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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1812, by
J. FENIMORE COOPER, in the utfice of the derk of the district court of the United States in
and for the northern district of New York.
The question, of how much of the following legend is severely true, and how much fiction, is left in doubt, with the express intention, that such historians, as having nothing useful to do, may employ their time in drawing the lines for their own amusement.
NOT WANTED BY RARE BOOKS
As to the scene chosen for this tale, no apology is deemed necessary. To invent excuses for carrying a man, either physically or in the imagination, into a sea like the Mediterranean, and on a coast like that of Italy, would be an affectation of which we have no idea of being guilty. It is true-nay, it is probable--that we may render the execution unequal to the design, but there can be no great harm in nobly daring, except to him who is injured by his own failure. We hope that they who have ever beheld the scenes we have faintly and so imperfectly described, will pardon our defects, for the good we have intended them; and that those who have never been so fortunate, will find even our tame pictures so much superior to the realities they have elsewhere witnessed, as to fancy we have succeeded.
Of Raoul Yvard Ghita Caraccioli, and the Little Folly, we have no more to say than is to be found in the body of the work. As Sancho told the knight, they
who gave us the facts connected with all three-we class a vessel among animals—said they were so certain, that we might safely swear they were absolutely true. If we are in error, it is a misfortune we share in common with honest Panza, and that, too, on a subject about equal, in moment, to the one in which he was misled.
After all, the world hears little, and knows less, of the infinity of details that make up the sum of the incidents of the sea. Historians glean a few prominent circumstances, connected perhaps with battles, treaties, shipwrecks, or chases, and the rest is left a blank to the great bulk of the human race. It has been well said, that the life of every man, if simply and clearly related, would be found to contain a fund of useful and entertaining information; and it is equally true, that the day of every ship would furnish something of interest to relate, could the dry records of the log-book be given in the graphic language of observation and capacity. A ship, alone, in the solitude of the ocean, is an object for reflection, and a source of poetical, as well as of moral feeling ; and as we seldom tire of writing about her, we have more than a sympathetic desire, that they who do us the honour to form a sort of literary clientelle, will never tire of reading.
Our chief concern, on the present occasion, is on the subject of the contrast we have attempted to draw between profound belief and light-hearted infidelity. We think both pictures true to the periods and the respective countries, and we have endeavourod to draw both with due relief, and totally without
xaggeration. That strong natural sympathies can exist between those who are widely separated on such a subject, every day's experience proves; and that some are to be found in whom principle is stronger than even the most insinuating and deceptive of all our passions, we not only hope, but trustfully believe. We have endeavoured to assign the higher and most enduring quality to that portion of the race, in which we are persuaded it is the most likely to be found.
This is the seventh sea-tale we have ventured to offer to the public. When the first was written, our friends confidently predicted its failure, on account of the meagreness of the subject, as well as of its disagreeable accompaniments. Not only did that prediction prove untrue, as to our own humble effort, but the public taste has lasted sufficiently long to receive, from other quarters, a very respectable progeny of that parent of this class of writing. We only hope that, in the present instance, there may be found a sufficient family resemblance, to allow of this particular bantling to pass in the crowd, as one of a numerous family.