Page images

without an instructor: but the most common case is, to be capable of learning, and yet to require teaching; and a far greater part of the misery which exists in society arises from ignorance, than either from vice or from incapacity.

"Laugh'd at, it laughs again;—and, stricken hard,

Turns to the stroke its adamantine scales,
That fear no discipline of human hands."

Miss Edgeworth is the great modern mistress in this school of true philosophy; and has eclipsed, we think, the fame of all her predecessors. By her many excellent tracts on education, she has conferred a benefit on the whole mass of the population; and dis-vulgar wants that are sometimes so importunate, are not, in this world, the chief ministers of enjoyment. This is a plague that infects all indolent persons who can live on in the rank in which they were born, without the necessity of working: but, in a free country, it rarely occurs in any great degree of viru lence, except among those who are already at the summit of human felicity. Below this, there is room for ambition, and envy, and emulation, and all the feverish movements of aspiring vanity and unresting selfishness, which act as prophylactics against this more dark and deadly distemper. It is the canker which corrodes the full-blown flower of human felicity-the pestilence which smites at the bright hour of noon.

charged, with exemplary patience as well as extraordinary judgment, a task which superficial spirits may perhaps mistake for an humble and easy one. By her Popular Tales, she has rendered an invaluable service to the middling and lower orders of the people; and by her Novels, and by the volumes before us, has made a great and meritorious effort to promote the happiness and respectability of the higher classes. On a former occasion we believe we hinted to her, that these would probably be the least successful of all her fabours; and that it was doubtful whether she could be justified for bestowing so much of her time on the case of a few persons, who scarcely deserved to be cured, and were scarcely capable of being corrected. The foolish and unhappy part of the fashionable world, for the most part, "is not fit to bear itself convinced." It is too vain, too busy, and too dissipated to listen to, or remember any thing that is said to it. Every thing serious it repels, by "its dear wit and gay rhetoric" and against every thing poignant, it seeks shelter in the impenetrable armour of its conjunct audacity.

A book, on the other hand, and especially a witty and popular book, is still a thing of consequence, to such of the middling classes of society as are in the habit of reading. They dispute about it, and think of it; and as they occasionally make themselves ridiculous by copying the manners it displays, so they are apt to be impressed with the great lessons it may be calculated to teach; and, on the whole, receive it into considerable authority among the regulators of their lives and opinions. But a fashionable person has scarcely any leisure to read; and none to think of what he has been reading. It would be a derogation from his dignity to speak of a book in any terms but those of frivolous derision; and a strange desertion of his own superiority, to allow himself to receive, from its perusal, any impressions which could at all affect his conduct or opinions.

But though, for these reasons, we continue to think that Miss Edgeworth's fashionable patients will do less credit to her prescriptions than the more numerous classes to whom they might have been directed, we admit that her plan of treatment is in the highest degree judicious, and her conception of the disorder most luminous and precise.

There are two great sources of unhappiness to those whom fortune and nature seem to have placed above the reach of ordinary miseries. The one is ennui-that stagnation of life and feeling which results from the absence of all motives to exertion; and by which the justice of providence has so fully compensated the partiality of fortune, that it may be fairly doubted whether, upon the whole, the race of beggars is not happier than the race of lords; and whether those

