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habitations, her nearest neighbours the Indians, she is placed in a house, which we presume was made for the purpose, there to await the arrival of her most devoted Col. Hargrave. She resolves however to commit suicide, provided there should be any necessity. But she is saved from her very disagreeable dilemma, by the carelessness of her maid, who left her alone while walking. She espies a canoe, embarks, and is carried by the stream down the river. She moves on till the next morning, when she performs a most terrible exploit, no less than sailing down a cataract, which it is to be supposed was exceedingly high. She finds herself, when recovered from the uncomfortable effects of her adventure, in a respectable house. Hence she obtains a passage for her native country ; and after arriving there, every thing goes on precisely as if she had not gone to America at all. As for Hargrave, he, thinking Laura was drowned, shoots himself.
Thus much for the narrative. The incidents are most of them trite, and some are ridiculous. We were inclined so to consider the attempt of Hargrave to seize Laura in the house of her aunt, in broad day-light, notwithstanding all the apparatus of connivance and stratagem, by which it is attempted to make it appear credible. And where would not our author's love of the marvellous have carried her, when it induced her to send her poor heroine over the Atlantic, to the wilderness of Canada ? It would indeed be no objection to the novel, if by the triteness of the incidents, we meant such as occured every day in real life ; but we mean what is very different, such as oc, cur every day in novels. The conduct in any imagined situation may be represented as perfectly correct, the example to any one in similar circumstances fit to be exactly followed, but of however general application the moral or practical principle that is deduced may be, its impression cannot be so great upon us, if we believe it to be impossible that we should ever be in such circumstances, as if we thought ourselves continually liable to be placed in them. Many have respected the decision of Alexander at the Granicus, or of Cæsar at the Rubicon, and have admired the fortitude of Regulus ; but perhaps few have imitated these high examples in the familiar actions of common life. So too Æsop's fox tormented by flies presents a very excellent example of patience; but we suspect that there have not been many who have been more quiet in suffering on account of it.
With the manner in which the incidents are related, we were in general pleased, notwithstanding many faults. Somewhat of wit and repartee is displayed ; yet the attempts at humour are often awkward. There is sometimes an unpleasant obtrusion of the author's self; there are frequent trifling vul. garities of style, and some slight inaccuracies in delineations of character. We were amused by the extravagance of some descriptions, and wondered at the want of judgment in others. Religious observations are sometimes introduced in a trouble. some and injudicious manner. A great deal of ornament is not attempted; nor does the fancy of the author appear adapted to figurative embellishment. But her remarks on human nature have often much acuteness.
There are passages
which we think have great pathos; and on the whole, there is much interest felt in the characters introduced.
We cannot but approve the intention of the author to recommend habits of self-government, which appears from the character of Laura; for we wish it should be believed that it is our duty to direct, and not to be guided by our feelings; and we are glad that it is the conquest of love, by which this gov. ernment is exemplified. Not that we consider love a thing in itself the most difficult to be got rid of ; nor that we should view the man who had overcome indolence, or irritability of temper, with less respect, than the person who had consented to live, and even to smile, after discovering the unworthiness of a lover; nor that we should consider patience in poverty, and cheer
fulness in want, virtues less exalted, than submission to the loss of any object of affection, how much soever the happiness of life might have been thought to depend upon it; but because the representations of love in works of the imagination are generally such as imply that its power is irresistible ; that yielding entirely to it is commendable; and that it is worthy to employ many years of life. But love, (in its technical sense, as it is commonly described in novels,) when it has in it any thing of sentiment, we consider only as an alloy of sober friendship; we attribute all the ravings, and extravagances, and vices of professed and desperate lovers, to the impulses of animal feelings. And these representations are dangerous as well as false. They inflame imagination, they cherish passion, and excite expectations of such happiness as can never be enjoyed. As far then as this story, by exhibiting the power of good sense and religion, may counteract the delirious dreams, which may have been produced by “exaggerated descriptions of the happiness of love," and as far as the example which it affords of an attachment which was rational, without any of the wildness of passion, and was strong because it sprung from a soil of virtue, and was firm because its growth was slow, may tend to put love out of fashion, so far we think it deserves praise.
The author has judiciously contrasted the restraining exertions of Laura, with the indulgence and yielding which characterize Hargrave; and if we think that she has not represented the energy of religion, and the effect of continued endeavours as sufficiently great, we shall not condemn her for the terrible event which she pictures to the undisputed sway of passion.
The passion of Hargrave is opposed to the attachment of De Courcy; and the author has with some correctness marked the difference between the sentiments which Laura entertained toward each. Hargrave had entirely possessed her
soul; she had loved him with somewhat of such devotedness as he felt for her, though with a purity which he did not possess, and without his selfishness. But so calm and rational was her regard for De Courcy, that she could not suspect it was love. She could not for a long time believe, that a mutual desire of pleasing and benefitting, a high estimation of each other's virtues, and there being nothing to diminish or counteract their esteem, amounted to any thing more than what was a very insufficient bond of marriage ; and our author herself seems almost unwilling to allow, that raptures, extacies, and transports, are really unnecessary to prove the strength of attachment. ' Had De Courcy been described as a little more manly, and not so dependent on smiles and favors, and having less awful reverence for Laura, and not quite so much li. ability to gloom, the character of a methodist
would not have been thought by Lady Pelham so applicable.
Lady Pelham is represented as a character of the most devoted selfishness. With some strength she had much narrowness of mind. She was proud, and vexed at every body who was better than herself. Persons whose conduct was a reproach upon her own, by whose virtue she was awed, she did not envy, she did not slander, but such was her native openness, she could not but perpetually speak of their faults, and hint her dislike; and yet her petulance implied that she was sometimes dissatisfied with herself, and sought to transfer her own faults to some one else. She appears to have had a convenient power of thinking herself always in the right, which was yet accompanied with a most uncomfortable uneasiness that every one else should think so too. What she thought the tenderness of her heart, often appeared like ill temper; her ungoverned and irascible passions were, in her own opinion, only strong and quick feelings; she had no irritability, but her sensibility was always alive; her perfect generosity was most frequently manifested by her easy reception of favors, and her delicacy, by her unwillingness to return them. Thus she is described as living upon opinion, and therefore desiring power, as this implied superiority; and as she had not taste or capacity for attachment, she was pleased that others should be dependent on her. Lady Pelham is said to have had wit, liveliness, and information; and when every body pleased her, why she would please them. But if at some times her vivacity delighted, at others, the ebullitions of her indulged passions were degrading and offensive. When she dared to expose herself, her malice seemed diabolical, and no trifle could escape her censure; or if fear restrained her, she relieved herself from even apparent good humor, by provoking hints and inuendos. In the delineation of this character, by the descriptions of the means and influence of self-deception, and of the expressions of ill-temper and vanity, we think the author has discovered knowledge of human nature.
We can give the same praise to the descriptions of captain Montreville's melancholy. When afflicted with this disease, he
appears weak in mind and indolent in body ; ill-tempered, irritable, and selfish; depressed, and not roused by misfortunes; tormenting himself and others by anticipations of increased calamity; and refusing every thing that might enliven.
“ Wilfully and without effort he suffered his spirits to ex. “ pire. His whole train of thinking became habitually gloomy. He was wretched even without reference to his situa« tion; and the original cause of his melancholy was rather “the excuse than the reason of his depression.”
This is precisely the manner in which he should have appeared.
On the whole, we have been pleased with Self-Control. If we have sometimes been made to laugh where it was not intended, we have never been angry; and if we could not admire, we could often approve.