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THE ENGLISH MONTE CHRISTO.*
IMAGINE an English nobleman as rich as Monte Christo and like the possessor of the treasures of the Borgias, the mysterious diver into the secrets of other persons, but unlike Monte Christo using his wealth and power for the purposes of beneficence and happiness instead of a criminal and inflexible revenge; and you have before you Lord Saxondale-the idealisation, apparently, of a well-known living nobleman, to whom Mr. Sydney Whiting addresses his work of fiction.
The scene opens at Blackfriars Bridge on a murky dark night, where two men, paid by Lord Saxondale, perpetually wait, like pelicans for their prey, to rescue misfortune from self-destruction. Upon this occasion the heart-broken wife of a drunkard is saved. It was not from penury or from ill-treatment that this woman sought to put an impious end to her life, but because drink had made her husband callous, as well as rude, idle, and poor, and her " affection" was no longer returned.
Suddenly the scene shifts to a club-house. "Wonderful places," says Mr. Sydney Whiting, "are the clubs of London-wonderful for their magnificence-wonderful for the different order of beings they bring together, and wonderful for changing luxuries into necessaries." Here we are introduced to Sir Denis Lionel, a rich, intellectual, handsome, and fashionable roué, and to his friend Mr. Hamilton Smyth-a toady littérateur, servile to the rich and the powerful, a bully to his equals and inferiors. Yet, notwithstanding all this man's vices and meanness, he had at home a wife who would have loved him had she dared, but who having been married for money and the money being gone, all her advances towards affection were now repulsed with loathing on the part of the worthy littérateur.
The next scene is with the English Monte Christo himself, insisting upon Sir Denis Lionel bringing a ridiculous misunderstanding with his bosom friend Cecil Loveton-Lord Saxondale's son-to the issue of a duel, to teach the said son to shun disputes. The arrangements, however, by which no harm was to result of a rather complicated character -were frustrated by Mr. Hamilton Smyth's not giving Sir Denis the loaded pistol, which he intended to fire into the air, but passing it over to Cecil, who imagining, from words to that effect dropped by Sir Denis, that he (Sir Denis) had the unloaded pistol, fired at his friend, and wounded him almost mortally.
Sir Denis is attended on his sick-bed not only by grieving friendship, but also by the most ardent and affectionate nature depicted in the person of Lucy Stapleton, an extraordinarily beautiful young woman, but dark-" a Creole," Mr. Sydney Whiting terms her rather ungallantlyand whose passionate fervour had cloyed the heart of the young fashionable, which long yearning for love of a more timid and retiring description, had but lately met with the ideal of such an affection in the person of Mary Ingleby.
Next we have Stephen Gray, a poor author, whom Lord Saxondale tempts under the assumed character of a publisher, but in vain, to write "a modern novel" full of "intrigues, seductions, and adulteries, but
Affection its Flowers and Fruits. A Tale of the Times. 3 vols. T. C.
so garnished with morality, that the reader may conceive that he is being lectured instead of his sensual tastes being pandered to," and afterwards rewards most bountifully for his firmness of principle in refusing to prostitute his pen to the purposes of the suppositious Satanic publisher. Stephen Gray, in the poetry of his young heart loves, it may be here mentioned, the beautiful, the good, and the virtuous Mary Ingleby-the parson's daughter of Suniton-who has also, unknown to himself, loved him since his boyhood, while by some strange mistake made upon inquiring in a public place the name of his love, Stephen Gray had been led into the unfortunate error of believing that Mary Ingleby was Lucy Stapleton.
As time wore on, Sir Denis Lionel recovered from the effects of his wound, and was enabled once more to mingle in society. Lucy Stapleton follows him to a bal masqué at "Stanfield House," where she disturbs a very philosophic tête-à-tête with Mary Ingleby, but being discovered by her inconstant lover, with a phial of prussic acid in her possession, as he deems, for the destruction of her rival, but as it really turned out for her own miserable self, a scene of violent recrimination ensues, the beautiful, too confiding, too ardent, Creole, is discarded for ever from his bosom, and she becomes a lunatic-and by Lord Saxondale's mysterious agency, attended upon and soothed and comforted and ultimately cured, by the more than sisterly kindness of Mary Ingleby.
A severe trial, however, awaited Mary in this "sister of charity" office, for she is shown the love letters of Stephen Gray, and which, intended for her, have been directed to Miss Stapleton—a mistake which is naturally not cleared up till a happy conclusion is brought about through Lord Saxondale's agency. A scene in which the aforesaid noble agent of good, makes a rich but nefarious uncle of Stephen's, a Mr. Cincinnatus Tibbs, disgorge a part of his ill-gotten wealth, in favour of his neglected nephew, by threatening disclosures of an infamous character, is at once forcibly and amusingly told.
