Une poignee de mains,
The concern of this preface is with the mistake that was made when ’The Lake’ was excluded from the volume entitled ‘The Untilled Field,’ reducing it to too slight dimensions, for bulk counts; and ‘The Lake,’ too, in being published in a separate volume lost a great deal in range and power, and criticism was baffled by the division of stories written at the same time and coming out of the same happy inspiration, one that could hardly fail to beget stories in the mind of anybody prone to narrative—the return of a man to his native land, to its people, to memories hidden for years, forgotten, but which rose suddenly out of the darkness, like water out of the earth when a spring is tapped.
Some chance words passing between John Eglinton and me as we returned home one evening from Professor Dowden’s were enough. He spoke, or I spoke, of a volume of Irish stories; Tourgueniev’s name was mentioned, and next morning—if not the next morning, certainly not later than a few mornings after—I was writing ‘Homesickness,’ while the story of ‘The Exile’ was taking shape in my mind. ‘The Exile’ was followed by a series of four stories, a sort of village odyssey. ‘A Letter to Rome’ is as good as these and as typical of my country. ‘So on He Fares’ is the one that, perhaps, out of the whole volume I like the best, always excepting ‘The Lake,’ which, alas, was not included, but which belongs so strictly to the aforesaid stories that my memory includes it in the volume.