Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Famous Reviews.
later times are Irish, or Scotch, or French, and not in the abstract, men.—­The general operations of nature are circumscribed to her effects on an individual character, and the modern novels of this class, compared with the broad and noble style of the earlier writers, may be considered as Dutch pictures, delightful in their vivid and minute details of common life, wonderfully entertaining to the close observer of peculiarities, and highly creditable to the accuracy, observation and humour of the painter, but exciting none of those more exalted feelings, giving none of those higher views of the human soul which delight and exalt the mind of the spectator of Raphael, Correggio, or Murillo.

But as in a gallery we are glad to see every style of excellence, and are ready to amuse ourselves with Teniers and Gerard Dow, so we derive great pleasure from the congenial delineations of Castle Rack-rent and Waverley; and we are well assured that any reader who is qualified to judge of the illustration we have borrowed from a sister art, will not accuse us of undervaluing, by this comparison, either Miss Edgeworth or the ingenious author of the work now under consideration.  We mean only to say, that the line of writing which they have adopted is less comprehensive and less sublime, but not that it is less entertaining or less useful than that of their predecessors.  On the contrary, so far as utility constitutes merit in a novel, we have no hesitation in preferring the moderns to their predecessors.  We do not believe that any man or woman was ever improved in morals or manners by the reading of Tom Jones or Peregrine Pickle, though we are confident that many have profited by the Tales of Fashionable Life, and the Cottagers of Glenburnie.

We have heard Waverley called a Scotch Castle Rack-rent; and we have ourselves alluded to a certain resemblance between these works; but we must beg leave to explain that the resemblance consists only in this, that the one is a description of the peculiarities of Scottish manners as the other is of those of Ireland; and that we are far from placing on the same level the merits and qualities of the works.  Waverley is of a much higher strain, and may be safely placed far above the amusing vulgarity of Castle Rack-rent, and by the side of Ennui or the Absentee, the best undoubtedly of Miss Edgeworth’s compositions.

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We shall conclude this article, which has grown to an immoderate length, by observing what, indeed, our readers must have already discovered, that Waverley, who gives his name to the story, is far from being its hero, and that in truth the interest and merit of the work is derived, not from any of the ordinary qualities of a novel, but from the truth of its facts, and the accuracy of its delineations.

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