I attach a few preliminary words to the Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit: more because I am unwilling to depart from any custom which has become endeared to me by having prevailed between myself and my readers on former occasions of the same kind, than because I have anything particular to say.
Like a troublesome guest who lingers in the hall after he has taken leave, I cannot help loitering on the threshold of my book, though those two words, THE END: anticipated through twenty months, yet sorrowfully penned at last: stare at me, in capitals, from the printed page.
I set out, on this journey which is now concluded; with the design of exhibiting, in various aspects, the commonest of all the vices. It is almost needless to add, that the commoner the folly or the crime which an author endeavours to illustrate, the greater is the risk he runs of being charged with exaggeration; for, as no man ever yet recognised an imitation of himself, no man will admit the correctness of a sketch in which his own character is delineated, however faithfully.
But, although Mr. Pecksniff will by no means concede to me, that Mr. Pecksniff is natural; I am consoled by finding him keenly susceptible of the truthfulness of Mrs. Gamp. And though Mrs. Gamp considers her own portrait to be quite unlike, and altogether out of drawing; she recompenses me for the severity of her criticism on that failure, by awarding unbounded praise to the picture of Mrs. Prig.
I have endeavoured in the progress of this Tale, to resist the temptation of the current Monthly Number, and to keep a . . .