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On Novel Reading.

novels filled with moral speculations : and yet their moral speculations were, perhaps, all in themselves correct, though the tendency of the actions founded upon them was quite the re

[VOL. 4 belief, often experienced by the instruc- ardson, the amiable Richardson, aftors of youth, who fail to convince fords a very strong instance of the potheir pupils, because they refer every sition we are advancing. The virtuous thing that happens to prove the maxim personages of his drama moralize so which they may be inculcating at the regularly, so gloomily, so tediously, and time. A fiction so constituted, to bor- so pedantically, that they are not half row an observation of Madame de Stael, so attractive as his vicious ones, who will, like allegory, always march thus engage on their side those affecbetween two rocks: if its end be mark- tions of the mind, which should belong ed out too clearly, it tires; if it be con- to virtuous characters, and to virtuous cealed, it is forgotten; and if it en- characters alone. This, beyond a deavours to divide the attention, it no doubt, was not his intention; but there longer excites interest." is not a single individual, who has peIf these arguments shall not appear rused his works, that does not at the convincing to the novel-writer, there is bottom of his heart prefer a Lovelace a fact which proves more than a thou- to a Grandison, though, perhaps, he sand volumes, how satisfactory they will not openly acknowledge such a are to the novel-reader. This method predilection. The novels of Voltaire, of foisting morality on his attention, Rousseau, and Marmontel, shew also very soon becomes evident to him, very strongly that there is not a more however negligent a peruser he may sure and certain way of spreading infibe; a certain tact informs him, where delity and immorality, than through this sermonizing begins, and he will very soon find out, where it is to conclude; it will, therefore, be omitted, as regularly as it occurs, and what is worse, be treated with contempt and derision, as an unseasonable interruption of the verse. To every rule of right they story, and a superfluous introduction of piety and virtue. We should almost be ashamed to acknowledge how frequently this has been our own practice, if we were not aware that there are many others equally averse to such works of supererogation, and who, like ourselves, leave these realms of prosing unexplored, and proceed onwards to the first passage where the narrative is resumed. Not that either they, or we, think that the morality of a publication is of trifling import, but that it is too much to have a long strain of philosophical observations, which are afterwards to be reduced into one terse and emphatic sentence, thrust into our notice upon every transaction and occurrence in life. We know that such things do not occur in the world-that they are not natural-and they therefore occasion either our anger or our contempt. Sæpe jocum, sæpe bilem


found exceptions: and on these they fixed the public attention, by adorning them with all the splendid decorations of eloquence, so that the rule was despised or forgotten, and the exception triumphantly established in its stead. They put extreme cases, as Miss Edgeworth has well observed, in which virtue became vice, and vice virtue: they exhibited criminal passions in constant connection with the most exalted and most amiable virtues; and making use of the best feelings of human nature for the worst purposes, they engaged pity and admiration perpetually on the side of guilt. It was thus, whilst they were talking eternally of philosophy and philanthropy, terms, which they only borrowed to perplex the ignorant and seduce the imaginative, that they produced a catastrophe so tremendous, as not merely to involve themselves and their deluded followers in ruin, but to

convulse the whole world to its innerBesides, too often the moral effect, most centre. It was not by attacking a very different thing from the moral openly the strong fortifications of reaof a work, is overlooked by the author: son and religion, but by sapping and on account of this consideration, Rich- undermining them in this insidious

VOL. 4.]

On Novel-Reading.


