An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews

An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews

An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews

An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews

Excerpt

The original title-page of Shamela clearly indicates its main purpose: the refutation and correction of "the many notorious Falshoods and Misrepresentations of a book called Pamela," the first, hugely successful novel of Samuel Richardson, which he had anonymously published late in 1740, pretending merely to edit authentic papers written by the chief party. For the full understanding and enjoyment of Shamela some familiarity with Pamela is required-- of the original two volumes, that is to say, which were supplemented by two more on Pamela in her Exalted Condition early in 1742, ten months after the appearance of Shamela.

Pamela Andrews, then, is the daughter of poor and honest parents, and in domestic service at a large house in Bedfordshire. Upon the death of her mistress she finds herself, so her collected letters and journal disclose, exposed to the licentious advances of that lady's son and heir, Mr. B----. He employs the obvious means, cajolery and even a clumsy attempt at force, to gain his point, but her chastity and piety, reinforced by the aid of Mrs. Jervis, the housekeeper, foil him; so he decides to send her home. But the travelling chariot that is to carry her away is ordered to Mr. B----'s second country seat, in Lincolnshire. There a housekeeper of quite another stamp, the ugly and heartless Mrs. Jewkes, is in charge, and her ill-treatment all but drives the heroine, who is virtually kept a prisoner, to drown herself in the garden pond. But she finds another human ally in the ineffective curate, Mr. Williams, and when, after a little, Mr. B---- comes down to renew his attempts, he finds her as sturdy and unmanageable as before. He tries rape, he holds out a handsome settlement, he toys with the idea of a mock . . .

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