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Fated to Be Free   By: (1820-1897)

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FATED TO BE FREE

A Novel

By JEAN INGELOW

Author of "Off The Skelligs," "Studies for Stories," "Mopsa the Fairy," Etc.

1875

AUTHOR'S PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION

When authors attempt to explain such of their works as should explain themselves, it makes the case no better that they can say they do it on express invitation. And yet, though I think so, I am about to give some little account of two stories of mine which are connected together, "Off the Skelligs," and "Fated to be Free."

I am told that they are peculiar; and I feel that they must be so, for most stories of human life are, or at least aim at being, works of art, selections of interesting portions of life, and fitting incidents, put together and presented as a picture is; and I have not aimed at producing a work of art at all, but a piece of nature. I have attempted to beguile my readers into something like a sense of reality; to make them fancy that they were reading the unskillful chronicle of things that really occurred, rather than some invented story as interesting as I knew how to make it.

It seemed to me difficult to write, at least in prose, an artistic story; but easy to come nearer to life than most stories do.

Thus, after presenting a remarkable child, it seemed proper to let him (through the force of circumstance) fall away into a very commonplace man. It seemed proper indeed to crowd the pages with children, for in real life they run all over; the world is covered thickly with the prints of their little footsteps, though, as a rule, books written for grown up people are kept almost clear of them. It seemed proper also to make the more important and interesting events of life fall at rather a later age than is commonly chosen, and also to make the more important and interesting persons not extremely young; for, in fact, almost all the noblest and finest men and the loveliest and sweetest women of real life are considerably older than the vast majority of heroes and heroines in the world of fiction.

I have also let some of the same characters play a part in both stories, though the last opens long before the first, and runs on after it is finished. It is by this latter device that I have chiefly hoped to give to each the air of a family history, and thus excite curiosity and invite investigation; the small portion known to a young girl being told by her from her own point of view and mingled into her own life and love, and the larger narrative taking a different point of view and giving both events and motives.

But in general, while describing the actions and setting down the words, I have left the reader to judge my people; for I think many writers must feel as I do, that, if characters are at all true to life, there is just as much uncertainty as to how far they are to blame in any course that they may have taken as there is in the case of our actual living contemporaries.

But why then, you may ask, do I write this preface, which must, if nothing else had done so, destroy any such sense of truth and reality? Why, my American friends, because I am told that a great many of you are pleased to wish for some explanation. I am sure you more than deserve of me some efforts to please you. I seldom have an opportunity of saying how truly I think so; and besides, even if I had declined to give it, I know very well that for all my pains you would still have never been beguiled into the least faith as to the reality of these two stories!

London, June, 1875.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. A WATCHER OF LILIES II. THE LESSON III. GOLD, THE INCORRUPTIBLE WITNESS IV. SWARMS OF CHILDREN V. OF A FINE MAN AND SOME FOOLISH WOMEN VI. THE SHADOW OF A SHADE VII. AN OLD MAN DIGS A WELL VIII. THEY MEET AN AUTHOR IX. SIGNED "DANIEL MORTIMER." CANADA X. CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES XI. WANTED A DESERT ISLAND XII. VALENTINE XIII. VENERABLE ANCIENTRY XIV. EMILY XV. THE AMERICAN GUEST XVI. WEARING THE WILLOW XVII... Continue reading book >>




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