The progress of that portion of the story which more particularly refers to the main characters, has, it is to be observed, to be frequently interrupted to introduce sketches of life, in which the English MonteChristo ever enacts the same part of the mysterious rewarder of virtue and the punisher of vice. One of the most remarkable incidents of this kind is associated with the person of Mr. Hamilton Smyth, who, wishing to dispose of his wife in favour of a certain Sir John Fungus, his abominable prospects are frustrated by Lord Saxondale, who brings about a divorce between the parties, only to have the pleasure of informing Mr. Smyth a few days afterwards, that his repudiated partner has just fallen into the enjoyment of a large fortune!
Another by-plot is occupied with the loves of Cecil Loveton and of Annie Leslie, a vivacious and pretty performer of genteel comedy, but of unblemished reputation; and the honourable progress and conclusion of the said loves is more consonant with poetical justice, than satisfactory as an example. Behind the scenes, where our young heroes, Sir Denis Lionel, Cecil Loveton, and their mutual friend Captain Sinclair, spend no small portion of their time, we are also introduced to a Major Sangley, a ruffianly duellist, who lives by intriguing, gambling, bullying, and fighting! Sir Denis Lionel only prevents Cecil being victimised into fighting with the scoundrel, by bearding him in his own den, taxing
him with villany and crime, and with full exposure if he did not at once leave the country; and this was only accomplished at the imminent risk of his life.
Another episode, the least pleasing in the book, is that of the blaze young Marquis of Longlands, who is introduced reading a whole budget of billets-doux while lounging at his breakfast, attended upon by two ridiculous characters, a finical French valet and an impudent young tiger, and who, after proposing for, and being rejected the same morning by Lady Stanfield's daughter, who prefers our gallant friend Captain Sinclair, is led through the agency of the English Monte Christo to scenes of squalor and poverty, such as are only to be met with in vast cities, where rank and rags confront and jostle one another, and where the discovery of a lost child is made to arouse a sense of justice due to a certain Ellen, woo'ed, won, and deceived by the marquis as the simple commoner, Walter Herbert.
Lord Saxondale has an efficient minister in his works of beneficence, in a certain Mr. Alfred Crouch, an old man in black-lame—and with a stooping figure, always grumbling, but always working steadfastly and with almost super-human skill in his noble master's cause. By means of Crouch, Morley the drunkard is reclaimed, and, when thoroughly cured, his wife is restored to him, and this is the most truly affecting incident in all the scenes of the English Monte Christo's enactment.
In the working out of the objects ultimately proposed to himself, Lord Saxondale has to inflict upon Stephen Gray the temporary pain of being made acquainted with Lucy Stapleton's real position, and of her love for another; and at the same time to satisfy Sir Denis Lionel that Mary Ingleby's affections are also given to the fortunate young author. This drives Sir Denis from the country, and while taking refuge from his miseries in Lisbon, he is tracked out, and would have been murdered by the revengeful Major Sangley but for Mr. Crouch, who employs a brother of Lucy Stapleton's to act as a spy upon the civilised bandit, and who is thus enabled to prevent the consummation of the intended crime; that, too, at a moment when Sir Denis had, through the same inexhaustible labours in the cause of justice-the beneficent toiling of the English Monte Christo-been made aware of the real intentions of Lucy, when detected with poison in her possession; of the same young creature's having been won by Mary Ingleby from the passionate ardour of the "Creole" to the milder tenderness of a woman's trained affections; and had been thus brought over to the performance of a last act of justice long due to that suffering and devoted woman.
It is pleasanter in a case like this to give an idea of a work than to waste time and space in vain and uninteresting criticism. Every one will form to themselves a different opinion as to the probability of the characters or events, the justice of the conclusions arrived at, and the vraisemblance of the means by which these are attained. As an attempt to show in opposition to the popular decrying school, that the great and the wealthy may be virtuous and benevolent, it is a decided failure, for it grants more than human powers to the nobleman, whom we have designated as the "English Monte Christo;" but as simply a work of fiction, representing to us how happy events may be imaginarily brought about by well-spent money and a most lively benevolence of purpose, the work is most decidedly creditable on the score of novelty, descriptive power, and unflagging amusement.
BEAUCHAMP; OR, THE ERROR.*
WHAT reader of the New Monthly Magazine has not followed the fortunes of the ill-fated Heury Beauchamp with the liveliest interest and anxiety? The fatal error of his youth clinging to him with the pertinacity of a gnome, in the shape of a female persecuting fiend! How fearful the catastrophe to which her unmitigated malignity leads her; but which at the same time sets Henry free from the most miserable of ties! Ned Hayward is one of those fine characters, faithful and courageous, which Mr. James is so particularly felicitous in delineating; indeed that gentleman has seldom succeeded in placing upon the stage a group of characters more clearly defined one from another, and yet working more admirably together. His old manor-houses, his way-side inns, his tit-bits of rural scenery, and even his interiors, are, also, all sketched off in his happiest vein, and it is not because this admirable novel first appeared in the pages of the New Monthly Magazine that we say it is one of his best, but because it is the general opinion of all who have read the latest of Mr. James's works.
