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USES OF FICTION.

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dialogues or addresses, except such as were actually uttered.

132. Fiction.-Works of fiction have a peculiar character. The larger number of the books now published are fictitious, and the larger part of the reading is of fiction. The word scarcely needs explanation. Works in the form of narration, of memoirs, biogra phies, travels or histories, not presenting facts, but the imaginations of the authors, are Fiction. From the earliest times such productions have been common.

Historical fictions are those in which characters that really lived are introduced as acting and speaking, and the author preserves just so much fidelity to fact as he pleases. Many of the novels of Walter Scott belong to this class.

Similar are the works of fiction which in the form of fancied travels or correspondence, describe places, customs, and religions, with more or less fidelity. "The Travels of Anacharsis" describe the ancient world and its customs. Bulwer's "Last days of Pompeii" professes to describe the customs of that city, and the volcanic eruption by which it was overwhelmed.

No wise man will depend upon works of fiction for his historical information. He will rather guard against allowing himself to be influenced in his historic beliefs by the representations of authors whose prime aim is to please and absorb the reader, rather than to present fact.

133. Fiction may convey Truth.-Fiction may be the vehicle of truth, but not largely of historic truth. It should rather aim to describe passion correctly, and

show its legitimate consequences. It may indeed range widely over the entire domain of science and opinion, so far as they can be illustrated in the action and conversation and experience of fancied person

ages.

134. Variety of Style appropriate to Fiction.-All the rules applying to Representative Writing apply to this branch of literature. Indeed there is room in it for the exercise of every possible variety of style. Though the most of works of fiction are transient in their character, yet many of them secure as permanent influence, perhaps, as those of any other department of literature. In later years, both the moral and the intellectual character of fiction have greatly improved. The "Vicar of Wakefield," "Robinson Crusoe," Johnson's "Rasselas," "Gulliver's Travels," will probably be remembered and read longer than any other productions by their respective authors. "Knickerbocker's History of New York," a burlesque production, may be remembered as long as any veritable history written by Washington Irving. The fictitious writings of Dickens have called attention to the wretchedness of the poor and ignorant in his native country, and led to efforts for their relief; while the writings of Thackeray have laid bare the follies and emptiness of a merely fashionable life more efficiently, perhaps, than either essays or sermons could have done. Cooper and Hawthorne have filled out much of what was lacking in history, to complete the picture of early American life. Fiction thus will always have a place in literature. It can not be re

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lied upon to elevate the tone of morals, or to enlarge the domains of exact thought. It seeks primarily to please, though secondarily it may profit. "Uncle Tom's Cabin," by Mrs. H. B. Stowe, has perhaps circulated more widely than any other book written in the first half of the nineteenth century, and contributed much to form opinion upon the nature of American slavery during the latest period of its existence.

No special rules farther than have already been given are needed upon this branch of literature.

CHAPTER XVII

POETRY.

135. Definition.-THE word poetry is used with so wide a latitude of meaning that few have attempted to define it accurately, and very diverse descriptions of it are given. It should be considered, first, with reference to its substance, and, second, with reference to its form.

Substantially, Poetry is thought produced by an excited imagination, and designed primarily to please.

This definition excludes narrative, the prime purpose of which is to relate facts; science, which explains the nature and causes of things; oratory, designed to enlighten and persuade, and all other merely didactic productions. Wit may or may not be a part of Poetry, but it has an empire of its own.

Shakspeare presents a vivid idea of Poetry when he says:

"The poet's eye in a fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;

And as imagination bodies forth

The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen

Turns them to shape, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name."

Another poet (Byron) has defined his own art thus:

"For what is poesy, but to create

From overfeeling, good or ill, and aim

MEANING OF POETRY.

At an external life, beyond our fate,

And be the new Prometheus of new men!
Bestowing fire from heaven, and then, too late
Finding the pleasure given repaid with pain ?"
"All they

Whose intellect is an o'ermastering power
Which still recoils from its encumbering clay
Or lightens it to spirit, whatsoe'er

The form which their creations may essay,
Are bards; the kindled marble's bust may wear

More poesy upon its speaking brow

Than aught less than the Homeric page may bear;

One noble stroke with the whole life may glow,

Or deify the canvas till it shine

With beauty so surpassing all below,

That they who kneel to idols so divine

Break no commandment, for high heaven is there
Transfused, transfigurated: and the line

Of poesy, which peoples but the air

With thoughts and beings of our thought reflected,
Can do no more."

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The object of the poet, in this sense of the word, is not to instruct, not to persuade, not simply to amuse, but to allow a man to enjoy the thoughts which well up in his own soul.

136. The more comprehensive Meaning of the term Poetry. Though this is the prime meaning of Poetry, it is not always used in so restricted a sense, for sometimes it embraces another object besides mere gratification, and therefore we have such divisions as didactic, patriotic, and religious poetry.

The poet is a maker or creator, as the word (from wow, to make) would signify. The imagination is ποιεω, the creative faculty. Taking the materials already existing in the mind, and gathered by observation or its own exercise, it constructs new fabrics, mental and

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