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Nor were the women of the 17th and 18th centuries the only readers of the old romances. Bishop Berkeley was much addicted to the study of the airy visions of romance,' and in that unsubstantial region learned to disbelieve in the existence of matter. Dr. Johnson was a man of sturdy common-sense. Yet, as Dr. Percy, the Bishop of Dromore, told Boswell, he was immoderately fond of reading romances of chivalry, and he retained his fondness for them throughout life.

Spending part of a summer (1764),' said his Lordship, at my parsonage house in the country, he chose for his regular reading the old Spanish romance of “ Felixmarte of Hircania," in folio, which he read right through.' So too in 1776 we find Johnson taking with him on a holiday jaunt Il Palmerino d'Inghilterra. It is less surprising that Burke was a great student of the old romances, especially • Palmerin of England' and Don Belianis of Greece.' No harder-headed North-countryman ever lived than Paley ; yet even he was not without a vein of romance in his composition. His first literary effort was a Poem in the manner of Ossian,a strange fact in the mental history of a man who never afterwards showed a spark of imagination.

The childhood of our older generation of poets was passed in the region of romance, In Goethe's days there were no socalled children's books.' He read the Orbis Pictus' of Commenius, Gothfried's • Chronicle,' adorned, like the Great Bible, with Merrian's prints, the · Acerra Philologica,' Ovid's . Metamorphoses,' Fénelon's · Télémaque,' Robinson Crusoe,' Anson's • Voyages, and, above all, the coarsely printed • Volksbücher,' by which for a few kreuzers children read the Eulen-Spiegel,' the · Four Sons of Aymon,' the fair · Melusina,' Emperor Octavian,' “the beautiful Magelone,' • Fortunatus,' and all their fascinating tribe. With such an education, it is no wonder that, as he walked on the bridge at Frankfort, with his eyes fixed on the sunlit vane of the bright weathercock, the story of Götz von Berlichingen laid its iron grasp upon his mind, or that the puppet-show of Faust hummed in his brain, even when he was a youthful student at Strasburg. To an imaginative child the perusal of books of romantic fiction is a never-forgotten event. Heine never forgot the May morning, when he stole away from his home to the Palace Gardens at Düsseldorf, placed himself on a mossy stone-seat in the so-called Avenue of Sighs, and delighted his small heart with the great adventures of the illustrious knight Don Quixote. It was in such an atmosphere that the minds of our own literary giants of the present century

were

were bred.

No one will wonder that Scott, lame and weak in his childhood, gathered stores of Border tales from his grandmother and his aunt Jenny, or, at the age of four, crumpled up in the window seat at Sandy Knowe, pored over Josephus's. Wars of the Jews,' and only quitted his book to vociferate the ballad of • Hardy-kanute’in the ears of Dr. Duncan; or under the planetree at Kelso made Percy's · Reliques' his own. Keats sighed for the days of Robin Hood. Shelley, feeding his imagination with tales of wonder and of mystery, tried his prentice hand on romances of the style of Zastrozzi.' Byron, hating mathematics and an indifferent penman, devoted himself at school to history and romance, and especially to the Arabian Nights.' Coleridge dreamed away his childhood in the society of Tom Hickathrist,' • Jack the Giant-Killer,' and the Seven Champions of Christendom.' Wordsworth, during his early days at school read all Fielding's works, · Don Quixote, Gil Blas,'

Gulliver's Travels,' and the · Tale of a Tub,' and in after years mourned for the favourites of his childhood

Oh give us once again the wishing cap.
Of Fortunatus, and the invisible coat
Of Jack the Giant-killer, Robin Hood,
And Sabra in the Forest with St. George.
The child whose love is here, at least does reap,
One precious good—that he forgets himself.'

Crabbe painted his hard realistic pictures with a wire brush. But it was to romance that he owed the cultivation of his poetic powers. It is an autobiographical touch when he describes, how Peter Perkin turned aside from the solid food of his father's library to his mother's little collection,

And there he found
Romance in sheets, and poetry unbound;
Soft tales of Love, which never damsel read
But tears of pity stain'd her virgin bed.
There were Jane Shore, and Rosamond the Fair,
And humble heroines, frail as these, were there;
There was a Tale of one forsaken Maid,
Who till her death the work of vengeance stay'd ;
Arabian Nights and Persian Tales were there,
One Volume each, and both the worse for wear;
There by Quarles's Emblems Æsop's Fables stood,
The coats in tatters and the cuts in wood,' &c.

Or to take one instance more. George Eliot's childhood was the seed-time of her imagination. The child, haunted by nightly terrors till her whole soul became one quivering dread, con

suming candles and eyesight over books to the dismay of her thrifty mother, was happy in her playground. The oldfashioned garden at Griff with its barns, cow-sheds and canal, was an ideal nursery for the novelist of middle-class rural life. But she was happy also in her library. She read Æsop's «Fables' with a curiously precocious relish for their humour. Defoe's History of the Devil,' the · Pilgrim's Progress,' and • Rasselas' were among her chosen companions. But the only true rival in her love for Lamb's · Ælia' was. Waverley.' The arrival of this book was the great event of her childhood. In 1827 it was lent to her elder sister, and returned before shethen but a child of eight-had finished it. But she set to work to write out the story as far as she had read it.

