The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom HTML version

Chapter 1
Some Sage Observations That Naturally Introduce Our Important History.
Cardinal de Retz very judiciously observes, that all historians must of necessity
be subject to mistakes, in explaining the motives of those actions they record,
unless they derive their intelligence from the candid confession of the person
whose character they represent; and that, of consequence, every man of
importance ought to write his own memoirs, provided he has honesty enough to
tell the truth, without suppressing any circumstance that may tend to the
information of the reader. This, however, is a requisite that, I am afraid, would be
very rarely found among the number of those who exhibit their own portraits to
the public. Indeed, I will venture to say, that, how upright soever a man's
intentions may be, he will, in the performance of such a task, be sometimes
misled by his own phantasy, and represent objects, as they appeared to him,
through the mists of prejudice and passion.
An unconcerned reader, when he peruses the history of two competitors, who
lived two thousand years ago, or who perhaps never had existence, except in the
imagination of the author, cannot help interesting himself in the dispute, and
espousing one side of the contest, with all the zeal of a warm adherent. What
wonder, then, that we should be heated in our own concerns, review our actions
with the same self-approbation that they had formerly acquired, and recommend
them to the world with all the enthusiasm of paternal affection?
Supposing this to be the case, it was lucky for the cause of historical truth, that
so many pens have been drawn by writers, who could not be suspected of such
partiality; and that many great personages, among the ancients as well as
moderns, either would not or could not entertain the public with their own
memoirs. From this want of inclination or capacity to write, in our hero himself,
the undertaking is now left to me, of transmitting to posterity the remarkable
adventures of FERDINAND COUNT FATHOM; and by the time the reader shall
have glanced over the subsequent sheets, I doubt not but he will bless God that
the adventurer was not his own historian.
This mirror of modern chivalry was none of those who owe their dignity to the
circumstances of their birth, and are consecrated from the cradle for the
purposes of greatness, merely because they are the accidental children of
wealth. He was heir to no visible patrimony, unless we reckon a robust
constitution, a tolerable appearance, and an uncommon capacity, as the
advantages of inheritance. If the comparison obtains in this point of
consideration, he was as much as any man indebted to his parent; and pity it
was, that, in the sequel of his fortune, he never had an opportunity of manifesting
his filial gratitude and regard. From this agreeable act of duty to his sire, and all
those tendernesses that are reciprocally enjoyed betwixt the father and the son,
he was unhappily excluded by a small circumstance; at which, however, he was
never heard to repine. In short, had he been brought forth in the fabulous ages of
the world, the nature of his origin might have turned to his account; he might, like
other heroes of antiquity, have laid claim to divine extraction, without running the
risk of being claimed by an earthly father. Not that his parents had any reason to