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For SEPTEMBER, 1809.
NOVELS. Art. 11. Ned Bentley. By J. Amphlett. 12mo. 3 Vols. 158.
Boards. Longman and Co. MR. Amphlett adverts in his preface, with some acrimony, to the
slovenly monthly catalogue', in which novels are generally classed by Reviewers : but, judging of others from himself, he affirms that a novel writer enters the list of authors with his mind made up to receivt every species of ill-usage, like an ill-used ass by the road side, who screws up his hide in expectation of receiving a blow from every person who goes near him.' After this humble though sturdy declas ration, Mr Amphlett proceeds to avow that he is content if his work be allowed to class among the least exceptionable ones of its kind ;' and we shall proceed to inquire how far it may claim such a character,
If to contain nothing which can alarm the delicacy or offend the piety of the reader 'may constitute a novel unexceptionable, the history of Ned Bentley is intitled to the negative praise to which its author aspires : but, though we feel some respect even for this sort of recommendation, we cannot allow a freedom from impurity to claim for it an exemption from criticism. We must state our opinion, then, that the story is contradictory as well as improbable: we see a boy, who had been brought up as a servant till his seventeenth birth-day, suddenly emerging from the kitchen, well acquainted with living manners and dead languages : we meet with a barber gifted with si. milar gentility and acumen; and we are introduced to another footman, who has not even virtue and the classics to recommend him, but who, after having attempted various robberies and murders, marries a gentlewoman who is acquainted with his history; Besides avoiding these extravagancies, it is to be wished that -alfauthors, who have pre. vimusly been readers, would sometimes revert to the elementary and laudable exercise of Parsing; and, in imitation of Mr. Amphlett, we shall transcribe a definition of this word from Johnson's Dictionary :
* To Parse. To resolve a sentence into the elements or parts of speech
« Let scholars reduce the words to their original: to the first case of nouns or first tense of verbs, and give an account of their formation and changes, their syntax and dependencies, which is called parsing."
If Mr. Amphlett had examined his manuscript by this rule, he could hardly have left in it such a string of grammatical errors as are clustered in the following sentences:– He eat moderately, and overcame with fatigue he now reclined on the carth, and fell into a profound sleep. Ned was awoke in the morning,' &c. – Helen and Mary were more gratified than they scarce dare to appear.' Helen had paled during the progress of his narrative.'-' If she spoke civil and respectful to Sir Hubert,' &c. Some colloquial inelegancies also occur ; such as giving an offending servant orders to leave at the end of a mooth ;? Ned's complimenting Mary' on her talent at the cheerful,
*c. We will dwell no longer, however, on these inaccuracies, while the pleasure which some parts of this work afforded us remainis unac. knowleged. It is written throughout with much spirit, and contaihs many reflections which indicare å mind that is attentive to the truths and vicissitudes of life, and nicely observant of the varieties in the human feelings and character. The description of the hero's youthful fortitude is very interesting ; and the scene of recognition with his mother is affecting and natural. Art. 12. The Husband and the Lover. An Historical and Moral
Romance.szmo. 3 Vols. 188. Boardo. Laekington and Co. 1809.
Though we disapprove the mixture of truth and fiction, which is generally found in historical romances, and think with Lafeu, (in
All's well that ends well,') that one that lies three thirds, and uses a known truth to pass a thousand nothings with, should be once heard, and thrice beaten,” still we were much pleased with the romance before us and found in the last two volumes considerable pro. mise of future merit. The first volume consists chiefly of details of the fêtes and tournaments exhibited at the court of Louis XIV., which are all copied from the Mémoires de St. Simon, except the embellishment of nymphs' in the grottos of St. Germain, playing charming rural airs on an organ.' We meet also with descriptions of the Country of Trance, taken from Swinburne ; and conversations on natural history, avowedly borrowed from Buffon. The memory of the Count de Grammont is unfairly attacked by a story which is discreditable to his valoar; and, after having read a minute account of the dresses worn by him and by every individual at the tournament, we were rather dismayed at finding that they changed their attire in consequence of a masquerade, and
that we had to encounter another catalogue of plumes and armour, turbans and stockings. When, however, the author has exhausted the stock of quotations, and made us sufficiently acquainted with the wardrobes of the dramatis persona, this work rises considerably in our estimation by its animated relation of the conquests of John Sobieski and his delivery of Vienna ; and we think that great commendation is due to the writer for the care which has here been taken to avoid unneccessary violations of the veracity of history: as well as for the art and industry with which many
inter'esting and authentic anecdotes have been woven into the story. Art. 13: Sir Orden Glendower, and other Tales. By Ant. Frede
rick Holstein. 'Izmo. 3 Vols. '123. sewed. Lane and Co.
