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may be necessary to state, (in order to avoid the imputation of fruitless vanity,) that nearly the whole of the following pages were written before either “ Brambletye House” or “ Woodstock” made their appearance; but (from peculiar circumstances) were not published then, and are, from circumstances equally peculiar, published now.
Having mentioned this, any apology to the public, for entering upon a path which has been so brilliantly and successfully illuminated by the authors above
named, would, indeed, be as superfluous a piece of candour and contrition, as that of the man who begged Voltaire's pardon for stealing one of his bon-mots, after he had rendered it so pointless, as to make it impossible the original owner should either detect the theft, or wish to claim the waif. Moreover, it is to be hoped, that a person might tread the classic ground of Thermopylæ, without having it supposed that he imagined he should, as a matter of course, on that account, be taken for a Leonidas ; on the contrary, his only feeling would be, that its hero, in leaving him his deeds to admire, had destroyed the power of imitation. What is unique, cannot be copied ; what is much above us, cannot be reached ; and the palpably impalpable Author of Waverley is, in the literary world, what
the shade of Theseus was at Marathon, an invisible and mysterious, but all-conquering power ; while Mr. Horace Smith, like the Ladye Christabell's champion, has obtained such proud vantage-ground, that few writers could be bold enough to contend with him.