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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMy Novel - Book 2 - Initial Chapter
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My Novel - Book 2 - Initial Chapter Post by :jasonroland Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1555

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My Novel - Book 2 - Initial Chapter

INFORMING THE READER HOW THIS WORK CAME TO HAVE INITIAL CHAPTERS.

"There can't be a doubt," said my father, "that to each of the main divisions of your work--whether you call them Books or Parts--you should prefix an Initial or Introductory Chapter."

PISISTRATUS.--"Can't be a doubt, sir? Why so?"

MR. CAXTON.--"Fielding lays it down as an indispensable rule, which he supports by his example; and Fielding was an artistical writer, and knew what he was about."

PISISTRATUS.--"Do you remember any of his reasons, sir?"

MR. CAXTON.--"Why, indeed, Fielding says, very justly, that he is not bound to assign any reason; but he does assign a good many, here and there,--to find which I refer you to 'Tom Jones.' I will only observe, that one of his reasons, which is unanswerable, runs to the effect that thus, in every Part or Book, the reader has the advantage of beginning at the fourth or fifth page instead of the first,--'a matter by no means of trivial consequence,' saith Fielding, 'to persons who read books with no other view than to say they have read them,--a more general motive to reading than is commonly imagined; and from which not only law books and good books, but the pages of Homer and Virgil, Swift and Cervantes, have been often turned Over.' There," cried my father, triumphantly, "I will lay a shilling to twopence that I have quoted the very words."

MRS. CANTON.--"Dear me, that only means skipping; I don't see any great advantage in writing a chapter, merely for people to skip it."

PISISTRATUS.--"Neither do I!"

MR. CANTON (dogmatically).--"It is the repose in the picture,--Fielding calls it 'contrast.'--(Still more dogmatically.)--I say there can't be a doubt about it. Besides" added my father after a pause,--"besides, this usage gives you opportunities to explain what has gone before, or to prepare for what's coming; or, since Fielding contends, with great truth, that some learning is necessary for this kind of historical composition, it allows you, naturally and easily, the introduction of light and pleasant ornaments of that nature. At each flight in the terrace you may give the eye the relief of an urn or a statue. Moreover, when so inclined, you create proper pausing-places for reflection; and complete by a separate, yet harmonious ethical department, the design of a work, which is but a mere Mother Goose's tale if it does not embrace a general view of the thoughts and actions of mankind."

PISISTRATUS.--"But then, in these initial chapters, the author thrusts himself forward; and just when you want to get on with the dramatis personae, you find yourself face to face with the poet himself."

MR. CANTON.--"Pooh! you can contrive to prevent that! Imitate the chorus of the Greek stage, who fill up the intervals between the action by saying what the author would otherwise say in his own person."

PISISTRATUS (slyly).--"That's a good idea, sir,--and I have a chorus, and a choregus too, already in my eye."

MR. CANTON (unsuspectingly).--"Aha! you are not so dull a fellow as you would make yourself out to be; and, even if an author did thrust himself forward, what objection is there to that? It is a mere affectation to suppose that a book can come into the world without an author. Every child has a father,--one father at least,--as the great Conde says very well in his poem."

PISISTRATUS.--"The great Conde a poet! I never heard that before."

MR. CANTON.--"I don't say he was a poet, but he sent a poem to Madame de Montansier. Envious critics think that he must have paid somebody else to write it; but there is no reason why a great captain should not write a poem,--I don't say a good poem, but a poem. I wonder, Roland, if the duke ever tried his hand at 'Stanzas to Mary,' or 'Lines to a Sleeping Babe.'"

CAPTAIN ROLAND.--"Austin, I'm ashamed of you. Of course the duke could write poetry if he pleased,--something, I dare say, in the way of the great Conde; that is, something warlike and heroic, I'll be bound. Let's hear!"

MR. CAXTON (reciting).--


"Telle est du Ciel la loi severe
Qu'il faut qu'un enfant ait un pere;
On dit meme quelquefois
Tel enfant en a jusqu'a trois."

("That each child has a father
Is Nature's decree;
But, to judge by a rumour,
Some children have three.")


CAPTAIN ROLAND (greatly disgusted).--"Conde write such stuff!--I don't believe it."

PISISTRATUS.--"I do, and accept the quotations; you and Roland shall be joint fathers to my child as well as myself.

"'Tel enfant en a jusqu'a trois.'"

MR. CAXTON (solemnly).--"I refuse the proffered paternity; but so far as administering a little wholesome castigation now and then, I have no objection to join in the discharge of a father's duty."

PISISTRATUS.--"Agreed. Have you anything to say against the infant hitherto?"

MR. CAXTON.--"He is in long clothes at present; let us wait till he can walk."

BLANCHE.--"But pray whom do you mean for a hero? And is Miss Jemima your heroine?"

CAPTAIN ROLAND.--"There is some mystery about the--"

PISISTRATUS (hastily).-"Hush, Uncle: no letting the cat out of the bag yet. Listen, all of you! I left Frank Hazeldean on his way to the Casino."

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