Puslapio vaizdai

plain of having been cheated into the perufal of a performance that has not only a plan for its conduct, but also a moral tendency in its defign. Mrs. Prudentia intends to lead her readers through no other labyrinth than the wiles of fyftematic depravity, nor to prefent any object more foul-harrowing than a deceived and entangled, but ultimately penitent heart.

While the confeffes that the groundwork of her story has a remote analogy to fome well-known facts, fhe strongly reprobates the idea of perfonality. The incidents are all her own, and it is only in one portrait that he has attempted to sketch a likenefs from nature. She affures the cenforious, that, even in that portrait, fhe has fo adjusted the drapery and varied the colours, that it will be impoffible for the moft curious eye to discover who fat for the outline.


Though regardlefs whether the fashionable 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 difcernment to difcover 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 representative of the illuftrious order, she entreats


to accept her public thanks for the invaluable honour of her approbation of

[blocks in formation]

the Writer's former efforts, and her permiffion to infcribe thefe 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 thofe errors in the compofition, which an accurate tafte must discover and difapprove.


The fairest ancestry on earth,
Without defert, is poor;
And every deed of lofty worth

Is but a claim for more.


SOME reafons, which are not neceffary to be developed in the following pages, made me wifh 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 capable

B 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 Hiftory 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


« AnkstesnisTęsti »