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ne other historical novelist there is belonging to our period who cannot be passed over without a word. The name of G. P. R. James is almost a proverb, on account of the productiveness and wideness of range of his muse, and, the extraordinary sameness of the results. Whether the long years of exile in his Italian consulship might have been spent more profitably if he had written less and planned more, is a matter of question with some; but it is almost impossible not to believe that in, such a case, if we had lost in quantity we should have gained in quality.

The inevitable wayfarer, riding through night and wind to the roadside inn where he is fated to meet the conspirators in whose schemes he becomes entangled, might have disappeared occasionally; and we should scarcely have had so many books in which a mixture of badly assimilated memoirs of the period, unnecessary dialogue, and moral reflections, masquerades as a novel. To begin a chapter in the middle of a story with a sentence such as this, "The fate that hangs over the death-doomed race of men appals us not," and to continue in a like strain for four pages, without reference to the thread of the plot, is a not uncommon fault which it is very hard to forgive. [648]

Related Material on Early Victorian Historical Novels


“Early Victorian Fiction.” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. 148 (October 1890): 441-55. Hathi Trust Digital Library online version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 15 September 2020.

Last modified 15 September 2020