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The Doctor's Daughter   By: (1865-)

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" O Tempora! O Mores! "


Charles Dickens observes with much truth, that "though seldom read, prefaces are continually written." It may be asked and even wondered, why? I cannot say that I know the exact reason, but it seems to me that they may carry the same weight, in the literary world, that certain sotto voce explanations, which oftentimes accompany the introduction of one person to another, do in the social world.

If it is permitted, in bringing some quaint, old fashioned little body, before a gathering of your more fastidious friends, at once to reconcile them to his or her strange, ungainly mien, and to justify yourself for acknowledging an intimacy with so eccentric a creature, by following up the prosy and unsuggestive: "Mr. B , ladies and gentlemen," or "Miss M , ladies and gentlemen," with such a refreshing paraphrase as, "brother in law of the celebrated Lord Marmaduke Pulsifer," or, "confidential companion, to the wife of the late distinguished Christopher Quill the American Poet" why should not a like privilege be extended the labour worn author, when he ushers the crude and unattractive offspring of his own undaunted energy into the arena of literary life?

Mr. B , without the whispered guarantee of his relative importance, would never be noticed unless to be riled or ridiculed; and so with many a meek and modest volume, whose key note has never been sounded, or if sounded has never been heard.

We would all be perfect in our attributes if we could! Who would write vapid, savourless pages, if it were in his power to set them aglow with rare erudition, and dazzling conceptions of ethical and other abstract subjects? If I had been born a Dickens, lector benevole , I would have willingly, eagerly, proudly, favoured you with a "Tale of Two Cities" or a "David Copperfield;" of that you may be morally certain, however, it is no mock self disparagement (!) that moves me to humbly acknowledge (!) my inferiority to this immortal mind. I have availed myself of the only alternative left, when I recognized the impossibility of rivalling this protagonist among the dramatis personae of the great Drama of English Fiction, and have done something of which he speaks very tenderly and delicately somewhere in his prolific writings, one's "best." He says, "one man's best is as good as another man's," not in its results, (I know by experience), but in the abstract relationship which exists between the nature of the two efforts, and I am grateful to him for having thus provided against the possible discouragement of "small authorship."

In the subjoining pages, I offer to the world, a pretenseless record of the impressions, opinions, and convictions which have been, I may say, thrust upon me by a contact, which is yet necessarily limited, with the phases of every day life.

That some of these reflections and conclusions should not meet with universal sympathy or approval, is not at all to be wondered at, when we consider how much more different, than alike, are any two human lives and lots. I do not ask my readers to subscribe to those tenets and opinions which may seem unreal and exaggerated to them, because of their different experience; I can only justify them in myself, by declaring them to be the outgrowth of my own personal speculations in the market of commonplace existence.

It has been my pleasure to probe under the surface of sorrow and song that makes the swelling, restless tide of human passions a strange and tempting mystery, even to itself; and though my pen may have failed to carry out the deep rooted ambition of my soul, there is some comfort in the thought that I have made an effort; I have tried my young wings, with the hope of soaring upward: if they are yet too feeble to bear me, I am no more than the young eagle, and must rise again from my fall, to await a gathering confidence and strength that may, or may not, be in store for me... Continue reading book >>

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