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two outrages appear to be an insertion by Tacitus, for the
later times arose from his conflict with Christianity. M. Hochert,
outweighed with the people the crimes of the actual Emperor.” This is true, but it is not the whole truth. A monarch whose grave the people long continued to decorate with flowers, and respect to whose memory was the best passport for years to popular favour, may well have been weak and vicious, but cannot possibly have been the incarnation of all atrocity. The whole history of the Caesars down to Constantine, and that of Nero above all, has been largely coloured by the extent to which it has been seen through the fiery medium of the Apocalypse.
Here then we must take our leave of Mr. Baring-Gould, to whose work, with all its defects, we are indebted for much that is both interesting and suggestive reading. We fully admit that the ordinary view of the early Empire is a sort of Walpurgisnacht, in which the reader is inclined to doubt whether he is mad or those of whom he reads. But the explanation of insanity, carelessly thrown out by De Quincey, and taken up more elaborately by Mr. Baring-Gould, is one of those easy explanations which really explain nothing. We have suggested that the truer course to take would have been to traverse the whole of the evidence carefully, from first to last, as has been done in the case of Tiberius, and we have roughly indicated the lines on which such a sisting of the evidence might proceed. The result in each case, we are confident, would be to display, under the thick coats of paint with which they are overlaid, the lineaments not of a spotless paragon of virtue, but of a human being with impulses both of good and evil, placed in a position of extreme temptation, instead of a monster of incongruous crimes. For, in spite of all the infamy that has been heaped upon the names of the early emperors, the fact stands firm that the revolution of Caesar was a blessing to the world in general; and the idea of Melito, recorded by Eusebius, that the Church and the Empire were born together, proved to be epoch-making, since it again brought into harmony with visible facts the belief in God's continual providence for mankind.
* Lettre à M. de Narbonne; Villemain, ‘Souvenirs Contemporains, i. 252.
Vol. 179.—No. 358. 2 M ART.
ART. XI.-1. The English Novel. By Walter Raleigh. Being a short Sketch of its History from the Earliest Times to the Appearance of “Waverley.’ London, 1894,
2. Aventures de Guerre au temps de la République et du Co. sulat. Par A. Moreau de Jonnés. Préface de M. Léon Say. Paris, Guillaumin et Cie., 1893.
N a former article * we endeavoured to trace rapidly the development of the Romance out of the earlier myths and fables, and of the Historic Novel out of the true Romance; and we undertook to suggest some of the causes which have brought about the decay in modern times of imaginative fiction founded upon history. Since that article appeared, Mr. Raleigh has pub. lished, under the title of “The English Novel, what he rightly terms a little book on a great subject, reviewing critically and historically the works of the chief English novelists before Scott, and sketching out “certain general lines of reasoning and speculation on the nature and development of the novel.' His survey covers, of course, far wider ground than could be touched upon in our article; yet whenever special points of views can be compared, they do not seem dissimilar; while Mr. Raleigh's breadth of treatment, the grouping and co-ordina. tion of his materials, and the literary skill with which he states his conclusions, are in our judgment highly meritorious. Mr. Raleigh very rightly goes back to mediaeval romance for the origins of English fiction. In all countries the metrical tale is many generations older than the prose story; for prose writing is a refinement of the literary art which flourishes only when reading has become popular; while verse, being at first a kind of memoria technica used for the correct transmission of sacred texts and the heroic tradition, strikes the ear and fixes the recollection of an audience. The exploits of mighty warriots and the miracles of saints—love, fighting, and theology—som the subject matter of these stories in verse. They are, as Mr. Raleigh says, epical in spirit though not in form: “they carry their hero through the actions and adventures of his life . . . they display a marked preference for deeds done, and attempt no character-drawing. . . . A sense of the instability of human life, very present to the minds of men familiar with battle and plague, is everywhere mirrored in these romances Then came Chaucer, who not only wrote prose tales, but also carried far toward perfection the art of narration in verse; and “in the fifteenth century both of the ancestors of the modern
* January, 1894. novel
novel—that is, the novella or short pithy story after the manner of the Italians, and the romance of chivalry—appear in an English prose dress.’ But the genius of English fiction was still loaded with the chains of allegory and pedantic moralization; and in the “Gesta Romanorum,' the most popular collection of English prose stories which had been translated from the Latin at the end of the fifteenth century, “human beings are mere puppets, inhabiting the great fabric of mediaeval thought and mediaeval institution. . . . It was the work of the Renaissance to recover the literal and obvious sense of human life, as it was the work of the closely-allied Reformation to recover the literal sense of the Bible.’ We are prevented, by want of space, from following Mr. Raleigh through his very interesting dissertation upon the changes of style and structure which the English romance underwent from the fifteenth century, when Caxton edited the Arthurian legends, through the Euphuistic vagaries and the grand Elizabethan period, down to the seventeenth century, when he detects the first certain indications of the rise of that new school of fiction which has expanded, after many vicissitudes, into the modern novel. The playwright has always been a formidable rival to the novelist, insomuch that in a period of dramatic activity the novel, as our author remarks, can hardly maintain itself. But from the middle of the seventeenth century the stage had fallen low, while the formal and fantastic romance, the long-winded involved story, was losing its vogue. So the heroic romances, we are told, ‘availed themselves skilfully of the opportunity to foster a new taste in the reading public,+a delight, namely, born of the fashionable leisure of a self-conscious society, in minute introspection, and the analysis and portraiture of emotional states.' We are inclined to suspect that these words, which would serve well enough to describe the taste for the analytic novel of our own day, must be taken with considerable reserve in their application to the writings and the readers of two centuries ago. But we may agree that certain tendencies of style and developments of feeling which are now predominant may be traced back to this time. And when, toward the end of the seventeenth century, Mrs. Aphra Behn began to enlist incidents of real life into the service of her fiction, she was making a distinct attempt, as Mr. Raleigh points out, to bring romance into closer relation with contemporary life, although a conventional treatment of facts and character still overlay all her work. Mr. Raleigh holds, however, that this attempt was abortive; that it failed at the time; and that the great eighteenth-century 2 M 2 school
school of English novelists, with Richardson and Fielding at