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Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1849, in the office of the Clerk of the District Court for the Eastern District
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Isaac Ashmead, Printer.
A few words seem necessary to explain the circumstances, under which this volume is presented to the public.
The course of Mr. Graham's life, retired as it was, had been such, that a large circle of friends had become interested in the promise he gave of literary distinction. Classmates, pupils, associates in teaching, and personal friends had for years anticipated the time, when one who had produced so much that was beautiful and valuable in mere play, would come advantageously before the public in some mature and finished work. What he had thus far done had been entirely occasional—hastily written to meet the demands of the literary association, of the social circle, and of private affection—and had been valued chiefly for what it promised. But when his early and premature death occurred, his friends, in the disappointment of their higher hopes, turned back in thought to what he had already accomplished, and the desire grew upon them to possess, in a collected form, even those hasty and private productions, which, in fact, they had hitherto known only in part.
In the mind of no friend of Mr. Graham's could the desire of producing a memorial of his character and genius be felt so strongly, as in that of her, who was mourning his loss; and constituted as her mind was, there needed no more than the
consciousness that such a desire was shared by others, to
arouse her from her desolation to an earnest—a painfully earnest—effort to realize it. Appeal was made to me for advice. I had been associated with Mr. Graham during the whole of his connection with Delaware College as a teacher, and a still closer intimacy had afterwards grown up between us. While fully sharing, therefore, the desire of his other friends, I might, under different circumstances, have expressed myself decidedly against the proposed attempt, from the conviction that “Remains” are generally unsatisfactory to the public and unjust to the deceased. But in this case I felt confident, that while the memory of one friend would not suffer by the character of even his hastiest productions, the mind of the other could best be saved from preying on itself by an employment, which, without withdrawing her thoughts from their one object, would at the same time keep them in a healthier activity. I did not hesitate, therefore, to second the design of making a selection of Mr. Graham's various occasional productions, and of preparing a Memoir, that should contain specimens of his correspondence.
The purpose had been formed with entire forgetfulness of self; but, upon beginning to execute it, trying difficulties occurred. Those which grew out of distrust of ability and inexperience in authorship were overcome by the promise, on my part, of giving all the assistance that should be required, even to the extent (if necessary) of composing the Memoir myself out of the materials that might be furnished. But a more serious difficulty arose from the apprehension of being thought to violate a proper reserve, and from the still more grievous sacrifice of feeling, that was involved in submitting to the public eye letters and poems, that had been intended for one eye alone; and yet, without such sacrifice, what justice could be done to the heart or the genius of the deceased ? So habitual and constitutional had been his reserve, where the expression of feeling was concerned, that even his most intimate friends could have no conception of the absorbing fervor of devoted affection, with which his soul became possessed, without seeing these expressions of that affection. That grievous sacrifice, therefore, I could not hesitate to recommend as for these reasons absolutely necessary. That Mr. Graham's reputation, for intellectual ability and even for metaphysical acuteness, would gain, rather than lose, by the publication of letters of a class that are generally expected to contain more of sentiment than of intellect, I was well assured; for such was the peculiar constitution of his mind, and such the character of its activity at that period, that he was sure to bring to bear at once all that was in him, as a poet and a philosopher, in the attempt to express the fulmess of the devotion, with which he made the offering of his whole being to another. And, at all events, if it should be thought, that a proper reserve has been violated in this matter, the blame should rest with me.
The Memoir, undertaken under such circumstances, was composed upon the plan of recording such biographical facts as could be recovered, and of embodying letters and some occasional poems, without strict regard to proportion or finish of style, such considerations being deferred to a subsequent revision. The work was soon done. It had been carried through by a strong effort, which had not been able, however, always to command the same degree of attention and power. On a careful perusal, various portions were, therefore, pointed out as requiring to be corrected, or condensed, or entirely recast. The attempt was made, but failed entirely. The power of the first impulse having been exhausted, it was found impossible to grapple with the subject again. I took into my own hands, therefore, the work of preparing the manuscript for the press; but, considering what must be the real ground of its claim on the interest and sympathy of the reader, I could not bring myself to do more, than to make the slightest and most necessary corrections, and to reduce the various parts to their proper proportions, by such retrenchments and omissions, as could be made without interrupting the continuity of the narrative.
A large number of Mr. Graham's Poems were transcribed and submitted to me, with liberty to make such omissions as the character and size of the publication might seem to me to require. In exercising the authority thus given to me, I was governed by the consideration, that the book was intended chiefly as a memorial for Mr. Graham's friends, and that accordingly it would even perhaps have been privately printed for distribution amongst them, if, scattered as they were—those who had been his pupils, especially—over many States, it had been practicable to put it within their reach, except by publication in the ordinary way. I was consequently decided to retain many pieces, without looking critically to their poetical merit, by the knowledge that they would possess a special value in the eyes of not a few, who had an interest in the subject, or were aware of the circumstances under which they were composed. I even took it upon me to insert, from other sources, several poems of a lighter character, which had not been transcribed for me. This was done, under the impression, that otherwise Mr. Graham's friends would feel that his poetical character and habits had been imperfectly represented—so ready had he always been to versify a joke for their amusement, or to ex