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virum rerum novarum cupidum secutura : et fere, si quid in ætate nostra eximium gignatur, non nobis sed posteritati nostræ potius erit commodo. Qui enim propheta unquam ab æqualibus auditus est ? Num Cassandræ apud Homerum Trojanæ, num Judæis illis prophetis credebatur? Haud secus Socrates, quasi Sisyphæo labore intentus, nihil in vità sua pro fide patriâ perfecisse ipse sibi videretur. Cogitationes illas humanis pænè altiores, sublimem illum Divini Numinis amorem, amici cum viro moribundo simul emori putaverunt. Immo tamen plurimos ad bona indaganda exciverat, et quanquam, duci ipsi veritate non satis apertâ, discipuli quoque erroris aliquantulum rectis commiscebant, amor tamen virtutis, qui a Socrate primo emanârat, nunquam in Græciâ usque ad Christi tempus funditus periit. Oculis amicorum subtractus Deo vixit Socrates : idem verbis extremis, quæ coram judicibus et coram amicis edidit, clarissime testatus Deos patrios haud contemnere, et simul Divinum aliquid, cæteris hominibus ignotum, in suo pectore per vitam fovisse. Moribundus enim amicum 18 Critonem allocutus, “mi Crito," inquit,“ Æsculapio debemus gallum; quod debitum ne,
, precor, neglexeris.” Judicioque discessurus injustam illam condemnavit pænam sinceramque religionem in lucem protulit 19 his dictis, “Tempus est jam hinc abire, me, ut moriar; vos, ut vitam agatis. Utrum autem sit melius, omnibus incertum nisi Numini."
18 Platonis Crito, 118. 19 Platonis Apologia, 33.
WORKS OF FICTION.
“Do you hear? let them be well-used: for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time.
To show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure."-SHAKSPERE, HAMLET.
SOME seventy or eighty years ago a man desirous of satirizing or commending the manners of his time, would have received but one piece of advice. “Write a play,” Johnson would have said, “and you are a made man at once"; 56 write a play,” Garrick would have echoed," and I'll carry it through.” And the play having been written, the public, great in theatrical matters, would have hissed it off the stage or made the author a happy man, at the close of the first act. But since that day theatres have well nigh given up all connection with the drama, and the public has learnt to seek amusement rather by the quiet fireside than before glaring footlights. And this change, tending perhaps to a better appreciation of some of our noblest works of genius, since we would rather think of Shakspere's plays as great poems, than as mere vehicles for scenery and decorations, has also given a wonderful impetus to novel-writing and novelreading
Novels have become, as one of their most voluminous authors tells us, a necessity of the time.” We watch for their appearance, talk about them, and criticize them, as such necessities. They are advertised in the columns of our newspapers, they flutter their leaves about us in railway carriages, another necessity of the time, they are on our tables, on our
shelves, and in our hands. They are so numerous and so various in their kinds, that it is very hard to say what a novel is, or in what definition we can include its manifold varieties. Not long ago it would have been easy to describe a novel as a tale, containing the adventures of some very remarkable man, who, being the hero, encounters perils of every shape and kind, but, as he is absolutely incapable of committing a single fault, at length succeeds in overcoming all obstacles and marrying the heroine, whom he rescued from fire or banditti in the first volume, and from drowning in the second. But now we have novels put into our hands, which profess to have no hero at all, or we are told not to expect a love-story,
because there is no heroine for any one to marry. Then again if we affirm that a novel is any story written solely for amusement, we have merely to glance over Mudie's catalogue and we find ourselves wrong again. For we meet with lists of books which might be called almost educational, and yet profess to be novels, books written to condemn or uphold certain theories, or to spread various opinions, religious, moral, and social, and all coming under the head of novels. There are books written by benevolent ladies, to inculcate this or that virtue, and warn from this or that vice.
There are historical novels, full of stirring scenes of camp and field, or pourtraying the lives of great statesmen and great generals. There are political novels, in which the battles of the House of Commons are fought over again, by eloquent orators over a bottle of port. There are military novels, in which brokenhearted lovers ride to a welcome death at the head of a regiment of light dragoons; and naval novels, in which all the midshipmen are embryo Nelsons; and religious novels, written to uphold the principles of various parties in the Church, or out of it. And there are novels too, which seem to have no object whatever, or if their object was to amuse, signally fail, being neither merry, tragical, interesting, or brief.