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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 350 pages of information about Basil.
itself as offensively as it pleased, without troubling myself to protest against an expression of opinion which aroused in me no other feeling than a feeling of contempt.  I knew that “Basil” had nothing to fear from pure-minded readers; and I left these pages to stand or fall on such merits as they possessed.  Slowly and surely, my story forced its way through all adverse criticism, to a place in the public favour which it has never lost since.  Some of the most valued friends I now possess, were made for me by “Basil.”  Some of the most gratifying recognitions of my labours which I have received, from readers personally strangers to me, have been recognitions of the purity of this story, from the first page to the last.  All the indulgence I need now ask for “Basil,” is indulgence for literary defects, which are the result of inexperience; which no correction can wholly remove; and which no one sees more plainly, after a lapse of ten years, than the writer himself.

I have only to add, that the present edition of this book is the first which has had the benefit of my careful revision.  While the incidents of the story remain exactly what they were, the language in which they are told has been, I hope, in many cases greatly altered for the better.

WilkieCollins.

Harley Street, London, July, 1862.

Basil.

PART I.

I.

What am I now about to write?

The history of little more than the events of one year, out of the twenty-four years of my life.

Why do I undertake such an employment as this?

Perhaps, because I think that my narrative may do good; because I hope that, one day, it may be put to some warning use.  I am now about to relate the story of an error, innocent in its beginning, guilty in its progress, fatal in its results; and I would fain hope that my plain and true record will show that this error was not committed altogether without excuse.  When these pages are found after my death, they will perhaps be calmly read and gently judged, as relics solemnized by the atoning shadows of the grave.  Then, the hard sentence against me may be repented of; the children of the next generation of our house may be taught to speak charitably of my memory, and may often, of their own accord, think of me kindly in the thoughtful watches of the night.

Prompted by these motives, and by others which I feel, but cannot analyse, I now begin my self-imposed occupation.  Hidden amid the far hills of the far West of England, surrounded only by the few simple inhabitants of a fishing hamlet on the Cornish coast, there is little fear that my attention will be distracted from my task; and as little chance that any indolence on my part will delay its speedy accomplishment.  I live under a threat of impending hostility, which may descend and overwhelm me, I know not how soon, or in what manner.  An enemy, determined and deadly, patient alike to wait days or years for his opportunity, is ever lurking after me in the dark.  In entering on my new employment, I cannot say of my time, that it may be mine for another hour; of my life, that it may last till evening.

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