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story a short one, let me say at once that in this antique cabinet I stumbled on a collection of papers that exceedingly interested me. They principally related to two very celebrated members of our family; my great-grandfather, Colonel Henry Courtenay, of St. Bennet's, Cornwall, and his son William Henry, also a colonel in his day, and my grandfather. Both were Cavaliers in the service of King Charles the First.
I will not trouble the reader with giving him an account of the time and toil I bestowed on these papers; I will rather tell him what they were. It appeared, by a note in his own hand, that my aforesaid grandfather, Colonel William Henry Courtenay, had intended to write his own memoirs for the information of his son, and, in so doing, to introduce a vast deal of the history of certain celebrated personages, and remarkable events, so closely connected with himself that they might with truth be said to form a part and parcel of his own story. Now for this purpose, it appears, that after the restoration of monarchy (which he lived to see) he had applied to the immediate descendants of certain Boyalists and other families in the county, in which he was greatly respected, for assistance. They freely complied with his request, and committed to his hands many of their family papers, old letters, diaries, &c.
From all this mass of curious information, like the industrious bee that culls the sweets from every flower it sips (I used, reader, to be thought to have some taste for poetry in my youth), my respected grandfather had commenced taking the pith and marrow, for the purpose of adding to and illustrating his own memoirs. No doubt he intended, had life been spared to him, to have written the latter in a regular form; beginning, as is usual with all memoirs of great personages, with the history of his family from the time of the Conquest, or, possibly, as far back as that of the Sea-kings; tracing it from them till he came to his own birth, parentage, and education. But, unfortunately, he had only written parts of these memoirs, as the recollections had occurred to him of any more particularly interesting circumstances and events, when death (that will not pay respect enough to a man's life to keep aloof till his record of it is completed for the benefit of his posterity) stepped in and took him off in the midst of his projected work.
At first I determined to use this mass of papers as materials only for compiling a history of my respected forefathers and their times; but, not being accustomed to literary composition, I found the task puzzling, and, after many efforts, too difficult for me. I resolved, therefore, on well considering the matter, to be content with the humbler task of editor, that of author being beyond my reach. In short, I determined that I would put together the papers in question, very much as I found them; arranging the most interesting of the letters according to their dates, giving all the scraps of memoir, written by my grandfather, in their proper places, and selecting from the diaries such passages only as appeared to me to be most curious and illustrative of the times in which they were penned. These diaries, I often found, were the records of the most hidden feelings, the most secret thoughts and actions, of the writers; and, in many instances, I am convinced, were never intended for any other purpose than the silent contemplation of their own minds. The perusal of these memorials seemed to me like having the power to look into the heart of another, and there to read whatever passes in its deepest recesses, whilst between it and the world without there hangs an impenetrable veil.*
* Had the ingenious gentleman who thns amused himself with rummaging among old diaries lived in our days he possibly might have favoured his reader in his editorial preface with the following remarks of a modern anthor. Mr. D'Israeli, one of the most acute, judicious, and valuable writers of our times, calls the age of Charles the First "the age of diaries"; and says, " the head of almost every family formed one." That in this period "men wrote folios concerning themselves"; some, he adds, have thrown the greatest light on secret history; and, he assures us, he haB often found when examining these diaries in manuscript, that so
In this manner I speedily arranged my store of original papers; my next care was to make a fair copy of the whole with my own hand. And I may just here observe, it was wonderful to me to find how short my days and weeks seemed to grow after I had taken steadily to this work; and my spirits marvellously improved. I laboured incessantly till my task was done; and I can truly say, that the only liberty I have taken has been to leave out such passages or pages as I thought would be devoid of all interest to the present generation, whilst, to render the papers more readable, I ventured to use modern spelling in my copies, and now and then to substitute words of our own time for those quite obsolete; and here and there also, for the same reason, to modernize the old-fashioned, cramped style of the writers. What my reader may think of my performance in this part of the business I cannot tell; but, as I am well satisfied with it myself, I hope it may yield him no less content.
Having caught somewhat of the enthusiasm of authorship by my editorship, my next feeling was a longing desire to be able to read my fair copy of these curious papers in still fairer print. And, considering, likewise, there were in them so many particulars about events of King Charles's time, which I thought could not fail to interest others as much as they had myself, I determined on publication. My next difficulty was to hit upon a name for my work; that was indeed a puzzle. At first I thought of calling it The Walreddon Papers; but that did not satisfy some ladies I consulted on this head, who had been indulged with a peep at the contents. They insisted that the title should have some reference to one of the most interesting subjects menstrong was the habit of writing down everything, many persons who wrote in retirement would still write on, even "when they had nothing to write about."
After such a testimony as this, the reader will no longer be surprised if he finds often in the following pages more correct information concerning an important subject in an extract from a diary, than in a correspondence between the most intimate friends.
tioned in the story, concerning a lost child. Here I objected, as I resolutely clung to the name of the family and the mansion in which the papers had been found; so that at last we fixed on "Courtenay of Walreddon " as the name for my collection of old papers. Such a miscellaneous one, I suppose, never was before presented to the public. My best and only apology is their originality, and that I deemed it better, as I have above hinted, to give them in this state, than to injure the spirit of their contents by any bungling attempts of mine at concentration. For my own part I am rather disposed to like, than otherwise, a gradual unfolding of characters and events. I like minute details and minor traits that show the heart with more fidelity than the most laboured accounts of great passions and affairs. The warmth, the natural eloquence of real feeling, always leads to copiousness of expression; a full heart will pour itself out, and never more so, perhaps, than in moments when it conveys its deepest emotions to the bosom of a friend.
Cornet of Horse in the Service of His Majesty King George the Second.
Walreddon, April 1st, A.D. 1759.
Still question'd me the story of my life
From year to year; the battles, sieges, fortunes,
That I have pass'd.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
To the very moment that he bade me tell it.
Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents, by flood and field;
Of hair-breadth 'scapes i' the imminent deadly breach;
Of being taken by the insolent foe.
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And I did all my pilgrimage relate,
Age should fly concourse, cover in retreat
Yon have so often listened, my dear son, to the recital of circumstances connected with my early and most adventurous life with the deepest interest, that I have determined, for your sake (and in compliance with the advice of many of my friends), to throw together, in a somewhat more regular form than that of desultory conversation, its great and leading events. My life has been singularly conducted and protected by a gracious Providence through all the dangers and the hazards of a time the