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[140] it is said, ever dared paint the sunset as bright as it often is, so the most thrilling novelist understates the mystery and entanglement in the actual world around him. If he is cautious, he may well say, as the Duke of Wellington is said to have remarked when meditating his autobiography: ‘I should like to speak the truth; but if I do, I shall be torn in pieces.’ If our realists would say frankly: ‘We should like to draw plots such as we have actually known; but we dare not do it, let us therefore abolish the plot,’ their position would be far more intelligible. Miss Alcott's heroine, in writing her first stories, finds with surprise that all the things she has taken straight from real life are received with incredulity; and only those drawn wholly from her internal consciousness are believed at all. Life goes so much beyond fiction that those who are brought up mainly on the latter diet are more apt to encounter something in life which eclipses fiction than something which seems tame in comparison. And, on the other hand, when we put real events into the form of fiction, they seem over-wrought and improbable.

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