It has been observed by a modern French novelist, that writers whose irregular genius has not permitted them to polish all the riches they possess, may be happily explored by others.
This idea may, with peculiar propriety, be applied to Mr. Brooke’s principal work. The Fool of Quality abounds with real genius and genuine feeling, but so obscured by fanaticism and extravagance, that it has sunk into neglect.
From this celebrated production the materials of the present tale are selected, and presented to youth, as exhibiting a history of the practical education [vi] and culture of the heart; a subject, perhaps, to which an ingenious modern writer* on education, to whose admirable talents the public are greatly indebted, has not sufficiently adverted.
The stores from which I have drawn, in the present little work, are rich and abundant; nor, should the polish be found worthy of the gem., need it to be disdained by persons of maturer age, who may extract from it both profit and delight.
There is an air of romantic wildness in the original tale, the scenes of which are laid in other times, that, in some degree, I have thought proper [vii] to preserve. The dialogue, particularly in the first part of the story, seldom required alteration: with the sentiment I have sometimes taken liberties: the style is throughout compressed and rendered less obsolete. One only of the episodes, with which the original work abounds, has been preserved, (the history of a man of letters,) as entering into the present plan; being a striking example of the mischievous consequences resulting from an improper education.
In the general principles of morality, with which the story is replete, care has been taken to avoid the narrowness of system, or the language of a party: and, in selecting those incidents which may touch the heart, and awaken its purest affections, still more solicitude has been employed not to inflame the senses, or rouse prematurely the passions of youth.
*Edgeworth's Practical Education.
The above remark alludes only to the work mentioned: the excellent stories in the Parent's Assistant and Moral Tales, by Miss Edgeworth, are equally calculated to enlighten the understanding, delight the imagination, and touch the affections of children and young persons.