Dr. Johnson observed that the invention of a story was no inconsiderable effort of the human mind;wand if this remark be true, some applause must be due to the author of these tales, which are all diferent from each other in their 'plot, and of which each displays 'marks of originality. “Sir Owen Glendower was the tale which afforded us least satisfaction, though some humour occurs in the description which it contains of Welsh festivities. In works of this sort, we consider the want of probability as a fault much more deserving of toleration, and more susceptible of amendment, than the want of spirit or of interest ; yet ürs would advise this author, when
he undertakes to write a history of modern characters, to put spich speeches in their mouths as it is at least possible for them to make : the romantic dialogues in the Orphan Heiress' are ridiculous, instead of being pathetic and probable. He should also attend more to the construction of his sentences, some of which are obviously incorrect. The plot, however, of the Orphan Heiress' is new and singular ; that of Egbert' is interesting, as well as excentric; and, on the whole, we venture from these specimens to augur favourably of the author's future productions. Art. 14. Leicestershire Tales. By Miss Mary Linwood.
il. is. Boards. R. Phillips. : These tales are more deficient in interest than in moral. Most of the events are either too improbable to excite sympathy, or too insignificant to arrest attention, and the different personages are burried from one country and continent to another, with such theatrical velocity, that our wearied imaginations refused to follow them : particu.larly as we conceived that, in the descriptions of their travels, a geos graphical dictionary had been so unceremoniously employed as to preclude much hope of original observations. The chief character of each tale seems commendably intended to display the evil consequences of some particular failing : but in the conduct of their history we remark this defect, that their misfortunes are not attributable to the faible from which they are supposed to originate. For instance, the sorrows of an indolent character spring from an elopement to which she has in an evil hour consented ; and the reader, after having wit. pessed several minor misfortunes proceeding from her indolence, instead of moralizing on this last faux pas, is vainly puzzled in tracing the paradoxical analogy between laziness and lightness of heels, Art. 15. Rebecca, or the Victim of Duplicity. izmo. 3
Vols. 128. sewed. Lackington and Co. Though this novel present some obvious improbabilities, we were at least gratified with perceiving a higher tone of morality than is usually found in books of this class. The author has collected wise and clear arguments against infidelity ; for the repetition of which we must thank him, because, however trite they may appear, they cannot be repeated too often, while one infidel remains who may chance to peruse them. The misery produced by “the fellowship of the ungodly" is illustrated by a tale which is not devoid of interest ; and in which the sufferings of the most estimable character (the heroine's father,) are compensated not in the usual way, by raising him to unexpected wealth and honours, but by giving bim a spirit of religion which enables him to find consolation in a life of piety and benevolence, and in looking forwards to repose in heaven. With the lighter parts of the work we were not much amused: the heroine's letters from London are rather pert than clever; and in all the conversa. tions which are meant to be particularly lively, we think that vulgarity has been unfortunately mistaken for wit and humour. Art. 16. The Soldier's Orphan. A Tale by Mrs. Costello. 12mo.
Vols. 1gs. Boards. Longman and Co. 1809. Some novels have no character at all," and this is one of them."
