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are traced with more of unctuous humour than is usual with the author, and, excepting the hurry-skurry of the finale, with more equable respect to truth. Miss Martha Compton's matrimonial tactics make up a rich piece of comedy-and the widowed career of the same adventurer maintains the fun to the fifth act. Showy, strong-willed, supple-tongued, audacious, garrulous, affected, tawdry, lynx-eyed, indomitable in her scheming, and colossal in her selfishness—was für eine Frau is the Widow Barnaby!—Then she is ably played up to by the other characters, in whose portraiture unwonted skill is apparent: Agnes Willoughby, for instance--whose artlessness shows delightfully beside her guardian's systematic art; and Aunt Betsy, a worthy old soul, in excellent keeping; and my Lord Mucklebury, whose flirtation with the “fat, fair, and forty" matron is wound up so smartly. Like all, or nearly all continuations, “ The Widow Married” suggested invidious comparisons, and made admirers wish that “let well alone” had been the order of the day. It is perilous for an author to tamper with what has become public property, and in the disposal of which the public will have a voice.
To the same period belongs “One Fault”-a novel to which we should be happy to apply its own title, if we could; but which, we fear, has more than one, or two, defects incident to its constitution. It is a story of a persecuted wife, whose trials are elaborated with abundant minuteness and frequent pathos ; but it is deficient, to a marked degree, in action, in probability, in character, and in finish. Read piecemeal, or in the elegant extracts of a Review, it tells very well, and testifies to the nervous energy of the hand which indited it; but when conscientiously perused (in the grammatical sense) as a “ matter” of three volumes, it drags, and droops, and would dwindle away but for the intervals of irregular vehemence which relieve the tedium. Its moral is good—to wit, the evils of morbid sensitiveness, illustrated in the “ ways and means,” of Wentworth; but the development of this principle is sufficiently eccentric and overdrawn to mar the purpose it involves. It seems too far removed from the level of actual life to make its didactic import available within that region.
“ Charles Chesterfield; or, the Adventures of a Youth of Genius,»* is one of those novels of literary life-its double-double toil and trouble, its contradictions and absurdities, its hopes and fears--of which so many writers have made significant use, as Balzac and George Borrow, Thackeray and G. H. Lewes. The Byronian hero and his gradual disenchantment pertain to a twice twenty-times told tale ; but of course there is amusement and spirit in Mrs. Trollope's version, and even more than her average outlay of caricaturing skill and sarcastic commentary. The London coteries are quizzed ad libitum, and almost ultra licitum—and to the same sharp fire of quizzical artillery are exposed Whigs and Yankees, and sentimentalists alike of the German silver type and of Brummagem ware. Literary life furnished another theme in the instance of her next work, “ The Blue Belles of England,” whereof the title is its own interpreter. With higher claims to nature than its predecessor, it is its inferior in smartness and caustic power ; on which grounds it is less acceptable to those who read the author for her distinctive character
* Originally published in this Magazine.
istics, and more so to those who are thankful for repose from the constant din of satirical sallies.
An improbable but somewhat exciting tale followed, in the shape of “ Hargrave ; or, the Adventures of a Man of Fashion,” the Pelham or Cecil of the work being a disreputable roué, whose type is to be found rather in Robert Macaire than in either of the aforesaid London coxconibs. The conduct of the incidents is reckless, and the elaboration of characters null. About the same time appeared “Jessie Phillips,” a pendant to the “Factory-Boy” already mishandled by us. The New Poor Law is the object of this assault, as the Factory System was of that. Enough to say, that on a subject which she herself pronounces “one of such enormous difficulty and such stupendous importance," she fails as signally as in the preceding one. Right pleasant was it to meet her in a more congenial element, when engaged in showing up “The Laurringtons ; or, Superior People”—a cluster of artificial flowers not born to blush unseen, or to blush at all, of which the natural history is here detailed with the keen “knowingness” of one acquainted with the entire process by which such things are made. We miss, however, something of the early vigour of the satirist. Still she is greatly preferable on topics of this order, however they may savour of the crambe repetita, than on a delineation of “Young Love,” to which she subsequently turned her attention, working up a rather complicated story with ingenuity, but without marked success. A month or two's breathing-space, and she re-appeared in full feather as exhibitor of the “ Attractive Man,” Mr.
