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THE postscript to a letter, as being the result of an afterthought, is generally considered the most important part of such communication—the preface to a book is looked upon in the same light. The matter contained in the pages which these remarks precede, would not have required any elucidation of this nature, otherwise so frequently necessary, had it not been for the occurrence of a series of events, during its preparation, which would, at first, appear almost as incredible as they are unprecedented; and which, from their rapid succession, would not only have deranged, but naturally have delayed the publication of the entire work, if alterations and emendations had taken place, as each event fell in. The deaths of many individuals referred to, and the doings of many yet alive, freely commented upon in the course of its progress, renders a particular allusion to them as essential as it is becoming.
If the reader will have the kindness and, at the same time, the patience to compare the predictions and the observations, as well as the circumstances in connexion with them, detailed in these volumes, with the final result exemplified in the preface, he will, at least, be “ perplexed in the extreme—" to use no stronger term. It is a matter to me of great gratification to perceive, to the last, the advantage of the plan upon which this production was originally undertaken, and has throughout been conducted—that of relying on facts, rather than trusting to fiction, and supporting argument by document. There is no possibility of refuting the various authorities cited, the records and letters inserted, the opinions quoted, and the judgments delivered, which are interspersed through these pages, because the litera scripta of all, can at any time be seen by all. I have not indulged in any extravagant theory arising out of an overheated or disappointed imagination; but have preferred backing the calm reflection of a very long experience with the sobered opinions of sundry wiser people than myself. The many opposite impres