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of better principles from exhibiting, ly a work of genius; but we regretted in her own fate, the catastrophe of a to find it in many respects very unmelancholy novel; yet, tinctured with like what we had promised ourselves such notions, she must, even in pros- from the author of Elizabeth; and we perity, be lamentably disappointed in now proceed to mention so much of her fondest hopes, and look with a the story and of the manner in which joyless heart to the society of or- it is told, as may point out on what dinary mortals, to the ordinary duties grounds our opinion is founded. and ordivary comforts of life; those The count of Woldernar had one duties which the sober minded dis- son and two daughters. By his son, charge with cheerfulness, and those the baron of Woldemar, he had a comforts in which they acquiesce grandson Ernest. He had grandchilwith contentment and delight. dren also by each of his daughters;
But whatever may be the case for one of them was married to the with other novels, we were led to count of Lunebourg, father of the anticipate great satisfaction from the heroine Amelia, and of her brother perusal of Amelia Mansfield; for the Albert; and the other was married to uitle page informs us that it is the the baron of Geysa, and had a daughwork of Madame Cotiin, the author ter Blanche. Now the old count of of Elizabeth, or the Exiles of Siberia, Woldemar was exceedingly proud of one of the most beautiful, interesting, his family, which we are told, had and edifying narratives with which given electors to Saxony, and kings we are acquainted. It exhibits hu- to Poland; and having seen his chilman nature in a most engaging and dren married suitably to their diginstructive view; conjugal and pa- nity, he thought proper to extend rental love brightening the winter of the same care to his grandchildren, adversity; and filial piety inspiring that after his death the blood of the an amiable girl with a fortitude which Woldemars miglit not be polluted, no hardships or dangers could sub- at least to the third generation. So he due. Nor are these the visions of made a will, by which he appointed imagination only. The author assures his grandson Ernest heir of his forus, in her preface, that the subject of tune and title on the condition of her history was true, and that both marrying Amelia. In case of refusal the virtues and the sufferings of the on her part he deprived her of her real heroine were beyond the descrip- share in his fortune, and the young tion. In fact, what in a novel might gentleman's hand was next to be ofbe considered as romantick fictions fered to Blance of Geysa on the same are not superiour to the noble ex- terms. If the young man himself amples which real life has exhibited should be refractory, he lost his claim of a wife, a daughter, or a mother's to his grandfather's inheritance love. Such examples have a powerwhich, in that case, devolved upon ful tendency both to purify and exalt Albert, with the obligation of marthe character. And from the evidence rying Blanche. which Elizabeth afforded of a sound Having made this judicious settlejudgment and well regulated mind, ment, which he might as well have as well as of uncommon talents, we let alone, the old count died when should have conceived that any work Ernest was ten years old, Amelia which was sanctioned by the name of scarcely nine, and her brother Albert Madame Cottin, might, from that fourteen. While he was yet living, circumstance alone, be recommended all his grandchildren had been eduwith confidence for a young lady's cated together at his own house, an. library.
arrangement which he conceived With these prepossessions we be- would facilitate his favourite plan. gan the novel before us. It is certain. But here he was mistaken. The
young people quarrelled at their dom, had alone acquired an ascendromps; and Amelia could not bear ant over him. With this companion the haughty spirit of Ernest, who ap- she sent him to travel, and had the pears to have been a spoiled child. satisfaction of hearing that the most One day in particular, he endeavoured favourable changes were taking place to make her swear obedience to him in his character and conduct. as her future husband; for with the But Amelia, steady to the aversion same prudence which seems to have produced by their childish quarrels, directed all the measures of this far lent a deaf ear to his mother's represighted old gentleman, they had, even sentations, and listened only to the when children, been informed of their accounts of his former misdemeangrandfather's will. Amelia stoutly re- There was, however, another fused, and struggled to get free. Her cause, which contributed still more brother came to rescue her. Ernest to her alienation from Ernest. She knocked him down with a large book, had fallen in love with Mansfield, a and then made her own pretty mouth young poet, who, on account of his bleed by his endeavours to stop her talents, was received by her parents cries of murder. What was still with distinction and kindness, not as worse, he refused, even at his mo- one who could ever think of aspiring ther's entreaty, to ask Amelia's par to their daughter's hand, but as a man don, pleading his right to insist on of genins, whom they admired and his wife's obedience. His mother, protected. We shall not follow all the who seems to have had more sense progress of this courtship, which is than her father-in-law, though she very prettily detailed in a narrative of had as much pride as if she had been Amelia's. Only we beg leave to obof his own blood, very wisely sent her serve, that a well educated girl, who son to the university of Leipsick, had any thing like a proper regard for without insisting on an interview be- her reputation, or a proper sense of zween the young couple in their her dignity, should have resented, as present temper; and Amelia, enraged an insult, the proposal which her at his want of submission, as soon as lover presumed to make, of meeting it was reported to her, swore an oath him privately in the evening," under of her own, that he never should be the great yew trees of the little park;" hers, the direct counterpart of the a proposal the more improper, as the oath which Ernest had dictated. only pretence which he alleged, was,
