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PREFACE,

BY THE EDITOR.

I

AM happy that in presenting the following letters to the public, I am not exhibiting scenes, or communicating opinions, that can wound delicacy, or pervert sentiment. And though I too well know, that to avoid licentious description, and to reject fashionable ideas, is to wander far from the road that leads to wealth and fame in the literary world

world, yet I am not willing to acquire either one or the other at the expence of my reader's happiness. If amusement only is to be found in the Letters of Charlotte, it will at leaft be innocent amufement. If opinions are advanced which may appear uncommon, they will not be found to militate against the precepts of religion. If the mind of the reader is not expanded by additional knowledge, it will not be contracted by the subtleties of scepticism.

Whether these negative recommendations. will carry any weight, I know not; but I am forry to find any book published, in favour of which even these cannot be advanced; and I am still more forry that a book fo univerfally read as the Sorrows of Werter, fhould fall under this predicament; a book which is not fimply an apology for the

the horrible crime of Suicide, but in which, as far as the author's abilities would go, it is juftified and recommended!

But the author, not fatisfied with recommending a specific crime, has aimed a violent blow at all religion. In the language of those men who, if they would, cannot, avoid venerating revelation, he says: "I revere our religion; you know I do: I am fenfible that it often gives ftrength to the feeble, and comfort to the afflicted.—But has it," he continues "should it have this effect on all men equally? confider this vast univerfe, and you will find millions for whom it never has exifted; and millions, whether it is preached to them or not, for whom it never will exift." This is meant as a pretext for totally rejecting it. Upon the fame principle, we might reject almost

every thing that Providence affords us. He adds; "What is the deftiny of man? to fill up the measure of his fufferings, and drink up the bitter draught."*-Such are the fentiments interwoven in a work intended

ftrongly to affect the mind, and in which the hero is made to act in conformity to these fentiments. The action itself, I should hope, would fhew the error and futility of the reafoning; and I will not pafs fo ill a compliment on the judgment of the reader, as to analyse the paffage I have quoted; the sophistry I should think too glaring to mislead a mind not totally deftitute of all moral cultivation and yet I am sorry to fay, we have had inftances, in which, together with the influence of the example, it has operated to the destruction of indivi

:

duals,

* See the Sorrows of Werter, Letter LXVIII.

duals, particularly among the other fex, who, from their virtues and attainments, must otherwise have become happy in themfelves, and ornamental to society. It would be painful to be particular; but, in support of what I have faid, I cannot avoid taking notice of a single fact, well known in the metropolis, that a young and amiable lady who" rafhly ventured on the unknown fhore," had the Sorrows of Werter under her pillow when she was found in the sleep of death.

Thus, in a story, a poem, or a fable, the man of genius fends forth the firebrands of infidelity, and arms his fellow-creatures with defpair to anticipate the stroke of death. Pretending to uncommon liberality of fentiment, he discovers the weakness, without the virtue, of that monaftic superstition

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