Theodore Vidal, alias Luke Squabs. This worthy is just one of the clever, bland, impossible rascals whom she takes to pieces with such dissecting-room gusto. He is a man of strong feelings and considerable powers of mind-completely devoted to the pleasures of life, but with method in his madness-an Epicurean sui generis-living luxuriously upon his friends, a Mr. Affable Hawk doing the agreeable in a dovecot, and now, in middle life, looking out for an eligible spouse. A perennial flow of impudence there is in him, springing up like the strong jet of a well-supplied fountain, and blinding the eyes of any audacious mortal who ventures within splashing distance. The portrait is strongly drawn, but wants relief. The same with Lucy Dalton, a beautiful and gifted creature, without heart, principle, or decency-one of those happily unreal characters whom Mrs. Trollope, unhappily, seeks to endow with a local habitation and a name, but which human nature will never accept, and the circulating libraries only pro tempore. One or two personages in this novel are, however, excellent : as Squire Clementson, the comely, stout-hearted, and sweet-blooded (to use Jeffrey's pet phrase) old English gentleman ; and the shy geological bachelor, Mr. Norman ; and the gin-loving widow Dalton, that hard-featured and fluent-tongued virago, repulsive as she is. With occasional displays of such graphic ability, it is tantalising to find so many inequalities, and such intervals of dreary platitude, as detract from the merit of nearly all Mrs. Trollope's fictions.
During the last five or six years her dashing, mocking pen-dipping deeply as ever in the gall of her ink, and flitting recklessly as ever over her paper (not always of the satin-wove or cream-laid fabric)—has instructed the world in the sayings and doings, the foolish sayings and mis
doings, of other concentric circles of artificial life. Though she, perchance,
is vicious in her guess,
Shapes faults that are not,* and though it is objected, with reason, that her satire is directed against the mere superficialities of life, and is little calculated to check vice or encourage virtue; and though there may be in her lightest mirth a bitter and virulent spirit, which is “ as misplaced as it is unfeminine,” still do we owe her something for her persevering war against hypocrisies and shams, and her merciless raillery of frippery and pretence in a thousand Protean guises. Among the fictions of this last epoch are her“ Robertses on their Travels,” + “Father Eustace," “ The Three Cousins," " Town and Country; or, the Days of the Regency,” “ The Young Countess," “ The Lottery of Marriage,” “Petticoat Government,” “Second Love ; or, Beauty and Intellect," and " Mrs. Mathews; or, Family Mysteries.” Tory as she is, and prejudiced as she so frequently shows herself, it is unjust to accuse her of exclusiveness or sectarianism in the use of her sarcasms. No one class appropriates her irony. No one pariah society is the recipient of her hard words. Wherever, high or low, she discerns what she honestly believes to be weak points or vicious abuses, she as honestly proclaims war, and incontinently fires a broadside. She is, in fact, one of the most catholic of satirists—a very Ishmaelite in the impartiality of her pugilism-one who looks out for squalls on every coast and in every latitude, plying her craft in mid-seas as well as in creeks and shallows, in tropic and arctic zones, in waters salt and fresh, for prey large and small, and treating all as fish that comes to her net. What a capacious net ! what a prodigious take of the “ finny tribes !” and what a marvel that not yet is the net broken! How dear to this enterprising voyager the “ blue above and the blue below
-the blue, the fresh, the ever free-without a mark and without a bound !"#
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, may exclaim Mr. Colburn and the libraries of the United Kingdom ; for it is this lady's joy “on thy breast to be borne, like a bubble onwards," reflecting thy profoundest azure, and rivalling thy unrestful energy and varying aspects : thee she loveth
in all time,
Dark heaving ;-boundless, endless, and sublime !
THE EVE OF ALL-SOUL S.
BY MRS. ACTON TINDAL.
[According to popular superstition, the souls of the departed are set free upon earth on the Eve of All-Souls. They are said to pass before the gaze of the watcher in their well-remembered human forms.]
I sat beside a high cathedral's door,
When the priest chanted masses for the dead;
And those o'er whom the scarce-dried tear was shed
The fragrant incense through the portals rolled
On the cold brightness of the wintry night;
There lay the calm moon's spiritual light.
On Rubens' canvas—beamed the Holy Child
And, strong in faith, from present pain beguiled,
Here Guido's Martyr on his torturer smiled!
THE GATHERING OF THE SOULS.
Till from the graves around
Along the death-sown ground.
Within the tombs below,
And rolled in sudden throe.
Lulled was the realm of air, A pallor came upon each star,
The Souls were passing there. The shadows took a myriad forms,
The breath of night was quick,Faster than rain in thunder-storms,
Than snowflakes falling thick. No figures-known to men may tell
The numbers of that throng; They pour up from morass and fell,
And mountain-bulwark strong; They crown the peaks 'twixt earth and sky;
They thread the straight defiles ;
They crowd the forest aisles.
The cataract's deafening tide,
A vast shroud floating wide,
Stretching in space away;
Swept on the wan array.
The stirring, buoyant breeze ;
The odour of the seas;
That o'er the waters creep,
From out the great sea-deep.”
It lighted up each pale green wave;
The corpse-light of the watery grave. And softly through that spectral brightness,
From coral-grove and pearly bed, They glided up in human likeness,
The spirits of the ocean's dead.