Published annually to cover the years
1801–09, The Flowers of Literature consisted
primarily of extracts from what were perceived to be
the year’s most popular publications. The extracts were
drawn from a range of genres, including poetry, travel
writing, biography and prose fiction. Initially Flowers
was jointly edited by Francis William Blagdon and the
Revd Francis Provost, but in 1804 Blagdon became the
sole editor.* Brief critical comments of a few lines
on individual titles are provided at the end of each
volume, in the form of an ‘Alphabetical List’. Each
issue also had an ‘Introduction’ outlining the ‘State
and Progress of Literature, Foreign and Domestic’ for
the year in question, which afforded the editors the
opportunity to make general observations on genres such
as the novel and on specific texts selected for inclusion
in the volume. In terms of novels, it was often the
case that a work would be discussed twice, once in the
Introduction and again in the list at the end of the
miscellany format itself does not necessarily make Flowers
unique for its time. However, the fact that the works
chosen for inclusion were the subject of critical commentary
by named individuals means that the Flowers of Literature
occupies an unusual space somewhere between a literary
review and a record of a more personal, anecdotal reception
of Romantic-era fiction. The authorship of the critical
commentary on the year’s selected publications can be
attributed initially to two individuals (Blagdon and
Prevost) and, after 1804, to Blagdon alone. Although
presented in the impersonal editorial ‘we’ voice that
characterised early nineteenth century reviewing practice
in general, the commentaries do represent the opinions
of an individual reader. A headnote in the 1806 volume
asserted that ‘No books are inserted in this list but
such have been perused by the editor, for the purpose
of making extracts and comments. The criticisms are,
therefore, the result of his own impartial opinion’
(Flowers of Literature for 1806, p. 494).
That Blagdon himself can personally claim to have examined
all the works under scrutiny in each volume acts as
a guarantee for his readers, constituting a special
pact between reader and reviewer/editor in an otherwise
increasingly impersonal literary marketplace.
personalised relationship extends to the underlying
design of the periodical as a whole, in that Flowers
seems to have been conceived to help guide readers through
the growing numbers of publications vying for their
attention, especially at a time when the British reading
public may have been preoccupied with other extra-literary
That the convulsions of nations,
the threatening aspect of the times, and our warlike
preparations have, in some degree, interrupted peaceful
pursuits, we are willing to admit; but we cannot believe
that, amid the din of arms, literature is absolutely
at a stand; that books find neither readers nor purchasers,
as is daily declared by those whom Johnson has called
the only Maecenas of the modern world, and who thus
wish to discourage the hopes of an author, or to depreciate
his labours. Do not those, who are prompted by taste
to peruse the new publications, still find that time
is too short to inspect them all? Do not reviewers,
as well as ourselves, still find it difficult to keep
pace with the works that daily issue from the press?
(Flowers of Literature for 1803, p. xliii).
Thus, Flowers was designed to
help readers keep abreast of current literature, although
the yearly format somewhat mitigated the timeliness of
the information. In providing extracts and short, easily
digestible commentaries on these works, Flowers
presented itself as an indispensable resource for those
who wished to appear educated and well read, but who might
not have had the leisure (or, indeed, the inclination)
to read and form an opinion on the thirty or so titles
covered in each volume of the periodical. Blagdon himself
makes no secret of the design of Flowers: the extracts
and notices are presented to ‘the gens du monde,
who are desirous to become, without serious application,
conversant with modern literary taste’ (‘Preface’, Flowers
of Literature for 1801–02, unnumbered).
of including the ‘Alphabetical List’ of notices ended
in 1807. Ever sensitive to the demands of his readers,
Blagdon noted the change in a preface dated 15 September
1808: ‘The only difference between the present and our
former volumes, consists in an improvement which has been
pointed out to us by several subscribers. They have recommended
us to give a general list of the books which have
been published during the year […] but the brief criticisms
which we were accustomed to insert under the titles, being
deemed repetitions of the opinions expressed in
our introductory remarks, (and which in fact they unavoidably
were), we have consented to discontinue them’ (Flowers
of Literature for 1807, p. iii).
of novels the Flowers of Literature was fairly
substantial—there were, for example, notices of 28 novels
contained in the volume for 1806—despite the fact that
Blagdon’s introductory remarks often echo familiar critical
discourse on the dubious moral and literary value of the
genre. Although the notices were often short to the point
of being telegraphic, the space and attention devoted
to novels differed little from that given to other genres.
Well known authors and novels, such as Owenson’s The
Wild Irish Girl and Opie’s Adeline Mowbray,
received significant attention, as did popular works such
as Surr’s Winter in London (which was given two
notices in the volume for 1806). Even after the practice
of including short notices ceased, the introductory material
continued to comprise a number of pages of commentary
on recent novels.
Flowers of Literature was published by the London
firm of Benjamin Crosby and Co., which operated between
1794 and 1814, from Stationer’s Hall Court on Ludgate
Hill and ‘near Paternoster Row’—establishing it firmly
in the topographical centre of the London booktrade. The
concern dealt mainly in musical pieces and songs, supported
by the publication of religious discourses and sermons,
as well as numerous children’s works, amongst them the
usual gamut of conduct-books and educational textbooks.
Of literary works, Crosby published a substantial amount
of drama, poetry, and fiction, with numerous reprints
of earlier titles. In addition to reprints of poetry such
as Alexander Pope’s Iliad (1808) and James Thomson’s
The Seasons (1802), Crosby also part-published
Byron’s Hours of Idleness (1807).
of fiction output, the firm was very much a significant
source, being the fourth most prolific primary publisher
of novels throughout the 1800s. Crosby had auspiciously
begun his publication of fiction with Godwin’s Things
as They Are (1794), and throughout its twenty years,
Crosby and Co. displayed a consistent commitment to fiction,
and a total of sixty-eight titles appeared between 1794
and 1814 with Crosby’s name first on the title-page imprint.
Many of its novels were run-of-the-mill fictions, with
output of new titles consisting typically of sentimental
romances and Gothic tales that were especially concentrated
in the 1790s and late 1800s. The Gothic titles themselves
matched the respective periods of favour of first the
Radcliffean derivatives and then the more scurrilous,
post-Monk horrors. Paradigmatic Gothic fictions
included John Palmer’s The Haunted Cavern (1796),
Theodore Melville’s The White Knight (1802), Mary
Julia Young’s Moss Cliff Abbey (1803), David Carey’s
Secrets of the Castle (1806), and Francis Lathom’s
The Fatal Vow (1807). Most of its fiction can best
be described as domestic melodramas within a broadly sentimental
framework. The combination of fashionable or upper-class
locales with dramatic incident and manoeuvring Machiavels
is a popular formula for Crosby novels. Typical examples
include The History of Netterville, a Chance Pedestrian
(1802) and Anne Ker’s Gothic-sounding Mysterious Count;
or, Montville Castle (1803). In addition to its Gothic
romances and sentimental melodramas, Crosby published
a number of stories with a modern setting, either comic
or domestic: these include Horatio Smith’s A Family
Story (1800), Elizabeth Gunning’s The Farmer’s
Boy (1802), and Sophia Woodfall’s anti-fashionable
Frederick Montravers; or, the Adopted Son (1803).
the time of Crosby and Co.’s publication of the first
number of The Flowers of Literature, the firm was
enjoying a marked rise in its production of fiction, precisely
when the output of the Minerva Press was noticeably in
decline. Although Crosby never approached Minerva in terms
of magnitude as a novel producer, there was a time, however
brief, when it seemed that the older concern had outlived
its success and that newer and aggressive firms might
take up the mantle. It was during this period that Crosby
was setting himself up as a bulk publisher of eye-catching,
even flash, fictions. After the dissolution of the partnership
Crosby and Letterman in 1802–03, Crosby embarked upon
a brief but remarkable association with James Fletcher
Hughes, who would later become notorious for his shady
dealings, practice of puffing, and scandalous fictions.
Ultimately, the associates would split abruptly and apparently
acrimoniously, but in the short term, the arrangement
marked a significant rise in production of Crosby’s novels
from 4 titles with 1802 imprints to 10 in 1803, most of
which recorded both associates’ names on imprints. One
result of Crosby’s association with Hughes was his adoption
of certain modes of self-puffery, in an attempt to pass
himself off as one of the foremost publishers of fiction
by listing large numbers of novels as ‘just published
by B. Crosby’—when in most cases, such works were either
reprints or remaindered copies of other publishers’ works.
the proportion of Crosby’s fictions reviewed in The
Flowers of Literature remains relatively small. Of
43 works published by Crosby (and in 1803, with Hughes)
between 1801 and 1809, only 20 were actually mentioned
in the Flowers. In the Flowers for 1801–02
and 1804, none were given notices, while for the figures
for the remaining years up to 1806 are as follows: 1803,
4 of 22 notices; 1805, 5 of 17; and 1806, 4 of 29. When
the Flowers stopped including notices and moved
instead to prefatory ‘Introductions’, Crosby was publisher
of only 5 of the 11 works of fiction mentioned in the
1807 Flowers and 3 of the 13 mentioned in the 1808–09
issue. Although most of the reviews were positive, this
was not always the case. For instance, the reviewer described
Elisabeth Guénard’s Three Monks!!! (1803), as ‘containing
a few good passages, but of the most detestable principles—consequently
the less which is said or known of it the better’ (Flowers
for 1803, p. 456). Similarly, Mrs Norris’s Edward
and Anna (1806) ‘contains a few good passages, amongst
a farrago of the vilest nonsense that was ever put together,
and which could never have happened to the author or any
other person in this world’ (Flowers for 1806,
firm of Crosby and Co. is remembered by Romantic-period
scholars nowadays it is for its dealings with Jane Austen
over the manuscript of what would eventually be published
by John Murray as Northanger Abbey (1818). In the
spring 1803, Austen had sold the manuscript of the novel,
then titled Susan, to Crosby for £10. It appears
that Crosby had intended to publish it, since a work entitled
‘Susan; a Novel, in 2 vols.’ was advertised as ‘In the
Press’ in The Flowers of Literature for 1801 and 1802
itself (reproduced here). For a number of (mainly
financial) reasons, Crosby did not publish Susan,
and this led to a bitter exchange between Austen and the
firm, with each party challenging the other over the ownership
of the work. Following this unsatisfactory correspondence,
Austen’s dealings with Crosby ceased until 1816, when
her brother Henry bought back the manuscript, following
the publication of Emma. According to the James
Edward Austen-Leigh’s Memoir of Austen (1870–71),
Henry ‘found the purchaser very willing to receive back
his money, and to resign all claim to the copyright’;
once the exchange had been made, Henry ‘had the satisfaction
of informing him that the work which had been so lightly
esteemed was by the author of Pride and Prejudice.’
was a fairly well known figure in early nineteenth century
literary and political circles. He began his career by
publishing mostly translated and edited works, such as
Mooriana, or Selections from the Works of Dr John Moore
in 1803 (with Prevost). He eventually came to write for
the Morning Post, and, according to the DNB, helped
to edit the newspaper for a time. His Tory views led him
into a dispute with William Cobbett, and in response to
Cobbett’s Political Register (1802–35), Blagdon
planned to publish ‘Blagdon’s Weekly Political Register’.
While the prospectus for this appeared in October 1809,
the work itself never materialised.]
British Fiction, 1800–29:
The Flowers of Literature, 1801–09
[Note: All spelling and
formatting of the original text as transcribed has been
retained. The original headings in the ‘Alphabetical Lists’
have also been retained. The only exception to this is
the omission of footnotes in the ‘Introductions’; these
footnotes usually act only to refer the reader to the
notices at the end of the volume. Where the note contains
more substantive information, it has been retained and
is given, with the appropriate page reference, at the
end of the ‘Introduction’. For further bibliographical
details of the novels discussed in Flowers of Literature
for 1801–09, please see the index of novel titles
at the end of this document. This index provides the corresponding
references to Peter Garside, James Raven, and Rainer Schöwerling
(eds.), The English Novel 1770–1829: A Bibliographical
Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles,
2 vols. (Oxford: OUP, 2000), vol. 2.]
Flowers of Literature
for 1801 and 1802
From ‘Introduction’: Novels, pages unnumbered.
to the NOVELS of our day, those imported from abroad,
and chiefly those translated from the German, have lately
presented nothing but an incongruous and cumbrous mass
of fair captives, enchanted castles, or dreadful and mysterious
apparitions, fit only to captivate or alarm weak imaginations.
