« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
but comes of your living with Mrs Harrison, and reading too many verses, which are apt to make girls dreamy.”
""Miss Debby,” cried Emily, “everything is ready, and the sun is rising."
«« Coming, child, coming. One word more, Ellen,”—and here Deborah paused, for the first time in her life, at a loss how to express herself. She drummed with the butt end of her whip on the railing, made figures with the lash on the floor, knit her brow, bit her lips, but did not speak till spurred by a second call from Emily; and then the tears gushed from the good creature's eyes as she said, “ Ellen you are rich in nothing but the grace of God; the best riches I know; but then there's neither quails nor manna now a days, and one must look a little to the needful. When
father died, (a thrifty prudent man,) he left me fitty pounds lawful. It has been in good hands, and has run up to between two and three hundred. I have enough for myself besides, Ellen, laid up for wet day, so that is all to be yours. Now don't speak, but bearken to me- -besides the money I have a nice store of table linen for you, and some coverlets and feather beds."
6" Oh Deborah, Deborah,"
6“ Say nothing child—I can't bear it-I won't be gainsayed. Good bye, 'Ellen, the Lord bless you, child, and all that care for you”—and she strided across the piazza without giving Ellen time to open her lips. vol. ii. pp. 186, 187.
Finally comes the unraveling of the plot. And here, again, we must frankly say, that there is a want of perfect verisimilitude in the means by which the catastrophe is brought about. There is something a little too strange, for a story of real life, in the obscurity that hangs about Ellen's birth, and in the mysterious box containing the miniature of her father and the solemn epistle from her mother, which Ellen is under a strict charge not to open until a certain age, or until she had formed a matrimonial connexion. These things remind us too strongly of the machinery of romances. It is not a little extraordinary also, that Ellen's father should travel from a distant province to the very spot where his daughter was, and should there meet with an accident, by which he was confined for weeks as a patient in the very house where Ellen resided, that the matrimonial connexion, which left her at liberty to explore the mysterious tokens of her birth should be formed during his stay in the northern states, and before he had parted from her society, and that it should be formed with the very man whom, of all others, he most desired to call his son in law. But we ought not perhaps to criticise too sternly these expedients for helping out the plot of a novel. The many dispensations granted to the tribe of poets, to overleap certain settled rules, grew long ago into a body of established and unquestionable privileges, under the name of licentia poetica. The right of novelists to bring about their catastrophes by extraordinary means, has, we fear, in like manner, been too long and too universally enjoyed to be taken from them at this day. Even the rational, sober, practical, and authentic Miss Edgeworth has not disdained to employ them. In her Ennui, for example, the Earl of Glenthorn suddenly finds himself a mere private man, the son of a bog trotting blacksmith, and after he has undergone a complete renovation of character, and has made an excellent lawyer of himself, as suddenly regains his title, and all this is effected by much stranger means than are resorted to by the author of the work before us, to make Ellen Bruce the daughter of Mr Redwood. As for the Waverley novels, the author of which nobody ever thought of taxing with poverty of invention, they abound with licenses of this sort. After all, the plot of a novel is little more than a convenient contrivance to introduce interesting situations and incidents, well drawn characters and fine sketches from life and nature. If we have all these, why need we complain of the manner in which they are connected, unless that manner be such as essentially to impair their effect? If the picture be beautiful, why should we turn our eyes from it, to find fault with the frame in which it is enclosed?
The work closes with a characteristic letter from Deborah Lenox, of which we can afford only the following specimen.
Little Peggy came here this morning, with a basket of new fashioned early beans, a present from Deacon Martin to me ; the deacon and I have had a strife, which should have the first beans, and he has won the race ; and, by the way, I do not believe you have heard about the deacon's marriage, which has made quite a stirring time here at Eton. You must know that a few weeks after the deacon lost his wife, he felt so lonesome without a companion, that he came to sister Lenox to recommend a suitable one, and she directly spoke a good word for Peggy's aunt Betty, whó is, as it were, alone in the world, and though a poor body, she comes of a creditable stock in the old countries ; and what is more to the purVOL. XX.-NO, 47.
pose, her walk and conversation among us has been as good as a preached sermon—that is to say a moral discourse. Well, the deacon was quite taken with the notion, for Betty is a comely woman to look to yet, though well nigh on to fifty, and he went directly to lay the matter before some of the church members, and they made strong objections to the match, on account of Betty's so often breaking the third commandment, which comes, I suppose, from her being brought up in Old England, where they are by no means so particular about teaching the youth their catechise as
The deacon, however, had set his face as a flint, and there were consultations about it, till at last two of the brethren agreed to go and talk to Betty on the subject, and make her promise that she would put a tight rein on her tongue.