manner, that the doctrines, which they which, by some sad misnomer, are advocated, obtained their extensive cir- more generally known by the title of culation. Unfortunately, too, for suf- Marmontel's moral Tales. In readfering bumanity, they were all gifted ing this story, which is but a short one, with the highest literary talents and ac- not a word is said professedly against complishments; there was no species marriage; on the contrary, the highest of writing which they did not attempt, commendations are passed upon it; and none which they attempted, that and yet, paradoxical as it may appear, they did not adorn: equally versed in the conclusion of the tale shews distinctall the refinements of metaphysical sub- ly, that its whole object is to decry that tilty and all the meretricious eloquence most sacred and necessary institution. of sentiment and passion, they moved Still, we must confess, that from the be in those rugged regions of science, which ginning of the narrative to its close, the are placed far above the ken of ordinary thoughts, the expressions, the descripmortals, with the same grace and facil- tions, are all limpid purity. There is ity as they did in the pleasing fields of im- not a single sentence in it, which, when agination, when in pursuit of the fleet- taken unconnectediy, can be convicted ing colours of transient emotion. Thus of immorality, nay, so considered, every enabled to oppose intellect to principle, sentence is undoubtedly of excellent they employed every artifice which in- tendency; it is the manner in which tellect could afford them, to carry into they are blended together, that excites execution their nefarious projects. our disgust, and demands our reprehenKnowing that the first point of art is to sion. It is not any deduction, which conceal art, and that insinuations and the writer himself makes, which is prosurmises are much more difficult to ductive of danger; it is the deduction, encounter than assertions and argu- which is unmade, which is left to be ments, they never brought forward in made by the reader's understanding, express dissertations their abominable which, like the dew of the poison tree, sophisms, which, so produced, would is secretly, and silently, and unobservhave been easy to combat, and not dif- edly, instilled into his heart, and into cult to overcome. They endeavoured his brain, that is so highly detrimental to convince mankind, by a sort of ex- in its future consequences. An error emplification of their system, that, by insinuated in this manner into the reacting on certain principles, which tho' cesses of the mind, is infinitely more erroneous, were tricked out in all the difficult to eradicate, than an error livery of virtue, their objects would be which owes its birth to their ignorance, acquired with greater ease, and retained or fraud, or violent prejudice. Ignorwith less difficulty, than under the pre- ance may be enlightened; fraud may sent institutions of society; and that, if be detected; prejudice may be removresolution could once be mustered to ed: but an impression, thus created, break from the trammels in which cus- will be found reason-proof, because it ton had enchained them, they would will appear to every individual as an possess a more perfect happiness, and a important truth which he has himself more unbroken series of enjoyments discovered, and not as a specious falsethan had ever yet befallen the human hood "invented by the enemy." He species. The consequence was, that will thus make a point of honour not their respect and reverence for all esta- to be disabused, and will rather fall blished regulations gradually diminish- into a bundred fresh mistakes than ed, till at last nothing remained but the confess this one. desire of overturning them. From these observations, some people were called upon to point out one story may imagine that we take away from more than another in which the most the writers of fiction all power of being sacred ordinances are thus dangerously, useful as moral instructors. But this and, as it were, covertly, attacked, we is by no means the fact; we only wish should instance the story of Lubin and to regulate the use of it. Against the Annette, in Marmontel's immoral Tales, greater vices, it is useless to declaim

If we


Sketches of English Society.

[VOL. 4 from either the pulpit or the press, be- that we look upon Miss Edgeworth as cause no man commits them ignorantly, having doue more good in her age and or is unacquainted with their conse- generation, than all the superannuated quences: but against those smaller governors and governesses, who have vices, which make up the profligacies ever written to improve and amend it. of an individual, and the corruption of She attacks with ridicule, and not with a people, the novellist may direct his reprobation, and with all the amenity attacks with the fairest prospects of of Horace makes you smile at your ultimate success. But it will not be faults, before she imposes on you the by magnifying petty delinquencies into task of correcting them. Without enormities, or by making appeals in ex- selecting any particular maxim under press dissertations to a man's conscience the name of a moral, she perpetually against practices which are sanctioned keeps the reader's feelings excited in by all around him, that such prospects behalf of virtue, by painting it in every will be fulfilled, and such purposes situation lovely, commanding, and accomplished. An attempt of such a triumphant. A writer, who thus blends nature would be considered as ascetic amusement with instruction, is entitled cant and hypocrisy, or else, as we have to the very highest applause and admi-before stated, a stupid preachment pro- ration; while no less severe and unceeding from despicable ignorance of bounded reprehension ought to be the world. The true method is so to awarded to those literatuli and philosointerweave the moral with the story, phists, who apply the talents which God that any endeavour to separate them, has granted them, and which education would tear to pieces the contexture of has improved, to the propagation of the whole, and if not entirely destroy, doctrines, execrable when merely convery much depreciate the value of the sidered as opinions, and doubly execraparts. No portion of the narrative ble when reduced to practice, as they which is necessary to the one must be operate most prejudicially in ordinary unnecessary to the other: if the moral life both to individuals and to commuever is seen, it must come, like a flying nities. Thanks be to Providence, the cloud, to throw a shadow over the race of such beings seems at present current, not, like a miry infusion, to extinct; they never were the natural sully its clearness. Pursuing this sys- growth of our soil, and are now distem, you will have a chance of being carded as an unnatural and monstrous heard with attention: and when that progeny by every other country. If point is once gained, you have only to however there be any miscreants, so mix up your reasons and your ridicule depraved as to take pleasure either in in just proportions, to make your in- the reading or writing of such infamous stances rapid and amusing, and to compositions, we envy them not their concentrate your proofs into striking grovelling and unholy delights, we conand interesting groupes, in order to sign them to their own guilty imaginings, produce the most salutary effect upon and leave them to enjoy in tranquility, all those who are worth reforming. It if enjoy they can, their own detested is by having fully executed this plan, and detestable Pandemonium.

