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A Simple Story Author: Mrs. Inchbald

 A Simple Story Author: Mrs. Inchbald



A
SIMPLE STORY,
IN FOUR VOLUMES,
BY
MRS. INCHBALD.
VOL. I.
THE FOURTH EDITION.
LONDON:
Printed for G. G. and J. ROBINSON,
Paternoster Row.
1799.

PREFACE.
It is said, a book should be read with the same spirit with which it has been written. In that case, fatal must be the reception of this—for the writer frankly avows, that during the time she has been writing it, she has suffered every quality and degree of weariness and lassitude, into which no other employment could have betrayed her.

It has been the destiny of the writer of this Story to be occupied throughout her life, in what has the least suited either her inclination or capacity—with an invincible impediment in her speech, it was her lot for thirteen years to gain a subsistence by public speaking—and, with the utmost detestation to the fatigue of inventing, a constitution suffering under a sedentary life, and an education confined to the narrow boundaries prescribed her sex, it has been her fate to devote a tedious seven years to the unremitting labour of literary productions—whilst a taste for authors of the first rank has been an additional punishment, forbidding her one moment of those self-approving reflections, which are assuredly due to the industrious. But, alas! in the exercise of the arts, industry scarce bears the name of merit. What then is to be substituted in the place of genius? GOOD FORTUNE. And if these volumes should be attended by the good fortune that has accompanied her other writings, to that divinity, and that alone, she shall attribute their success.

Yet, there is a first cause still, to whom I cannot here forbear to mention my obligations.

The Muses, I trust, will pardon me, that to them I do not feel myself obliged—for, in justice to their heavenly inspirations, I believe they have never yet favoured me with one visitation; but sent in their disguise NECESSITY, who, being the mother of Invention, gave me all mine—while FORTUNE kindly smiled, and was accessory to the cheat.

But this important secret I long wished, and endeavoured to conceal; yet one unlucky moment candidly, though unwittingly, divulged it—I frankly owned, “That Fortune having chased away Necessity, there remained no other incitement to stimulate me to a labour I abhorred.” It happened to be in the power of the person to whom I confided this secret, to send NECESSITY once more. Once more, then, bowing to its empire, I submit to the task it enjoins.

This case has something similar to a theatrical anecdote told (I think) by Colly Cibber:

“A performer of a very mean salary, played the Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet so exactly to the satisfaction of the audience, that this little part, independent of the other characters, drew immense houses whenever the play was performed. The manager in consequence, thought it but justice to advance the actor’s salary; on which the poor man (who, like the character he represented, had been half starved before) began to live so comfortably, he became too plump for the part; and being of no importance in any thing else, the manager of course now wholly discharged him—and thus, actually reducing him to the want of a piece of bread, in a short time he became a proper figure for the part again.”

Welcome, then, thou all-powerful principle, NECESSITY! THOU, who art the instigator of so many bad authors and actors—THOU, who from my infancy seldom hast forsaken me, still abide with me. I will not complain of any hardship thy commands require, so thou dost not urge my pen to prostitution. In all thy rigour, oh! do not force my toil to libels—or what is equally pernicious—panegyric on the unworthy!


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