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juvenile reader. The tale of the mother-in-law is pare ticularly praise-worthy.
The unknown author of “ St. Clair ; or, the Heiress of Desmond *, whom we take to be a female is like. wise'a writer of no common stamp: her work is replete with passages of the purest taste and most refined sensibility; and, though the rigid moralists might consider its plot to be of a dangerous tendency, yet it too plainly exposes the consequence of allowing sentiment to gain the ascendency over reason, even in vulgar or untutored minds.
MRS. THOMPSON, who is well known to novelreaders, and whose writings are distinguished by just and probable characters, has added to her reputation by
her late novel of “ The Pride of Ancestry t; the style * and incidents of which are easy and natural, while its -object is the amusement of lancy and the improvement & of life.
Reverting to the principal novel-writers of the other sex, we have no hesitation of classing in the foremost 1 ránk, MR. DALLAS, whose novel of “Percival” we
criticised in our first volume, p. 455. This gentleman has since published another, under the title of “ Aubrey," which, though we have not yet been able to do justice to it, in the way of extracts, we have no hesitation in saying is far, very far superior to most of such productions ; as it not only has an unequivocal moral tendency, but abounds in the most interesting situations and adventures.
A new candidate for literary fame, as a novel writer, has started in the person of MR. H. SIDDONS, the object of whose production is to inculcate a strict regard for virtuous conduct, in the various relations of life; as a first attempt, it is entitled to considerable praise, though the author is not very happy in his imia tation of the nianner of Fielding.
The anonymous author of “ The Swiss Emigrants," advantageously exhibits the happiness derivable from
beneficence, even in obscure stations, and gives such a . picture of the miseries of continental war as must make : us truly enviable of our insulated situation.
We must here remark that, except those already i mentioned, a great portion of the novels which have been published since our last volume made its appear. ance, are foreign sprigs, transplanted and naturalised in our own soil. We have always been adverse to exuberances of the imagination, of erotic growth; but either the French or German literati have become more partial to morality, or our own doers into English have : been more choice in their selection. We have seen a work of the jacobin and athiest, BARON GOETHE, author of “ The Sorrows of Werter," entitled, “ Helio. dora* ; which, to our surprise, we found free from the gross immorality and scepticism that disgraced his former productions, the present tale being, with very few exceptions, interesting and harmless.
LAFONTAINe, another German writer of celebrity, and of less equivocal principles than his countryman the Baron, has also contributed abundantly to the stock of our libraries. His “ Henrietta Bellman t" is a very interesting publication, calculated to please every taste, and of a good moral tendency; while his “ Lobenstein Village," also translated within the last year, abounds in strong and just satire, combined with such attractive incidents, and happy moral reflections, as must place it very high in the class to which it belongs.
But as perfection cannot be either attained or ex. pected, we find a few passages in this work which contain principles only calculated for the meridian of Paris ; a circumstance the more to be regretted, as the continuance of such productions as the one before us would soon recover this class of literature from the disrepute into which it has fallen; and thus leave but little room for the censure of the moralist against novels in general.
Another German, of considerable talent, M. KARAMSIN, has, in his tales, betrayed evident marks of genius, and shown much feeling and humanity in his
* Vide Notices, 454.
+ Vide Table of Contents,
« Russian Tales." If they exhibit a true picture of human nature in Russia, it is evident that the hardy Russian breast contains a very warm and susceptible heart. He has recorded in them the benevolent virtue of a Russian peasant, which deserves to live in history*.
