A Pair of Blue Eyes
The following chapters were written at a time when the craze for
indiscriminate church-restoration had just reached the remotest nooks of
western England, where the wild and tragic features of the coast had
long combined in perfect harmony with the crude Gothic Art of the ec-
clesiastical buildings scattered along it, throwing into extraordinary dis-
cord all architectural attempts at newness there. To restore the grey car-
cases of a mediaevalism whose spirit had fled, seemed a not less incon-
gruous act than to set about renovating the adjoining crags themselves.
Hence it happened that an imaginary history of three human hearts,
whose emotions were not without correspondence with these material
circumstances, found in the ordinary incidents of such church-renova-
tions a fitting frame for its presentation.
The shore and country about 'Castle Boterel' is now getting well
known, and will be readily recognized. The spot is, I may add, the fur-
thest westward of all those convenient corners wherein I have ventured
to erect my theatre for these imperfect little dramas of country life and
passions; and it lies near to, or no great way beyond, the vague border of
the Wessex kingdom on that side, which, like the westering verge of
modern American settlements, was progressive and uncertain.
This, however, is of little importance. The place is pre-eminently (for
one person at least) the region of dream and mystery. The ghostly birds,
the pall-like sea, the frothy wind, the eternal soliloquy of the waters, the
bloom of dark purple cast, that seems to exhale from the shoreward pre-
cipices, in themselves lend to the scene an atmosphere like the twilight of
a night vision.
One enormous sea-bord cliff in particular figures in the narrative; and
for some forgotten reason or other this cliff was described in the story as
being without a name. Accuracy would require the statement to be that a
remarkable cliff which resembles in many points the cliff of the descrip-
tion bears a name that no event has made famous.