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velop itself, which a more formal training of her delineations, or to give them an obsomight have discouraged. A girl has already lete or washed-out air. And her Irish tales gathered much, and felt more, ere she ar and characters are among ber best :—witness rives at her teens; and though eighty-two Ennui,”—witness The Absentee,”-wityears ago precocity was less common than it ness the persone of her Comic Dramas,-to is in our time of electrically-diffused intelli- whom we especially call attention because gence, it is not chimerical to presume that we think they have been unfairly overlooked. Imagination must even then have begun to We have Sir Walter Scott's own warrant for stir, -nay, too, and taste to select have saying, that it was the freshness and vivacity already awakened in one whose character of their nationality, and the success of their throughout life has displayed a singular characteristic dialogue, which led him to adunion of vivacity with temperance, of obser- venture those tales in the “ language of vation with reasoning power. Then, too, it Burns,” which, (in spite of its being critimay have been good for the authoress that cised, on its first utterance, as a dark diaIreland, with its strange, pathetic, humorous lect of Anglified Erse,'') metamorphosed the life, came upon her as a contrast, not as a Fiction of Europe. We have the warrant, matter of course. She might otherwise too, of one of Mr. O'Connell's tail, Mr. hardly have so shrewdly noticed all the odd O'Neill Daunt, for the assertion that the discrepancies and striking individualities of Liberator was aggrieved at the novelist, beits Sir Condy Rackrents and its Sir Terence cause she never directly espoused the cause O'Fays ;—she might have treated that as of Catholic Emancipation. It is something natural, inevitable, and not worth the paint to have shown the way to the genius of ing, which proved to be a vein of rare in- Scott, and to have been counted as a stumterest and peculiar nature.
bling-block by the Arch—(let OrangeIt was by her “ Castle Rackrent” that man or Repealer fill the blank each for himMiss Edgeworth was first introduced to the self) of Derrynane Abbey ! public, and took at once her place in the Once having begun and been acknowledg. foremost rank of female novelists. Though ed, Miss Edgeworth could not but proceed in the eminent personages of her chronicle her pleasure-giving labor, (for who gives so might very possibly not really be more in- much pleasure as the Story Teller ?) We dividual than Miss Burney's Braughton's, or by no means profess to enumerate her novels Madame Duval, or Briggs, or the “ tonish” | —but must mention the “ Moral Tales,” the people (as the authoress called them) in Popular Tales,” the “ Tales of Fashionable “ Cecilia," they arrested English attention Life,"—the insulated stories, “Leonora," by their strange over-sea air. It was at Belinda,” Patronage,
Harrington and once felt that we of Britain have nothing so Ormond;" that inimitable sarcastic sketch charming, so savage, so humorous, so pa- | “ The Modern Griselda ;” and the stories for thetic, so endearing, and so provoking, as children, which will never lose their hold. the society and manners depicted. Most We are acquainted with wiser men than ourcurious, too, is it now to read the apology of selves, and burdened, to boot, with graver the Artist for offering such a picture, on the burdens, (if that could be,) who are still glad plea that Ireland must, owing to the Union, of an excuse to read again “ The Cherry Orpresently lose its identity, and that the Sir chard,” and “ The Purple Jar,” and “Simkits and Thadys must become, like other ple Susan.” There are few such books for British subjects, dull, thriving, country children in any other language, as we Eng. gentlemen, and tame followers. Most cu lish possess--and that is one reason why rious ! —seeing that there is no more puzzling there are few such men and women sign of the times—their intellectual enlarge- English men and women! ment and gracious benevolence considered For the pleasure of children of a larger than the revival, in every exasperated form, growth, it would be hard to specify in the of all the obsolete prejudices and animosities picture-gallery of men and manners which of race,--than the cherishing prepense of all novelists have given, scenes of greater power those jealousies, peculiarities, and barbarisms and emotion, characters of more vivacity and which keep asunder Saxon from Celt, Slave variety, finer touches of humor, than exist in from German, the South from the North. the Edgeworth Library. Let us mention
But though-in part, because — Miss Edge“ Vivian,” with its deep overmastering interworth's prophecy runs small chance of being est and exquisitely painful close, — " To-morfulfilled in our life-time, fifty years or more row," “ Out of Debt out of Danger,” as stohave done nothing to tarnish the brightness ries, the end of which is announced in the
very titles thereof, without the interest and mon walks of men,-bound by our responsi-
Let us now consider the whole of which having selected a class of virtues far more
because he wouldn't sell Uncle Oliver's pic- , to write on.' His skill in cutting, his decision in
His ture!". The grandeur, the beauty, the mys- criticism, were peculiarly useful to me. tery of crime, were to be dwelt upon as öb- ready invention and infinite resource, when I had jects of allurement and sympathy, -power and run myself into difficulties or absurdities, never
failed to extricate me at my utmost need. It was diseased passion combined, were to be pitied, the happy experience of this, and my consequent because they could not rule the world; and reliance on his ability, decision and taste, that re“ hardness," "selfishness," and other brand- lieved me from the vacillation and anxiety to which ing epithets, were flung about on those whom I was much subject. He enjoined me to finish such a code of moral monstrosities revolted. whatever I began; and such was his power over It may be well for England that the end of my mind, that during his life nothing I began to this epidemic came many years ago!
