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“SHILOH” is not a creation, but a growth. Begun with no other design than to furnish a few sketchy, rambling articles to a weekly paper, it grew-partly in virtue of its own vitality, partly in obedience to the wishes of the friends which it made-into a connected story, with some shadowings forth of a plot and a purpose. Had such an end been contemplated from the beginning, a different, certainly a more direct, road, would have been taken to reach it.
The reader, therefore, will not look for a novel nor a romance in the present work; but simply a story of common life, as life commonly runs, without intricate plot, strict unity, or close sequence. Its object is twofold,—to make real and vivid to the apprehension the continual struggle between Good and Evil, in the human heart, and to give some quiet pictures of New England farm and parish life. To these last, some persons have insisted upon assigning an actual locality and living models. Recognizing certain of the natural features of a hamlet familiar to the author's youth, and a few outlines of actual event, they have yet failed to see that both have been left so far
behind, by the constant change of a half-nomadic life, as to have slidden into that fair border-land between memory and imagination, where the Real and the Ideal become indistinguishably blended. Each lends to each, in a suffi. cient degree to give life-likeness to the one, and unreality to the other. It were a hopeless task, therefore (for the author, not less than for others), to attempt to decide in what proportion Fact and Fiction should divide the sketches between them. Let “Shiloh " be read, then, especially in the quarter alluded to,-as a work of pure fiction, in the letter, however truthful in the spirit. Any other course would be a grievous wrong to the fanciful part of the narrative, by forcing it into harsh contact with present realities; while it would inevitably lead to mistakes more or less unjust to a community which the author holds always in kind remembrance.
An acknowledgment remains to be made. Having imagined an artist's studio, it became necessary to hang its walls with suitable pictures. These were found in a certain New York studio, and quietly appropriated. The owner will be surprised to see them transferred to these pages; others will observe how much they have lost in the transference. Those who know him best, will be first to testify that no liberties have been taken with the artist's personality, but that the appropriations have been confined wholly to his pictures; and these are hereby returned to him, with thanks.
XVII. A HISTORY,