ePub 版

of this lady's novels abound in pictures and situa- Every feature in the surrounding landscape or objects tions as striking and as well grouped as those of the described-every subordinate circumstance in the artist and melo-dramatist. The latter years of Mrs scene, however minute, is so disposed as to deepen Radcliffe were spent in retirement, partly induced the impression and keep alive curiosity, This preby ill health. She had for a long period been afflicted lude, as Mrs Barbauld has remarked, like the with spasmodic asthma, and an attack proved fatal tuning of an instrument by a skilful hand, has the to her on the 7th of February 1823. She died in effect of producing at once in the mind a tone of London, and was interred in a vault of the chapel- feeling correspondent to the future story. No of-ease at Bayswater, belonging to St George's, writer has excelled, and few have approached, Mrs Hanover Square.

Radcliffe in this peculiar province. A higher The success which crowned Mrs Radcliffe's ro-genius, however, would have boldly seized upon mances led several writers to copy her peculiar supernatural agency as a proper element of romance. manner, but none approached to the original either There are feelings and superstitions lurking in every in art or genius. She eclipsed all her imitators and breast which would have responded to such an contemporaries in exciting emotions of surprise, appeal; and while we have the weird sisters of awe, and terror, and in constructing a story which Macbeth, and the unburied majesty of Denmark, should carry the reader forward with undiminished all must acknowledge the adaptation of such maanxiety to its close. She dwelt always in the regions chinery to produce the greatest effects of which of romance. She does not seem ever to have at-1 human genius is capable. The ultimate explanatempted humour or familiar narrative, and there is tions of Mrs Radcliffe certainly give a ļittleness to little of real character or natural incident in her the preliminary incidents which affected us so works. The style of which she may be considered powerfully while they were dim and obscure and the founder is powerfully attractive, and few are full of mystery. It is as if some theatrical artist able to resist the fascinations of her narrative, but were to display to his audience the coarse and mean that style is obviously a secondary one. To de- materials by which his brilliant stage effects were lineate character in the many-coloured changes of produced, instead of leaving undisturbed the strong life, to invent natural, lively, and witty dialogues impressions they have produced on the imagination. and situations, and to combine the whole, as in Apart, however, from this defect—which applies Tom Jones, in a regular progressive story, complete only to the interest of the plot or narrative-the in all its parts, is a greater intellectual effort than situations and descriptions of Mrs Radcliffe are in to construct a romantic plot where the author is not the highest degree striking and perfect. She had confined to probability or to the manners and insti- never been in Italy when she wrote the · Mysteries tutions of any particular time or country. When of Udolpho, yet her paintings of Italian scenery, Scott transports us back to the days of chivalry and of the mountains of Switzerland, are conceived and the crusades, we feel that he is embodying his- with equal truth and richness of colouring, And tory, animating its records with his powerful ima- what poet or painter has ever surpassed (Byron has gination, and introducing us to actual scenes and imitated) her account of the first view of Venice, as persons such as once existed. His portraits are not seen by her heroine Emily, 'with its islets, palaces, of one, but of various classes. There is none of this and terraces rising out of the sea; and as they reality about Mrs Radcliffe's creations. Her scenes glided on, the grander features of the city appear of mystery and gloom will not bear the light of ing more distinctly—its terraces crowned with airy sober investigation. Deeply as they affect the ima- yet majestic fabrics, touched with the splendour of gination at the time, after they have been once un- the setting sun, appearing as if they had been called folded before the reader, they break up like dreams up from the ocean by the wand of an enchanter in his recollection. The remembrance of them is rather than reared by human hands.' Her pictures confused, though pleasant, and we have no desire to are innumerable, and they are always introduced return to what enchanted us, unless it be for some with striking effect. • Set off,' says a judicious passages of pure description. The want of moral critic, ' against the calm beauty of a summer eveninterest and of character and dialogue, natural and ing, or the magnificent gloom of a thunder-storm, truthful, is the cause of this evanescence of feeling. her pastoral or banditti groups stand out with When the story is unravelled, the great charm is double effect; while to the charge of vagueness of ! over-the talisman ceases to operate when we know description, it may be answered that Mrs Radcliffe the materials of which it is composed.