write was left unfinished; and in particular in
stances where the subject was not happily chosen, The above granted, let us own that the as
it was irksome to go on and complete the task. signment of an egotistic and mechanical spirit Nor was the labor always paid by literary success. to Miss Edgeworth's works may be in part Yet it was not labor in vain : it strengthened my chargeable, not upon her peculiarities as a power of perseverance, nor did it prevent fresh moralist, but upon her manner of working as
exertion. an artist. This she has herself so pleasantly hints for invention furnished me by the incidents
“ Were it worth while, I could point out many described in her “ Memoirs of her Father," that and characters which my father had met with in it has naturally-necessarily-a place here his youth.”
My father wrote but little; but I may be permitted to say how much, as a critic, he did
Those who are curious whether as to charfor me. Yet, indeed, this is out of my power fully acter or the manner of working which disto state to the public--only that small circle of tinguishes a Van Eyck from a Pietro Peruour friends, who saw the manuscripts before and gino, or a Teniers from a Wilkie, can hardly after they were corrected by him, can know or do better than compare the above passage imagine how much they were improved by his with Miss Burney's revelations of the fevers critical taste and judgment.
Whenever I thought of writing anything, I of confidential modesty, in which she laid her told him my first rough plans, and always, with
Cecilia,” and a certain defunct comedy, bethe instinct of a good critic, he used to fix imme-fore the Streatham Sanhedrim of wits and diately upon that which would best answer the critics—the Thrales, the Johnsons, the purpose. • Sketch that, and show it to me.' Murphys, the Montagus—her more stubThese words, from the experience of his sagacity, born counsellor, Daddy Crisp of Chesington, never failed to inspire me with hope of success. It was then sketched. Sometimes, when I was
and her animated, accomplished father, the fond of a particular part, I used to dilate upon it
historian of music and the biographer of in the sketch; but to this he always objected :
Metastasio ! *I don't want any of your painting-none of
Now, it is hardly within nature and posyour drapery! I can imagine all that; let me sibility that such a manner of writing as Miss see the bare skeleton.'
Edgeworth reveals, should not produce a “ It seemed to me sometimes impossible that he certain stiffness and over-anxious finish, becould understand the very slight sketches I made, cause of which superficial or impulsive when, before I was conscious that I had expressed readers have been apt to rebuke the matter this doubt in my countenance, he always saw it.
