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when it can be so called, is highly animated; but their main charm consists in being profusely diversified by subordinate incidents, which afford room for the display of character and description in endless variety. The style, though often careless, is happily varied : now grave; now descriptive; now dramatic and humorous. The following passage might tempt a wish that we had been more frequently favoured with others in a similar strain:
“ There is perhaps no feeling of our nature so vague, so complicated, so mysterious, as that with which we look upon the cold remains of our fellow mortals. The dignity with which death invests even the meanest of his victims, inspires us with an awe no living being can create. The monarch on his throne'is less awful than the beggar in his shroud. The marble features—the powerless hand—the stiffened limbs-oh! who can contemplate these with feelings that can be defined ? These are the mockery of all our hopes and fears, our fondest love, our fellest hate. Can it be, that we now shrink with horror from the touch of that hand, which but yesterday was fondly clasped in our own? that tongue, whose accents even now dwelt in our ear, ever chained in the silence of death? These black and heavy eye-lids, are they for ever to seal up in darkness the eye whose glance no earthly power could restrain? And the spirit which animated the clay, where is it now? Is it wrapt in bliss, or dissolved in woe? Does it witness our grief, and share our sorrow? or is the mysterious tie that linked it with mortality for ever broken ?, and the remembrance of earthly scenes, are they indeed to the enfranchised spirit as the morning beam, or the dew upon the early flower ? Reflections such as these naturally arise in every breast. Their influence is felt, though their import cannot always be expressed. The principle is in all the same, however it may differ in its operations."
Of humour, graceful and well-timed, every second page would furnish an example; but we can only allude to the effect of Aunt Grizzy's incessant that can't be denied,' and
nobody can dispute that-Miss Jacky's 'flaming copy of Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women'-Lady Maclaughlan's resuscitating tincture' and Methusalem pills'—Sir Samson's
large cocked hať and little-booted leg' ;-not forgetting Mrs Gawffaw's weak nerves' and dyed ribbons,' nor the glory acquired by Major M.Fuss in quelling a mob enraged by 'raising the potatoes a penny the peck’:-and verily, if wit lies in detecting resemblances between objects apparently different, Dr Redgill deserves to bear the palm for telling us that 'a beef steak is like-a woman's reputation ! -if once breathed upon, 'tis good for nothing. Of skill in delineating character our limits prevent us from giving specimens :
we cannot, however, neglect the original and inimitable Doctor just mentioned; neither can we pass by Uncle Adam of The Inheritance : he bears some resemblance, and is little inferior, to Touchwood in St Konan’s Well :his unchanged affection for Lizzie Lundie at once excites an interest, and gives more insight into his character than could be imparted by whole pages of description.
With a susceptibility which seems original in the female mind, or which, at least, no course of education can confer on the other sex, our fair author pencils those fugitive impressions which come under the description of sentiment, and enters no less successfully on the portraiture of those dark and tragic emotions which, but for the example of a Baillie, might have been regarded as peculiar to writers of the other
But for the truth of this remark we must refer to those who have already been delighted by Miss Ferrier's works: it were uncharitable longer to detain our reader from the following dramatic scene, selected on account of the happy satire applied to a folly which, comparatively little known to our elder novelists, now prevails to an extent authorising a wish that Blue-stockings, to whatever sex they may belong (for there are male Blues) may soon cease to be a nuisance in rational society.
MEETING OF THE BLUES,
MARY and her aunt Grizzy were received by Mrs Bluemits with that air of condescension which great souls practise towards ordinary mortals, and which is intended, at one and the same time, to encourage and to repel; to show the extent of their goodness, even while they make, or try to make, their protégé feel the immeasurable distance which nature or fortune has placed between them. It was with this air of patronising grandeur that Mrs Bluemits took her guests by the hand, and introduced them to a circle of females already assembled.
Mrs Bluemits was not an avowed authoress; but she was a professed critic, a well informed woman, a woman of great conversational powers, &c. and, to use her own phrase, nothing but conversation was spoke in her house. Her guests were therefore always expected to be distinguished, either for some literary production, or their taste in the belles lettres. Two ladies from Scotland, the land of poetry
and romance, were consequently hailed as new stars in Mrs Bluemit's horizon. No sooner were they seated, than Mrs Bluemits began : • As I am a friend to ease in literary society, we shall, without ceremony, resume our conversation; for, as Seneca observes, the comfort of life depends upon conversation.'