In these dispositions Ernest and that she might bid him farewell. In Amelia parted, and saw each other short, although her father, on his no more for many years afterwards. deathbed had insisted, and her bro
the mean time, his preceptors at ther had solemnly assured her, that the university, though they acknow- her marriage with Ernest should be ledged the superiority of his genius left to her own free choice, yet, withand his progress in bis studies, com- out condescending to wait a year or plained of his haughty and inflexible two, till she might have an opportuspirit, and threatened, on that account, nity to judge for herself, if her cousin to send him back to his family. Pro- was, indeed, as amiable as he was now voked at the threat, he quitted the represented, she forsook all for love, university by his own authority, and and eloped with the poet. returned home. Here he did not find For this rash step she suffered se. Amelia, who was living with her pa- verely; and here, we presume, the rents. His mother, who was now a history is intended for a warning to widow, intrusted him to the care of those young ladies who marry in a steady young man, who, though but haste. That her family should reasix years older than binnself, and ac- nounce her, was only what she must customed to reprove him with free have expected. Her brother, however,
though provoked at her indiscretion, tion was to gain her affections, and remained firmly attached to her; but then to abandon her with contempt. Mansfield, for whom she had made This was certainly a design which no such a sacrifice, and who had sworn one who deserved the name of a genthat his love should end only with his tleman, could entertain for a moment; life, Mansfield grew unfaithful and yet with unpardonable inconsistency, profligate, forscok, her at last, and was the author evidently intends that killed by a Russian officer in a quar. Ernest should be regarded as a man rel about an opera girl. From that of a high and generous spirit. period she lived at Dresden for three But as the wicked are often caught years in the most profound obscurity, in their own snare, so our promising having no comfort but her brother's youth became desperately enamoured tenderness, being permitted to see with Amelia, though he could not Blanche once only during all that endure the thought of marrying time, and entirely disowned by every Mansfield's widow, or of wounding, other relation.
by such a union, his mother's happiBut after this long season of dis- ness, to whom he was tenderly attress, happier days arose again on tached. And now the author put's poor Amelia. Her husband's uncle, forth all her strength in describing Mr. Grandson, a plain but respect. the struggles between love, pride, able old man, had retired to a de- and filial affection, and the gradual, lightful residence in Switzerland, but fatal triumph of love. Although where he lived in splendour on the Ernest never condescended to give fortune which he had made by com- any account of his situation, and, for merce, and invited Amelia to be the some time at least, declared, that to mistress of his house, and to inherit their marriage, there were obstacles his wealth. Warned as she had been which he knew not how to surmount, of the miseries arising from impru- yet Amelia permits his tender assidence, we may now expect that it duities. The good uncle, however, who can only be some external calamity never dreamed of any thing but an which is to disturb her repose. We honourable courtship, but who thought have no suspicion that she will ever it long in coming to a proper concluforget the good resolutions which sion, hastened the catastrophe which she expresse's so beautifully in a let. he meant to prevent. Upon his reter to her brother.
monstrances, Ernest declared that he In a dark and tempestuous night of would soon be free, and happy to February, Henry Semler and his at- marry Amelia, but declined an imtendants were saved by the exertions mediate union. He was ordered by of Mr. Grandson's domesticks from Mr. Grandson to quit the house inperishing in the snow, and wel. stantly; but Amelia was moved to comed with the utmost humanity compassion by his rueful counte. and kindness to a safe shelter in the nance, and with inexcusable rashness, abode of wealth and beauty. Of this granted him a private interview at hospitality, Semler was unworthy. He midnight. Here he swore to be her came under a fictitious name for a husband, and she, as might be exmost unmanly purpose. He was no pected, forfeited her title to a station other than our old acquaintance Er- among virtuous women. But after all nest, the young count of Woldemar. his oaths, the fickle youth was perIndignant that a man so low as Mans- suaded by his mother to renounce field should have been preferred to his mistress; and we have now a tale him, he had stolen away from his of sorrows, in many places admirably companion, with the hope of finding told, and deeply interesting Amelia, some means to introduce himself to worn out with anguish, died at the Amelia as a stranger; and his inten- moment when the countess of Wol.
demar consented to their union, and into which the author has fallen, in Ernest could not survive the woman the formation of her hero's character. whom he had forsaken.
