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For the double purpose of rendering the book more appropriate and reducing its price, I have made a pretty free use, not only of the pruninghook, but the exterminator ; not merely paring away excrescences, but eradicating some parts, which, in the doting eyes of their author, seem to claim a gentler usage. The papers extruded are such as I thought less suitable for schools, and most of them have been extruded for that reason alone. To those retained I have added numerous new sentences and paragraphs, while, in sundry instances, some parts of their original have been suppressed; and all for the sake of adapting‘it to its present destination. Only one whole chapter is new—the seventy-third. In short, I have endeavored to make it such a manual as had been greatly needed by myself in the green years of my own life, and such as may relieve the needs of the young and inexperienced at all times. If there be found in it improprieties of any kind, they are to be attributed to want of judgment, rather than to negligence.
Throughout the whole of these compositions I have essayed to give descriptions of life and lessons of conduct, with particular reference to American society; to describe mankind as found in whole groups or clusters, and never, even in one solitary instance, aiming to fix a stigma or cast a slur upon any particular individual. If some passages or expressions are pointed, they are pointed at foibles and follies rather than persons, and at foibles and follies belonging alike to a multitude of human beings.
The recommendations bestowed upon the first edition from so many respectable quarters, occasioned a momentary gleam of hope that there might be sufficient encouragement to reprint the Brief Remarker more entire, with necessary emendations and improvements, and in a typographical drapery calculated to give it an engaging appearance. Though the consummation of that hope might have given me some pleasure, its extinction can give me no pain. In all probability the last sands in my glass are running; and what might have been not a little gratifying to me in other days, I am reckless of now. But a flower there is that blooms in the wintery and withering bosom of age. Might I hope that these essays will be benefiting the community, not only during tne short remainder of my life, but even after my mortal part shall have been enclosed in the grave, it would tend to smooth and gild my passage to that dreary mansion. If they should be read by many, and with profit ; if they should be the means of curing peccant dispositions or erroneous conceptions in some, and of preventing them in others; if not a few, by perusing these chapters should receive real aid in the snary and perilous journey of their lives, and be made, in any respects, wiser and better thereby, I shall have attained the summit of my ambition.
To the American Youth of both sexes I dedicate this little volume, and with it some of the best wishes of my heart.
Farewell, beloved pen! thou dear companion of lonely age, thou sweet beguiler of my vacant and solitary hours, I row bid thee a final adieu !
EZRA SAMPSON. Hudson, August 4, 1820.