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Comic Dramas, in Three Acts. By paid. Miss Edgeworth seems to have
MARIA EDGEWORTH. 8vo. Lon- felt a secret conviction that such was don, 1817.
not her vocation; but, being thus sore
beset, she was at length, against her There is no department in which better judgment, prevailed upon to prophecy can be less safely hazarded, make the trial. The result has been than in regard to the productions of the three, --not comedies, but comic the human intellect. It is natural to dramas, which compose the little voimagine, when we discover a writer lume before us. She publishes them signally excelling in any one branch “ to feel her way,” justly conscious of literature, that a moderate effort " that failure in such a humble atwill raise him to like eminence in ano- tempt cannot be attended with much ther closely allied, and affording scope disgrace.” In this stage of the atfor similar talents. Yetthere are power- tempt, candour seems indispensabıle ; ful, though almost invisible, barriers, and we have, therefore, no hesitation separating those provinces of mind in saying that the failure is total. It which seem to lie almost in immediate is not very easy to develope the causes. contact. The most vigorous energies, Though dialogue be the life of Miss also, are those which most require to Edgeworth's tales, it is a different sort follow their own train, and can least of dialogue from that which can figure be bent and modified at the will even in comedy. It has usually something of their possessor. We believe it is sedate and deliberate, not those quick more common for genius to extend and rapid turns, which alone are draher conquests over intellectual regions matic. The writer had also a great widely remote, than over provinces of advantage, when she could make her the same region which are separated choice of the time and occasion for inby any marked natural boundary. troducing the dialogue, and when nar
These remarks seem strikingly ex- rative was always at hand to illustrate, emplified by the publication now un- connect, and carry it from one advander review. Could we have ventured tageous point to another. In fact, to indulge a prediction, it certainly there is nothing pointed or piquant would have been, that Miss Edge- in these dramas; no lively interest worth, in the Comic Drama, would either in the incidents or situations; display to advantage all those qualities no force of comic effect. The plot with which, in her Tales, we have been moves on in a slow unvarying tenor ; so often and so highly delighted. and the catastrophe, never longed for, Not only are humour, and the just is brought about at last by very clumobservation of human manners her sy and improbable instruments. The leading exeellencies; but the dialogues, only merit is, that the language is alin their frequent occurrence, are so ways natural. This makes then readmarked by truth and spirit, and, in- able, and would even gain reputation deed, so much the most brilliant part to another writèr than Miss Edgeof the composition, as to make it seem worth; but it is altogether insufficient scarcely possible that her works should
to support a name that stands othernot gain by becoming entirely dia- wise so high. logue. We cannot wonder, then, if Viewing the subject in the light persons of the best taste should have now stated, we do not conceive that solicited Miss Edgeworth to attempt either analysis or extracts of these filling up this blank in the literature dramas could be made with any edifiof the present day. Among the num- cation to the reader. Two of them ber of these advisers, we find, by the are entirely Irish, and exhibit, we are preface, was a gentleman whose name convinced, a very faithful picture of bears the very highest authority,— national manners. We doubt if even Mr Sheridan, the first wit and first this be dramatic. One or two Irish comic writer of the age, who not only characters may be introduced into courged Miss Edgeworth to write co- medy with the best effect; but there medy, but even suggested subjects on ought to be an English ground, to set which her vein might be exercised. off and give them effect. Besides, we To this influence was added that of believe a national character is best reher father, a much more slender suf- presented with only the national pefrage indeed, but one to which it was culiarities; it is always so viewed by Trost natural that deference should be a foreigner; and the mixing with it a number of individual features has ra- with apologizing for the imperfections ther a confused and perplexing effect. which he is sensible must adhere to The third drama (the second in order) it, in consequence of his own total is drawn from fashionable life. Here, inexperience in literary composition. too, the dialogue is natural, though The work certainly stands much in not quite so natural. The play has no need of applogy.
The author possesother merit.
ses not a single requisite for narrating At the close of these observations, the voyage, except that of having acwe are apprehensive that some goods tually performed it. He seems, innatured reader may demand why our deed, a plain well-meaning man; but observations should be thus invidi- he has neither the faculty of observously confined to the dramas, when ing whșt he sets, nor of describing the new volumes of Tales might have what he observes, nor of clothing the afforded subject of much more grate- description in tolerable English. We ful observation. Be it known, then, are no friends to the mysteries of that the said Tales had actually been book-making ; but really, in the prelaid upon our table, in order that our sent instance, the employment of a critical powers might be employed duly qualified person to put the narthereon : nay, that ideas and remarks rative into a decent shape, and even, were forming in the recesses of our by proper queries, to extract informabrain, which we fondly hoped might tion, which the original narrator must have obtained some favour in the
have possessed, without knowing its of our readers. Just, however, as we value, would have been not only vehad taken up the pen, to embody them nial, but laudable. Although, too, in permanent characters, the door we are no friends to the lavish use of opened, and the Edinburgh Review ornamental appendages, yet it seems was placed before us. This is an event going much into the other extreme, which invariably causes a temporary to present us with a sailor's rude suspension of all other operations ; scratches, “ the first productions of the pen was therefore laid down, and his attempts at graphic delineation,' the book opened,—when we descried, -etched by himself; and which, acwith no small consternation, in the cordingly, can scarcely vie with those table of contents, the very work on specimens of art, which adorn the titlewhich we were about to exercise our pages of penny ballads. Had the intelown critical vein. This alarm was not ligence of the author at all corresponddiminished, when, on perusing the ar- ed with his opportunities, this would ticle, we found a coincidence with our have been a most interesting work. own ideas so close, that almost no- Even with all its imperfections, it conthing seemed left but to say the very tains a small portion of very curious same things—wor Considering, information, of which some notices therefore, that we could scarcely ex- may be acceptable to our readers. pect to find a reader to whom this The Briton touched first at San Seprovoking anticipation would not be bastian, now capital of the Portuguese already familiar, we finally determine dominions in South America, and reed to shun such formidable rivalship, sidence of the Prince Regent. Our and to refer our readers to this source author, however, does not give any of information, where they will really idea of the manner in which the gofind every thing that can best be said vernment is administered by that soupon the subject of “ Harrington and vereign, nor of the degree of affection Ormond.”
with which he is viewed by his transatlantic subjects. The following is
almost all the information here conA Narrative of the Briton's Voyage to veyed :-The chief trade is in gold
Pitcairn's Island; including an in- and diamonds; but, besides that the teresting Sketch of the Brazils, and Portuguese are adepts in knaery, of the present State of Spanish South the residence of the Court has attractAmerica. By Lieut. J. SHILLIBER, ed such a number of English, Scotch, R. M.
Illustrated with sixteen and Irish adventurers, that any one etchings by the Author, from draw- who is not profoundly skilled in the ings on the spot. Second edit. 8vo. articles, is almost infallibly cheated. London, 1817.
There is a Chinese warehouse at San The writer of this narrative begins Sebastian, and the tea plant has been
introduced and cultivated with such till one of the natives said, “ Do you success, as will soon, it is said, enable know William Bligh, in England ?” Brazil to supplant China in this very This question instantly caused the extensive branch of commerce. Mr minds of the crew to revert to cerShilliber gives a very gloomy contra- tain events, which cannot have esdiction to the impressions which we caped the recollection of most of had received respecting the compara- our readers. It is well known, that tively humane treatment of slaves in Captain Bligh having in 1788 sailed the Portuguese settlements. On the with the Bounty to the South Seas, contrary, avarice seems here to have a violent mutiny arose against him; dictate more atrocious inhumanity and the mutineers, headed by Christhan even in the West India colonies. tian, the first lieutenant, seized the A trade is carried on by a number of vessel, and put Captain Bligh, with a persons, who, having purchased a few of his adherents, on board an open number of slaves, teach them trades, boat ; in which they miraculously and send them out to earn their own crossed the Pacific, and arrived at subsistence, with the condition of Timor. Meantime, Christian, with bringing in to their master a certain the rest of the mutineers, endeavoured, daily sum. All above, indeed, is in 1789, to forin an establishment at their own; but the rate is usually fix- the island in question, commonly caled so high, that not one in ten is able led Pitcairn's Island. Being involved, to reach it ; and, in case of failure, however, in a quarrel with the natives, the lash is applied without mercy. they set sail for Otaheite ; but after Many slaves are said to be found lý- part of the crew had landed, Christian, ing dead in the streets, being, when with some of his companions, cut their thought past recovery, thrown out and cables in the night, and sailed, no one disowned by their masters, in order knew whither; and it remained unto evade the expences of a funeral. known till the discovery now made by
The vessel having left San Sebas- the Briton. The man being then asktian, nothing occurs in passing Cape ed about Christian, said he had been Horn, nor till it reaches the groupe of killed by a black; but that his son was the Gallapagos. These islands are en- just coming up, being called, by a tirely covered with black lava, vomit- fantastic multiplicity of names, Fried by a number of volcanic craters, se- day Fletcher October Christian. He veral of which are still burning. The was the first born on the island. The rocks appear, even from the imper. only mutineer now alive was Adams, fect sketch of the author, to be who ruled over the whole with a sort thrown often into the most picturesque of paternal authority. The colony at forms. One of them is covered with present consisted offorty-eight persons. beautiful plants and shrubs, growing The women were Otaheiteans, each immediately out of the masses of rock. man having only one wife; and the The islands are uninhabited.
children were well instructed. They Mr Shilliber sailed next to the repeated with fluency the creed, and Marquesas, but adds nothing material pronounced a solemn prayer at the to the information communicated by commencement of every meal; they Krusenstern. On his return, how- had also some books still preserved. ever, to the American coast, a truly Their deportment appeared in general interesting occurrence took place. The very correct and amiable; their quarcrew being, it appears, a little out of rels few, anıl easily appeased by the patheir reckoning, came unexpectedly ternal superintendenceof Adams. The in the night within view of an island. females were generally beautiful, and Day-break soon after enabled them to displayed nothing of that loose and fordiscover huts, cultivation, and people; ward deportment, which is alınost chawhile some of the latter were launch- racteristic of the ladies of the South Sea. ing canoes and pulling towards them. The village is built in a picturesque But when one of the boats came up, situation, of an oblong form, with trees no words can paint the astonishment interspersed; the houses small, but of the crew when they were hailed in regular, convenient, and excessively English ; and when the other natives, clean. Each family has a little spot on arriving, were found all to speak of ground assigned to it, which is this as their native language. The very carefully cultivated. amazement suffered no dipinution, is said hy our author to be brought
to a degree of perfection which henever overthrow, a gentleman of Lima obsaw it possess elsewhere. Adams was tained possession of a series of inquia fine looking man about sixty. He sitorial trials, which he afterwards denied having been at all privy to put into the hands of our author, who the conspiracy, though, when the proposes to publish them, with an crisis came, viewing with horror the English translation. We have no severity of Captain Bligh, he had at- doubt they will possess considerable tached himself to the fortunes of interest, provided the selection be Christian. Though sensible that he good, and the translation be made or had thus forfeited all claim to his na- revised by some one who can write tive country, and was even become English grammatically. liable, by its laws, to the punishment The Briton touched also at Juan of death, he was yet possessed with the Fernandez, famed for being the solimost ardent longing to revisit its shores. tary refuge of Selkirk, and for the He had even made arrangements for glowing description given of it by Lord returning in the Briton ; but the mo- Anson. Mr Shilliber confirms every ment this intelligence spread through thing which the latter reports conthe colony, it excited such a tempest cerning the fertility of the soil, and of tears and lamentations, that he the picturesque beauty of the scenery. found it necessary to relinquish his It was employed, however, for a disintention. We agree with Mr Shilli- mal purpose, -as a prison for the exber in thinking, that his very meri- iled patriots of Chili. Here they found torious conduct in the management of about sixty venerable old men, whom, this colony might well atone for guilt a few months before, they had seen so long past, and in which he appears at Santiago, living in splendour, now to have so slightly participated. reduced to the most abject misery.
It is to be regretted that scarcity of During the interval, the old governprovisions did not permit the Briton ment had regained the ascendancy, to stop at the island. She proceeded which, however, we believe, they have thence to the American coast, and since lost. touched at Valparaiso, Santiago, and The return voyage did not present Callao, at which last place she remain- any incident deserving of record, and ed for some time. Here, with due the Briton arrived at Plymouth on inquiry, most important information the 7th of July 1816. might have been collected. The author, however, saw little, and instead of communicating that little, Historical Account of Discoveries and he fills his pages chiefly with extracts Travels in Africa, by the late John from Robertson and other writers, Leyden, M. D.; enlarged and comwhose works are in every body's pleted to the present time, with Ilhands. Some particulars are given, lustrations of its Geography and Nahowever, of the abolition of the in- tural History, as well as of the Moquisition at Lima. The Marquis of ral and Social Condition of its InConcordia, on receiving orders to this habitants. By Hugh MURRAY, Esq. effect from the Cortes, kept them F. R. S. E. 8vo, pp. 512, 516. Eback for nearly six months, till, the dinburgh. Constable and Co. 1817. fact transpiring, the populace rose,
