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away the long and tedious winter-evenings of a demi-invalid; and recollecting that I could neither live for ever nor was sure of being the “last man,” I conceived the idea of looking over and burning a horse-load or two of letters, papers, and fragments of all descriptions, which I had been carrying about in old trunks (not choosing to leave them at any body's mercy,) and to which I had been perpetually adding.

The execution of this inflammatory project I immediately set about with vast assiduity and corresponding success; and doubtless, with very great advantage to the literary reputation of an immense number of my former correspondents as well as my own. After having made considerable progress, I found that some of the fragments amused myself, and I therefore began to consider whether they might not also amuse other people. I was advised to make selections from my store, particularly as I had, for near half a century, kept-not a diarybut a sort of rambling chronicle, wherein I made notes of matters which, from time to time, struck my fancy. Some of these memoranda were illegible; others just sufficient to set my memory working; some were sad, and some were cheerful; some very old, others recent. In fine, I began to select: but I soon found that any thing like a regular series was out of the question; so I took a heap indiscriminately, picked out the subjects that amused me most, wrote a list of their several headings, which were very numerous; and, as his Majesty pricks for sheriffs, so did I for subjects, and thereby gathered as many as I conceived would make two or three volumes. My next process was to make up court-dresses for my Sketches and Fragments, such as might facilitate their introduction into respectable company, without observing strict chronological sequence, to which I am aware light readers have a rooted a version.

This laudable occupation served to amuse me and to fill up the blanks of the winter-evenings; and being finished, the residue of the papers re-deposited, and the trunks locked again, I requested the publisher of my “Historic Memoirs" also to

6 Personal Sketches" afloat. This he undertook to do: and they are now sent out to the public—the world, as it is

set my

called; and the reader (gentle reader is too hackneyed a term to be employed by me) is fully at liberty to draw from them whatever deductions he pleases. All I have to say is, that the several matters contained herein are neither fictions nor essays, but relate to real matters of fact, and personages composed of fesh and blood. I have aimed at no display of either fancy or imagination; nor have I set down long dialogues, which could not possibly be recorded except when heroes and heroines carried short-hand writers in their pockets, which must have been peculiarly inconvenient. In speaking of fanciful matters, bythe-by, I may as well except my own opinions on certain subjects here and there interspersed, which I freely leave to the mercy of any one who is disposed to esteem them visionary.

However, be it understood, that I by no means intend this disclaimer as an assault on—but on the contrary as a distinguished compliment to writers and to works of pure imagination-of improbability and impossibility!-inasmuch as such works prove an unlimited range of intellect and talent, on the part of the authors, for inventing matters of fact that never could have occurred, and conversations that never could have taken place; a talent which, when duly cultivated and practised for the use of friends and private families, seldom fails to bring an author's name into most extensive circulation; and if perchance he should get himself into any scrape by it, nothing is so likely as the exercise of the same talent of invention to get him out of it again.

On the other hand, I must own, even against myself, that the writing of mere common-place truths requires no talent whatsoever! it is quite a humdrum straight-forward acquirement, which any person may attain. Besides, matter of fact is not at all in vogue just now: the disrepute under which truth in general at present labours, in all departments and branches of literature, has put it quite out of fashion even amongst the savans:--so that chemistry and mathematics are almost the only subjects, on the certainty of which, the “ nobility, gentry, and the public at large," appear to place any very considerable reliance.

Having thus, I hope, proved my candour at my own cost,

the deduction is self-evident-namely, that the unfortunate authenticity of these sketches, must debar them from any competition with the tales and tattle of unsophisticated invention: when, for instance, scandal is true, it is (as some ladies have assured me) considered by the whole sex as scarcely worth listening to, and actually requiring at least very considerable exaggeration to render it at all amusing! I therefore greatly fear I may not, in this instance, experience so much of their favour as I am always anxious to obtain: my only consolation is, that when their desire to indulge an amiable appetite for scandal is very ardent, they may find ample materials in every bookseller's shop and haut-ton society to gratify the passion.

I feel now necessitated to recur to another point, and I do it at the risk of being accused of egotism. hope, however, I can advance a good reason for my proceeding; namely, that on reading over some of the articles whereof this mélange is composed, I freely admit, that if I were not very intimately acquainted with myself, I might be led at least into a puzzle as to the writer's genuine sentiments on many points of theology and politics. Now, I wish, seriously speaking, to avoid, on these subjects, all ambiguity; and therefore, as responsible for the opinions put forth in the following Sketches, I beg to state, that I consider myself strictly orthodox both in politics and theology: that is to say, I profess to be a sound protestant, without bigotry; and an hereditary royalist, without ultraism. Liberty I love-Democracy I hate: Fanaticism I denounce! These principles I have ever held and avowed, and they are confirmed by time and observation. I own that I have been what is generally called a loyalist, and I have been also what is

generally called a patriot; but I never was either unqualifiedly: I always thought, and I think still, that they never should, and never need be (upon fair principles) opposed to each other. I can also see no reason why there may not be patriot kings as well as patriot subjects--a patriot minister, indeed, may be more problematical. In my public life, I have met with but one transaction that even threatened to make my patriotism overbalance my loyalty: I allude to the purchase and sale of the Irish Parliament, called a Union, which I ever regarded

as one of the most flagrant public acts of corruption on the records of history, and certainly the most mischievous to this empire--except our absurdities at Vienna. I believe very few men sleep the sounder for having supported either the former or the latter measures; though some, it is true, went to sleep a good deal sooner than they expected when they carried those measures into execution.

I must also observe that, as to the detail of politics, I feel now very considerable apathy. My day for actual duty is past; and I shall only further allude, as a simple casuist, to the slang terms in which it has become the fashion to dress up the most important subjects of British statistics--subjects on which certain of these Sketches appear to have a remote bearing, and on which my ideas may possibly be misunderstood.

I wish it therefore to be considered as my humble opinion, that what, in political slang, is termed Radical Reform, is, in reality, proximate revolution:- Universal Suffrage appears to me to be inextinguishable uproar: -Annual Parliaments, nothing less than periodical bloodshed. My doubts as a casuist, with these impressions on my mind, must naturally be, how the orderly folks of Great Britain would relish proximate revolution, inextinguishable uproar, and periodical bloodshed?-I do not extend the query to the natives of my own country, because, since His Majesty was there, nobody has taken much notice of them; and besides, the people in Ireland having very little to eat and no amusement at all, the aforesaid pastimes might divert them, or at least their hunger, and of course be extremely acceptable to a great body of the population.

As I also perceive some articles in these Sketches touching upon matters relative to Popes, Catholic countries, &c.; lest I may be misconstrued or misrepresented on that head, I beg to observe, that I meddle not at all in the controversy of Catholic Emancipation. The Doctors employed differ so essentially in opinion, that, as it frequently falls out on many other consultations, they may lose their patient whilst debating on the prescription:-in truth, I don't see how the Doctors can ever agree, as the prescribers must necessarily take the ussay, and

В.

VOL. I.

one half of them verily believe that they should be poisoned thereby!—“ Amongst ye be it, blind harpers!”

I apprehend I have now touched on most of the topics which occurred to me as requiring a word of explanation. I repeat that this book is only to be considered as a desultory mélange -the whim of a winter's evening-a mere chance-selection. I shall therefore make no sort of apology for inaccuracies as to unity of time, for defective connexion, or the like. It amused my leisure hours; and if it fortunately amuses those of other people, I shall receive a great deal of satisfaction.

JONAH BARRINGTON. May 28th, 1827

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