French novels, too, although a more faithful picture of
modern manners, have been found to contain licentious
and seductive descriptions of unbridled passions and abandoned
profligacy. Among these novelists, however, we may find
some, but very few, more moral and less dangerous; such
as PIGAULT LE BRUN, who by the delicate true wit, humour,
keen satire, and purer morality of his novel, has acquired
deserved celebrity all over Europe; or such as Mr. MARMORIERE,
who, in // an interesting story or fable, (which he has
represented as a one of Chaldean origin, in order to give
a venerable air to its characters or incidents,) has delivered
a system of moral or philosophical lessons, exemplified
in the life of an interesting personage. He is traced
through all his adventures, and a series of actions and
sufferings ascribed to him, which induce a train of reflections,
and give rise to a considerable degree both of interest
and instruction. The sentiments of this writer are always
in favour of morality, religion, and social order.
Novelists, absurdly imitating the German literati, have
long dealt in the marvellous; and, though they seem for
the present to have abandoned the idle and frightful dreams
of a distorted imagination, they are nevertheless to be
deprecated for teaching youth to mistake loose sentiments
for liberal opinions, heedless profligacy for benevolent
disposition, and impiety for strength of mind. Happy would
it be, for the welfare of the present generation, if those
ridiculous fabrications, of weak minds and often depraved
hearts, which constitute the enchantment of circulating
libraries, could be entirely annihilated! Our readers
cannot expect that we should give them a catalogue of
those pernicious publications, which increase the laxity
of manners and debility of character, already so prevalent
in all degrees of society: we will, on the contrary, content
ourselves with specifying a few novelists, in whose works,
instead of poisonous, they will find a grateful and nutritive
combination. The justly-celebrated author of an Essay
on Education, Mrs. [sic] EDGEWORTH, has very successfully
displayed her powers, in a general representation of life
and modern manners†. Mrs. WELLS’S novels are re-//commendable
for the purity and soundness of principles, for the piety
and Christian humility which they inculcate*; and Mr.
DALLAS, in a masterly romance, has lately presented us
with a beautiful picture of virtue in its most engaging
form, which ought to be studied by all those who are desirous
of conciliating the esteem of their fellow creatures,
of securing the satisfaction of their own conscience,
and deserving the approbation of their God. The great
object of this interesting novelist, is to rescue moral
sentiment from the degradation into which it has fallen;
to fortify the minds of the fair sex, to expose the wiles
of seduction, to give an exalted idea of marriage, to
justify our social regulations, to paint a highly-coloured
view of human nature, and thus, according to the title
of his novel, to vindicate it from the attacks of her
detractors, from the dark colouring of misanthropy, by
proving that whatever is vicious or bad is not nature,
but a deviation from it; that depravity, vice, and irreligion,
so widely diffused through human nature, are not essential
to it; but that, on the contrary sentiment, virtue and
piety constitute its essence. In warmly recommending,
therefore, this romance to the perusal of youth, and even
of parents and guardians, we do not think we are recommending
novel reading, but the perusal of a system of morals
congenial to the dignity of human nature, and calculated
to promote rational happiness. As the numerous host of
our common novel writers, instead of defending virtuous
truths, and exposing vicious folly, too often represent
the precipitate choice of evil as a mark of a generous
spirit, dis-//obedience to parental authority, as a proof
of a heroic mind; and love and philanthropy as the only
rulers of our actions; we will, before we conclude this
article, and our rapid view of the state of domestic and
foreign literature, earnestly entreat our young and fair
readers, who are seeking for materials to amuse their
imagination and gratify their curiosity, to turn from
the perusal of those idle, dangerous, and unfaithful pictures
of human life, (the trash of Circulating Libraries,) to
those faithful descriptions contained in authentic travels,
which display the wonders of nature in remote regions,
trace the intellectual characters of men, savage or civilized,
and mark, with the pencil of truth, the variations of
customs, and the shades of national manners. By such a
change in their taste, we will venture to assert, that,
however great may be their eagerness after rational entertainment,
they will never want the means to satisfy their inclination
for reading. For, we may sincerely, and with justice,
congratulate our countrymen, on the immense store of knowledge,
and means of improvement, which the numberless and successful
exertions of our judicious writers have laid open to our
view. We may presume to congratulate them on the eminent
and unquestionable superiority, for sound sense, nice
judgment, and general information, which the literature
of England has attained over that of the neighbouring
countries; a pre-eminence which, among many others, we
are ready to ascribe to the same cause, that has given
to England a superiority in the arts; namely, to the benign
influence of a virtuous and enlightened Sovereign, who
is the patron of science, the defender of virtue, of its
safeguard, religion; and the father of his people.
* Chiefly the West Indian.
Belinda. By Maria Edgeworth, 3vols. 8vo. 1l.
This novel, though deficient
perhaps in the contrivance, with respect to plot, and
in the ingenuity with respect to catastrophe, is remarkable
for its faithful delineation of living manners. (p. 448)
Elnathan; ou les Ages de l’Homme,
traduit du Chaldéen.
“Elnathan; or the Ages of
Man, translated from the Chaldean.” Par A. B. Marmorieres,
&c. 3 tomes, 8vo. Paris. 1802.
The author of this publication
has adopted the plan of delivering a system of moral instruction,
by means of an interesting story, in which he has given
us his opinions respecting the various periods of the
existence of men. The book does not want merit; but it
is too florid and pompous. It may be read, however, with
pleasure and profit. (p. 450)
Father and the Daughter. By Mrs.
This is a short, pathetic
tale, related in a plain, but very impressive manner.
Isabel; or the Orphan of Valdarno.
By a Student of Trinity College. Lane.
This romance is founded
upon historical facts: the writer has delineated the character
and the crimes of the Duke of Borgia, (nephew to the profligate
Pope Alexander the Sixth) in the same colours as history
has pourtrayed them to us. (p. 452)
Letters of a Solitary Wanderer, containing
narratives of various descriptions. By Charlotte Smith,
3 Vols. Low.
These volumes have not the
originality which Mrs. Smith’s former novels exhibited.
We cannot wonder at it, the author has nearly accomplished
forty volumes in labours of this description. It may be
expected, that she has exhausted her imagination. (p.
Man of Fortitude. By —— Frere,
The author of this well-written
and truly moral novel, (the events of which, however,
are rather improbable), seems to be deeply read in the
works of J. J. Rousseau, and his enthusiastic admirers.
Old Nick, a Satyrical Story. In
3 volumes. By the writer of a Piece of Family Biography.
This work is written in
obvious imitation of FIELDING and STERNE: it does not
fall much below the knowledge of mankind and genuine humour
of the former, and has something of the SHANDYAN irregularity
and spirit. It is an amusing story. (pp. 454–55)
Percival, or Nature Vindicated, a
Novel. By R. C. Dallas, Esq. 4 vol. 12mo. 18s. boards.
Longman and Rees.
The appellation of novel
has, in this work, been restored to a considerable share
of that dignity which the compositions of a Richardson
first attached to it. From the perusal of it, the purest
heart and most enlightened head may receive delight and
instruction. (p. 455)
School for Fashion. By Mrs. Thicknesse.
The best trait in this work
is its moral tendency, and the admirable instruction it
contains, to correct the education of female youth. (p.
Uncle Thomas, a romance, from the
French of Pigault Le Brun, 4 vols. Lane. 1801.
This novel has been highly
celebrated, on the continent, for its wit, its humour,
and its satire; to all of which it lays unquestionable
claim. (p. 461)
Flowers of Literature
From ‘Introduction: Novelists’, pp.
“Half pleas’d, contented will I be,
Contented half to please.”
to be their motto, and that of their readers, for novels
are certainly the lowest class of literary productions:
(lowest we say, though we rank a good novel very
high amongst the works of genius;) and the mania of NOVEL
WRITING seems to pervade all orders of writers, as that
of NOVEL-READING does all classes of readers.
“Novels maintain their hold with such unfailing
We love them e’en in age, and at our latest day*.”
“There once did live a lady fair,
And she was in love with a gentleman.”
from general opinions to particular elucidations, we shall,
by passing over such as are harmless in their nature and
ordinary in their execution, leave ourselves room to specify
a few which deserve to hold a distinguished rank in the
repositories of fiction.
pen of MADAME DE GENLIS, whose successful efforts to ridicule
that propensity for the hor- [xlv/xlvi] rific, we noticed
in our last introduction, (p. xlvi.) has, in her novel
called The Depraved Husband, given, we hope, the death-blow
to these disorganising principles of the French philosophers,
which threatened to break asunder the bonds of morality
and piety, throughout the civilised world. In the present
instance, her object has been to expose the depravity
and licentiousness of such writers, by the introduction,
with the happiest effect, of many of their most obnoxious
passages, which their authors evidently intended to apply
to real life. In short, we have met with no production
of this kind more capable of rendering service to the
world, by the exposure of false principles, if we except
MISS HAMILTON’S “Modern Philosophers.”
sorry, however, that we cannot bestow equal praise upon
a subsequent work of MADAME DE GENLIS, “The Duchess of
La Valliere;” which, though it exhibits the sufferings
arising to such votaries of vice as have not become callous
to virtue, yet it may have a bad effect in its ultimate
operation, by inculcating the idea that the crime of adultery
is diminished, the greater the rank of the parties who
commit it. The intention of the indefatigable author was,
however, indisputably good, and hence censure would be
the fair novelists of our own country, MRS. LE NOIR holds
a very distinguished rank. Her novel, entitled, “Village
Anecdotes,” is a very interesting production, wherein
every incident has the strongest claim to probability;
and, notwithstanding an apology for numerous errata, he
must be indeed fastidious, who could peruse it without
uncommon satisfaction: her translations of French poetry
in this novel, also afford an additional proof of her
refined taste and ability.
in a novel, entitled “Letters from Mrs. Palmerston to
her Daughter,” has displayed a habit of observation on
men and manners, which confers upon her no small credit;
while the virtuous tendency of this work cannot fail to
afford many useful lessons to the [xlvi/xlvii] juvenile
reader. The tale of the mother-in-law is particularly
author of “St. Clair; or, the Heiress of Desmond,” whom
we take to be a female, is likewise a writer of no common
stamp: her work is replete with passages of the purest
taste and most refined sensibility; and, though the rigid
moralists might consider its plot to be of a dangerous
tendency, yet it too plainly exposes the consequence of
allowing sentiment to gain the ascendency [sic]
over reason, even in vulgar or untutored minds.
who is well known to novel-readers, and whose writings
are distinguished by just and probable characters, has
added to her reputation by her late novel of “The Pride
of Ancestry;” the style and incidents of which are easy
and natural, while its object is the amusement of fancy
and the improvement of life.
to the principal novel-writers of the other sex, we have
no hesitation of classing in the foremost rank, MR. DALLAS,
whose novel of “Percival” we criticised in our first volume,
p. 455. This gentleman has since published another, under
the title of “Aubrey,” which, though we have not yet been
able to do justice to it, in the way of extracts, we have
no hesitation in saying is far, very far superior to most
of such productions; as it not only has an unequivocal
moral tendency, but abounds in the most interesting situations
A new candidate
for literary fame, as a novel writer, has started in the
person of MR. H. SIDDONS, the object of whose production
is to inculcate a strict regard for virtuous conduct,
in the various relations of life; as a first attempt,
it is entitled to considerable praise, though the author
is not very happy in his imitation of the manner of Fielding.
author of “The Swiss Emigrants,” advantageously exhibits
the happiness derivable from [xlvii/xlviii] beneficence,
even in obscure stations, and gives such a picture of
the miseries of continental war as must make us truly
enviable of our insulated situation.
here remark that, except those already mentioned, a great
portion of the novels which have been published since
our last volume made its appearance, are foreign sprigs,
transplanted and naturalised in our own soil. We have
always been adverse to exuberances of the imagination,
of exotic growth; but either the French or German literati
have become more partial to morality, or our own doers
into English have been more choice in their selection.
We have seen a work of the jacobin and athiest [sic],
BARON GOETHE, author of “The Sorrows of Werter,” entitled,
“Heliodora;” which, to our surprise, we found free from
the gross immorality and scepticism that disgraced his
former productions, the present tale being, with very
few exceptions, interesting and harmless.
another German writer of celebrity, and of less equivocal
principles than his countryman the Baron, has also contributed
abundantly to the stock of our libraries. His “Henrietta
Bellman” is a very interesting publication, calculated
to please every taste, and of a good moral tendency; while
his “Lobenstein Village,” also translated within the last
year, abounds in strong and just satire, combined with
such attractive incidents, and happy moral reflections,
as must place it very high in the class to which it belongs.
perfection cannot be either attained or expected, we find
a few passages in this work which contain principles only
calculated for the meridian of Paris; a circumstance the
more to be regretted, as the continuance of such productions
as the one before us would soon recover this class of
literature from the disrepute into which it has fallen;
and thus leave but little room for the censure of the
moralist against novels in general.
