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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMiles Wallingford - Preface
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Miles Wallingford - Preface Post by :bilgehan Category :Long Stories Author :James Fenimore Cooper Date :May 2012 Read :3337

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Miles Wallingford - Preface

The conclusion of this tale requires but little preface. Many persons may think that there is too much of an old man's despondency in a few of the opinions of this portion of the work; but, after sixty, it is seldom we view the things of this world _en beau_. There are certain political allusions, very few in number, but pretty strong in language, that the signs of the times fully justify, in the editor's judgment; though he does not profess to give his own sentiments in this work, so much as those of the subject of the narrative himself. "The anti-rent combination," for instance, will prove, according to the editor's conjectures, to be one of two things in this community--the commencement of a dire revolution, or the commencement of a return to the sounder notions and juster principles that prevailed among us thirty years since, than certainly prevail to-day. There is one favourable symptom discoverable in the deep-seated disease that pervades the social system: men dare, and do, deal more honestly and frankly with the condition of society in this country, than was done a few years since. This right, one that ought to be most dear to every freeman, has been recovered only by painful sacrifices and a stern resolution; but recovered it has been, in some measure; and, were the pens of the country true to their owners' privileges, we should soon come to a just view of the sacred nature of private character, as well as the target-like vulnerability of public follies and public vice. It is certain that, for a series of dangerous years, notions just the reverse of this have prevailed among us, gradually rendering the American press equally the vehicle of the most atrocious personal calumny, and the most flatulent national self-adulation. It is under such a state of things that the few evils alluded to in this work have had their rise. Bodies of men, however ignorant or small, have come to consider themselves as integral portions of a community that never errs, and, consequently, entitled to esteem themselves infallible. When in debt, they have fancied it political liberty to pay their debts by the strong hand; a very easy transition for those who believe themselves able to effect all their objects. The disease has already passed out of New York into Pennsylvania; it will spread, like any other epidemic, throughout the country; and there will soon be a severe struggle among us, between the knave and the honest man. Let the class of the latter look to it. It is to be hoped it is still sufficiently powerful to conquer.

These few remarks are made in explanation of certain opinions of Mr. Wallingford, that have been extorted from him by the events of the day, as he was preparing this work for the press; remarks that might seem out of place, were it not a part of his original plan, which contemplated enlarging far more than he has, indeed, on some of the prominent peculiarities of the state of society in which he has passed the greater part of his days.

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