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distance those by time, if I could not rival. them in skill; and, in my effort to clear the ground, and to arrive first at the goal, I fear I have attained my end with more celerity than grace.
The following pages have been composed between the months of November and March, from the heads of a journal, kept with regularity during my residence in France, in the year 1816; and having bound myself to my publisher to be ready for the press before April,* I was obliged to compose à trait de plume, to send off the sheets chapter by chapter, without the power of detecting repetitions by comparison, and without the hope of correction from the perusal of proof sheets. Publishing in one country, and residing in another, it was not to be expected that the press would wait upon the chances of wind and tide, for returns either in or out of course.t
entirely with ork, and to the equally injur
* The subsequent delay, equally injurious to the inte. rest of the work, and to the reputation of the author, rests entirely with the publisher.
+ The errata already discovered are numerous and vexatious. Such particularly are p. 33, l. 22, “ voice" for “ bow," and p. 180, I. i. “ epitaph” for “ epigraph," . whichi render the passages utter nonsense.
To the inaccuracies of haste, a fault less excusable has been added ; I mean the frequent recurrence of French sentences and dialogues, which break up and disfigure the text; a fault which arose from my anxiety to give impressions with all the warmth and vigour with whích I received them; to preserve the form with the spirit; to repeat the jargon of the court, or the cottage, the well-turned point of the duchess, or the patois of the peasant, as I caught and took them down de vive voix in my tablets, or retained and recorded them in my journal. While I thus endeavour to account for faults, I cannot excuse; and to solicit the indulgence of that public from whom I have never experienced severity, I make no effort to deprecate professional criticism, because I indulge no hope from its mercy. There is one review, at least, which must necessarily place me under the ban of its condemnation; and to which the sentiments and principles scattered through the following pages (though conceived and expressed in feelings the most remote from those of local or party policy) will afford an abundant source of accusation, as being foreign to its own narrow doctrines, and opá posed to its own exclusive creed. I mean the Quarterly Review. It may look like presumption to hope, or even to fear its notice; but I, at least, know by experience, that in the omniscience of its judgment it can stoop
: “ To break a butterfly upon a wheel.” It is now nearly nine years since that review selected me as an example of its unsparing severity ; and, deviating from the true object of criticism, made its strictures upon one of the most hastily composed and insignificant of my early works a vehicle for an unprovoked and wanton attack upon the personal character and principles of the author. The slander thus hurled against a young and unprotected female, struggling in a path of no ordinary industry and effort, for purposes sanctified by the most sacred feelings of nature, happily fell hurtless. The public of an enlightened age, indulgent to the critical errors of pages composed for its amusement, under circumstances, not of vanity or choice, but of necessity, has, by its countenance and favour, acquitted me of those charges under which I was summoned before their awful tribunal, and which tend
ed to banish the accused from society, and her works from circulation : for “ licentiousness, profligacy, irreverence, blasphemy, libertinism, disloyalty, and atheism,” were no venial errors. Placed by that public in a definite rank among authors, and in no undistinguished circle of society, alike as woman and as author, beyond the injury of malignant scurrility, whatever form it may assume, I would point out to those who have yet to struggle through the arduous and painful career that I have ran, the feebleness of unmerited calumny, and encourage those who receive with patience and resignation the awards of dignified and legitimate criticism, to disregard and contemn the anonymous slander with which party spirit arms its strictures, under the veil of literary justice.
In thus recurring to the severe chastise ment which my early efforts received from the judgment of the Quarterly Review, it would be ungrateful to conceal that it placed . “My bane and antidote at once before me,” and that in accusing me of “ licentiousness, profligacy, irreverence, blasphemy, libertinism, disloyalty, and atheism,” it present
ed a nostrum of universal efficacy, which was to transform my vices into virtues, and to render me, in its own words, “ not indeed a good writer of novels, but a useful friend, a faithful wife, a tender mother, and a respectable and happy mistress of a family.”
To effect this purpose, “ so devoutly to be wished,” it prescribed a simple remedy: “ To purchase iminediately a spelling book, to which, in process of time, might be added a pocket dictionary, and to take a few lessons in joining-hand; which, superadded to a little common sense, in place of idle raptures,” were finally to render me that valuable epitome of female excellence, whose price Solomon has declared above rubies. ::
While I denied the crimes thus administered to, I took the advice for the sake of its results; and like “ Cælebs in search of a wife,” with his ambulating virtues, I set forth with my Mavor and my Entick in search of that conjugal state, one of the necessary qualifications for my future excellencies. With my dictionary in my pocket, with my spelling book in one hand, and my copper-plate improvements in the other, I entered my probation; and have at last