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tional plan." The riddle is to have a at all aware of having at all departed religious solution—"God is the pa- from the spirit of the text, nor from rent of the mother; he is the parent the rules of probability. I have, inof all, for he created all."
deed, ventured upon a few conjectures AQUILIUS.—Shut the book! shut and fictious possibilities, which some the book! or rather put it in the fire, very grave reader may perhaps be or one of these days one of your own offended with.” The author professes babes will be so spoon-fed. So these his object to be, to make the Bible are hymns for children! Why, the popular; so what the conjectures and children brought up on this “rational fictious possibilities that may offend plan” have set up themselves for very grave people may be, we must teachers, and in a line, too, sometimes guess by the object to make it quite beyond Mrs Barbanld's inten- fashionable. But the recommendation tion. I took up a book of prayers off to the young on the score of love, and a goody-table the other day, written the “ letting down " the Bible to the by a boy of six years old, with a pre- capacities of the young, must be given face by himself, to the purport that his in the author's own words : “The object was to improve the thoughtless sacred volume is fertile of subjects world. At the end were some verses calculated both to please and instruct,
- all such cherub children love to when let down, by proper elucidation, " lisp in numbers." As well as I can within the reach of young capacities. remember, they ran thus—they are And rather than one class of readers lines on the occasion of its father's should want entertainment, let me breaking his leg, or having some acci tell them, that the Bible contains dental sickness
many histories of love affairs; perhaps “ O Lord! in mercy do look down,
this may tend more to recommend it And heal my dear pada :
to attention than all besides which I Or if it please thee not to cure, could say." You will not, however, Do comfort dear mama ! "
conclude that I object to religious CURATE.-Well, I don't think there novels. It is a legitimate mode of is a pin to choose between the hymn enforcing doctrines by lives, and showin prose and the hymn in verse, ex- ing the pernicious effects of what is cepting that the infant versifier is false, and the natural result of the rather more intelligible. I saw the good. little book a month or two ago at
CURATE.-And will not the authoI must have called after you; for I rity of parables justify the adopsuspect some lines in pencil at the tion? There may, it is true, be misend were your work. Did you write chievous novels of the kind ; but what these?
is there that may not be perverted to « Defend me from such wretched stuff
a bad use? We had at one time irreAs children write and parents puff! ligious and basely immoral novels; Put the small hypocrites to bed,
and there have been too many such And whip the big ones in their stead!” recently from the Parisian pressAQUILIUS.-At least I will write blasphemous, immoral, seditious. The them in Lydia's, to protect the future. existence of such demands the antiThe child would have been better em- dote. You have, of course, read Miss ployed in reading Jack the Giant Hamilton's “ Modern Philosophers ?" killer. But what think you of Bible That work was well timed, and did its stories, adopted for those of somewhat work well, so cleverly were the very more advanced childhood-a religious passages from Godwin and others of novel made out of the history of Jo- that school brought in juxtaposition seph, price eighteenpence? I picked with their necessary results. It is a it up at the same house, and had per- melancholy tale. mission to put it in my pocket. It is AQUILIUS. — Yes; but this quiet a curious story to choose, as the woman, whom, as I am told, if you writer says, “to entertain my young had met her in society, you would reader without vitiating his mind." never have suspected of power and I mean not the genuine story, but shrewd observation, by her little pen such as the writer promises it to be; scattered the philosophers right and for he says in his preface, “I am not left, and their works with them. I read the other day Godwin's “St worked through it. There may be Leon"-a most tiresome, objectless something sanatory even in the Hisnovel; the repetitions, varying with tory of the Foundling. There is no little ingenuity of language, of the a light-reading which is the heaviest expression of the feelings of St Leon, of all reading : it comes with a deadly are tiresome to a degree. In his weight upon the eyelids, and then Caleb Williams the same thing is drops like lead from your fingers,— done; but there it agrees well with the but then, indeed, it proves light enough nature of the tale, and well represents in escaping." Fielding's novel is not the movements of the persecuting of this kind : my grave friend always Erinnys in the mind of the victim. I read it once a-year, and said he as read it at a great disadvantage, it must often found new matter in it. Did you be owned, for I had just laid down ever-indeed I ought not to ask the that tale of singular interest, the question-notice Fielding's admirable
Kreutzner" of Mrs H. Lee. There English ? Our best writers have had a is a slight resemblance in some short vocabulary, and such was the points to Godwin's style, especially case with Fielding; but he is the perto this expression of the feelings of fect master of it. The manners he the victim; but they are exactly timed portrays are gone by. Some of the to suspend the narrative just where it characters it would be impossible now ought to stay. Too rapid a succes. to reproduce, and yet we know at sion of events would have been out of a glance that they were drawn from keeping with that incessant persecu- life. tion, which tracks more perfectly, be- CURATE.—Comparing that povel, cause more surely and slowly. The and indeed those of that day, with true bloodhound is not fleet. Cassan- our more modern, may we not dra stayed her prophetic speech; but say, that this our England is imthe pause was the scent of blood, and proved ? awful was the burst that followed. AQUILIUS.—I hope so: it is at Know you the Canterbury Tales ? least more refined. But there is a
CURATE.-Ohyes; and well remem- question, Is not the taste above the ber that strangely interesting and honesty? Some say, it is a better most powerful one of “Kreutzner." I hypocrite. I do not venture an opis have admired how, in every tale, the nion, but take Dr Primrose's ingeni. style is various and characteristic. I ous mode of prophecy, who, in ambisee, then, that you have taken to guous cases, always wished it might “light reading" of late.
