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the charge-though not in so great sitions professing to delineate man a' degree as many others of either " he is," or "as he ought "making a mock at sin," treating to be," cannot but be injurious lightly and playfully offences against in their tendency, if they thus the Decalogue, which ought to be systematically keep out of sight, mentioned only with unaffected or pervert where they introduce, sorrow and reprehension. the fundamental principles which relate to his actual condition. We do not look for moral touches in a work of science; the subject does not require or always admit of them; but in a novel, the whole composition relates to human actions, and unless the principles be right they must be wrong; they cannot be neutral; they are scriptural or worldly; they are such as, if admitted in real life, would lead either to eternal happiness or eternal misery. A novel ought, therefore, to be so constructed as not to oppose the disclosures of Revelation; but for this purpose, it must recognise them; not always directly, as in a sermon, but always virtually; embodying them in its general tone and structure, even where they are not specifically adverted to or introduced. want of this, novels in general afford no just principle of action, no true standard of decision; and they are too frequently most dangerous and delusive, where they ought to be most correct,-namely, when they venture to touch upon subjects of moral and spiritual importance.
Another grievous charge against the general run of tales and novels is, that they present false views on the most important subjects connected with religion and morals.— Let us only assume that the Bible is true, and that its disclosures are of moment; and what an anomaly will most novels appear to a man who seriously regards them under this impression! We must take high ground on this question; but ground on which our readers, we trust, are prepared as Christians to accompany us, even at the risk of a smile of surprise, from their novel-reading friends, at the excessive oddity of their opinions. We would ask then, Do the class of works in question usually describe man in true colours? Do they describe him as God describes him? Do they view him as a fallen creature; or as needing an atonement? Do they even always assume him to be a moral and accountable agent? So far from it, the Law and the Gospel are, in many cases, almost equally crossed out in their code. Judging by their standard, there is no necessity for repentance, no profit in faith, no motive to holiness. Every thing relating to death, to judgment, to eternity, is studiously excluded; or is employed only on some rare occasion for the purpose of picturesque or sublime effect. The morals inculcated (we speak generally) are defective in their character; their highest virtues are but splendid sins. Affliction is not made to lead the sufferer to God; prayer and praise are but puritanical observances; and, in short, the whole scene of human existence and destiny is described precisely as it would be if Christianity were a mere fable. Now, surely, compo
We may add, as another strong charge against most novels, that they fill the mind with images which religion ought to dispossess.-The length to which we have extended our remarks prevents our enlarging on this point as it deserves; but we leave it to our readers to decide, without our filling up the detail of proof, whether the whole scenery and machinery of the bulk of novels, with their affairs of war, and glory, and display, and passion, are not diametrically opposed to the train of feeling and reflection, which Christians ought to encourage; whether an indulgence in the perusal of works of this sort does
not unfit the mind for sacred duties; whether the growth of religion in the soul is not impeded, and unholy affections strengthened by such a course of reading; and whether, above all, the Holy Spirit is not grieved and quenched, and the soul laid open, and defenceless, to the incursions of its spiritual enemy.
We have thus specified some of the injurious tendencies of novels and novel-reading, with reference to that large class of compositions in which no particular benefit or injury was intended by their authors. We do not mean to contend that all these mischiefs apply to every case; but one point at least is clear, that as we daily pray, "Lead us not into temptation;" we are in duty bound as Christians to avoid those sources of temptation which fall in our way; of which sources, habits of trifling and injurious reading are, in the present day, one of very considerable magnitude.
We had intended to discuss, at some length, the third class of works of fiction; namely, those which are written with a decidedly good intention; but the extent of our remarks on the last topic will render it necessary for us to content ourselves with a very few observations. We may possibly resume the subject on some other occasion.
With respect to living novelists for our limits do not allow of our casting a retrospective glance-we should be inclined, upon the whole, to place Miss Edgeworth among those writers of fiction, whose publications have usually the merit of being written for an avowedly useful purpose. Her tales are for the most part sober and sensible, copied from real life, and free from what is enervating and inflammatory. She has generally pursued some moral object; not merely winding up her narrative with a few tame reflections, which can seldom or never counteract the ge
neral impression of a novel, but making it her study throughout its whole texture to aim at a welldefined and beneficial object. In this respect we must place many of her tales in a much higher moral rank than those of the author of Waverley, who seems generally to write without any better object in view than his own profit and the amusement of his readers. With his splendid talents, without quitting the line of writing which he has chosen, what benefit might he not have conferred on his country, had he resolutely determined that every one of his volumes should be the vehicle for inculcating some useful truth or impressing some neglected duty; and that he would never, on any occasion, record a line or sentiment which might wound religion or injure the mind of his reader. His elevating delineation of Jeannie Deans, already alluded to, proves that, had he seen fit, he might have ranked high among the moralists of his country; and this without any sacrifice, but such as would have done equal honour to his heart and his understanding. Let us hope,even yet, that the unknown author will reconsider the responsibility which devolves upon the possession of talents such as his, and will dedicate his remaining works to purposes of higher aim than mere entertainment, and make it his first and greatest effort, if not soaring high like Milton " to vindicate the ways of God to man," at least to endeavour, with the conscientious author of the Rambler," to add ardour to virtue, and confidence to truth.”
