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the most recent of these publications, it is true, might have been added to our list, not only on account of the well-earned fame of its author, but its own individual merits. We allade to Capt. Marryat's • Phantom Ship.” But as a great portion of that fiction has become popular in the course of its piece-meal appearance in a London periodical, it may be said to have gone out of our way; or at least not to come within the compass of the present month or season. We shall merely say that the “ Phantom Ship” presents the characteristic blemishes and beauties of its gallant author ; that is to say, the usual variety and crowding of a multiplicity of incidents, hostile in his case to unity of design, or powerful development of plot, distracting the reader, and sending his fancy upon every sort of wild goose there is also the same breadth and vitality of humour; and the same over-abundance of nautical adventure and dialogue. At the same time along with these characteristic features, the author's aim seems to have been of a higher order than in most of his earlier productions ; supernatural machinery being in a very effective manner frequently interwoven with familiar scenes and oftexperienced vicissitudes in human life. There are valuable lessons, too, conveyed in regard to the woeful consequences of religious ignorance, fanaticism, superstition, and persecution, that must strongly affect the reader ; thus proving the aim and the success of the writer to be eminent.
In coming now to Theodore Hook's “ Births, Deaths, and Marriages,” we have also to remark that he has departed considerably from his accustomed line of characters and method of grouping incidents. This author's celebrity has been chiefly built upon the broad humour of his sketches, and the skill with which he has ridi. culed, by means of caricature very generally, the pretensions of upstarts, or of those who attempt to ape the manners of their superiors in station. Here, however, suffering, sorrow, and sentimentality prevail ; deep commiseration for some of the characters, and disgust towards others, alternately affecting the reader, and painfully wringing the heart; and hence a feeling of absurdity frequently mars the intended moral.
We shall not divulge the plot ; but merely intimate, that its purpose is to picture the folly, and the distressing results of ill-assorted marriages ; no new idea, but still one which requires to be reiterated aloud daily, and illustrated in every possible shape. Here a roué, Colonel Mortimer, a man well advanced in years, but polished, and wealthy, weds a beautiful, confiding, but penniless young girl, Helen Batley. He, for reasons far from creditable in his earlier days, conceals many things from his wife ; so that the consequence is, that from the want of a congeniality of temper, of an equal purity of heart and life, misunderstandings and jealousies arise, which illustrate not only the evils and dangers that attach to such an incongruous union,
but also that the maxim which has too extensively gained acceptance, viz., that a reformed rake makes the best husband, is unsound and false.
Among the other characters, we shall only make particular mention of the two brothers, Jacob and John Batley, and a radical petti. fogger. Of the brothers, John, Helen's father, who mancuvres to catch the Colonel, is a man with natural affections, but he is also a temporizer and schemer of the first water, which his dependence and occasional sincerity render touching; while Jacob, the uncle, is all for himself, proving by deeds as well as words, that he is as cunning, shrewd, and opinionative as he is heartless, or thoughtful only of saving and accumulating wealth. Upon these two characters Mr. Hook has bestowed a good deal of his usual manner; as also upon the law-agent, who is an impudent scoundrel, having wormed himself into some notice on the part of individuals in the piece, who would not have spoken to him if they could have helped it. "We shall now introduce to our readers some specimens. And first, we give a portion of a dialogue in an early stage of the story between the Brothers :
« My dear brother,' said Jack, you speak of female affections as if they were as easily transferred as so much stock. Stock John !' said Jacob; ' no, no: you don't catch me comparing the fly-away fancies of a giddy girl with the four per cents, or the three-and-a-half reduced.' But the sentiment, the feeling !' said John. • Sentiment! my eye!' said Jacob; • I don't understand what it means ; I never knew what it was to be in love-never shall, now. I admit that I once took a fancy to a widow at Wapping, in regard of sundry ships, Class A, lying in the London Docks, of which she was mistress; but I found it wasn't all clear and above-board; and that she had a nephew, and there was a will to be disputed; so I left the widow and the craft: but as for sentiment, Lord bless your heart! she was old enough to be my grandmother, and so big that one of her own puncheons would have made her a tight pair of stays. That's it,' said Jack ; ' you have never felt the sort of passion to which I refer, and, therefore, cannot appreciate its power.' I sup. pose I haven't !' said Jacob : 'no matter ; I shall never want for any body to love as long as I live-always sure, too, of what you call a return- I love myself. As I say, of all the houses in the street give me Number One-eh-that's my maxim.' "You say so,' said John. • Never say what I don't mean, replied Jacob; and another thing I never do- never try to jump higher than my legs will carry me: d'ye mark me, Jack? There isn't a man, woman, or child to whom I owe ten pence on my private account: I never drink my port till it's paid for : -no running over head and ears in debt, as you do, Jack :- :-however, as I've said a hundred times before, it's nothing to me.' 