Betty promised everything they asked; but you know when a body always goes in the same track, it makes a deep rut, and it is next to an impossibility to turn out of it; and so, while Betty was talking with them, every other sentence was, “ God help us, gentlemen,” and “God bless your souls, I'll do my best," and so on; and they came away more dead set against the match than
But Martin went on in spite of them, and married her; and except in the matter of the third commandment, there is not a more exemplary deacon's wife in the state than Betty makes.' 'vol. ii. pp. 284, 285.
The moral of Redwood, as intimated in the preface, is properly a religious one. We had some apprehensions on seeing this intimation, that the moral would be too anxiously and obtrusively brought forward, and pressed with a wearisome frequency and perseverance. The writer of a novel, the design of which is professedly to instruct, is always in danger of falling into this error. He is himself so full of the importance of the lesson he inculcates, that he is apt to suppose that it cannot be too often nor too earnestly repeated, nor enforced by too much argument and amplification, nor illustrated by too many or too obvious examples. We must say, however, that we see few if any traces of this fault in Redwood. The moral is well wrought into the texture of the work, but never officiously presented. It is not enough to say of this novel, that the reader is relieved and refreshed at due intervals, by being let out from the instructions of the author into the great world about him, to amuse himself with what is going on there ; and is then gently recalled to the lesson, which the author wishes to teach. It is doing it better justice to say, that the world itself is only then made to the reader, what it ought always to be, the great school and place of discipline, the experience and observation of which should form us to virtue.
We have already spoken of the author's skill in the drawing of characters. Next to the character of Debby, that of Susan is sketched with the greatest spirit and originality. Either of these would of itself suffice to give a reputation to the work. All the others, even the subordinate ones, give ample proofs of a fertile invention, and a wide and close observation. The very persons who seem, at first sight, to be brought forward only for the purpose of exhibiting our national manners, or who are casually introduced, in some single incident of the plot, are, for the most part, distinguished from each other by some striking peculiarity. The Vermont Yeoman, Mr Lenox, and even the Shaker gardener, though but just seen in the course of the narrative, leave a strong individual impression on the mind of the reader, an impression that bears witness to the abundance and variety of the author's resources. The style of the work in that most difficult part, the dialogue, is exceedingly natural, spirited, and appropriate. That of the narrative parts, however, though always flowing and often eloquent, is not in all places equal to that of the dialogue. It may be suggested to the author, whether the anxiety always to express herself pointedly and brilliantly has not, in some instances, taken from the sincerity of her manner, and thus diminished the force and depth of the impression intended to be made. We have also noted some deviations from purity of language, which have doubtless been the more striking in a work written with such apparent care.
The peculiarities in the manners and character of our countrymen, have too long been connected with ideas merely low and ludicrous. We complain of our English neighbors for holding them up as objects simply ridiculous and laughable, but it is by no means certain that we have not encouraged them by our example. It is time, however, that they were redeemed from these gross and degrading associations. It is time that they should be mentioned, as they deserve to be, with something else than a sneer, and that a feeling of respect should mingle with the smile they occasion. We are happy to see the author of this work connecting them, as we find them connected in real life, with much that is ennobling and elevated, with traits of sagacity, benevolence, moral courage and magnanimity. These are qualities, which by no means impair any comic effect those peculiarities may have ; they rather relieve and heighten it. They transform it from mere buffoonery to the finest humor. When this is done, something is done to exalt our national reputation abroad, and to improve our national character at home. It is also a sort of public benefit, to show what copious and valuable materials the private lives and daily habits of our countrymen offer to the writer of genius. It is as if one were to discover to us rich ores and gems lying in the common earth about us. But our readers must by this time be weary
of our comments, and we dismiss them, with pleasure, to the perusal of the work itself.
Art. II.—Reminiscences of Charles Butler, Esq. of Lin
coln's Inn ; with a Letter to a Lady on Ancient and Modern Music. From the Fourth London Edition.
12mo. pp. 351. New York. Bliss and White. To those who would gather knowledge without much expense of thought, or labor of study, better pleased to loiter in the smooth places of literature, than toil up its rugged ascents in search of its higher trophies; and to those who would relax their severer studies with an agreeable variety of literary anecdote, traits in the character of distinguished men, and curious historical facts; to all such persons, these remembrances of a veteran scholar, and amiable man, may be highly recommended. The author has long been known, as a writer and a lawyer of considerable eminence, and it is the purpose of this work, which he insinuates may be his last, to comprise such scattered thoughts as had occurred to him in the course of his studies, relate some of the incidents in his own life connected with his literary pursuits, and to add notices of all his previous publications. These ends he has attained in such a manner, as to mingle amusement with the instruction he communicates, and to win the reader not more by the variety and interest of his topics, than by the ease and