Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

ADAM BROWN.*

THE pretty French proverb touching our disposition to return to our first loves, is pleasantly verified in this new production of the gifted and popular author of " Brambletye House," who, if we remember rightly, states, in his preface to a late edition of that charming work, that he first tried his hand at prose fiction on a subject connected with those driest realities of actual life which constitute "the be all and the end" of a London merchant's career; but that, "for something or for nothing" (we forget the reason assigned), he made an auto da fe of his MS., and betook himself to the (then) more fashionable form of an "historical romance." The result was "Brambletye House," and it would be ungrateful to quarrel with any circumstances which gave us a work only second to the beautiful productions of a similar kind which it so closely resembled. But, "on revient toujours à ses premiers amours," and the axiom is at least as applicable to our wooing of the muses as any other of the fair sex: the earliest tendency of the mind is sure to be the right one. To depict the actual truth of things-to place before us men and women as they are in our own day and country, and under social circumstances which do not translate them into something that nature did not intend them to be, -this is the forte of Mr. Horace Smith; and he has returned to it, and exercised it with most happy effect, in his new novel of " Adam Brown, the Merchant." The picture is a true one, from its broadest shadows and its highest light, down to the minutest accessories that give it (as it were) life and motion-nay, to those involuntary movements which give action and vitality to inanimate things: the impatient Ha! ha!" of Adam Brown, and the nervous echoes of it which invariably follow, from the point of his eloquent cane on the floor, let us further into the heart of his character than pages of soliloquy would do.

But the merchant himself, though the main-spring of all the action of the story, forms but one of an entire gallery of portraits from real life-for such we must insist that they are, whether they were "taken" from real life or not. Indeed, it is long since we have had a novel so full of substance and variety in this respect, or of which the truth and individuality of the characters will be so readily recognised and admitted. The whole of the retired merchant's country neighbours and dependants, for instance, will come like so many realities from the “our village" of every reader who is blessed with such a locality in the associations of his past or present life; and they are all (with the exception of an intended bore or two) as amusing as they are true to nature. Mrs. Glossop, for example, the honest housekeeper, who makes fritters of French, on the strength of a month's sojourn in Paris; and John Trotman, who, being the merchant's factotum, does nothing but what he himself pleases; and Farmer Chubbs, the Waterloo man, the best

* Adam Brown, the Merchant: a Novel. By the Author of "Brambletye House," &c. 3 vols.

fellow and the best farmer in the county, if he would not get drunk every market-day on the responsibility of his horse Wellington, who is sure to carry him safe home; and the fortune-hunting Molloys, and their bullying father; and the good Latimers-twin heroes of the love portion of the tale; and Sir Gregory Cavendish, alias Giblet, the vulgar parvenu; and Crab, the village wit and satirist, &c. These are only a few among the country portion of the dram. pers. The London ones, which are brought into view by the temporary residence there of Allan Latimer, are equally individual and various, including a charmingly true and spirited sketch of an Italian Prima Donna, a sort of refined Malibran; a capital picture of a "man about town"-Harry Freeman, a favourite with every body, and deserving to be so; a sort of gentleman Dick Swiveller; and Tom Tittup, a small dandy of the omnibus-box breed; and a delightful old Italian fanatico per la musica, Signor Crivetti; and the whole family of the Lums,-gentilities of Bloomsbury parish; and though last, not least in truth and spirit, the trio of fashionable quacks-musical, medical, and artistical-Mr. Rosenhagen, Mr. Preville, and Dr. Crispen. Add to these a mysterious gentleman-or rather three or four gentlemen in onethe villain of the story; a beautiful "unknown," and a score of other incidental characters who "figure in separate scenes of the work, and the reader will anticipate a more than ordinary amount of entertainment from this lively and never-flagging story, drawn from life as it exists in our own day, and as its many-coloured scenes have impressed one of the most shrewd and observant writers of our time.

THE TUFT-HUNTER.*

If it is a vulgar error to suppose that a man writes the better for being a lord, it is a still more vulgar error to suppose that he writes the worse for being one. What is certain is, that those (whatever may be their position in society) who write about that which they necessarily know and understand better than other people, employ themselves in a manner which claims the thanks of the community,-always provided they do not pretend to teach us more than they know. Now "The Tuft-hunter" is a work which did not require a sage or a philosopher to write it, and which did require a person familiar with the character and the scenes it chiefly professes to depict. To be acquainted à fond with Tuft-hunters and their haunts, a man must have worn a tuft: it follows that in the case of a vice which so well deserves to be held up to public ridicule as that of Tuft-hunting, we could (not to speak it disparagingly) "have better spared a better man" than Lord William Lennox. What was required to indite a readable novel on such a subject is, intelligence, observation, animal spirits, an easy, natural style of saying what one has to say, and above all, a

