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to the merit of describing the emotions of the human ther than that of astonishing the reader by the accuof imaginary horrors, or the singular combinations of us and perilous adventures. Accordingly, we think erceive marks of greater care than Mr Maturin has
trouble to bestow upon his former works of fiction ; which is a favourite with the author himself, is certainkely to become so with the public and with the critic. former works, the author has, in his preface, passed ing severe sentence. of my former prose works have been popular. The strongf which is, none of them arrived at a second edition; nor spose of the copyright of any but of the “ Milesian," sold to Mr Colburn for 801, in the year 1811. Corio” (misnomed by the bookseller “ The Fatal Revenge," -selling appellation) had some share of popularity, but it e popularity of circulating libraries : it deserved no bette of that style of writing was out when I was a boy, and owers to revive it. When I look over those books now, all surprised at their failure ; for, independent of their rnal interest, (the strongest interest that books can have, reading age), they seem to me to want reality, vraisemcharacters, situations, and language, are drawn merely ution; my limited acquaintance with life denied me any ce. In the Tale which I now offer to the public, peray be recognised some characters which experience will
Some resemblance to common life may be traced in his I rest for the most part the interest of the narrative. of characters and incidents (the absence of all that coninterest of fictitious biography in general) excludes the work possessing any other interest.' face concludes with an assurance, that the author will ass again in this kind;-a promise or threat which
made and as often broken as lovers' vows, and reader has no reason to desire should in the present pre scrupulously adhered to, than by other authors
and modern celebrity. Let us only see, what the y deserves, a favourable reception from the public; Rist Mr Maturin may be moved once more to reecies of composition so easy to a writer of rich fancy powers, so delightful to the numerous class of readWave Gray's authority for supposing it no bad emblem le to lie all day on a couch and read new novels. zing · Women,' we are tempted to hesitate which tale we should begin with. It is the business of the wrap up his narrative in mystery during its progress, giving very few letters written to himself, by the many eminent persons with whom he was in correspondence. Almost all the letters are his own. We should have expected, too, a good many more striking anecdotes of the remarkable men whom he associated with; and a greater portion of information touching the history of the times, from so many of the chief actors in it, whose conversation he enjoyed. Of this there is very little indeed in the work. But, of that little, we must not pass over a curious fact, rather staggering from its import, and from the high nature of the evidence by which it is supported.--. On • the day,' says Bishop Watson, speaking of Lord Shelburne,
in which the peace was to be debated in the two Houses of • Parliament, I happened to stand next him in the House of • Lords, and asked him, whether he was to be turned out by • the disapprobation of the Commons; he replied, that he could • not certainly tell what would be the temper of that House, • but he could say that he had not expended a shilling of the • public money to procure its approbation, though he well • knew that above sixty thousand pounds had been expended • in procuring an approbation of the peace in 1763.'
Art. IX. Women ; or Pour et Contre: A Tale. By the Au
thor of Bertram, &c. Edinburgh and London. 1818.
The author of a successful tragedy has, in the general decay
of the dramatic art which marks our age, a good right to assume that distinction in his title-page, and claim the attention due to superior and acknowledged talent. The faults of Bertram are those of an ardent and inexperienced author; but its beauties are undeniably of an high order; and the dramatist who has been successful in exciting pity and terror in audiences assembled to gape and stare at shows and processions, rather than to weep or tremble at the convulsions of human passion, has a title to the early and respectful attention of the critic.
Mr Maturin, the acknowledged author of Bertram, is a clergyman on the Irish establishment, employed chiefly, if we mistake not, in the honourable task of assisting young persons during their classical studies at Trinity College, Dublin. He has been already a wanderer in the field of fiction, and is the author of the House of Montorio, a romance in the style of Mrs Ratcliffe, the Wild Irish Bor, and other tales. The present work is framed upon a different and more interesting model, pre
tending to the merit of describing the emotions of the human heart, rather than that of astonishing the reader by the accumulation of imaginary horrors, or the singular combinations of marvellous and perilous adventures. Accordingly, we think we can perceive marks of greater care than Mr Maturin has taken the trouble to bestow upon his former works of fiction; and that which is a favourite with the author himself, is certainly most likely to become so with the public and with the critic. Upon his former works, the author has, in his preface, passed the following severe sentence.
None of my former prose works have been popular. The strongest proof of which is, none of them arrived at a second edition; nor could I dispose of the copyright of any but of the “ Milesian," which was sold to Mr Colburn for 801, in the year 1811.
“ Montorio" (misnomed by the bookseller “ The Fatal Revenge," a very book-selling appellation) had some share of popularity, but it was only the popularity of circulating libraries : it deserved no better; the date of that style of writing was out when I was a boy, and I had not powers to revive it. When I look over those books now, I am not at all surprised at their failure ; for, independent of their want of external interest, (the strongest interest that books can have, even in this reading age), they seem to me to want reality, vraisemblance; the characters, situations, and language, are drawn merely from imagination ; my limited acquaintance with life denied me any other resource. In the Tale which I now offer to the public, perhaps there may be recognised some characters which experience will pot disown. Some resemblance to common life may be traced in them. On this I rest for the most part the interest of the narrative. The paucity of characters and incidents (the absence of all that constitutes the interest of fictitious biography in general) excludes the hope of this work possessing any other interest.'
