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SECONDARY SCOTCH NOVELS.
1. Annals of the Parish, or the Chronicle of Dalmailing, during the Ministry of the Rev. Micah Balwhidder. Written by Himself. 1 vol. 12mo. pp. 400. Blackwood. Edin. 1819. 2. The Ayrshire Legatees, or the Pringle Family. By the Author of "Annals of the Parish," &c. 1 vol. 12mo. pp. 395. Blackwood. Edinburgh, 1820.
3. The Provost. By the Author of "Annals of the Parish," "Ayrshire Legatees," &c. 1 vol. 12mo. pp. 360. Blackwood. Edinburgh, 1820.
4. Sir Andrew Wyllie of that Ilk. By the Author of " Annals of the Parish," &c. 3 vols. 12mo. Blackwood. Edin. 1822. 5. The Steam Boat. By the Author of " Annals of the Parish," &c. 1 vol. 12mo. Blackwood. Edinburgh, 1822.
6. The Entail, or the Lairds of Grippy. By the Author of "Annals of the Parish," "Sir Andrew Wyllie," &c. 3 vols. 18mo. Blackwood. Edinburgh, 1823.
7. Ringan Gilhaize, or the Covenanters. By the Author of "Annals of the Parish," &c. 3 vols. 12mo. Blackwood. Edinburgh, 1823.
8. Valerius, a Roman Story. 3 vols. 12mo. Edinburgh, 1820.
9. Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life. 1 vol. 8vo. Blackwood. Edinburgh, 1822.
10. Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Adam Blair, Minister of the Gospel at Cross-Meikle. 1 vol. 8vo. Blackwood. Edinburgh, 1822.
11. The Trials of Margaret Lindsay. By the Author of "Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life." I vol. 8vo. Blackwood. Edinburgh, 1823.
12. Reginald Dalton. By the Author of "Valerius," and "Adam Blair.” 3 vols. 8vo. Blackwood. Edinburgh, 1823.*
We have been sometimes accused, we observe, of partiality to the writers of our own country, and reproached
* I have retained most of the citations in this article: the books from which they are taken not being so universally known as those
with helping middling Scotch works into notice, while far more meritorious publications in England and Ireland have been treated with neglect. We take leave to say, that there could not possibly be a more unjust accusation: and the list of books which we have prefixed to this article, affords of itself, we now conceive, the most triumphant refutation of it. Here is a set of lively and popular works, that have attracted, and very deservedly, a large share of attention in every part of the empire-issuing from the press, successively for four or five years, in this very city, and under our eyes, and not hitherto honoured by us with any indication of our being even conscious of their existence. The causes of this long neglect it can now be of no importance to explain. But sure we are, that our ingenious countrymen have far greater reason to complain of it, than any aliens can have to impute this tardy reparation to national partiality.
The works themselves are evidently too numerous to admit of our now giving more than a very general account of them and indeed, some of their authors emulate their great prototype so successfully in the rapid succession of their performances, that, even if they had not been so far ahead of us at the starting, we must soon have been reduced to deal with them as we have done with him, and only to have noticed their productions when they had grown up into groups and families- as they increased and multiplied in the land. In intimating that we regard them as imitations of the inimitable novels, which we, who never presume to peep under masks, still hold to be by an author unknown, have already exhausted more than half their general character. They are inferior certainly (and what is
SECONDARY SCOTCH NOVELS.
of Sir Walter Scott—and yet deserving, I think, of being thus recalled to the attention of general readers. The whole seem to have been originally put out anonymously: But the authorship has been long ago acknowledged ;—so that it is scarcely necessary for me to mention that the first seven in the list are the works of the late Mr. Galt, Valerius and Adam Blair of Mr. Lockhart and the Lights and Shadows, and Margaret Lindsay, of Professor Wilson.
not?) to their great originals. But they are the best copies which have yet been produced of them; and it is not a little creditable to the genius of our beloved country, that, even in those gay and airy walks of literature from which she had been so long estranged, an opening was no sooner made, by the splendid success of one gifted Scotsman, than many others were found ready to enter upon them, with a spirit of enterprise, and a force of invention, that promised still farther to extend their boundaries-and to make these new adventurers, if not formidable rivals, at least not unworthy followers of him by whose example they were roused.