The other curse of the happy, has a range more wide and indiscriminate. It, too, tortures only the comparatively rich and fortunate; but is most active among the least distinguished; and abates in malignity as we ascend to the lofty regions of pure ennui. This is the desire of being fashionable;-the restless and insatiable passion to pass for creatures a little more distinguished than we really are-with the mortification of frequent failure, and the humiliating consciousness of being perpetually exposed to it. Among those who are secure of "meat, clothes, and fire," and are thus above the chief physical evils of existence, we do believe that this is a more prolific source of unhappiness, than guilt, disease, or wounded affection; and that more positive misery is created, and more true enjoyment excluded, by the eternal fretting and straining of this pitiful ambition, than by all the ravages of passion, the desolations of war, or the accidents of mortality. This may appear a strong statement; but we make it deliberately, and are deeply convinced of its truth. The wretchedness which it produces may not be so intense; but it is of much longer duration, and spreads over a far wider circle. It is quite dreadful, indeed, to think what a sweep this pest has taken among the comforts of our prosperous population. To be thought fashionable-that is, to be thought more opulent and tasteful, and on a footing of intimacy with a greater number of distin guished persons than they really are, is the great and laborious pursuit of four families out of five, the members of which are ex empted from the necessity of daily industry. In this pursuit, their time, spirits, and talents are wasted; their tempers, soured; their affections palsied; and their natural manners and dispositions altogether sophisticated and lost.

These are the giant curses of fashionable


life, and Miss Edgeworth has accordingly which life can be made tolerable to those who dedicated her two best tales to the delinea- have nothing to wish for. Born on the very tion of their symptoms. The history of "Lord pinnacle of human fortune, "he had nothing Glenthorn" is a fine picture of ennui-that of to do but to sit still and enjoy the barrenness "Almeria" an instructive representation of of the prospect." He tries travelling, gaming, the miseries of aspirations after fashion. We gluttony, hunting, pugilism, and coach-drivdo not know whether it was a part of the fair ing; but is so pressed down with the load of writer's design to represent these maladies as life, as to be repeatedly on the eve of suicide. absolutely incurable, without a change of He passes over to Ireland, where he receives condition; but the fact is, that in spite of the a temporary relief, from the rebellion-and best dispositions and capacities, and the most from falling in love with a lady of high charpowerful inducements to action, the hero of acter and accomplishments; but the effect of ennui makes no advances towards amend- these stimulants is speedily expended, and ment, till he is deprived of his title and estate! he is in danger of falling into a confirmed and the victim of fashion is left, at the end of lethargy, when it is fortunately discovered the tale, pursuing her weary career, with fa- that he has been changed at nurse! and that, ding hopes and wasted spirits, but with in- instead of being a peer of boundless fortune, creased anxiety and perseverance. The moral he is the son of a cottager who lives on potause of these narratives, therefore, must consist toes. With great magnanimity, he instantly in warning us against the first approaches of gives up the fortune to the rightful owner, evils which can never afterwards be resisted. who has been bred a blacksmith, and takes These are the great twin scourges of the to the study of the law. At the commenceprosperous: But there are other maladies, of ment of this arduous career, he fortunately no slight malignity, to which they are pecu- falls in love, for the second time, with the liarly liable. One of these, arising mainly lady entitled, after the death of the blackfrom want of more worthy occupation, is that smith, to succeed to his former estate. Poverperpetual use of stratagem and contrivance ty and love now supply him with irresistible that little, artful diplomacy of private life, by motives for exertion. He rises in his profes which the simplest and most natural transac- sion; marries the lady of his heart; and in tions are rendered complicated and difficult, due time returns, an altered man, to the posand the common business of existence made session of his former affluence. to depend on the success of plots and counterplots. By the incessant practice of this petty policy, a habit of duplicity and anxiety is infallibly generated, which is equally fatal to integrity and enjoyment. We gradually come to look on others with the distrust which we are conscious of deserving; and are insensibly formed to sentiments of the most unamiable selfishness and suspicion. It is needless to say, that all these elaborate artifices are worse than useless to the person who employs them; and that the ingenious plotter is almost always baffled and exposed by the downright honesty of some undesigning competitor. Miss Edge-readers, in the first place, with some traits of worth, in her tale of "Manoeuvring," has given an Irish lady of rank. Lady Geraldine-the a very complete and most entertaining repre- enchantress whose powerful magic almost sentation of "the by-paths and indirect crook'd raised the hero of ennui from his leaden slumways," by which these artful and inefficient bers is represented with such exquisite livelipeople generally make their way to disap-ness and completeness of effect, that the pointment. In the tale, entitled "Madame de reader can scarcely help imagining that he Fleury," she has given some useful examples has formerly been acquainted with the origi of the ways in which the rich may most ef- nal. Every one, at least we conceive, must fectually do good to the poor-an operation have known somebody, the recollection of which, we really believe, fails more frequently whom must convince him that the following from want of skill than of inclination: And, in description is as true nature as it is creditable "The Dun," she has drawn a touching and to art:most impressive picture of the wretchedness "As Lady Geraldine entered, I gave one involunwhich the poor so frequently suffer, from the tary glance of curiosity. I saw a tall, finely-shaped unfeeling thoughtlessness which withholds woman, with the commanding air of a person of from them the scanty earnings of their labour. rank: she moved well; not with feminine timidity, Of these tales, "Ennui" is the best and the yet with ease, promptitude, and decision. She had most entertaining-though the leading char- of feature. The only thing that struck me as really fine eyes, and a fine complexion, yet no regularity acter is somewhat caricatured, and the dé-extraordinary, was her indifference when I was innouement is brought about by a discovery troduced to her. Every body had seemed extremely which shocks by its needless improbability. desirons that I should see her ladyship, and that Lord Glenthorn is bred up, by a false and in- her ladyship should see me; and I was rather surdulgent guardian, as the heir to an immense prised by her unconcerned air. This piqued me. English and Irish estate; and, long before he began to converse with others. Her voice and fixed my attention. She turned from me, and age, exhausts almost all the resources by agreeable, though rather loud: she did not speak