It is neither remarkably dull nor particularly lively; neither perfectly uninteresting nor peculiarly pleasing ; in short, neither commendable Dor reprehensible. It would indeed be almost as difficult to bear. away the palm of superior insipidity from the crowd of rivals who seem constantly contending for it, as to win that of pre-eminent exa cellence from the few who have endeavoured to attain it. Of a work of such negative merit as · The Soldier's Orphan,' the highest re. commendation is that it will do no harm : though it may not improve, it cannot mislead; and the balance is carried so even, that it atones in morality for what it wants in interesi. Art. 17. The Cottage of the Var. A Tale. 12mo. 3 Vols. 159
Boards. Tipper. 1809. In treating of some works, description answers all the purposes of animadversion; and of this class is the production before us. The hero is a genius who, though his black brows were drawn by the pencil of strong sense;' had attained the age of one and twenty withe out baving passed one hour in reflection since his birth. At last, on hearing a sweet voice in a wood, for the first lime in his life he began to think ;' and owing to the novelty of the occupation, he soon became ao' lost in thought,' as to wander insensibly to the cottage in which the songstress resided with her majestic mamma. This heroine has
a seraphic appearance,' rogether with a straw hat and straw basket, and 'music book selected by an elegant mind.'-After having passed through the usual routine of dangers and discoveries, the lady and gentleman have the comfort of being happily married, and of seeing their enemies punished : but, at last, the heroine turns out to be an Italian countess !—These tinsel coronets multiply on us so fast, that we have sometimes resolved to read no novel which does not give a circumstantial account of the heroine's birth and parentage in the first chapter; because, where this is wanting, we read in constant dread of her overwhelming us in her last moments with a mass of uninteresting evidence to prove that she is a countess in her own right. Art. 18. Matilda Montford. A Romantic Novel. By Peter Peregrine, Esq. 12mo.4 Vols.
4 Vols. 11. is. Boards. Spencer. 18o9. The motto prefixed to each of these volumes is,
" Lend thy serious hearing To what I shall unfold;"
(Shakspeare.) and the recurrence of this injunction was our only defence against the risibility which was excited by various passages that seem intended to be sublime ; such as the addresses to modesty, sleep, and health ; together with descriptions of chrystal lakes and · Aowing lakes,' murky air,' and misty mountains,' seen • before the Sun had opened the window of the east." These landscapes are sometimes enlivened with busy vintage men,' and sometimes with ruddy sickle men,' vulgarly called reapers. The story is all told in the last volume, for though in the first we were on the point of hearing two or three death-bed confessicns, which might have enabled us to conjec. ture the remainder that was to be “ unfolded,' the invalids recovered, and kept their lives and their secrets more pertinaciously than we re. REY. SEPT. 1809.
tained our patience. Throughout the work we see an affected inversion of words ; and so many adjectives, that, if those which are superfluous had been retrenched, at least two volumes would have been taken off our hands. Such a scheme, however, might have answered our purposes, but would not perhaps have equally accommodated the author: who seems to have been so inveterately determined on producing four tomes of this novel, coute qui conte, as to present his readers with several duplicate seizures and sicknesses, which are almost the only vicissitudes of life that he has chosen to notice; and his personages have consequently such shocking health and such frequent falls, that their history seems most calculated to amuse the lei. sure moments of a hospital nurse. Art. 19. Guiscard; or the Accusation. A Romance. By Horace Vere.
2 Vols. 8s. Newman and Co. The style of this novel is always simple and dignified, and in some parts even masterly; and the story, though rather intricate, is interesting and moral. It shews the powers of Friendship, and the benc. fit of her exertions : but we were sorry to sce che noble and ardent Sir Eustace led by his affection for his friend into an act of treachery, even towards the despicable Bolebec. The abbot's description of his own old age is touching and pathetic. Art. 20.
Theodore and Blanche; or the Victims of Love. From the French of Madame Cottin. 2 vols.” 12 mo. gs. Boards. Tipper. 1808. Though this little story is far from deserving to be ranked with the higher productions of Madame Cottin's pen, yet it may excite some interest in those who depend on the circulating library for all their pleasurable studies. The translation has been very hastily executed ; che diction is often barbarous'; and the grammar is not seldom inaccurate.
POETRY Art. 31. Hora lonica : a Poem descriptive of the Ionian Islands,
and Part of the adjacent Coast of Greece. By Waller Rodwell Wright, Esq. sometime His Britannic Majesty's Consul General for the Republic of the Seven Islands. 8vo. pp. 67. 38. 6d. Boards. Longman and Co. 1809.
The voyage, with which Mr. Wright indulges his readers, is of 60 attractive a nature, and his company and conversation in the course of it are so agreeable, that most of them will regret the shortness of its duration, and the slight manner in which he touches at his several points. Corcyra naturally detains him longest : he there examines the site of the Homeric gardens of Alcinous ; points to the rock which still preserves its denomination of the ship of Ulysses,
' for ever rooted in the sea The monument of Neptune's stern decree;' and, as he gazes on the calm and ample bay, is transported to the period at which the island flourished in wealth and splendor, the colony of luxurious Corinth. He is then reminded of revolt and separation, and describes in very animated lines the banishment and re