, it will gush out then. Women who have children of their own will respond the quickest and the most fully; but there are few whose hearts will not speak through their eyes, if not their tongues, then. From that time Mrs. Lewis would have sacrificed much for me.
When I had finished my story, Lewis said, "I will go back with you to-morrow.” Mrs. Lewis looked up as though to say “No;” but I anticipated her. I said, “I will not go back.”
Lewis did not mean that I should go back to stay, but I think I nearly tempted him to say I should. Men of his temperament and frame of mind bear opposition, or what looks like opposition, badly; they seem born to rule. What he might have said I don't know. His eye-that
eye I have already described-glared at me for a moment; but before he spoke, Mrs. Lewis said, “Of course you will not go back to stay there.” That stayed the answer I might have received. Lewis smiled as he said, “ You are a headstrong boy, Hubert; I only meant we would go together and settle with that old fellow, and then come back. You are not afraid, are you?”
Of course I was not afraid, and it was settled that we should start early in the morning.
It is curious to notice how from point to point in life we may track our progress from one condition to another, just as we can when travelling the end of one day's journey and
I did not expect to be scolded for running away from school, and I was not. I found Lewis at home; and if he was surprised at secing me, he did not show it. He was not a man who was given to evince surprise, and in that respect his wife was like him. I told them my story, which the reader knows already all through, and my reason, with which the reader is also acquainted, for not telling it before. Lewis bit his lip when I told him how