Recreations for Solitary Hours
In forming a Preface, I beg leave to say that I had no intention of ever appearing before the Public as an Author, had I otherwise been allowed to remain in my own obscurity, instead of thus being urged into the arena of literary competition. Since I am thus so placed—seeing I had no other way of escape— I beg to say, that it is not without a careful examination of my bumble •productions, in regard to their merits, compared with those of many authors who have appeared before me on grounds more advantageous, that thus I venture on the platform of public opinion. As the whole have at several times been written since the early age of thirteen, without the least view of deriving any other benefit from them, farther than at the time to receive a little recreation for many a solitary hour; so, I trust, a discerning reader will not fail to reap the same benefit from a perusal.
Many, in their Prefaces, speak of the disadvantages they have laboured under, in order to add a little more strength to the blast of Fame's loud sounding horn, should she deign to take up the subject of their praise. To speak of such I forbear, however page vieasily I could bear the palm; but glorying over vanquished difficulties, assisted by those gifts which Nature may, in some measure have bestowed, like St. Paul, I may say, I thank a kind Providence that I am what I am.
The first and third Pieces are merely extracts from a larger Poem, written when about the age of sixteen, and the rest were only composed at the spur of the moment to employ a vacant hour, without the least view of being published; and, I may say, when first I lifted my pen, I made a vow to write and publish nothing that would tend to hurt a neighbour's name. The subjects of the Tales are actually true; although, however, in the second, the names given are fictitious.
As it is merely with the design of being assisted in going abroad that I have thus stepped forth as an Author, without any views of being settled at home, as I would wish, in an ordinary way; I beg leave to return my grateful acknowledgments for the kind support of my numerous and respectable subscribers, and to the kindness of those who (though to whom I am a stranger) have kindly volunteered to increase the number, and, more especially, to those distinguished individuals who have honoured me with the acceptance of the dedication of my humble book, thus lending a hand of help to assist me in the accomplishment of my designs.