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sity. Here he discovers no aversion to distinguish himself among the dissipated sons of fortune, and soon becomes something very different from the climber of mountains and diver into lakes. But he acquits himself of all share in a quizzing scene, played off upon a fresh-man called Withers, who had written a tragedy on a very interesting subject—the cleansing of the Augean stable. This piece he is prevailed upon to recite to certain arch wags, who receive it with rapture, fill the author drunk, and bear him home, crowned with parsley, and dropping with wine, in classical triumph. They have afterwards the address to pass a wooden figure upon
him for the master of his college, who, after a rebuke pronounced in character by one of the quizzers, who chanced to be a ventriloquist, proceeds, by some unknown mechanism, to inflict upon Withers the academical discipline under which Milton is said to have smarted of yore; but, far from imitating the submission of his sublime prototype, the modern bard kicked and cuffed in stout opposition, till he discovered the impassible character of his antagonist. The joke ends by Withers going mad, and the ingenious authors of his distress being rusticated. We presume the ventriloquist found a refuge with Fitz-James, and the mechanist with Merlin or Maillardet. What connexion this facetious tale has with Fleetwood, or his history, does not appear ; but we reverence the established privilege of an Oxonian to prose about all that happened when he was at Christ-Church.
We now accompany Fleetwood on his travels. Paris was his first stage, where he had the strange and uncommon misfortune to be jilted by two mistresses. The first was a certain marchioness, whose mind “ resembled an eel,” and who delighted in the bold, the intrepid, and the masculine. Her lover was greeted with an impudent Amazonian stare, a smack of the whip, a slap on the back, and a loud and unexpected accent that made the hearer start again. Upon discovering the infidelity of this gentle lady, Fleetwood, being in Paris, followed the example of the Parisians, but not without experiencing certain twinges of pain, and revolutions of astonishment, to which we believe these good people, on such occasions, are usually strangers. In a word, he took another mistress. The Countess de B. had every gentle amiability under heaven, and only one fault, which might be expressed in one word if we chose it, but we prefer the more prolix explanation of the author.
“ Yet the passion of the countess was rather an abstract propensity, than the preference of an individual. A given quantity of personal merit and accomplished manners was sure to charm her. A fresh and agreeable complexion, a sparkling eye, a well-turned leg, a grace in dancing or in performing the manæuyres of gallantry, were claims that the Countess de B. was never known to resist.”--Vol. i. p. 152.
Upon discovery of this frailty, our hero's patience forsook him; and he raved, fumed, and agonized, till ours likewise was on the verge of departure. In this paroxysm, his taste for the mountain and the desert returned upon him like a frenzy; and as there were none nearer than the Alps, to the Alps he flies incontinently on the wings of despair. He repairs to the mansion of a venerable old Swiss gentleman, a friend of his father, delightfully situated in the valley of Ursereen, in a wood of tall and venerable trees; a very extraordinary and fortunate circumstance for the possessor, as we will venture to say that it is the only wood that ever grew in that celebrated valley, which is the highest inhabited ground in the Alps. The host of Fleetwood carries him to a pleasure party on the lake of Uri, and chooses that time and place to acquaint him, that while he was living jollily at Paris, his father had taken the opportunity of dying quietly in Merionethshire. The effect of this intelligence upon Fleetwood is inexpressibly striking. He ate no breakfast the next morning ; and it was not till the arrival of dinner, that “hunger at length subdued the obstinacy of his grief.” Ruffigny, his host, now joins him; and after a reasonable allowance of sympathy and consolation, entertains him with the history of his connexion with his father.
Ruffigny, left in infancy to the guardianship of a wicked uncle who thirsted after his inheritance, had been trepanned to Lyons, and bound apprentice to a silk-weaver, or rather employed in the more laborious part of his drudgery. His feelings, on being gradually subjected to this monotonous and degrading labour, are very well described, as also the enthusiastic resolution which he forms, of throwing himself at the feet of the King of France, whom the boy had pictured to himself like the Henry and the Francis, the heroes of the legendary tales of his country. His escape, his journey, his disappointment, have all the same style of merit; and it is in such painting, where the subject is actuated by some wild, uncommon, or unnatural strain of passion and feeling, that we conceive Mr Godwin's peculiar talent to lie. At Paris, the deserted Ruffigny is patronised by Fleetwood, the grandfather of our hero ; and his future connexion with that family is marked with reciprocal acts of that romantic generosity, which is so common in novels, and so very rare in real life.
* By the way, we greatly question the locality here pitched on. We know of no such lake as the lake of Uri; but we suppose the lake of Lucerne, a lake of the four cantons, was the scene of this affecting discovery. But Mr Godwin is not much at home in Switzerland.
The main narrative is now resumed. Ruffigny accompanies Fleetwood on his return to England, where he finds in his paternal dwelling “an empty mansion and a tenanted grave." Notwithstanding his grief for his father's death, he is on the point of forming a connexion with a bewitching Mrs Comorin (quære Cormorant?) who had lately cohabited with Lord Mandeville, but, having quarrelled with her admirer, had a heart and person vacant for the first suitable offer. This naughty affair is interrupted by the precipitate retreat of Ruffigny, who, not choosing to be present where such matters were going forward, was in full march towards Switzerland, when he is recalled, by Fleetwood's consent, to sacrifice his young mistress to his old friend. After this period, the story flags insufferably. Fleetwood, like King Solomon of yore, tries the various resources of travelling, so
ciety, literature, politics, and farming, and, with him, pronounces them all vanity and vexation of spirit. In this vain pursuit, he becomes a confirmed old bachelor; and the interest of the story, contrary to that of every other novel, commences when he exchanges this unprofitable state for that of matrimony.
This grand step he is induced to take by the disinterested arguments of Mr Macneil, a shrewd Scotchman, whom he meets on the lakes of Cumberland, and who at that very moment had four unmarried daughters upon his hands. The accomplishments of these damsels were rather overshadowed by some peculiarities in the history of their mother. This lady, when very young, had, while in Italy, married her music-master, who gave her no small reason to repent her choice. Macneil delivered her from the tyranny of this ungrateful musician, who had immured her in a ruinous castle, his hereditary mansion! That she gave her deliverer her heart was natural enough, but she also bestowed upon him her hand, to which the deserted minstrel had an unalienable claim. The ladies on the lakes of Cumberland, judging that two husbands was an unreasonable allowance, declined intercourse with the fair monopolist. Macneil was therefore about to return to Italy, where he had vested his whole fortune in the hands of a banker of Genoa ; but, upon the fervent suit of Fleetwood, he agreed that his youngest daughter, Mary, should remain in England. He himself, with his wife and three eldest daughters, proceed on their voyage, leaving