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A History of Nineteenth Century Literature (1780-1

Though he succeeded to the Knebworth estate in 1844


The

first series of Hook's _Sayings and Doings_ appeared in 1824, the year before that of the novels of James and Ainsworth above noticed. Three years later, and five before Scott's death, appeared _Falkland_, the first (anonymous) novel of a writer far surpassing any of the hour in talent, and credited by some with positive genius. Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer, afterwards Sir Edward Lytton-Bulwer, and later still Lord Lytton (born in 1800), was the youngest son of General Bulwer of Wood Dalling and Haydon in Norfolk, while he on his mother's side represented an ancient Hertfordshire family seated at Knebworth. He was a Cambridge man: he obtained the Chancellor's prize for English verse in 1825, and his first books were in poetical form. He became a Member of Parliament, being returned in the Whig interest for St. Ives before the Reform Bill passed, and in the first Reform Parliament for Lincoln, and he held this seat for a decade, receiving his baronetcy in 1835. For another decade he was out of the House of Commons, though he succeeded to the Knebworth estate in 1844. He was returned for Hertfordshire in 1852, and, joining Lord Derby's reconstituted party, ranked for the rest of his life as a Conservative of a somewhat Liberal kind. In the second Derby administration he was Colonial Secretary, but took no part in that of 1867, and died just before the return of the Tories to power in 1873.

This sufficiently brilliant political career was complicated

by literary production and success in a manner not equalled by any Englishman of his time, and only approached by Macaulay and by Mr. Disraeli. _Falkland_ was succeeded by _Pelham_, which was published with his name, and which was the first, perhaps the most successful, and by far the most brilliant, of the novels in which authors have endeavoured to secure the rank of man of the world even more than that of man of letters, taking the method chiefly of fashionable, and therefore somewhat ephemeral, epigram. Nor did Bulwer (as he was known in the heyday of his popularity) ever cease novel writing for the forty-five years which were left to him, while the styles of his production varied with fashion in a manner impossible to a man of less consummate versatility and talent, though perhaps equally impossible to one of a very decided turn of genius. The fashionable novel, the crime novel, the romance of mystery, the romance of classical times, the historical novel, by turns occupied him; and it is more easy to discover faults in _Paul Clifford_, _Eugene Aram_, _The Pilgrims of the Rhine_, _The Last Days of Pompeii_, _Ernest Maltravers_, _Zanoni_, _Rienzi_, _The Last of the Barons_, and _Harold_, than to refuse admiration to their extraordinary qualities. Then their author, recognising the public taste, as he always did, or perhaps exemplifying it with an almost unexampled quickness, turned to the domestic kind, which was at last, more than thirty years after Miss Austen's death, forcing its way, and wrote _The Caxtons_, _My Novel_, and _What will he do with it?_--books which to some have seemed his greatest triumphs. The veering of that taste back again to tales of terror was acknowledged by _A Strange Story_, which, in 1861, created an excitement rarely, if ever, caused by the work of a man who had been writing for more than a generation; while _The Haunted and the Haunters_, a brief ghost-story contributed to _Blackwood's Magazine_, has always seemed to the present writer the most perfect thing that he ever did, and one of the most perfect things of its kind ever done. In the very last years of his life, the wonderful _girouette_ of his imagination felt other popular gales, and produced--partly as novels of actual society, partly as Janus-faced satires of what was and what might be--_The Coming Race_, _Kenelm Chillingly_, and the posthumous _Parisians_.


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