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Conclusion in our next.



No. II.


out as many insects, from the butterfly of fashion down to the grub-worm from some court leading out of Bishopsgate

WISH that there was not such a Without or Bishopsgate-Within, as a thing as a Sunday in the whole hot sun and a shower of rain can proyear," said my volatile friend, Lady duce in the middle of June. The plebs Mary Modish: "A fine Sunday draws flock so that you can scarcely get into

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The Hermit in London, No. 2.


your barouche or curricle without being because, independent of my preference hustled by the men-milliners, linen-dra- for the Opera, these insects from Cheappers, and shop-boys, who have been side, and so on westward, shut up their serving you all the rest of the week. shops, cheat their masters, and font les Bad horsemen, and pedestrian women, importants about nine o'clock. The pareés a outrance, ultras in conceit and same party crowd the Park on Sunday; in dress, press upon you on every hand; but on black Monday return like schooland yet one cannot be at church all day, boys to their work, and you see them, nor make a prisoner of one's self because with the pen behind their ear, calculatit is Sunday. For my part, I am ennuié ing how to make up for their hebdomadal beyond measure on that day; and were extravagances, pestering you to buy it not for my harp, and a little scandal, twice as much as you want, and offi there would be no getting through it at ciously offering their arm at your all." carriage door."

The carriage now drew up to the door; and her Ladyship proposed that I should take a corner in it, and go down the Park just once with her and her younger sister, merely, as she said, 46 to show her friends that she was in town." "What legions of compter coxcombs!" exclaimed she, as we entered Grosvenor Gate: 66 e; the Tilbury and Dennet system is a great convenience to these people. Upon the plunder of the till, or by overcharging some particular article sold on the Saturday to a negligeant, who goes a shopping more for the purpose of meeting her favoured swain than for any thing which she wants to purchase, it is so easy for these once-a-week beaux to hire a tilbury and an awkward groom in a pepper-and-salt or drab coat, like the incog, of the Royal Family, and to sport their odious persons in the drive of fashion. Some of the monsters, too, bow to ladies whom they do not know, merely to give them an air, or pass off their customers for their acquaintance."


At this juncture Mr. Millefleurs came up to the carriage, perfumed like a milliner, his colour much heightened by some vegetable dye, and resolved neither to blush unseen,' nor to 'waste his sweetness on the desert air.' His approach was very much like what I have heard of the Spice Islands. Two false teeth in front shamed the others a little in their ivory polish, and his breath savoured of myrrh like a heathen sacrifice, or the incense burned in one of their temples. He thrust his horse's head into the carriage (I thought a little abruptly and indecorously) but I perceived that it gave no offence. He smiled very affectedly, adjusted his hat, pulled a lock of hair across his forehead, with a view of shewing, first, that be had a white forehead, and, next, that the glossiness of his hair must have owed its lustre to at least two hours' brushing, arranged, perfuming, and unguenting. He now got his horse's head still closer to us, dropped the rein upon his neck, hung half in and "There!" continued she," there half out of the carriage, with his whip goes my plumassier, with fixed spurs stuck under his arm, and violet in the like a field-officer, and riding as im- corner of his mouth, a kind of impudent portantly as if he were one of the Lords stare in his eyes, and a something half of the Treasury. There again is my too familiar, yet half courtly in his banker's clerk, so stiff and so laced up, manner.

