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ation. She is now child of nature," bewildered and misled by the innocent mistakes of unlearned simplicity; but a compound of art and education, bold in opinion, undaunted in decision, and unchecked by the wholesome reprovings of sedater judgment.
Her vanity, at least, cquals her accomplishments; and while we admire the lustre of her talents, we execrate the purpose to which she has daringly devoted thens, and consider them as ignes fatui luring the unwary from safety and from peace. We know little of the private history of Miss Owenson; but she takes no small pains to assure us, that she is very young; and she retains a maidén appellation. Where then has she gathered her voluptuous imagery, her indecent allusions, her dangerous sophistry, her “reasoning pride,” on subjects which she should not profess to comprehend? From the avowed Sapphos and Corinnas of the present day, such themes, though they could not have failed to disgust, would have created no surprise; but that a woman, just entering into life, should unfit herself for its proper paths, by early and unnecessary emancipation from the fetters of modest and maidenly réserve, excites át, once our wonder and indignation, and may, if she is as beautiful as young, expose her to insults from any libertine into whose hands her light sentiments may chance to fall.
All public writers are amenable to society for the principles which they disseminate, and should be cherished, or branded, with deserved ignominy, in proportion as they tend to the.good, or to the injury, of the rising generation). Our laws in this respect are just: the vender of an indecent pamphlet, or one who dares offend the eye of modesty by the exposure of unpermitted representation, is severely punished; yet, in comparison, these are harmless, or bear their own antidote, when opposed to the deadly poison conveyed into the unsuspecting bosom of youth, by such a writer as Miss Owenson, whose plausible reasonings, faise conclusions, and flowery periods, inwrap the germinating seeds of corruption and depravity, while they speak of angel purity, intuitive delicacy, and unerring rectitude.
That this lady may become a useful as well as pleasing novel writer, is still our opinion; and we hope the vanity, rather than the corruption, of her heart, has thus led her to discard the modesty of her sex, and disgrace the best gift of nature.
We allow it to be fair and.just, that women should think for themselves, and act from the dictates of their own judgment, which is often competent to every.
purpose in life; but we can never tolerate the unblushing licence of language, which degrades them, and insults the public.
Miss Owenson professes to be a post haste writer; scorning to correct the effusions of a riotous fancy, and throwing before à captivated world the crude imaginings of her prolific brain. This may be true: but the assertion is disrespectful, and shows consummate self-conceit. Our best and wisest literary characters have thought it proper, ere they laid their works of fancy or reflexion before the public, to revise and retouch with the band of careful attention every rough-drawn page, to prune the exuberant shoots of genius, and give to every sentence all the polish and purity of moral refinement; and although anxious to obtain the meed of approbation, they studied still more to deserve it. Miss Owenson, on the contrary, full of selfimportance, has ventured to conclude, that her hand-gallop sentiments must be received with favour, because penned with veteran effrontery.
We have heard, but hesitate in our belief, that she has received from her publishers no less a sum than seven hundred pounds for Ida of Athens !” If this be true, we may be permitted to observe, that the discrimination of these gentlemen has not, in this instance, kept pace with their liberality and indulgence. Thougli ushered into the world in four volumes, they might properly be compressed into two, or three at most ; so that the bargain has been every way most favourable to the author. The story itself is unequal and unconnected; it derives its principal interest from the introduction of Grecian manners, and points of history, well calculated to draw attention and excite' emotion; here she has profited largely from the writings of De Tott, Savary, De Guys, Sonini, &c. whose descriptions and observations she has interwoven with much ingenuity; but the general effect is injured by the pompouš inflation of the style, and by numerous inaccuracies. Our language, as in coinmon use, appears not sufficiently copious for the sublime' rhapsodies of this high-flown delineator of ideal sensations; and certainly, in addition to the notes at the close of each volume, a glossary, or dictionary of reference, should have been affixed; for to those, long accustomed to the simplicity of usual and accepted phraseology, such is absolutely necessary before they can read with pleasure or advantage -- cloysteral for cloystered-sensient for sensitive---sensuous for sensual impassionate for impus
sioned charactery for characteristic -- impulsions for impulses -- sustention for sustaining esaustion for exhausted state, &c. &c.
Every lover, indeed, of plainly elegant English, must feel disgusted at the various affectations which pervade the work, and mar some of its best pages; such as," draped in a light vest”. “The extremities of her delicate limbs were rosed with flowing hues," and many more, which our limite preclude our noticing:
“Ila of Athens" is an initation of Madame de Staël's “ Corinna of Italy;" but we cannot compliment the copyist, on having at all equalled the beauties, though she has aptly caught the faults and extravagancies of her original. Still there are parts of this book which we have perused with a pleasure, only lessened by its general improper tendency; and while it is our first and most sacred duty. to protest against those cunning mischiefs that war on mo. rality and every purer principle, we are also ever ready, and most willing, to do ample justice to whatever tends to redeem an author, or has an honest claim to approbation. Whether emanating from herself, or gleaned from her miscellaneous reading, we shall not pretend to determine, but we acknowledge her sentiments on some points are as just as they are interesting. From this class we prefer presenting our readers with specimens of the work, convinced that the reprehensible passages to which we have alluded, are unfit for the modest eye of innocence.