'Only, as a brother,' said Jack, you might perhaps take some interest.' • Not I,' said Jacob: • I never take any interest-except for my money ;—and as for a brother, wby, we are all brothers, if you come to that:--and hang me if
I know one of the family, large as the world is, who would stoop to pick up a pin to save my life: I'm sure I wouldn't, to save any one of theirs.' • But, surely,' said Jack, 'Helen deserves some of your affection : she is truly attached to you, and'—- Fudge, Jack !' said Jacob, rattling all the shillings in his breeches-pocket attached to me!-no, I'm not after her fashion-1 don't live in the world,-hey? She may be attached to me as Peter Post-Obit in the play is attached to his friends, in the hopes of what she may catch at my death : but it won't do : I'm not to be had ! No, -if she were a staid, sensible sort of body, and would marry Haddock, I should say something to her : but, no-the alderman, like myself
, is not a man of the world'-not that I care three dumps for him, if you come to that.' •Why,' said Jack, 'Helen's habits and manners are different from those of the alderman; and an accomplished girl' Accomplished fiddle-stick!' said the merchant. What are accomplishments ? You over-educate your girls—teach them the learned languages—make them dance like figure-girls,- what d'ye call 'em there?-all up and down the sides of the stage at the playhouse, with a fringe to their stays which they call petticoats-make them play and sing till their hearts ache; and what for to catch husbands: that's it, isn't it? And more fools they who are to be so trapped.' 'I don't see that,' said Jack. *Accomplishments in which amateurs now excel the professors of twenty years since, are' • Accomplishments !' said the merchant, 'stuff! What are the accomplishments ? all very fine as baits-lures--temptations : but once let the accomplished girl be married-see, then, what happens. The husband is gained ; a family is coming; and she thinks just as much of twanging her harp, tinkling her guitar, rattling her piano-forte, or collywobbling with her voice, as she does of flying: it's all pretence-fighting under false colours. If Helen married Haddock'- My dear Jacob,' again interrupted Batley, junior- And my dear Jack,' said Jacob, . If you come to that. I say, even if she married this Mortimer, which, in course, she won't now, she would never sing or play afterwards; nor would he ask her. Everything is very fine till you have got it. A singing wife is like a piping bullfinch; great fun for your friends,--deuced tiresome to yourself."
It will be allowed that the above is according to Mr. Hook's ordinary vein; but these ludicrous parts are the exception to the sentiment of the bulk of the work, a specimen of which we now copy :
“ The entire change of character effected by the ceremony which had so recently been performed, the entire alteration of the duties of life produced by that sacred rite, the vast futurity opening to her view, so different in its nature from the days that were passed; the entire surrender of herself to an authority which the day before she did not acknowledge, and the abandonmeut, to a certain extent, of that exclusive obedience which a few hours previously she implicitly yielded to her father ; the whole combination of circumstances, the balance between perfect happi. ness and something less than happiness, the apprehension, the doubt, the dread, the joy, the sorrow,--for they all mingle in the heart of a bride at
the moment when she hears the carriage-door close upon herself and her husband, and finds herself, for the first time in her life, confided to the care, the protection, and the love of an alien to her blood, Helen deeply and intensely felt; and the pang which rent her heart as she received her fond father's parting kiss, the last of those kisses of devoted affection which were hers while she alone was all his care, and while she had none other to look to or love but him, was one of the bitterest she had ever endured. It seemed like the tearing asunder of a thousand tender ties, the abandonment of home, and all its associations."
There is propriety, force, and affecting beauty in these reflections, drawn from observation as well as meditation, no doubt; but when Helen's feelings, and those also of her husband come to be expanded in action, we do not find such truthfulness; an effort to work out a deeply touching catastrophe having apparently occasioned frequent inconsistences.
