Wieland or the Transformation
The following Work is delivered to the world as the first of a series of performances,
which the favorable reception of this will induce the Writer to publish. His purpose is
neither selfish nor temporary, but aims at the illustration of some important branches of
the moral constitution of man. Whether this tale will be classed with the ordinary or
frivolous sources of amusement, or be ranked with the few productions whose usefulness
secures to them a lasting reputation, the reader must be permitted to decide.
The incidents related are extraordinary and rare. Some of them, perhaps, approach as
nearly to the nature of miracles as can be done by that which is not truly miraculous. It is
hoped that intelligent readers will not disapprove of the manner in which appearances are
solved, but that the solution will be found to correspond with the known principles of
human nature. The power which the principal person is said to possess can scarcely be
denied to be real. It must be acknowledged to be extremely rare; but no fact, equally
uncommon, is supported by the same strength of historical evidence.
Some readers may think the conduct of the younger Wieland impossible. In support of its
possibility the Writer must appeal to Physicians and to men conversant with the latent
springs and occasional perversions of the human mind. It will not be objected that the
instances of similar delusion are rare, because it is the business of moral painters to
exhibit their subject in its most instructive and memorable forms. If history furnishes one
parallel fact, it is a sufficient vindication of the Writer; but most readers will probably
recollect an authentic case, remarkably similar to that of Wieland.
It will be necessary to add, that this narrative is addressed, in an epistolary form, by the
Lady whose story it contains, to a small number of friends, whose curiosity, with regard
to it, had been greatly awakened. It may likewise be mentioned, that these events took
place between the conclusion of the French and the beginning of the revolutionary war.
The memoirs of Carwin, alluded to at the conclusion of the work, will be published or
suppressed according to the reception which is given to the present attempt.
C. B. B.
September 3, 1798.