Colonel Jack

Author’s Preface

Daniel Defoe

SIR,—It is so customary to write prefaces to all books of this kind, to introduce them with the more advantage into the world, that I cannot omit it, though on that account ’tis thought this work needs a preface less than any that ever went before it. The pleasant and delightful part speaks for itself; the useful and instructive is so large, and capable of so many improvements, that it would employ a book large as itself to make improvements suitable to the vast variety of the subject.

Here’s room for just and copious observations on the blessings and advantages of a sober and well-governed education, and the ruin of so many thousands of youths of all kinds in this nation for want of it; also, how much public schools and charities might be improved to prevent the destruction of so, many unhappy children as in this town are every year bred up for the gallows.

The miserable condition of unhappy children, many of whose natural tempers are docible, and would lead them to learn the best things rather than the worst, is truly deplorable, and is abundantly seen in the history of this man’s childhood; where, though circumstances formed him by necessity to be a thief, a strange rectitude of principles remained with him, and made him early abhor the worst part of his trade, and at last wholly leave it off. If he had come into the world with the advantage of education, and been well instructed how to improve the generous principles he had in him, what a man might he not have been!

The various turns of his fortunes in the world make a delightful field for the reader to wander in; a garden where he may gather wholesome and medicinal fruits, none noxious or poisonous; where he will see virtue and the ways of wisdom everywhere applauded, honoured, encouraged, rewarded; vice and all kinds of wickedness attended with misery, many kinds of infelicities; and at last, sin and shame going together, the persons meeting with reproof and reproach, and the crimes with abhorrence.

Every wicked reader will here be encouraged to a change, and it will appear that the best and only good end of an impious, misspent life is repentance; that in this there is comfort, peace, and oftentimes hope, and that the penitent shall be returned like the prodigal, and his latter end be better than his beginning.

While these things, and such as these, are the ends and designs of the whole book, I think I need not say one word more as an apology for any part of the rest—no, nor for the whole. If discouraging everything that is evil, and encouraging everything that is virtuous and good—I say, if these appear to be the whole scope and design of the publishing this story, no objection can lie against it; neither is it of the least moment to inquire whether the Colonel hath told his own story true or not; if he has made it a History or a Parable, it will be equally useful, and capable of doing good; and in that it recommends itself without any introduction.—Your humble servant,

THE EDITOR.        

Colonel Jack - Contents    |     The Life of Colonel Jacque

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