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Wilfrid Cumbermede

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(1871)


When I look over what I have written, I find the tone so sombre--let me see: what sort of an evening is it on which I commence this book? Ah! I thought so: a sombre evening. The sun is going down behind a low bank of grey cloud, the upper edge of which he tinges with a faded yellow. There will be rain before morning. It is late Autumn, and most of the crops are gathered in. A bluish fog is rising from the lower meadows. As I look I grow cold. It is not, somehow, an interesting evening. Yet if I found just this evening well described in a novel, I should enjoy it heartily. The poorest, weakest drizzle upon the window-panes of a dreary roadside inn in a country of slate-quarries, possesses an interest to him who enters it by the door of a book, hardly less than the pouring rain which threatens to swell every brook to a torrent. How is this? I think it is because your troubles do not enter into the book and its troubles do not enter into you, and therefore nature operates upon you unthwarted by the personal conditions which so often counteract her present influences. But I will rather shut out the fading west, the gathering mists, and the troubled consciousness of nature altogether, light my fire and my pipe, and then try whether in my first chapter I cannot be a boy again in such fashion that my companion, that is, my reader, will not be too impatient to linger a little in the meadows of childhood ere we pass to the corn-fields of riper years.--from the Introduction

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