"Now my dear little daughter, I know, does of her tales, and the argument of their purnot believe that I understand her.' Then he pose. Difficulties solved by the active ingewould, in his own words, fill up my sketch, paint nuity of another brain than the inventor's the description or represent the character intended, incidents clipped, dove-tailed, and chiselled, with such life, that I was quite convinced he not by a revising hand—subjects felt to be “unonly seized the ideas, but that he saw, with the happily chosen,” which were still to be prophetic eye of taste, the utmost that could be made of them. After a sketch had his approba
wrought out for consistency's sake—these tion, he would not see the filling it up till it had phenomena can hardly consist with ease, been worked upon for a week or a fortnight, or
and flow, and the appearance of inspiration. till the first thirty or forty pages were written. There must be also evident under such a disThen they were read to him, and if he thought pensation, a certain consciousness on the part them going on tolerably well, the pleasure in of the writer : a complacent and careful layhis eyes, the approving sound of his voice, even ing-out of plots and plans, of utilizing every without the praise he so warmly bestowed, were sufficient and delightful excitements to go on and and these are calculated to disturb,
episodical incident and accessory figure : finish. When he thought that there was spirit in what was written, but that it required, as it often not to distract, the reader, by drawdid, great correction, he would say, ' Leave that ing his attention from the beauty of the to me; it is my business to cut and correct-yours fabric to the art of the machinery. Those
whom analysis interests will find an example | blotting out from her own recollection the of art carried to its extremity in “ Patronage, thoughts of an earlier affection, such as she the most ambitious, but the least interesting, fears he would have disapproved. Lady of Miss Edgeworth's tales. We know that Davenant's high-toned and intellectual char“ Trifles make the sum of human things,"
acter has a redeeming weakness. She can be
credulous, too, as in the case of her page; but in “Patronage" every important affair she can have been womanish, and failing in turns upon some minute incident by way of a her duties as a mother, as the early struggles pivot. “A broad-seal thoughtlessly given- for ascendency which her confessions reveal. the direction of a letter casually recognized by And how admirably, as in life, are the the right person at the right moment—set a strength and weakness of these three characMinister to rights with his Monarch. A fam- ters made to play into each other's hands and ily artfully and progressively tried by every hearts! Then, for secondary characters, how temptation which enables them to exhibit highly finished are the persons of the scantheir independence, is reinstated, rewarded, dalous coterie, and Churchill who hovers, with the mathematically apportioned bounty like Mahomet's coffin, betwixt their poisonous of (as it were) steam fairies. The phrase of world and “the diviner air” of better feeling! “poetical justice” acquires a new meaning and Lady Bearcrofi, with her liberality, and from books like these ; and not till we close her vulgarity, and her cordiality, and her selfthem do we remind ourselves that (to quote interest. Capitally is the interest complia yet truer phrase) the best of mankind must cated ; with exquisite neatness “the tow spun be content with the poetry without the jus- off the reel,” (and how few novelists, now-atice. But we repeat, the manner has a larger days, are competent to manage a close !) and share in producing this impression, and pro- the sprightliness, the grace, the depth, are unvoking this repulsion, than ihe matter of Miss impaired by the intrusion of any mechanical Edgeworth's tales.
Were we We have dwelt on this distinction from not given to prophecy in these days, when the having seen it drawn in any other place; and Comet is keeping away from us for the exbecause it is one, in every respect, important. press purpose (of course) of rebuking arroBut whether the peculiarity commented on, gant prophecy, and when, at a moment's (or complained of as may be,) be here rightly warning, literature may rise of form and scope estimated, or not: certain it is that the novel as yet totally undreamed of—we should written by Miss Edgeworth alone and unas assert, with the confidence of those who know sisted after her father's death, is so superior much and risk little, that the good days of in ease, in play, in nature, and in poetry, to “Helen's” right appreciation, and steady any of her earlier productions of similar ex- popularity as a classic, are only just set in, if tent, as to warrant us in fancying that filial not still to come. affection overvalued the assistance of the mon We have written principally of the authoritor and guide, whose literary counsels she ess; for to prowl about the private dwelling prized so highly. We allude to “ Helen" as of a lady “pen in hand," does not altogether compared with “ Belinda” or “Patronage.” suit our humor. That Miss Edgeworth has It has been impossible to return to this tale, taken her place with due distinction in the after the pause of some years, without being brightest worlds of London and Paris, cotemsurprised by its elegance, its vivacity, the porary memoirs have already told. Byron skill of its invention, the shrewdness and looked out for her even when Byron's Gulsweetness of heart which it discloses; the nares and Zuleikas were the rage in May knowledge of life, the sympathy with pro- Fair. One of the happiest months ever gress which it registers. Here, at least, known at Abbotsford (as Mr. Lockhart asthose whom the very idea of the School sures us,) was the one which followed her mistress scares, have not to complain of the crossing of Scott's threshold. He wrote of her prim presence or the ponderous pressure of as a Good Fairy, tiny in stature, lively of eye, the Pattern Woman. Helen's strength (upon kind and gay in speech. Nor is the vivacity which, and her sacrifice of herself for her dimmed even now which has made Miss friend, the story turns) is set in motion at the Edgeworth, throughout her long life and disservice of her weakness—her immoderate tinguished literary career, not merely " the craving for love and sympathy. Cecilia's observed" of mere lion-hunters, and “the falsehood is not excused, but explained, by discussed” of philosophers and poets, but the deep and reverential' affection she bears also “the beloved” of a large and happilyher husband, which makes her desirous of united domestic circle.
