Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

taught to how submissively to the Providential scheme, and wait withi humbleness till the truth is entirely known. From this long, most miserable, most distracteil reign, sprang that which in later years took the awful and majestic shape of the constitutional liberties of England.

The next parliament of llenry the Third was the MAD PARLIAMENT OF ()xtorn. The chapter which illustrates it and closes the reign, will also illustrate the truth of Burke's noble image : • Always acting as it in the presence of canonised forefathers, the spirit of Freedom carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensiyns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits, its monumental inscriptions, its records, evidences, and titles.'

New Books.

TIE PRIVATEER'S Max, ONE IIUNDRED YEARS AGO. By CAPTAIN

Marryat, R.N. 2 volumes. Longman & Co. The present novel is an attempt to simulate the adventures of a race of men whose daring in danger and thirst of plunder have been long upon record, in the unchristian system of warfare pursued by those countries that profess to be Christians. The form of the work is that of extracts from the log-book of his vessel, made to oblige a lady, who desired to know something of the privateer's man's career at sea. The narrative is not, it must be admitted, in the exact style of the supposed date when the occurrences it describes took place, the phraseology being too modern for illusion; but this it would have been no easy task to rectify, and may be dispensed with by the majority of readers, in times when a just discrimination in literary matters is so rare.

Not much resembling those other publications in the production of which Captain Marryat's pen has been fertile, there is here a saving object in a moral end, from the present work holding up to our abhorrence the detestable evil of war, under one of its most man-degrading aspects ; and this is no slight praise, amply compensating for any little deficiency of merit in the composition of the story, or the delineation of the characters that are placed before us.

There is no greater want of deep thinking than we find in other novels; but there is more of adventure and less variety of character. The hero himself has indeed no great personal interest; he is the instrument of a moral end rather than the delineation of a character.

He commences his active life by an attack on the property of a West India planter, where he is driven back to his vessel, which is attacked in turn by an overwhelming force, and captured, after an action as gallant as the well-remembered contest between the Terrible and Vengeance privateers in one of our past wars. Adventure then treads upon the heel of adventure, until the hero imbibes a distaste for the unhallowed course of life he pursues. Ile turns trader, and goes through various adventures among Portuguese and Indians in South America. Dangers surround him here ; he is sent to labour in the dia:nond mines, and of these a particular account is given, with the author's escape, and return home, where he marries. Innumerable pictures of a sea life and the situations into which those who embrace the profession are drawn, will be found in this work, sketched by the hand of a master. If the writer be not as happy in the present as in some of his former productions, there is still a good deal of very interesting narrative that will not fail to fix the reader's attention, and while affording him no slight amusement, unfold some of those evils or rather crimes, which the vicious rulers of nations sanction when they make war to gratify false pride or regal vengeance, under the pretence of supporting national honour, and of systematizing religious hypocrisy, from declaring at the same time their law of government to be the rule of faith, they condemn in their actions. The pictures of Indian life given in these adventures, appear to us more allied with the usages of the races north of the Isthmus of Darien than those to the southward ; but we are perhaps hypercritical. The introduction of the Liverpool merchant and his

daughter imparts something of a humanizing character to the work, and aid in the denouement—but it would require more space than can be afforded here, to enter farther upon the merits and defects of a book which to our seeming must repose upon a sound practical moral for its highest recommendation.

THE THREE STUDENTS OF GRAY's Ixv. A Novel, in Three Volumes. By

WILLIAM Hughes, Esq. T. C. Newby. The author of this novel claims the authorship of an article in “Blackwood's Magazine,” entitled, “ It 's all for the Best ;” and it is to be presumed, upon that ground pleads for the character of a novelist here. There is some difference, however, between the diffuse character of a novel like the present, and the condensation of a story comprised in a few pages that may really confer a merit upon the writer of one which does not attach to the other. There is in the present work a sufficiency of the materials usually worked up into the three orthodox volumes of which that species of composition is expected to consist. We have love, old-maidenship, roguish attorneys, peers, squires, admirals, colonels, a quack-doctor progeny, some distress, and a little -a very little sentiment. We have marvellous virtue in high places,

awl very great niediocrity of everything seemly in lowly professions. We have a sort of amalgamation between the families of a quack doctor, Vanbrunner, and a noble family, arising as usual out of the attractions towards plebeian Wealth, before which aristocratical highmindedness gives way. But we have a novel without much novelty : ghosts and haunted houses are resources pretty nearly exhausted. We want something that will evolve new traits of human character. There are numerous skeletons of description here, which are left almost in a state of nudity, neither clothed with flesh nor habiliments, – not worked up in the rough semblance of beings in any fresh type of humanity. One mark of genius in the novelist of better times was the drawing out interest and amusement from a few finished characters, not the successive introduction of new ones sketched in faint outline, and then passed across the scene to make way for others equally crude. Even considered in this view, there is a want of connection and of nature in working out the details. The Whites and Gullems and Cobrobus are common faces. Jack Price, the hero of the story, seems placed where he is from no necessity of circumstances, and the writer only more and more convinces us, that to write a good novel requires a tact which he does not possess.

He is utterly wanting in that refinement which should mark every literary composition. What sort of female servants are kept in reputable families, who make a practice of coarse swearing at the children-a matter of which no wonderment is made the author can best inform

Ilis own phraseology, of " looking thunder" here, and “ looking daggers” there, together with numerous gross errors in composition, tells us that he is an unpractised artist. This might be pleaded in his behalf did he not spoil such an excuse by his opening commencement and his implied demand to notice, from having had a tale admitted into a cotemporary publication. We regret we cannot say more in favour of " The Three Students,” it being at all times a more pleasing duty to us to praise than to censure.

us.