There are three authors, it seems, to the works now before us;-so at least the title-pages announce; and it is a rule with us, to give implicit faith to those solemn intimations. We think, indeed, that without the help of that oracle, we should have been at no loss to ascribe all the works which are now claimed by the author of the Annals of the Parish, to one and the same hand; But we should certainly have been inclined to suppose, that there was only one author for all the rest, -with the exception, perhaps, of Valerius, which has little resemblance, either in substance or manner, to any of those with which it is now associated.
MOVE IN THE ORBIT OF WAVERLEY.
In the arduous task of imitating the great novelist, they have apparently found it necessary to resort to the great principle of division of labour; and yet they have not, among them, been able to equal the work of his single hand! The author of the Parish Annals seems to have sought chiefly to rival the humorous and less dignified parts of his original; by large representations of the character and manners of the middling and lower orders in Scotland, intermingled with traits of sly and sarcastic sagacity; and occasionally softened and relieved by touches of unexpected tenderness and simple pathos, all harmonized by the same truth to nature and fine sense of national peculiarity. In these delineations there is, no doubt, more vulgarity, both of style and conception, and less poetical invention, than in the corresponding passages of the works he aspires to imitate; but,
GALT HAS MOST HUMOUR,
on the other hand, there is more of that peculiar humour which depends on the combination of great naïveté, indolence, and occasional absurdity, with natural good sense, and taste, and kind feelings in the principal characters— such combinations as Sir Roger De Coverley, the Vicar of Wakefield, and My Uncle Toby, have made familiar to all English readers, but of which we have not hitherto had any good Scottish representative. There is also more systematic, though very good-humoured, sarcasm, and a more distinct moral, or unity of didactic purpose, in most of his writings, than it would be easy to discover in the playful, capricious, and fanciful sketches of his great master.
The other two authors have formed themselves more upon the poetical, reflective, and pathetic parts of their common model; and have aimed at emulating such beautiful pictures as that of Mr. Peter Pattison, the blind old women in Old Mortality and the Bride of Lammermoor, the courtship at the Mermaiden's Well, and, generally, his innumerable and exquisite descriptions of the soft, simple, and sublime scenery of Scotland, as viewed in connexion with the character of its better rustic population. Though far better skilled than their associate, in the art of composition, and chargeable, perhaps, with less direct imitation, we cannot but regard them as much less original, and as having performed, upon the whole, a far easier task. They have no great variety of style, and but little of actual invention, — and are mannerists in the strongest sense of that term. Though unquestionably pathetic in a very powerful degree, they are pathetic, for the most part, by the common recipes, which enable any one almost, to draw tears, who will condescend to employ them. They They are mighty religious too, but apparently on the same principle; and, while their laboured attacks on our sympathies are felt, at last, to be somewhat importunate and puerile, their devotional orthodoxies seem to tend, every now and then, a little towards cant. This is perhaps too harshly said; and is more, we confess, the result of the second reading than the first; and suggested rather by a comparison with
LOCKHART AND WILSON MOST SWEETNESS.
their great original, than an impression of their own independent merits. Compared with that high standard, it is impossible not to feel that they are somewhat wanting in manliness, freedom, and liberality; and, while they enlarge, in a sort of pastoral, emphatic, and melodious style, on the virtues of our cottagers, and the apostolical sanctity of our ministers and elders, the delights of pure affection, and the comforts of the Bible, are lamentably deficient in that bold and free vein of invention, that thorough knowledge of the world, and rectifying spirit of good sense, which redeem all that great author's flights from the imputation either of extravagance or affectation, and give weight, as well as truth, to his most poetical delineations of nature and of passion. But, though they cannot pretend to this rare merit, which has scarcely fallen to the share of more than once since the days of Shakespeare, there is no doubt much beautiful writing, much admirable description, and much both of tender and of lofty feeling, in the volumes of which we are now speaking; and though their inferior and borrowed lights are dimmed in the broader blaze of the luminary, who now fills our Northern sky with his glory, they still hold their course distinctly within the orb of his attraction, and make a visible part of the splendour which draws to that quarter of the heavens the admiration of so many distant eyes.
We must now, however, say a word or two on the particular works we have enumerated; among which, and especially in the first series, there is a very great difference of design, as well as inequality of merit. The first with which we happened to become acquainted, and, after all, perhaps the best and most interesting of the whole, is that entitled "Annals of the Parish," comprising in one little volume of about 400 pages the domestic chronicle of a worthy minister, on the coast of Ayrshire, for a period of no less than fifty-one years, from 1760 to 1810. The primitive simplicity of the pastor's character, tinctured as it is by his professional habits and sequestered situation, form but a part of the attraction of this work. The brief and natural notices