Lady Baltimore by Owen Wister Page 1 of 323
S. Weir Mitchell
With the Affection and Memories of All My Life
To the Reader
You know the great text in Burns, I am sure, where he wishes he could see himself as others see him. Well, here lies the hitch in many a work of art: if its maker-poet, painter, or novelist-could but have become its audience too, for a single day, before he launched it irrevocably upon the uncertain ocean of publicity, how much better his boat would often sail!
How many little touches to the rigging he would give, how many little drops of oil to the engines here and there, the need of which he had never suspected, but for that trial trip! That's where the ship-builders and dramatists have the advantage over us others: they can dock their productions and tinker at them.
Even to the musician comes this useful chance, and Schumann can reform the proclamation which opens his B-flat Symphony.
Still, to publish a story in weekly numbers previously to its appearance as a book does sometimes give to the watchful author an opportunity to learn, before it is too late, where he has failed in clearness; and it brings him also, through the mails, some few questions that are pleasant and proper to answer when his story sets forth united upon its journey of adventure among gentle readers.
How came my hero by his name?
If you will open a book more valuable than any I dare hope to write, and more entertaining too, The Life of Paul Jones, by Mr. Buell, you will find the real ancestor of this imaginary boy, and fall in love with John Mayrant the First, as did his immortal captain of the Bon Homme Richard.