THE LATER EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
As the generation passed which had been in its prime when Anne was on the throne, the time came for Arthurian stories to receive more worthy treatment. Having steadily declined in favor for the last hundred years, they were now to grow in favor until in the nineteenth century they should hold as honorable a place as ever they held in the Middle Ages. This return of the legends to the high position which was their right came about with the growth of the romantic spirit in literature and the other fine arts.
Critics have found romanticism hard to define. We can form some idea of it only by saying that our literature in the first quarter of the nineteenth century was romantic as distinguished from that of the first quarter of the eighteenth century, which was classic, or rather pseudo-classic. A more exact definition is difficult because romanticism was made up of various elements, several of which especially deserve notice. In form, romanticism broke away from the precise verse and the artificial diction of Pope and his school. In mood, it substituted mystery, subjectivity, and individuality for reason, objectivity, and impersonality. And in matter, it extended its interest beyond contemporary society to nature and the society of former and rougher ages. Sometimes the various elements of