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A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy

Produced by John Hamm

A PAIR OF BLUE EYES

by Thomas Hardy

'A violet in the youth of primy nature, Forward, not permanent, sweet not lasting, The perfume and suppliance of a minute; No more.'

PREFACE

The following chapters were written at a time when the craze for indiscriminate church-restoration had just reached the remotest nooks of western England, where the wild and tragic features of the coast had long combined in perfect harmony with the crude Gothic Art of the ecclesiastical buildings scattered along it, throwing into extraordinary discord all architectural attempts at newness there. To restore the grey carcases of a mediaevalism whose spirit had fled, seemed a not less incongruous act than to set about renovating the adjoining crags themselves.

Hence it happened that an imaginary history of three human hearts, whose emotions were not without correspondence with these material circumstances, found in the ordinary incidents of such church-renovations a fitting frame for its presentation.

The shore and country about 'Castle Boterel' is now getting well known, and will be readily recognized. The spot is, I may add, the furthest westward of all those convenient corners wherein I have ventured to erect my theatre for these imperfect little dramas of country life and passions; and it lies near to, or no great way beyond, the vague border of the Wessex kingdom on that side, which, like the westering verge of modern American settlements, was progressive and uncertain.

This, however, is of little importance. The place is pre-eminently (for one person at least) the region of dream and mystery. The ghostly birds, the pall-like sea, the frothy wind, the eternal soliloquy of the waters, the bloom of dark purple cast, that seems to exhale from the shoreward precipices, in themselves lend to the scene an atmosphere like the twilight of a night vision.

One enormous sea-bord cliff in particular figures in the narrative; and for some forgotten reason or other this cliff was described in the story as being without a name. Accuracy would require the statement to be that a remarkable cliff which resembles in many points the cliff of the description bears a name that no event has made famous.

T. H. March 1899

THE PERSONS

ELFRIDE SWANCOURT a young Lady CHRISTOPHER SWANCOURT a Clergyman STEPHEN SMITH an Architect HENRY KNIGHT a Reviewer and Essayist CHARLOTTE TROYTON a rich Widow GERTRUDE JETHWAY a poor Widow SPENSER HUGO LUXELLIAN a Peer LADY LUXELLIAN his Wife MARY AND KATE two little Girls WILLIAM WORM a dazed Factotum JOHN SMITH a Master-mason JANE SMITH his Wife MARTIN CANNISTER a Sexton UNITY a Maid-servant


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