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sketches extended gradually from a few memoranda into a volume, is not completed; much has been omitted, much suppressed. If I have paused mid-way in the task, it is not for want of materials, which offer themselves in almost exhaustless profusionnor from want of interest in the subject—the most delightful in which the imagination ever revelled! but because I desponded over my own power to do it justice. I know, I feel that it required more extensive knowledge of languages, more matured judgment, more eritical power, more eloquence;-only Madame de Staël could have fulfilled my conception of the style in which it ought to have been treated. It was enthusiasm, not presumption, which induced me to attempt it. I have touched on matters, on which there are a variety of tastes and opinions, and lightly passed over questions on which there are volumes of grave “ historic doubts;“but I have ventured on no discussion, still less on any decision. I have been satisfied merely to quote my authorities; and where these exhibited many opposing facts and opinions, it seemed to me that there was far more propriety and much less egotism in simply expressing, in the first person, what I thought and felt, than in asserting absolutely that a thing is so, or is said to be so. Every one has a right to have an opinion, and deliver it with modesty; but no one has a right to clothe such opinions in general assertions, and in terms which seem to insinuate that they are or ought to be universal. I know I am open to criticism and contradiction on a thousand points; but I have adhered strictly to what appeared to me the truth, and examined conscientiously all the sources of information that were open to me.
The history of this little book, were it worth revealing, would be the history, in miniature, of most human undertakings: it was begun with enthusiasm; it has been interrupted by intervals of
illness, idleness, or more serious cares; it has been pursued through difficulties so great, that they would perhaps excuse its many deficiencies; and now I see its conclusion with a languor almost approaching to despair;—at least with a feeling which, while it renders me doubly sensitive to criticism, and apprehensive of failure, has rendered me almost indifferent to success, and careless of praise.
I owe four beautiful translations from the Italian, (which are noticed in their proper places,) to the kindness of a living poet, whose justly celebrated name, were I allowed to mention it, would be subject of pride to myself, and double the value of this little book. I have no other assistance of any kind to acknowledge.
Will it be thought unfeminine or obtrusive, if I add yet a few words?
I think it due to truth and to myself to seize this opportunity of saying, that a little book published some years ago, and now perhaps forgotten, was not written for publication, nor would ever have been printed, but for accidental circumstances.
That the title under which it appeared was not given by the writer, but the publisher, who at the time knew nothing of the author.
And that several false dates, and unimportant circumstances and characters were interpolated, to conceal, if possible, the real purport and origin of the work. Thus the intention was not to create an illusion, by giving to fiction the appearance of truth, but, in fact, to give to truth the air of fiction. I was not then prepared for all that a woman must meet and endure, who once suffers herself to be betrayed into authorship. She may
repent at leisure, like a condemned spirit; but she has passed that barrier from which there is no return.
C'est assez,--I will not add a word more, lest it should be said that I have only disclaimed the title of the Ennuyée, to assume that of the Ennuyeuse.