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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Guardian Angel - PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION
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The Guardian Angel - PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION Post by :rustler51 Category :Long Stories Author :Oliver Wendell Holmes Date :April 2012 Read :2784

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The Guardian Angel - PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION

PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION

It is a quarter of a century since the foregoing Preface was written, and that is long enough to allow a story to be forgotten by the public, and very possibly by the writer of it also. I will not pretend that I have forgotten all about "The Guardian Angel," but it is long since I have read it, and many of its characters and incidents are far from being distinct in my memory. There are, however, a few points which hold their place among my recollections. The revolt of Myrtle Hazard from the tyranny of that dogmatic dynasty now breaking up in all directions has found new illustrations since this tale was written. I need only refer to two instances of many. The first is from real life. Mr. Robert C. Adams's work, "Travels in Faith from Tradition to Reason," is the outcome of the teachings of one of the most intransigeant of our New England Calvinists, the late Reverend Nehemiah Adams. For an example in fiction,--fiction which bears all the marks of being copied from real life,--I will refer to "The Story of an African Farm." The boy's honest, but terrible outburst, "I hate God," was, I doubt not, more acceptable in the view of his Maker than the lying praise of many a hypocrite who, having enthroned a demon as Lord of the Universe, thinks to conciliate his favor by using the phrases which the slaves of Eastern despots are in the habit of addressing to their masters. I have had many private letters showing the same revolt of reasoning natures against doctrines which shock the more highly civilized part of mankind in this nineteenth century and are leading to those dissensions which have long shown as cracks, and are fast becoming lines of cleavage in some of the largest communions of Protestantism.

The principle of heredity has been largely studied since this story was written. This tale, like "Elsie Venner," depends for its deeper significance on the ante-natal history of its subject. But the story was meant to be readable for those who did not care for its underlying philosophy. If it fails to interest the reader who ventures upon it, it may find a place on an unfrequented bookshelf in common with other "medicated novels."

Perhaps I have been too hard with Gifted Hopkins and the tribe of rhymesters to which he belongs. I ought not to forget that I too introduced myself to the reading world in a thin volume of verses; many of which had better not have been written, and would not be reprinted now, but for the fact that they have established a right to a place among my poems in virtue of long occupancy. Besides, although the writing of verses is often a mark of mental weakness, I cannot forget that Joseph Story and George Bancroft each published his little book, of rhymes, and that John Quincy Adams has left many poems on record, the writing of which did not interfere with the vast and important labors of his illustrious career.

BEVERLY FARMS, MASS., August 7, 1891. O. W. H.

THE GUARDIAN ANGEL

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