Imatges de pÓgina

perly said to be in love with either of these fair ladies, than a hungry man, according to Fielding's comparison, can be said to be in love with a shoulder of Welsh mutton. In like manner, his pursuit after happiness, through various scenes, is uniformly directed by the narrow principle of self-gratification; there is no aspiration towards promoting the public advantage, or the happiness of individuals ; Mr Fleetwood moves calmly forward in quest of what may make Mr Fleetwood happy; and, like all other egotists of this class, he providentially misses his aim. But it is chiefly in the wedded state that his irritable and selfish habits are most completely depicted. With every tie, moral and divine, which can bind a man to the object of his choice, or which could withhold him from acts of unkindness or cruelty, he commences and carries on a regular system for subjecting all her pleasures to the control of his own, and every attempt on her part to free herself from this constraint, produces such scenes of furious tyranny, as at the beginning nearly urge her to distraction, and finally drive her an outcast from society. In short, the new Man of Feeling, in his calm moments a determined egotist, is, in his state of irritation, a frantic madman, who plays on a barrel-organ at a puppet-show, till he and the wooden dramatis personæ are all possessed by the foul fiend Hibbertigibbet, who presides over moping and mowing. We close the book with the painful reflection, that Mary is once more subjected to his tyranny; and our only hope is, that a certain Mr Scarborough, a very peremptory and


overbearing person, who assists at the dénouement, may, in case of need, be a good hand at putting on a strait waistcoat.



[John de Lancaster, a Novel. By RICHARD CUMBERLAND,

Esq. 3 Vols. From the Quarterly Review, 1809.]

MR CUMBERLAND has now borne arms in the fields of literature for more than half a century:' the nature of his service has been as various as its date has been protracted; nor has his warfare been without its success and its honours. If he has never been found in the very van and front of battle, he has seldom lagged in the rear; and although we cannot find that he has on any occasion brought home the spolia opima, or qualified himself for the grand triumph, it must be allowed that he has often merited and obtained the humbler meed of an ovation. His dramatic pieces are those on

[Mr Cumberland died 7th May, 1811, in his eightieth year, and was interred in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey. For

account of his Life and Writings, see ante, vol. iii. pp. 191-230.]

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which his fame will hereafter most probably rest. But the “ Terence of England, the mender of hearts," unsatisfied with having made more than one successful effort in modern comedy, perhaps the most difficult of all compositions, seemed determined to show us that his vein though fertile was not inexhaustible, and that the friend of Garrick, of Goldsmith, and of Johnson, could write plays fit only to be prefatory to the more important matter of Mother Goose. These must be forgotten ere the author of the West Indian, the Brothers, the Jew, and the Wheel of Fortune, can enjoy his full honours ; but we can comfort him with the assurance that the date of their memory is already nearly expired. As a periodical writer, Mr Cumberland's classical learning and accurate taste, his beautiful and flowing style, and the pleasing subjects on which he usually loves to employ himself, compensate in some degree for want of depth of thought, or novelty of conception. It is hardly possible to speak too highly of his translations from Aristophanes and the ancient Greek fragments, they are not only equal, but superior, to any thing of the kind in our language, and so great is our respect for the author of these exquisite versions, that we will not say a single word of his original poetry.

But it is as a novelist that we are at present to examine Mr Cumberland's literary powers. We cannot place Arundel and Henry on the same shelf with the works of Fielding or Smollet, and we are the less inclined to do so, as the latter novel, being a close imitation of Tom Jones, serves particularly to show the wide difference between the authors. Yet Mr Cumberland's novels rank far above the usual stock in trade of the circulating library, are written in easy and elegant language, and evince considerable powers of observing generic, though not individual, characters. Excepting Smollet alone, whose sailors are, moreover, of a more ancient and rugged school, none has better delineated the characteristic and professional traits of the British navy, than Mr Cumberland. The mission to Spain filled his portfolio with interesting sketches of that people, and of the persecuted Jews, who yet reside amongst them, which we often trace in his novels, tales, and dramatic labours. The works of former authors he has laid liberally under contribution, and sometimes new-dressed their characters so well, as to give them an air of originality. Thus Ephraim Daw, in Henry, is a methodistical Parson Adams, having the same simplicity of character, the same goodness of heart, and the same disposition to use the carnal arm in a good cause, qualified by the enthusiastic tenets and language of the sect from which the author derives him. It is therefore, we repeat, rather in delineating a species than an individual that the art of Mr Cumberland consists, so far as it is original, the distinguishing personal features which he introduces being usually borrowed from others. Indeed we know but two remarkable peculiarities of taste in manners and incident which are completely his own, and run through all his works. The first is an odd and rather unnatural transfer of the task of courtship from the hero to the heroine of the piece. Mr Cumberland seems to have found an inexpressible charm in exchanging the attributes of the sexes, so that the weaker may turn the chase upon the stronger, and the pigeon become the pursuer of the hawk. The frank and exacting manners of Charlotte Rusport, and his other ladies, (which, should they ever become fashionable, would be no slight inconvenience to our modish gentlemen) were carried to their height in the novel of Henry, in which the virtues of continence and chastity, which, ever since the days of Heliodorus, the first novelist on record, have been esteemed the indispensable and inalienable property of the heroine of the tale, were, vi et armis, transferred to the hero, leaving the unfortunate damsel to whom they rightfully belonged as bare of both as the birch-tree of leaves upon Christmas eve. This singular taste seemed so deeply ingrafted in Mr Cumberland's system of writing, that when we understood that he had selected a scriptural subject for his last poem,

never doubted for an instant that he had given the preference to the history of Joseph and Potiphar's wife. And though then mistaken, we find the present novel exhibiting symptoms too peculiar to be overlooked in a general view of Mr Cumberland's literary character. The second predilection to which we alluded, is the peculiar pleasure which this author finds in a duel with all its previous pomp and circumstance of gentlemanlike defiance, retort, and reproof valiant. A single com


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