is by no means vague where distinctness of imagery ! Mrs Radcliffe restricted her genius by an arbi. is or ought to be her object, as any one may trary rule of composition. She made the whole of satisfy himself who recalls to his recollection her her mysterious circumstances resolve into natural description of the lonely house by the Mediterra

The seemingly supernatural agencies are nean, with the scudding clouds, the screaming sesexplained to be palpable and real: every mystery birds, and the stormy sea, the scene selected for the is cleared up, and often by means very trifling or murder of Ellena; or another picture, in the best disproportioned to the end. In order to raise manner of Salvator, of the first glimpse of the castle strong emotions of fear and horror in the body of of Udolpho, rising over a mountain pass, with the the work, the author is tempted to go lengths, to slant sunbeams lighting up its ancient weatheraccount for which the subsequent explanations seem beaten towers. Indeed the whole description of utterly inadequate. Thus, for example, after all the that Apennine fastness, both without and within, is wonder and dismay, and terror and expectation ex- in the best style, not of literal, indeed, but of imacited by the mysterious chamber in the castle of ginative painting—"fate sits on those dark battle Udolpho, how much are we disappointed and dis- ments and frowns;" the very intricacy of its internal gusted to find that all this pother has been raised architecture and its endless passages & mighty by a waxen statue !** In one sense this restriction maze, and, we fear, without a plan-only serve to increases our admiration of the writer, as evincing, deepen the impression of imprisonment, and be in general, the marvellous ingenuity with which she wilderment, and gloom. The romantic colouring prepares, invents, and arranges the incidents for which Mrs Radcliffe could throw over actual objects, immediate effect as well as subsequent explanation. at the same time preserving their symmetry and

appearance entire, is finely displayed in her English * Dunlop's History of Fiction. descriptions, particularly in that of Windsor.



[Description of the Castle of Udolpho.]

Duke of Devonshire, once the residence of the Earl of

Shrewsbury, to whom Elizabeth deputed the custody Towards the close of the day, the road wound into of the unfortunate Mary. It stands on an easy height, a deep valley. Mountains, whose shaggy steeps ap. a few miles to the left of the road from Mansfield to peared to be inaccessible, almost surrounded it. To the Chesterfield, and is approached through shady lanes, east a vista opened, and exhibited the Apennines in which conceal the view of it till you are on the contheir darkest horrors; and the long perspective of retir- fines of the park. Three towers of hoary gray then ing summits rising over each other, their ridges clothed rise with great majesty among old woods, and their with pines, exhibited a stronger image of grandeur summits appear to be covered with the lightlythan any that Emily had yet seen. The sun had just shivered fragments of battlements, which, however, sunk below the top of the mountains she was descend- are soon discovered to be perfectly carved open work, ing, whose long shadow stretched athwart the valley; in which the letters E. S. frequently occur under a but his sloping rays, shooting through an opening of coronet, the initials and the memorials of the vanity the cliffs, touched with a yellow gleam the summits of Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, who built the of the forest that hung upon the opposite steeps, and present edifice. Its tall features, of a most pictustreamed in full splendour upon the towers and battle- resque tint, were finely disclosed between the luxuments of a castle that spread its extensive ramparts riant woods and over the lawns of the park, which along the brow of a precipice above. The splendour every now and then let in a glimpse of the Derbyshire of these illumined objects was heightened by the con-hills. trasted shade which involved the valley below.

In front of the great gates of the castle court, the “There,' said Montoni, speaking for the first time ground, adorned by old oaks, suddenly sinks to a in several hours, 'is Udolpho.'