turn out well six months hence. AQUILIUS.-It is not very easy to CURATE.-Now, indeed, you speak say what light-reading is. I once of a novel sui generis—that had no heard a very grave person accused of prototype. It stands now unapproachlight-reading, because he was detected able and original as the Iliad. Yet I with the “ History of a Foundling" have often wondered by what art in his hand. He replied, “You may Goldsmith invested such characters call it light-reading, but to me there with so great interest. That in every is more solid matter in it than in most one he put something of himself, it books. I find it all substance,-full has been well observed; hence the weight in the scale of sense, common strong vitality, the flesh and blood life or uncommon, and will weigh down a of all. I believe the great charm lies library of heavy works. And yet you in its siropletonianism–I coin a word; may pleasantly enough handle it-it admit it. There is scarcely a character fits so well, and the pressure is so that is not more or less of the simpleconvenient. You may even fancy it ton; and the more this simpletonianlight too, for it imparts a vigour as ism is conspicuous, the more are we you hold it. And so you can play delighted. Perhaps the reader, whewith it for your health, as did the ther justified or not, is all along under Greek king, in the Arabian tale, with the conviction that he has himself the mallet and medicinal balls which more common sense than any of the the physician Douban gave him, with company to whom he is introduced, which he was lustily to exercise him- and with whom he becomes familiar. self. It was all play, but the drugs Simplicity runs through the whole tale-a fascinating simplicity, distinct best authors seem to have been aware from, and yet in happy relation with, of the charm of simpletonianism. this simpletonianism. The vicar is a Never was there a more perfect simpleton in more things than his master of it than Shakspeare. And controversy, and is the worthy parent how various the characters — what of Moses of the spectacles. The ec- differences between Shallow, Slender, centricity of the baronet, the over- Malvolio, and indeed all his troop of trust and the mis-trust of mankind, simpletons! None but he would have at the different periods of his life, are thought of putting Falstaff in the of the simpletonian school; and not category. But let no man boast of his the least so that act of injurious folly, wisdom; we had laughed with bim, but the giving np his estate to a nephew, laugh too at him when simpletonianof whom he could have known no ised in the buck basket. The inimitgood. Mrs Primrose is a simpleton able Sterne, did he not know the born and bred, and in any other value of simpletonianism, and make hands but those of charitable Gold- us love it, in the weak and in the smith must have turned out an odious wise, in the Shandean philosophy character, for she has scarcely feeling, and the no-philosophy of the misapand certainly no sense. Simpletonian- prehending gentle Uncle Toby, and ism reigns, whether at the vicarage or the faithful Trim, taking to himself at Farmer Flamborough's. Yet is a portion of both masters' simpletothere not a single character in this nianism ? Did not Le Sage know the exquisitely perfect novel that you value of this art ?-Gil Blas retaining would in any one respect wish other to the last somewhat of the simpleton, than as put before you. There is a and, as if himself unconscious, SO great charm in this simpletonianism: naïvely relating his failure with the the reader is in perfect sympathy Archbishop of Grenada. And have with the common feelings of all, yet we not perfect examples in the delicognisant of a simpletonianism of cious pages of Cervantes ?—the grave, which none of the dramatis persone the wise, the high-minded simpleare conscious. He thus sits, as it were, tonianism of Don Quixotte ; and that in the conclave of nature's administra- contrastingly low and mother-wit tors, knows the secret that fixes cha- kind in the credulous Sancho Panzaracters in their lines; and is pleased ignorance made mad by contact with to see the strings pulled, and the madness engendered of reading ? The figures move according to their kind; very Rosinante that carried madness is delighted with their perfect har- partakes of the sweet and insane mony, and looks on with complacency simpletonianism, and Sancho and his and self-satisfaction, believing himself ass are fellows well met, well matched. all the while, though he may in reality CURATE.