Meredith's Dededication of Lucile to his Father
TO MY FATHER.
I dedicate to you a work, which is submitted to the public with a diffidence and hesitation proportioned to the novelty of the effort it represents. For in this poem I have abandoned those forms of verse with which I had most familiarized my thoughts, and have endeavored to follow a path on which I could discover no footprints before me, either to guide or to warn.
There is a moment of profound discouragement which succeeds to prolonged effort; when, the labor which has become a habit having ceased, we miss the sustaining sense of its companionship, and stand, with a feeling of strangeness and embarrassment, before the abrupt and naked result. As regards myself, in the present instance, the force of all such sensations is increased by the circumstances to which I have referred. And in this moment of discouragement and doubt, my heart instinctively turns to you, from whom it has so often sought, from whom it has never failed to receive, support.
I do not inscribe to you this book because it contains anything that is worthy of the beloved and honored name with which I thus seek to associate it; nor yet because I would avail myself of a vulgar pretext to display in public an affection that is best honored by the silence which it renders sacred. Feelings only such as those with which, in days when there existed for me no critic less gentle than yourself, I brought to you my childish manuscripts; feelings only such as those which have, in later years, associated with your heart all that has moved or occupied my own, -- lead me once more to seek assurance from the grasp of that hand which has hitherto been my guide and comfort through the life I owe to you.
And as in childhood, when existence had no toil beyond the day's simple lesson, no ambition beyond the neighboring approval of the night, I brought to you the morning's task for the evening's sanction, so now I bring to you this self-appointed taskwork of maturer years; less confident indeed of your approval, but not less confident of your love; and anxious only to realize your presence between myself and the public, and to mingle with those severer voices to whose final sentence I submit my work the beloved and gracious accents of your own.
All early editions, and the great majority of later editions, include this dedication, typically printed on the recto and verso of the leaf following the titlepage.
The titlepages of all the early, and most later, editions of Lucile bear an epitaph from Shakespeare:
"Why, let the stricken dear go weep, The hart ungalled play; For some must watch, while some must sleep: Thus runs the world away." -- Hamlet (Act Three, Scene Two, Line 270).
Last revised: 10 January 2010