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HOMES OF THE NEW WORLD;
IMPRESSIONS OF AMERICA.
TRANSLATED BY MARY HOWITT.
SING UNTO THE LORD A NEW SONG."-Psalm xcvi.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
NEW YORK :
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
329 & 331 PEARL STREET,
TO THE READER.
The only excuse for troubling thee with so long a correspondence is, that if it had not been published in this manner, it would not have been published at all. And my excuse for publishing it at all is, that, for many reasons, I would not abstain from doing so.
In placing these letters in thy hand, dear reader, I should wish that thy mind might be favorably disposed toward them, or, at least, might not be in opposition to the spirit in which these letters were first written. They need it more than any thing which I have yet written, because, I can not conceal it from myself, they suffer from-egotism — the offense of all autobiography. This, while it may not offend the sympathetic feelings of a brother or sister, may easily offend the stranger who does not partake in them. Much, therefore, in the letters which referred to myself, and which was personally agreeable to me, has been omitted in their transcription for the press, but not all, otherwise the ingenuous character of the letters must have been sacrificed, together with the peculiar coloring of
my life and its circumstances in America. Much remains of that which individually pleased or annoyed me -perhaps more than should have remained. While transcribing these letters, I have often been unable to realize to myself that I was then preparing them for the public, and not writing them merely to my sister, “my innermost," to whom even the innermost might be revealed,
and the most childish things be spoken. As soon as I began to write, that sister always stood before me, with her mild, heavenly eyes, her indulgent smile, intercepting the view of my unknown readers. I saw only her—I forgot them. I know that I have often erred in this way, and especially in the earlier portion of these collected letters, during a time when illness rendered me weak, and weakness strengthened egotism. If I have allowed this illness to remain too prominent in this portion of the letters, there is, however, this excuse for it, that it is a malady which is very prevalent in America, which is caused by the climate, the general diet and mode of life, and against which both natives and emigrants can not be sufficiently cautioned. And if I have said too much about this malady and its causes, other authors, on the contrary, had said too little. It is the most dangerous monster of the New World. In extreme cases it leads to the mad-house or to death. Happy they who know how to avoid it, or who, at the commencement, find, as I did, a good physician, who, by the united powers of diet and medicine, is able to avert the malady before it gains too much ascendency.
I have, in the letters to my sister, preserved the endearing epithets as they were originally written, and which we in Sweden make use of among relatives or dear friends; although many readers may think them somewhat childish, I can not help it. I have attempted to exclude them and to substitute others more befitting, but I could not succeed; such appeared stiff, unnatural, and prosaic. Better the childish than the prosaic, thought I; and the little words will, I trust, be overlooked for the sake of the great matter, which, without any merit of mine, is yet contained in these letters.