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The Hand of Ethelberta by Thomas Hardy
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by Thomas Hardy.

"Vitae post-scenia celant."--Lucretius.


This somewhat frivolous narrative was produced as an interlude between
stories of a more sober design, and it was given the sub-title of a
comedy to indicate--though not quite accurately--the aim of the
performance. A high degree of probability was not attempted in the
arrangement of the incidents, and there was expected of the reader a
certain lightness of mood, which should inform him with a good-natured
willingness to accept the production in the spirit in which it was
offered. The characters themselves, however, were meant to be consistent
and human.

On its first appearance the novel suffered, perhaps deservedly, for what
was involved in these intentions--for its quality of unexpectedness in
particular--that unforgivable sin in the critic's sight--the immediate
precursor of 'Ethelberta' having been a purely rural tale. Moreover, in
its choice of medium, and line of perspective, it undertook a delicate
task: to excite interest in a drama--if such a dignified word may be used
in the connection--wherein servants were as important as, or more
important than, their masters; wherein the drawing-room was sketched in
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