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No, my dear Mary," said Georgina, as they walked together in the little garden, while Tremaine was passing by the hedge that divided it from the field!"
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE,
(TO THE FIRST EDITION,)
ADDRESSED TO THE
WILLIAM STURGES BOURNE, M.P.
&c. &c. &c.
OF TESTWOOD PARK, HAMPSHIRE.
If it should be asked why I have recorded the series of retired scenes, and sometimes abstruse conversations, which compose the following narrative, my answer is a very simple one: in the present state of the world, they may possibly do good, and cannot do harm. Not that I think the world worse now than it has been for perhaps the last hundred years. The upper and lower classes I should say are certainly not so; I am not so sure of the middle. The wide spread of that luxury which is consequent to wealth, by extinguishing the modest style of living which once belonged to us, has undermined our independence, and left our virtue defenceless. All would be Statesmen, Philosophers, or people of fashion. All, too, run to London. The woods and fields are unpeopled; the plain mansions and plain manners of our
fathers deserted and changed; everything is swallowed up by a devouring dissipation; and the simplicities of life are only to be found in books.
Yet it is the proper blending of the simplicities of life with its elegancies, the wholesome union of public and private duty, the golden moderation recommended by Horace (all which you, Sir, understand and practise so well), that can alone enable us, whether we are politicians or private gentlemen, to act up to the real design of our nature, and be happy with dignity, or prosperous (if prosperous) without losing our virtue.
Ambition is, indeed, a great, and, under due regulation, a noble passion; but, for the most part, it is interminable. Few, like you, after showing how fitted they are for the administration of public affairs, think of retiring from them in time; or, if they do retire, they are pursued into their retreat by the spectres of what they have left, and know not how to use the leisure which, perhaps, they have courted.
Yet ambition is at least as full as ever of falsehood and treachery; of the cajoleries of honest men by confidants in office; of the sacrifice of friends, and the prevalency of upstarts.
To fly from such evils is the obvious immediate remedy; but often the remedy is so little understood, as to be worse than the disease. Hence the very dangerous mistakes about solitude, which are noticed in this work.
Again, there is in the world a spread of instruction, as well as of luxury; and also, I think, more zeal, more lively attention to duty, in our religious instructors. Yet I question if there is, either in the higher or middle