Fanny HillOr, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
Penguin BooksCopyright © 1986 John Cleland
All right reserved.ISBN: 0140432493
Sit down to give you an undeniable proof of my considering your desires asindispensible orders: ungracious then as the task may be, I shall recall to viewthose scandalous stages of my life, out of which I emerg'd at length, to theenjoyment of every blessing in the power of love, health, and fortune to bestow;whilst yet in the flower of youth, and not too late to employ the leisureafforded me by great ease and affluence, to cultivate an understanding naturallynot a despicable one, and which had, even amidst the whirl of loose pleasures Ihad been tost in, exerted more observation on the characters and manners of theworld, than what is common to those of my unhappy profession, who looking on allthought or reflexion as their capital enemy, keep it at as great a distance asthey can, or destroy it without mercy.
Hating, as I mortally do, all long unnecessary prefaces, I shall give you goodquarter in this, and use no farther apology, than to prepare you for seeing theloose part of my life, wrote with the same liberty that I led it.
Truth! Stark naked truth, is the word, and I will not so much as take the painsto bestow the strip of a gauze-wrapper on it, but paint situations such as theyactually rose to me in nature, careless of violating those laws of decency, thatwere never made for such unreserved intimacies as ours; and you have too muchsense, too much knowledge of the originals themselves, to snuff prudishly, andout of character, at the pictures of them. The greatest men, those of the firstand most leading taste, will not scruple adorning their private closets withnudities, though, in compliance with vulgar prejudices they may not think themdecent decorations of the stair-case or saloon.
This, and enough, premised, I go souse into my personal history. My maiden namewas Francis Hill. I was born at a small village near Liverpool in Lancashire, ofparents extremely poor, and I piously believe, extremely honest.
My father, who had received a maim on his limbs that disabled him from followingthe more laborious branches of country-drudgery, got, by making of nets, ascanty subsistance, which was not much enlarg'd by my mother's keeping a littleday-school for the girls in her neighbourhood. They had had several children,but none lived to any age, except myself, who had received from nature aconstitution perfectly healthy.
My education, till past fourteen, was no better than very vulgar; reading, orrather spelling, an illegible scrawl, and a little ordinary plain-work, composedthe whole system of it: and then all my foundation in virtue was no other than atotal ignorance of vice, and the shy timidity general to our sex, in the tenderstage of life, when objects alarm, or frighten more by their novelty, than anything else: but then this is a fear too often cured at the expence of innocence,when Miss, by degrees, begins no longer to look on man as a creature of preythat will eat her.