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I soon received an answer, the result of which was that I went, on Lewes's invitation, to the Priory, North Bank, Regent's Park, and met my friend and his partner, better known as "George Eliot." But, as the novelists say, I am anticipating.

Of all nineteenth century novelists he leads for intellectual stimulation. With fifty faults of manner and matter, irritating, even outrageous in his eccentricities, he can at his best startle with a brilliance that is alone of its kind. It is because we hail him as philosopher, wit and poet that he fails comparatively as artist.

It did not hold very long, even with the novelists; for the English taste this esotericism was too exotic. Somebody suggested that the old table-turning and spirit-rapping, which had homely associations, might be re-considered in a scientific light, and the idea was seized upon. Superstition pranked in the professor's spectacles, it set up a laboratory, and printed grave reports.

The rapidity with which the novel became domiciled among us, and the short space of time within which the principal masterpieces of the novelists were produced, are not more remarkable than the lassitude which fell upon English fiction as soon as the first great generation had passed away.

The problem of the novelist of contemporary life for whom ordinary people are more intensely real than the few magnificent personalities is how to portray ordinary people in such a way that they will become better company than they are in life. Tchehov, I think, solves the problem better than any of the other novelists.

Sir Edwin Arnold's method of dishing up Jesus Christ is certainly artful. It does credit to his Daily Telegraph training. Everybody knows that one of the chief difficulties of novelists is to make their wonderful heroes act and talk. Sir Edwin does not jump this difficulty. He shirks it. He takes up the story of Jesus after his death, resurrection, and ascension.

I hold much more immoral other books which, under a glamour of something spiritual and beautiful and sublime, portray the vices in which we are allied to the beasts. Such, for example, are the works of Octave Feuillet, Arsene Houssaye, Georges Ohnet, and other contemporary novelists much in vogue among the higher classes of society."

I took down the book from a dusty old crypt at a club, where Mrs. Barbauld's novelists repose: and this is the kind of thing, ladies and gentlemen, in which your ancestors found pleasure: "And here, whilst I was looking for the books, I was followed by Lord Orville. He shut the door after he came in, and, approaching me with a look of anxiety, said, 'Is this true, Miss Anville are you going?

Studies of prose-fiction are getting themselves written, none of them more illuminative than Professor Bliss Perry's. The novelists themselves are writing about the art of fiction, as Sir Walter Besant did, and they are asking what the novel is, as Mr. Marion Crawford has done.

In calling Cooper the greatest of American novelists, we have not incurred much risk of contradiction. Others may rival some surpass him in this or that province of the art of fiction; but as a master of the art in its broad aspect, he is facile princeps.