a beginning, a middle, and an end. But what was to be done with the fragments which remained — without beginning, and without end — links of a hidden or a broken chain? Whether to preserve them or destroy them became a question, and one I could not answer for myself. In allowing a portion of them to go forth to the world in their original form, as unconnected fragments, I have been guided by the wishes of others, who deemed it not wholly uninteresting or profitless to trace the path, sometimes devious enough, of an “inquiring spirit,” even by the little pebbles dropped as vestiges by the way side.

A book so supremely egotistical and subjective can do good only in one way. It may, like conversation with a friend, open up sources of sympathy and reflection; excite to argument, agreement, or disagreement; and, like every spontaneous utterance of thought out of an earnest mind, suggest far higher and better thoughts than any to be found here to higher and more productive minds. If I had not the humble hope of such a possible result, instead of sending these memoranda to the printer, I should have thrown them into the fire ; for I lack that creative faculty which can work up the teachings of heart-sorrow and world-experience into attractive forms of fiction or of art; and having no intention of leaving any such memorials to be published after my death, they must have gone into the fire as the only alternative left.


The passages from books are not, strictly speaking, selected; they are not given here on any principle of choice, but simply because that by some process of assimilation they became a part of the individual mind. They “found me," —to borrow Coleridge's expression,-“found me in some depth of my being ;” I did not “find them.

For the rest, all those passages which are marked by inverted commas must be regarded as borrowed, though I have not always been able to give my authority. All passages not so marked are, I dare not say, original or new, but at least the unstudied expression of a free discursive mind. Fruits, not advisedly plucked, but which the variable winds have shaken from the tree: some ripe,

harsh and crude."


Wordsworth's famous poem of “ The Happy Warrior (of which a new application will be found at page 87.), is supposed by Mr. De Quincey to have been first suggested by the character of Nelson. It has since been applicd to Sir Charles Napier (the Indian General), as well as to the Duke of Wellington ; all which serves to illustrate my position, that the lines in question are equally applicable to any man or any woman whose moral standard is irrespective of selfishness and expediency.

With regard to the fragment on Sculpture, it may be necessary to state that it was written in 1848. The first three paragraphs were inserted in the Art Journal for April, 1849. It was intended to enlarge the whole into a comprehensive essay on “Subjects fitted for Artistic Treatment;" but this being now impossible, the fragment is given as originally written ; others may think it out, and apply it better than I shall live to do.

August, 1854.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »