art of depicting nature as it is seem by toads. The charm suffusing
a landscape painted by a mole, or a story written by a measuring-worm.
dream of a mad philosopher. That which would remain in the cupel
if one should assay a phantom. The nucleus of a vacuum.
that owes no allegiance to the God of Things as They Are. In the
novel the writer's thought is tethered to probability, as a domestic
horse to the hitching-post, but in romance it ranges at will over
the entire region of the imagination -- free, lawless, immune to
bit and rein. Your novelist is a poor creature, as Carlyle might
say -- a mere reporter. He may invent his characters and plot, but
he must not imagine anything taking place that might not occur,
albeit his entire narrative is candidly a lie. Why he imposes this
hard condition on himself, and "drags at each remove a lengthening
chain" of his own forging he can explain in ten thick volumes
without illuminating by so much as a candle's ray the black profound
of his own ignorance of the matter. There are great novels, for
great writers have "laid waste their powers" to write
them, but it remains true that far and away the most fascinating
fiction that we have is "The Thousand and One Nights."