Moll Flanders HTML version

Chapter 1
My true name is so well known in the records or registers at Newgate, and in the Old
Bailey, and there are some things of such consequence still depending there, relating to
my particular conduct, that it is not be expected I should set my name or the account of
my family to this work; perhaps, after my death, it may be better known; at present it
would not be proper, no not though a general pardon should be issued, even without
exceptions and reserve of persons or crimes.
It is enough to tell you, that as some of my worst comrades, who are out of the way of
doing me harm (having gone out of the world by the steps and the string, as I often
expected to go ), knew me by the name of Moll Flanders, so you may give me leave to
speak of myself under that name till I dare own who I have been, as well as who I am.
I have been told that in one of neighbour nations, whether it be in France or where else I
know not, they have an order from the king, that when any criminal is condemned,
either to die, or to the galleys, or to be transported, if they leave any children, as such
are generally unprovided for, by the poverty or forfeiture of their parents, so they are
immediately taken into the care of the Government, and put into a hospital called the
House of Orphans, where they are bred up, clothed, fed, taught, and when fit to go out,
are placed out to trades or to services, so as to be well able to provide for themselves
by an honest, industrious behaviour.
Had this been the custom in our country, I had not been left a poor desolate girl without
friends, without clothes, without help or helper in the world, as was my fate; and by
which I was not only exposed to very great distresses, even before I was capable either
of understanding my case or how to amend it, but brought into a course of life which
was not only scandalous in itself, but which in its ordinary course tended to the swift
destruction both of soul and body.
But the case was otherwise here. My mother was convicted of felony for a certain petty
theft scarce worth naming, viz. having an opportunity of borrowing three pieces of fine
holland of a certain draper in Cheapside. The circumstances are too long to repeat, and
I have heard them related so many ways, that I can scarce be certain which is the right
However it was, this they all agree in, that my mother pleaded her belly, and being
found quick with child, she was respited for about seven months; in which time having
brought me into the world, and being about again, she was called down, as they term it,
to her former judgment, but obtained the favour of being transported to the plantations,
and left me about half a year old; and in bad hands, you may be sure.
This is too near the first hours of my life for me to relate anything of myself but by
hearsay; it is enough to mention, that as I was born in such an unhappy place, I had no