German, of considerable talent, M. KARAMSIN, has, in his
tales, betrayed evident marks of genius, and shown much
feeling and humanity in his [xlviii/xlix] “Russian Tales.”
If they exhibit a true picture of human nature in Russia,
it is evident that the hardy Russian breast contains a
very warm and susceptible heart. He has recorded in them
the benevolent virtue of a Russian peasant, which deserves
to live in history.
conclude this article with lamenting the wretched state
in which foreign novels appear, when clothed in an English
dress; from the ignorance of most of the translators,
and the rapidity with which they are obliged to perform
their task. We do not mean to make any particular allusion
to the translators of the works above-mentioned, who are,
on the whole, rather an exception to the stigma; but we
must reprobate the practice of translating from a translation;
most of the works which we have from the German being
translated from French editions; the latter of which are,
at best, but miserable and mutilated performances.
From ‘Biographical Sketch of R. C.
Dallas’, pp. 27–34.
[Note: The discussion of Dallas’s
novels is limited to one paragraph on p. 34.]
Mr. Dallas’s sentiments
and character appear throughout his writings. In his dedication
of Percival alone, short as it is, we see the affectionate
husband, the tender father, and the friend of order and
society. The description of the death of Cowper’s daughter,
in the third volume of Aubrey, is said to be the exact
narrative of his own loss: a narrative, not to be read
without a tear […]
Augustus and Mary; or, The Maid of Buttermere.
A Tale. By W. Mudford. 1 vol. pp. 188. Jones. 1804.
A true and interesting
story is here ridiculously mutilated, for the purpose
of swelling the volume, by the introduction of fictitious
and irrelevant trash; and poor dame virtue, whose advocate
the author professes to be, certainly never had a more
miserable defender. Some attacks are made, in this wretched
publication, upon several literary characters of prominence,
which must, of course, give the reader a very high opinion
of the author’s judgement. (p. 449)
Heliodora; or, the Grecian Minstrel.
From the German of Goëthe. 3 vols. 12mo. Dutton. 1804.
An interesting and
moral tale, from the pen of a writer formerly celebrated
for the immorality and impiety of his productions. (p.
The History Of A Dog. Written By Himself,
And Published By A Gentleman Of His Acquaintance.
Translated from the French of Pigault Le Brun. Minerva
This is a novel
which rivals ‘Pompey the Little;’ the translator deserves
much praise, for having given such an animated copy of
its entertaining original. (p. 455)
Night (The First) of My Wedding.
Translated from the French of Pigault Le Brun. 2 vols.
12mo. 7s. Lane.
A humorous and very
amusing novel of a writer already celebrated; translated
with a spirited correctness very uncommon in our days.
Popular Tales. By Maria Edgeworth.
3 vols. 12mo. 15s. Johnson.
This lady, already
well known by her moral publications, will acquire additional
fame by her present production, which is more accessible
to the middling class of readers. (p. 461)
Pride of Ancestry; or, Who is She?
A Novel. In 4 vols. By Mrs. Thompson. 1804. Parsons.
A very entertaining
work, which cannot fail to increase the reputation which
the fair author has already acquired. (p. 461)
St. Clair; or, the Heiress of Desmond.
By S.O. 12mo. Pp. 248. 4s. 1803. Highley.
This is a very attractive
little volume, full of the finest sentiments of friendship
and sensibility, though liable to the charge of inconsistency.
Tales (Russian). By Nicolai Karamsin.
8vo. Pp. 274. 10s. 6d. Printed by G. Sidney. No Bookseller’s
These are, for the
most, love tales, which have much merit, though often
alloyed by the tinsel of sentimentality, and the dross
of declamation. (p. 463)
Unexpected Legacy; a Novel. By
Mrs. Hunter, of Norwich. 2 vols. 12mo. 9s. Longman and
characters of this novel are such as occur in ordinary
life; and they are so well delineated, that the work rises
far above the majority of similar productions. (p. 466)
Village Anecdotes; or, the Journal
of a Year, from Sophia to Edward. With Original Poems.
By Mrs. Le Noir. 3 vols. Vernor and Hood. [466/467]
We wish that the
pleasure derived by the reader of this volume may equal
what we have ourselves received; it will then not be inconsiderable.
Virtuous Poverty; a novel. In
4 vols. By Henry Siddons, Esq. Phillips. 1804.
This novel seems
to be a tribute of filial affection to an excellent parent.
The language is chaste and elegant, and the incidents
numerous and rational. (p. 467)
Flowers of Literature
From ‘Introduction: Novelists’, pp.
With respect to works
of fancy, they have been far less numerous during the
period above mentioned, than for many preceding years;
and, with great pleasure we add, that in proportion as
their number has decreased, their claims to public notice
have become greater. In short, we may class amongst the
most pleasing and well-written productions of 1805
and not one work of that description
has fallen under our own observation, which is likely,
in any way, to contaminate the morals of the juvenile
is a consideration of no small importance, when we reflect
on a truth that must be generally acknowledged, namely,
that “in all stages of human society, from the time, at
least, of its emerging from absolute barbarism, no disposition
has been more general, than the delight which is taken
in works of fiction.”
by the rational change in the sentiments of writers of
eminence, by the decrease of those who had no pretensions
to literary merit, and by the introduction to the paths
of the belles lettres of gentlemen, who, though
they make literature chiefly an amusement, do not hesitate
to devote their attention to the writing of novels, the
objections of persons of character and understanding to
this kind of composition will soon be abolished, and novels,
which till lately were considered as the most injurious
publications that could be put into the hands of young
persons, will be rescued from the odium and contempt which
they had acquired, through the efforts of ignorance and
volumes which have, within these few years, contributed
more than others to re-establish fictitious narratives
upon the bases of morality and reason, are unquestionably
those of Mr. DALLAS: they communicate a knowledge of human
life and manners, that produces a better effect than hundreds
of works which are the emanations of a depraved taste
and a distempered fancy. We are happy in being enabled
to add, that the opinion which we gave in our first volume
(p. 455) of, we believe, the first novel written
by this gentleman, is not only strengthened, but still
farther increased by a perusal of his Aubrey. In
this work, which is highly interesting on the score of
its probability, the characters and manners are preserved
throughout; and the author, by making his hero a clergyman,
who, from great expectations, had neglected his profession
in the early part of his life, and is, in consequence,
reduced to a degree of distress bordering upon misery,
inculcates a strict attention to the divine objects of
it, and exposes the wickedness of taking orders merely
with the view of preferment†.
GODWIN, whose former principles we viewed with
detestation, and whose return to those of reason and sensibility
we greeted with unqualified pleasure, has lately appeared
again as a novel writer; and, in his Fleetwood,
shows, in odious colours, the consequences of the passion
of jealousy; but, by making the hero of his piece commit
the most improbable and ridiculous outrages, he not only
excites the disgust of the readers, who can scarcely find
patience to follow [lvii/lviii] the character to the end
of his career; but causes them to lay down the book with
the conviction, that no such a being ever existed in the
world. Indeed, some parts of the narrative are so extravagant,
that we not only must enter our caveat against the assertion
of the author, who says, that the story consists of such
adventures as, for the most part, have occurred to at
least one half of the Englishmen now existing, of the
same rank of life as his hero; but we will assert, that
such adventures never occurred to any human being; and
thus the work, instead of teaching the recluse to form
an idea of the world, will tend only to mislead him. In
thus freely expressing our opinion, we are far from wishing
to intimate, that ‘Fleetwood’ is not a work of merit.
Any thing from the pen of Mr. Godwin must be interesting;
but we must decidedly declare, that though this work contain
many splendid passages, which bespeak the hand of a master,
yet it will bear no comparison with ‘Caleb Williams;’
for, notwithstanding the tendency of that publication
was mischievous in the extreme, it nevertheless displayed
sterling abilities. The character of ‘Fleetwood,’ on the
contrary, though divested of political prejudice, is throughout
absurd, and contradictory to common sense.
of the principal novels which appeared soon after the
conclusion of our last volume, and which we have examined
in the present, is Modern Literature, from the
pen of Dr. BISSET, who is now no more. It cannot be asserted,
that novel-writing was the forte of this well-known
character, who was eminent both as a biographer and a
historian; but it must be admitted, that in the present
work he has been more successful than in his other attempts
at fictitious narrative. The subject affords a capacious
field for observation, animadversion, and comment; and
the doctor has, in each, displayed his talents for satire
and his knowledge of human nature. His hero is a young
man of respectable family, but small fortune, who, being
destined to rise to eminence by the labours of his pen,
[lviii/lix] has an opportunity of being introduced to
literary characters and their employers, by which many
interesting anecdotes are developed. The characters appear
to be chiefly copied from nature; and the interest of
the story is skilfully preserved by probable incidents.
T. HARRAL, a gentleman with whose name, as a writer, the
public are not much acquainted, has thought proper to
throw aside the anonymous mask, and avow himself the author
of a very interesting novel, entitled Scenes of Life.
The object of this work is, the laudable one of bringing
into contempt the ridiculous and disgusting tenets of
modern philosophers, as they prevailed a few years ago,
when their progress bid fair to overthrow, with the altar
and the throne, the moral system of all civilized nations.
The author states, in an elaborate preface, that “coldness
of constitution and imbecility of intellect are the only
apologies which can be alleged, in the present day, for
neutrality of principle, either civil or religious;” and
the rational, though spirited, manner in which he has
treated his subject, proves that he possesses neither
one nor the other. This novel contains some judicious
criticisms on the detestable principles of the German
drama; and the work affords sufficient evidence, not only
that the author possesses a correct taste, but that he
is no tyro in the walks of literature.
the novels of the last or present year, a mark of the
most favourable distinction must be placed upon a Winter
in London, which is replete with excellent morality,
wholesome satire, sometimes poignant, sometimes playful;
and the appropriate situations which augment the interest
from the first to the last page of the volumes. The characters
are powerfully exhibited; and though many of them reflect
the images, or rather the shadows, of the times, immediately
before us; the moral they convey is of substantial moment.
We have to regret, that our confined limits will not allow
us to particularize the varieties of good sentiment and
good sense, impressive description, [lix/lx] and touching
incidents with which this work abounds. It is written
by Mr. T. S. SURR, author of ‘George Barnwell,’ ‘Splendid
Misery,’ &c.; and is no ways inferior to either of
those well-received productions.
shall conclude our sketch of the masculine attempts
at the composition of fictitious narrative, by mentioning
an uncommonly interesting and well-written novel of the
when it paints the errors and vices that, in all ages,
have disgraced mankind, always fills the mind with melancholy.
A man of feeling is naturally disposed to espouse the
cause of the unfortunate, and is always much interested
for the vanquished, the captive, and oppressed, even when
suffering their deserts. Is it then wonderful or inexcusable,
that such a man of feeling should have recourse, for relief,
to the fairy pencil of imagination, which, at least, renders
the prospect agreeable? If a melancholy incident, or a
depraved character, in a romance, affect the heart, or
shock the judgment, one has the consolation of reflecting
that it is not true.
a consolation will be peculiarly necessary after perusing
the attractive and well-concerted incidents of Gondez
the Monk, the production of Mr. W. H. IRELAND, already
well known to the public. Historical facts are, in this
novel, so intimately blended with fiction, that the anxiety
they excite is so great, as to leave an impression upon
the mind that the whole is reality; such an impression
is, indeed, little inferior to that produced by the celebrated
novel called ‘The Recess,’ in which history has been so
far perverted as to gain over the opinions of some of
our most celebrated writers, who have attempted to prove
that the anecdotes were literally true. Mr. Ireland has
dressed up his narrative quite in the Shaksperian
[sic] style; and though many of his images and
metaphors are inflated, and savour a little of
the bombastic, yet no small number of others exhibit such
brilliancy of imagination as we have seldom seen equalled.
It is impossible, in our limits, to give even a brief
idea of [lx/lxi] a story unusually complex, but the interest
of which is kept up even to the last chapter.
fertile pen of Mrs. PARSONS has, within the last year,
produced no less than six volumes. Her novel, entitled
Murray House, is formed upon very probable incidents,
of which, we fear, too many examples are to be found in
fashionable life, though perhaps they are not carried
to the extremes which a writer is justified in describing.