* Ida,” the heroine, though a high-wrought enthusiast, has many feminine excellencies, and in trying circumstances much praiseworthy exertion and laudable conduct. Her filial affection, attachment to the duties of her situation, and general benevolence of sentiment and action, are all amiable traits of character; while her fortitude in the subjugation of wishes incompatible with prudence and duty, is worthy of iinitation. We agree with her, that “ T'he true point of virtue is to immolate the selfish for the social good ;” and her reply to the lover, who sought to tempt her from the protection of a parent's arms, has also claims on the attention of our young female readers, for whose advantage we transcribe it.
" To Osmyn. " Osmyn, I knojy not who you are, and scarce desire to know. Be
birth what it may, or poor or privcely, it cannot make you nobler in my eyes, nor e'er degrade you in my mind's esteem. The sacred love of virtue wariņs your soul, genius and patriotism
deify your character, and all your feelings adapt your whole exis. tence to love and tenderness. These are endowments of Heaven's own gift; and after these, how poor and low the honours man confers! It is also true. I love you, most tenderly, most passionately; but if to tell thee so is weakness, it is the sole weakness that love itself shall teach me to commit.
" Oh, Osmyn! why endeavour to conceal from you what perhaps you already suspect, what you must eventually know ? - If reason, if nature sanction our loves, a duty, now paramount to every otber, forbids it. I am not yet a wife; then thy law were mine; but I am still a daughter, and sentiment no less than duty deters me from opposing the wish and will of him, hitherto so dear, so tender, and indulgent. I am indeed a thing inconsequent; yet in the great chain of social compact i form a link-the country which respects me! the father who depends on me! the brothers who look up to me!-Oh, Osmyn! had your soul been susceptible of no other sentiment than that of love, would you have been preferred to the first and most amiable of the Athenian youth? No: I chose you for yourself alone! I chose you because I believed you capable of a great passion, and of those heroic actions which a great passion alone inspires ! It is not for a tame and moderate character to feel
that ardent and sacred sentiment, which in its true and highest nature is connected with all the greater faculties and sublimer emotions of our being, and therefore did my
soul elect you as its high and dear associate, as one best capable of loving, and therefore most worthy to be loved. But if
would have me love yoy fondly, let me esteem you highly. Hitherto I stand acquitted. It was a hero-the champion of Liberty and of Greece, the friend of Athens and of humanity--- for whon I exposed myself in the neko keme of a Turkish tyrant. But it is pot for a lover, a frantic lover only, in whom an imprudent passion has subdued every purer, every nobler feeling that I would'violate the delicacy of a national and natural reserve, and steal clandestinely from the dear and safe asylum of a father's dwelling. Oh, Osmyn! let me be loved wora , thily, or let me be résigned for ever.
In the 'character of the “ Diako" there is a strange mixture of the amiable and the impracticable; yet, while the picture is overcharged, it is touching, and has points of high interfşt.
• The young Smyrnion brought with him to England an imagination deeply impressed with the scenes and imagery of his early life-- he brought with him a character already formed upon an eastern model: gentle, ardent, mild, yet energetic; of an exquisite sensibility, and of a passionate yet melancholy temperament. Unhappy, he also brought with him an eastern coustitution, on wnick the sharpness of a chill northern climate began an early ravage.
« An alien in the native land of his parents, committed to the
care of strangers, unrestrained and unguided, while his memory was stored by the routine of public education, his heart was suffered to cultivate its own feelings, his reason to entertain its own faculties, unclouded by the prejudices of officious and ignorant friends, whose mistaken affection and blind self-love are so careful to propagate the errors, by which they are themselves estranged from reason and from truth; his affections exhausted under the influence of unrestrained feelings, and his mind firm, independent, and inquiring, pursued nature, and found in her the principle of love, of wisdom, and felicity. His early estrangement from his parents left them no claim on his affections. His property rivetted bim to England; and he soon became bound to it by a stronger tie than that of interest. His mind devoted to the philosophy of nature, his heart formed for the generous feelings of friendship, and the whole force and energy of being tending towards the most overwhelming passion of the human heart; estranged from general society, by delicacy of constitution, by habits of study and reflexion, he became the most generous, the most affectionate of friends, to a man of brilliant talents, who had been his preceptor at college; he became the most passionate, the most devoted of lovers, to a woman who found her way to his heart through the medium of his compassion; it was the power of relieving the difficulties of his tutor, flat first made him the friend of the man, whose benefactor he afterwards became. It was in rescuing the parent from impending distress, that he found himself enamoured of a lovely daughter, whom he afterwards made his wife. With the wonian he adored, with the friend he loved, in literary pursuit and rural retirement, a few years of more felicity became the purchase of a sad reverse of fate.
** Deceived by her he loved, betrayed by him he trusted, abandoned by both, he found ingratitude and perfidy the reward of love and confidence. He pursued not the fugitives; sensibility of soul -- delicacy of constitution were unequal to the shock; he sunk be seath it. Sickness and debility preyed upon the very principles of life; time amended but could not recover his health. His physicians advised a milder climate; and his feelings, rather than his inclination, led him to adopt their counsel; he was prepared to die -- but to live in England was impossible! and eight years were passed in travelling through the southern countries of Europe! To whatever direction he turned his steps, the misery and error of man met his eyes every where he observed the existence of physical evil, produced by the outrages committed on nature; and moral disorder, every where produced by the prejudice and corruption of society. It is,' said he, from the harmonies and conformities of nature, that man should borrow his political and moral adoptions, and learn from the Legisiature of the Universe those beneficent laws, which should form the social compact of mankind. Whenever the institutions of governo ment shall tend to excite and develope the natural sensibility of man, the bappiness of the state will be affected, for virtue itself is but composed of the affections; and the niaxim of wisdom, or No.130, Vol. 32. April. 1809.