darkly-shadowed glade, and the view opens over the Emily gazed with melancholy awe upon the castle, vale of Scarsdale, bounded by the wild mountains of which she understood to be Montoni's; for, though it the Peak. Immediately to the left of the present was now lighted up by the setting sun, the Gothic residence, some ruined features of the ancient one, greatness of its features, and its mouldering walls of enwreathed with the rich drapery of ivy, give an indark gray stone, rendered it a gloomy and sublime terest to the scene, which the later but more historiobject. As she gazed the light died away on its walls, cal structure heightens and prolongs. We followed, leaving a melancholy purple tint, which spread deeper not without emotion, the walk which Mary had so and deeper as the thin vapour crept up the mountain, often trodden, to the folding-doors of the great hall, while the battlements above were still tipped with whose lofty grandeur, aided by silence, and seen under splendour. From these, too, the rays soon faded, and the influence of a lowering sky, suited the temper of the whole edifice was invested with the solemn duski- the whole scene. The tall windows, which half subDess of evening. Silent, lonely, and sublime, it seemed due the light they admit, just allowed us to distinto stand the sovereign of the scene, and to frown de- guish the large figures in the tapestry above the oak fiance on all who dared to invade its solitary reign. wainscoting, and showed a colonnade of oak supportAs the twilight deepened, its features became more ing a gallery along the bottom of the hall, with a pair awful in obscurity, and Emily continued to gaze till of gigantic elk's horns flourishing between the winits clustering towers were alone seen rising over the dows opposite to the entrance. The scene of Mary's tops of the woods, beneath whose thick shade the car arrival, and her feelings upon entering this solemn riages soon after began to ascend.

shade, came involuntarily to the mind; the .noise of The extent and darkness of these tall woods awak horses' feet, and many voices from the court; her ened terrific images in her mind, and she almost ex- proud, yet gentle and melancholy look, as, led by pected to see banditti start up from under the trees. my lord keeper, she passed slowly up the hall; his At length the carriages emerged upon a heathy rock, somewhat obsequious, yet jealous and vigilant air, and soon after reached the castle gates, where the deep while, awed by her dignity and beauty, he remembers tone of the portal bell, which was struck upon to give the terrors of his own queen; the silence and anxiety notice of their arrival, increased the fearful emotions of her maids, and the bustle of the surrounding atthat had assailed Emily. While they waited till the tendants. servant within should come to open the gates, she From the hall, a staircase ascends to the gallery of anxiously surveyed the edifice; but the gloom'that a small chapel, in which the chairs and cushions used overspread it allowed her to distinguish little more by Mary still remain, and proceeds to the first storey, than a part of its outline, with the massy walls of the where only one apartment bears memorials of her imramparts, and to know that it was vast, ancient, and prisonment--the bed, tapestry, and chairs, having dreary. From the parts she saw, she judged of the been worked by herself. This tapestry is richly emheavy strength and extent of the whole. The gateway bossed with emblematic figures, each with its title before her, leading into the courts, was of gigantic size, worked above it, and having been scrupulously preand was defended by two round towers, crowned by served, is still entire and fresh. overhanging turrets, embattled, where, instead of ban- Over the chimney of an adjoining dining-room, to ners, now waved long grass and wild plants that had which, as well as to other apartments on this floor, taken root among the mouldering stones, and which some modern furniture has been added, is this mottó seemed to sigh, as the breeze rolled past, over the carved in oak :desolation around them. The towers were united by “There is only this: To fear God, and keep his a curtain, pierced and embattled also, below which commandments. So much less valuable was timappeared the pointed arch of a huge portcullis sur ber than workmanship when this mansion was conmounting the gates; from these the walls of the ram- structed, that where the staircases are not of stone, parts extended to other towers, overlooking the preci. they are formed of solid oaken steps, instead of pice, whose shattered outline, appearing on a gleam planks ; such is that from the second, or state storey, that lingered in the west, told of the ravages of war. to the roof, whence, on clear days, York and Lincoln Beyond these all was lost in the obscurity of evening. cathedrals are said to be included in the extensive

prospect. This second floor is that which gives its [Hardwick, in Derbyshire.]

chief interest to the edifice. Nearly all the apart

ments of it were allotted to Mary ; some of them for Northward, beyond London, we may make one stop, state purposes ; and the furniture is known, by other after a country not otherwise necessary to be noticed, proof than its appearance, to remain as she left it. to mention Hardwick, in Derbyshire, a seat of the The chief room, or that of audience, is of uncommon loftiness, and strikes by its grandeur, before the vene- gotten by the readers of the novel. The haughty ration and tenderness arise which its antiquities and and susceptible monk is tempted by an infernal the plainly-told tale of the sufferings they witnessed spirit--the Mephostophilis of the tale—who assumes excite.

the form of a young and beautiful woman, and, after various efforts, completely triumphs over the virtue

and the resolutions of Ambrosio. He proceeds from [An Italian Landscape.]

crime to crime, till he is stained with the most These excursions sometimes led to Puzzuoli, Baia, atrocious deeds, his evil genius, Matilda, being still or the woody cliffs of Pausilippo; and as, on their re

his prompter and associate, and aiding him by her turn, they glided along the moonlight bay, the melo- powers of conjuration and sorcery. He is at length dies of Italian strains seemed to give enchantment to caught in the toils, detected in a deed of murder, the scenery of its shore. At this cool hour the voices and is tried, tortured, and convicted by the Inquisi. of the vine-dressers were frequently heard in trio, as tion. While trembling at the approaching auto they reposed after the labour of the day on some de fe, at which he is sentenced to perish, Ambrosio pleasant promontory under the shade of poplars; or is again visited by Matilda, who gives him a certain the brisk music of the dance from fishermen on the mysterious book, by reading which he is able to margin of the waves below. The boatmen rested on summòn Lucifer to his presence. Ambrosio ventheir oars, while their company listened to voices mo

tures on this desperate expedient. The Evil One dulated by sensibility to finer eloquence than it is in appears (appropriately preceded by thunder and the power of art alone to display; and at others, while earthquake), and the wretched monk, having sold they observed the airy natural grace which distin- his hope of salvation to recover his liberty, is borne guishes the dance of the fishermen and peasant girls of aloft far from his dungeon, but only to be dashed Naples. Frequently, as they glided round a promon- to pieces on a rock. Such is the outline of the tory, whose shaggy masses impended far over the sea, monk's story, in which there is certainly no shrinking such magic scenes of beauty unfolded, adorned by these from the supernatural machinery that Mrs Radcliffe dancing groups on the bay beyond, as no pencil could adopted only in semblance, without attempting to do justice to. The deep clear waters reflected every make it real. Lewis relieved his narrative by image of the landscape; the cliffs, branching into wild episodes and love-scenes, one of which (the bleeding forms, crowned with groves whose rough foliage often nun) is told with great animation. He introduces spread down their steeps in picturesque luxuriance; us also to a robber's hut in a forest, in which a the ruined villa on some bold point peeping through the striking scene occurs, evidently suggested by a trees; peasants' cabins hanging on the precipices, and similar one in Smollett's Count Fathom. Besides the dancing figures on the strand-all touched with his excessive use of conjurations and spirits to carry the silvery tint and soft shadows of moonlight. On on his story, Lewis resorted to another class of the other hand, the sea, trembling with a long line of horrors, which is simply disgusting; namely, loathradiance, and showing in the clear distance the sails some images of mortal corruption and decay, the of vessels stealing in every direction along its surface, festering relics of death and the grave. The acpresented a prospect as grand as the landscape was count of the confinement of Agnes in the dungeon beautiful.

below the shrine of St Clare, and of her dead child, which she persisted in keeping constantly in her arms, is a repulsive description of this kind, puerile and offensive, though preceded by the masterly nar

rative of the ruin and conflagration of the convent Among the most successful imitators of Mrs Rad- by the exasperated populace. cliffe's peculiar manner and class of subjects, was The only other tale by Lewis which has been MATTHEW GREGORY Lewis, whose wild romance, reprinted is the Bravo of Venice, a short production, The Monk, published in 1796, was received with in which there is enough of banditti, disguises, mingled astonishment, censure, and applause. The plots, and mysterious adventures—the dagger and first edition was soon disposed of, and in preparing the bowl-but nothing equal to the best parts of a second, Lewis threw out some indelicate passages The Monk.' The style is more chaste and uniform, which had given much offence. He might have car- and some Venetian scenes are picturesquely deried his retrenchments farther, with benefit both to scribed. The hero, Abellino, is at one time a the story and its readers. • The Monk' was a youth- beggar, at another a bandit, and ends by marrying ful production, written, as the author states in his the lovely niece of the Doge of Venice--a genuine rhyming preface, when he scarce had seen his twen-character for the mock-heroic of romance. In tieth year.' It has all the marks of youth, except none of his works does Lewis evince a talent for modesty. Lewis was the boldest of hobgoblin writers, humour. and dashed away fearlessly among scenes of monks and nuns, church processions, Spanish cavaliers, maidens and duennas, sorcerers and enchantments,

