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Far Off Things   By: (1863-1947)

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FAR OFF THINGS

FAR OFF THINGS

BY ARTHUR MACHEN

LONDON: MARTIN SECKER

LONDON: MARTIN SECKER LTD. (1922)

BY THE SAME AUTHOR

THE TERROR THE BOWMEN DR. STIGGINS THE GREAT RETURN HIEROGLYPHICS THE HOUSE OF SOULS Including THE GREAT GOD PAN and THE THREE IMPOSTORS THE HILL OF DREAMS THE CHRONICLE OF CLEMENDY WAR AND THE CHRISTIAN FAITH THE SECRET GLORY

DEDICATION

To ALFRED TURNER

This is a book, my dear Turner, which I had in my heart to write for many years. The thought of it came to me with that other thought that I was growing rather, grown old; that the curtain had definitely been rung down on all the days of my youth. And so I got into the way of looking back, of recalling the far gone times and suns of the 'seventies and early 'eighties when the scene of my life was being set. I made up my mind that I would write about it all some day.

Some day would undoubtedly have been Never; if it had not been for you. I had not spoken of the projected book to you or anyone else; but one fine morning in 1915 you ordered me to write it! You were then, you will remember, editing the London Evening News, and as a reporter on your staff I had nothing to do but to obey. The book was written, appeared in the paper as "The Confessions of a Literary Man," and now reappears as "Far Off Things."

So far, good. I enjoyed writing the book enormously; and, I frankly confess, I enjoy reading it. In a word, I am not grumbling. But there is one little point that I do not mean to neglect. My complacent views as to "Far Off Things" may not be shared by other and, possibly, more competent judges. And what I want to impress on you is this: that if there is to be trouble, "you are going to have your share of it." You ordered the book to be written, you printed it in your paper, you have urged me to reprint it, not once or twice, but again and again.

Now, you remember Johnson on advising an author to print his book. "This author," said the Doctor, "when mankind are hunting him with a canister at his tail can say, 'I would not have published, had not Johnson, or Reynolds, or Musgrave, or some other good judge commended the work!'"

Now you see the purpose of this Epistle Dedicatory. It is to make it quite clear that, if there is to be any talk of canisters and tails, the order will run:

"Canisters for two!"

ARTHUR MACHEN

Chapter I

One night a year or so ago I was the guest of a famous literary society. This society, or club, it is well known, believes in celebrating literature and all sorts of other things in a thoroughly agreeable and human fashion. It meets not in any gloomy hall or lecture room, it has no gritty apparatus of blackboard, chalk, and bleared water bottle. It summons its members and its guests to a well known restaurant of the West End, it gives them red and white roses for their button holes, and sets them down to an excellent dinner and good red wine at a gaily decked table, flower garlanded, luminous with many starry lamps.

Well, as I say, I found myself on a certain night a partaker of all this cheerfulness. I was one guest among many; there were explorers and ambassadors and great scientific personages and judges, and the author who has given the world the best laughter that it has enjoyed since Dickens died: in a word, I was in much more distinguished company than that to which I am accustomed. And after dinner the Persians (as I will call them) have a kindly and courteous custom of praising their guests; and to my astonishment and delight the speaker brought me into his oration and said the kindest and most glowing things imaginable about a translation I once made of the "Heptameron" of Margaret of Navarre. I was heartily pleased; I hold with Foker in "Pendennis" that every fellow likes a hand. Praise is grateful, especially when there has not been too much of it; but it is not to record my self complacence that I have told this incident of the Persian banquet... Continue reading book >>




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