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Earthwork out of Tuscany Being Impressions and Translations of Maurice Hewlett   By: (1861-1923)

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Being Impressions and Translations of Maurice Hewlett

"For as it is hurtful to drink wine or water alone; and as wine mingled with water is pleasant and delighteth the taste: even so speech, finely framed, delighteth the ears of them that read the story." 3 MACCABEES xv. 39.






I cannot add one tendril to your bays, Worn quietly where who love you sing your praise; But I may stand Among the household throng with lifted hand, Upholding for sweet honour of the land Your crown of days.


I cannot be for ever explaining what I intended when I wrote this book. Upon this, its third appearance, even though it is to rank in that good company which wears the crimson of Eversley, it must take its chance, undefended by its conscious parent. He feels, indeed, with all the anxieties, something of the pride of the hen, who conducts her brood of ducklings to the water, sees them embark upon the flood, and must leave them to their buoyant performances, dreadful, but aware also that they are doing a finer thing than her own merits could have hoped to win them. So it is here. I did not at the outset expect a third edition in any livery; I may still fear a wreck for this cockboat of my early invention; but I hope I am too respectful of myself to try throwing oil upon the waters.

I leave the former prefaces as they stand. I felt them when I made them, and feel them still; but I shall make no more. If Earthwork has the confidence, at this time of day, to carry a red coat, it shall carry it alone.

LONDON, 1901.


Mr. Critics to whom, kind or unkind, I confess obligations and the Public between them have produced, it appears, some sort of demand for this Second Edition. While I do not think it either polite or politic to enquire too deeply into reasons, I am not the man to disoblige them. It is sufficient for me that in a world indifferent well peopled five hundred souls have bought or acquired my book, and that other hundreds have signified their desire to do likewise. Nevertheless the vanity of authors being notoriously hard rooted I must own to my mortification in the discovery that not more than two in every hundred who have read me have known what I was at. I have been told it is a good average, but, with deference, I don't think so. No man has any right to take beautiful and simple things out of their places, wrap them up in a tissue of his own conceits, and hand them about the universe for gods and men to wonder upon. If he must convey simple things let him convey them simply. If I, for instance, must steal a loaf of bread, would it not be better to walk out of the shop with it under my coat than to call for it in a hansom and hoodwink the baker with a forged cheque on Coutts's bank? Surely. If, then, I go to Italy, and convey the hawthor scent of Della Robbia, the straining of Botticelli to express the ineffable, the mellow autumn tones of the life of Florence; if I do this, and make a parade of my magnanimity in permitting the household to divide the spoil, how on earth should I mar all my bravery by giving people what they don't want, or turn double knave by fobbing them off with an empty box?

I had hoped to have done better than this. I tried to express in the title of my book what I thought I had done; more, I was bold enough to assume that, having weathered the title, my readers would find a smooth channel with leading lights enough to bring them sound to port. Mea culpa! I believe that I was wrong. The book has been read as a collection of essays and stories and dialogues only pulled together by the binder's tapes; as otherwise disjointed, fragmentary, d├ęcousue , a "piebald monstrous book," a sort of kous kous , made out of the odds and ends of a scribbler's note book... Continue reading book >>

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