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here, and thus, as far as I am able, aid in kritting together the beautiful bonds of brotherhood between widely-sundered nations.
Mayst thou, dear reader, feel the same, and let this reconcile thee to the
TO MY AMERICAN FRIENDS.
STOCKHOLM, May, 1853. THESE letters were written in your homes whilst I lived there with you, as a sister with her brothers and sisters; in the North, in the West, in the South, of your great country. They were written during familiar intercourse with you. And without you they would not have been what they now are, for without you I could not have become acquainted with the Homes of the New World, nor have been able from your sacred peaceful hearths to contemplate social life beyond. To you, therefore, I inscribe these Letters. They will bear witness to you of me, and of my life among you.
among you. You said to me, “We hope that you will tell us the truth."
You wished nothing else from me. I have endeavoured to fulfil your wishes. Be you my judges !
That which I saw and found in the New World has been set down in these letters. They are, for the most part, outpourings from heart to heart; from your homes to my home in Sweden. When I wrote, I little thought of committing them to the press, little thought of writing a book in America, least of all in these letters, and of that they bear internal evidence. Had such a thought been present with me, they would have been different to what they are ; they would have been less straightforward and natural; more polished, more attired for company, but whether better–I cannot say. My mind in America was too much occupied by thoughts of living, to think of writing about life. Life was overpowering.
The idea of writing letters on America did not occur to me until I was about to leave the great land of the West, and the feeling became more and more strong in me, that what I had seen and experienced during these two years' journeyings was not my own property alone, but that I had a duty to fulfil as regarded it. I had, it is true, a presentiment from the first that the great New World would supply me with many subjects for thought, to be made use of at some future time, perhaps even in books, but in what manner, in what books—of that I had no distinct idea. I confess to you that I went about in America with the thought of metamorphosing the whole of America in-a novel; and you, my friends, into its heroes and heroines : but that with such subtle delicacy, that none of you should be able to recognise either America or yourselves.
But the realities of your great country could not be compressed into a novel. The novel faded away like a rainbow in the clouds, and the reality stood only the stronger forward, in all its largeness, littleness, pleasantness, sorrow, beauty, completeness, manifold and simple,
in one word, in all its truth; and I felt that my best work would be merely a faithful transcript of that truth. But how that was to be accomplished I did not clearly know when I left America.
“You will understand, you will know it all when you are at home !” frequently said that precious friend who first met me on the shore of the New World, whose home was the first into which I was received, whom I loved to call my American brother, and who beautified my life more than I can tell by the charm of his friendship, by the guidance of his keen intellect and his brotherly kindness and care; whose image is for ever pictured in my soul in connection with its most beautiful scenes, its romantic life, its Indian summer, and, above all, its highland scenery on that magnificent river, where he had built his delightful home, and now-has his grave! Yet no, not alone in connection with these pictures does he live before me; time and space do not contain a character his. To-day, as yesterday, and in eternity, shall I perceive his glance, his voice, his words, as they were once present with me; they are united with all that is beautiful and noble in the great realm of creation. His words are a guide to me as well in Sweden as they were in America. I love to recal every one of them.
“ You will know it all when you come into your own country,” said he with reference to many questions, many inquiries, which at my departure from America were dark to my understanding.
The thought of publishing the letters which I had written home from America, as they first flowed from my
pen on the paper, or as nearly so as possible, did not occur to me until several months after my return, when with a feeble and half-unwilling hand I opened these letters to a beloved sister who was now no longer on earth. I confess that the life which they contained reanimated me, caused my heart to throb as it had done when they were written, and I could not but say to myself, “These, the offspring of the moment, and warm feeling, are, spite of all their failings, a more pure expression of the truth which my friends desire from me, and which I wish to express, than any which I could write with calm reflection and cool hand.” And I resolved to publish the letters as they had been inspired by the impression of the moment, and have on their transcription merely made some omissions and occasional additions. The additions have reference principally to historical and statistical facts which I found passingly touched upon in the letters or in my notes, and which are now amplified. The omissions are of such passages as refer to my own affairs or those of others, and which I considered as of too private or too delicate a nature to bear publicity. I have endeavoured in my communications from private life not to overstep the bounds which a sense of honour and delicacy prescribed; nor to introduce anything which it would be undesirable to publish, either as regarded confidential communication or the names of individuals. I am deeply sensible of the requirements of delicacy in this respect; and nothing would be more painful to me than to feel that from want of due circumspection I had failed herein.