Such is the naked outline of a story, more rich in character, incident, and reflection, than any English narrative which we can now call to remembrance:-as rapid and various as the best tales of Voltaire, and as full of prac tical good sense and moral pathetic as any of the other tales of Miss Edgeworth. The Irish characters are inimitable ;-not the coarse caricatures of modern playwrights-but drawn with a spirit, a delicacy, and a precision, to which we do not know if there be any paral lel among national delineations. As these are tales of fashionable life, we shall present our


[ocr errors]

with the Irish accent; but, when I listened ma- Geraldine exclaimed, 'That cousin Craiglethorpe ciously, I detected certain Hibernian inflexions- of mine is scarcely an agreeable man: The awknothing of the vulgar Irish idiom, but something wardness of mauvaise-hont might be pitied and parthat was more interrogative, more exclamatory, and doned, even in a nobleman,' continued her ladyship, perhaps more rhetorical, than the common language if it really proceeded from humility; but here, of English ladies, accompanied with infinitely more when I know it is connected with secret and inordianimation of countenance and demonstrative ges-nate arrogance, 'tis past all endurance. As the ture. This appeared to me peculiar and unusual, but Frenchman said of the Englishman, for whom even not affected. She was uncommonly eloquent; and his politeness could not find another compliment, yet, without action, her words were not sufficiently "Il faut avouer que ce Monsieur a un grand talent rapid to express her ideas. Her manner appeared pour le silence ;"-he holds his tongue till people foreign, yet it was not quite French. If I had actually believe that he has somothing to say-a been obliged to decide, should, however, have mistake they could never fall into if he would but pronounced it rather more French than English. speak. It is not timidity; it is all pride. I would To determine which it was, or whether I had ever pardon his dulness, and even his ignorance; for one, seen any thing similar, I stood considering her lady- as you say, might be the fault of his nature, and the ship with more attention than I had ever bestowed other of his education: but his self-sufficiency is his on any other woman. The words striking-fasci- own fault; and that I will not, and cannot pardon. nating-bewitching, occurred to me as I looked at Somebody says, that nature may make a fool, but her and heard her speak. I resolved to turn my a coxcomb is always of his own making. Now, eyes away, and shut my ears; for I was positively my cousin (as he is my cousin, I may say what I determined not to like her; I dreaded so much the please of him,)-my cousin Craiglethorpe is a idea of a second Hymen. I retreated to the farthest solemn coxcomb, who thinks, because his vanity is window, and looked out very soberly upon a dirty not talkative and sociable, that it's not vanity. fish-pond. What a mistake!'"-i. 146-148.