We do not insist that the hero of a In this novel we certainly find fictitious history should be faultless. much to admire, and much even to The history may be both interesting approve; but there are some things and instructive, by representing the so improper as to disgrace and dis- gradual perversion of a character oricredit the whole work.
ginally good, or by the awful warning For the reasons suggested in the which is exhibited when a man of beginning of this article, every per real worth is driven by the frenzy of son of good morals will concur in re- passion, to the perpetration of a deed probating the indelicacy of certain which the next moment lortures him passages. But independently of this with remorse, and ends in his ruin. circumstance, it is extremely impro. But the author must never forget, per that such characters as Ernest that while the victim of passion conand Amelia should be held up, as tinues enslaved to passion, while the they evidently are, to our love and character originally good continues esteem.
perverted, so long they must be repreIn the character of Ernest we have sented as objects of abhorrence. Bealready taken notice of one particu- sides, there are designs which the lar, which is decidedly inconsistent worthless only can deliberately form, with a high or generous mind. But or even entertain for a moment; and we find him still more reprehensible our author has conceived and brought as we advance in the history. With a forth a hero, who, to high pretensions profligacy incompatible both with ho. of honour and an exquisite sensibility nour and humanity he forsakes Ame- of virtue, unites feelings and praclia, after he had repeatedly bound tices which can belong only to a prohimself to her by engagements which fligate scoundrel. Yet this monstrous every honest man would regard as production is to be the object of our indissoluble, and which became, if love and esteem, for he is esteemed possible, of still stronger obligation and beloved by persons of the most when he had reduced her to a situ- exemplary virtue, who are perfectly ation where his infidelity must be the apprized of the whole of his conduct. source of irretrievable misery. The When again we turn to the he. author endeavours 10 screen him roine, we cannot say that the author from reproach, by ascribing this has furnished our young ladies with painful sacrifice to his apprehensions a very edifying speculation. We pass for his mother's life. But unless these over her conduct before her arrival in apprehensions could have excused Switzerland; but we must observe, him for abandoning his wife, who had that from the beginning of her atnever injured him, they could not ex- tachment to Ernest, she falls into a cuse him for abandoning Amelia. In series of deliberate improprieties fact, his mother had no right to de- which can hardly be supposed in a mand the sacrifice, and was both un- young woman of good sense and good just and cruel in demanding it. And principles. It was folly and meanness, without troubling our readers with to permit the assiduities of a man detailing the mean artifices to which who had never condescended to give he stooped, in order to conceal from an account of himself. It was worse Amelia his real name and situation, to permit the continuance of those or with suggesting the deliberate assiduities, and even of indiscreet fabaseness of concealing what she had miliarities, after he had presumed to so inquestionable an interest and declare, that, although he was unlight in know, enough has been said married, he could only be her friend. to point out the gross improl-riety But when under those most questionahle circumstances, she consented to have conducted her at once to dig. a private and midnight interview, it nity and splendour. Now, we are apis plain that if it had ended innocent prehensive that many readers may ly, the lady would have been indebted, be more encouraged by the happiness not to her own virtue, but to her lo- which might be expected to crown ver's forbearance. Nor is there any her guilt than warned by the melanreal penitence to restore her to es- choly catastrophe which is produced teem: for even when she has every entirely and obviously by accidental reason to believe that the man who causes. And although it is true that injured her so deeply had basely for- in the midst of her desolation she is saken her, she continues still the slave stung with the pangs of remorse, it of a disgraceful passion. When she is an obvious reflection that these is forsaking her child to go in quest pangs would soon subside if she were of her faithless lover, we find in her united to her lover. Indeed, this rejournal the following words among flection is forced upon us, because, in others still more disgusting. “ Dis, the deepest remorse and deepest mihomme cruel! es-tu satisfait de la sery, she still glories in her shame; passion qui me devore ? son empire she adores him whom she must have est-il assez terrible ? et la puissance considered as completely worthless, que tu exerces sur mon lâche ceur and dwells on the happiness of her te laisse-t-elle quelque chose à de- love with all the exaggerations of the sirer?”
wildest fancy, and with an eloquence We may be told, indeed, that, which cannot but be fatally impresdoomed as she is to sufferings so se- sive on a youthful mind. vere, her errours whatever they may Upon the whole, we cannot recombe, will be considered as a warning, mend the book. We object to the innot as a model. This might be the delicacy in some places. We object case if her sufferings arose from her to those representations which enerrours. But her sufferings arise froin courage the vitious to hope for sucquite different causes. Her lover does cess. We object to those romantick not forsake her because she ceased to visions which throw into a dead gloom be respectable, but because he could the brightest scenes of real life. We not resist his mother's solicitations. object to those incompatible assemHer imprudent attachment to Mans- blages of virtues and vices, which field is, indeed, attended with the must either shock us by their inconpunishments which were its natural gruity, or pervert our sentiments of consequences; but her worse than right and wrong. We lament that imprudent conduct with Ernest, does such a work should have proceeded not at all alienate her friends; she is from the author of Elizabeth; and still beloved as the most amiable and still more, that there should be a wish revered, as the most respectable of in Britain for importing, from the women; and, but for the most im. schools of France and Germany, probable concurrence of two most those novels and dramas which tend improbable circumstances, the silli- at once to corrupt the taste and de ness of Ernest and the unnatural bar. prave the national character. barity of his mother, her crime would
FROM THE MONTHLY REVIEW.
The Minstrel; or the Progress of Genius. In continuation of the Poem left unfinished
by Dr. Beattie. Book the Third. 4to. 48. boards. 1808. WE trembled for this adventurous plete with the most exquisite gems muse, who has dared to attempt a of true poesy; and we entered on the continuation of a work which is re- perusal of this third book full of ap