[Scene of Conjuration by the Wandering Jera] the Inquisition, the wandering Jew, and even Satan [Raymond, in . The Monk,' is pursued by a spectre reprehimself, whom he brings in to execute justice visibly senting a bleeding nun, which appears at one o'clock in the and without compunction. The hero, Ambrosio, is morning, repeating a certain chant, and pressing her lips to abbot of the Capuchins at Madrid, and from his his. Every succeeding visit inspires him with greater borror, reputed sanctity and humility, and his eloquent and he becomes melancholy and deranged in health. His serpreaching, he is surnamed the Man of Holiness. vant, Theodore, meets with a stranger, who tells him to bid Ambrosio conceives himself to be exempted from his master wish for him when the clock strikes one, and the the failings of humanity, and is severe in his saintly which Lewis avails himself of the ancient legend of the Wan

tale, as related by Raymond, proceeds. The ingenuity with judgments. He is full of religious enthusiasm and dering Jow, and the fine description of the conjuration, are pride, and thinks himself proof against all tempta- worthy of remark.] tion. The hint of this character was taken from a paper in the Guardian, and Lewis filled the out- He was a man of majestic presence; his counteline with considerable energy and skilful delinea- nance was strongly marked, and his eyes were large, tion. The imposing presence, strong passions, and black, and sparkling: yet there was a sornething in wretched downfall of Ambrosio, are not easily for- I his look which, the moment that I saw birn, inspired


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

me with a secret awe, not to say horror. He was symptom of returning health, and declared himself dressed plainly, his hair was unpowdered, and a delighted at my having received so much benefit from band of black velvet, which encircled his forehead, my conference with the Great Mogul. Upon inquiry spread over his features an additional gloom. His I found that the stranger had already passed eight countenance wore the marks of profound melancholy, days in Ratisbon. According to his own account, his step was slow, and his manner grave, stately, and therefore, he was only to remain there six days longer. solemn. He saluted me with politeness, and having Saturday was still at a distance of three. Oh! with replied to the usual compliments of introduction, he what impatience did I expect its arrival! In the motioned to Theodore to quit the chamber. The interim, the bleeding nun continued her nocturnal page instantly withdrew. I know your business,' | visits; but hoping soon to be released from them said he, without giving me time to speak. I have altogether, the effects which they produced on me the power of releasing you from your nightly visitor ; became less violent than before. but this cannot be done before Sunday. On the hour The wished-for night arrived. To avoid creating when the Sabbath morning breaks, spirits of darkness suspicion, I retired to bed at my usual hour ; but as have least influence over mortals. After Saturday, soon as my attendants had left me, I dressed myself the nun shall visit you no more. May I not in- again, and prepared for the stranger's reception. He quire,' said I, ' by what means you are in possession entered my room upon the turn of midnight. A of a secret which I have carefully concealed from the small chest was in his hand, which he placed near the knowledge of every one? How can I be ignorant of stove. He saluted me without speaking; I returned your distresses, when their cause at this moment the compliment, observing an equal silence. He then stands before you? I started. The stranger con- opened the chest. The first thing which he produced tinued : 'though to you only visible for one hour in was a small wooden crucifix; he sunk upon his knees, the twenty-four, neither day nor night does she ever gazed upon it mournfully, and cast his eyes towards quit you; nor will she ever quit you till you have heaven. He seemed to be praying devoutly. At granted her request.' And what is that request?' | length he bowed his head respectfully, kissed the * That she must herself explain ; it lies not in my crucifix thrice, and quitted his kneeling posture. He knowledge. Wait with patience for the night of next drew from the chest a covered goblet; with the Saturday; all shall be then cleared up. I dared not liquor which it contained, and which appeared to be press him further. He soon after changed the con- blood, he sprinkled the floor; and then dipping in it versation, and talked of various matters. He named one end of the crucifix, he described a circle in the people who had ceased to exist for many centuries, middle of the room. Round about this he placed and yet with whom he appeared to have been per- various reliques, skulls, thigh-bones, &c. I observed sonally acquainted. I could not mention a country, that he disposed them all in the forms of crosses. however distant, which he had not visited ; nor could Lastly, he took out a large Bible, and beckoned me I sufficiently admire the extent and variety of his to follow him into the circle. I obeyed. information. I remarked to him, that having tra- • Be cautious not to utter a syllable!' whispered velled, seen, and known so much, must have given the stranger : ‘step not out of the circle, and as you him infinite pleasure. He shook his head mournfully. love yourself, dare not to look upon my face.' Holding No one,' he replied, 'is adequate to comprehending the crucifix in one hand, the Bible in the other, he the misery of my lot! Fate obliges me to be con- seemed to read with profound attention. The clock stantly in movement; I am not permitted to pass struck one; as usual I heard the spectre's steps upon more than a fortnight in the same place. I have no the staircase, but I was not seized with the accusfriend in the world, and, from the restlessness of my tomed shivering. I waited her approach with confidestiny, I never can acquire one. Fain would I lay dence. She entered the room, drew near the circle, down my miserable life, for I envy those who enjoy and stopped. The stranger muttered some words, to the quiet of the grave; but death eludes me, and me unintelligible. Then raising his head from the flies from my embrace. In vain do I throw myself in book, and extending the crucifix towards the ghost, the way of danger. I plunge into the ocean, the he pronounced, in a voice distinct and solemn, waves throw me back with abhorrence upon the Beatrice ! Beatrice ! Beatrice! What wouldst thou ?' shore; I rush into fire, the flames recoil at my ap- replied the apparition in a hollow faltering tone. proach ; I oppose myself to the fury of banditti