"If she had treated me with tolerable civility at first, I never should have thought about her. Highborn and high-bred, she seemed to consider more what she should think of others, than what others

thought of her. Frank, candid, and affable, vet opinionated, insolent, and an egotist: her candour and affability appeared the effect of a naturally good temper; her insolence and egotism only that of a spoiled child. She seemed to talk of herself purely to oblige others, as the most interesting possible topic of conversation; for such it had always been to her fond mother, who idolized her ladyship as an only daughter, and the representative of an ancient house. Confident of her talents, conscious of her charms, and secure of her station, Lady Geraldine gave free scope to her high spirits, her fancy, and her turn for ridicule. She looked, spoke, and acted, like a person privileged to think, say, and do, what she pleased. Her raillery, like the raillery of princes, was without fear of retort. She was not ill-natured, yet careless to whom she gave offence, provided she produced amusement; and in this she seldom failed; for, in her conversation, there was much of the raciness of Irish wit, and the oddity of Irish humour. The singularity that struck me most about her ladyship was her indifference to flattery. She certainly preferred frolic. Miss Bland was her humble companion; Miss Tracey her butt. It was one of Lady Geraldine's delights, to humour Miss Tracey's rage for imitating the fashions of fine people. Now you shall see Miss Tracey appear at the ball to-morrow, in every thing that I have sworn to her is fashionable. Nor have I cheated her in a single article: but the tout ensemble I leave to her better judgment; and you shall see her, I trust, a perfect monster, formed of every creature's best: Lady Kilrush's feathers, Mrs. Moore's wig, Mrs. O'Connor's gown, Mrs. Leighton's sleeves, and all the necklaces of all the Miss Ormsbys. She has no taste, no judgment; none at all, poor thing; but she can imitate as well as those Chinese painters, who, in their drawings, give you the flower of one plant stuck on the stalk of another, and garnished with the leaves of a third.'"-i. 130-139.

This favourite character is afterwards exhibited in a great variety of dramatic contrasts. For example:

"Lord Craiglethorpe was, as Miss Tracey had described him, very stiff, cold, and high. His man. ners were in the extreme of English reserve; and his ill-bred show of contempt for the Irish was sufficient provocation and justification of Lady Geraldine's ridicule. He was much in awe of his fair and witty cousin and she could easily put him out of countenance, for he was, in his way, extremely bashful. Once, when he was out of the room, Lady

These other traits of her character are given, on different occasions, by Lord Glenthorn:

and intent solely upon her own amusement; but I "At first I had thought her merely superficial, what could have been expected in one who lived so soon found that she had a taste for literature beyond dissipated a life; a depth of reflection that seemed inconsistent with the rapidity with which she thought; and, above all, a degree of generous indignation against meanness and vice, which seemed incompatible with the selfish character of a fine lady; and which appeared quite incomprehensible to the imitating tribe of her fashionable companions."

i. 174.

little arts, and petty stratagems, to attract attention.
'Lady Geraldine was superior to manœuvring
She would not stoop, even to conquer. From gen-
tlemen she seemed to expect attention as her right,
as the right of her sex; not to beg, or accept of it
as a favour: if it were not paid, she deemed the gen-
Far from being
tleman degraded, not herself.
mortified by any preference shown to other ladies,
her countenance betrayed only a sarcastic sort of
pity for the bad taste of the men, or an absolute in-
difference and look of haughty absence. I saw that
she beheld with disdain the paltry competitions of
the young ladies her companions: as her compan-
ions, indeed, she hardly seemed to consider them;
she tolerated their foibles, forgave their envy, and
never exerted any superiority, except to show her
contempt of vice and meanness."-i. 198, 199.

