Puslapio vaizdai

distinguished men. Newton failed when he turned from the courses of the stars, and the ebb and flow of the ocean, to apocalyptic seals and vials. Bentley failed when he turned from Homer and Aristophanes to edite Paradise Lost. Inigo failed when he attempted to rival the Gothic churches of the fourteenth century. Wilkie failed when he took it into his head that the Blind Fiddler and the Rent-Day were unworthy of his powers, and challenged competition with Lawrence as a portrait-painter. Such failures should be noted for the instruction of posterity; but they detract little from the permanent reputation of those who have really done great things.

Yet one word more. It is not only on account of the intrinsic merit of Madame d’Arblay's early works that she is entitled to honourable mention. Her appearance is an important epoch in our literary history. Evelina was the first tale written by a woman, and purporting to be a picture of life and manners, that lived or deserved to live. The Female Quixote is no exception. That work has undoubtedly great merit, when considered as a wild satirical harlequinade; but, if we consider it as a picture of life and manners, we must pronounce it more absurd than any of the romances which it was designed to ridicule.

Indeed, most of the popular novels which preceded Evelina, were such as no lady would have written ; and many of them were such as no lady could without confusion own that she had read. The very name of novel was held in horror among religious people. In decent families which did not profess extraordinary sanctity, there was a strong feeling against all such works. Sir Anthony Absolute, two or three years before Evelina appeared, spoke the sense of the great body of sober fathers and husbands, when he pronounced the circulating library an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge. This feeling, on the part of the grave and reflecting, increased the evil from which it had sprung. The novelist, having little character to lose, and having few readers among serious people, took without scruple liberties which in our generation seem almost incredible.

Miss Burney did for the English novel what Jeremy Collier did for the English drama; and she did it in a better way. She first showed that a tale might be written in which both the fashionable and the vulgar lite of London might be exhibited with great force, and with broad comic humour, and which yet shouid not contain a single line inconsistent with rigid morality, or even with virgin delicacy. She took away the reproach which lay on a most useful and delightful species of composition. She vindicated the right of her sex to an equal share in a fair and noble province of letters. Several accomplished women have followed in her track. At present, the novels which we owe to English ladies form no small part of the literary glory of our country. No class of works is more honourably distinyuished by fine observation, by grace, by delicate wit, by pure moral feeling. Several among the successors of Madame D'Arblay have equalled her; two, we think, bave surpassed her. But the fact that she has been surpassed, gives her an additional claim to our respect and gratitude ; for in truth we owe to her, not only Evelina, Cecilia, and Camilla, but also Mansfield Park and the Absentee.

NOTE to the Article, in last Number, on the New Biographical

Dictionary of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Know

ledge. We have been informed that in mentioning, in the above Article, the Biographical Dictionary of the late Dr Aikin, we committed a mistake in stating that it was not completed, which we now very willingly correct. We had said that it stopped with letter S, on the conclusion of its eighth volume; whereas we find that it was actually completed, and a Supplement added, by Dr Aikin;the whole extending to ten volumes, of which the two last were published in 1814 and 1815. But though a valuable, it is not by any means a universal Biography, being professedly limited to lives of • eminent persons,'-a very different sort of undertaking from one that aspires to notice every individual who has done any thing either in Letters or Art, or in any line likely to attract the curiosity of mankind, whether eminent or not. Such we understand to be the object of the New Biographical Dictionary, and this gir'es it a vast superiority, in respect of plan, over that of Dr Aikin, and every other work of the kind that has been produced or attempted in this country.



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Apparatus, by the Messrs Rennie, &c. Hermeneutical, Exegetical, and Phi- &c. Complete. Division C, Portion losophical Library. Vol. 40_ Calvin the First 6 plates and book, 14s. 151 and Storr on the Epistles of Paul to BOOK of SPORTS, British and Fothe Philippians and Colossians. 12mo. reign; devoted to the Pictorial Illus

(Edinburgh,) pp. 444, cloth, 7s. (43 tration of the Pursuits of the SportsBIGSBY.-The Miscellaneous Poems man in every quarter of the Globe.

and Essays of Robert Bigsby, K.T.F. 18+3. 4to. pp. 96, with 50 plates, LL.D. F.R.S. F.S.A. Royal 8vo. half-bound, 16s.

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[44 BORGET.-Sketches of China and the BINGHAM. - Narrative of the Expe- Chinese, from Drawings by Auguste

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