• I think,' said Miss Graves, it is Rochefoucault who says the great art of conversation is to hear patiently and answer precisely.'
• A very poor definition, for so profound a philosopher, remarked Mrs Apsley.
* The amiable author of what the gigantic Johnson styles the melancholy and angry Night Thoughts, gives a nobler, a more elevated, and, in my humble opinion, a juster explication of the intercourse of mind,' said Miss Parkins : and she repeated the following lines, with pompous enthusiasm :
“ Speech venti es our inte
Mrs Bluemits proceeded;
“ Tis thought's exchange, which, like the alternate push
· The sensitive poet of Olney, if I mistake not,' said Mrs Dalton, “ steers a middle course betwixt the somewhat bald maxim of the Parisian philosopher, and the mournful pruriency of the Bard of Night, when he says,
“ Conversation in its better part
Mary had been accustomed to read, and to reflect upon what she read, and to apply it to the purpose for which it is valuable, viz. in enlarging her mind and cultivating her taste ; but she had never been accustomed to prate, or quote, or sit down for the express purpose of displaying her acquirements; and she began to tremble at hearing authors' names · familiar in their mouths as household words ;' but Grizzy, strong in ignorance, was nowise daunted. True, she heard what she could not comprehend, but she thought she would soon make things clear; and she therefore turned to her neighbour on her right hand and accosted her with • My niece and I are just come from dining at Mrs Pullens'
-I daresay you have heard of her-she was Miss Flora M•Fuss; her father, Dr M Fuss, was a most excellent preacher, and she is a remarkable clever woman.'
· Pray Ma'am has she come out, or is she simply bel esprit ? inquired the lady.
Grizzy was rather at a loss; and, indeed, to answer a question put in an unknown language, would puzzle wiser brains than hers; but Grizzy was accustomed to converse, without being able to comprehend, and she therefore went
Her mother Mrs M-Fussbut she is dead—was a very clever woman too; I'm sure, I declare, I don't know whether the Doctor or her was the cleverest, but many people, I know, thinks Mrs Pullens beats them both.'
• Indeed! may I ask in what department she chiefly excels?'
O, I really think in every thing. For one thing, every thing in her house is done by steam; and then she can keep
every thing, I can't tell how long, just in paper bags and bottles; and she is going to publish a book with all her receipts in it. I'm sure it will be very interesting.'
. I beg ten thousand pardons for the interruption, cried Mrs Bluemits, from the opposite side of the room ; ' but my ear was smote with the sounds of publish and interesting -words which never fail to awaken a responsive chord in my bosom. Pray, addressing Grizzy, and bringing her into the full blaze of observation, may I ask was it of the Campbell these electric words were spoken? To you, Madam, I am sure I need not apologize for my enthusiasmyou who claim the proud distinction of being a countrywoman, need I add-an acquaintance ?'
All that poor Grizzy could comprehend of this harangue was, that it was reckoned a great honour to be acquainted with a Campbell ; and chuckling with delight at the idea of her own consequence, she briskly replied
O, I know plenty of Campbells; there's the Campbells of Mireside, relations of ours; and there's the Campbells of Blackbrae, married in our family; and there's the Campbells of Windlestrae Glen, are not very distant by my mother's side.'
Mary felt as if perforated by bullets in all directions as she encountered the eyes of the company, turned alternately upon her aunt and her ; but they were on opposite sides of the room; therefore to interpose betwixt Grizzy and her assailants was impossible.
Possibly,' suggested Mrs Dalton, Miss Douglas prefers the loftier strains of the mighty Minstrel of the Mountains, to the more polished periods of the poet of the Transatlantic Plain.'
• Or perhaps,” said Miss Crick, · Miss Douglas prefers nature in its simplest, homeliest form ; pray Ma'am,' turning full upon
the now bewildered Grizzy, ' are you an admirer of Crabbe's Tales ?'. Crabs' tails ! repeated Grizzy in astonishment, “I don't think ever I tasted them-Indeed I don't think our crabs have tails ; but I'm very fond of crabs' claws when there's any thing in them. Fortunately the confusion of tongues was at this moment so great, that Grizzy's lapsus passed unnoticed by all but Mary, whose ears tingled at every word she uttered.
• Without either a possibility, or a perhaps,' said Mrs Apsley, “the probability is, Miss Douglas prefers the author of the Giaour to all the rest of her poetical countrymen.