The preface concludes with an assurance, that the author will never trespass again in this kind ;-a promise or threat which is as often made and as often broken as lovers' vows, and which the reader has no reason to desire should in the present case be more scrupulously adhered to, than by other authors of ancient and modern celebrity. Let us only sec, what the work really deserves, a favourable reception from the public; and we trust Mr Maturin may be moved once more to resume a species of composition so easy to a writer of rich fancy and ready powers, so delightful to the numerous class of readers, who have Gray's authority for supposing it no bad emblem of paradise to lie all day on a couch and read new novels.
In analyzing · Women,' we are tempted to hesitate which end of the tale we should begin with. It is the business of the author to wrap up his narrative in mystery during its progress, to withdraw the veil from his mystery with caution, and inch as it were by inch, and to protract as long as possible the trying crisis when any reader of common sagacity may foresee the inevitable conclusion;' a period, after which, neither interest of dialogue nor splendour of description, neither marriage dresses, nor settlement of estates, can protract the attention of the thoroughbred novel-reader. The critic has an interest the very reverse of this. It is his business to make all things brief and plain to the most ordinary comprehension. He is a matter-of-fact sort of person, who, studious only to be brief and intelligible, commences with the commencement, according to the instructions of the giant Moulineau, que tous ces recits qui commencent par le milien ne font qu'embrouiller l'imagination. It is very true, that, in thus exercising our privilege, the author has something to complain of. We turn his wit the seamy side without, explain all his machinery, and the principles on which it moves before he causes it to play; and, like the persecution which the petty jealousy of his great neighbours at Hagley exercised on poor Shenstone, it seems as if we perversely conducted our readers to inconvenient points of view, and introduced them at the wrong end of a walk to detect a deception. Of such injuries, according to Johnstone, the bard of the Leasowes was wont to complain heavily; and perhaps Mr Maturin may be equally offended with us for placing the conclusion of his book at the beginning of our recital. But let the stricken deer go weep; '--the cook would have more than enough to do, who thought it necessary to consult the eel at which extremity he would like the flaying to begin.
There was then once upon a time, in a remote province of Ireland, a certain man of wealth and wickedness, who combined the theory of infidelity with the practice of the most unbounded libertinism. By one of his mistresses, a female of a wild and enthusiastic character, who, though she had sacrificed her virtue, retained the most bigotted attachment to the Catholic religion, this person had a beautiful and gifted daughter. The unfortunate mother, sensible of the dangers which the child must incur under the paternal roof, was detected in an attempt to remove it elsewhere, and driven by violence from the house of her paramour; not, however, before she had poured upon him and his innocent offspring, a curse the most solemn, bitter and wild that ever passed the lips of an human being. The daughter was bred up in the midst of luxury, and sedulously instructed in all that could improve an excellent understanding, by teachers of every language, and masters of every art. At the early age of fifteen, her chief instructor was an artful and
accomplished Italian, who abused his trust, and seduced his pupil into a private marriage. A female child was the consequence of this union, and occasioned its being discovered. The father was inexorable, and drove the daughter from his presence; while the sordid husband, disappointed in his avaricious views, tore the child from the mother, returned it upon the hands of his relentless patron, carried off his wife to Italy; and turned to profit her brilliant talents of every kind, as an actress upon the public stage, where she became the most distinguished performer by whom it had ever been trod. The selfish husband, or rather tyrant, by whose instructions she had been taught to attain this eminence, died at length, when she had obtained the zenith of her reputation, and left Zaira under the assumed title of Madame Dalmatiani, mistress of her own destiny.
About this period her daughter had attained the age of fifteen years. The infidel grandfather had put her, while an infant, under the charge of an excellent woman, the wife of a wealthy banker. Both professed evangelical doctrines, or what is technically called Calvinistic Methodism. Eva was bred up in the same tenets, shared their religious, gloomy and sequestered life, and passed for the niece of Mr and Mrs Wentworth. The grandfather made large remittances, which reconciled the banker to this adoption; the heart of his more amiable wife was won by the beauty and engaging disposition of her youthful ward.
A danger, however, hovered over Eva, from the superstitious and frantic obstinacy of her grandmother, who, as Zaira was beyond her reach, had transferred to Eva the anxious and unhesitating zeal with which she laboured to make acquisition of the souls of her descendants for the benefit of the Catholic Church. Reduced by choice more than necessity to the situation of a wandering beggar, this woman retained, it seems, amid her insanity, the power of laying schemes of violence; and, amongst her rags, possessed the means of carrying them into execution. She contrived forcibly to carry off her granddaughter Eva, and to place her in a carriage, which was to transport her to an obscure hut in the vicinity of Dublin.
These events compose the underground or basement story of the narrative, to which the author introduces his company last of all, although we have thought proper to show its secret recesses, and the machinery which they contain, before examining the superstructure.
Without a metaphor the novel thus commences. De Courcy, a youth of large property, of talents and of virtue, fair and graceful in person, and cultivated in taste and understanding,