The author presents himself at the bar of public opinion with fear and trembling,1 and an overwhelming consciousness of his own inability to do justice to the task he has allotted to himself. He is well aware of the many qualifications required to be brought forward in a compilation of this description, and, once for all, he tells the critical reader that if he expects to find in the succeeding pages the cunning of the master workman displayed by the tyro, he will be sadly mistaken; but one thing he can promise to those whose partiality for the author may tempt them to favor him with a fair hearing, and that is sincerity, and an ardent love for the character and attributes of that great and good man whose name has shed a lustre on British literature, equalled only by Shakespeare himself.
He cannot either boast of a personal acquaintance with the illustrious dead; but this, in his opinion, will go far to make his remarks on his character more important than those which might be expected from one who has had the honor of sitting at his board, and listening to his bland accents of wisdom, truth and genius. Such a biographer (and who could blame him?) would be apt to be carried away by his enthusiasm, and forget the duties of the historian in his love and veneration as a man.
The author has, however, the enviable privilege of being very intimate with those who shared the friendship and esteem of the Author of Waverley, and from these valued sources he is enabled to present many interesting traits and anecdotes, strongly illustrative of the Man, and all tinged with that naïveté which germinated his glorious fiction. He regrets, however, that he is compelled, in many instances, from obvious motives, to withhold the names of his authorities; but their value cannot be much lowered thereby, and thousands can vouch their authenticity: a vraisemblance which, in fact, they bear stamped upon them.
To these valuable auxiliaries the author begs to return his most grateful thanks; without their esteemed advice and assistance the work would probably have never been dreamed of, and should he, in his first biographical
1. ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’ (Phil. 2: 12).