We have spoken with due respect of the generally moral intention of Miss Edgeworth's tales; but still her's is a world without religion, and consequently her whole fabric rests on an insecure and unchristian foundation. Of late years there has been a rapid multiplication of works of fiction, intended to supply this defect. The justly celebrated Colebs of Mrs.
Hannah More, to say nothing of her equally celebrated, and no less useful, Cheap Repository Tracts, seems to have formed the model for this species of composition, and scarcely a winter now passes without an addition of several volumes to this popular species of literature. Half a score, at least, of tales of this class are, at the present moment, candidates for admission into our review department, and as many more may probably issue from the press before we, after our tardy fashion, can address ourselves, if ever we do so, to the task of deciding on their respective merits.
Of works written for the express purpose of usefulness, we certainly do not feel disposed to speak other wise than with all possible respect; and it cannot be doubted, that much good has in many cases been effected by means of publications of this class. We think, however, that the taste for them is increasing far beyond what is desirable; and we venture to submit, whether a habit of religious novel-reading may not be more or less attended by some of the inconveniences which we have enumerated as applicable to novel-reading in general. Such works are often highly serviceable in the family circle; but still they are works of mere fiction, and unless duly selected, and indulged in with moderation, may generate a taste for idle and desultory reading, with a love of excitement, and an aversion to more solid studies; and may serve as a stepping stone to novel-reading of a less discriminate character. We might add also, that even a professedly religious novel is not of necessity judicious in all its parts, and may in some instances be open to severe censure. We are unwilling to allude to particular examples, especially as our space will not allow of our bringing forward the proofs that would be necessary to justify our animadversions; but it is obvious that, with the best possible motives in the writer, scenes CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 244.
may be disclosed which will have the effect of stimulating rather than repressing an already corrupted imagination, as well as of instructing the more artless reader on a variety of points, where "ignorance is bliss," and it is "folly to be wise." The very correctness of the writer's own mind, and his unfeigned abborrence of evil, may lead him to employ language which, to less chastised imaginations, is productive of effects the opposite to those which he intended. Accustomed himself almost instinctively to measure character by the strict standard of Scripture, and not at all inclined to love vice because it happens to be connected with agreeable qualities; or to disesteem virtue, because it is sometimes arrayed in a homely garb; he may so draw his personages, and weave his incidents as to make his less scrupulous readers take part with his bad characters against his good ones. Besides all which, a professedly religious novel may chance to be written in a flippant, or satirical spirit; or it may betray bad taste or bad temper; or it may be so extremely unfair in its selection of incidents and arguments, especially on such subjects as the love of the world, and worldly company, and worldly amusements, that the recoil may be more dangerous than the intended stroke; or it may betray such an ignorance of men and manners, that its estimate will pass for nothing with those for whose benefit it was designed; or it may be founded on occurrences, (for instance, a tale of seduction,) which ought not so much as to be named in a Christian family, except as they may happen for a moment to force themselves into notice, and then to be dismissed with a few brief and temperate remarks, rather than dwelt on, as they are in some professedly religious novels, till the mind is saturated with unseemly contemplations.
But our limits waru us to forbear, 2 K
otherwise we should have been inclined to have dropped a few suggestions respecting another very important class of semi-novels, professing to be written for good and useful purposes; we mean, the modern race of tales for children, both of the moral and the religious cast. To the utility and excellence of some of these, we should have given our willing testimony; while, perhaps, we should have felt it right to inquire whether an over indulgence even in works of this description, in childhood and youth, may not be productive of some of the evil effects which we have mentioned as applying to novel-reading in general, particularly on the score of their stimulating effect, and of their tendency to create a distate for more thoughtful reading.
