Scientifically, such a contingency can never have befallen of itself.
According to one theory of the Universe, the momentum of Original Impress
has been tending toward this far-off, divine event ever since a scrap
of fire-mist flew from the solar centre to form our planet.
Not this event alone, of course; but every occurrence, past and present,
from the fall of captured Troy to the fall of a captured insect.
According to another theory, I hold an independent diploma
as one of the architects of our Social System, with a commission
to use my own judgment, and take my own risks, like any other unit of humanity.
This theory, unlike the first, entails frequent hitches and cross-purposes;
and to some malign operation of these I should owe my present holiday.
Orthodoxly, we are reduced to one assumption: namely, that my indomitable
old Adversary has suddenly called to mind Dr. Watts's friendly hint
respecting the easy enlistment of idle hands.
Good. If either of the two first hypotheses be correct,
my enforced furlough tacitly conveys the responsibility of extending
a ray of information, however narrow and feeble, across the path
of such fellow-pilgrims as have led lives more sedentary than
my own--particularly as I have enough money to frank myself in a frugal way
for some weeks, as well as to purchase the few requisites of authorship.
If, on the other hand, my supposed safeguard of drudgery has been cut off
at the meter by that amusingly short-sighted old Conspirator,
it will be only fair to notify him that his age and experience,
even his captivating habits and well-known hospitality, will be treated
with scorn, rather than respect, in the paragraphs which he virtually forces me
to write; and he is hereby invited to view his own feather on the fatal dart.
Whilst a peculiar defect--which I scarcely like to call an oversight
in mental construction--shuts me out from the flowery pathway of the romancer,
a co-ordinate requital endows me, I trust, with the more sterling,
if less ornamental qualities of the chronicler. This fairly equitable
compensation embraces, I have been told, three distinct attributes:
an intuition which reads men like sign-boards; a limpid veracity;
and a memory which habitually stereotypes all impressions except those
relating to personal injuries.
Submitting, then, to the constitutional interdict already glanced at,
and availing myself of the implied license to utilise that homely talent
of which I am the bailee, I purpose taking certain entries from my diary,
and amplifying these to the minutest detail of occurrence or conversation.
This will afford to the observant reader a fair picture of Life,
as that engaging problem has presented itself to me.
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