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situation burst at once upon him. He held in his hand one instrument for his own destruction, and another was before him.
The deadly paper, and the deadly pistol-death by the law, and by the hand of Sackvillewere present to his mind at once, and he seemed like a wretched captive, so environed by forms of death, that he could in no way fly from its influence. This impression, and the terrible risk he was meditating, were too powerful for his resolution. Cold drops started from the forehead of the miserable delinquent; his lips quivered; his eyes looked glazed and wandering; his whole frame seemed to totter; and with a trenibling hand, he restored the paper to Sackville. The latter received it in silence, and surveying, with a look of contemptuous compassion, the pale and trembling figure of the unfortunate Allen, he poured out a glass of water and offered it to him to drink.
«« Take this,” said he, “ you have need of it; you have exposed yourself to an unnecessary trial, but you little thought it would be so severe. You will be wiser for the future. And now,” pursued Sackville, after a short pause, “ I conclude that you will not refuse to do what I require."
"“ I submit,” replied the other.
" " Then you have nothing to fear; and if you second my views effectually, you shall have much to expect.'
• Here ended the conversation, and the worthy confederates separated.'
On the night that Miss Morton and her brother slept at Sackville's house, the former, kept awake for some time by the anxiety of her mind, endeavoured to amuse herself by looking out upon the moonlight scenery of the surrounding plantations. Suddenly she was startled by the sound of footsteps. She distinctly saw a figure approach, heard the window shutter of the room beneath undone, and as plainly observed the retreat of the mysterious intruder. This our readers will have already guessed was no other than Allen. He had carefully remarked the bureau in which Sackville had put the draft, and by a large bribe had persuaded a supposed faithful valet, to admit him into the house on the night above mentioned. The consequence of all this was, that on the next meeting of the confederates, Allen treated his former tyrant with complete contempt, a quarrel ensued, and an opportunity soon after occurring of making an attempt on the liberality of Lacy, he exposed the whole of the nefarious projects in which they had been employed. Herbert accordingly instantly repaired with him to the Mortons.
A complete ecclaircissement took place. It was discovered that the basest means had been taken, both to bring Mr. Morton into his present situation, and to make the Lacys seem instrumental to his fall, and that Sackville was the author of the whole. It may easily be supposed that not a moment's time was lost by Mr. Morton in declaring to his false friend, that the engagement between him and his daughter was at an end. Even now, however, Herbert Lacy seemed very far from the completion of his desires. By some strange, and we must confess very improbable, circumstances, he had become engaged to a lady out of pure complaisance to the wishes of his sister. Fortunately, however, for him, the lady chose to elope with another gentleman, and he was in consequence left free to pursue his first attachment. The offer of his hand was made, and as promptly accepted, and Sackville, determining to retrieve something of his character, by an extraordinary act of forbearance, did not insist on retarding their marriage for four years, or making the fortune of Agnes a forfeit to her disobedience. 6
Were we to give our judgment on this novel, with a sole, or indeed any great regard to its story, we should have spoken in terms little savouring of approbation. It is, in fact, almost as badly constructed as a story could be. Its plot depends on circumstances insufficient to support it, and the incidents by which it is helped on are inconsistent and incredible. But the characters on the contrary, are almost all well and strongly drawn. Some, indeed, are introduced merely for the sake of being drawn, but the work may really be regarded as a portfolio of portraits, all taken from the life, and all by the hand of a skilful artist. There is, again, another quality which preeminently distinguishes this, as well as the other productions of the same author-it is free from any tinge of immoral sentiment, conveyed either in the language of romance or fashion, and there are few books which could be read with more approbation by the austerest advocates for fiction being made the handmaid of morality.
We are sorry we cannot speak in the same terms of the next work on our list. To say that it is without any of the attractive features of what are considered the most popular novels of the day, would be unjust: to decline saying that it is fuller of their most vicious qualities than almost any we have yet seen, would be to abuse our office. Knowing, as we do, how little regard is paid to the particular sentiments, or the ideas, which their works may convey, by the modern writers of light fiction, we yet had to learn, that a work like the Rouè could be presented to the English public as one fit for general reading, and to occupy a place among publications professedly addressed to persons of any age or sex.