THE DEBATER. A New Theory of the Art of Speaking ; being a Series of

Complete Debates, Outlines of Debates, and Questions for Discussion ; with references to the best sources of information on each particular Topic. By FREDERICK Rowton, Lecturer on General Literature, &c. Fscp. 8vo. London : Longman and Co.

It is with many persons a mooted question whether Debating Societies and a habit of discussion do not produce more harm than good : whether the readiness of reasoning and utterance they impart is not more than counterbalanced by the conceit they are likely to engender and the superficial knowledge they encourage : whether they do not produce smart smatterers and rapid prattlers rather than close. reasoners and just thinkers. We rather incline to the adverse side of

the question, but refrain from a decided declaration, lest we should have “ The Questioners," or “The Demosthenians,” or some other juveniles of the rostrum, challenging us to prove our assertion and to open the inquiry as to whether Debating Societies tend rather to improve or injure the intellect.” Leaving this point, therefore, to be settled by the future Ciceros, we proceed to examine Mr. Rowton's book with regard to its execution, abandoning the question of the subject. There is one merit in the book we think should be noticed. The model debates are extremely short and very much to the point. It might have been better if the ancient formula had been less closely followed, and the language more colloquial. The arguments are very fairly stated on each side of the question, and show that reference has been diligently made to the best modern sources. The logical predominates over the spirituel, as may be expected, and is ever the case in such societies. The questions are exceedingly various and all of an interesting, and many of a novel kind. The reader who has no ambition to rival the gentlemen of the bar or the senate may yet find agreeable reading and a brief view of many important questions well stated ; and it will be of real value to many who have no idea that much may be said on both sides of a question. The summaries of arguments at the end are really useful to any one considering the subjects of which they treat, and are ably composed.

The Poor COUSIN. A Novel. In 3 vols. Edited by the Author of the

“ Scottish Heiress,&c. T. C. Newby. This is one of those novels which will be approved by the particular class which looks for love and sentiment in works of a similar nature, rather than any new developments of human character. The style is good, the language unimpeachable ; but there is a want of novelty in the story, and in some cases the reader is obliged to draw largely upon his faith to reconcile the incidents to probability. It opens with a description, quite in character, of a rustic parsonage in Westmoreland, where a Mr. Herbert resides, an exemplary clergyman, who having had a brother in India, suddenly receives a letter from that distant land informing him that his relative is no more, and has left an heiress, who is to be sent to England to be under his guardianship. This orphan, Eva Herbert, is the principal character in the novel, and is safely placed beneath her uncle's roof. From this beginning are worked out numerous situations for an almost equally numerous race of characters, brought successively upon the scene. All the accessaries to the most extended works of a similar class are made available. There is love fashionable and unfashionable; a couple of adulteries, duelling, scenes in Italy, France, and England, whose chief merit is that they are marked by nó extravagance of description, and are stamped with no peculiarity that can excite censure.

The love scenes

have ?0:liing to distinguish them beyond the dialogues on the same subject in numerous other works of the same kind. A singular incident occurs where Eva, the heroine, betroths herself to a dandy barones, as the price of his interference to save a man she loved from ofrowning, who has fallen through the ice while skating—as if at such a moment, when the existence of a human being depended upon instantaneous actio:l, there would be time and presence of mind enough in a female so circumstanced to contract a similar bargain. There is an effort alv.) to con lemn the education given to women in France, and to raise a prejudice against that country, by making two married sisters, so educateva cloppe from their husbanils. While there are a few pleasing and natual situations, we have many that are wild, common-place, or improbable. The fultilment of the author's intentions in the narrative is brought ilont in the shortest mode, and by having recourse to the expedient which will be terve his purpose, without regard to the ordinary sequence of events.

The Ayliner family atfordds a picture not often in accordance with existing life, and the little difficulty in making Alice change from situation to situation, without any very apparent end, seems to impart to her character å taint of convenience for the writer's purposes, which is too obvious to be natural. Stuart Aylmer is not a very interesting hero ; wo sympathise little with his movements and feelings; while Alice Vorion is put out of existence after a career which is, to say the least of it, too much perturbed to answer any reasonable oluject that can excuse its want of purpose and variance with the common course of things. The writing is good ; the pen that executed it being capable of better things by adhering to simplicity, and drawing upon pictures of real life, with a view to truth and the agreement of incidents with this cominon and natural course, so as to produce that harmony in the execution which constitutes the merit of fiction. As to a moral end we discover none in the present work ; and it may be questioned whether familiarising the mind to vicious scenes, can be, under any circumstances, serviceable. However strong our reprobation of the immorality connected with the passions may seem to ourselves, there is always a species of palliation to be found in the reflection that it arises from the abuse of what is not blameable. To the circulating library this novel will but add one to its peculiar class ; and it is to be lamented that its author did not choose to walk in a track purer and less beaten, of which his powers are clearly capable.

THE DIPLOMATISTS OF EUROPE. From the French of M. CAPEFIGUE. Edited

by MAJOR-GENERAL MONTEITI. Nickisson. POLITICAL partisans are bad biographists, for they are generally unscrupulous and too often wilful in their misrepresentations. M. Capefigue is a zealous adherent of the old despotisms of Europe, and of that state

« AnteriorContinuar »