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EMBOLDENED by the kindness with which this book has been received, I venture to risk a few words of introduction to this new edition. The generous reception by the Press of a somewhat hazardous venture cannot be too specially or too warmly acknowledged by me.

The book is an attempt at a species of literature which I think has not hitherto had justice done to it, but which I believe to be capable of great things,-I mean Philosophical Romance. There will at once occur to the reader's mind numerous works of fiction of the highest talent, where philosophical ideas have been introduced with surpassing effect. By Nathaniel Hawthorne this art was carried to such perfection that it is only with difficulty that we perceive how absolutely every character, nay, every word and line, is subordinated to the philosophical idea of the book. There is another kind of philosophical romance, however, which allows the introduction of much which cannot find place in such a work of pure art. William Smith's Thorndale may be taken as in some sense indicating what I mean-books where fiction is used expressly for the purpose of introducing Philosophy. In such books, where philosophy is put first and fiction only second, it is evidently permissible to introduce much, and to introduce it in a way, which could not be tolerated in pure fiction. There have been works of the same character, where a small amount of fiction has been introduced, simply for the purpose of relating History. The reason, I conceive, of the comparative failure of these books has been that the philosophy has so far outweighed

the romance, just as in historical fiction, as a rule, the opposite error has prevailed, romance so far outweighing history. As in the latter case I believe that all that is wanted to constitute an historical romance of the highest interest is the recovery of the detailed incidents of everyday life, and the awakening of the individual need and striving, long since quiet in the grave; so, in books where fiction is only used to introduce philosophy, I believe that it is not to be expected that human life is to be described simply as such. The characters are, so to speak, sublimated: they are only introduced for a set purpose, and having fulfilled this purpose-were it only to speak a dozen words-they vanish from the stage. Nor is this so unlike real life as may at first appear. Human life, as revealed to most of us, does not group itself in stage effect, does not arrange itself in elaborate plot; and brilliant dialogue declares the glory of the author more frequently than it increases reality of effect. If Fiction, therefore, is allowed to select and to condense from life, surely Philosophy may do so too. If we may view life from an artistic, or dramatic, or picturesque standpoint, using such incidents and characters only as meet one or other of these requirements, surely we may select incidents and characters with a philosophic intent. If we fail in combining real life and philosophy with sufficient vraisemblance, the failure be upon our own head: the attempt is not on that account declared impossible or undesirable. To compare such a book with the most successful efforts of the greatest masters of modern fiction, where everything is sacrificed to sparkling dialogue, to picturesque effect, to startling plot, is to aim beside the mark. Everything which these great masters have so successfully accomplished, it was, fortunately for me, my business carefully to avoid.

I have spoken of Romance as subordinate, but I should be sorry to be so misunderstood as to be supposed to undervalue this wonderful exertion of the imaginative faculty. In this prosaic age the patient toilers among the obscure details of scientific research need no apology. They and their followers

preen and plume themselves, amid general applause, on their aristocratic standpoint, amid a general plebeian throng, thirsting for something of human interest, and colour, and life. This democratic rabble know by their own experience that it is only when these dry details are touched by the enchanter's wand that they strike them with any sense of reality, any likeness to beings of their own lineage-that these dry bones assume any appearance of life, any attribute of love, or pity, or even of hate. It will be the same with Philosophy. For centuries the people have utterly refused to recognize metaphysic as anything but a worthless jargon. Let us condescend to this simple, touching art taught us by the Provençal singers. Let us try to catch something of the skill of the great masters of Romance, of Cervantes and Le Sage, of Goethe and Jean Paul, and let us unite to it the most serious thoughts and speculations which have stirred mankind. If James Hinton had thrown the Mystery of Pain into the form of story, do you not think that for one sorrowful home which has been lightened by his singular genius, there would have been hundreds that in place of one sorrowing heart to which his message has brought peace and salvation, he might have reckoned thousands?

"But," you say, "it is only a Romance."

True. It is only human life in the "highways and hedges," and in "the streets and lanes of the city," with the ceaseless throbbing of its quivering heart; it is only daily life from the workshop, from the court, from the market, and from the stage; it is only kindliness and neighbourhood and child-life, and the fresh wind of heaven, and the waste of sea and forest, and the sunbreak upon the stainless peaks, and contempt of wrong and pain and death, and the passionate yearning for the face of God, and woman's tears, and woman's self-sacrifice and devotion, and woman's love. Yes, it is only a Romance. It is only the ivory gates falling back at the fairy touch. It is only the leaden sky breaking for a moment above the bowed and weary head, revealing the fathomless Infinite through the gloom. It is only a Romance.

It is a sad fall, doubtless, from such heights as theseheights, however, which none who remember a long roll of names, some of them most happily still with us, can think of as unapproachable-to the book which lies before us. Nevertheless this may be said for it, that it is an attempt, and an honest one, to blend together these three in one philosophy-the memory of the dead-the life of thought-the life of each one of us alone. Amid the tangled web of a life's story I have endeavoured to trace some distinct threads-the conflict between Culture and Fanaticism-the analysis and character of Sinthe subjective influence of the Christian Mythos.1 I have ventured to depict the Cavalier as not invariably a drunken brute, and spiritual life and growth as not exclusively the possession of Puritans and Ascetics. I feel the responsibility of introducing real historical characters and orders of men into a work of this kind. My general defence must be that I have written nothing which I should not equally have set down in an historical or a controversial work.


October 18, 1881.

J. H. S.

1 Mythos. Eternal Truth manifested in Phenomena.

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