From the North British Review.
CHARLES LAMB AND HIS FRIENDS.
Final Memorials of Charles Lamb. By THOMAS Noon TalfourD. 2 vols.
London : 1848.
It sounds paradoxical, but is not so in a varied, which compose the harsh physiognobad sense, to say, that in every literature of my of what we call worldliness in the living large compass some authors will be found to groups of life, must unavoidably present rest much of the interest which surrounds themselves in books. A library divides into them on their essential non-popularity. They sections of worldly and unworldly, even as a are good for the very reason that they are crowd of men divides into that same majorinot in conformity to the current taste. They ty and minority. The world has an instinct interest because to the world they are not for recognizing its own; and recoils from interesting. They attract by means of their certain qualities when exemplified in books, repulsion. Not as though it could separately with the same disgust or defective sympathy furnish a reason for loving a book, that the as would have governed it in real life. From majority of men had found it repulsive. qualities for instance of childlike simplicity, Prima facie, it must suggest some presump- of shy profundity, or of inspired self-comtion against a book, that it has failed to en- munion, the world does and must turn away gaged public attention. To have roused its face towards grosser, bolder, more deterhostility indeed, to have kindled a feud mined, or more intelligible expressions of against its own principles or its temper, may character and intellect;—and not otherwise happen to be a good sign. Thal argues in literature, nor at all less in literature, than power.
Hatred may be promising. The it does in the realities of life. deepest revolutions of mind sometimes begin Charles Lamb, if any ever was, is amongst in hatred. But simply to have left a reader the class here contemplated; he, if any ever ‘unimpressed is in itself a neutral result, has, ranks amongst writers whose works are from which the inference is doubtful. Yet destined to be forever unpopular, and yet even that, even simple failure to impress, may forever interesting; interesting, moreover, by happen at times to be a result from positive means of those very qualities which guarantee powers in a writer, from special originalities, their non-popularity. The same qualities such as rarely reflect themselves in the mir- which will be found forbidding to the worldly ror of the ordinary understanding. It seems and the thoughtless, which will be found inlittle to be perceived how much the great sipid to many even amongst robust and powscriptural* idea of the worldly and the un erful minds, are exactly those which will conworldly is found to emerge in literature as tinue to command a select audience in every well as in life. In reality the very same generation. The prose essays under the sigcombinations of moral qualities, infinitely nature of Elia form the most delightful section
amongst Lamb's works. They traverse a
peculiar field of observation, sequestered from * “ Scriptural” we call it, because this element general interest; and they are composed in of thought, so indispensable to a profound philosophy of morals, is not simply more used in Scripture
a spirit too delicate and unobtrusive to catch than elsewhere, but is so exclusively significant or the ear of the noisy crowd, clamoring for intelligible amidst the correlative ideas of Scripture, strong sensations. But this retiring delicacy as to be absolutely insusceptible of translation into itself, the pensiveness chequered by gleams classical Greek or classical Latin. It is disgraceful of the fanciful, and the humor that is touched that more reflection has not been directed to the vast causes and consequences of so pregnant a
with cross-lights of pathos, together with the truth.
picturesque quaintness of the objects casually