THE AUTHOR'S PURPOSE
hoped for, watched for, struggled for; it usually represents a good deal of hard work and a good deal of discouragement. Gibbon, as the whole world knows, received his inspiration for his monumental history one evening in Rome, as he sat musing among the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter. Yet he records, regarding the subsequent writing of his history:
At the outset, all was dark and doubtful; even the title of the work, the true era of the Decline and Fall of the Empire, the limits of the introduction, the division of the chapters, and the order of the narrative; and I was often tempted to cast away the labour of seven years.
The uncertainty, the false start, the work which must be begun anew and on a different plan, have all been rather eloquently generalised by Mr. Henry James in his preface to The Awkward Age: