To talk of Ernest Maltravers now, is to rake up a dead man’s ashes. The poor creature came into the world almost still-born, and, though he has hardly been before the public for a month, is forgotten as much as Rienzi or the Disowned. What a pity that Mr. Bulwer will not learn wisdom with age, and confine his attention to subjects at once more grateful to the public and more suitable to his own powers! He excels in the genre of Paul de Kock, and is always striving after the style of Plato; he has a keen perception of the ridiculous and, like Liston or Cruikshank, and other comic artists, persists that his real vein is the sublime. What a number of sparkling magazine-papers, what an outpouring of fun and satire, might we have had from Neddy Bulwer, had he not thought fit to turn moralist, metaphysician, politician, poet, and be Edward Lytton, Heaven—knows—what Bulwer, Esquire and M.P., a dandy, a philosopher, a spouter at Radical meetings. We speak feelingly, for we knew the youth at Trinity Hall, and have a tenderness even for his tomfooleries. He has thrown away the better part of himself—his great inclination for the LOW, namely; if he would but leave off scents for his handkerchief, and oil for his hair; if he would but confine himself to three clean shirts a week, a couple of coats in a year, a beefsteak and onions for dinner, his beaker a pewter-pot, his carpet a sanded floor, how much might be made of him even yet! An occasional pot of porter too much—a black eye, in a tap-room fight with a carman—a night in the watch-house—or a surfeit produced by Welsh-rabbit and gin and beer, might, perhaps, redden his fair face and swell his slim waist; but the mental improvement which he would acquire under such treatment— the intellectual pluck and vigour which he would attain by the stout diet—the manly sports and conversation in which he would join at the Coal-Hole, or the Widow’s, are far better for him than the feeble fribble of the Reform Club (not inaptly called “The Hole in the Wall"); the windy French dinners, which, as we take it, are his usual fare; and, above all, the unwholesome Radical garbage which form the political food of himself and his clique in the House of Commons.
For here is the evil of his present artificial courses—the humbug required to keep up his position as dandy, politician, and philosopher (in neither of which latter characters the man is in earnest), must get into his heart at last; and then his trade is ruined. A little more politics and Plato, and the natural disappears altogether from Mr. Bulwer’s writings: the individual man becomes as undistinguishable amidst the farrago of philosophy in which he has chosen to envelope himself, as a cutlet in the sauces of a French cook. The idiosyncracy of the mutton perishes under the effects of the adjuncts: even so the moralising, which may be compared to the mushrooms, of Mr. Bulwer’s style; the poetising, which may be likened unto the flatulent turnips and carrots; and the politics, which are as the gravy, reeking of filthy garlic, greasy with rancid oil;—even so, we say, pursuing this savoury simile to its fullest extent, the natural qualities of young Pelham—the wholesome and juicy mutton of the mind, is shrunk and stewed away.