Paul Clifford: (Edward Bulwer Lytton Masterpiece Collection)by Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton
Say, ye oppressed by some fantastic woes, Some jarring nerve that baffles your repose, Who press the downy couch while slaves advance With timid eye to read the distant glance, Who with sad prayers the weary doctor tease To name the nameless, ever-new disease, Who with mock patience dire complaints endure, Which real pain and that alone can cure, How would you bear in real pain to lie Despised, neglected, left alone to die? How would you bear to draw your latest breath Where all that's wretched paves the way to death?-Crabbe.
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. Through one of the obscurest quarters of London, and among haunts little loved by the gentlemen of the police, a man, evidently of the lowest orders, was wending his solitary way. He stopped twice or thrice at different shops and houses of a description correspondent with the appearance of the quartier in which they were situated, and tended inquiry for some article or another which did not seem easily to be met with. All the answers he received were couched in the negative; and as he turned from each door he muttered to himself, in no very elegant phraseology, his disappointment and discontent. At length, at one house, the landlord, a sturdy butcher, after rendering the same reply the inquirer had hitherto received, added, "But if this vill do as vell, Dummie, it is quite at your sarvice!" Pausing reflectively for a moment, Dummie responded that he thought the thing proffered might do as well; and thrusting it into his ample pocket, he strode away with as rapid a motion as the wind and the rain would allow. He soon came to a nest of low and dingy buildings, at the entrance to which, in half-effaced characters, was written "Thames Court." Halting at the most conspicuous of these buildings, an inn or alehouse, through the half-closed windows of which blazed out in ruddy comfort the beams of the hospitable hearth, he knocked hastily at the door. He was admitted by a lady of a certain age, and endowed with a comely rotundity of face and person.
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Very entertaining and well-written, for its time. I enjoyed it highly.
This book has the dubious distinction of having the first line become infamous...'It was a dark and stormy night......'