THE EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURY
ACCORDING to the Scotch story, the best sermon is not more than twenty minutes long. When Mrs. Hannah More expanded the moral narrative to many pages, she broke the rule, and was supported by the flare-up of English virtue against the atheism and profligacy of the conquering French. But in the magazines, miscellanies, and collections of the English generation contemporary with the Napoleonic period, morality is no longer so completely fashionable. Current short stories usually leave out the sermon altogether, and the frequent advertisements of "moral tales for children" indicate that Johnsonian narrative had been handed down to girls and boys.
This is not surprising, for, in the last decades of the eighteenth century, England had been purged, mentally and socially, by strong draughts of French ideas, and literature was turbulent with romanticism. Thus, at the beginning of the new era, there was more to think of than manners and morals. Novel writers were experimenting in every direction. There was the political, social, or educational novel of Godwin and his group, the Gothic romance, the historical novel, the novel of