This may suffice as a specimen of the high life of the piece; which is more original and characteristic than that of Belinda-and altogether as lively and natural. For the low life, we do not know if we could extract a more felicitous specimen than the following description of the equipage in which Lord Glenthorn's English and French servant were compelled to follow their master in Ireland.

[ocr errors]

From the inn yard came a hackney chaise, in a most deplorably crazy state; the body mounted up to a prodigious height, on unbending springs, nodding forwards, one door swinging open, three blinds up, because they could not be let down, the perch tied in two places, the iron of the wheels half off, half loose, wooden pegs for linch-pins, and ropes for harness. The horses were worthy of the harness; wretched little dog-tired creatures, that looked as if they had been driven to the last gasp, and as if they had never been rubbed down in their lives; their bones starting through their skin; one lame, the other blind; one with a raw back. the

[ocr errors]

"It was a wretched looking, low, mud-walled cabin. At one end it was propped by a buttress of loose stones, upon which stood a goat reared on his hind legs, to browse on the grass that grew on the housetop. A dunghill was before the only window, at the other end of the house, and close to the door was a puddle of the dirtiest of dirty water, in which ducks were dabbling. At my approach, there came

other with a galled breast; one with his neck poking down over his collar, and the other with his head dragged forward by a bit of a broken bridle, held at arms' length by a man dressed like a mad beggar, in half a hat, and half a wig, both awry in opposite directions; a long tattered coat, tied round his waist by a hay-rope; the jagged rents in the skirts of this coat showing his bare legs, marbled of many colours; while something like stockings hung loose about his ankles. The noises he made, by way of threatening or encouraging his steeds, I pretend not to describe. In an indignant voice I called to the landlord I hope these are not the horses-I hope this is not the chaise, intended for my servants. The innkeeper, and the pauper who was preparing to officiate as postilion, both in the same instant exclaimed-Sorrow better chaise in the County!' 'Sorrow' said I-what do you mean by sorrow?' That there's no better, plase your honour, can be seen. We have two more to be sure-but one has no top, and the other no bottom. Any way, there's no better can be seen than this same. And these horses!' cried I-'why this horse is so lame he can hardly stand.' 'Oh, plase your honour, tho' he can't stand, he'll go fast enough. He has a great deal of the rogue in him, plase your honour. He's always that way at first setting out.' And that wretched animal with the galled breast! He's all the better for it, when once he warms; it's he that will go with the speed of light, plase your honour. Sure, is not he Knocke-out of the cabin a pig, a calf, a lamb, a kid, and two croghery? and didn't I give fifteen guineas for him, geese, all with their legs tied; followed by cocks, barring the luckpenny, at the fair of Knockecrog- hens, chickens, a dog, a cat, a kitten, a beggarhery, and he rising four year old at the same time?' man, a beggar-woman, with a pipe in her mouth; Then seizing his whip and reins in one hand, children innumerable, and a stout girl, with a pitchhe clawed up his stockings with the other so with fork in her hand; altogether more than I, looking one easy step he got into his place, and seated him- down upon the roof as I sat on horseback, and self, coachman-like, upon a well-worn bar of wood, measuring the superficies with my eye, could have that served as a coach-box. Throw me the loan possibly supposed the mansion capable of containing. of a trusty, Bartly, for a cushion,' said he. AI asked if Ellinor O'Donoghoe was at home; but frieze coat was thrown up over the horse's heads. the dog barked, the geese cackled, the turkeys Paddy caught it. 'Where are you, Hosey!' cried gobbled, and the beggars begged with one accord, he to a lad in charge of the leaders. 'Sure I'm so loudly, that there was no chance of my being only rowling a wisp of straw on my leg,' replied heard. When the girl had at last succeeded in apHosey. 'Throw me up,' added this paragon of peasing them all with her pitchfork, she answered, postilions, turning to one of the crowd of idle by- that Ellinor O'Donoghoe was at home, but that she standers. Arrah, push me up, can't ye ?'-A was out with the potatoes; and she ran to fetch her, man took hold of his knee, and threw him upon the after calling to the boys, who was within in the room horse. He was in his seat in a trice. Then cling-smoking, to come out to his honour. As soon as ing by the mane of his horse, he scrambled for the they had crouched under the door, and were able bridle which was under the other horse's feet, to stand upright, they welcomed me with a very reached it, and, well satisfied with himself, looked good grace, and were proud to see me in the kinground at Paddy, who looked back to the chaise- dom. I asked if they were all Ellinor's sons. All door at my angry servants, secure in the last event entirely,' was the first answer. Not one but one,' of things. In vain the Englishman, in monotonous was the second answer. The third made the other anger, and the Frenchman in every note of the two intelligible. 'Plase your Honour, we are all gamut, abused Paddy. Necessity and wit were on her sons-in-law, except myself, who am her lawful Paddy's side. He parried all that was said against son.' Then you are my foster brother?' No, his chaise, his horses, himself, and his country, plase your Honour, it's not me, but my brother, with invincible comic dexterity; till at last, both and he's not in it. Not in it? No, plase your his adversaries, dumb-founded, clambered into the Honour; becaase he's in the forge up above. Sure vehicle, where they were instantly shut up in straw he's the blacksmith, my lard. And what are you?' and darkness. Paddy, in a triumphant tone, called I'm Ody, plase your honour;' the short for Owen," to my postilions, bidding them get on, and not be &c.-i. 94-96. stopping the way any longer.'"-i. 64, 65.

