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cellence of the article ; and with that view we shall insert two specimens from the mint of Cambridge. The first is a sonnet:
• Lady, it was the wont in earlier time,
Be yours, and peace of heart grow with your growing fame.' Another of these versifiers proceeds thus, after a well-known model:
• Three women, in three different ages born,
Instructs the world, yet dubbed by none a Blue.' We are not going to draw our critical knife upon these nuga academice; but we may observe, that we believe our own countrywoman does not claim to have been born in a different century from Madame Agnesi ; and that, though Hypatia talked Greek, as Mrs. Somerville does English, the former was an Egyptian, and the latter, we are obliged to confess, is Scotch by her birth, though we are very happy to claim her as one of the brightest ornaments of England.
ART. IV.--The Doctor, fc. 2 vols. 12mo. London. 1834. THIS work has excited more attention than any one belonging,
or approaching, to the class of novels, which has appeared in England for a considerable number of years; and we are not at all disposed to wonder that such should have been the case. It is
broadly distinguished from the mass of books recently published in the same shape and form, both by excellencies of a very high order, and by defects, indicating such occasional contempt of sound judgment, and sense, and taste, as we can hardly suppose in a strong and richly cultivated mind, unless that mind should be in a certain measure under the influence of disease. The author says of one of his characters :
-He was born with one of those heads in which the thin partition that divides great wit from folly is wanting. The partition in his own head would seem to be a moveable one. A clearer or a more vigorous understanding than he in his better parts exhibits, we have seldom encountered ; but two-thirds of his performance look as if they might have been penned in the vestibule of Bedlam. The language, however, even where the matter is most absurd, retains the ease, the strength, and the purity of a true master of English ; and there occur, ever and anon, in chapters over which no human being but a reviewer will ever travel for the second time, turns of expression which would of themselves justify us in pronouncing the author of this • apish and fantastic ' nondescript to be a man of genius.
The writer is often a wise one-but his attempts at what is now called wit are, in general, unsuccessful: nor can we speak much better of his humour, though he has undoubtedly a few passages which might make Heraclitus chuckle. With these rare exceptions, his jocularity is pedantic and chilling—his drollery wiredrawn, super-quaint, Whistlecraftish. The red letters and mysterious monogram of his title-page—the purple German-text of his dedication to the Bhow Begum Redora Niabarma-his division of chapters into ante-initial, initial, and post-initial—his interchapters—his post-fixed preface, &c. &c.—what are all these things but paltry imitations of the poorest sort of fun in Tristram Shandy? All his jesting about bells, and the manly and English art of bell-ringing, (excepting one Dutch quotation,) appears to us equally dolorous. As for his bitter sneers at Lord Byronhis clumsy and grossly affected contempt for Mr. Jeffrey—and the heavy magniloquence of his own self-esteem--we dismiss them at once in silence. They mark as evidently the disruption of the thin partition, as his prolix babble on the garden-physic of his great-grandmother, the drivelling of the alchemists, and the succession of the mayors of Doncaster—or his right merry and conceited elaboration of one of the dirtiest of all the practical jokes in Rabelais.
If we were not quite serious in our suspicion that “The Doctor' is the work of a man who stands more in need of physic than of criticism, we should have felt it our duty to illustrate, by citations, the justice of the language which we have not hesitated to
apply to so great a portion of these volumes. As it is, we willingly spare ourselves a thankless piece of trouble, and our readers a dose or two of dullness-and, indeed, of disgust. Let us henceforth drop a veil upon the mountain of dross and rubbish, and keep all our daylight for the gold and gems, which have made it worth the sifting.
One word only as to the outliné. The author does not seem to have reflected that Rabelais adopted the broad grotesque of his plan
(and execution also ) -because it would have been impossible for any man of that age, above all for a curé of Meudon, to satirize the baseness of French courtiers, and the hypocrisy of Romish priests ---in any direct shape; or to have perceived that, after all, the great French humorist would have been infinitely more popular than he is, had he not pushed the system of rambling to such an extent as he has done. The same sort of thing might have been the result of a very little reflection on the personal position and character of the author of Tristram Shandy, which work, of course, has been the more immediate prototype of "The Doctor.' Sterne was to the last, what we have no reason to believe that Rabelais was in the more advanced part of his life, --a profligate priest ;* and his buffoonery of manner was the shield rather than cloak of his licentiousness. Moreover, there is one very important particular in which Sterne's plan, with all its wildness, stands contrasted, to its own infinite advantage, against that of his anonymous imitator. The strange farrago of odd, yet often second-hand learning, for the purpose of exhibiting which Tristram Shandy was, no doubt, tirst coriceived, is all, by the art of Sterne, poured out dramatically: the character of My Father is à most original conception, most happily worked out with a skill which can convert materials, apparently the most incongruous, to the one main design; and the same may be said of Slop. "The Doctor' seems to have been framed with exactly the same primary view—that of furnishing a pretext for the clearance of a rich common-place book ; but the author, after a few awkward attempts to avail himself, for this purpose, of the instrumentality of his hero's father and tutor, takes the office of showman' openly into his own hands-and thenceforth the curiosities of literature,' of which "The Doctor' presents certainly a sequence not unworthy of being classed with D’Israeli's charming one, or with that in Southey's Omniana, are brought forth, so as hardly to help in any degree the development of any one of the characters in the book.