Indeed, from what we know of the temper and disposition
of modern ladies of the haut ton, there is probably
not one of them who would tacitly suffer herself to be
conveyed from the very centre of fashion, to he hidden
from the world in an untenantable castle in the Highlands
of Scotland. The novel however conveys an excellent moral,
by exhibiting the severest punishment for guilt, and the
most gratifying reward for virtue. The other three volumes
are translations by Mrs. P. of six very pleasing and instructive
tales from LAFONTAINE, which she has rendered into correct
and elegant English.
OPIE, whose beautiful poems have excited general admiration,
has gained additional credit by her novel called Adeline
Mowbray; or, the Mother and Daughter. It inculcates
principles which cannot fail to make the most striking
impression on an inexperienced mind, and prevent those
errors of the affections into which youth is ever liable
SERRES, a lady who also possesses considerable talent
for versification, has produced a pleasant volume, entitled
St. Julian, the plot of which is a clandestine
correspondence between two lovers, in which the author
seems to have made Rousseau her model. It is evident,
that the fair writer does not estimate her prose so highly
as she does her poetry; but it will well bear the test
shall terminate this article, by recommending to the notice
of our readers three other novels by our fair countrywomen,
viz. Can we doubt it? or, the His- [lxi/lxii] tory
of Two Families of Norwich, by Mrs. GOOCH; Second
Love, by Mrs. NORRIS; and Crimes and Characters,
by Mrs. PILKINGTON. Amongst the new novels which were
sent to us at the close of the year, and which we recommend
as being extremely interesting and unexceptionable, having
perused them most attentively, are, The Eventful Marriage,
in four volumes; Ferdinand and Amelia, in three
volumes; and Eversfield Abbey, three volumes; all
of which are modestly published without the names of the
authors. They are probably of the opinion, that
“Fame, the great ill, from small beginnings
Swift from the first, and every moment brings
New vigour to her flights, new pinions to her wings.”
† Since the close of our extracted portion,
Mr. Dallas has produced a work, under the title of ‘The
Morlands: Tales illustrative of the Simple and Surprising,’
which is now under our consideration. The title is attractive,
and the work more than gratifies expectation. It consists
of two tales, both of them surprising, and yet, the author
having “kept possibility in view,” both of them
simple. We cannot but think, that there is a strong resemblance
between the first ‘Morland’ and Mr. Pratt’s ‘Benignus,’
in ‘Liberal Opinions.’ Both young, interesting, ardent,
and equally the victims of their own benevolence and simplicity.
Adeline Mowbray; or, the Mother and Daughter. A Novel.
In three Volumes. By Mrs. Opie. Second Edition. 12s. Longman
& Co. 1805.
This is the most
interesting of any of the productions of the beautiful
and accomplished author; it inculcates the most important
moral truths, and excites admiration by the elegance and
simplicity of its style. (p. 416)
Aubrey: a Novel. By R. C. Dallas, Esq.
4 vols. 12mo. 18s. Longman and Co. 1804.
Mr. Dallas is, perhaps,
the most chaste and elegant novel writer of the present
period. All his works have in view some grand moral object;
and Aubrey, in particular, excites throughout the most
lively interest. (p. 417)
Can we Doubt it? or, the genuine History
of two Families of Norwich, By Charlotte B. Malarme, Member
of the Academy of Arcades of Rome. Translated from the
French, by Mrs. Villa-Real-Gooch. 3 vols. 12mo. pp. 527.
10s. 6d. Crosby & Co. 1805.
Although there is
much in these volumes with which the general reader will
be pleased, yet we could point out many parts which are
objectionable on the score of probability, and many more
which would demand the censure of the impartial critic;
it is, however, far from deserving the title of a bad
production. (p. 418)
Crimes and Characters; or, the New Foundling.
A Novel. By Mrs. Pilkington, Author of ‘Parental Education,’
&c. &c. 3 vols. 12mo. pp. 750. 12s. Earle and
This novel is replete
with affecting incidents; but their improbability diminishes
the interest they would otherwise excite. (p. 419)
Duellists (The); or, Men of Honour. A
Story to show the Folly and Sin of Duelling. By W. Lucas.
12mo. pp. 182. 3s. 6d. Suttaby. 1805.
An excellent moral
tale, which breathes throughout a pure spirit of religion.
Eve (The) of San Piedro. A Novel. In
3 vols. 10s. 6d. Cadell and Davies. 1804.
villainous monks, and all the addenda of the works of
Mrs. Radcliffe are here introduced, though with inferior
effect. The story contains too much of the marvellous;
but the author possesses talents of no ordinary kind.
Eventful Marriage (The), a Tale. By the
Author of Count di Novini, and Monckton. 4 vols. 12mo.
pp. 1300. 16s. Crosby. 1806. [420/421]
The author has already
gained much credit by his works of fancy; but the present
novel is rendered doubly interesting, by the combination
of historical facts. The language is chaste and elegant.
Ferdinand and Amelia. A Novel. 3 vols.
12mo. pp. 678. 10s. 6d. Crosby & Co. 1805.
The author, who has
concealed his name, makes many pretensions to probability;
and, on the whole, his tale justifies the idea which he
holds out.—There is nothing absurdly improbable in the
volumes, but much that is extremely interesting; and the
whole is well written. (p. 422)
Fleetwood; or, the New Man of Feeling.
A Novel. By W. Godwin. 3 vols. 12mo. pp. 937. Phillips.
We have only to hope
that Providence will preserve us, and all our readers,
from such sentiments and brutality of disposition as are
displayed by the feeling hero of this novel. As
a literary work, it makes no addition to Mr. Godwin’s
acknowledged fame. (p. 422)
Gondez, the Monk. A Romance of the thirteenth
Century. By W. H. Ireland, Author of the ‘Abbess,’ &c.
&c. 4 vols. 12mo. pp. 920. 16s. Earle and Huckbridge.
We do not hesitate
to pronounce this to be one of the most interesting, and
most elegantly written, novels which have fallen under
our inspection during the present year. Many of the passages
would not disgrace Shakspeare [sic]; but the anxiety
which the author still possesses to imitate the immortal
bard, leads him into absurdities, which deteriorate the
real merit of the work; these are the frequent introduction
of witches, demons, and ghosts, which
have so little relation to the chief incidents of the
story, that we hope to see their officious interference
dispensed with in a future edition, which we doubt not
will be demanded. (p. 423)
Love and Gratitude; or, Traits of the
Human Heart. Translated from Augustus La Fontaine, by
Mrs. Parsons. 3 vols. 12mo. pp. 742. 12s. Norbury, Brentford.
These are six very
interesting tales, all of which have a moral tendency.
They are far superior to the common-place novels of the
day, and derive no small advantage from being translated
into excellent English. (p. 426)
Modern Literature. A Novel. By R. Bisset,
LL.D. 3 vols. 12mo. 15s. Longman and Co. 1804.
Dr. Bisset, who not
long since paid the debt of nature, was one of the most
industrious literati of the present day; but his forte
was by no means novel-writing. ‘Modern Literature,’ however,
is amongst the best of his productions of that class:
most of the characters are taken from life. (p. 429)
Morlands (The); or Tales, illustrative
of the simple and surprising. By R. C. Dallas, Esq. 4
vols. 12mo. pp. 1356. 1l. 1s. Longman & Co. 1806.
These tales are stated
in the preface to contain a display of common, or probable
facts, natural sentiments, and characters so composed,
as to engage the attention and interest the mind. That
they will do so, we cannot entertain a doubt, after the
different specimens we have perused of this author’s abilities.
The tales are said to be founded on a series of facts:
so surprising, as to seem improbable, till accounted for
in the winding up of the story. (p. 429)
Murray House. A plain unvarnished Tale.
By Mrs. Parsons. 3 vols. 12mo. pp. 895. 12s. Norbury,
The respectable author
of this novel is well known to our readers. She has gained
additional credit by its production; and, we fear, it
is a portrait which must come home to the feelings of
many persons in the fashionable world, who bear a heavy
heart under a profusion of riches and honours. It is extremely
well written. (p. 429)
Scenes of Life. A Novel. By T. Harral,
Esq. 3 vols. pp. 680. Crosby and Co. 1805.
This work is written
with a view to expose folly and castigate vice; and the
folly and viciousness which are at- [432/433] tacked are
those of jacobinism, infidelity, and immorality. The subject
is treated in a masterly manner, and the work contains
many curious anecdotes, which we think are taken from
real life. (pp. 432–43)
Second Love; or, the Way to be Happy.
A Novel. By Mrs. Norris. 2 vols. 12mo. pp. 562. 7s. 2d.
We shall merely announce
this volume, as one of which we entertain considerable
expectations; but to which, as yet, we have not been able
to pay proper attention. (p. 433)
St. Julian. In a Series of Letters. By
Mrs. J. T. Serres. 8vo. pp. 167. Ridgway. 1805.
The heroine of this
tale being compelled by her family to marry an aged nobleman,
corresponds with St. Julian, her youthful lover, in the
style of Eloisa; at length the [433/434] husband very
conveniently dying, she is united to the object of her
choice. The letters are interesting and well written.
Flowers of Literature
From ‘Introduction: Novelists’, pp.
It is a remarkable
circumstance, that the most obscene dramatist,
whose writings ever polluted the English stage, was a
woman; and it is a circumstance as remarkable,
and as such to be regretted, that, with the exception
of a certain monkish author, the most indecent
playright [sic], and the grossest and most
immoral novelists of the present day, are women!
fair author of Zofloya had before distinguished
herself, in the annals of literary libertinism; and she
has now treated HER admirers with the development
of such scenes, as, we had hoped, no female hand could
be found to trace.
as we wish not to initiate our readers in the mysteries
of brothels, or in the more secret vices of the cloister,
we dismiss the ungrateful subject.
that universal arbitress, though frequently erroneous
in her decisions, has, for once, by sanctioning Mr. Surr’s
Winter in London, which has now passed through
eight editions, proved that she is sometimes deserving
of attention. This truly excellent novel abounds with
satire on the fashionable world. The author’s shafts are
admirably levelled; they never fall short of their aim;
his hits are numerous and palpable. Mr.
Surr very broadly exposes the absurdities of certain fashionable
newspapers, and their patrons; and the infamous artifices
of malignant reviewers. He has displayed great taste in
the grouping of his masquerade scene; the character of
the duchess of Belgrave is pourtrayed by the hand of a
master; the letters of that lady are written in the most
fascinating style of characteristic elegance; and, upon
the whole, the Winter in London, must rank with
the very best of novels.
by Miss Edgeworth, contains some excellent writing, and
is extremely well adapted to expose the absurdity, and
pernicious tendency, of modern philosophy.
were much surprised to find, that the puerile and inconsistent
novel of Adelaide was written by the same author.
Abounding with caverns, groans, shrieks, murders, hobgoblins,
and all the wretched mummery of the Radcliffean school,
it is, in every respect, far below the former works of
Siddons, the son of our venerable actress, whose Virtuous
Poverty we noticed with approbation [lxxv/lxxvi] in
our third volume, encouraged by the success which that
work experienced, has produced another novel, under the
title of Maid, Wife, and Widow, which, we think,
in every respect, surpasses the former.
are sorry that Mr. Holcroft, who has, at times, been favoured
with no slight portion of public applause, should make
himself appear, so repeatedly, in so short a space of
time, so extremely ridiculous and contemptible. His Hugh
Trevor, and Anna St. Ives, notwithstanding
their ponderosity, and the infamous tendency of their
principles, were not wholly without attraction; but his
Bryan Perdue, with which he has recently favoured
the world, is, in truth, one of the most wretched of wretched
novels. It seems to be quite time for this gentleman to
leave off writing.
elegantly written morceau, the Man of Feeling,
must be fresh in the recollection of every reader of taste;
and every reader of taste will be gratified, on finding
an agreeable companion to that work, in the Stranger,
or New Man of Feeling. The typographic neatness of
this volume is an additional recommendation.
romance of Castle Nuovier is somewhat too
romantic; but the story is ingeniously told.
our preceding volume, we announced the appearance of Mr.
Dallas’s Morlands. Since that period, we have again
read the work with renewed and increased pleasure. The
diction of the first tale is at once classical and elegant;
the moralist [sic] truly unexceptionable; and the
plot, though not intricate, excites great interest. As
a sport of fancy, the second tale is highly and irresistibly
Lewis’s Feudal Tyrants, though abounding in the
marvellous, possesses more originality and probability
than his celebrated Monk; or indeed than most of
his other productions; yet, it is, at first, somewhat
intricate; and, perhaps to his fair readers, may prove,
as a novel, less amusing. This deficiency, however, is
amply atoned for by the very high inte- [lxxvi/lxxvii]
rest excited by the adventures of the virtuous Urania,
by Venosta’s Memoirs; and also by those of the heroic,
but unfortunate Adelaide, lady of the Beacon Tower.
Owenson’s Novice of St. Dominick, and Wild Irish
Girl, possess an extraordinary portion of attraction.
The language of these novels is elegant, brilliant, and
animated; and the plot and incidents are fraught with
interest of no common stamp. Added to the requisite merits
of a novel, the Wild Irish Girl contains much pleasing
and useful information on the manners and customs of the
Irish.—The first-mentioned novel deserves, indeed, more
praise than we have room to bestow on it. The combination
of historical facts with fictitious narrative is continued
through the work in a striking manner; and we must declare,
that with respect to originality of thought, and beauty
of language, we do not recollect any modern work of fancy,
which is superior, if equal to it. In this point of view,
her Wild Irish Girl is greatly inferior.
Temple, the fair author of some excellent poems, of which
we took ample notice in our preceding volume, has produced
a ponderous novel, in five volumes, entitled Ferdinand
Fitzormond. It contains several interesting situations,
and a number of beautiful pieces of poetry; but some of
the characters are unnatural, and the interest is diminished
by the extent to which the subject is carried.
though a novel, exhibits nothing of novelty.
Poetical justice is, however, strictly observed.
or, the Secret History of the Conspiracy of Piso against
Nero; and Madame de Maintenon; both of them
translations from the French, are historical romances;
which, as confounding truth with fiction, are highly objectionable.
The translation of the latter work (Madame de Genlis’s)
is miserably executed.
Lathom, who is so well known, and has been recently so
much admired, in the novel-reading [lxxvii/lxxviii] world,
has presented us with Human Beings, which are not
to be classed amongst those “faultless monsters which
the world ne’er saw.” Taking truth and nature for his
model, he has produced a striking and an interesting picture.
The parentage and loves of the drummer-boy and orphan-girl,
and the persevering benevolence of the worthy Lewitzer,
ought not to be “damned by faint praise.”
Curtis’s Monk of Udolpoh [sic] is deserving
of association with most of that gentleman’s other performances.
The interesting Hersilla exhibits one of the finest patterns
of filial piety we have ever seen pourtrayed in a novel:
neither is the character of the Monk himself over-drawn,
as is, in general, the case in productions of this kind.
The hero of the piece claims our particular attention,
as possessing much merit. Lorenzo is a most virtuous character,
worthy of imitation: and we will hope, notwithstanding
the cry against the times, that there are, in real life,
many such to be met with.
Baron de Falkenheim, is an unaffected, well-told
tale, but exhibits no very striking feature.
de Genlis’s Alphonsine, or Maternal Affection,
may class with the finest productions of that lady’s pen.
Much novelty of idea is displayed, and the character of
the heroine is admirably drawn.
the universally attractive Kotzebue, has produced four
volumes of Novellettes; the translation of which
has been perused with uncommon avidity. The original work
is excellent; but we could have wished the translation
to be both more correct, and more elegant.
success of Mr. Surr’s Winter in London, has, as
is usually the case under such circumstances, called forth
a herd of imitators. Amongst these, A Winter in Bath
claims the first notice. Without the aid, however, of
an imitative title, its intrinsic merit would have insured
and commanded a gratifying reception from the public.
The story is well written, the incidents are good, and
the characters are excellently pourtrayed.[lxxviii/lxxix]
the same time that A Winter in Bath made its appearance,
a Mrs. Bayfield had a novel ready for publication, under
the title of Love as it may be, and Friendship as it
ought to be. Her bookseller, however, imitating Mr.
Surr’s title, and perhaps conceiving that he might safely
practise an imposition on the public, gave Mrs. Bayfield’s
novel the title of A Winter AT [sic] Bath.
This circumstance excited much contention between the
booksellers; and we are not certain whether some legal
proceedings were not commenced upon the subject. Mrs.
Bayfield very candidly declared, not only that the fraud
was carried on without her approbation, but without her
Invisible Enemy, the Bravo of Bohemia, Dellenborough Castle,
Castle of Berry, Pomeroy [sic],and the
Benevolent Monk, are so many modern romances, possessing
the usual beauties and defects of such performances.
Opie’s Simple Tales have a far higher claim to
notice. This work, consisting of eighteen or twenty tales,
pleasingly and interestingly related, possesses the general
characteristics of her style and manner of thinking. It
may not be amiss to observe, that her style is that of
a well-educated and accomplished woman; her manner of
thinking, that which does her the highest honour! These
tales are truly simple and unaffected, evincing
much genuine pathos in the bosom of their fair author;—that
bosom which has been destined recently to mourn the loss
of its departed lord*. In her own beautiful lines, she
may now feelingly exclaim:
“Ee’n reason says I justly weep,
And, ah! She says I weep in vain;
My midnight couch with tears I steep,
Then rise at morn—to weep again!”
meritorious glances of Constantia de Courcy, [lxxix/lxxx]
we should hope, will not succeed in seducing any of our
readers. Her blandishments are the blandishments of a
courtesan, who allures but to destroy.
Stories are very harmless; but they are not sufficiently
animated to warm us.
Parsons, another of our old favourites, has introduced
to our acquaintance, The Convict, or Navy Lieutenant.
This novel not only possesses originality, but, we think,
must excite in every feeling heart, the warmest interest
for its unhappy heroine, and her ill-fated offspring.
Mrs. Parsons is well versed in the art of pleasing, at
the same time that she unites instruction with amusement.
The characters are all well delineated, and not over-drawn:
and the moral, such as we could wish implanted in every
Armstrong’s Anglo-Saxons, or the Court of Ethelwulph,
as a strong and pleasing picture of ancient manners, ranks
far above the general run of modern romances.
also does The Spaniard, a tale which very forcibly
reminded us of the strong vein of satire in Gil Blas.
Its comic situations, rich irony, and humorous descriptions,
irresistibly impelled the exercise of our risible muscles.
Children of Error, Tynemouth Castle, Wilhelmina, and Drelincourt
and Rodalvi, may be considered as very harmless food
for the circulating library.
seldom meet with a novel which contains so much that is
good, and so little that is exceptionable, as Mr. Semple’s
Charles Ellis. The author is a man of no common
information, of no common powers of writing; and the execution
of his work is, in all respects, creditable to his talents
the fair author of Santo Sebastiano, continue to
make such rapid progress in this walk of literature, we
shall soon learn to forget the loss of the amiable and
unfortunate Charlotte Smith.
Monk of Dissentis is little better than impo- [lxxx/lxxxi]
sition on the public. It is a translation from the vapid
and uninteresting German romance of Rudolph of Werdenberg,
which had already appeared in English, under its proper
Mask of Fashion is a story very feelingly written,
interwoven with a description of some of the public amusements
and promenades at Paris. It contains, however, much frivolity,
and some of its love-scenes are what we could not exactly
wish them to be.
could easily swell this catalogue of romances and novels
to a far greater extent; but, as we have already noticed
every thing of this nature, that is really deserving of
attention, we shall proceed to offer a few brief remarks
upon such works as fall under the comprehensive denomination
* Mr. Opie died on the 9th
of April, in the present year, in the 46th
year of his age.
Adventures (The) of Victor Allan. By Mrs. Fortnum, Author
of Waldorf, &c. 2 vols. 12mo. p. 348. 7s. Hodgson,
Mrs. F. has
made herself known to the public by six or seven different
novels; and we have nothing to which we wish to object
in the one before us. We do not think that its plot or
stile will add to that portion of credit which the author
has acquired by her previous labours. (p. 495)
Alphonisine; or, Maternal Affection.
A Novel. By Madame Genlis. 4 vols. 1l.2s. 1806.
Of all the
works which Madame de Genlis has favoured the public,
none is more calculated to gratify the friends of literature
than this interesting effusion of her genius. The education
of Alphonsine in a cave, the solitary partner of her mother’s
woe, unknown to any other being than her parent, ignorant
of the nature of light, and fancying that her habitation
is a whole world, presents a fruitful harvest of new ideas,
and Madame de Genlis has proved a careful reaper. The
translation is well performed. (p. 495)
Anglo-Saxons (The); or, The Court of
Elthelwulph. A Romance. By L. Armstrong, Esq. 4vols. 12mo.
This is an
historical novel, a kind more interesting and edifying
than any other. The author is an elegant writer, and by
this work of fancy has shewn himself capable of greater
performances. Romance writing is certainly below his talents.
Adelaide; or, The Chateau de St. Pierre.
A Tale of the Sixteenth Century. By Mrs. Edgeworth. 4
vols. 12mo. p. 920. 18s. Hughes. 1806.
this kind, like Adelaide, have always been successful
amongst our fair countrywomen, who prefer an ancient
story, as more consistent with their ideas of romance.
Adelaide contains many touching incidents, and the style
is correct throughout, and often elegant. (p. 497)
A Winter in London; or, Sketches of Fashion.
A Novel. By T. Surr, Esq. 3 vols. 12mo. p.1012. 13s. 6d.
The very extraordinary
success of this novel is a sufficient criterion of its
merits. When our last volume was published, it had just
made its appearance, and we mentioned it with strong commendatory
terms, in our introduction. It has since gone through
eight editions. We consider it to be the severest
satyre [sic] that has ever appeared on the detested
manners of the fashionable world. (p. 497)
There are two different entries for Winter in London
in this volume of Flowers. For second notice, see
Cottager’s (The) Daughter, A Tale of
the Nineteenth Century. 2 vols. 12mo. p. 254. 6s. Scholey.
plot of this novel is the seduction of a young female
of respectable parents by a fashionable miscreant. Its
tendency is very far from being of a moral kind, and we
therefore cannot accord it any praise whatever. (p. 498)
Charles Ellis; or, The Friends. A Novel.
Comprising the Incidents and Observations occurring on
a Voyage to the Brazils and West Indies, actually performed
by the Writer, Robert Semple, Author of “Walks and Sketches
at the cape of Good Hope.” 2 vols. 12mo. p. 506. 9s. Baldwins.
states himself to be a young merchant, as an apology for
attempting to write a novel: but the way in which he has
executed his task, proves that he was much better employed
in writing than he would have been while passing his evenings
like Young Wilding, in the Citizen. His book contains
much that is good, and little that is exceptionable. (p.
Convict (The); or, Navy Lieutenant. A
Novel. By Mrs. Parsons, Author of “The Miser and his Family,”
&c. 4 vols. 12mo. 18s. p.1145. Norbury. 1807.
has, as usual, been very fortunate in her choice of a
subject that must excite sympathy in every feeling breast.
The interest is kept up throughout; and the style is so
simple, pleasant, and correct, that we consider this to
be the best among the very great number which this amiable
author has produced. (p. 500)
Edward and Anna; or, A Picture of Human
Life. A Novel. By John Bristed, of the Honourable Society
of the Inner Temple, Author of “The System of the Quakers
examined.” 2 vols. 12mo. p, 443. 7s. Crosby and Co. 1806.
of an honourable society informs us, as an excuse
for his writing a novel, that he was mad at the
time.—We wish many other writers would profess the same
candour, as their reviewers would then have sufficient
reason to shew them lenity! It appears that Mr. B. afterwards
came to his senses, and was so delighted with what
he had penned , while “a fever’s fire ran along all
his veins,” that he determined on giving it to
the public (i.e. for seven shillings a copy). It contains
a few good passages, amongst a farrago of the vilest nonsense
that was ever put together, and which could never have
happened to the author or any other person in this world.
Feudal Tenants; or, The Counts of Carslshiem
[sic] and Sorgans. A Romance, taken from the German.
By M.G. Lewis, Esq. 4 vols. p. 1416. 18s. Second Edition.
of this novel is founded on the time of William Tell,
and, by a judicious combination of history with fiction,
[501/502] much interest is excited. We have some doubts
whether this romance be an alteration from the German;
on the contrary, it contains so much of Mr. Lewis’s peculiar
manner, that we suppose it to be an original composition.
At all events, he has considerably increased his reputation
by producing it, notwithstanding the fame he has already
acquired. (pp. 501–02)
Ferdinand Fitzormond; or, The Fool of
Nature. By Mrs. Temple. 5 vols. 12mo. p.1657. 1l. 1s.
deservedly acquired considerable fame by her poems, of
which we took ample notice in our last volume; but we
cannot say that she has been equally successful in her
novel. The plot has little to boast of, and the division
of the work into letters makes it even more insipid than
it otherwise would be. Perhaps, however, we are under
some mistake with regard to the fair author. Her preface
is here signed F. Temple: the poems appeared under
the name of Laura Sophia Temple. At all events, the poetry
in this novel may be considered as the best parts of it,
for the language of the prose is reduntant [sic],
extravagant, and unnatural. (p. 502)
Forest (The) of St. Bernardo. A Novel.
By Miss Hamilton. 4 vols. 16s. p. 864. Hughes. 1806.
and well written tale, the story of which keeps the feelings
alive throughout, while the language gives the fair author
a claim to no ordinary rank in the paths of the belles
lettres. (p. 502)
Film-Flams! or, The Life and Errors of
my Uncle and his Friends, with Illustrations and Obscurities.
By Messieurs Tage [sic], Rag and Bobtail. 3 vols.
12mo. p. 784. 18s. Murray.
This new edition
of one of the most amusing and singular satyres of the
present age, contains many Improvements upon that which
appeared a short time before. The spirit of ridicule with
which the author exposes the strange fantasies of modern
philosophers, is in many parts equal to that of Juvenal;
and it is impossible to peruse any of the chapters of
this curious and eccentric work without deriving an unusual
degree of pleasure and entertainment. (p. 502)
Human Beings. A Novel. By Francis Lathom,
Author of “Men and Manners,” &c. 3 vols. 12mo. p.
903. 12s. Crosby and Co. 1807.
who has given the world many interesting literary productions,
has here proved that neither his invention nor his genius
is exhausted. The characters are all natural, the story
is affecting, and the stile simple and easy. (p. 503)
Mask (The) of Fashion. A plain Tale;
with Anecdotes foreign and domestic. 2 vols. p. 482. Hughes.
which is dedicated to the Duchess of St. Alban’s, is the
effort of a very superior writer to those who fill the
shelves of circulating libraries; but indeed we may say
almost as much of all those novel writers we have introduced
in the present volume. We should have been better pleased
with the Mask of Fashion had the language been less inflated
than it is in many parts; for, to quote a few words from
the author’s preface, “the outline is admirable, but the
colouring too high.” Some very affecting incidents are
introduced in this novel, particularly the story which
begins at p. 110; and we hope such a one as that which
begins at p. 171 is merely a picture of the imagination.
Maid (The), Wife and Widow. A Tale. By
H. Siddons, Esq. Author of “Virtuous Poverty.” 3 vols.
12mo. p. 796. Phillips. 1806.
urges, as a plea for writing another novel, the success
of his last, called “Virtuous Poverty.” We, however, prefer
the one before us, which has many pretensions of a superior
nature. It seems a tale founded on facts which have occurred
under the author’s observation; but, at any rate, it is
an interesting and well-told story, in which we think
we can discover many allusions to family incidents!
Monk (The) of Udolpho. A Romance. By
T. J. H. Curties, Esq. Author of the Sable Mask, &c.
4 vols. 12mo. p. 973. Hughes. 1807.
is well calculated to please those who delight in horrors.
The Monk as usual is a most diabolical character, and
meets with his deserts. The terrors of banditti and the
inquisition are each of them introduced, and will not
fail to harrow up the feelings of susceptible females.
Mysterious (The) Sisters. A Spanish Romance,
2 vols. 12mo. p. 441. Hughes. 1806.
though their literature has been so long on the decline,
still excel in the invention of plot, and its elucidation.
The author of the Mysterious Sisters, it appears, is Don
Francisco Sancho Assensio, his romance is well written,
contains many pleasing situations, and has been very respectably
translated. (p. 507)
Novice (The) of Saint Dominick. By Miss
Owenson, Author of St. Clair, 4 vols. 12mo. p. 1465. Phillips.
This is a
romance of a very superior description. The story is uncommonly
interesting and well kept up, the language is nervous,
elegant, and in many parts beautiful;―in short,
it is a work which no person of taste can peruse without
high gratification. (p. 508)
Olivia and Marcella; or, The Strangers.
A Novel. 2d edition. By Mrs. Norris. 3 vols. p. 1046.
10s. 6d. Crosby and Co. 1807.
There is a
considerable degree of interest kept up throughout these
volumes; and the author writes in so correct and pleasant
a style, that she is entitled to no ordinary rank amongst
female novellists. (p. 509)
Secrets of the Castle; or, The Adventures
of Charles D. Almaine. By D. Carey, Author of the Pleasures
of Nature, &c. 2 vols. 12mo. p. 227. 7s. Crosby &
although he does not make so distinguished a figure in
his novel, as he has done in his poems, has nevertheless
proved himself capable of writing a very interesting romance,
of unexceptionable moral tendency; yet bordering upon
the extravagant! but this is perhaps in consequence of
his wish to please the still prevalent taste for horrors,
and supernatural agency. (p. 512)
Sophia St. Clare. A Novel, 2 vols. 12mo.
p. 404. 9s. Johnson. 1806.
is represented as “the production of a young lady, a noviciate
in Literature,” but we have no doubt she will soon rank
in the line to which she aspires. Sophia contains much
interesting matter, blended with many attempts at the
Radcliffian imagery, and a few grammatical errors, which
future practice will abolish. (p. 513)
St. Botolph’s Priory; or the Sable Mask,
an historic Romance. By T. J. H. Curties, Esq. Author
of Ethelivena, &c. 5 vols. P. 1582. Hughes. 1l. 4s.
[sic] having gained much celebrity by his former
romances, has now become one of the most indefatigable
of our literati in that department of writing. He deserves
no small [513/514] credit from his ability to keep up
an extraordinary degree of interest throughout five ponderous
volumes, and at the same time to preserve a sufficient
degree of consistency in his plot. These objects he has
attained in the novel before us. (pp. 513–14)
Vensenshon; or Lover’s Mazes. A Novel.
By Mrs. H. Butler, 3 vols. 12mo. p. 704. Printed for the
A very interesting
novel, written in uncommonly good language, though sometimes
a little inflated. (p. 516)
Village (The) of Fridewalde; or, The
Enthusiast. A Novel, translated from the German of Lafontane
[sic]. By J. Powell. 3 vols. 12mo. p. 593. 9s.
style of novel writing is well known to the English reader;
and the Village of Friedewalde, by its simplicity and
moral tendency will not deteriorate the fame its author
has already acquired. There is much factitious anecdote
in these volumes, which gives a good view of human nature.
The intent of the novel is to check the imbibition of
early enthusiasm. (p. 517)
Winter (A) in London; or, Sketches of
Fashion. A Novel. By T. S. Surr, Esq. 12mo. p. 812. Phillips.
This is one
of the best satirical novels which have appeared in the
present century. Many well-known characters are introduced
with a degree of spirit and humour, which can scarcely
be excelled. We wish we could add that the contents of
this novel were founded on fiction. (p. 518)
There are two different entries for Winter in London
in this volume of Flowers. For other notice, see
Wolf; (The) or, The Tribunal of Blood.
A Romance, from the German of Weber, Author of the Sorcerer,
&c. By J. Powell, Esq. Translator of the Village of
Friedewaide, &c. 2 vol. p. 366. Hughes. 1806.
perceive what this novel possesses to recemmend [sic]
it. It is a miserable German catchpenny, most wretchedly
translated, and many of the pages contain the enormous
number of thirty words each, as at page 13, Vol.
I. (p. 518)
Wild (The) Irish Girl. A National Tale.
By Miss Owenson, Author of St. Clair, &c. 3 vol. 12mo.
p. 190. Phillips. 1806.
The Wild Irish
Girl is in many respects inferior to the “Novice of St.
Dominick,” by the same fair author; but it contains many
just and striking traits of the Irish character, conveyed
under an interesting tale of former times. The Sketch
we fear will give no credit to the author for her remarks
concerning Ossian! (p. 518)
Flowers of Literature
From ‘Introduction: Novellists’, pp.
department of literature we have had, as usual, a most
abundant harvest, and we may justly say, that the crop
is altogether more favourable than that of many a preceding
season. We have [lii/liii] always been of opinion, that
none but an author of talents can write a good
novel; and however affected cynics, of the modern stamp,
may pretend to despise such productions, we will
contend, as we always have contended, that well-written
novels and romances, do more to improve the taste, and
correct the aberrations of heart, than all the other species
of writings in congregation! If such impassioned females
as Rosa Matilda, and such immoral and delicately-obscene
scribblers as Messrs Monk-Lewis and Anacreon-Moore,
have disgraced the English press by their prosaic
and poetical masses of corruption, issued as they
are year after year, shall it be said that they have affixed
a stigma to all works of fancy? The genius of elegant
literature forbids the prevelance [sic] of such
an opinion; and while our country can produce such novels
as Lathom’s Fatal Vow, no reader, whether male
or female, need be ashamed to place it in their library.
Those novels in which history is judiciously blended
with fiction, are of all others best calculated
to please the mind of sensibility; and if in the one just
mentioned, we have any thing to object to, it is, that
the quantity of historical matter is too great, and also
too highly coloured to accord with facts. Nothing, however,
can be more interesting than many of the scenes in this
work, though it only consists of two volumes. The manner
in which Christabel discovers her mother, is a masterpiece
of delineation, and when we consider the great versatility
of this author’s genius, we shall readily look over such
anachronisms as the production of pistols, before
the period at which they were invented!
de Stael, a veteran in this kind of literature, has produced
another novel, called Corinna. She fixes the scene
in Italy; and her principal aim seems to be to describe
the remains of art in Rome, by the introduction of fictitious
characters as visitors. The most prominent of theses cha-
[liii/liv] racters, are a Scotch nobleman and an Italian
heroine; but as the story is evidently subordinate to
the object of describing the antiquities, it is needless
to expatiate upon it. We need merely say, that this novel
displays a correct knowledge of human nature, and that
it is not so exceptionable on the score of morality, as
the former productions of the same author.
most voluminous novel of the last year, and by
no means the least interesting, is The Soldier’s Family,
by an anonymous author, but who we can venture to assert,
is a female. The scenes which fill its four closely-printed
volumes, are chiefly of a low domestic nature, and are
described with much affecting simplicity.
favourite writer (with those who do not reflect),
Kotzebue has produced another two works, one entitled
Novellettes, and the other Anecdotes. A
third translation has also appeared, entitled his Romances;
but the fact is, that the Novellettes and the Romances
are merely two different translations of the same original,
and as some preference must be given, the translation
of the Novellettes is by far the best. The Anecdotes are
evidently compiled, by this most ingenious writer;
but they are interspersed with such striking observations
of his own, that they altogether have the appearance of
originality.—Although, however, we are not ashamed to
confess that we are admirers of that sweet-soothing
sensibility so prevalent in the writings of Kotzebue,
we shall never be found to palliate his insidious immorality,
which is but too frequently evident. To deny that this
author is a man of genius—that he touches the passions
with a masterly hand—that he is a deep reader of the heart,
would be a folly and a want of candour. But, that the
story of the Pastor’s Daughter, exhibits so foul a picture
of depravity and lust, as none but a most corrupt imagination
could work upon, and afterwards publish to the world,
is an equal truth. It reminds one of [liv/lv] those
beings whom we sometimes see on the public roads; who,
in order to excite attention, expose their putrid sores
and horrid deformities to the revolting sight of the passengers.
author plainly manifests his hatred of religion, and,
consequently, of God, (for there is no difference,) but,
let it be observed, that a heart influenced by religion,
could never have been acted upon as Charlotte’s was.
has drawn her in her first career, as a highly finished
moralist; and morality, he seems to think
a most stable foundation for temporal and eternal happiness;
yet, vanity, the pigmy vice vanity, has
overthrown his beautiful superstructure, and laid it in
ruins. Morality, then he must confess, is
an unstable foundation.
first grand effect of religion, is to humble the creature
in the sight of the CREATOR:—it holds up the glory of
God, and the glittering pride of man fades before it,
as the taper is extinguished by the sun. Vanity,
therefore, is destroyed, and Morality on its firmest
basis, stands secure from its most insidious and fatal
the misery of Charlotte and Fernaw, and of all such as
may resemble them, arises from their ignorance of the
glory of God, which leads them to seek a glory in men,
whereby they become unstable—contemptible—ignominious—they
have no God but the world, and when that
deceives them—when they find their prospects vanished
and their pleasures blasted, they remain a prey to despair,
or take refuge in suicide.—Ye lovers of Kotzebue, this
is truth—if you deny it, you are as ignorant of
God, and as corrupt in heart as he is.
or Memoirs of a German Princess, is an extremely
interesting work. Its incidents are few, but well conceived
gradual developement [sic] of the heroine’s love,
is managed with peculiar delicacy. It, however, greatly
partakes of that general fault of novels, an [lv/lvi]
idolizing and sentimental language, towards the female,
which so intoxicates and corrupts the minds of the sex.—The
heroine also sending her history, (which is a most important
secret to her,) by letters to her friend, renders
the story highly improbable:—with a thinking reader
it quite destroys the effect.
of Former Times, by A. St. John, are properly romantic,
and with scarcely one exception, are truly interesting.—In
a moral view we see nothing exceptionable in them, from
beginning to end.
Melville’s Benevolent Monk, is a novel of considerable
merit. It is very interesting, and the plot ingeniously
managed. Some of the incidents, however, are extremely
improbable and extravagant, nor does the author seem,
at all, to understand what dramatists call character,
as he makes the same person, at one time, speak in a low
and vulgar dialect, and, at another, with refinement and
eloquence. The language is in general smooth and easy,
but too redundant, and frequently ungramatical [sic]:
the author not seeming to understand the different tenses
of the verbs.
Sorrows of Gustavus is a work containing much beauty
of language and richness of thought, but very uninstructive
in its plan, and imperfect in its moral, if indeed, it
possess any. Its barrenness of incident, and sameness
of sentiment, also, render it very uninteresting; as far,
however, as language, and the generality of its
sentiment goes, this novel is superior to most of its
contemporaries. The character, however, of its hero, is
by no means entitled to that sympathy which the author
doubtless hopes to excite for him in the breast of the
reader. He falls in love with the wife of his guardian—a
man of a noble and generous nature—instead of taking the
most effective method of checking his criminal and ungrateful
passion, by flying from the presence of its object, he
still lives under the same roof with her, and nurses it
till, like a love-forsaken girl—he sickens from
its [lvi/lvii] influence—sickens—and dies!—His conduct
certainly must excite a far different sentiment in a generous
and manly breast, than that of pity.
Pilkington’s Ellen Heiress of the Castle is of
a cast with her other attempts at novel writing.—There
is much pleasing matter, blended with many improbable
situations and events drawn in without necessity or connexion.
A smooth and conversation-like language pervades
all Mrs. P’s works, but we cannot pass over without expressing
our strong disapprobation of it, a sort of semi-blasphemy,
or the introduction of profane oaths, as at p.
192, of volume I.
de Genlis’s indefatigable pen has produced another
historical romance, entitled The Duke of Lauzun.
It is a very ably-drawn picture of the profligacy of the
French court, and is superabundant in incidents of French
intrigue. The author has certainly mistaken the character
of a great man; for the Duke of Lauzun has nothing
great about him. As to the work, considered altogether,
we can scarcely persuade ourselves that it ever came from
the pen of so accomplished and moral an author
as Genlis. It is the most indecent mass of profligacy
and corruption which the year has given rise to, and although
there are a few good reflections interspersed amongst
the depravity, they are not worth the seeking for. The
translation of this wretched novel is, however, executed
in a very masterly manner.
Infidel Mother, Julian, or my Father’s House,
and The Fatal Revenge, by D. J. Murphy, all display
considerable talent. The one last mentioned, in particular,
is of all others which the year has furnished, most replete
with incidents of a horrific and mysterious
nature, introduced in a grand and poetical, though frequently
pompous mode of expression—the usual attempt of a vivid
fancy—and (as Mr. M. describes himself) a very young man.
From an article on ‘Mrs. Opie’, pp.
We do not remember that any of her productions were
published in the name of Alderson. In the year 1801, she
gave to the world The Father and Daughter, consisting
of a [11/12] single volume. This first production possesses
considerable interest, and is justly admired for the artless
simplicity of its language […]
by the reception of her former effusions, Mrs. Opie, in
the early part of the year 1805, produced a tale in three
volumes, entitled Adeline Mowbray; or the Mother
object of this work was to check the progress of the New
Philosophy which pervaded the world, and to shake
the virtue of many individuals. The heroine of the piece
is nurtured in the baneful system, and by reducing the
vain theories to practice, proves at once, their evil
and their fallacy. She falls a sacrifice to her delusive
principles, and expiates, by a repentant death, a life
admirable work, Mrs. Opie has evinced powers worthy of
the sentiments which excited and adorned her labour. It
is worthy the perusal of every class of a civilized nation,
and is an excellent present for a parent to his child.
The work was well receive, and soon passed through its
first [e]dition. […]
Flowers of Literature
for 1808 and 1809
From ‘Introduction: Novellists’, pp.
The catalogue of Novels
and Romances which has come under our inspection, is equally
as extensive as it has been at any former period of our
labours, and contains an equal variety of books of the
three denominations, good, bad, and indifferent.
In fact, the term “Novel” has of late years become so
prostituted to the uses of the Circulating Libraries,
that it is not easy to take up a series of volumes of
the kind in question, without a strong degree of prejudice.
Confining ourselves, however, chiefly to such as we may
denominate the good portion, we have much pleasure
in recommending to our readers Mr. Cumberland’s novel,
under the title of John De Lancaster. When such
a name as that of Cumberland is attached to a work, the
mind anticipates no common feast: we, therefore, prepared
for a banquet, and found, that the veteran had not forgotten
the skill to gratify the mental taste, and yet we did
not rise with that satisfaction which we expected. John
De Lancaster is a work that amply declares the touches
of a master, and will be found to afford interest and
gratification both to those who read for mere amusement,
and those who seek to exercise their judgment. We humbly
think, however, that the character of Robert De Lancaster
(evidently the favourite of the author), is not a consistent
one.—He is at one time represented as a man of deep erudition,
of a comprehensive mind and of clear intellectual faculties;
at another, as the mere creature of credulity, one who
implicitly believes in all the legends of the obscurest
history, and the most ex- [lxvi/lxvii] travagant and ridiculous
stories upon record; for instance, that of the Lady who
was punished by having three hundred and sixty-five children
at a birth; such extremes as these we apprehend cannot
meet in the same individual. The incidents are few, and
though not particularly striking, are managed with the
happiest skill; in short we presume, that no one will
judge the performance to be unworthy the pen of its author.
a Novellist, Miss Owenson holds the same rank as does
Miss Temple amongst the poets. We have done ample justice
to her romance of the Novice of St. Dominic; and certainly
none of the numerous readers of novels, of whatever age
or sex, will take up a work bearing the name of Owenson
with apathy or indifference; neither will they, if to
be amused be their sole object, be diappointed
[sic] in the present work; it will prove to them
a rich repast, but we fear, they will retire from it with
minds surcharged with food more palatable than nutritious;
such as will rather generate fevers then [sic]
promote health. Much beauty of expression and strength
of colouring is displayed in “Ida of Athens;” it may perhaps
refine the taste, but it will neither tend to render youth
amiable or age respectable. “Ida of Athens can never be
your wife! exclaims the heroine. Oh! from souls like her’s
[sic], for ever distant be that cold and languid
tie; that tie which nature never imposed; which cold erroneous
feeling invented, which interest or ambition may adopt
for narrow, selfish views, but to which the nature Ida
worships, the love she breathes, and feels, can never
submit.” We had hoped that such sentiments as the above
were buried in eternal night, and that they would no more
have been obtruded on revolting sense; but Miss Owenson
awakens them from their dark abodes, and again ushers
them into the presence of day—Are they her own
sentiments? If so, alas! she had better read than
write; she will nevertheless, find many partizans,
many admirers; the votaries of morbid sentiment,
will [lxvii/lxviii] revive at her voice, and hail her
as their tutelary saint. After such sentiments as the
above, every lesser defect is forgotten; we shall, therefore,
pass over Miss Owenson’s improvement of the English
language, and her extension of its vocabulary;
for we would rather have our youth speak incorrectly and
affectedly, than think erroneously and act viciously.
Novel called Ned Bentley, from the pen of Mr. Amphlet,
is exceeded in interest by none of a similar nature, and
in its general merit, in our opinion, ranks among the
first of modern novels. It lays an irresistible hold of
the affections, nor does the mind revolt at their captivity;
many of the incidents are wrought with the greatest ingenuity
and dramatic skill, while the sentiments and reflections
with which it abounds, do equal credit to the head and
to the heart. It indeed proclaims throughout, the touches
of a master of no common skill, and evinces a mind fraught
with matured thinking: it has, however, its faults; at
times we trace a pedantic vein which we could wish corrected,
and an insignificancy of quotation unworthy of genius.—There
is too a great improbability in the naval adventure of
the hero; the crew of a man of war would never have made
a passenger their commanding officer, while the
boatswain, gunner, or carpenter were living—The absence
of the father too, who left his dead wife and two infant
children for three days, is not properly accounted for;
we were also disappointed in the author’s falling into
that common plot, namely, of making his hero, who is introduced
as a beggar boy, the son of a gentleman;
as if virtue were limited to birth.
historical novel entitled “The Husband and the Lover,”
is altogether an interesting production. The author appears
to be one of the sentimentalists, abounding with
sighs and notes of admiration, where, when the heroine
weeps, we are poetically told, that “the tear of pity
crystallizes her soft eye!” and “the [lxviii/lxix]
dew drops of sensibility gems her glowing
cheek;” with many other “soul subduing strains.” There
is, however, evinced a considerable portion of taste,
accompanied by no mean talent of description, but these
merits are eclipsed by too elaborate a colouring. The
account of the tournament, &c. at the court of Louis
XIV. is ingeniously managed, but it is calculated to infuse
into the mind of the youthful reader a love of pleasure,
to which the author’s morality, we fear, will prove
but a powerless antidote.
novel entitled “Corinna of England,” by a Lady,
is a most ingenious and successful satire against the
votaries of what is erroneously called sentiment,
and of the new school of philosophy. Corinna is
a strong caricature, but is sketched with a masterly hand,
and her eccentricities will excite alternate laughter
and surprise. The visit to the horse barracks, the equivoque
between the heroine and Walwyn, and the embarrassing scene
before the Montgomery family are excellently managed;
and while the author so strikingly evinces her power of
ridicule, she no less proves her skill in striking the
chord of sympathy; the characters of Mary Cuthbert and
of Montgomery, being delineated with the greatest delicacy,
Good sense and ability pervade throughout.
of the Manor,” is a novel which contains many beauties,
and not a few errors of judgment.—To those who
do not regard what is probable, but who will suffer
any tale of woe, however extravagant, to captivate their
feelings, this work will doubtless afford amusement. The
characters are extremely distorted and unnatural, particularly
those of the mule driver, Eloisa Penruddock, and Miss
Fortescue; neither do we consider many of the incidents
to be within the limits of probability. Moreover, the
sentiments of the author are, in our opinion, very offensive
and injurious: of this, the reader shall judge from the
following samples. “His mind’s (lxix/lxx) eye saw not
in perspective, the rapacious tradesman and the
low born mechanic, who bestow credit and civility
for a time only to transfix the dart of insolence
and mistrust the deeper.” This is spoken of persons
held up as examples of liberality, and of whom
it is afterwards said, “it really had not struck the thoughts
of either, that accumulated debts far beyond their power
to pay, had caused the tongues of the tradesmen to speak
in plain terms.” Again of the same amiable
persons it is, in another place said, “they laughed at
Eloisa’s sallies; but they regarded her with partiality,
and often owned against their better judgment,
that she was in the right.” The author is not aware,
perhaps, that while she thus speaks, she exhibits to the
reader a volume more than she intended, namely, her own
heart, which we recommend to a sound revisal.
Private History of the Court of England, is an ingenious
satire, which, while it professes to give the private
history of the court of Edward IV. in reality presents
us with that of the present. It may be called a mathematical
book; for it treats wholly of parallels. There
is considerable ingenuity displayed, but unless the reader
is intimately acquainted with the memoirs of the great
world, he will frequently stumble in his judgment and
err in his applications; the real events of both ages
being so mingled. We confess, that our ignorance of many
events of several preceding years, disqualifies us from
forming a competent opinion of the work, as its merit
must rest chiefly upon the truth of the various
incidents and comparisons.
“Adventures of Ralph Reybridge,” we find is the
first literary effort of Mr. Linley, a specimen which
fully justifies our expectations of his future performances.
In the plan he seems to have had Fielding and Smollet
continually in his mind, and his imitations of those celebrated
authors are far from mean. He well knows how to interest
the feel- [lxx/lxxi] ings and to excite the risible powers,
many of his incidents being well conceived and ably managed,
and there is also running through the piece a vein of
genuine humour, the effects of which are irresistible.
