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BY MRS. ELLIS,
AUTHOR OF "WIVES OF ENGLAND," ETC
"Would you judge of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of pleasure, take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things;-in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself."
COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.
HENRY G. LANGLEY, 8 ASTOR HOUSE.
THOUGH well aware that to erase, even | important truth upon which all communifrom a popular volume, every sentence ties agree. against which an objection can be brought, must be to leave the author in the predicament of the complaisant artist who effaced his painting in his endeavours to please the public, in striking out every part which did not obtain entire approbation; yet is there one feature in the Pictures of Private Life which has been hinted at by more than one Review, of too important a nature to be passed over without serious consideration.
It must also be remembered that my object is rather moral than religious. To higher teachers I leave the definition of what religion is; my humbler and more befitting task is to show what we should be without its supporting and purifying influence; to point out the different paths which conduct us to or from this blessed goal; and, if possible, to spare the idle and the thoughtless the cost of learning by their own experience what fatal consequences attend upon the choice of an erroneous course.
It has been said of the First Series of this work that the religious sentiments it contains are not sufficiently decided.
If by decided is meant sectarian, I freely acknowledge that I have, both in the first and second volume, studiously avoided every sentiment, and every mode of expression, not common to Christians of every denomination, deeming the fundamental principles of religion all-sufficient for my purpose. Had that purpose been confined to the narrow circle of domestic life, I should doubtless have made many additions from my own peculiar views of what may be most expedient, useful and salutary under certain circumstances of birth and education. But these views, had they even agreed with one particular party, and obtained from that party the recommendation of being more decided, would have been of little service to the community at large, and might possibly in some cases have prevented the introduction of more
I cannot commit the present volume to the good-will of the public, without one word of a lighter nature to the gossips who sit around the Christmas fire-to those whose busy hands are ever ready to direct the arrow for which they have not bent the bow. By such, a great deal has been said in reference to my last volume on the subject of personality-a subject on which I beg leave to assure them that I have been more guilty of inadvertency than design; and that many likenesses have been pointed out to me, with the coincidence of names and initials, of which I was altogether unconscious at the time of writing.
That an author should draw a likeness without knowing it, will scarcely be believed by those who are not acquainted with the process of thought by which an
abstract idea is derived. But to use the parallel of painting, as best adapted to the purpose, let us suppose an artist employed in representing a personification of melancholy. He gives himself up for a while to the abstract idea. But his business is to convey it to others, and imagination quickly produces the figure to which memory has (unconsciously to him) given the features of the person from whom he has possibly derived his first or most forcible impressions of melancholy. While absorbed in the single idea derived from these impressions, he pursues his work without recog-mend that they look for themselves alone nizing the likeness, until others more dis- in this, and that they confine their search criminating are kind enough to point it to the examples that are most praiseworthy. out; and, then, if the representation should If they succeed, how happy will it be for by chance be of any temperament, quality, them and me!-How much happier, than or passion, more despicable than melan- should they choose out the most exceptioncholy, woe to the poor painter! able characters, fix them upon individuals of their acquaintance, and blame the writer for the consequences.
To those who have been more active than judicious in distributing the likenesses of the last volume, I would recom
There is no teacher like experience; there is no proper regret for the past but that which produces amendment for the
future. I now offer to the public a volume containing many characters, all so carefully selected, watched and guarded, that, but for the mere circumstance of their hu manity and consequent participation in human infirmities, I could almost defy the scrutiny of the most penetrating eye to detect a resemblance, unless it be to my friends' friends, and surely I shall not be considered accountable for that.