THE SCOTTISH CHURCH.†
THE object which his grace, the Duke of Argyll, had in view in publishing this well-digested tome, so modestly designated an "essay," was to give a comprehensive sketch of the principles and tendencies of the Scottish reformation, to distinguish those which are primary and essential from those which, being the growth of accidental circumstances, are local in their origin, and as local in their meaning; and especially to point out the value of the former in the existing controversies of the Christian church.
This was a noble task to undertake, and it fills the heart with gladness to think in how different a spirit that task has been undertaken to what would have actuated the noble duke's ancestor, Duncan, first Baron Campbell, or have influenced parties in the by-gone days of a persecuting church and of stern unyielding Covenanters.
The noble lord speaks with a moderation and good sense upon the subject, that rivets, at once, both the reader's attention and his confidence, and we cannot but hope-it may be said in a somewhat latitudinarian spirit, but which we cannot help thinking is a Christian one-that this work will assist in the great cause of overthrowing prejudices. We are certain that both from its own great merits, the labour that has been bestowed on the work, and its moderate and sensible tone, as well as the quarter from whence it emanates, that it will meet with a most favourable reception.
DIARY OF SAMUEL PEPYS.+
THE principal points of historical importance in the third volume of this delightful, gossiping publication, relate to the Plague and the Fire, and the more amusing passages are those relating to Mrs. Knipp, the actress, and to the courtship and marriage of Sir George Carteret's son and the daughter of the Earl of Sandwich. When we add that the new matter fills nearly half the volume, some idea will be formed of the superiority of this edition to the old and now obsolete one.
Beauchamp; or, the Error. By G. P. R. James, Esq. 3 vols. Smith and †Presbytery Examined; an Essay, Critical and Historical, on the Ecclesiastical History of Scotland since the Reformation. By the Duke of Argyll. Edward
Diary of Samuel Pepys. Edited by Lord Braybrooke. Vol. III. Henry Colburn.
NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
AN ADVENTURE ON A WEDDING TOUR.
BY DUDLEY COSTELLO.
THERE is a rapid stream, passing, indeed, for a river in Wales, which finds its source in a hollow amid the dreary mountain moors above Tregaron, and in its descent to the sea forms the boundary for many miles between Cardiganshire on one side, and Carmarthenshire and Pembroke on the other.
This stream, or river, is called the Teifi.
It has been celebrated in song, from the days of Cadwallon to our own, for the romantic beauty of its shores-and it also boasts a celebrity of a more substantial nature, the excellent trout and salmon, the finest in the principality, which are caught in its waters. The angler who throws his fly in the favoured haunts above Lampeter,-the privileged fishermen of the weir at Cilgerran, or those who glide in light coracles beneath the shadow of the dark woods which in so many places overhang the stream, know full well the value of the produce of the Teifi, and rate their spoil accordingly. Royalty even has testified to the excellence of the Teifi salmon, for when the "sick epicure," George IV., passed through South Wales, he acknowledged it had given him a new sensation, and that none other was comparable to it.
It might have been for the purpose of eating salmon only-for gastronomers, like lovers, little heed the space which separates them from the object of their desires,-or for the simple purpose of enjoying some of the finest scenery in South Wales,-or, possibly, for both these reasons combined, that two travellers, a lady and a gentleman, directed their steps, in the early part of last summer, towards the course of this picturesque and pleasant river. We will not separate the fish from the waters in which they floated, and say that the gentleman solely admired the one and the lady the other, for the former had taste as well as a good appetite, and his fair companion was not so exclusive an admirer of the beauties of nature as to slight the creature-comforts which are usually rendered doubly welcome by the fatigues of travel. At the risk, then, of repetition, we may say, that the fame of the Teifi, in its most extended sense, had lured them, on this, their wedding tour, to cross the bare Carmarthen hills, and leave behind them the lovely vale of Towy, with all its countless beauties and enduring poetical associations.
The picturesque character of Welsh scenery is a fact universally acknowledged, but there is nothing picturesque in the Welsh towns. For the most part they possess a ruined castle, but nothing beyond that to induce the traveller to linger long ;- -one or two inns, a bank, a nıarkethouse, a town-hall-the houses of half-a-dozen solicitors and medical men, whose callings are emblazoned on the brass plates which decorate their doors, form the principal edifices that meet his eye-the rest are a mere heap of whitewashed cottages, mean in appearance, and not too pleasant on a closer inspection.
Nov.-VOL. LXXXIV. NO. CCCXXXV.