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OF THE

TALFOURD'S MISCELLANIES.

UNIVERSITY

CALIFORNIA
ON BRITISH NOVELS AND ROMANCES, INTRODUCTORY TO A

SERIES OF CRITICISMS ON THE LIVING NOVELISTS.

(NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.]

We regard the authors of the best novels fair and glistening eyes in moments snatched
and romances as among the truest benefactors from repose, and beneath counters and shop-
of their species. Their works have often con. boards minister delights “secret, sweet, and
veyed, in the most attractive form, lessons of precious." It is possible that, in particular
the most genial wisdom. But we do not prize instances, their effects may be baneful; but, on
them so much in reference to their immediate the whole, we are persuaded they are good.
aim, or any individual traits of nobleness with The world is not in danger of becoming too
which they may inform the thoughts, as for romantic. The golden threads of poesy are not
their general tendency to break up that cold 100 thickly or too closely interwoven with the
and debasing selfishness with which the souls ordinary web of existence. Sympathy is the
of so large a portion of mankind are encrusted. first great lesson which man should learn. It
They give to a vast class, who by no means will be ill for him if he proceeds no farther; if
would be carried beyond the most contracted his emotions are but excited to roll back on his
range of emotion, an interest in things out of heart, and to be fostered in luxurious quiet.
themselves, and a perception of grandeur and But unless he learns to feel for things in which
of beauty, of which otherwise they might ever he has no personal interest, he can achieve
have lived unconscious. Pity for fictitious suf- nothing generous or poble. This lesson is in
ferings is, indeed, very inferior to that sympa- reality the universal moral of all excellent ro-
thy with the universal heart of man which mances. How mistaken are those miserable
inspires real self-sacrifice; but it is better even reasoners who object to them as giving “false
to be moved by its tenderness, than wholly to be pictures of life-of purity too glossy and ethe-
ignorant of the joy of natural tears. How real-of friendship too deep and confiding-of
many are there for whom poesy has no charm, love which does not shrink at the approach of
and who have derived only from romances ill, but looks on tempests and is never shaken,"
those glimpses. of disinterested heroism and because with these the world too rarely blos-
ideal beauty, which alone "make them less for soms! Were these things visionary and un-
lorn,” in their busy career! The good house- real, who would break the spell, and bid the de-
wife, who is employed all her life in the seve-licious enchantment vanish? The soul will
rest drudgery, has yet some glimmerings of a not be the worse for thinking too well of its
state and dignity above her station and age, kind, or believing that the highest excellence
and some dim vision of meek, angelic saffer- is within the reach of its exertions. But these
ing, when she thinks of the well-thumbed vo- things are not unreal; they are shadows, in-
lume of Clarissa Harlowe, which she found, deed, in themselves; but they are shadows cast
when a girl, in some old recess, and read, with from objects stately and eternal. Man can
breathless eagerness, at stolen times and mo- never imagine that which has no foundation in
ments of hasty joy. The careworn lawyer or his nature. The virtues he conceives are not
politician, encircled with all kinds of petty the mere pageantry of his thought. We feel
anxieties, thinks of the Arabian Nights Enter- their truth-not their historic or individual
tainments, which he devoured in his joyful truth-but their universal truth, as reflexes of
school-days, and is once more young, and in- human energy and power. It would be enough
nocent, and happy. If the sternest puritan were for us to prove that the imaginative glories
acquainted with Parson Adams, or with Dr. which are shed around our being, are far
Primrose, he could not hate the clergy. If brighter than "the light of common day," which
novels are not the deepest teachers of hu- mere vulgar experience in the course of the
manity, they have, at least, the widest range. world diffuses. But, in truth, that radiance is
They lend to genius "lighter wings to fly.” not merely of the fancy, nor are its influences
They are read where Milion and Shakspeare lost when it ceases immediately to shine on
are only talked of, and where even their names our path. It is holy and prophetic. The best
are never heard. They nestle gently beneath joys of childhood—its boundless aspiratious
the covers of unconscious sofas, are read by and gorgeous dreams, are the sure indications

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