Falkland Page 01
By Edward Bulwer-Lytton
PREFATORY NOTE TO THE PRESENT EDITION.
"FALKLAND" is the earliest of Lord Lytton's prose fictions. Published before "Pelham," it was written in the boyhood of its illustrious author. In the maturity of his manhood and the fulness of his literary popularity he withdrew it from print. This is one of the first English editions of his collected works in which the tale reappears. It is because the morality of it was condemned by his experienced judgment, that the author of "Falkland" deliberately omitted it from each of the numerous reprints of his novels and romances which were published in England during his lifetime.
With the consent of the author's son, "Falkland" is included in the present edition of his collected works.
In the first place, this work has been for many years, and still is, accessible to English readers in every country except England. The continental edition of it, published by Baron Tauchnitz, has a wide circulation; and since for this reason the book cannot practically be withheld from the public, it is thought desirable that the publication of it should at least be accompanied by some record of the abovementioned fact.
In the next place, the considerations which would naturally guide an author of established reputation in the selection of early compositions for subsequent republication, are obviously inapplicable to the preparation of a posthumous standard edition of his collected works. Those who read the tale of "Falkland" eight-and-forty years ago' have long survived the age when character is influenced by the literature of sentiment. The readers to whom it is now presented are not Lord Lytton's contemporaries; they are his posterity. To them his works have already become classical. It is only upon the minds of the young that the works of sentiment have any appreciable moral influence. But the sentiment of each age is peculiar to itself; and the purely moral influence of sentimental fiction seldom survives the age to which it was first addressed. The youngest and most impressionable reader of such works as the "Nouvelle Hemise," "Werther," "The Robbers," "Corinne," or "Rene," is not now likely to be morally influenced, for good or ill, by the perusal of those masterpieces of genius. Had Byron attained the age at which great authors most realise the responsibilities of fame and genius, he might possibly have regretted, and endeavoured to suppress, the publication of "Don Juan;" but the possession of that immortal poem is an unmixed benefit to posterity, and the loss of it would have been an irreparable misfortune.
"Falkland," although the earliest, is one of the most carefully finished of its author's compositions. All that was once turbid, heating, unwholesome in the current of sentiment which flows through this history of a guilty passion, "Death's immortalising winter" has chilled and purified. The book is now a harmless, and, it may be hoped, a not uninteresting, evidence of the precocity of its author's genius. As such, it is here reprinted.
[It was published in 1827]
FROM ERASMUS FALKLAND, ESQ., TO THE HON. FREDERICK MONKTON.
L---, May --, 1822.
You are mistaken, my dear Monkton! Your description of the gaiety of "the season" gives me no emotion. You speak of pleasure; I remember no labour so wearisome; you enlarge upon its changes; no sameness appears to me so monotonous. Keep, then, your pity for those who require it. From the height of my philosophy I compassionate you. No one is so vain as a recluse; and your jests at my hermitship and hermitage cannot penetrate the folds of a self-conceit, which does not envy you in your suppers at D---- House, nor even in your waltzes with Eleanor.
It is a ruin rather than a house which I inhabit. I have not been at L----- since my return from abroad, and during those years the place has gone rapidly to decay; perhaps, for that reason, it suits me better, tel maitre telle maison.
Of all my possessions this is the least valuable in itself, and derives the least interest from the associations of childhood, for it was not at L----- that any part of that period was spent. I have, however, chosen it from my present retreat, because here only I am personally unknown, and therefore little likely to be disturbed. I do not, indeed, wish for the interruptions designed as civilities; I rather gather around myself, link after link, the chains that connected me with the world; I find among my own thoughts that variety and occupation which you only experience in your intercourse with others; and I make, like the Chinese, my map of the universe consist of a circle in a square--the circle is my own empire and of thought and self; and it is to the scanty corners which it leaves without, that I banish whatever belongs to the remainder of mankind.
About a mile from L----- is Mr. Mandeville's beautiful villa of E-----, in the midst of grounds which form a delightful contrast to the savage and wild scenery by which they are surrounded.