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the power of speech it would cry out, “
Why this is none of I!” But as my humility whispered to me that my right hand might not possess that cunning, I endeavoured to find out a subject which should “win by rareness.” I first ran through the catalogue of the passions -it would not do, they have been “torn to tatters.” Not a character could I fancy, from the hired bravo to the gentle swain withering in secrecy and silence beneath the shade on his mistress's eye-brow, without perceiving, as I looked behind me through the ghosts of departed novels, the double of my incipient hero. Now, as Peter Schlemihl owed his notoriety to the loss of his own natural and proper shadow, I very reasonably apprehended that a hero with a double would at once “ be laid"-aside, and that by the most charitable ;-I therefore abandoned the passions as being-out of date.
I thought for a moment of the manners and customs of artificial life ; but they have been painted, described, caricatured, lampooned, and dished up in so many different forms for the public taste, that not only is “the boudoir” itself as familiar to the vulgar eyes as the sign upon the windows of their own circulating libraries, but every lamp and every lustre belonging thereto is nightly burned in effigy in their own “ squalid parlours.” So that really, unless by having recourse to the cuisine itself, I should not now know how to cater to the appetites of folk so greedy after “high living." Then for the converse of the human picture, the lower Irish, who live professedly “ by their ways and their manes ;” has that subject not been exhausted between open enemies and nominal lovers until their own orthography, if not pronunciation, becomes correct, and the means being gone, their ma-nes alone remain ? Thus, between ghosts and gourmands, the spirit and the flesh, I was nearly scared altogether from my undertaking, when an opportune visit to Paris, by introducing “animal magnetism” to my notice, suggested to me that the point I
sought “ might lie between"—it professing to be that mysterious point between mind and matter, too material in its effects to be all mind, and too subtile to be all matter !
Seriously, a particular circumstance brought the subject under my consideration in a very striking and a very startling point of view; and if the reference I have given must not necessarily prove more satisfactory than any assertion from an anonymous writer, I assure my readers that “ I could a tale unfold,” the slightest word of which would justify me for making the theory the foundation of a novel ! -Still, justification falls so far short of approbation, and accquittal of applause, that I had no sooner attained the object of my ambition
an unhacknied subject, than I began to fear that it was too foreign to English sympathies, and that I should only draw upon myself that ridicule with which the subject has hitherto been treated here. Against this, the only defence I have to offer (without again referring to the testimony of foreign but enlightened nations) is, that since a learned body has not disdained to make animal magnetism a subject of investigation, surely it should not be considered as beneath the dignity of a novel. But a truce to hopes and fears — to arguments and reasonings ; I have launched my little bark on the tide of public opinion, and all I can say now in its favour will indeed be talking to the winds. The public breath alone can swell my sails, and as I have left the cape of good hope far behind me, I now equally dread the dead calm of neglect, or the storms of harsh criticism, and put my trust in the trade winds; praying, that instead of “ blasts from hell” to damn my humble venture, they may prove “ airs from heaven” to waft me “ unto the wished-for haven of my bliss."