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-"Was 't not to make thee great,
That I have rup, and still pursue, these ways,
That bale down curses on me?"

MASSINGER.

IN THREE VOLUMES.

VOL. I.

LONDON:
HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER,

GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.

1838.

4 52,

LONDON: 7. SHOBERI, JUN., LEICESTER STREET, LEICESTER SQUARE.

PREFACE.

When the reader learns that the following Tale was written three or four years ago, about which period the rage for what are termed Fashionable Novels had reached its culminating point, he may, perhaps, be surprised to find that its scenes are mostly laid in the unromantic purlieus of Bermondsey and ShadThames, and that its characters are entirely chosen from a class which has not been deemed either high enough or low enough to figure in our recent works of fiction. In the generality of these compositions, many of them evincing the highest order of talent, the prominent personages bear sounding titles, maintain large establishments, and move only in the quarters consecrated to our aristocracy; the other actors in the drama being taken from inferior, not to say low, life, and rendered as vulgar and ridiculous as possible, that they inay act as foils to their superiors.

Writers of this school, forgetting that there is an innate vulgarity, quite independent of external observances and forms, and quite as likely, therefore, to be encountered among the peerage as the peasantry, have confined it to certain conventional phrases, personal peculiarities, and domestic usages. Even if this narrow view be not opposed to Nature and to truth, it can hardly be denied that it has a mischievous tendency to widen the breach, where too great a severance and alienation of classes already forms the besetting sin of our social system.

As the passions of our common nature are equally irrespective of birth and locality, the middling ranks and those immediately beneath them, however unclassical may be their avocacations and abodes, surely present not less available materials to the Novelist, than the virtues and the vices of the higher orders. We have tragedies, such as the Gamester, George Barnwell, and others, where the pathos of the scene seems to be rendered more thrilling, and to come more immediately home to our business and bosoms, because the characters are taken from among the less elevated classes of society. The Germans and the French have novels exclusively illustrative of the manners of the people ; and they who have read the works of MICHAEL RAYMOND, or even the single most affecting tale of “Le Maçon," must admit that the adventures of artisans and shopkeepers are not less susceptible of deep. interest than the woes of coronetted grandeur

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