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[160] her brother, after they had discussed too heedlessly at an inn the question whether they should slay the Prince Mazare by poison or the sword. And what high-sounding moralities! what heroic platitudes! “For if the difficulties be great, according to Vincentio's opinion, your courage is yet greater. Let us grant him that the enterprise is dangerous and difficult; in what history, ancient or modern, hath it been found that the way which conducteth to glory is covered wit flowers, and that an illustrious action hath been executed without pain?”

A hundred years later women touched the novel of plot and adventure with a bolder grasp, and Mrs. Radcliffe's romances seemed the joint offspring of “big bow — wow” and nightmare parentage. But they too moved with sweep and power; she was strong in description and invention ; she bridged the interval between the medieval and modern novel, and painted landscape so well that even Byron sometimes borrowed from her. The minute study of character she left, unattempted, for Jane Austen to take up. It is plain that women novelists, like men, incline sometimes to one branch of the art, sometimes to another; and that the accident of personal preference or the fashion of the period has more to do with the decision than any tendency growing out of sex.

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