Personal Sketches of His Own Times, Vol. I.

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2024-06-08 07:30:03

Engraved by J. Heath, from a drawing from life by Commerford. Sir Jonah Barrington , K.C. London. Pubd by Colburn & Bentley New Burlington Str.t 1830.

This trifle, the pastime of a winter’s evening, is presented—to a person of whom I have long held the highest opinion among the circle of my friends and the crowd of my contemporaries, and for whom my regards have been disinterested and undeviating.

The work is too trivial to be of any weight, and I offer it only as a Souvenir, which may amuse one who can be constant to friendship at all periods, and knows how to appreciate a gift, not by its value, but by the feelings of the heart which sends it.

The compilation by me of a medley of this description may appear rather singular. Indeed, I myself think it so, and had got nearly half-way through it before I could reasonably account for the thing;—more especially as it was by no means commenced for mercenary purposes. The fact is, I had long since engaged my mind and time on a work of real public interest; and so far as that work was circulated, my literary ambition was more than gratified by the approbation it received. But it has so happened, that my publishers, one after another, have been wanting in the qualification of stability; and hence, my “Historic Memoirs of Ireland” have been lying fast asleep, in their own sheets, on the shelves of three successive booksellers or their assignees; and so ingeniously were they scattered about, that I found it impossible for some years to collect them. This was rather provoking, as there were circumstances connected with the work, which (be its merits what they may) would, in my opinion, have ensured it an extensive circulation. However, I have at length finished the Memoirs in question, which I verily believe are now about to be published in reality,[1] and will probably excite sundry differences of opinion and shades of praise or condemnation (both of the book and the author) among His Majesty’s liege subjects.

For the purpose of completing that work, I had lately re-assumed my habit of writing; and being tired of so serious and responsible a concern as “Memoirs of Ireland and the Union,” I began to consider what species of employment might lightly wear away the long and tedious winter evenings of a demi-invalid; and recollecting that I could neither live for ever nor was sure of being the “last man,” I conceived the idea of looking over and burning a horse-load or two of letters, papers, and fragments of all descriptions, which I had been carrying about in old trunks (not choosing to leave them at any body’s mercy), and to which I had been perpetually adding.

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