My Secret Life/Preface

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In 18** my oldest friend died. We had been at school and college together; and our intimacy had never been broken. I was trustee for his wife and executor at his death. He died of a lingering illness, during which his hopes of living were alternately raised, and depressed. Two years before he died, he gave me a huge parcel carefully tied up and sealed. 'Take care of but don't open this,' he said; "if I get better, return it to me, if I die, let no mortal eye but yours see it, and burn it."

His widow died a year after him. I had well nigh forgotten this packet, which I had had full three years, when, looking for some title deeds. I came across it, and opened it, as it was my duty to do. Its contents astonished me. The more I read it, the more marvellous it seemed. I pondered long on the meaning of his instructions when he gave it to me, and kept the manuscript same years, hesitating what to do with it.

At length I came to the conclusion, knowing his idiosyncrasy well, that his fear was only lest any one should know who the writer was; and feeling that it would be sinful to destroy such a history. I copied the manuscript and destroyed the original. He died relationless. No one now can trace the author; no names are mentioned in the book, though they were given freely in the margin of his manuscript, and I alone know to whom the initials refer. If I have done harm in printing it, I have done none to him, have indeed only carried out his evident intention, and given to a few a secret history, which bears the impress of truth on every page, a contribution to psychology.