"Ah! didn't I compass him cleverly then? Oh the villain, to be browbating me! I'm too cute for him yet. See, there, now, he's come too; and I'll be his bail he'll go asy enough wid me. Ogh! he has a fine spirit of his own; but it's I that can match him. "Twould be a poor case if a man like me couldn't match a horse any way, let alone a mare, which this is, or it never would be so vi. cious.'"-i. 68, 69.

By and by the wheel horse stopped short, and began to kick furiously.

The most delectable personage, however, in the whole tale, is the ancient Irish nurse Ellinor. The devoted affection, infantine simplicity, and strange pathetic eloquence of this half-savage, kind-hearted creature, afford Miss Edgeworth occasion for many most original and characteristic representations. We shall scarcely prepossess our English readers in her favour, by giving the description of her cottage.

any thing that could give our readers even a It is impossible, however, for us to select vague idea of the interest, both serious and comic, that is produced by this original char acter, without quoting more of the story than we can now make room for. We cannot

"Never fear,' reiterated Paddy. I'll engage I'll be up wid him. Now for it, Knockecroghery! Oh the rogue, he thinks he has me at a nonplush; but I'll show him the differ.'

"After this brag of war, Paddy whipped, Knock-leave it, however, without making our acecroghery kicked, and Paddy, seemingly unconknowledgments to Miss Edgeworth for the scious of danger, sat within reach of the kicking handsome way in which she has treated our horse, twitching up first one of his legs, then the country, and for the judgment as well as other, and shifting as the animal aimed his hoofs, liberality she has shown in the character of escaping every time as it were by miracle. mixture of temerity and presence of mind, which and reserved agent of her hero. There is inWith Mr. Macleod, the proud, sagacions, friendly, made us alternately look upon him as a madman and a hero, he gloried in the danger, secure of suc- finite merit and powers of observation even in cess, and of the sympathy of the spectators. her short sketch of his exterior.


calcate. To some readers they may seem to want the fairy colouring of high fancy and romantic tenderness; and it is very true that they are not poetical love tales, any more than they are anecdotes of scandal. We have great respect for the admirers of Rousseau and Petrarca; and we have no doubt that Miss Edgeworth has great respect for them ;-but the world, both high and low, which she is

