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I am neither your minotaure, nor your centaure, nor your satyr,
TO THE HEADER.
WORTHY AND DEAR READER!
Hast thou ever been waylaid in the midst of a plea. sant tour by some treacherous malady ; thy heels tripped up, and thou left to count the tedious minutes as they passed, in the solitude of an inn chamber? If thou hast, thou wilt be able to pity me. Behold me, interrupted in the course of my journeying up the fair banks of the Rhine, and laid up by indisposition in this old frontier town of Mentz. I have worn out every source of amusement. I know the sound of every clock that strikes, and bell that rings in the place. I know to a second when to listen for the first tap of the Prussian drum, as it summons the garrison to parade ; or at what "hour to expect the distant sound of the Austrian military band. All these have grown wearisome to me, and even the wellknown step of my doctor, as he slowly paces the corridor, with healing in the creak of his shoes, no longer affords an agreeable interruption to the monotony of my apartment.
For a time I attempted to beguile the weary hours by studying German under the tuition of mine host's pretty little daughter, Katrine; but I soon found even German had not power to charm a languid ear, and that the con
i'ugating of ich lithe might be powerless, however rosy the ips which uttered it.
I tried to read, but my mind would jiot fix itself; I turned over volume after volume, but threw them by with distaste: "Well, then,'' said 1 at length in despair, "if I cannot read a book, I will write one." Never was there a more lucky idea; it at once gave me occupation and amusement.
The writing of a book was considered, in old times, as an enterprise of toil and difficulty, insomuch that the most trifling lucubration was denominated a "work,'' and the world talked with awo and reverence of " tht labours of the learned.'' These matters are better understood nowadays. Thanks to the improvements in all kind of manufactures, the art of book-making has been made familiar to the meanest capacity. Every body is an author. The scribbling of -a quarto is the mere pastime of the idle; the young gentleman throws off his brace of duodecimos in the intervals of the sporting season, and the young lady produces her set of volumes with the same facility that her great grandmother worked a set of chair-bottoms.
The idea having struck me, therefore, to write a book, the reader will easily perceive that the execution of it was no difficult matter. I rummaged my portfolio, and cast about, in my recollection, for those floating materials which a man naturally collects in travelling; and here I have arranged them in this little work.
As I know this to be a story-telling and a story-reading age, and that the world is fond of being taught by apologue, I have digested the instruction I would convey into a number of tales. They may not possess the power or amusement which the tales told by many of my contemporaries possess ; but then I value myself on the sound moral which each of them contains. This may not be apparent at first, but the reader will be sure to find it out in the end. I am for curing the world by gentle alter atives, not by violent doses; indeed the patient should never be conscious that he is taking a dose. I have learnt this much from my experience under the hands of the worthy Hippocrates of Mentz.
I am not, therefore, for those barefaced tales which carry their moral on the surface, staring one in the face; they are enough to deter the squeamish reader. On the contrary, I have often hid my moral from sight, and disguised it as much as possible by sweets and spices, so that while the simple reader is listening with open mouth to a ghost or love story, he may have a bolus of sound morality popped down his throat, and be never the wiser for the fraud.
As the public is apt to be curious about the sources from whence an author draws his stories, doubtless that it may know how far to put faith in them, I would observe, that the Adventure of the German Student, or rather the latter part of it, is founded on an anecdote related to me as existing somewhere in French; and, indeed, I have been told since writing it, that an ingenious tale has been founded on it by an English writer; but I hare never met with either the former or the latter in print. Sorce of the circumstances in the Adventure of the Mysterious Picture, and in the Story of the Young Italian, are vague recollections of anecdotes related to me some years since; but from what source derived I do not know. The Adventure of the Young Painter among the banditti is taken almost entirely from an authentic narrative in manuscript.
As to the other tales contained in this work, and, indeed, to my tales generally, I can make but one observation. I am an old traveller. I have read somewhat, heard and seen more, and dreamt more than all. My brain is filled, therefore, with all kinds of odds and ends. In travelling, these heterogeneous matters have become shaken up in my mind, as the articles are apt to be in an ill-packed travelling trunk; so that when I attempt to draw forth a fact, I cannot determine whether I have read, heard, or dreamt it; and I am always at a loss to know how much to believe of my own stories.
These matters being premised, fall to, worthy reader, with good appetite, and, above all, with good humour, to what is here set before thee. If the tales I have furnished should prove to be bad, they will at least be founr1 short; so that no one will be wearied long on the same theme. "Variety is charming," as some poet observes. There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse; as I have found in travelling m a stage-coach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's posi. tiou and be bruised in a new place.
Dated from the Hotel De Darmstadt
ci-devant Hotel De Paris,
iU'.vr*. otherwise called Uayesuc.