The Return of the Native
The date at which the following events are assumed to have occurred may be set
down as between 1840 and 1850, when the old watering place herein called
"Budmouth" still retained sufficient afterglow from its Georgian gaiety and
prestige to lend it an absorbing attractiveness to the romantic and imaginative
soul of a lonely dweller inland.
Under the general name of "Egdon Heath," which has been given to the sombre
scene of the story, are united or typified heaths of various real names, to the
number of at least a dozen; these being virtually one in character and aspect,
though their original unity, or partial unity, is now somewhat disguised by
intrusive strips and slices brought under the plough with varying degrees of
success, or planted to woodland.
It is pleasant to dream that some spot in the extensive tract whose southwestern
quarter is here described, may be the heath of that traditionary King of Wessex--
"To sorrow I bade good morrow,
And thought to leave her far away behind;
But cheerly, cheerly, She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind.
I would deceive her, And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind."