ost writers of fiction have failed to respect. Dickens, for example, is delighted to reform a character in the twinkling of an eye, transforming a bad man into a good man over night, and contradicting all that we know about the permanence of character.
Other novelists have asked us to admire violent and unexpected acts of startling self-sacrifice, when a character is made to take on himself the responsibility for the delinquency of some other character. They have invited our approbation for a moral suicide, which is quite as blameworthy as any physical suicide. With his keen insight into ethics and with his robust common sense, Huxley stated the principle which these novelists have failed to grasp. A man, he tells us, "may refuse to commit another, but he ought not to allow himself to be believed worse than he actually is," since this results in "a loss to the world of moral force which cannot be afforded." The final test of the fineness of fiction lies in its veracity. "Romance is the poetry of circum