THE ELIZABETHAN NOVELLA
THE Elizabethan novella, which flourished throughout the reign of the great queen, and kept its popularity well into the next century, was the result of the influences discussed in the last chapter. But there entered into the compound a native originality to be expected in narrative issuing from the brains of some of the quaintest, most fantastic, and most brilliant men in the history of the race. Their fiction was like the mixture of fashions from all over Europe which made up the Elizabethan's dress. And yet, as with his clothes, so with his story, no matter how foreign were the elements, an English mind had arranged them to suit itself. The effect of the English temperament upon the short story which the renaissance provided is not only interesting, it is also highly significant for the student of literary history.
As might be expected, this Tudor short story is first of all an oddity in fiction, as much so, indeed, as the strange beasts of the Euphuists in natural history. It begins, as a rule, with a moral reflection leading on to the plot. The idle and courtly hero sees the heroine in church or garden, and promptly delivers over all his faculties to love. He writes a lengthy letter of declaration, is answered in one