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How far I may be justifiable in devoting any portion of my time to the writing of a preface, on account of puerile and unfounded objections, I know not precisely, but such may be expected by some readers.
That my history of the rebellion would be an object of reprobation to the irrational zealots of two'opposite and mutually hostile parties, who distract this unfortunate island, and that it would be offensive to some individuals independently of party, since truth is odious to the guilty, I was completely aware, and my expectations have been as completely fulfilled. That it should be so much approved by the discerning few, particularly by some who are eminent in literature, was indeed beyond my expectation. Of these, part were prepossessed in its favour, even before they saw it, from the contradictory censures of opposite zealots. Thus a gentleman of great literary knowledge told a friend of mine,
a short time after its publication, that he had not seen my book, but had formed a favourable opinion of it, on finding that it had given equal and high offence to the violent blockheads on both sides.
To form a statement of the inconsistent objections made to this little work by counterfeit, and even by some real, but ignorant and unreflecting, loyalists, would be to fill a volume as large as the work itself, with a heterogeneous mass of absurd matter. So far as any consistent meaning can be collected from such a mass, the substance appears to be this, that I have not described all those who, by inclination, or accidental circumstances, were arranged on the side of loyalism, as free from every infirmity of human nature, and endued with every virtue, particularly those of clemency and courage. That I have not depicted all those who, by previous design, or by accident, were found on the opposite side, as destitute of every virtue, and though cowards ; yet, by some strange fatality, exposing themselves in such manner to the swords and bullets of the armed saints, as to have been slaughtered in thousands in every encounter; while, among the saints, notwithstanding the intrepid exposure of their persons to the guns and pikes of the immensely more numerous rebels, very few were killed or wounded.
By suppressing all information inconsistent
with such a plan, and heightening that which would answer the purpose, I might have written such a book with much less trouble than that which I have published. I should then have given not more offence to croppies, and I really believe, much less offence to Roman catholics, than I have given. I might be outwardly caressed, perhaps, even to my great pecuniary emolument, and loudly applauded by a certain description of people, who, at the same time, must inwardly despise me, while my pretended history would be a laughing-stock to all men of discernment who should deign to read it, and, as soon as the present ferment should subside, would be quite thrown away as a useless piece of sycophantic lumber.
To write a book determinedly and exclusively in favour of either party, especially the victorious and ruling party, is an easy piece of business. An author with such a purpose will feel no dearth of story, style, or phrase. The fiery stream of volcanic matter will be poured copiously around him. The danger is, that he may be overwhelmed by the lava, or enveloped in a cineritious cloud. Neither will he want purchasers for a lumber of affidavits formed to his purpose among the dupes of his party, if his object be, present gain, without regard to future infamy.
Instead of such a plan, I chose, -(as I must choosè, if I should write at all) the line of truth,
so far as I could find means to trace it. Calumniators of all factions, have therefore exerted their powers, and some have formed themselves into a regular junto, for the purpose of putting every engine in motion to hurt the reputation of my history, and for the forwarding of that object they even deal their slanders against my private character. If I should think proper to lay before the public the characters of some of these gentry, particularly those of some yeomen officers, their power of calumniation might be sufficiently circumscribed; but I choose to rest my book and character solely on their own merits. Integrity will be its own shield. Truth will find its way. My book is in the hands of the public, and any person of common sense has a right to form a judgment of it, who reads the whole with attention, instead of relying on the garbled representations of others. My character is known to several respectable persons; and of my loyalty I have given full proof in the knowledge of men of honourable rank and reputation, whom I could call as witnesses, if I had occasion. I shall leave these counterfeit loyalists the pleasure of knawing the file till they wear their teeth. Thanks to the genius of British domination, and extensive reason, these virulent animalcula are at length deprived of their sting and power of mischief. The evil has worked its cure, and law and reason așe now