, What disturbs thy sleep? Why dost thou afflict their swords become blunted, and break against and torture this youth ? How can rest be restored to my breast. The hungry tiger shudders at my ap- thy unquiet spirit? I dare not tell, I must not tell. proach, and the alligator flies from a monster more Fain would I repose in my grave, but stern commands horrible than itself. God has set his seal upon me, force me to prolong my punishment!' 'Knowest and all his creatures respect this fatal mark.' He thou this blood ? Knowest thou in whose veins it put his hand to the velvet which was bound round his flowed? Beatrice! Beatrice ! in his name I charge forehead. There was in his eyes an expression of thee to answer me.' 'I dare not disobey my taskers.' fury, despair, and malevolence, that struck horror to Darest thou disobey me?' He spoke in a commandmy very soul. An involuntary convulsion made me ing tone, and drew the sable band from his forehead. shudder. The stranger perceived it. 'Such is the In spite of his injunction to the contrary, curiosity curse imposed on me, he continued; “I am doomed would not suffer me to keep my eyes off his face: I to inspire all who look on me with terror and detesta- raised them, and beheld a burning cross impressed tion. You already feel the influence of the charm, upon his brow. For the horror with which this object and with every succeeding moment will feel it more. inspired me I cannot account, but I never felt its I will not add to your sufferings by my presence.equal. My senses left me for some moments; a Farewell till Saturday. As soon as the clock strikes mysterious dread overcame my courage; and had not twelve, expect me at your chamber.'

the exorciser caught my hand, I should have fallen Having said this he departed, leaving me in asto- out of the circle. When I recovered myself, I pernishment at the mysterious turn of his manner and ceived that the burning cross had produced an effect conversation. His assurances that I should soon be no less violent upon the spectre. Her countenance relieved from the apparition's visits produced a good expressed reverence and horror, and her visionary effect upon my constitution. Theodore, whom I limbs were shaken by fear. “Yes,' she said at length, rather treated as an adopted child than a domestic, I tremble at that mark! I respect it! I obey you! was surprised, at his return, to observe the amend Know, then, that my bones lie still unburied-they ment in my looks. He congratulated me on this rot in the obscurity of Lindenberg-hole. None but


[ocr errors]

this youth has the right of consigning them to the boldness of his speculations and opinions, and his
grave. His own lips have made over to me his body apparent depth and ardour of feeling, were curiously
and his soul; never will I give back his promise ; contrasted with his plodding habits, his imperturb-
never shall he know a night devoid of terror unless able temper, and the quiet obscure simplicity of his
he engages to collect my mouldering bones, and de- life and manners. The most startling and astound-
posit them in the family vault of his Andalusian ing theories were propounded by him with undoubt-
castle. Then let thirty masses be said for the repose ing confidence; and sentiments that, if reduced to
of my spirit, and I trouble this world no more. Now
let me depart; those flames are scorching.'