that he looks more like an Egyptian "What beautiful horse!" said mummy than a man. What impudence! Lady Mary. Yes,' replied Millehe has got some groom out of place, fleurs, he is one of the best bred with a cockade in his hat, by way of horses in Europe. "I must confess imposing on the world for a beau mili- that I thought otherwise; nor did I taire. I have not common patience admire his being so near;" and,' conwith these creatures. I have long since tinued he, the best fencer in the left off going to the play on a Saturday, universe.' This accomplishment I had


Sketches of English Society.

[VOL. 4 myself excelled in; but I was ignorant his hand, and was out of sight in two of its becoming a part of equine educa- seconds. "A fine young man !" said tion. I urged him to explain, and her Ladyship. I bowed assent, and amused him at my expense very much. offered her some Eau de Cologne, which He, however, was polite enough to in- I had about me, as the well-bred, struct my ignorance; and informed me fencing horse had left an impression that he was a high couraged horse and, of stable smell on her taper fingers. one of the best leapers of fences that he Alas! thought I, this young rake has had ever seen. Lady Mary conde- left a deeper impression elsewhere. scended all this time to caress the horse, Lady Mary has a fine fortune, and I and to display her lovely arm ungloved, am sorry to see her thus dazzled by this with which she patted his neck, and compound of trinkets and of cosmetics, drew a hundred admiring eyes. who, involved to a great degree, will in a short time squander a great part of her property. But Mr. Millefleurs is a complete merveilleux; and that is quite enough for my volatile friend.

The Exquisit all this time brushed the animal gently with a highly scented silk handkerchief, after which he displayed a cambrick one, and went through a thousand little minanderies which would have suited an affected woman better than a Lieutenant in his Majesty's brigade of Guards. Although he talked a great deal, the whole amount of his discourse was, that he gave only seven hundred guineas for his horse; that his groom's horse had run at the Craven; that he was monsterous lucky that season on the turf; that he was a very bold horseman himself ; and, that being engaged to dine in three places that day, he did not know how the devil to manage; but that if Lady Mary dined at any one of the three, he would cut the other two.


Looking after him for half a minute, she perceived a group of women in the very last Parisian fashions. "There," said she, "there is all that taffeta,feathers, flowers, and expensive lace can do ; and yet you see by their loud talking, and their mauvais ton, by their being unattended by a servant, and by the bit of straw adhering to that one's petticoat, that they have come all the way from Fleet Street or Ludgate Hill in a backney coach, and are now trying unsuccessfully to play women of fashion. See the awkward would-be beau too in a coat on for the first time, and boots which have never crossed a horse."

At this moment a mad-brained Ruffian Mrs. Marvellous now drew up close of quality flew by, driving four-in- to us. "My dear Lady Mary," said she, hand, and exclaimed, in a cracked but "I am suffocated with dust, and am affected tone, Where have you hid sickened with vulgarity; but, to be sure, yourself of late, Charles ?" I have been we have every thing in London here, one of His Majesty's prisoners in the from the House of Peers to Waterloo Tower,' said Millefleurs-meaning that House and the inhabitants of the catchhe had been on duty there; and, turn- penny cheap shops all over the town. I ing to Lady Mary, in a half whisper, he must tell you about the trial, and about observed, Although you see him in Lady Barbara's mortification, and about such good form, though his cattle and poor Mrs. O's being arrested, and the his equipage are so well appointed, he midnight flight to the continent of our got out of the Bench only last week, poor Dandy who arrived in an having thrown over the vagabonds his open boat-our borough member ruin. creditors he is a noble spirited fellow, ed, his wife exposed, strong suspicions as good a whip as any in Britain, full of about the children-young Willoughby life and of humour, and I am happy to called out, thought slack, pretended that say that he has now a dozen of as fine he could not get a second, Lavender horses as any in Christendom, kept bien upon the ground, all a hoax!" entendu, in my name-but there is a wheel within a wheel,'

He now dropped the violet, kissed

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Here she lacerated the reputation of almost all her acquaintance, to which I perceived the serving-men attached to

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