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'Now Mister Trott began to leer,
And throw his eyes about;
'" For a suitor I might suit her well,
And why should I not please?
'For o'er his head had sixty years,
And more if truth be told,
'The service o'er, Tim walked away,
'Tim made a bow and made a leg,
And spoke with hesitation;
'But tho' so scornfully repuls'd,
'Miss Biddy met her ancient beau,
'Tim stammer'd, hammer'd, hem'd and sigh'd,—
He fluttered like a leaf—
'"Tho' I'm a man of substance, ma'am,
'Quoth she, and with a killing smile.
'"Ah! make not of my si/.e a laugh,
'But Biddy's heart was hard as stone, Tim's tears were shed in vain, Vol. v. 2 H
Art. XVII. Iu-Kiao-Li; or, the Two fair Cousins, a Chinese Novel. From the French Version of M. Abel—Remusat. 2 vols. 8vo. 14*. bds. London: Hunt & Clarke. 1827.
It is with great pleasure that we see the literature of our country enriched by an English version of this novel, to the singular merits of which we have already invited public attention. We do not know the class of English readers to whom so complete an acquaintance with Chinese memoirs, as is afforded in this work, will not be highly acceptable.
History, and books of travels, are almost, and of necessity, silent with respect to the state of Chinese society—but all the glimpses of knowledge upon that interesting subject, which we derive from the sources just alluded to, but especially from all the later accounts about China, confirm, in a very striking manner, the domestic pictures presented to us in the course of these volumes, and set at rest, if there had been any ambiguity on the point, the question of the authenticity of this work.
Iu-Kiao-Li will be found defective in many of those points, for which the modern novel is most celebrated. It departs very widely, indeed, from the melo-dramatic character which pervades our more popular romances, and approaches rather to that of an extended comedy, the scenes of which are drawn from what may be called genteel life in China. It is occupied in simply developing, in the most natural order, the feelings, the passions and motives which push forward the daily business of mankind. On this account, the work is of far greater value, as a Chinese production, than if it aimed more at raising popular interest; an object, which could scarcely be effected without endangering, or perhaps totally destroying, its resemblance to the actual state of society, within the sealed territory of the celestial empire. Proceeding upon this scale, the author deduces the series of his incidents, from the anxiety of a father to procure a husband for his daughter. When we consider how much political and religious habits in China tend to prolong and sharpen that anxiety, which, under ordinary circumstances, is sufficiently acute, we cannot be surprised that so much importance sixiuld^^bgattributed to its influence. The course of the story leads us, at once7intoa|l the details of the domestic economy of the Chinese—their social habits,, their amusements—their household regulations ;—and we have an opportunity of observing the state of their relations with each other—the tetxlerness with which the ties of kindred are cultivated—and the nature 'of those motives which govern them on the more important occasions of their lives.
It will, no doubt, surprise the European, to find that the qualities which are looked for in the Chinese lover, so little resemble those which obtain preference in the societies in the west; a circumstance which shews. in the most striking manner, how completely the human mind is at the disposal of institutions and habits. Intellectual accomplishments in the suitor, are the paramount consideration with the family of the young lady. In the present case, the difficulty of making the choice of a son in law, places a father in the midst of a set of perplexities, from which the chief interest arises—they develope all the strength of filial and paternal attachment on the one hand, and present to us on the other, the affecting spectacle of virtue and innocence undergoing an unmerited persecution from powerful malice, whose intrigues they have disappointed. This is, indeed, one of the most beautiful passages of the book. The father, who, because of his stedfastness in consulting the true happiness of his daughter, declines an unworthy alliance for her, becomes an object of hatred to the rejected suitor, whose political influence at length prevailed so far as to cause the temporary separation of father and daughter. The tender meeting of the family circle on the eve of that separation—the varying effects of grief on the various persons, form a scene in the highest degree natural and expressive.
The work, indeed, appears to us, with its illustrative notes, and a very curious prefac, one of the best guides which we possess, to the knowledge of Chinese domestic life.
Art. XVIIT. The Reigning Vice; a Satirical Essay, in Four Books, 8vo. pp. 182. London: Longman, Rees, & Co. J827.
This is the production of a mind cultivated by education, and regulated by the habits of a gentleman—of one whose indignant hatred of corruption in all its phases, is in proportion to the warmth with which he pushes his scheme of moral perfectability—that fond theory which is indebted for its existence, more to the active instinct of amiable natures, than to the encouragement of experienced wisdom. He is a poet of the school of Pope, and, not in a few passages, reminds us of the ease, grace and propriety, which distinguish the numbers of the bard of Twickenham.
