With a first sentence like
On the 20th of August, 1672, the city of the Hague, always so lively, so neat, and so trim, that one might believe every day to be Sunday; with its shady park, with its tall trees, spreading over its Gothic houses; with its canals like large mirrors, in which its steeples and its almost Eastern cupolas are reflected; the city of the Hague, the capital of the seven United Provinces, was swelling in all its arteries with a black and red stream of hurried, panting, and restless citizens, who, with their knives in their girdles, muskets on their shoulders, or sticks in their hands, were pushing on to the Buitenhof, a terrible prison, the grated windows of which are still shown, where, on the charge of attempted murder, preferred against him by the surgeon Tyckelaer, Cornelius De Witte, the brother of the Grand Pensionary of Holland, was confined.
one wonders why Bulwer-Lytton's much shorter
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
comes in for quite so much singular derision.