*The Tuft-hunter: a Novel. By Lord William Lennox. 3 vols.

perfect acquaintance with the scenes and matters treated of; and in all these the writer of "The Tuft-hunter" is well qualified to perform the office he has undertaken. His sketches of dinner-giving, and yachting, and chaperoning, and lion-hunting,-of fancy balls, and fancy fairs, and déjeûners dansantes, and pic-nics, and private theatricals, and tableaux and other "scenes in the circle"of fashionable life,-of the clubs, the hells, the turf, and the various incidental things and persons thereunto appertaining—all these are as entertaining and instructive as true accounts of such matters can well be. Indeed, the fault of the work is, that they are too true; the writer falls into the excusable mistake of proceeding implicitly on the principle that if his scenes are like, that is all the reader has a right to expect from him, and a few of the sketches-such as the Tuft-hunter's Dinner in Clifford-street, the Fancy-Fair at Mrs. Harcourt Evans's villa at Cowes, &c., are, we think, far too highly coloured. On the whole, however, the fashionable portion of this novel is that which will find most favour, even among the fashionable, and much more among the would-be fashionable portion of novel-readers.

But the inclusive class of English society obtains almost as much of the writer's attention as the exclusives. As, like the famous giantkiller of nursery romance, "nought is for him too high," so, on the other hand, "nought is too low:" accordingly we have some lively, and, in many respects, natural and amusing sketches of smugglers, gipsies, poachers, pirates, peasants, and in fact almost every variety of plebeian life.

Finally, we have two distinct love stories, running through each department of the work respectively, and holding it together sufficiently to give a slight consecutive interest to the whole-a desideratum, in the absence of which no mere sketches of society, however racy and forcible, can hope to find general acceptance in the present day.

The following description of a Bachelor Lord's Snuggery in the Albany, will afford no more than a fair example of the style in which

this novel is written :—

We must now transport our readers to a very handsome suite of apartments in that earthly paradise of single men, the Albany. The library was a large and well-furnished room, all the sides of which were occupied by very curious antique carved oak bookcases, filled with the most costly and elegant bound books. The works themselves, we must admit, were of a somewhat miscellaneous character, the gifted proprietor being perfectly satisfied with the exterior. On the mantelpiece stood some bronze figures, and a very splendid and elaborately ornamented French clock. The room was lighted by two large French windows, which, being partially open, admitted the pleasant breeze which was stirring without, and the odour of some choice flowers, while the strong light was mitigated by the half-drawn blinds, and the ample silk window draperies. Snuff-boxes of every size, shape, and material, were dispersed over tables loaded with French novels and caricatures, with objects of art and bijouterie. Richly decorated tables of the most beautiful marqueterie marble slabs, candelabras, vases in a happy disorder, were dispersed about the

room.

The multitudinous knicknacketric bespoke unbounded wealth, refined taste, and a habit of determined self-indulgence in the owner. Many and various were the forms of easy-chairs and sofas distributed through the room.

Extended upon one lay the presiding genius of the place, Lord Montressor>

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

with his tuft-hunting friend Lionel Crouch, seated by his side. His lordship was attired in a morning-robe of rich rose-coloured satin; a Genoa velvet cap, embroidered with gold, adorned his head; and his feet were shod with slippers of the same costly materials. His occupation was smoking a magnificent

hookar.

As to the wearer, it must be confessed that he did not reflect any particular grace upon this splendid apparel. He was of mean stature, fat, and roundshouldered. His countenance was not merely heavy, but absolutely void of all expression.

On a large table lay a great number of dinner and evening cards, a guitar, notes, letters, &c. &c. Beside him, on the well-stuffed morocco leather sofa, lay a small King Charles's spaniel, not inappropriately named after the merry monarch" Roue," while a Newfoundland dog reposed at his feet on the bright flowers of the Brussels carpet. Throughout the room, in disordered confusion, might be seen foils, fishing-tackle, cricket-bats, scientific apparatus, guns, pistols, flutes, and whips, the tout ensemble fit image of the mind of many of the owner's fashionable friends, fine materials, ill-arranged and sadly misplaced.

