Murad the Unlucky and Other Tales by Maria Edgeworth


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Page 1

At Edgeworthstown Richard Lovell Edgeworth now became active in the
direct training of his children, in the improvement of his estate, and in
schemes for the improvement of the country. His eldest daughter, Maria,
showing skill with the pen, he made her more and more his companion and
fellow-worker to good ends. She kept household accounts, had entrusted
to her the whole education of a little brother, wrote stories on a slate
and read them to the family, wiped them off when not approved, and copied
them in ink if they proved popular with the home public. Miss
Edgeworth's first printed book was a plea for the education of women,
"Letters to Literary Ladies," published in 1795, when her age was eight-
and-twenty. Next year, 1796, working with her father, she produced the
first volume of the "Parent's Assistant." In November, 1797, when Miss
Edgeworth's age was nearly thirty-one, her father, then aged fifty-three,
lost his third wife, and he married a fourth in the following May. The
fourth wife, at first objected to, was young enough to be a companion and
friend, and between her and Maria Edgeworth a fast friendship came to be
established. In the year of her father's fourth marriage Maria joined
him in the production of two volumes on "Practical Education." Then
followed books for children, including "Harry and Lucy," which had been
begun by her father years before in partnership with his second wife,
when Thomas Day began writing "Sandford and Merton," with the original
intention that it should be worked in as a part of the whole scheme.

In the year 1800 Miss Edgeworth, thirty-three years old, began her
independent career as a novelist with "Castle Rackrent;" and from that
time on, work followed work in illustration of the power of a woman of
genius to associate quick wit and quick feeling with sound sense and a
good reason for speaking. Sir Walter Scott in his frank way declared
that he received an impulse from Miss Edgeworth's example as a
story-teller. In the general preface to his own final edition of the
Waverley Novels he said that "Without being so presumptuous as to hope to
emulate the rich humour, pathetic tenderness, and admirable tact, which
pervade the works of my accomplished friend, I felt that something might
be attempted for my own country of the same kind with that which Miss
Edgeworth so fortunately achieved for Ireland--something which might
introduce her natives to those of the sister kingdom in a more favourable
light than they had been placed hitherto, and tend to procure sympathy
for their virtues and indulgence for their foibles."

Of the three stories in this volume, who--"Murad the Unlucky" and "The
Limerick Gloves"--first appeared in three volumes of "Popular Tales,"
which were first published in 1804, with a short introduction by Miss
Edgeworth's father. "Madame de Fleury" was written a few years later.

H. M.




MURAD THE UNLUCKY


CHAPTER I


It is well known that the grand seignior amuses himself by going at
night, in disguise, through streets of Constantinople; as the caliph
Haroun Alraschid used formerly to do in Bagdad.

One moonlight night, accompanied by his grand vizier, he traversed
several of the principal streets of the city without seeing anything
remarkable. At length, as they were passing a rope-maker's, the sultan
recollected the Arabian story of Cogia-Hassan Alhabal, the rope-maker,
and his two friends, Saad and Saadi, who differed so much in their
opinion concerning the influence of fortune over human affairs.

"What is your opinion on this subject?" said the grand seignior to his
vizier.

"I am inclined, please your majesty," replied the vizier, "to think that
success in the world depends more upon prudence than upon what is called
luck, or fortune."

"And I," said the sultan, "am persuaded that fortune does more for men
than prudence. Do you not every day hear of persons who are said to be
fortunate or unfortunate? How comes it that this opinion should prevail
amongst men, if it be not justified by experience?"

"It is not for me to dispute with your majesty," replied the prudent
vizier.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sun 18th Aug 2019, 19:29