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fited by the alteration : inasmuch as the relation of natural incidents, well put together, tends to afford much more general pleasure than that of circumstances, however striking, for which
look in vain in the common course of affairs. Miss Burney's tact, too, is more of this order. She has the
of throwing a charm over the incidents of familiar life, – of displaying with true effect the naïveté of youth, — of reporting conversations with characteristic humour, and of exciting that degree of interest which, while she always herself appears to be at home, makes her readers feel equally at ease. Extravagant romance and outré characters are not in her department : nature is her only guide ; and she cannot have a better.
In the tale before us, the sprightly, witty, and, of course, beautiful Blanche is a fascinating and most interesting character: but is she not represented in her introduction as rather too young for the weighty matters in which she soon takes so prominent a share? Novel-writers in general give their highest polish to their heroine, and depict her so much like an angel, that they exhaust their stores before the poor hero comes forwards; and he, consequently, is either a maukish personage or bespattered with superlative hyperboles ; for the one of which it would be as difficult to find an example, as for the other it ought to be difficult to have a recorder. Miss B. steers clear of this rock and this whirlpool, and, in her hero, shews us a man whose character is neither com. mon-place nor extravagant, and creates no wonder that he should either excite or feel the passion that is the thread on which the sugar-candy of the story depends. Sir Reginald Tourberville is another ably drawn character, in which the sweets and bitters of life are well mixed. We are more doubtful as to Lady Stavordale; sarcasm does not suit the maternal character; and we disapprove decidedly of the introduction of Martha, a disagreeable, ungainly young lady. No incident depends on her ; she is the butt of no wit, the necessary appendage in no scene; and, though it may be truly said that such Marthas are but too common, yet what can justify an author in selecting one of them from so many others who would far better serve to “point a moral, or adorn a tale?” Our objection is increased by the story being told in the form of a journal kept by one of her sisters, who thus is compelled to become the relater of these faults, of which she speaks in no very gentle language. Notwithstanding these small imperfections, we cordially recommend the work as in no way discrediting the name of the fair writer, or falling short of her other publications. Varieties in Woman. 3 Vols. 12mo. 16s. Boards.
Baldwin and Co. 1819. The author of this novel has taken a very easy method of forming a hero. He has used the finest words in the dictionary, and has composed a very pretty description of all that is amiable and intelligent, which is every now and then reiterated: but he has forgotten the necessity of putting him in any situations in which the qualities so fluently delineated are called into action. If the hero, however, has these deficiencies in his active character, they are Rev. MARCII, 1820.
amply compensated by the masquerade appearance of the doublyfaced heroine; who is most heavy-eyed and most interesting, -most silent and most talkative, - most common-place and most imaginative, - the most forbidding and the most fascinating; — and who possesses such a command over her countenance, that by a slight variation in the disposition of her hair she is able to remain in the society of the above discriminating gentleman for several months, without his discovering that she is the identical person who was an inmate of his own family, and from whom he has been separated little more than half a year. So much for the probability of this novel; to which, indeed, may be added the delectable incident of a lover arriving, “ the deuce knows whence," but just in the precise moment of time to mix his dying breath with that of his mistress. As to the morality of the book, the indulgence of love in the above couple, after the gentleman has married another lady, “ for filthy lucre,” is not a favourable example : but its consistency is apparent, when it is known that this lady had first drawn the attentions of the gentleman towards her at an Italian masquerade in the character of Aspasia :-a delicate assumption of the talents and attractions of the courtezan of Athens. With regard to the taste of the author, it is marked by his constructing his ladies to speak Latin as glibly as their mother-tongue; and, as for his liberality of sentiment and accuracy of observation, we may take the following speech as a specimen, put seriously into the mouth of the hero, and merely the reverberation of the opinions of other persons of rank in the company, who would appropriate all the genius of the country to themselves.
• If commerce be necessary to the literary eminence of a nation, it is, perhaps, unfavourable to its literary ascendancy. Wealth contests, and often obtains, that place in general society which ought to be consecrated to talents. The pursuers of the lower branches of commerce, generally denominated traders and manufacturers, are the petty torments of all the unfortunate people of genius and literature that can, by any means, be degraded to the sphere of their observation,'
Still, we must not conclude without rendering justice to this author and his book. It has some pretensions to popularity; and, with respect to style and language, it is much superior to the commonalty of productions in this branch of writing.
POETRY. Art. 16. The Dead Asses. A Lyrical Ballad. 8vo. pp. 24.
