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There are several reasons why an American who writes a novel should choose his own country for the scene of his story, and there are more against it. To begin with the-pros—the ground is untrodden, and will have all the charms of novelty; as yet but one pen of any celebrity has been employed among us in this kind of writing; and as the author is dead, and beyond the hopes and fears of literary rewards and punishments, his countrymen are beginning to discover his merit-but we forget, the latter part of the sentence should have been among
the contras. The very singularity of the circumstance gives the book some small chance of being noticed abroad; and our literature is much like our wine-vastly benefited by traveling. Then, the patriotic ardour of the country will insure a sale to the most
humble attempts to give notoriety to any thing national, as we have the strongest assurances our publisher's account of profit and loss will speedily show. Heaven forbid that this don't prove to be like the book itself—a fiction. And lastly, an author may be fairly supposed to be better able to delineate character and to describe scenes, where he is familiar with both, than in countries where he has been nothing more than a traveller. Now for the contras-we will begin by removing all the reasons in favour of the step. As there has been but one writer of this description hitherto, a new candidate for literary honours of this kind would be compared with that one; and unfortunately he is not the rival that every man would select. Then, although the English critics not only desire, but invite works that will give an account of American manners, we are sadly afraid they mean nothing but Indian manners; we are apprehensive that the same palate which can relish the cave scene in Edgar Huntly, because it contains an American, a
savage, a wild cat, and a tomahawk, in a conjunction that never did, nor ever will occur, will revolt at descriptions here, that pourtray love as any thing but a brutal passion, patriotism as more than money-making, or men and women without wool. We write this with all due deference to our much-esteemed acquaintance, Mr. Cæsar Thompson, a character we presume to be well known to the few who read this introduction; for nobody looks at a preface until they are at a loss to discover, from the book itself, what it is the author means. Then, touching the reason which is built on the hope of support from patriotie pride, we are almost ashamed to say, that the foreign opinion of our love of country is nearer the truth than we affected to believe in the foregoing sentence. As for the last reason in favour of an American scene, we are fearful that others are as familiar with their homes as we are ourselves, and that consequenly the very familiarity will breed contempt; besides, if we make any mistakes, every
body will know it. Now we conceive the moon to be the most eligible spot in which to lay the scene of a fashionable modern novel; for then there would be but very few who could dispute the accuracy of the delineations; and could we but have obtained the names of some conspicuous places in that planet, we think we should have ventured on the experiment. It is true, that when we suggested the thing to the original of our friend Cæsar, he obstinately refused to sit any longer if his picture was to be transported to any such heathenish place. We conbated the opinions of the black with a good deal of pertinacity, until we discovered the old fellow suspected the moon to be somewhere near Guinea, and that his opinion of the luminary was something like European notions of our states—that it was not a fit residence for a gentleman. But there is still another class of critics, whose smiles we most covet, and whose frowns we most expect to encounter-we mean our own fair.
There are those who are hardy enough to