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The Wing-and-Wing Le Feu-Follet   By: (1789-1851)

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First Page:

THE

WING AND WING

OR

LE FEU FOLLET

A TALE

BY

J. FENIMORE COOPER

"Know, Without star or angel for their guide, Who worship God shall find him."

PREFACE.

It is difficult to say of which there is most in the world, a blind belief in religious dogmas, or a presumptuous and ignorant cavilling on revelation. The impression has gone abroad, that France was an example of the last, during the height of her great revolutionary mania; a charge that was scarcely true, as respects the nation, however just it might be in connection with her bolder and more unquiet spirits. Most of the excesses of France, during that momentous period, were to be attributed to the agency of a few, the bulk of the nation having little to do with any part of them, beyond yielding their physical and pecuniary aid to an audacious and mystifying political combination. One of the baneful results, however, of these great errors of the times, was the letting loose of the audacious from all the venerable and healthful restraints of the church, to set them afloat on the sea of speculation and conceit. There is something so gratifying to human vanity in fancying ourselves superior to most around us, that we believe few young men attain their majority without imbibing more or less of the taint of unbelief, and passing through the mists of a vapid moral atmosphere, before they come to the clear, manly, and yet humble perceptions that teach most of us, in the end, our own insignificance, the great benevolence as well as wisdom of the scheme of redemption, and the philosophy of the Christian religion, as well as its divinity.

Perhaps the greatest stumbling block of the young is a disposition not to yield to their belief unless it conforms to their own crude notions of propriety and reason. If the powers of man were equal to analyzing the nature of the Deity, to comprehending His being, and power, and motives, there would be some little show of sense in thus setting up the pretence of satisfying our judgments in all things, before we yield our credence to a religious system. But the first step we take brings with it the instructive lesson of our incapacity, and teaches the wholesome lesson of humility. From arrogantly claiming a right to worship a deity we comprehend, we soon come to feel that the impenetrable veil that is cast around the Godhead is an indispensable condition of our faith, reverence, and submission, A being that can be comprehended is not a being to be worshipped.

In this book, there is an attempt to set these conflicting tendencies in a full but amicable contrast to each other, We believe there is nothing in the design opposed to probability; and it seems to us, that the amiable tenderness of a confiding but just viewing female heart might, under the circumstances, be expected to manifest the mingled weakness and strength that it has here been our aim to portray.

We acknowledge a strong paternal feeling in behalf of this book, placing it very high in the estimate of its merits, as compared with other books from the same pen: a species of commendation that need wound no man. Perhaps some knowledge of Italian character is necessary to enjoy the vice governatore (veechy gov er na to re), and the podestà ; but we confess they have given us, in reading over these pages for the first time since they were written, quite as much amusement as if they were altogether from an unknown hand.

As for the Mediterranean, that unrivalled sea, its pictures always afford us delight. The hue of the water; the delicious and voluptuous calm; the breathings of the storm from the Alps and Apennines; the noble mountain sides basking in the light of the region or shrouded in mists that increase their grandeur; the picturesque craft; the islands, bays, rocks, volcanoes, and the thousand objects of art, contribute to render it the centre of all that is delightful and soothing to both the mind and the senses... Continue reading book >>




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