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The Well-Beloved by Thomas Hardy
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The peninsula carved by Time out of a single stone, whereon most of the
following scenes are laid, has been for centuries immemorial the home
of a curious and well-nigh distinct people, cherishing strange beliefs
and singular customs, now for the most part obsolescent. Fancies, like
certain soft-wooded plants which cannot bear the silent inland frosts,
but thrive by the sea in the roughest of weather, seem to grow up
naturally here, in particular amongst those natives who have no active
concern in the labours of the 'Isle.' Hence it is a spot apt to
generate a type of personage like the character imperfectly sketched in
these pages--a native of natives--whom some may choose to call a
fantast (if they honour him with their consideration so far), but whom
others may see only as one that gave objective continuity and a name to
a delicate dream which in a vaguer form is more or less common to all
men, and is by no means new to Platonic philosophers.

To those who know the rocky coign of England here depicted--overlooking
the great Channel Highway with all its suggestiveness, and standing out
so far into mid-sea that touches of the Gulf Stream soften the air till
February--it is matter of surprise that the place has not been more
frequently chosen as the retreat of artists and poets in search of
inspiration--for at least a month or two in the year, the tempestuous
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