Of Cheveley, we must speak as every respectable literary journal, and scandal-hooting person must do, in the strongest terms of reprobation. Not that the writer is devoid of a knowledge of the world ; not that her mind has not had the culture which science, literature, and art (presuming that Lady Bulwer is the sole author of “ The Man of Honour) ;” not that her satire is not keen ; but that she has descended to employ fiction, or a web of fiction and truth, the former inextricable by the public from the latter, as a vehicle for exposing domestic irritations, jealousies, and malignant bitterness; that domestic abode, which must or ought to have been at one time the sanctuary of her own peace, love and happiness. Nor is it one or two obscure individuals, or persons to whom the public cannot instantly point, that she hath laboured to scathe. Why, it would appear that whoever has ever intimately associated in private with, and publicly honoured or attached themselves to him who ought at one time to have been most dear to the writer, have, for no other fault than friendship, admiration, or political union, laid themselves open to the present form of unmitigable hostility and rancorous detestation. What would be the consequences, if all wives or mothers, if all litterateurs that have been wedded and have partakon widely of the ways of social life, were, whenever an alleged or really experienced serious grievance was felt, to rush, not to a court of law, where the whole truth on both sides might be confronted, but into print, and that print a series of fictions, innuendoes, and distorted facts? Better would it be that the art of writing and the scope for publication did not exist, than the hot-house of strife that such perversions and indulged revenges would inevitably beget.
But we hasten to escape from these prurient volumes, and will do so after presenting two samples of its sentiment. The first attempts to portray a state of domestic life which we believe is rare in the respectable classes and circles of England :
It is in England 'nne that there is a dark and jesuitical hypocrisy in the systematically unjust conduct of men towards women; and those gentlemen who write the most liberally and lachrymosely about the errors of female education, which tends to stultify their intellect, warp their judgment, weaken the moral tone of their natures, and in every way unfit them to be the friends and companions of men, are the very first practically to labour for this state of things, which they affect to deprecate. As most husbands appear to think, that if their wives have a second idea, the world cannot be large enough for them both, any more than two suns can shine in one hemisphere. But the manner of evincing this opinion is even more offensive than the opinion itself, as they never cease to affiche' the veto that women have no right even to mental free will, and are as much surprised at their daring to express an opinion different to that they have been commanded to entertain, as if the ground on which they walked were suddenly to exclaim, Don't trample on me so hardly i' Then come the ex parte judgments of how far things ought to annoy or please others—a matter perfectly impossible to be decided upon, but by self; so true is the assertion of Epictetus, 'that men are more tormented by the opinion of things, than by the things themselves.""
To us the tone of this passage is exceedingly distasteful. But what will our readers think of the extravagance to which the revenge of some families will go, when told that the heroine Julia, who is represented as all amiable, innocent and perfect, but heartlessly and cruelly used,—that Julia, a wife, and a mother, is made to be passionately in love with another man than her husband and her child's father, and, as far as the sentiments of her heart are concerned, therefore unfaithiul and guilty ?
“ The night was soft and balmy is the extreme, and the moon shone as brightly as any that had ever lit that Adrian sea ; ever and anon fairy sounds floated on the air, of soft mandolins and softer voices, which, in their turn, were echoed by the ripple of the oars in the silver waters of those genius-haunted waves. • I never see the sea by moonlight,' said Julia to Mowbray, as they sat together at the head of the gondola, without wish. ing I was Undine, that I might plunge in, and see all the bright treasures beneath. What ai.exquisite tale that is !' replied he. Yes; and if she was supernatural, Huldbrand was, at least, a true man, because a false one,' replied Julia, with a smile that was not seen, and a sigh that was heard, and felt too, at least by Mowbray. I fear,' said he, • that his character is, indeed, but too true to nature; but the beauty of the story consists in the beauty of the allegory; for, surely,' he continued, in his lowest and most musical voice, as the gondola stopped at the steps of the Silver Lion— surely you must admit, that we never have a soul-at Jeast, that we never feel that we have one, till we love. I admit,' said Julia, trembling violently as she leant on his arm to ascend the steps — • I admit, that we are never in danger of losing it till we love."
Lady Bulwer may rest assured, that this ill-advised publication will damage her in the estimation of every one whose good opinion