OLD NEW ENGLAND TRAITS
. . . this story’s actually true.
If any person doubt it, I appeal
To history, tradition, and to facts,
To newspapers, whose truth all know and feel.
PUBLISHED BY HURD AND HOUGHTON
Cambridge: The Riverside Press
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY
H. O. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY.
THE Editor of this little volume does not deem it incumbent upon him to explain in what way the author’s manuscript carne into his possession. He hopes it may be enough for him to say, that the writer believed himself to be the only person whose memory retained most of the incidents and anecdotes herein recorded; and a long and familiar acquaintance with his character enables the Editor to state, that entire credence is due to his narrative of facts, written down as occurring within his own knowledge and to his relation of whatever he alleges himself to have derived from others. A slight veil of mystery seems to have been originally thrown over the story; especially in regard to the names of persons; but, as all who are familiar with the locality will at once recognize its general features, the Editor has thought it best, for the benefit of others not so well informed, to make all proper explanations on this point in the Index.
Sometimes, New England has been spoken of as devoid of the elements of romance; but perhaps this idea may be owing to the fact, that the means of presenting a different aspect of the case have not been sufficiently investigated. A similar impression has prevailed in respect to Roman history and literature, whether fabulous or otherwise; and the fathers of New England, at least, have been thought to have exhibited some of the traits, especially the simplicity and severity of character, which distinguished those more ancient worthies, whose names and deeds have been so long famous. But without making other citations, I may remark, that I am scarcely acquainted with a poem more thoroughly romantic in conception and sentiment, than “Gallus,” the tenth eclogue of Virgil; and Macaulay, in his “Lays of Ancient Rome,” has turned some of its legends to fine poetical account. Where can be found, for instance, a prettier, or more suggestive picture, than the passage in his “Virginia,” which some inspired painter might make immortal upon canvas, as it is in verse: —
“With her small tablets in her hand, and her satchel on her arm,
Home she went bounding from the school, nor dreamed of shame or harm.”
Perhaps, the solemnities of the colonial history of New England may have overshadowed much of whatever poetical interest might be discovered in its private annals. It depends upon the reader, whether the present narrative may be thought in some measure to qualify the imputation in question.