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Antonina

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Antonina or, The Fall of Rome


(1850)


Preface


In preparing to compose a fiction founded on history, the writer of

these pages thought it no necessary requisite of such a work that the

principal characters appearing in it should be drawn from the historical

personages of the period. On the contrary, he felt that some very

weighty objections attached to this plan of composition. He knew well

that it obliged a writer to add largely from invention to what was

actually known--to fill in with the colouring of romantic fancy the bare

outline of historic fact--and thus to place the novelist's fiction in

what he could not but consider most unfavourable contrast to the

historian's truth. He was further by no means convinced that any story

in which historical characters supplied the main agents, could be

preserved in its fit unity of design and restrained within its due

limits of development, without some falsification or confusion of

historical dates--a species of poetical licence of which he felt no

disposition to avail himself, as it was his main anxiety to make his

plot invariably arise and proceed out of the great events of the era

exactly in the order in which they occurred.



Influenced, therefore, by these considerations, he thought that by

forming all his principal characters from imagination, he should be able

to mould them as he pleased to the main necessities of the story; to

display them, without any impropriety, as influenced in whatever manner

appeared most strikingly interesting by its minor incidents; and

further, to make them, on all occasions, without trammel or hindrance,

the practical exponents of the spirit of the age, of all the various

historical illustrations of the period, which the Author's researches

among conflicting but equally important authorities had enabled him to

garner up, while, at the same time, the appearance of verisimilitude

necessary to an historical romance might, he imagined, be successfully

preserved by the occasional introduction of the living characters of the

era, in those portions of the plot comprising events with which they had

been remarkably connected.



On this plan the recent work has been produced.





To the fictitious characters alone is committed the task of representing

the spirit of the age. The Roman emperor, Honorius, and the Gothic king,

Alaric, mix but little personally in the business of the story--only

appearing in such events, and acting under such circumstances, as the

records of history strictly authorise; but exact truth in respect to

time, place, and circumstance is observed in every historical event

introduced in the plot, from the period of the march of the Gothic

invaders over the Alps to the close of the first barbarian blockade of

Rome.


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