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Though regardlefs whether the fafhionable inftructors of the day record her as one of their kindred fpirits, or condemn her for being a fervile admirer of prefcribed forms and reprobated reftrictions, there is a numerous clafs of readers, whofe favour Mrs. Prudentia is anxioufly folicitous to obtain the truly liberal, and the fincerely good. With candour to forgive fmall faults, they unite discernment to discover good intentions, and courage to defend the cause of principle against the sarcasms of wit, and the cool contempt of piqued infidelity. To fuch readers, and fuch critics, she submits the following pages; and as a proper reprefentative of the illuftrious order, she entreats
to accept her public thanks for the invaluable honour of her approbation of
the Writer's former efforts, and her permiffion to inscribe these pages with her refpected name. If the prefent attempt fhould appear favourable to the cause of morality and religion, fhe humbly hopes, that the lenity infeparable from fuperior talents will pardon those errors in the compofition, which an accurate tafte must discover and difapprove.
The fairest ancestry on earth,
And every deed of lofty worth
SIR ELDRED OF THE BOWER.
SOME reafons, which are not neceffary to be developed in the following pages, made me wish to take a little excurfion from Danbury in the courfe of last autumn. A generous public having fupplied the means, I hired a one-horfe chaife, and taking with me my whole family, confifting of my maid Betty and my favourite old tabby cat, fet out for Brighton. I there heard a narrative which made a very deep impreffion upon my mind; and, as the communicativenefs of my difpofition will not allow me to conceal any thing which I imagine caB 5
pable of conveying inftruction, or even innocent amusement, to that worthy fet of beings, whom, in common with my fifter authors, I term candid readers, I have determined to prefer publishing the History of the Countess of Monteith to a particular description of my own travels. To this refolution I may, perhaps, have been influenced by a culpable degree of modefty. The public, no doubt, are very anxious to know how many miles a-day Betty and I journeyed; at what inns we stopped, and what we had for fupper. Could not a florid defcription beftow fome fprigs of fame on the chalky cliffs of Dunstable? Might not the horrors of Woburn fands be rendered more gloomy by a convenient whirlwind, hurrying into the air the arid foil? Is there no old decayed manor-house, where I could call forth the " fheeted dead to fqueak and gibber;" or, fuppofing we
were benighted on Finchley-common, could either Rhætian or Carpathian Alps fix a more appropriate station for the haunts of a banditti? Though in a former publication I have unwarily announced my age and order, Betty, for aught the world knows, may be young and beautiful; nay, fhe may be an orphan foundling, the heiress of fome diftinguished family; and I may, if I choose, after a long feries of adventures, unite her in the hymeneal bond with fome all-accomplished youth, who had previously refcued us from the robbers after a most bloody engagement. I begin to suspect that I have chosen the lefs promifing, or rather the lefs lucrative plan; but I entreat my readers to believe, that it is not because I want powers for the terrific and the romantic, that I continue to pursue the moral and the probable. Something must be allowed to my defire