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Paul Clifford — Volume 01 by Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton
page 1 of 84 (01%)


This novel so far differs from the other fictions by the same author that
it seeks to draw its interest rather from practical than ideal sources.
Out of some twelve Novels or Romances, embracing, however inadequately, a
great variety of scene and character,--from "Pelham" to the "Pilgrims of
the Rhine," from "Rienzi" to the "Last Days of Pompeii,"--"Paul Clifford"
is the _only one_ in which a robber has been made the hero, or the
peculiar phases of life which he illustrates have been brought into any
prominent description.

Without pausing to inquire what realm of manners or what order of crime
and sorrow is open to art, and capable of administering to the proper
ends of fiction, I may be permitted to observe that the present subject
was selected, and the Novel written, with a twofold object: First, to
draw attention to two errors in our penal institutions; namely, a vicious
prison-discipline, and a sanguinary criminal code,--the habit of
corrupting the boy by the very punishment that ought to redeem him, and
then hanging the man at the first occasion, as the easiest way of getting
rid of our own blunders. Between the example of crime which the tyro
learns from the felons in the prison-yard, and the horrible levity with
which the mob gather round the drop at Newgate, there is a connection
which a writer may be pardoned for quitting loftier regions of
imagination to trace and to detect. So far this book is less a picture
of the king's highway than the law's royal road to the gallows,--a satire
on the short cut established between the House of Correction and the
Condemned Cell. A second and a lighter object in the novel of "Paul
Clifford" (and hence the introduction of a semi-burlesque or travesty in
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