Moll Flanders HTML version

The Fortunes & Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders &c.
Who was Born in Newgate, and during a Life of continu'd Variety for Threescore Years,
besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to
her own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at
last grew Rich, liv'd Honest, and dies a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums . .
The world is so taken up of late with novels and romances, that it will be hard for a
private history to be taken for genuine, where the names and other circumstances of the
person are concealed, and on this account we must be content to leave the reader to
pass his own opinion upon the ensuing sheet, and take it just as he pleases.
The author is here supposed to be writing her own history, and in the very beginning of
her account she gives the reasons why she thinks fit to conceal her true name, after
which there is no occasion to say any more about that.
It is true that the original of this story is put into new words, and the style of the famous
lady we here speak of is a little altered; particularly she is made to tell her own tale in
modester words that she told it at first, the copy which came first to hand having been
written in language more like one still in Newgate than one grown penitent and humble,
as she afterwards pretends to be.
The pen employed in finishing her story, and making it what you now see it to be, has
had no little difficulty to put it into a dress fit to be seen, and to make it speak language
fit to be read. When a woman debauched from her youth, nay, even being the offspring
of debauchery and vice, comes to give an account of all her vicious practices, and even
to descend to the particular occasions and circumstances by which she ran through in
threescore years, an author must be hard put to it wrap it up so clean as not to give
room, especially for vicious readers, to turn it to his disadvantage.
All possible care, however, has been taken to give no lewd ideas, no immodest turns in
the new dressing up of this story; no, not to the worst parts of her expressions. To this
purpose some of the vicious part of her life, which could not be modestly told, is quite
left out, and several other parts are very much shortened. What is left 'tis hoped will not
offend the chastest reader or the modest hearer; and as the best use is made even of
the worst story, the moral 'tis hoped will keep the reader serious, even where the story
might incline him to be otherwise. To give the history of a wicked life repented of,
necessarily requires that the wicked part should be make as wicked as the real history
of it will bear, to illustrate and give a beauty to the penitent part, which is certainly the
best and brightest, if related with equal spirit and life.