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Tales and Novels — Volume 01   By: (1767-1849)

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E text prepared by Anne Folland, Jonathan Ingram, Mary Meehan, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team






It has been somewhere said by Johnson, that merely to invent a story is no small effort of the human understanding. How much more difficult is it to construct stories suited to the early years of youth, and, at the same time, conformable to the complicate relations of modern society fictions, that shall display examples of virtue, without initiating the young reader into the ways of vice narratives, written in a style level to his capacity, without tedious detail, or vulgar idiom! The author, sensible of these difficulties, solicits indulgence for such errors as have escaped her vigilance.

In a former work the author has endeavoured to add something to the increasing stock of innocent amusement and early instruction, which the laudable exertions of some excellent modern writers provide for the rising generation; and, in the present, an attempt is made to provide for young people, of a more advanced age, a few Tales, that shall neither dissipate the attention, nor inflame the imagination.

In a work upon education, which the public has been pleased to notice, we have endeavoured to show that, under proper management, amusement and instruction may accompany each other through many paths of literature; whilst, at the same time, we have disclaimed and reprehended all attempts to teach in play. Steady, untired attention is what alone produces excellence. Sir Isaac Newton, with as much truth as modesty, attributed to this faculty those discoveries in science, which brought the heavens within the grasp of man, and weighed the earth in a balance. To inure the mind to athletic vigour is one of the chief objects of good education; and we have found, as far as our limited experience has extended, that short and active exertions, interspersed with frequent agreeable relaxation, form the mind to strength and endurance, better than long continued feeble study.

Hippocrates, in describing the robust temperament, tells us that the athletae prepare themselves for the gymnasium by strong exertion, which they continued till they felt fatigue; they then reposed till they felt returning strength and aptitude for labour: and thus, by alternate exercise and indulgence, their limbs acquire the firmest tone of health and vigour. We have found, that those who have tasted with the keenest relish the beauties of Berquin, Day, or Barbauld, pursue a demonstration of Euclid, or a logical deduction, with as much eagerness, and with more rational curiosity, than is usually shown by students who are nourished with the hardest fare, and chained to unceasing labour.

"Forester" is the picture of an eccentric character a young man who scorns the common forms and dependencies of civilized society; and who, full of visionary schemes of benevolence and happiness, might, by improper management, or unlucky circumstances, have become a fanatic and a criminal.

The scene of "The Knapsack" is laid in Sweden, to produce variety; and to show that the rich and poor, the young and old, in all countries, are mutually serviceable to each other; and to portray some of those virtues which are peculiarly amiable in the character of a soldier.

"Angelina" is a female Forester. The nonsense of sentimentality is here aimed at with the shafts of ridicule, instead of being combated by serious argument. With the romantic eccentricities of Angelina are contrasted faults of a more common and despicable sort. Miss Burrage is the picture of a young lady who meanly natters persons of rank; and who, after she has smuggled herself into good company, is ashamed to acknowledge her former friends, to whom she was bound by the strongest ties of gratitude.

"Mademoiselle Panache" is a sketch of the necessary consequences of imprudently trusting the happiness of a daughter to the care of those who can teach nothing but accomplishments... Continue reading book >>

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