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Preface

The changing of the old order in country manors and mansions
may be slow or sudden, may have many issues romantic or
otherwise, its romantic issues being not necessarily
restricted to a change back to the original order; though this
admissible instance appears to have been the only romance
formerly recognized by novelists as possible in the case.
Whether the following production be a picture of other
possibilities or not, its incidents may be taken to be fairly
well supported by evidence every day forthcoming in most
counties.

The writing of the tale was rendered memorable to two persons,
at least, by a tedious illness of five months that laid hold
of the author soon after the story was begun in a well-known
magazine; during which period the narrative had to be
strenuously continued by dictation to a predetermined cheerful
ending.

As some of these novels of Wessex life address themselves more
especially to readers into whose souls the iron has entered,
and whose years have less pleasure in them now than
heretofore, so "A Laodicean" may perhaps help to while away an
idle afternoon of the comfortable ones whose lines have fallen
to them in pleasant places; above all, of that large and happy
section of the reading public which has not yet reached
ripeness of years; those to whom marriage is the pilgrim's
Eternal City, and not a milestone on the way.

T.H.

January 1896.


Thomas Hardy