The satire consists of four books, in the first of which the author undertakes to shew, that self-love is the universal, the " Reigning Vice," and that no matter what is the proximate motive which governs particular men, the great, although remote and sometimes concealed, spring of human action, is selfishness. This leads him to consider the numberless disguises under which this insidious passion carries on its operations, and to that division of his subject.the second book is devoted. The third book opens with a variety of instances to shew the prevalence of self-love in modern times—and the conclusion is drawn, that it is the leading characteristic of the present day. The author prognosticates the speedy fall of Great Britain, as the result of the excessive corruptions, which self-love has produced amidst all ranks. This passion is lastly considered in its more extensive influence over bodies politic, in their treatment of subject countries, as also in its effects on the mutual relations that subsist between the different orders of the same society. The positions which our author lays down are then illustrated by instances—and the policy of England towards Ireland is particularly referred to, as demonstrating the selfishness which governed the councils of the superior state, during their connection. This part of the work furnishes so fair a specimen of the average merits of the poem that we have no hesitation in extracting it.
'Britain behold and quake!
See, pale, she (Ireland) withers on her blasted strand,
From the consideration of political affairs, the poet descends to the ranks of private society in this country, and marks with becoming indignation the too general selfishness of those parents who rate their children with their goods and chattels, as instruments of contemptible profit. The poem closes with a visionary sketch of the temple of selfishness. The work, it will be seen, is one from which not only entertainment,but very useful and practical instruction may be derived.
Art. XIX. TheAge Reviewed, a Satire, in two parts. Large 8vo. pp.399. 10s. 6d. London : W. Carpenter. 1827.
We deem it worth while now and then to bring before the bar of critical justice, some prominent brother of that unprincipled community which infests the walks of literature, and getting over, as well as we can, the offensiveness of the task, expose the true character of his office. Hie ancient Greeks brought their children to witness the excesses of the intoxicated helot, as the surest way of inspiring them with a horror of drunkenness.
We are really ashamed of this era of defamatory newspapers and filthy biography. The press is now the common sewer for each " needy ¥111310" who has worn out the usual methods of extortion. They who can no longer impose their paste and glass for precious stones, now make merchandize of the private lives of their acquaintance; spoliation on the highway is given up for the safer plunder of domestic character; paragraphs of evil meaning perform the office of threatening letters—and the liar can bear false witness in anonymous print without his former apprehensions.
As a criterion of the nature of this abuse—as marking the extreme boundary of modern speculations in the traffic of scandal, we do not know that we could have preferred any book of recent production to the 'Age Reviewed,' without doing the greatest injustice to the claims of the latter. The author is of no party: whigs and tories are alike indifferent to him; he is perfectly impartial amidst creeds: his instinct is to fall upon whatever is virtuous and good, no matter under what circumstances he may find it. It is enough that a man be exemplary for the purity—be esteemed for the usefulness, of his life—it is enough that he has levied the slightest amount of gratitude on his countrymen, to draw upon his fair character the fell reproaches of this satirist. A more revolting mass of coarse abuse, of impudent licentiousness in slander and indelicacy, it has never been our painful duty to peruse. In a literary point of view the verses are beneath contempt—whenever he becomes obscure and thinks that he fails of his full meaning, the author has a ready note at hand to help out the limping calumny. The ' Age,' is, in truth, bad enough, but to believe that there is a reality for this picture of universal profligacy, would require as great a degree of depravity of heart, as was necessary to paint it.
Art. XX. The Poetry of Milton's Prose, selected from Ms various Writings; with Notes, and an Introductory Essay. 12mo. pp. 138. 5s. Gd. London: Longman & Co. 1827.
The reason why Milton's prose works have been generally treated with neglect, is very obvious. He wrote in a pedantic, involved style—he seems, except when he was under the influence of poetic inspiration, to have thought in Latin, and in the sort of Latin, too, which was not remarkable for its purity and elegance. Milton also wrote for merely temporary purposes: his antagonists speedily passed to oblivion, and bis arguments have long since ceased to interest his countrymen.
But it was also admitted, that through the political and polemical works of this author, passages were to be found, in which all the grandeur of Milton's genius shone forth in a manner worthy of the poet of Paradise. In his theological compositions, the piety of Milton breaks forth, occasionally, in sentences of the purest sublimity; and his Areopagitica was always admired, not only for the union of learning, fancy, wisdom, and eloquence, of which it is composed, but for its total freedom from those imperfections of taste, which tend to degrade so many of his other productions in prose.
To place a selection of some of those noble passages—those gems that lay so long scattered and unknown amidst pages of obsolete controversies, in the hands of the public, was a task likely to prove acceptable, as it was easy of execution. The extracts are generally short, and arranged with a view of giving facility of reference to a particular subject. The text is very elaborately illustrated by quotations from Milton himself—the poet, politician, and theologian, being called upon to elucidate and explain each other; and the value of these notes is sometimes enhanced by suitable citations from the works of other masters in our literature. With a.