The reader may perhaps choose to assign an actual locality to the

imaginary events of this narrative. If permitted by the historical

connection,--which, though slight, was essential to his plan,--the

author would very willingly have avoided anything of this nature. Not

to speak of other objections, it exposes the romance to an inflexible

and exceedingly dangerous species of criticism, by bringing his

fancy-pictures almost into positive contact with the realities of the

moment. It has been no part of his object, however, to describe local

manners, nor in any way to meddle with the characteristics of a

community for whom he cherishes a proper respect and a natural regard.


He trusts not to be considered as unpardonably offending by laying out

a street that infringes upon nobody's private rights, and appropriating

a lot of land which had no visible owner, and building a house of

materials long in use for constructing castles in the air. The

personages of the tale--though they give themselves out to be of

ancient stability and considerable prominence--are really of the

author's own making, or at all events, of his own mixing; their virtues

can shed no lustre, nor their defects redound, in the remotest degree,

to the discredit of the venerable town of which they profess to be

inhabitants. He would be glad, therefore, if-especially in the quarter

to which he alludes-the book may be read strictly as a Romance, having

a great deal more to do with the clouds overhead than with any portion

of the actual soil of the County of Essex.

LENOX, January 27, 1851.