And who are these characters ? First and foremost is Daniel * The hackneyed stories about Rabelais' death bed-like, indeed, almost all those connected with his name-are but old Joe Millers, stolen from the Italian Facetiæ.
Dove, M.D., late Surgeon-Apothecary in Doncaster--the hero of the book — The Doctor.' Then there are his father, Daniel Dove the Elder, yeoman of Ingleton ; his uncle, William Dove, a half-idiot; his rural pedagogue, Mr. Richard Guy; his old master, the quondam Halford of Doncaster, Philip Hopkins ; and for heroines we have Dinah, the mother of the doctor, Deborah, his wife, and that wife's mother-of neither of whom, however, the desultory novelist has as yet found leisure to give us more than a few glimpses. Add to these some three or four real persons long since defunct, such as Dr. Green, the in his day celebrated quack of Penrith-one or two half insane recluses—and Mr. Rowland Dixon, the proprietor of a gigantic set of puppets,—and suppose descriptions and anecdotes of them and their odd doings swimming rare in a sea of quotations, prose and verse, serious and comic,-Latin, French, Low-Dutch-(N.B. no High-Dutch Spanish, Portuguese, and, above all, English and Italian. There is such a total contempt of all the ordinary rules of story-telling, that half a volume is bestowed on the hero's infancy, and we then leap at once to his full-grown manhood. Forth with the bells ring for his wedding ; but ere we have seen the veil lifted from the face of the bride, the bride's mother fixes the author's attention, and her love story must take precedence of her daughter's—which last, accordingly, is not half told by the time that volume the second closes. What the author means to make of these heroes and heroines in the eight or eighteen volumes which we presume are yet to come, we can offer no sort of conjecture-no more, we are pretty sure, could the author himself at this hour. He himself says, at the middle of his first volume,
Do you know, Sir, what mutton broth means at a city breakfast on the Lord Mayor's Day—mutton broth being the appointed breakfast for that festival? It means-according to established usagemutton broth and everything else that can be wished for at à breakfast. So, Sir, you have here not only what the title seems to specify, but everything else that can be wished for in a book. In treating of the Doctor, it treats de omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis. It is “ The Doctor, &c.," and that &c., like one of Lyttleton's, implies everything that can be deduced from the words preceding.'
But to our specimens.
After fifty-seven pages of incoherent rhapsody, the generation and dwelling-place of the Doves are thus, at length, introduced to our acquaintance. We do not believe that English literature contains à more exquisite sketch of the true old yeoman existence. Daniel the father, our author says, was one of a race of men who unhappily are now almost extinct. He lived upon an estate of six-and-twenty acres which his fathers had
possessed before him, all Doves and Daniels, in uninterrupted succession from time immemorial, farther than register or titledeeds could ascend.
• The little church called Chapel le Dale stands about a bow shot from the family house. There they had all been carried to the font; there they had each led his bride to the altar; and thither they had, each in his turn, been borne upon the shoulders of their friends and neighbours. Earth to earth they had been consigned there for so many generations, that half of the soil of the churchyard consisted of their remains. A hermit who might wish his grave to be as quiet as his cell, could imagine no fitter resting place. On three sides there was an irregular low stone wall, rather to mark the limits of the sacred ground, than to inclose it; on the fourth it was hounded by the brook whose waters proceed by a subterraneous channel from Wethercote cave. Two or three alders and rowan trees hung over the brook, and shed their leaves and seeds into the stream. Some bushy hazels grew at intervals along the lines of the wall; and a few ash trees, as the winds had sown them. To the east and west some fields adjoined it, in that state of half cultivation which gives a human character to solitude: to the south, on the other side the brook, the common, with its limestone rocks peering everywhere above ground, extended to the foot of Ingleborough. A craggy hill, feathered with birch, sheltered it from the north.
• The turf was as soft and fine as that of the adjoining hills; it was seldom broken, so scanty was the population to which it was appropriated; scarcely a thistle or a nettle deformed it, and the few tombstones which had been placed there were now themselves half-buried. The sheep came over the wall when they listed, and sometimes took shelter in the porch from the storm. Their voices, and the cry of the kite wheeling above, were the only sounds which were heard there, except when the single bell which hung in its niche over the entrance tinkled for service on the Sabbath-day, or with a slower tongue gave notice that one of the children of the soil was returning to the earth from which he sprung.'
The house of the Doves was to the east of the church, under the same hill, and with the same brook in front; and the intervening fields belonged to the family. It was a low house, having before it a little garden of that size and character which showed that the inhabitants could afford to bestow a thought upon something more than mere bodily wants.
• You entered between two yew trees clipt to the fashion of two pawns. There were hollyhocks and sunflowers displaying themselves above the wall; roses and sweet peas under the windows, and the everlasting pea climbing the porch.
The rest of the garden lay behind the house, partly on the slope of the hill. It had a hedge of gooseberry bushes, a few apple-trees, pot-herbs in abundance, onions, cabbages, turnips and carrots; potatoes had hardly