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REFACES are things difficult to write,

and ungrateful because so few people read them. Yet, if we take the words of a

sound scholar, they are “to be weighed and tasted,” as well as the matter of the book; and certainly they do give timely warning of the author's style-a very important question to all readers who are not alone captivated by the bare narration of extraordinary incidents and exciting conflicts, either bodily or mental ; most important in a book of Essays where none of these are to be found.

The Publishers of The Gentle Life, to whose judgment and taste the excellent printing, clear type, and presentable appearance, which added so much to the success of that work, are due, were advised by the Critics that the Public would be willing to listen further to the teachings of the writer, and they determined to take the advice so kindly proffered. Hence this volume. Its contents are more varied than those of the former one: the Author looks out into the world, but from a peculiar standpoint, such as Montaigne has before indicated when he writes, in quaint old French, " Ainsi amy lecteur, je suis moy-mesme la matière de mon livre : ce n'est pas raison que tu employes ton loisir en un subiect si frivole et si vain."

Matter which concerns ourselves is always interesting, even if treated with but moderate skill. Whatever be the skill of the present writer, he feels convinced that he may apply to his book the first sentence of Montaigne, "C'est icy un livre de bonne foy, lecteur;" and to the charge of preaching a too cheerful philosophy he would answer, in the words of Washington Irving, "When I discover the world to be all that it has been represented by sneering critics and whining poets, I will turn to and abuse it also: in the meanwhile, worthy reader, I hope you will not think lightly of me because I cannot believe this to be so very bad a world as it is represented.”

The Second Edition has been revised, and one or two very apparent errors have been corrected. It only remains for the Author to thank the Public most warmly for the favour they have shown him.


F any one with a philosophical mind takes care

to watch a young mother as she is suckling a very young baby, he will there see, perhaps, the

most interesting sight in the world. Lord Byron, in some noble lines, gives us a clue to what is the next most absorbing :

“ He who hath bent him o'er the dead

Ere the first day of death is fled,
The first dark day of nothingness,
The last of danger and distress;
Before decay's effacing fingers
Have swept the lines where beauty lingers,"

will find there that which will equally excite his pity, his wonder, and his awe. But to us, and very probably to many others, the young soul, struggling with consciousness and half-unconsciousness, with instinct as yet undeveloped into sense, with probably dimly lighted eyes, tender and untaught nerves, uneducated muscles; a baby-animal, under influences it cannot as yet understand, and but lately divorced from its protecting half, is by far the most interesting.


The problem or problems with which it is bound up are scarcely yet stated. It may be a Cain or an Enoch. If Lorn as the heir to the greatest throne is, it still has before it the labyrinth of life. It may be a Nero or a Titus, the dread or the delight of human kind. It may teach the world by its books, charm it by its eloquence; it may persuade others to goodness from the pulpit, or preach its last dark sermon from the gallows. Who knows? No one ; least of all the innocent babe—its chief portion of life given to sleep ; its little brain quiescent; its very capacities unknown ; its actual SELF undeveloped.

But he who watches will find out that one of the first duties of the baby-thing is to find out its own Ego, to distinguish between another and itself. It soon finds out that it has a self; that it is different from and weaker than others; that it has sensation ; that heat warms it, cold touches it, hunger pinches it. A close observer may have seen the pretty delicate pink fingers of the babe wander about its mother's breast, and then again to its own face, seeking, possibly, to distinguish the difference. What the amount of reasoning arrived at in its little brain is, we are unable to say. Poets have dreamt that, in the young imagination of the child, strange and glorious fancies lie; that dim recollections of a prior existence and a grander home occupy the cranium of a child.

“ Heaven lies about us in our infancy :

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Has had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar !"

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