We shall conclude this article with lamenting the wretched state in which foreign novels appear, when clothed in an English dress; from the ignorance of most of the translators, and the rapidity with which they are obliged to perform their task. We do not mean to make any particular allusion to the translators of the works above-mentioned, who are, on the
whole, rather an exception to the stigma; but we must el reprobate the practice of translating from a translation ;
most of the works which we have from the German
being translated from French editions; the latter of be which are, at best, but miserable and mutilated per
Pit be admitted, and we think the point will not al.
low of two opinions, that novels and romances, though + Do sometimes over-strained, are yet correct pictures of the
manners of the age in which they are produced; it will of it be also granted, that the drama reflects those manners Join a still more powerful degree; because, in order to Paris adapt them for scenic representation, they must receive
additional colouring, by the process called caricature.
but this process, by frequently exaggerating the subject repelt beyond probability, gives to foreigners an erroneous
opinion of our national character. nerdi The exaggeration of which we complain has been 1 of late years unlimited; and, should it continue, the Pilille stage will shortly reflect nothing but the distorted imain bay ginations of writers, whose taste is perverted, and whose.
* Vide Table of Contents.
only justification is, that the public are best pleased with buffoonery, and have no relish for pictures of real life. Such an argument, however, carries with it its own refutation ; because we have very recent instances to prove that even those who are not capable of appreciating dramatic merits, are as well, if not better pleased with the old comedies of sterling merit, and with such few of modern origin as bid fair to outlive their authors; as they are with those that abound in nothing but wooden witticisms and ridiculous ribaldry.
In our last volume, we drew the attention of our readers to the excellent play of“ John Bull," as an enviable example for modern dramatists, by interesting the feelings from the most simple materials:-it seems to have excited a praise-worthy emulation, and MR. CHERRY, though in his first attempt, has produced a comedy, which has the merit of interesting an audience, by a luxuriance of domestic sorrows, greater than has been witnessed in the majority of our acting dramas for the last fifty years. The writer's great defect has been to make his characters “ speak, instead of making them act." They describe, indeed, what is perfectly understood; but an English audience would have been bet. ter pleased to have seen the thing done than to hear it related. - The morality of this play, however, is unobjectionable, both in occasional sentiment, and in its great ad. monition, which exposes to contempt and horror the monstrous consequences to virtue and to social happiness, arising from the passion of avarice,
Mr. T. Dibdin, the fertility of whose genius is astonishing, and which, by operating like a hot-bed, is continually productive, has furnished the public with a vast fund of amusement, in comedy, opera, and farce. His “ Guilty or not Guilty *,” abounds in flashes of merriment, and excites a continued interest, which causes a few points in the plot, not altogether probable, to be entirely overlooked.
* Performed last summer at the Haymarket, with unbound. cd applause. Vide Notices, p. 454.
He has also produced a play*, which, as an extempo. raneous composition, should not be judged by the strict rules of criticism; though it is, perhaps, inferior to none of his other writings, if we except that just mentioned, which we understand he considers as his first attempt at regular comedy. In operas, which we never considered in any other light than as mere vehicles for music, this young writer has also been eminently successful; the “ English Fleet," produced since our last volume, will long be a source of attraction to the theatre, and of profit to the manager.
MR. ALLINGHAM, also mentioned in our last vo. lume, has since made an unsuccessful attempt, in a piece called “ Yearts of Oak," performed in November, 1803, at Drury Lane; but as it is gone to "the tomb of the Capulets,” we shall not disturb its manes.
The respectable veteran, MR. CUMBERLAND, in his publication of the “ Sailor's Daughter," chagrined at the reception which it met with, has appealed to the present generation and to posterity, to arrest the dramas, of the present age from the fate which seems to hang over them. The great objection against this piece, and which caused its damnation, is the want of novelty in the characters; and, as we have observed in our Notices, the suddenness of the incidents. It, however, contains many fine sentiments, which render it worthy of being rescued from oblivion.
In our account of new farces, we shall be very brief, MR. Hoare's “ Paragraph," and MR. ARNOLD's " Foul Deeds will Rise," we consider as very insipid, yet the buffoonery of the actors in the one, and the effects of the music in the other, prolonged their existence “ for a little season.” MR. COLMAN'S “ Gay Deceivers" is very ludicrous, but we think that it is beneath his talents.
.“ The Hunter of the Alps," the production of Mr. DIAMOND, jun. is also composed of very simple ma. terials, but much sentimentality; and is not totally un
4" The Will for the Deed,'' performed for the first time for Mr. Lewis's benefit.