-As he is the cleverest be something of a simpleton, a person actor that plays the fool, so is he the of very superior sagacity. Follies wisest and ablest writer that porthat do not offend, amuse-they are trays simpletonianism. I suppose it not neutral: we cheat ourselves into an is an ingredient in human nature, idea that we are exempt from, and are and that we are none of us really so much above them, that we can afford exempt, but that it is kept out of to look down and laugh: we say to our sight, for the most part, and covered selves we are wiser. May not this in by the cloak of artificial manners ; some measure be the cause that all, and so, when it does break out, the whether children of small or of bigger touch of human nature is irresistible; growth, of three feet or six, take plea, we in fact acknowledge the kinship. sure in the jokes, verbal and practical, But the nicest painting is required ; of the clown Mr Merryman, and par- the least exaggeration turns all to don the wickedness of Punch when caricature. Even Fielding's hand, he so adroitly slips the rope round though under the direction of conthe neck of the simpleton chief-justice, summate genius, was occasionally too who trusted himself within reach of unrestrained. His Parson Adams the knave's fingers.
might have been a trifle more happily AQUILIUS.-Your theory is plaus delineated; we see its error in the ible; be the cause what it may, our after-type, Pangloss. What a field VOL. LXIV. -X0. CCCXCVI.
was there for extravagance in Don does the mind accumulate at once, to Quixotte! but Cervantes had a for- fill up the history of those few words ! bearing as well as free hand. How There is no need of more-all is told ; could people mistake the aim of Cer- while the spectator thinks he is makvantes, and pronounce him to be the ing out the history himself. Satirist of Romance ? He was him- AQUILIUS.--It is a great fault in self the most exquisite romancer. His a very popular novel writer of the episodes are romantic in the extreme, day, that he will not give his readers whether of the pastoral or more real credit for any imagination at all; life. Though it was not right in every character is in extreme. To Avelanda to take up his tale, it must one ignorant of the world, but through be regretted that Cervantes changed books, it would appear that there is the plan of his story. What would the not a common middle character in tournament have been? Some critics life: we are to be acquainted with the have thought all the after-part infe- minutest particulars, or rather pecurior : without admitting so much, he liarities, of dress and manners. It is certainly wrote it in pique, and pos- as if a painter should colour each insibly might not have concluded the dividual in his grouping, in the most tale at all, if it had not been thus searching light. The inanimate nature forced upon him.
must be made equally conspicuous, AQUILIUS.-We must not omit to and every thing exaggerated. And it mention our own Addison. There is an is often as forced in the expression as air of simpletonianism running through it is exaggerated in character. He all his papers, as one unconscious of has great powers, great genius, overhis own wit, so perfect was he in his flowing with matter, yet as a writer art; and as to character, the simple- he wants agreeability: his satire is tonianism of Sir Roger de Coverley bitter, unnecessarily accumulated, and must ever immortalise the author - his choice of odious characters offers for the good eccentric Sir Roger is too frequently a disgusting picture of one of the world's characters, that life. can never be put by and forgotten. CURATE.--The worst is, that, with What nice touches constitute it! a genius for investing his characters
CURATE.-Yes, great nicety; and with interest, by the events with how often the little too far injures ! I which he links them together, in confess I was never so charmed with which he has so much art, that he comsome of the characters in Sir Walter pels persons of most adverse tastes to Scott's novels, from this carrying too read him, he is not a good-natured far. Even simpletonianism must not writer, and he evidently, it might be intrude, as did sometimes Monkbarns almost said professedly, writes with a and the Dominie : the “ prodigious !" purpose and that I think a very misand absence of mind were beyond chievous one, and one in which he is nature. Character should never be to a certain extent joined by some come the author's puppets: mere eccen other writers of the day – to decry, tricity and catch phraseology do not and bring into contempt as unfeeling, make simpletonianism. Smollet, too, the higher classes. This is a very vulfell into the caricature. He sometimes gar as well as evil taste, and is quite told too much, and let his figures play unworthy the genius of Mr Dickens. antics. The fool would thereby spoil And, what is a great error in a novelhis part. There must be some repose ist, he gives a very false view of life every where, into which, as into an as it is. There is too much of the obscure, the mind of the reader or police office reporter in all his works. spectator may look, and make conjec- Dombey and Son is, however, his greatture-some quiet, in which imagination est failure, as a whole. You give may work. The reader is never satis- him credit for a deep plot and mysfied, unless he too in a certain sense tery, ere you have gone far; but it is a creator; the art is, to make all turns out--nothing. Admirable, inhis conjectures, though seemingly his deed, are some things, parts and pasown, the actual result of the writing sages of wonderful power; but the before him. “ Master Shallow, I owe spring that should have attached them von a thousand pounds." How much has snapped, and they are, and ever
