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Pitiable case, when one's book, in the hour of birth,
must wear steel on dimpled shoulders and grasp swordhilt
with chubby fingers; must be laid into a battle as
into a cradle, like Hercules among the serpents; must
be its own accoucheur, nurse, and defender!

If each child, immediately after finding itself sprawling
on this earth, were required to stand up in swaddling-clothes
and pronounce some raison d'être satisfactory
to the world at large,— what a bore were life to the
living, what a dread to the unborn, what a regret to
most of the dead! A man has seventy years in which
to explain his life: but a book must accomplish its birth
and its excuse for birth in the same instant; it must
renounce all fair prerogatives of babyhood; it must
scorn the power of weakness; it must enter life as a
certain emperor enters his carriage,— at once smiling to
the smiling people, and sternly frowning into the set
eyes of assassins in the crowd.

And so, protesting against an exaction in which
humanity has outrageously discriminated in favor of
itself — this book declares itself an unpretending one,


Page iv
whose interest, if it have any, is not a thrill of many
murders nor a titillation of dainty crimes. That it has
dared to waive this interest, must be attributed neither
to youthful temerity nor to the seduction that lies singing
in the grass of all rarely-trodden paths, but wholly
to a love, strong as it is humble, for what is beautiful
in God's Nature and in Man's Art.

This love, with love's vehemence, swears that it is not
well to multiply those horrible piquancies of quaint
crimes and of white-handed criminals, with which so
many books have recently stimulated the pruriency of
men; and begs that the following pages may be judged
only as registering a faint cry, sent from a region where
there are few artists to happier lands that own many;
calling on these last for more sunshine and less night
in their art, more virtuous women and fewer Lydia
Gwilts, more household sweetness and less Bohemian
despair, clearer chords and fewer suspensions, broader
quiet skies and shorter grotesque storms; since there
are those, even here in the South, who still love beautiful
things with sincere passion, and who fear that if the
artists give us more fascinating female-devils, we too
will fall in love with them as school-girls do with Milton's
Satan and Bailey's Festus; whereupon the old
sweet order of things will be reversed, and, instead of
fair marriages between the sons of Heaven and the
daughters of Earth, we shall have free-love alliances


Page v
between the sons of Earth and the daughters of Hell, —
the hybrid consequences of which sad event one has
neither heart nor breath to pursue.

This book's chief difficulty has been to avoid enriching
reality at the expense of truth; a difficulty well
known by those who have been astonished to find how
the descriptions of eye-witnesses may contain nothing
but facts and yet express nothing but falsehood.

S. L.

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