Home » Fiction & Literature » Thomas Chandler Haliburton » The Attaché; Or, Sam Slick in England (Complete)

November 04 , 2007

The Attaché; Or, Sam Slick in England (Complete)


We left New York in the afternoon of — day of May, 184-, and embarked on board of the good Packet ship "Tyler" for England. Our party consisted of the Reverend Mr. Hopewell, Samuel Slick, Esq., myself, and Jube Japan, a black servant of the Attache. I love brevity—I am a man of few words, and, therefore, constitutionally economical of them; but brevity is apt to degenerate into obscurity. Writing a book, however, and book-making, are two very different things: "spinning a yarn" is mechanical, and book-making savours of trade, and is the employment of a manufacturer. The author by profession, weaves his web by the piece, and as there is much competition in this branch of trade, extends it over the greatest possible surface, so as to make the most of his raw material. Hence every work of fancy is made to reach to three volumes, Otherwise it will not pay, and a manufacture that does not requite the cost of production, invariably and inevitably terminates in bankruptcy. A thought, therefore, like a pound of cotton, must be well spun out to be valuable. It is very contemptuous to say of a man, that he has but one idea, but it is the highest meed of praise that can be bestowed on a book. A man, who writes thus, can write for ever. Now, it is not only not my intention to write for ever, or as Mr. Slick would say "for everlastinly;" but to make my bow and retire very soon from the press altogether. I might assign many reasons for this modest course, all of them plausible, and some of them indeed quite dignified. I like dignity: any man who has lived the greater part of his life in a colony is so accustomed to it, that he becomes quite enamoured of it, and wrapping himself up in it as a cloak, stalks abroad the "observed of all observers." I could undervalue this species of writing if I thought proper, affect a contempt for idiomatic humour, or hint at the employment being inconsistent with the grave discharge of important official duties, which are so distressingly onerous, as not to leave me a moment for recreation; but these airs, though dignified, will unfortunately not avail me. I shall put my dignity into my pocket, therefore, and disclose the real cause of this diffidence
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