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‘ [259] fortunes honestly bred’ Mr. Masson forthwith breaks forth in a paroxysm of what we suppose to be picturesqueness in this wise: ‘What have we here? Surely nothing less, if we choose so to construe it, than a marriage advertisement! Ho, all ye virgins of England (widows need not apply), here is an opportunity such as seldom occurs: a bachelor, unattached; age, thirty-three years and three or four months; height [Milton, by the way, would have said highth] middle or a little less; personal appearance unusually handsome, with fair complexion and light auburn hair; circumstances independent; tastes intellectual and decidedly musical; principles Root-and-Branch! Was there already any young maiden in whose bosom, had such an advertisement come in her way, it would have raised a conscious flutter? If so, did she live near Oxford?’ If there is anything worse than an unimaginative man trying to write imaginatively, it is a heavy man when he fancies he is being facetious. He tramples out the last spark of cheerfulness with the broad damp foot of a hippopotamus.

I am no advocate of what is called the dignity of history, when it means, as it too often does, that dulness has a right of sanctuary in gravity. Too well do I recall the sorrows of my youth, when I was shipped in search of knowledge on the long Johnsonian swell of the last century, favorable to anything but the calm digestion of historic truth. I had even then an uneasy suspicion, which has ripened into certainty, that thoughts were never draped in long skirts like babies, if they were strong enough to go alone. But surely there should be such a thing as good taste, above all a sense of self-respect, in the historian himself, that should not allow him to play any tricks with the dignity of his subject. A halo of sacredness has hitherto invested the

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