To give an abstract of this tale would be impossible, without making our page look like the columns of a newspaper, when filled with the worst matter it could contain. We shall therefore content ourselves with selecting a passage or two, and offering a few remarks which they seem to suggest. Take, for example, the following introduction of the Roue to the notice of the reader.
· Had he been a veritable Don Juan, we might have given him the advantage of a trap door, and a handful of flames. But as he is neither more nor less than one of those wild spirits, who are to be found every where spending a princely fortune, and mispending time, with considerable talents in the pursuit of any pleasure that presented itself, travelling out of the beaten track in quest of new sensations, and rushing into every thing that gave
Hope of a pleasure, or peril of a grave;
why we must content ourselves with the introduction which one of his own mad acts gave him to the notice of society. An act which was.conveyed to the public through the following mysterious paragraphs in the morning and evening papers,--paragraphs which about this period excited a great deal of surprise and scandal in the fashionable world ; and a great deal of speculation in that portion of the world which could not claim this enviable distinction :
PARAGRAPH I. «« The circles of haut-ton are much occupied just now with a discovery which implicates a young and lovely countess, with a certain notorious, dashing, and elegant baronet.”
PARAGRAPH II. ““ The parties alluded to in our columns yesterday, are supposed to be the
young and lovely countess of M- and Sir R- L -e. The lady was married only three years since to her present lord, who is the head of one of the most ancient families in the kingdom. The gallant Baronet has distinguished himself as much in the fields of Mars as in the bowers of Venus; and it is whispered that this is the third time that he has given some hopes of a profitable cause to the gentlemen of the longrobe."
• PARAGRAPH IJI. Many of the circumstances connected with the late faux-pas are of such a nature, as to throw a particular interest over the whole affair. The youth and beauty of the guilty pair—the violence of their passionthe contrivance of their stolen pleasures—their hair-breadth escapes -their moonlight interviews—together with the sworn gallantry, and ac. knowledged bravery of the gay Lothario, have given to the whole adventúre a tincture of romance, which has rendered it the most interesting occurrence of the kind that has happened for half a century.
““ It is said, that certain gentlemen of the long-robe are already retained; that Mr. B-- has, in conversation, expressed some portion of the bitter sarcasm for which he is famed, and with which he hopes to induce the jury to mitigate the damages: while Mr. C. Pis dressing up a most affecting account of the domestic felicity which has been violated by the spoiler, and of the virtue that has become the prey of the destroyer.” -vol. i. pp. 255—258.
The reader will be able to judge what a novel must necessarily be, the hero of which is thus introduced. Its plot and incidents are, in fact, but a long development of an adventure similar to the one described in the paragraphs above quoted-an adventure, to the account of which there is a short running commentary added by the writer, but which is given in by far too light a manner to suffer us to regard it as fit for the amusement of ordinary novel readers. We have no doubt that the author considered himself perfectly safe from giving any wrong impressions, guardinghis story as he has done, with a moral conclusion; but we can give him no credit for being judicious either in choosing the life of a professed adulterer for his subject, or in filling a very
large proportion of his work with the letters and opinions of such a hero. We
e are not, let it be observed, intimating that the author is answerable for sentiments given in the name of one of his characters, but reprobating a novel in which it seemed necessary to introduce such matter so abundantly. Take the following specimen of these letters.
"" What a pity, Fred, to make such a woman a wife! What a pity, in such a soul as hers, to make love nothing but the cold performance of a duty! What a mistress has here been spoiled by the absurdity of those human ties which fetter the heart, and would convert the gratification of our most natural feelings into a crime ! Did Nature bestow upon us passions, warm as those with which my heart is now beating, and pleasures glowing as those which my imagination is anticipating, only that we should enjoy them, as the dancing bear does the little liberty his keeper allows him—in chains ?