Smith and Elder. 1819. Here is another happy parody of Mr. Wordsworth; and, from the style of the burlesque, it comes probably from the same successful imitator (the alter et idem Wordsworth) who sang the exploits of the real Peter Bell.” See M. R. for August last. We have said all that we deem necessary on these parodies; and, whatever minor objections we may have to the taste of burlesquing an author who is himself burlesque personified, we certainly are of opinion that, by these or similar means, even the infatuated readers
of modern poetry may at last be led to open their eyes to the gross absurdities of the Lake-school. So far, therefore, so good; and we are disposed to encourage rather than to check this harmless, if not wholesome, species of ridicule. Perhaps, however, a little volume of selections from this and kindred poetasters might, after all, be the most effectual remedy for the mischiefs occasioned even by their limited popularity. A few running titles might be prefixed to the pages, classing the beauties under
obvious heads. In no point of character has this imitator more exactly hit his original than in the quality of calm undisturbed arrogance : no preceding parodist has dwelt so fully on the vanity of Mr. W.; and therefore none has so faithfully represented the writer of the celebrated Ballad-preface, and of numerous scattered panegyrics: on his own compositions. Let our readers judge :
• The poem of the Dead Asses, which is here offered to the public, hath been dictated by impulses of no ordinary nature; its design and execution afford me ample satisfaction, and I know that the reader is prepared to value the work before him as highly as I do.
• Towards the elucidation of my preface, I may inform him that the following poem, (which shall be lucid *, and speak for ita self,) records the premature death of two steady and industrious Donkies.
• Very few themes, indeed, could so powerfully call forth the genuine rhymes of a siinple and “unlettered Muse" as that which I have chosen ; and I rejoice that I have chosen it, for it seems to be one peculiarly adapted to my powers. My pen alone could do justice to the narration of an incident in itself so severely pathetic and sympathetically simple.
And here I shall be pardoned for enlarging on the merits of that truly picturesque and sedate animal, the Ass.
• As a poet and as a man, I stand deeply indebted to him, and, with candour, I acknowledge that he hath contributed to render my verses immortal.
I need not say that the Ass is frequently conspicuous in my writings: it hath been my delight to pourtray him, and for the most part, as becomes his humble nature, humbly and naturally, in the back ground. Here, however, he comes nearer to the view : like Morland, I have brought him to the front of my canvass, where, although a dead Ass, he shall live as long as the literature of my country shall endure, and perhaps not longer.
• But in thus speaking of myself and Morland, I cannot help adverting to the great superiority which Poetry maintains over Painting'
We are sorry that we are unable to follow the parodișt into his · metaphysical imitations : but they are exact resemblances, shallow and muddy as their originals. We can only find room for the poetical fac-similes, and for the notes that prove their near ap
« * To be lucid is a quality usually wanting in my verses, accord. ing to the critics and my enemies.'
proach to identity ; if our readers will allow us to borrow something of the indistinctness of the Lake-philosopky.
• The village clock had stricken three,
My watch was only half-past two.
Upon the light breeze merrily.' Speaking of one of the Dead Asses,' the poet thus idiosyncratically expresses himself:
How calm and solemn doth he look:
He is not like that little fly.
** It may be worth while to quote a case which came under my own notice, where a country clock was probably wrong,
“ 'Tis scarcely afternoon,
The Minster-clock has just struck two,
And yonder is the moon."
Lucy Gray.- Lyrical Ballads, vol.ii. p. 72. edit. 1805.' + + See lines written in Germany on one of the coldest days of the century. - Lyrical Ballads, vol. ii. p. 146.
“ Of a freezing Fly.
His eye-sight and hearing are lost ;
Are glued to his sides by the frost.
“ No brother, no friend has he near him while I"But in the contrast between myself and the Ay the balance is so greatly in my own favour, that it would seem like egotism to continue the stanza. • † “ Here's a fly, a disconsolate creature, perhaps, A child of the field or the grove.”
See the Poem just quoted.'
Both flies and donkies, every one,
To perish all alone.
They have not cropped his ear away,
For carrion crow hath taken some;
For when I go, the crow will come.
So calm, and gentle, and serene. t' We will appeal to the common sense of our readers whether they think that they ought, as far as they are individually concerned, to contribute, by any means, or by any indolence of toleration, to the prolonged disgrace of English literature, in such compositions as are here justly held up to the scorn of taste and scholarship?
• * I have here pursued a beautiful allusion contained in my own Peter Bell.
· The few, who have not had the happiness to peruse that simple effusion, will pardon me for inserting, in this place, the passage in question :
“ All, all is silent; rocks and woods
All still and silent — far and near;
Tūrns round his long left ear.
Some ugly witchcraft must be here:
Turn'd round his long left ear.” Peter Bell, p. 32. «+ A similar allusion, and one as striking, may be found in a "Fragment" in the Lyrical Ballads.
“ For calm and gentle is his mien,