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[12] But Dickens, who initiated the movement in English fiction, was unquestionably influenced by that very American life which he disliked and caricatured, and we have since seen a similar impulse spread through other countries. In the Russian, the Norwegian, the Spanish, the Italian fiction, we now rarely find a plot turning on some merely conventional difference between the social positions of hero and heroine. In England the change has been made more slowly than elsewhere, so incongruous is it in the midst of a society which still, in the phrase of Brander Matthews, accepts dukes. Indeed, it is curious to observe that for a time it was still found necessary, in the earlier stages of the transition, to label the hero with his precise social position;—as, ‘Steven Lawrence, Yeoman,’ ‘John Halifax, Gentleman,’ —whereas in America it would have been left for the reader to find out whether John Halifax was or was not a gentleman, and no label would have been thought needful.

And I hasten to add, what I should not always have felt justified in saying, that this American tendency comes to its highest point and is

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