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The following chapters were originally delivered as public lectures at Johns Hopkins University, in the winter and spring of 1881. Had Mr. Lanier lived to prepare them for the press, he would probably have recast them to some extent; but the present editor has not felt free to make any changes from the original manuscript, , beyond the omission of a few local and occasional allusions, and the curtailment of several long extracts from well-known writers.
Although each is complete in itself, this work and its foregoer, The Science of English Verse, were intended to be parts of a comprehensive philosophy of formal and substantial beauty in literature, which, unhappily, the author did not live to develop
W. H. B.
THE ENGLISH NOVEL
PRINCIPLE OF ITS DEVELOPMENT.
THE series of lectures which I last had the pleasure of delivering in this hall was devoted to the exposition of what is beyond doubt the most remarkable, the most persistent, the most wide-spread, and the most noble of all those methods of arranging words and ideas in definite relations, which have acquired currency among men-namely, the methods of verse, or Formal Poetry. That exposition began by reducing all possible phenomena of verse to terms of vibration; and having thus secured at once a solid physical basis for this science, and a precise nomenclature in which we could talk intelligibly upon this century-befogged subject, we advanced gradually from the most minute to the largest possible considerations upon the matter in hand.
Now, wishing that such courses as I might give here should preserve a certain coherence with each other, I have hoped that I could secure that end by successively treating The Great Forms of Modern Literature; and, Wishing further to gain whatever advantage of entertainment for you may lie in contrast and variety, I have thought that inasmuch as we have already studied Verse-Form in General, we might now profitably study some great Prose-Forms in Particular, and in still further contrast; that we might study that form not so much analytically-as: when we developed the Science of Farma! Poetry from a single physical principle—but
this time synthetically, from the point of view of literary 'årt rather than of literary science.
I am further led to this general plan by the consideration that so far as I know—but my reading in this direction is not wide, and I may be in error—there is no book extant in any language which gives a conspectus of all those well-marked and widely-varying literary forms which have differentiated themselves in the course of time, and of the curious and subtle needs of the modern civilized man which, under the stress of that imperious demand for expression which all men's emotions make, have respectively determined the modes of such expression to be in one case The Novel, in another The Sermon, in another The Newspaper Leader, in another The Scientific Essay, in another The Popular Magazine Article, in another The Semi-Scientific Lecture, and so on : each of these prose-forms, you observe, having its own limitations and fitnesses quite as well-defined as the Sonnet-Form, the Ballad-Form, the Drama-Form, and the like in verse.
And, with this general plan, a great number of considerations which I hope will satisfactorily emerge as we go on, lead me irresistibly to select the Novel as the particular prose-form for our study.
It happens, indeed, that over and above the purely literary interest which would easily give this form the first place in such a series as the present, the question of the Novel has just at this time become one of the most