This work is called a “romance,” because the incidents, characters, time, and scenery, are alike romantic. And in shaping this old tale, the Writer neither dares, nor desires, to claim for it the dignity or cumber it with the difficulty of an historic novel.
And yet he thinks that the outlines are filled in more carefully, and the situations (however simple) more warmly coloured and quickened, than a reader would expect to find in what is called a “legend.”
And he knows that any son of Exmoor, chancing on this volume, cannot fail to bring to mind the nurse-tales of his childhood — the savage deeds of the outlaw Doones in the depth of Bagworthy Forest, the beauty of the hapless maid brought up in the midst of them, the plain John Ridd’s Herculean power, and (memory’s too congenial food) the exploits of Tom Faggus.
Few things have surprised me more, and nothing has more pleased me, than the great success of this simple tale.
For truly it is a grand success to win the attention and kind regard, not of the general public only, but also of those who are at home with the scenery, people, life, and language, wherein a native cannot always satisfy the natives.
Therefore any son of Devon may imagine, and will not grudge, the Writer’s delight at hearing from a recent visitor to the west that ‘“Lorna Doone,’ to a Devonshire man, is as good as clotted cream, almost!”
Although not half so good as that, it has entered many a tranquil, happy, pure, and hospitable home, and the author, while deeply grateful for this genial reception, ascribes it partly to the fact that his story contains no word or thought disloyal to its birthright in the fairest county of England.