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Honor Edgeworth Ottawa's Present Tense   By: (1865-)

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"An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told."



Entered according to Act of Parhament of Canada, in the year one thousand eight hundred and eighty two, by A S WOODBURN, in the Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Statistics at Ottawa.


In these days of plenty, when books of every subject and nature have become as commonly familiar to men as the blades of grass by the roadside, it seems superfluous to say any word of introduction or explanation on ushering a volume into the world of letters; but, lest the question arise as regards the direct intention or motive of an author, it is always safer that he make a plain statement of his object, in the preface page of his work, thus making sure that he will be rightly interpreted by his readers.

In the unpretending volume entitled "Honor Edgeworth," or "Ottawa's Present Tense," the writer has not proposed to make any display of the learning she has acquired by a few years' study, and she would therefore seek to remove, in anticipation, any impression the reader may be inclined to harbor, of her motives having been either selfish or uncharitable.

The world of art and science is already aglow with the dazzling beauty of the genius of her many patrons, the world of letters has in our day a population as thick as the stars in the heavens, or the grains of sand on the beach and hence it is that rivalry is almost a passé stimulant in this sphere; the heroes and heroines of the pen aim at individual, independent and not comparative, merit. In nine cases out of ten, the author of a work, apart from the gratification it gives himself to indulge his faculties, and whatever influence for better or worse his opinions may have, in the political social or religious world, knows no other aim.

In "Honor Edgeworth" the sole and sincere motive of the authoress has been to hold up to the mass the little picture of society, in one of its most marked phases, that she has sketched, as she watched its freaks and caprices from behind the scenes.

Ottawa, in this work, is taken merely as a representative of all other fashionable cities, for the simple reason that it is better known to the writer than any other city of social repute. Her object in publishing the volume at all, if not clearly defined throughout the work, may be discovered here: it is primarily, to attract the attention of those who, if they wished, could exercise a beneficial influence over the sphere in which they live, to the moral depravities that at present are allowed so passively to float on the surface of the social tide. It would with the same word appeal to the minds and hearts of those women who are satisfied to remain slaves to the exactions of an unscrupulous society, at the sacrifice of their most womanly impulses, and their noblest energies; and would also remind some reckless sons of Ottawa, of how miserably they are contributing towards the future prosperity of their country, by adopting, as the only aim of their lives, the paltry ambition of an unworthy self indulgence.

The predominant feeling throughout the entire composition has been one of pure philanthropy, as the authoress desires to benefit her fellow creatures, in as far as it lies in her very limited power. The book has not been composed with any other ambition than the one mentioned; it aspires to no position on the scroll as a literary work of merit; it is going forth clad in its humble garment of deficiencies and faults, to perform, if possible, the little mission appointed it. When it falls into the hands of an impartial reader, it asks only the reception and appreciation it merits, in proportion to that given by one another to society's patrons, in other words, it would ask to be dealt with as generously as the world's sycophants deal with the faults and foibles of their fashionable friends.

Any imaginative person, choosing to use his pen, knows full well that the sensational department of letters, in our day, affords a freer and fuller scope than has ever been tolerated before; it is therefore left to the author's own choice to secure his favorites, numerously and easily, if he but pay attention to give his work the exact tinge of the " couleur locale " which predominates in the spot where his plot is laid; but because the eye of the critic has become familiar with such unworthy productions as these, it must scan with more eager justice any pages which are a happy exception to this miserable reality; it must not hesitate to discern whether the motive has been merely to arouse emotional tendencies, by clothing life's dangerous forms in unreal fascinations, or (where the author's hand, guided by his unsullied heart, has taken up the quill as a mighty weapon) to preserve or defend the morals of his country... Continue reading book >>

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