(Concluded from p. 55.) burst open the gates, set the prisoners at liberty, and destroyed all the en- In his first introductory chapter, signs of inquisitorial power. The Mr Murray traces the steps of that author saw the remains of the coun- curious process by which the old cil chamber, and the offices of the in- world was divided into continents. quisitors, which displayed the utmost His observations on this subject, in splendour. The cells in which the regard to Europe and Asia, are borprisoners had been immured, present- rowed from Eratosthenes; but, of ed a dismal contrast. They were the principle adopted by that celeabout eight or ten feet square, and brated geographer, our author very twenty feet high, having a small successfully extends the application to opening at top for the admission of Africa. He then describes, with conlight and air. We are sorry to say that siderable ingenuity and animation, this detestable tribunal has since been the influence of poetical ideas on the reestablished. At the period of its geography of the ancients, particularly in regard to this mysterious conti- the form of Africa, accounts have been nent. Adverting to the brilliant pic- preserved of several attempts to extures which the ancient poets have plore the length of its coasts, or to pedrawn of the Ilesperian Gardens, the netrate into the depth of the interior. Fortunate Islands, the Islands of the One celebrated expedition, undertaken, Blest,-abodes of felicity which geo- at the command of Necho, King of graphy has never been able to refer to Egypt, by some Pliænician mariners, any definite position,-he thus natu- who are said to have sailed from the rally accounts for that fugitive coy- Red Sea, and to have returned by the ness with which they retired from the Pillars of Hercules, (the Straits of Gibeager gaze of discovery :
raltar,) has given rise to much dis“ There arises involuntarily in the heart cussion among the learned, both of of man a longing after forms of being, ancient and modern times. We are ina fairer and happier than any presented by clined, with Mr Murray, to yield to the the world before him—bright scenes, which able arguments by which Viajor Renhe seeks, and never finds, in the circuit of nell has supported the probability of real existence. But imagination easily this circumnavigation, while we adcreates them in that diin boundary which mit the force of the reasoning emseparates the known from the unknown ployed by M. Gosselin and Dr Vinworld. In the first discoverers of any such cent, to prove the total inadequacy of region, novelty usually produces an exalt- the means which navigation could ed state of the imagination and passions ; furnish, in that period of its infancy, under the influence of winich, every object for so important a voyage. Of the is painted in higher colours than those of nature. Nor does the illusion cease, when attempts to circumnavigate Africa, a fuller examination proves, that, in the made by Sataspes, a Persian nobleman, place thus assigned, no such beings or ob
at the command of Xerxes, and by jects exist. The human heart still clings, Eudoxus, an enterprising adventurer while it remains possible, to its fond chi- of Cyzicus, Mr Murray has given an meras. It quickly transfers them to the account as detailed, and interesting as yet unknown regions beyond ; and, when the scanty notices to be found in the driven from thence, discovers still another ancient historians and geographers enmore remote, in which they can take re
abled him to furnish. It is sufficient fuge. The first position of the Hesperian here barely to advert to these voyages, Gardens appears to have been at the western extremity of Libya, then the farthest which seem to have been followed by boundary, upon that side, of ancient know
no important results, No other inledge. The spectacle which it often pre
stances are recorded of any attempts sented, a circuit of blooming verdure amid made in those early ages to sail round the desert, was calculated to make a power. Africa ; but several voyages were unful impression on Grecian fancy, and to dertaken for the purpose of exploring, suggest the idea of a terrestrial paradise. to a certain extent, its unknown shores. It excited also the image of islands, which Of these the most ancient, as well as ever after adhered to those visionary crea- the most memorable, was that of Hantions. As the first spot became frequented, it was soon stripped of its fabled beau- ed with an armament of sixty large
no the Carthaginian, who was entrusta ty. So pleasing an idea, however, was not to be easily relinquished. Another place vessels, equipped by the authority • was quickly found for it; and every tra
the senate, and at the public expence, veller, as he discovered a new portion of and was directed to proceed souththat fertile and beautiful coast, fondly ima.
wards from the Pillars of Hercules 2gined that he had at length arrived at the long the western coast. Through the long-sought-for Islands of the Blest. At fabulous colouring thrown over this length, when the Continent had been sought voyage, it is not difficult to recogin vain, they were transferred to the ocean nize a resemblance to many circumbeyond, which the original idea of islands stances which more recent observarendered an easy step. Those of the Cana
tions have ascertained. It is less easy ries having never been passed, nor even ful
to deterinine between the different ly explored, continued always to be the Fortunate Islands, not from any peculiar opinions which have been entertainfelicity of soil and climate, but merely be ed in regard to the extent of coast cause distance, and imperfect knowledge, which Hanno traversed, and the valeft full scope to poetical fancy."
rious objects to which his description
applies. For the different opinions Though ancient geographers were upon this subject, and the grounds alike ignorant of the extent and of upon which they are supported, our