Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Famous Reviews.
Mr. Bulwer says, “goes to the deuce.”  The expression is as charming as the morality, and appears amidst a quantity of the very finest writing about the good and the beautiful, youth, love, passion, nature and so forth.  It is curious how rapidly one turns from good to bad in this book.  How clever the descriptions are! how neatly some of the minor events and personalities are hit off! and yet, how astonishingly vile and contemptible the chief part of it is!—­that part, we mean, which contains the adventures of the hero, and, of course, the choice reflections of the author.

The declamations about virtue are endless, as soon as Maltravers appears upon the scene; and yet we find him committing the agreeable little faux pas of which we have just spoken.  In one place, we have him making violent love to another man’s wife; in another place, raging for blood like a tiger and swearing for revenge....

It is curious and painful to read Mr. Bulwer’s [philosophy], and to mark the easy vanity with which virtue is assumed here, self-knowledge arrogated, and a number of windy sentences, which really possess no meaning, are gravely delivered with all the emphasis of truth and the air of profound conviction.

“I have learned,” cries our precious philosopher, “to lean on my own soul, and not look eleswhere [Transcriber’s note:  sic] for the reeds that a wind can break!” And what has he learned by leaning on his own soul?  Is it to be happier than others? or to be better?  Not he!—­he is as wretched and wicked a dog as any unhung.  He “leans on his own soul,” and makes love to the Countess and seduces Alice Darvell.  A ploughboy is a better philosopher and moralist than this mouthing Maltravers, with his boasted love of mankind (which reduces itself to a very coarse love of womankind), and his scorn of “the false gods and miserable creeds” of the world, and his soul “lifting its crest to heaven!” A Catholic whipping himself before a stone-image, a Brahmin dangling on a hook, or standing on one leg for a year, has a higher notion of God than this ranting fool, who is always prating about his own perfections and his divine nature; the one is humble, at least, though blind; the other is proud of his very imperfections and glories in his folly.  What does this creature know of virtue, who finds it by leaning on his own soul, forsooth?  What does he know of God, who, in looking for him, can see but himself, steeped in sin, bloated and swollen with monstrous pride, and strutting before the world and the creator as a maker of systems, a layer down of morals, and a preacher of beauty and truth?...

[Some of the] characters are excellently drawn; how much better than “their lips spake of sentiment, and their eyes applied it!” How soon these philosophers begin ogling! how charmingly their unceasing gabble about beauty and virtue is exemplified in their actions!  Mr. Bulwer’s philosophy is like a French palace—­it is tawdry, shady, splendid; but, gare aux nez sensibles! one is always reminded of the sewer.  “Their lips spoke sentiment, and their eyes applied it.”  O you naughty, naughty Mr. Bulwer!

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Famous Reviews from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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