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result. Another penny journal gave Dumas
a commission to write a new story, expressly
for translation in its columns. The speculation
was tried, and once again the inscrutable
Unknown Public held back the hand of
welcome from the spoilt child of a whole world
of novel-readers.

How is this to be accounted for ? Does
a rigid moral sense permeate the Unknown
Public from one end of it to the other, and
did the productions of the French novelists
shock that sense from the very outset?
The page containing the Answers to
Correspondents would, be enough in itself to
dispose of this theory. But there are other and
better means of arriving at the truth, which
render any further reference to the
correspondents' page unnecessary. Some time
since, an eminent novelist (the only living
English author, with a literary position, who
has, as yet, written for the Unknown Public)
produced his new novel in a penny journal.
No shadow of a moral objection has ever
been urged by any readers against the works
published by the author of It Is Never Too Late
To Mend; but even he, unless I have
been greatly misinformed, failed to make the
impression that had been anticipated on the
impenetrable Three Millions. The great
success of his novel was not obtained in its
original serial form, but in its republished
form, when it appealed from the Unknown
to the Known Public. Clearly, the moral
obstacle was not the obstacle which militated
against the success of Alexandre Dumas and
Eugène Sue.

What was it, then ? Plainly this, as I
believe. The Unknown Public is, in a
literary sense, hardly beginning, as yet, to
learn to read. The members of it are
evidently, in the mass, from no fault of
theirs, still ignorant of almost everything
which is generally known and understood
among readers whom circumstances have
placed, socially and intellectually, in the rank
above them. The mere references in Monte
Christo, The Mysteries of Paris, and White
Lies (the scene of this last English fiction
having been laid on French ground), to
foreign names, titles, manners and
customs, puzzled the Unknown Public on the
threshold. Look back at the answers to
correspondents, and then say, out of fifty
subscribers to a penny journal, how many
are likely to know, for example, that
Mademoiselle means Miss? Besides the
difficulty in appealing to the penny
audience caused at the beginning by such
simple obstacles as this, there was the
great additional difficulty, in the case of
all three of the fictions just mentioned, of
accustoming untried readers to the delicacies
and subtleties of literary art. An immense
public has been discovered: the next thing to
be done is, in a literary sense, to teach that
public how to read.

An attempt, to the credit of one of the
penny journals, is already being made. I
have mentioned, in one place, a reprint of a
novel, and later, a remarkable exception to
the drearily common-place character of the
rest of the stories. In both these cases I
refer to one and the same fiction-- to the
Kenilworth of Sir Walter Scott, which is
now being reprinted as a serial attraction
in a penny journal. Here is the great master
of modern fiction appealing, at this time of
day, to a new public, and (amazing anomaly!)
marching in company with writers who have
the rudiments of their craft still to learn!
To my mind, one result seems certain. If
Kenilworth be appreciated by the Unknown
Public, then the very best men among living
English writers will one of these days be called
on, as a matter of necessity, to make their
appearance in the pages of the penny journals.

Meanwhile, it is perhaps hardly too much
to say, that the future of English fiction may
rest with this Unknown Public, which is now
waiting to be taught the difference between
a good book and a bad. It is probably a
question of time only. The largest audience
for periodical literature, in this age of
periodicals, must obey the universal law of
progress, and must, sooner or later, learn to
discriminate. When that period comes, the
readers who rank by millions, will be the
readers who give the widest reputations, who
return the richest rewards, and who will,
therefore, command the service of the best
writers of their time. A great, an unparalleled
prospect awaits, perhaps, the coming
generation of English novelists. To the
penny journals of the present time belongs
the credit of having discovered a new public.
When that public shall discover its need of
a great writer, the great writer will have
such an audience as has never yet been
known.

THE LAST VICTIM OF THE
GAUNTLET.

AN Imperial rescript, bearing the date of
the twentieth of August, eighteen hundred
and fifty-four, and the signature of the
Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria, has
abolished for evermore, within the realms of
the whole Austrian empire, that terrible
chastisement, running the gauntlet. Terrible
it was indeed: a cruel and barbarous
remnant of those dark and dismal times, called
the middle ages. I witnessed the last execution
of this kind, and record it for the benefit
of those who still cling with a strange
fondness even to the worst legacies of
bygone centuries.

On an autumn morning in the year
eighteen hundred and fifty-one, the garrison
of the fortress of Theresienstadt on the Eger
River, in Bohemia, was formed in a large
square on the spacious place before the
residence of the commandant. In the middle
of the square, drawn up in a file, stood a

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