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form; beginning, as is usual with all memoirs of great personages, with the history of his family from the time of the Conquest, or, possibly, as far back as that of the sea kings; tracing it from them till he came to his own birth, parentage, and education. But, unfortunately, he had only written parts of these memoirs, as the recollections had occurred to him of any more particularly interesting circumstances and events, when death (that will not pay respect enough to a man's life, to keep aloof till his record of it is completed for the benefit of his posterity) stepped in and took him off in the midst of his projected work.
At first, I determined to use this mass of papers as materials only for compiling a history of my respected forefathers, and their times; but not being accustomed to literary composition, I found the task puzzling, and, after many efforts, too difficult for me.
I resolved, therefore, on well considering the matter, to be content with the humbler task of editor, that of author being beyond my reach. In short, I determined that I would put together the papers in question, very much as I found them; arranging the most interesting of the letters, according to their dates, giving all the scraps of memoir, written by my grandfather, in their proper places, and selecting from the diaries such passages only as appeared to me to be most curious, and illustrative of the times in which they were penned. These diaries, I often found, were the records of the most hidden feelings, the most secret thoughts and actions of the writers; and, in many instances, I am convinced, were never intended for any other purpose than the silent contemplation of their own minds. The perusal of these memorials seemed to me, like having the power to look into the heart of another, and there to read whatever passes in its deepest recesses, whilst between it and the world without there hangs an impenetrable veil.*
* Had the ingenious gentleman, who thus amused himself with rummaging among old diaries, lived in our days, he possibly might have favoured his reader in his editorial preface, with the following remarks of a modern author. Mr. D'Israeli, one of the most acute, judicious, and valuable writers of our times, calls the age of Charles the First, “ the age of diaries ;" and says, “ the head of almost every family In this manner I speedily arranged my store of original papers; my next care was to make a fair copy of the whole with my own hand. And I may just here observe, it was wonderful to me, to find how short my days and weeks seemed to grow, after I had taken steadily to this work; and my spirits marvellously improved. I laboured incessantly till my task was done; and I can truly say, that the only liberty I have taken has been, to leave out such passages or pages, as I thought would be devoid of all interest to the present generation; whilst, to render the papers more readable, I ventured to use modern 'spelling in my copies; and now and then to substitute words of our own time, for those quite obsolete; and here and there also, for the same reason, to modernize the old-fashioned, cramped style of the writers. What my reader may think of my performance, in this part of the business, I cannot tell; but as I am well satisfied with it myself, I hope it may yield him no less content.
formed one.” That in this period “ men wrote folios concerning themselves ;" some, he adds, have thrown the greatest light on secret history; and, he assures us, he has often found when examining these diaries in manuscript, that so strong was the habit of writing down every thing, that many persons who wrote in retirement would still write on, even
« when they had nothing to write about.”
After such a testimony as this, the reader will no longer be surprised if he finds often in the following pages, more correct information concerning an important subject in an extract from a diary, than in a correspondence between the most intimate friends.
Having caught somewhat of the enthusiasm of authorship by my editorship, my next feeling was a longing desire to be able to read my fair copy of these curious papers, in still fairer print. And considering, likewise, there were in them so many particulars about the great characters and events of King Charles's time, which, I thought, could not fail to interest others as much as they had myself, I determined on publication. My next difficulty was to hit upon a name for my work; that was indeed a puzzle. At first I thought of calling it The Walreddon Papers ; but that did not satisfy some ladies I consulted on this head, who had been indulged with a peep at the contents. They insisted that the title should have some reference to one of the most interesting subjects mentioned in the story; concerning a lost child. Here I objected; as I resolutely clung to the name of the family and the mansion in which the papers had been found; so that at last we fixed on “ Courtenay of Walreddon,” as the name for my collection of old papers.
Such a miscellaneous one, I suppose, never was before presented to the public. My best and only apology is their originality; and that I deemed it better, as I have above hinted, to give them in this state, than to injure the spirit of their contents by any bungling attempts of mine at concentration. For my own part, I am rather disposed to like than otherwise a gradual unfolding of characters and events. I like minute details and minor traits, that show the heart with more fidelity than the most laboured accounts of great passions and affairs. The warmth, the natural eloquence of real feeling, always leads to copiousness of expression ; a full heart will pour itself out; and never more so, perhaps, than in moments when it conveys its deepest emotions to the bosom of a friend. With a few other remarks, I shall close these preliminary observations.