He let the hand drop slowly which held the crucifix, and which till then he had pointed towards her. The apparition bowed her head, and her form melted into air.



[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

MRS AMELIA OPIE (Miss Alderson of Norwich), the widow of John Opie, the celebrated artist, commenced her literary career in 1801, when she published her domestic and pathetic tale of The Father and Daughter. Without venturing out of ordinary life, Mrs Opie invested her narrative with deep interest, by her genuine painting of nature and passion, her animated dialogue, and feminine delicacy of feeling. Her first novel has gone through eight editions, and is still popular. A long series of works of fiction has since proceeded from the pen of this lady. Her Simple Tales, in four volumes,_1806 ; New Tales, four volumes, 1818 ; Temper, or Domestic Scenes, a tale, in three volumes ; Tales of Real Life, three volumes; Tales of the Heart, four volumes; are all marked by the same characteristics — the portraiture of domestic life, drawn with a view to regulate the heart and affections. In 1828 Mrs Opie published a moral treatise, entitled Detraction Displayed, in order to expose that most common of all vices, which she says justly is found in every class or rank in society, from the peer to the peasant, from the master to the valet, from the mistress to the maid, from the most learned to the most igno- action, would have overturned the whole framework rant, from the man of genius to the meanest capa- of society, were complacently dealt out by their city. The tales of this lady have been thrown into author as if they had merely formed an ordinary the shade by the brilliant fictions of Scott, the portion of a busy literary life. Godwin was born at stronger moral delineations of Miss Edgeworth, and Wisbeach, in Cambridgeshire, on the 3d of March the generally masculine character of our more mo- 1756. His father was a dissenting minister—a pious dern literature. She is, like Mackenzie, too uni- nonconformist—and thus the future novelist may be formly pathetic and tender. "She can do nothing said to have been nurtured in a love of religious well,' says Jeffrey, that requires to be done with and civil liberty, without perhaps much reverence formality, and therefore has not succeeded in copy- for existing authority. He soon, however, far orer ing either the concentrated force of weighty and stepped the pale of dissent. After receiving the deliberate reason, or the severe and solemn dignity necessary education at the dissenting college at Hoxof majestic virtue. To make amends, however, she ton, Mr Godwin became minister of a congregation represents admirably everything that is amiable, ge- in the vicinity of London. He also officiated for nerous, and gentle. Perhaps we should add to this some time at Stowmarket, in Suffolk. About the the power of exciting and harrowing up the feelings year 1782, having been five years a nonconformist in no ordinary degree. Some of her short tales are preacher, he settled in London, and applied himself full of gloomy and terrific painting, alternately re-wholly to literature. His first work was entitled sembling those of Godwin and Mrs Radcliffe. Sketches of History, in Six Sermons; and he shortly

In Miss Sedgwick’s Letters from Abroad (1841), afterwards became principal writer in the New Arwe find the following notice of the venerable no nual Register. He was a zealous political reformer; velist :-I owed Mrs Opie a grudge for having and his talents were so well known or recommended, made me in my youth cry my eyes out over her that he obtained the large sum of £700 for his next stories ; but her fair cheerful face forced me to for- publication. This was his famed Enquiry concerning get it. She long ago forswore the world and its Political Justice, and its Influences on General Virtue vanities, and adopted the Quaker faith and costume; and Happiness, published in 1793. Mr Godwin's but I fancied that her elaborate simplicity, and the work was a sincere advocacy of an intellectual refashionable little train to her pretty satin gown, public—a splendid argument for universal philanindicated how much easier it is to adopt a theory thropy and benevolence, and for the omnipotence of than to change one's habits.'

mind over matter. His views of the perfectibility
of man and the regeneration of society (all private
affections and interests being merged in the public
good) were clouded by no misgivings, and he wrote

with the force of conviction, and with no ordinary WILLIAM GODWIN, anthor of Caleb Williams, was powers of persuasion and eloquence. The Enquiry one of the most remarkable men of his times. The was highly successful, and went through several



« 上一頁繼續 »