Newton Forster, or the Merchant Service, first appeared in the Metropolitan Magazine, 1832. It is one of the novels which specially suggests a comparison between Marryat and Smollett, both authors having described acts of impressment with vigour and indignation.
Jeffrey, of the Edinburgh Review, wrote to Mrs Marryat, January 1832:——
“That I have read it [Newton Forster] all through in the week I have to finish the preparation of our Scotch Reform Bill (if you will forgive me for mentioning such a thing) is proof enough, I think, that my opinion is very favourable. It is certainly very entertaining, which I take to be the first virtue of a work of this description; but it is interesting as well as entertaining, and not only shows great power of invention, but a very amiable nature and a kind heart.”
The Editor quoted on page 23 is presumably Marryat himself. At least the footnote occurs in the first edition, and was probably reprinted from the magazine, where the identity of editor and author was not so patent.
It is here printed from the first edition, in three
volumes; motto: Honesty is the best policy.
James Cochrane & Co., 1832.
[Footnote 1: Thompson has been changed to Johnson and, in another place, Robinson to Robertson, in order to let the same characters act under one name throughout the book.]
The Merchant Service
* * * * *
“And what is this new book the whole world makes such a rout about? ——Oh! ’tis out of all plumb, my lord,——quite an irregular thing; not one of the angles at the four corners was a right angle. I had my rule and compasses, my lord, in my pocket——Excellent critic!
“Grant me patience,
just Heaven! Of all the cants which are canted
in this canting world——though the cant of hypocrites may be the
worst, the cant of criticism is the most tormenting!”——Sterne.
What authors in general may feel upon the subject I know not, but I have discovered, since I so rashly took up my pen, that there are three portions of a novel which are extremely difficult to arrange to the satisfaction of a fastidious public.
The first is the beginning, the second the middle, and the third is the end.
The painter who, in times of yore, exposed his canvas to universal criticism, and found, to his mortification, that there was not a particle of his composition which had not been pronounced defective by one pseudo-critic or another, did not receive severer castigation than I have experienced from the unsolicited remarks of “d——d good-natured friends.”
“I like your first and second volume,” said a tall, long-chinned, short-sighted blue, dressed in yellow, peering into my face, as if her eyes were magnifying glasses, and she was obtaining the true focus of vision, “but you fall off in your last, which is all about that nasty line-of-battle ship.”