"The book and they must part, but, day by day,
In lines that thwart like portly spiders run,

They wrote the tale from Tully Veolan.' In the past history of the English nation fiction has played a conspicuous, and by no means ignoble, part. The old Romances not only upheld high ideals of qualities, the value of which infant civilization exaggerates, but also popularized gentle characteristics that ruder ages overlook. They had their affectations and absurdities. They were sometimes coarse, yet never impure,-animal, not prurient. On the whole they inspired enthusiasm for courage, honour, chastity, and courtesy. Their heroes were patterns of manly virtues, their heroines models of dignity and modesty. The lowest and most contemptible characters were not introduced into romance. The prisons and the stews were not ransacked for materials for medieval fiction. Can as much be said of modern novels ? Or, to make no invidious comparison with contemporary fiction, was the good influence of the 18th-century novels at all comparable with that of medieval romance? The words that Garrick puts into the mouth of Polly Honeycombe in his Epilogue to Colman's farce epitomized the effect of novels on the youthful minds of our great-grandmothers. A novel, cries Polly, “is the only thing to teach a girl life, and the way of the world, and elegant fancies, and love to the end of the chapter.' On this hint Garrick speaks :

• Till these dear books infus'd their soft ingredients,
Asham'd and fearful, I was all Obedience.
Then my good Father did not storm in vain,
I blush'd and cry'd—“I'll ne'er do so again”;
But now no bugbears can my spirit tame,
I've conquer'd Fear, and almost conquer'd Shame;

So

So much these Dear Instructors change and win us,
Without their light we ne'er should know what's in us;
Here we at once supply our childish wants-

Novels are Hotbeds for your forward Plants.' Consciously or unconsciously, our forefathers held that plain straightforward language purified immoral incidents of half their danger. Vice never moved through their pages with the mince and the simper of simulated virtue. Novels depend on the same breaches of the Decalogue. But modern purity demands that the laxity should be confined to the ideas, not communicated to the words. The darkest lights and shades must be filled in from the reader's own mind. Immorality is suggested to the fancy rather than exhibited to the eye. Flere, again, the advantage does not rest with the novel. Excessive reading of romances had its dangers. It often created false ideals, which were broken in real life. Yet is the mind the worse for such conceptions? Would Jane Welsh have been able to appreciate the sterling gifts of Thomas Carlyle, if she had formed no ideal standard by which to test him? There is comedy as well as tragedy in her early letters. No lover will Jane Welsh ever find like St. Preux, no husband like Wolmar. O Lord ! O Lord ! Where is the St. Preux ? Where is the Wolmar? Bess, I am in earnest. I shall never marry.' Ultimately Carlyle appears on the scene and is compared to St. Preux. • He has his talents, his vast and cultivated mind, his independence of soul, and his high-souled principles of honour. But then-Ah, these buts! St. Preux never kicked the fire-irons, nor made puddings in his tea-cup.'

ART.

ART. VII.—1. France as it is. By André Lebon and Paul

Pelet. London, 1888. 2. Murray's Handbook for Travellers in France, 17th Edition : Vol. I. 1886. Vol. II. 1890.

Vol. II. 1890. London. 3. Itinéraire Général de la France. Par Paul Joanne. Franche

Comté et Jura, 1888. Bourgogne et Morvan, 1889. Le

Nord, 1890. Gascogne et Languedoc, 1890. Paris. 4. Géographies des Départements de la France. Par Adolphe

Joanne. Paris, 1890. 5. North - Eastern France ; South - Eastern France ; South

Western France. By Augustus J. C. Hare. Three volumes.

London, 1890. 6. Days near Paris. By Augustus J. C. Hare. London,

1889. 7. La France Provinciale. Par René Millet. Paris, 1888. 8. French and English: a Comparison. By Philip Gilbert

Hamerton. London, 1889. 9. France and the Republic: a Record of things seen and learned

in the French Provinces during the Centennial Year 1889. By

William Henry Hurlbert. London, 1890. 10. The Roof, of France ; or the Causses of the Lozère. By M.

Betham-Edwards. London, 1889. 11. Our Home in Aveyron, with Studies of Peasant Life and

Customs in Aveyron and the Lot. By G. Christopher Davies and Mrs. Broughall. Edinburgh, 1890. T is a noticeable fact that, in these days of easy and swift I Islands are less well known to Englishmen than they were a couple of generations ago, in the era which preceded the development of railways in Europe. Even more recently than that period, a member of Parliament, who had spent the recess in studying American institutions at New York or Philadelphia was looked upon as a praiseworthy example of adventurous self-improvement. Nowadays, if a legislator rises in Committee on the Foreign Office vote to enlighten the House from his personal experiences of Portuguese aggression and German intrigue among the Equatorial lakes of Africa, his narrative is outdone by that of another, who has ascended the Karun River to checkmate the Muscovite in the heart of Persia, while a third will thrill the dwindling senate with wild stories of the seals in the Behring Sea, and of the midnight sun of Alaska. Nor is distant travel the exclusive privilege of our law-makers. The worthy mayor of a provincial borough is quite competent to lecture on a winter evening to the Athenæum of his native

town

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