Lord Montressor, to use his own words, had traversed Europe to study the arts at the fountain-head-had wept tears of joy and enthusiasm over the works of the sublime Michael Angelo, and the divine Raffael-imbibed the Caracci at Bologna-worshipped Corregio at Parma, and insulated himself at Venice, to imbue his taste with the fascinations of Tintoretto, Titian, and Paul Veronese, and had now only just returned from Italy, to take possession of his title and estate. He was an admirer of les beaux arts, a perfect connoisseur, an ardent virtuoso he could talk of nothing but the genial clime of the south, described his horror at being obliged to vegetate in the foggy atmosphere of England, and was full of the land of song and fine arts; dropping occasional hints concerning scores of Italian duchesses and countesses who had compromised their slender remains of reputation, pour l'amour de ses beaux yeux, and afterwards attempted to poison him for his inconstancy.

His lordship aimed at being a wit and a poet; though, as Sheridan said, a joke in his mouth was no laughing matter. His witticisms were borrowed from the most approved authorities; but his poetry was unquestionably original.

Lord Montressor was devoted to jewellery, and wore rings and chains enough to have furnished the lord mayor and court of aldermen with their civic baubles. As his protégé Crouch (of whom more anon) remarked, he was literally hung in chains.

We have now only to sum up this brief account of his lordship by saying, that if the Marquis de Sevigné merited, from his love of bijouterie, the title of le roi de bagatelles, Lord Montressor might with equal justice have disputed the sovereignty.

JESSIE PHILLIPS.*

ALTHOUGH it is not our ordinary practice to notice serial works, we must not allow a writer like Mrs. Trollope, and one to whom our own pages are so much indebted, to commence a new work that must necessarily excite so much attention, without recognising its appearance, and commending it to the notice of our readers. With its probable influence on the unpopular law against which it is avowedly directed, we are not disposed to take any concern; it is as the opening of a tale

* Jessie Phillips. A Tale of the New Poor Law. By Mrs. Trollope. Part I. Feb.-VOL. LXVII. NO. CCLXVI.

U

of real life that we, and nine-tenths of its other readers, we suspect, regard it, and shall regard its future numbers; and in that point of view it puts forth unusual promise, and that of a novel and original kind. It is evident, from the great pains bestowed thus early upon the heroine, "Jessie Phillips," the village beauty, who by her virtues and goodness attracts as much fondness from all the female portion of Deepbrook and its neigbourhood, gentle and simple, as her surpassing beauty claims the admiration of the men, that around her are to be clustered the chief interest and attraction of the story; and certain hints which fall from the author, as if inadvertently, but which are doubtless prepared to this end, lead us to fear that her fate will be a sad one. The family of the Daltons too (comprising no less than ten daughters!) gives promise of unusual variety. Meanwhile, the scene describing a sitting of the Board of Guardians, proves that Mrs. Trollope means to attack the system she deprecates, with a bold and unflinching hand.

NARRATIVE OF A RESIDENCE ON THE MOSQUITO COAST.

"WHAT is there," says Shakspeare, "in a name?" Clearly nothing, or what living creature thinner skinned than a rhinoceros would think of settling on the Mosquito Coast? Our epidermis twitches at the idea. Settling and Mosquitoes! We should as soon dream of cowage and quietism, tickling and tranquillity, philosophy and flyflaps, serenity and stinging-nettles, nestling and gnats, calm and cantharides, bliss and a blister. No, nothing can settle there but the insects themselves.

But we are wrong. Human creatures have located or attempted to do so on the Mosquito Coast, and amongst others, a Mr. Charles Young, who, however, did not stay to grow old there, but has returned to England and has composed a sort of Hand-book for emigrants to the same shore-not as one might suppose, to direct them when, where, and how, to slap or scratch, but to give the adventurers a notion of the manners and customs of the native tribes, the climate, seasons, and productions of the country."

This patriotic or philanthropic design, the author has very fairly and fully carried out, and we should seriously recommend all such persons as look towards the Stinging Shore for a home, to read the book before engaging a passage to Cape Gracias á Dios. Emigrants are especially destined to be bitten-first, by ship-brokers and colonial agents, before embarking; next by nameless vermin on board, not to forget the sharks if they go overboard, and on arrival, not only by the natives, should they be cannibals, but by various bloodthirsty beasts, reptiles, and insects. It behoves the wanderer therefore, to know beforehand to what mordants he will be exposed, in order to properly estimate his own powers of resistance and endurance; for example, whether on the coast in question, he could bear, or would choose to be bitten by mosquitoes, sand-flies, chegoe fleas, ants, and fire-ants, wee-wees (not as Scotchmen would suppose, very small, but very large ants), galley wasps-whose bite is very bad-snakes, including the sawyer, the

*Narrative of a Residence on the Mosquito Coast. By Thomas Young.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »