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THE poems contained in this volume need neither preface nor apology. A word of explanation, however, may be due to the reader for the unfinished condition of some of them. My lamented friend, Conrad, left behind him a mass of manuscript poems, which, fortunately, fell into the possession of one who cherished his memory with filial affection and the relics of his genius with commendable pride. Among many fragmentary works, which were carefully examined and arranged by the hands to which they were committed, was found the present volume of devotional poems. The manuscript was submitted to me for such revision as might better adapt it for publication. I found little to criticize, and nothing that I presumed to amend. It is placed before the reader in the precise state in which it was left by its author. I have interfered . in no way with the original design. In my opinion, it would be something like sacrilege to retouch, however lightly, a work that addresses itself more directly to the religious than to the artistic sense.
I can but regret that the author was not spared to finish a labour thus admirably begun, and whose purpose is so thoroughly interwoven with the holiest aspirations of the mind. Those who knew Conrad, and were admitted to the privilege of his unselfish friendship, will pause over these memorials of his solitary hours with thoughtful reverence, and will recognize in them the hidden motives that influenced his social relations and gave birth to the lofty sentiments that inspired his oratory and won deserved applause for his dramatic writings.
God has more secret worshippers than are known to the world. It is well for us to understand that one whose whole life was apparently passed in the bustling ambition of public affairs, had yet in his inmost heart a sanctuary which was devoted to the purer service of heaven, into whose solemn recesses nothing worldly intruded, and before whose shrine his troubled spirit found rest and consolation. I confess that I cannot look upon these poems with dry eyes. I pity the friend of Conrad who can. I see in these upward struggles of his soul the workings of a nature that sought to purify itself before its Maker; that stood amid the fierce rebellions of life loyal to that fundamental religious sentiment which underlies all poetic minds; and that, through every phase of its existence, preserved some trace of the heavenly brightness of its source. Here is the key to much that was not understood in Conrad's character even by those who knew him best. His passionate enthusiasm in a just cause,--his scorn of wrong and of wrong-doers,-his faithful and tender friendship,--his patience under adversity, his tolerance of well-meant rebuke, even from the lips of his intellectual inferiors,—all these qualities are the natural expressions of a soul that could bear to be alone with its God; and which, in that awful solitude, had been taught its zeal, its pride, its affection, its endurance, and its Christian humility.
There is a lesson contained in this volume which no one should slight. It is the most solemn that can be taught by Conrad's eventful life. It is more convincing than his most logical argument, more eloquent than his most brilliant oration, more moving than his deepest tragedy, more consoling than the sweetest of his earlier poems. It would be a poor compliment to the reader's discernment to pursue a theme so obvious. Suggestions such as these are better developed in the silence of a man's own heart,—when the tongues of his sinful fellowmortals are at rest, when the delusions of his senses have lost their power, and when his soul stands in the same relation toward its Maker as the soul of the author stood in the act of composition. Whatever may be the moral effect of this lesson on those who survive him, it cannot fail to deepen their respect and affection for his character, and to shed a fresh and enduring fragrance around the memory of Conrad.