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system of the naturalist, the word novel

is a generical term ; of which romances, histories, 'memoirs, letters, tales,' lives, and adventures, are the species. And these again have their appropriate characters; and are either merry, mournful,

or of a mixed kind.

Of these, all, except the romance,

profess to be resemblances of truth : that is to say, representations of manners and persons actually living, or who have lived on this our planet. And their object, when they happen to have one, is, or should be, to teach us, by virtuous and vicious examples, what we ought to follow, and what to


With regard to such productions as are termed romances, it can hardly be expected that I should do more than their authors, and discover a design of instructing the reader where no such design is to be found: of these truly enormous performances, therefore, I shall say little or nothing; but proceed to consider the nature of the novel, properly. so called: wishing it, however,

to be understood that there are some

volumes passing under that name which are in most points unexceptionable,

and of which I shall take notice before I


The writer and the reader of an or

dinary novel seem to have entered into a mutual agreement as to the quality of the ingredients used in its composition: the chief of which is, a: display of the passion of love, not only in all its ra: rieties and all its virulence, but set forth with a strength of colouring rather more

than natural.

Both parties appear to have adopted for their motto, and in a literal sense omnia vincit Amor: and not confining the triunphs of this potent deity to the human heart, which is, by courtesy, sup

posed his lawful field of battle, have extended his power to the human head also; and decency, reason, and grammatical accuracy, fall unlamented before him. The author of the novel feels

no compunction, nor his reader


disgust; the former acquires money, and the latter finds amusement: and so far

there is not any great mischief done. Nor, indeed, if matters rested there, should I think it necessary to enlarge further upon this topic: for had novels produced nothing in civilised life except a dinner to the writer, and a harmless expedient for killing time to the reader, though I might have joined with the one in laughing at the other, I should have done no more. But, conscious as

I am that books of the kind have a vast

influence on the morals and manners of

society, and an influence the most pernicious, I consider it my duty as a good citizen openly to assert the fact, and to use my best endeavours to prove it.

This part of my design cannot, perhaps, be more effectually executed than by giving a general description of those persons by whom novels are usually read; followed by a conjecture of some

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