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I think that something should be said regarding the circumstances, which have resulted in the publication of this book.
Two or three years ago, I was invited by the editor and by the proprietor of Good Words to write a series of biographical papers
illustrative of the careers of some of our most distinguished "Indian Heroes.” As the materials, in most instances, were not to be obtained from printed books or papers, to perform this task in a satisfactory manner—that is, to write month after month, throughout the year, a memoir of some soldier or statesman distinguished in Indian history, would have been impossible to one, the greater part of whose time was devoted to other duties, if it had not chanced that for many years I had been gathering, from different original sources, information relating both to the public services and the private lives of many of those whose careers it was desired that I should illustrate. I had many large manuscript volumes, the growth of past years of historical research, full of
personal correspondence and biographical notes, and I had extensive collections of original papers, equally serviceable, which had not been transcribed. As, therefore, only to a very limited extent, I had to go abroad in search of my materials,
I felt that I might accept the invitation and undertake the task, God willing, without danger of breaking down. The temptations, indeed, were very great--the greatest of all being the opportunity of awakening, through a popular periodical counting its readers by hundreds of thousands, the interests of an immense multitude of intelligent people, whom every writer on Indian subjects is painfully conscious of being unable to reach through the medium of bulky and high-priced books.
Of the Lives, which I selected for illustration, the greater number had never been written before, and of those, which had been written before, I had unpublished records which enabled me to impart some little freshness to my memoirs. The sketches were published originally without any chronological arrangement. They appeared, in uninterrupted succession, during the year 1865. The great difficulty with which I had to contend was the necessary limitation of space. I was often compelled to curtail the memoirs after they were in print, and thereby to exclude much interesting illustrative matter. As, however, the republication of the Lives in a separate work had been determined upon, I had less regret in effecting these mutilations. The excised passages are now restored, and new additions made to the memoirs, considerably exceeding in extent the whole of the original sketches. I may say, indeed, that the work has been almost entirely re-written, the chapters in the periodical having been little more than sketches of the more finished portraits which are now produced after fifteen additional months of conscientious research.
Of the materials, of which I have spoken, something more should be said, the more especially, as in one or two instances I have to acknowledge the assistance that I have derived from other writers. For much of the valuable information contained in the memoir of Cornwallis I am indebted to Mr. Ross's very ably-executed work. It should be stated, however, that long before his book was announced I had contemplated the preparation of a Life of Lord Cornwallis, and had amassed a considerable stock of materials in illustration