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BY

ELIZABETH WETHERELL

AUTHOR OF

60

THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD

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"I hope I may speak of woman without offence to the ladies

THE GUARDIAN

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CA

DLF

LONDON
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS

THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE
251.

C. 108.

LONDON: PRINTED BY WOODFALL AND KINDER,

MILFORD LANE, STRAND, W.C.

PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION.

“A MAN'S hat in his hand never did him any harm," says the proverb.

If the author were to come before the English public with a figurative obeisance, her words might be

“ Please not to misunderstand me."

Queechy” enters yet more than “The Wide, Wide World” into the phases of American life—the ups and downs, the struggles, the reverses, which chequer the moral surface of this new world. And while thus discoursing of the Country, it is no wonder if national topics be now and then touched uponsome of those disputable and disputed points about which the world will never agree; it would be impossible else to give that individuality without which description loses half its charm. But in such parts of the book, let the reader recollect that the writer must make her people talk in character; and that, while she would not wilfully misstate the truth, on the whole, the reader's discernment must find the thread of it through all the various prejudices, local feelings, old grievances, and new imaginations, with which human nature is apt to cover it up.

The writer aims at a fair presentation, not of one character, but many-blended and wrought in together as they really are in any piece of human life; but the materials for her mosaic are not each bit of a uniform tint—they have shades and changing colours-specks, flaws, cracks sometimes; and she may not put gold upon granite, not fetch mica from the bed of a clear stream. She may not make the stream run but just

4

PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION.

which way it will; its crooks and turns are its own—its bubbles and murmurs are not of her imagination; and call the colour deep, and the foam by what epithet you will, they are those of the course of life in some of its American branches.

Through all the vagaries of human thought and action there is a straight road to the truth; the author would be well pleased if a similar “short cut” might be taken to her meaning. It does not follow that her feeling is bitter, because she makes an old revolutionist speak with small tenderness of “ King George's men," and somebody else use sharp weapons in self-defence; any more than that she undervalues her own country, because her hero owes allegiance to Queen Victoria. And, therefore,

“Let not the mouse of my good meaning, lady,

Be snapp'd up in the trap of your suspicion,
To lose the tail there, either of her truth,
Or swallow'd by the cat of misconstruction."

NEW YORK.

NOTE.—Whatever credit may be due to the bits of poetry in this Volume, it is not due to the writer of the text. She has them only by gift-not the gift of Nature.

E. W.

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