Our general estimate on the whole subject is, that it is primarily a question of kind, and then of degree. Works of the first of our three general classes are wholly inadmissible; those of the second are, wethink, generally inexpedient, and often positively, however undesignedly, injurious. There may be and are partial exceptions; for example, some of the historical and graphical sketches in the Waverley Tales, and many single characters and descriptions in these and other novels, well calculated to foster virtuous, disinterested, and magnanimous feelings. But the composition of such works as a whole, and when judged of by scriptural principles, is in almost every instance found to be liable to just objection. Where, however, specific objections do not apply, it is a habit of trifling reading, rather than the perusal of an occasional volume, that is chiefly to be dreaded and deprecated: the rein is a more necessary implement than the spur in the management of the imagination at all times, but especially in this age of light and desultory reading, and with so powerful an inducement to an indul
gence in works of fiction as is presented, to the more conscientious reader, by the literary attractions and somewhat guarded character of many of our modern tales and novels. With regard to the third class, there is still a strict necessity for great caution in the selection, and not less so for habits of selfcontrol and a strong sense of duty in determining the degree in which an indulgence in such a line of reading shall be admitted. But after all that may be said or written on these questions abstractedly, their practical application must depend in a great degree upon the age, the habits, the temperament, the duties, the occupations, and the besetting sins of each individual.
Were we to wind up our review, like a sermon, with a familiar application, we should say; Fill up your time so fully with useful employments as to leave little leisure for pursuits of a doubtful character. Endeavour further to acquire such a strong sense of duty, such a taste for contemplations of a higher order, and such well-arranged habits of sacred study and devotion, as may supersede the temptation to devote to idle, if not injurious, amusement moments which may be so much more profitably given to the great concern of "making your calling and election sure." Keep in mind the claims which your family, your friends, and society have upon your hours of retirement; and the importance of so employing those hours, be they few or many, that both your mind and your body may be refreshed for the returning duties of each successive day. And lastly, guard against habits of idle curiosity; and be not ashamed to own that there are many things with which neither your time nor your taste permits you to be acquainted, and least of all with every new tale that happens to be the subject of popular conversation.
LITERARY AND PHILOSOPHICAL INTELLIGENCE,
GREAT BRITAIN. PREPARING for publication:-The Life and Correspondence of Bishop Horsley; by his Son ;-Provence and the Rhone; by J. Hughes;-One Thousand FacSimiles of the Hand-writing of Eminent Englishmen ;-Sermons and Miscella neous Pieces; by the Rev. R. W. Mayow;-In two vols. octavo, with plates of the Egyptian Deities, Sections and Plans of the Egyptian Temples, and Tombs,ichnographical Plans of Thebes, Jerusalem, &c., Travels along the Mediterranean, and Parts adjacent, extending as far as the Second Cataract of the Nile, Jerusalem, Damascus, Balbec, Constantinople, Athens, Ioannina, the Ionian Isles, &c. &c., in the years 1816, 17, 18, in company with the Earl of Belmore; by R. Richardson, M.D.
the In the press: Discourses on Scripture Character of God; by the Rev. H. F. Burder;-The Wonders of the Vegetable Kingdom; by the Author of Select Female Biography ;-The Fossils of the South Downs; by J. Mantell; -A Journey to the Oasis of Siwah, to ascertain the Site of the Temple of Ammon; by A. Linant;-Public Men of all Nations, living in 1822;-Two Poetical Works; also, A Tour on the Continent; and Ecclesiastical Sketches; by Wm. Wordsworth ;-Essays on the Discipline of Children; by the Rev. W. Bamford.
The "Society for promoting Christian Knowledge in the Diocese of St. Da vid's," has awarded a Premium of 501. to Mr.H.V.Tebbs,Proctor,of Doctors' Commons, for the best Essay on "the Scripture Doctrine of Adultery and Divorce, and on the Criminal Character and Punishment of Adultery by the ancient Laws of England and other Countries." This Essay is in the press; as also, an Essay on "The Influence of a Moral Life in our Judgment in Matters of Faith" (John vii. 17); by the Rev. S. C. Wilks, A.M.: to which the Society awarded its premium for the best composition on that subject.
The late population returns in Ireland present a large increase in the number of the inhabitants. The following are the totals:Leinster......
When the deficiencies in this table shall have been supplied, the total number may probably exceed seven millions. POLAND.
A decree has been published, abolishing all the heads of the Jewish communities (called Kahal) in the kingdom of Poland. This measure is expected to be of great importance towards promoting the civilization and welfare of the Jews; as these national magistrates, it is said, not only opposed an invincible barrier of gross prejudices to the improvement of their countrymen, but were themselves frequently guilty of oppressive partiality.
A ukase was lately issued by the Emperor, commissioning the Governorgeneral of Siberia to inspect the governments under his care,-to collect upon the spot detailed information respecting their situation; to found upon this information the means for improving their condition, and to lay them before the Emperor. The plans proposed by the Governor are approved; and, in consequence, this extensive region, comprehending various climates and tribes of inhabitants, instead of being any longer an inhospitable desert, will, it is hoped, enjoy the advantages of a united, civilized, and, we trust, religious country.
The fourth census of the United States gives the population, including the New States, at 9,625,734. The slaves amount to about 1,531,436; and foreigners, not naturalized, to 53,646. The persons engaged in agriculture were 2,065,499; in commerce, 72,397; in manufactures, 349,247.