But we must now take an abrupt and reluct-labouring to mend, have no sympathy with ant leave of Miss Edgeworth. Thinking as this respect. They laugh at these things, and we do, that her writings are, beyond all com- do not understand them; and therefore, the parison, the most useful of any that have come solid sense which she presses perhaps rather before us since the commencement of our too closely upon them, though it admits of recritical career, it would be a point of conscience lief from wit and direct pathos, really could with us to give them all the notoriety that they not be combined with the more luxuriant orcan derive from our recommendation, even if | naments of an ardent and tender imagination. their execution were in some measure liable We say this merely to obviate the only objecto objection. In our opinion, however, they tion which we think can be made to the exeare as entertaining as they are instructive; cution of these stories; and to justify our and the genius, and wit, and imagination they decided opinion, that they are actually as display, are at least as remarkable as the just-perfect as it was possible to make them with ness of the sentiments they so powerfully in-safety to the great object of the author.

"He was a hard-featured, strong built, perpen. dicular man, with a remarkable quietness of deportment: he spoke with deliberate distinctness, in an accent slightly Scotch; and, in speaking, he made use of no gesticulation, but held himself surprisingly still. No part of him but his eyes, moved; and they had an expression of slow, but determined good sense. He was sparing of his words; but the lew that he used said much, and went directly to the point."-i. 82.

(July, 1812.)

By Miss EDGEWORTH, Author of "Practical Education," 12mo. pp. 1450. Johnson. London: 1812.

Tales of Fashionable Life.

," "Castle Rackrent," &c. 3 vols.


and away from real gratification, as powerfully as mere ignorance or passion. It is to the correction of those erroneous theories that Miss Edgeworth has applied herself in that series of moral fictions, the last portion of which has recently come to our hands; and in which, we think, she has combined more solid instruction with more universal entertainment, and given more practical lessons of wisdom, with less tediousness and less pretension, than any other writer with whom we are acquainted.

THE Writings of Miss Edgeworth exhibit so singular an union of sober sense and inexhaustible invention-so minute a knowledge of all that distinguishes manners, or touches on happiness in every condition of human fortune-and so just an estimate both of the real sources of enjoyment, and of the illusions by which they are obstructed, that it cannot be thought wonderful that we should separate her from the ordinary manufacturers of novels, and speak of her Tales as works of more serious importance than much of the true history and solemn philosophy that come daily under our inspection. The great business of life, and the object of all arts and acquisitions, is undoubtedly to be happy; and though our success in this grand endeavour depends, in some degree, upon external circumstances, over which we have no control, and still more on temper and dispositions, which can only be controlled by gradual and systematic exertion, a very great deal depends also upon creeds and opinions, which may be effectually and even suddenly rectified, by a few hints from authority that cannot be questioned, or a few-presented sometimes in their most conillustrations so fair and striking, as neither to spicuous, and almost always in only their be misapplied nor neglected. We are all, no most seductive form;-and even where they doubt, formed, in a great degree, by the cir- are not merely fostered and embellished, but cumstances in which we are placed, and the actually generated only in that exalted region, beings by whom we are surrounded; but still it is very well known that they "drop upon we have all theories of happiness-notions of the place beneath," and are speedily propaambition, and opinions as to the summum bo-gated and diffused into the world below. To num of our own-more or less developed, and expose them, therefore, in this their original more or less original, according to our situa- and proudest sphere, is not only to purify the tion and character-but influencing our con- stream at its source, but to counteract their duct and feelings at every moment of our pernicious influence precisely where it is lives, and leading us on to disappointment, most formidable and extensive. To point out

When we reviewed the first part of these Tales which are devoted to the delineation of fashionable life, we ventured to express a doubt, whether the author was justifiable for expending so large a quantity of her moral medicines on so small a body of patientsand upon patients too whom she had every reason to fear would turn out incurable. Upon reflection, however, we are now inclined to recall this sentiment. The vices and illusions of fashionable life are, for the most part, merely the vices and illusions of human nature

« PreviousContinue »