There is, however, a great want of care manifested, many
of the observations being trite and tedious, and the language
in several places, incorrect and slovenly. The speech
of Baron Leybrook is an instance of the former, of the
latter are the following: “Sifting to the bottom
of her heart” “Halting” of a stage coach; “brushing
by” of an East Indiaman; “Comrades” of joe,
who were sailors. The author also frequently forgets himself,
as an instance of which he calls Joe Grapling “old joe,”
whereas he cannot be supposed to exceed the age of forty,
he having saved the life of Ralph when he was an infant,
when he (Grapling) was quite a youth, running from his
parents to go to sea, and Ralph being but eighteen years
old when Grapling is introduced as quite an old
sailor. Mr. Reybridge’s concealment of the secret respecting
Ralph is highly improbable, because, unnecessary, and
the development of the villainy of Valpine becomes exceedingly
tedious: in short the work would have been considerably
improved by the contentment of one volume.
Governor of Belleville, a tale by Jane Harvey, merits
some consideration. To begin with this work, we must say
that there are two volumes too much of it; for all the
incidents might very well have been related in half the
number of pages. There is some ingenuity in the design,
but it is sadly wrought up, the author being lamentably
deficient in the knowledge of character. The Count St.
Afrique, for instance, who is announced as a very accomplished
Nobleman, in his manners, more resembles a French cook
than a French Count; those, however, of the two sisters
are prettily conceived, very well contrasted, [lxxi/lxxii]
and, particularly through the first volume, well supported.
The author has a strange method of using the preposition
to. Thus she says, “if fate permit me to again,
&c.—he promised to afterwards intercede, &c.—would
not prevent him to openly solicit, &c.” She
also uses the word abstracted so frequently, that
it seems as if she had just learned the word, which thus
dwells upon her mind like a new tune. We shall conclude
with the following sample of the sublime and beautiful,
humbly advising the author, however, before she again
ventures to soar, to get a lesson on geography.
“The high arched concave of the horizon,
clear, refined, and exalted, disclosed the broad
disk of the full-orbed moon, which shed a boundless
immensity of radiance over the now still objects of
Edgworth’s [sic] Tales of Fashionable Life
is a work of uncommon merit. To those who can be pleased
with sterling sense, unaided by the glare of romantic
bombast, the productions of this lady will never cease
to charm. Excellent woman! in whom is united the accomplishment
of an instructress with the tenderness of a matron! whose
greatest object seems to be the improvment [sic]
of her readers, and the happiness of society.
present work is worthy of her name, and we express ourselves
particularly gratified by her delightful little tale of
Madame de Fleury, every sentence of which evinces a mind
enlightened by wisdom, and a heart in love with goodness.
Her little school is a little heaven, whose deity is Innocence.
All its parts are within the limits of probability; and
while they are irresistibly in eresting [sic],
they branch from each other in an order the most natural.
We could wish it were read by every parent, and by every
one who has the superintendence of children: they would
find it a beautiful system of practical education, and
be led to consider the importance of early impressions.
George Brewer, author of a highly interesting volume,
called Hours of Leisure, to which we have some
time since paid a just tribute of applause, has published
a novel called The Hag! It is peculiarly adapted
for the amusement of those readers who are fond of extravagancies;
and though it is beneath the talents of such a writer
as Mr. Brewer, yet it will hold a respectable rank amongst
works of fancy.
Dallas’s Knights, or Tales illustrative of the Marvellous,
seems to have been written at a time when the author was
inclined to shew the eccentricity of his mind, and the
versatility of his talents. Spectres, ghosts, goblins,
witches, devils and dragons, are here brought forward
in regular masquerade, to confound the judgment and bewilder
the senses. Nevertheless, individual scenes are often
well managed; but the succession of wild objects is so
rapid, that the imagination becomes bewildered. There
is much talent displayed in the connection of the incidents
contained in these tales.
M. G. Lewis, of Monk celebrity, has published four
volumes of Romantic Tales, which, while they contain
a variety of scenes worked up with striking effect, are
free from that licentiousness which characterized the
more recent works of this eccentric author.
are the principal works of the romantic kind which
we have to enumerate. To specify the almost innumerable
catalogue which the last eighteen months have given birth
to, would be an endless task; we shall therefore conclude
our present long-protracted labours by noticing two or
three of the most prominent publications which come under
the head of
Index of Novels Discussed
in ‘Flowers of Literature’, 1801–09
For full bibliographic details for the
novels, see The English Novel, vol. 2. Each novel
listed below is given with its corresponding entry number
in The English Novel.
- Adelaide; or, the Chateau de St. Pierre. A Tale
of the Sixteenth Century. 1806:28
- Adeline Mowbray; or the Mother and Daughter.
- Adolphe and Blanche; or, Travellers in Switzerland.
- The Adventures of Ralph Reybridge. 1809:
- The Adventures of Victor Allan. 1805:30
- Algerine Captive. 1802:59
- Alphonisine; or, Maternal Affection. 1806:31
- Amelia Mansfield. 1803:23
- The Anglo-Saxons; or, the Court of Elthelwulph.
- Astonishment!!! 1802:36
- Aubrey: a Novel. 1804:16
- Augustus and Mary; or, the Maid of Buttermere.
- The Author and the Two Comedians; or, the Adopted
- Baron De Falkenheim. 1807: 25
- Belinda. 1801:24
- The Benevolent Monk; or, the Castle of Olalla.
- The Bravo of Bohemia; or, the Black Forest.
- The Bravo of Venice. A Romance. 1805:75
- Can We Doubt it? or, the Genuine History of Two
Families of Norwich. 1804:44
- Castle Nuovier; or, Henrii and Adelina. 1806:
- The Castle of Berry Pomeroy. 1806: 48
- Castle of the Tuileries. 1803:62
- The Castle of Tynemouth. 1806: 35 [as ‘Tynemouth
- Charles Ellis; or, the Friends. 1806:60
- The Children of Error. 1806: 2
- Christina; or, Memoirs of a German Princess.
- Constantia De Courcy. 1806: 3
- Constantia Neville; or, the West Indian.
1800: 77 [Given in Flowers as ‘the West
- The Convict; or, Navy Lieutenant. 1807: 50
- The Corinna of England. 1809: 4
- Corinna, or Italy. 1807: 63
- The Cottager’s Daughter, A Tale of the Nineteenth
- Crimes and Characters; or, the New Foundling.
- Dellingborough Castle; or, the Mysterious Recluse.
- Delphine. 1803:67
- The Depraved Husband. 1803:31
- Donald. A Novel. 1806: 6
- Drelincourt and Rodalvi; or, Memoirs of Two Noble
Families. 1807: 12
- Duchess of La Valliere. A Historical Romance.
- The Duellists; or, Men of Honour. 1805:51
- The Duke of Lauzun; an Historical Romance.
- Edward and Anna; or, a Picture of Human Life.
- Ellen; Heiress of the Castle. 1807: 51
- Elnathan; or the Ages of Man. 1811:17
- The Eve of San Piedro. 1804:53
- The Eventful Marriage. 1806:59
- Eversfield Abbey. 1806: 7
- Fatal Revenge; or, the Family of Montorio.
- The Fatal Vow; or, St. Michael’s Monastery.
- The Father and Daughter. 1801: 54
- Ferdinand and Amelia. 1806:8
- Ferdinand Fitzormond; or, the Fool of Nature.
- Feudal Tyrants; or, the Counts of Carlsheim and
Sargans. 1806: 50 [given in one instance as ‘
Feudal Tenants; or, the Counts of Carslshiem [sic]
- Film-Flams! Or, the Life and Errors of my Uncle
and his Friends, with Illustrations and Obscurities.
- Fireside Stories; or, the Plain Tales of Aunt
Deborah and her Friends. 1806: 44
- The First Night of My Wedding. 1804:61
- Fleetwood; or, the New Man of Feeling. 1805:33
- The Forest of St. Bernardo. 1806:34
- Frederick Montravers; or, the Adopted Son.
- Gondez, the Monk. A Romance of the Thirteenth
- The Governor of Belleville. 1808: 53
- Heliodora; or, the Grecian Minstrel. [This
title is not listed in the English Novel. For
further bibliographical details, see ‘ “The English
Novel, 1800–1829: Update 1’ [CEIR Project Report 6
- Henrietta Bellmann: or, the New Family Picture.
- The History of a Dog. Written by Himself, and
Published by a Gentleman of his Acquaintance.
- The History of the Grubthorpe Family; or, the
Old Bachelor and his Sister Penelope. 1802:32
- Home, a Novel. 1802:21
- Human Beings. A Novel. 1807:36
- The Husband and the Lover. 1809: 56
- The Infidel Father. 1802:60
- The Infidel Mother: Or, Three Winters in London.
- The Invisible Enemy; or, the Mines of Wielitska.
- Isabel; or the Orphan of Valdarno. 1802:37
- John De Lancaster. 1809: 20
- Julien; Or, my Father’s House. 1807: 22
- Julietta, or the Triumph of Mental Acquirements
over Personal Defects. 1802:52
- The Knights: Tales Illustrative of the Marvellous.
- Le Forester. 1802:16
- Leonora. 1806: 29
- Letters of a Solitary Wanderer. 1800:69
- Lobenstein Village. 1804: 34
- Love and Gratitude; or, Traits of the Human Heart.
- The Maid, Wife and Widow. A Tale. 1806:62
- Man of Fortitude. 1801:28
- The Mask of Fashion. 1807:59
- Memoirs of Bryan Perdue. 1805: 37
- Memoirs of Modern Philosophers. 1800: 39
- Modern Literature. 1804:13
- Monckton; or, the Fate of Eleanor. 1802:56
- The Monk of Dissentis. 1807: 34
- The Monk of Udolpho. 1807:16
- The Morlands; or Tales, Illustrative of the Simple
and Surprising. 1805:25
- Murray House. A Plain Unvarnished Tale. 1804:54
- The Mysterious Sisters. A Spanish Romance.
- The Mysterious Visit! 1802:53
- My Uncle Thomas. 1801:56
- Ned Bentley. 1808: 21
- The Novice of Saint Dominick. 1806:53
- Old Nick, a Satyrical Story. 1801:22
- Olivia and Marcella; or, the Strangers. 1806:51
- The Pastor’s Daughter, with Other Romances.
- Percival, or Nature Vindicated, a Novel.
- Popular Tales. 1804:17
- Pride of Ancestry; or, Who Is She? 1804:67
- The Private History of the Court of England.
- Reprobate; a Novel. 1802:35
- Romantic Tales. 1808: 72
- Russian Tales. 1803:38
- Santo Sebastiano: Or, the Young Protector.
- Scenes of Life. A Novel. 1805:34
- School for Fashion. 1800:74
- Second Love; or, the Way to Be Happy. 1805:56
- Secrets of the Castle; or, the Adventures of
Charles D. Almaine. 1806:2
- Simple Tales. 1806: 52
- The Soldier’s Family; or, Guardian Genii.
- Sophia St. Clare. A Novel. 1806:27
- The Sorrows of Gustavus, or the History of a
Young Swede. 1808: 66
- The Spaniard; or, the Pride of Birth. 1806:
- St. Botolph’s Priory; or the Sable Mask, an Historic
- St. Clair; or, the Heiress of Desmond. 1803:55
- St. Julian. In a Series of Letters. 1805:64
- The Stranger; or, the New Man of Feeling.
- Strolling Player; or, Life and Adventures of
William Templeton. 1802:13
- The Swiss Emigrants: A Tale. 1804: 52
- Tales of Fashionable Life. 1809: 22
- Tales of Former Times. 1808: 94
- Tales of the Manor. 1809: 28
- Thaddeus of Warsaw. 1803:59
- The Three Monks. 1803:32
- Unexpected Legacy; a Novel. 1804:26
- Vensenshon; or Lover’s Mazes. 1806:20
- Very Strange, but Very True! or, the History
of an Old Man’s Young Wife. 1803:43
- Village Anecdotes; or, the Journal of a Year,
from Sophia to Edward. 1804:40
- The Village of Fridewalde; or, the Enthusiast.
- Virtuous Poverty; a Novel. 1804:64
- The War-Office. 1803:33
- The Wild Irish Girl. A National Tale. 1806:54
- A Winter in Bath. 1807: 7
- A Winter at Bath; or, Love as It May Be, and
Friendship as It Ought to Be. 1807: 9
- A Winter in London; or, Sketches of Fashion.
- The Witch of Ravensworth. 1808: 29 [title
given as ‘The Hag!’]
- The Wolf; or, the Tribunal of Blood. 1806:67
- Woman: Or, Ida of Athens. 1809: 55 [as ‘Ida
- Zofloya; or, the Moor. 1806: 25