* But let us look to the philosophy of the thing to the moral, the virtue : aye, laugh, Fred, laugh if you will; but I mean to say, that morality and virtue are both in favour of my argument. For instance, could there have been such a crime as adultery, if there had been no marriages ? Certainly not. It is the law, Fred, that makes the crime, and not the thing itself; that, as we all know, is natural enough : and what is natural must be good; and I again leave the ergo to your own logic. Marriages, says some sage or fool, and
much alike, upon the same principle that two extremes generally meet, are made in heaven. Why the devil then didn't they keep them there? and not come to trouble our earth with them? for my part, I am very willing to wait till I get there, for a taste of matrimony; arn't you, Fred? ?
• It is astonishing in what different ways different people speak of this same marriage: some describe it as a banquet of never ending enjoyment; some call it a curse, and some a blessing; but I rather think he was in the right who described it as a feast, in which the grace was better than the dinner.
• Marriage appears to me, Fred, in the light of one of those expensive locks which teaches a thief where the treasure lies, by the very care that is taken to preserve
It is the lock and not the treasure, that forms the temptation; and every mechanic in that line sets to work to invent a picklock that shall undo it."'-vol. ii. pp. 184-186.
We suspect that the least fastidious patrons and patronesses of circulating and subscription libraries, will hardly attempt a justification of novels composed of such matter as this. With regard to the general composition of the Roué, it manifests talent which might have been much better employed, and furnished amusement to the public without making the dangerous experiment in which it has failed. In consequence of his bad choice of subject, the writer has been forced to have recourse to an apologetical style of writing, which by introducing much vapid sentimentality, is the most tiresome thing one could meet with in a novel. The philosophy of writers of this class is very seldom worth a straw, and
when it is crowded upon us at every page, and made eloquent on every subject, from the putting of a child to school, to the good or evil of matrimony, we are ever ready with the exclamation, hold, enough!
Professing, like the Roué, to relate the adventures of a man of fortune, and of the world, Pelham takes the reader through every scene which it may be supposed such a character can witness. But unlike the author of the Roué, the writer of this novel never lets his readers remain for more than a few minutes looking at objects, about the propriety of shewing which there can be any doubt. His sketches are all closely drawn, and full of life and animation, but they follow each other so rapidly, that it is almost the reader's own fault if he picks out any thing offensive. The great merit of this work is in its separate descriptions of social manners and individual character. For this it deserves very high commendation, and the uninterrupted flow of wit and lively observation which fills its pages, renders it really one of the most amusing pieces of light reading which we have as yet been able to find among the productions of modern novelists. "We shall select one or two of the passages in which the author has displayed his favourite style to some advantage, merely stating by way of preface, that Henry Pelham, the hero, is the son of Mr. Pelham the younger son of an Earl, and of Lady Francis, the daughter of a Scotch peer. After finishing his studies at Cambridge, Henry goes to Paris, endowed with little learning, a good deal of wit, and something more of conscious and acknowledged self-conceit. His character may be learnt from his behaviour at the first dinner he went to in Paris.
I was placed, at dinner, next to Miss Paulding, an elderly young lady, of some notoriety at Paris, very clever, very talkative, and very conceited. A young, pale, ill-natured looking man, sat on her left hand ; this was Mr. Aberton, one of the attachés.
i« Dear me !" said Miss Paulding, “ what a pretty chain that is of your's, Mr. Aberton."
• “ Yes," said the attaché, “ I know it must be pretty, for I got it at Brequet's with the watch.” (How common people always buy their opinions with their goods, and regulate the height of the former, by the mere price or fashion of the latter).
““ Pray, Mr. Pelham,” said Miss Paulding, turning to me," have you got one of Brequet's watches yet ?”
«« Watch !" said I, “ do you think I could ever wear a watch ? I know nothing so plebeian ; what can any one, but a man of business, who has nine hours for his counting-house, and one for his dinner, ever possibly want to know the time for ? an assignation, you will say, true; but (here I played with my best ringlet), if a man is worth having, he is surely worth waiting for!"
Miss Paulding opened her eyes, and Mr. Aberton his mouth. A pretty lively French woman, opposite (Madame D'Anville), laughed, and immediately joined in our conversation, which on my part, was, during the whole dinner, kept up exactly in the same strain.