will be, admired, only as scenes. The ment unfit for the text, that it told: I termination is miserable-a poor con- should judge from the abuse that has clusion, indeed, of such a beginning; been heaped upon it—no, not upon it, every thing is promised, nothing given, but upon the authoress. Why was it in conclusion. Some things are quite not open to her to make this answer out of possibility. The whole conduct to other works of fiction, as she thought, of the wife is out of nature. Such a inculcating evil ? What Miss Hamilcharacter should have a deep cause ton did with the philosophers, she did for her conduct : she has none but with the Antinomians. the having married a disagreeable AQUILIUS.-It has been the fashion man, out of pique, from whom she to call her a coarse writer - a vulruns away with one still more odious gar writer. I see nothing of it in her to herself and every one, and assumes, best works. She takes vulgar and not a virtue which she has not, but a coarse people to expose them as vice which she scorns, and glories in warnings, and, if possible, to amend the stigma, because it wounds her them. We cannot spare Mrs Trolhusband. Such a high and daring lope from our literature. I have been mind, and from the commencement so told by an eye-witness that her scorning contamination, could not so American " camp scene" is very far degrade itself without having & short of the truth, and that she could stronger purpose than the given one. not give the details. He must surely The entire change of character in be a bit of a bigot, who would hastily Dombey is out of all nature it is im- pronounce that even Greave's Spiritual possible; nor does the extraordinary Quizotte is an irreligious work. There affection of the daughter spring from are too many people interested in deany known principle of humanity. crying the novel of so powerful a The very goodness of some of the ac- writer as Mrs Trollope, to suffer cessory characters becomes weari- her to be without reproach both for some, as the vice of others is disgust- style and object. I should rather ob
ject to her that she writes too muchAQUILIUS.-After all, he is an un- for she is capable, were she to bestow comfortable writer : he puts you out due time upon it, to write something betof humour with the world, perhaps ter than has yet dropped from her pen; with yourself, and certainly with him let her give up her fashionable novels. as a writer. Yet let us acknowledge When I say better, yet would I exthat he has done much good. He cept the Vicar of Wrexhill : for, howshould be immortalised, if only for the ever unpopular with some, it places putting down the school tyrannies, her, as a writer, very high. exposing and crushing school preten- CURATE.—They who oppose themsions, and doubtless saving many a selves to any set of opinions must fair intellect from withering blight make up their minds, during the preand perversion. He takes in hand sent generation at least, to receive but fools, dolts, and knaves; but Dickens half their meed of praise. Was this wants simpletonianism. He gave ever proved more remarkably than in some promise that way in his Pick- the publication of that singular novel, wick Papers, but it was not fulfilled. Ten Thousand a-Year? It is a politiTurn we now to Mrs Trollope. What cal satire, certainly; but not only that say you to her Vicar of Wrexhill ? let - it has a far wider scope ; but it was it have a text, and what is it? I will sufficiently so to set all the Whigs not suggest a text-that is your pro- against it. And sore enough they vince. I dare to say you would easily were. But has there been any such find one.
novel since the days of Fielding? And CURATE.-Why, I think Mrs Trol- it exhibits a pathos, and tone of high lope was very unfairly dealt with. principle and personal dignity, that The narrative in that novel was a were out of the reach even of Fielding. fair deduction from the creed of a This novel, and its precursor, the sect; and if it does not always produce Diary of a Physician will - must – similar consequences, it is because men ever live in the standard literature of will be often better than their creeds. the country. But that fact does not make her com- AQUILIUS.- And why not add Now