Some years ago an unknown American friend proposed my writing a story on the loves and adventures of Sir Harry Frankland, Collector of the Port of Boston in the mid-eighteenth century, and Agnes Surriage, daughter of a poor Marble-head fisherman. The theme attracted me as it has attracted other writers--and notably Oliver Wendell Holmes, who built a poem on it. But while their efforts seemed to leave room for another, I was no match for them in knowledge of the facts or of local details; and, moreover, these facts and details cramped my story. I repented, therefore and, taking the theme, altered the locality and the characters--who, by the way, in the writing have become real enough to me, albeit in a different sense. Thus (I hope) no violence has been offered to historical truth, while I have been able to tell the tale in my own fashion.
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