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of his feeling, or exertions of his power, to spoil its perfectness. The true test of greatness is the presence of all the qualities of a man's nature in co-ordinate action in whatever work or word may proceed from him. In some of Mr. Parker's later writings we see great powers, but unrestrained, unchastened by other noble qualities, -by tenderness, by scrupulous justice to individuals, by superiority to personal animosity and scorn, by that full and severe truth which in a rich mind affords all the elements of perfect beauty,-and, therefore, we see great powers wandering into riot. We would not withdraw Mr. Parker from that noble warfare with Slavery, in which, from vehement hatred of wrong, his fine nature sometimes loses its balance. We would only intreat him to be always his entire self, to carry the whole fulness of his nature into all that he does and says, that it may not lose the power of conferring perfect gifts upon us. Mr. Parker is in many directions far more richly endowed than Dr. Channing, but in the preservation of the full beauty and dignity of his nature in his most earnest strife with evil, Mr. Parker might well take Dr. Channing for his model.
Art. II.—RELIGIOUS FICTION.
The Wide, Wide World. By Elizabeth Wetherell.
Herbert,” Wethe "Wide, orlds of Englann
EXCEPT “Amy Herbert,” we never read a child's story to compare in interest with the “Wide, Wide World;" and as it has gone far through the wide worlds of England and America, and received a large share of attention from the readers of fiction here and there, it claims, we think, with its sister story, some notice at our hands. We have lately spoken of the important influence acquired by fiction, and the functions of the critic respecting it. But if he is called upon to interpret its deep truths, and explore its hidden meanings, and detect its subtle beauties, and if he is to determine the laws of taste that should be observed by creative genius, no less certain is it, that he should endeavour to expose the moral fallacies and religious errors which appear to him to mar the perfection of a noble and life-like production, and to make the valuable ally of reverence and reason, to some extent at least, the generator of false sentiment or unreal doctrine.
We enter upon the criticism of these books with no narrow prejudice or sectarian animosity; we have been delighted as well as instructed by them. None could read them without benefit. They move the heart and charm the imagination, and prove themselves, on every page, to be the productions of women of singular power and high character. Were we to say all that we have felt during their perusal, we should be believed to be still in our childhood, and carried away by a sympathy as young and enthusiastic as Ellen Montgomery's. What we shall have to object to in the main is confined almost exclusively to the more popular of these productions, which contains grave and serious error, not natural to the creating mind, but the artificial graft of an orthodox education.
* This book has several names ; besides the above, attached to the first edition that appeared in this country, it is now to be met with under the various designations of “ The History of Grace Howard; or, The Family at Glen Luna;" “ Dollars and Cents ; ' “ Speculation.”
Before entering, however, upon this ground, let us express our real joy and satisfaction in meeting with books for the young, so high in tone and so truly religious. It is not because they are so that we have any fault to find. We could wish nothing better for the rising generation, than that it might possess a whole library of fictitious productions such as these, (not of course unmingled with a much larger amount of other reading,) provided their general tone and religious teaching were of a healthier description than such as the “ Wide, Wide World” presents, and savoured less of bibliolatry and what is called evangelical Christianity. It may seem narrow in us to object to a story on account of the theological views of the writer; but when those views are brought prominently forward, and didactically pressed upon our notice, and urged as the proper principles of action, and the sources from which peace is to come, to young and old alike, then we must step forward, however reluctantly, and as the friends of truth and reality, declare what we deem false and prejudicial, in works otherwise so beautiful and attractive.
It will interest our readers to know, what an American review has told us, that Elizabeth Wetherell and Amy Lothrop are sisters—two Miss Warners; the elder one is the author of the “Wide, Wide World” and “ Queechy." In many respects she shows more power than the authoress of “Glen Luna.” The former delights in describing sentiment and passion, the latter avoids “scenes,” and keeps upon the still waters and quiet ways of domestic life. The one revels in the pathetic, and probably loves to excite, and be excited, to tears, since she describes them as so abundant in her little heroine. She takes an orphan each time for her central figure. Her sister, on the contrary, (who probably considers that some virtue consists in controlling all outward emotion,) draws characters mainly of reserved and subdued feeling, whose affections (though almost equally sensitive) are more deep than passionate, more self-conscious than violent and impulsive. We do not mean to say that there is any disagreeable self-consciousness in the characters of “ Glen Luna;' by no means; quite the contrary; the book appears to us entirely free from this defect, so painfully characteristic of our age, and not altogether absent from the tales of her sister: we only mean that she gives to her characters not more intellect perhaps, but more reflection; and, consequently, self-knowledge and reason keep the feelings under admirable restraint and control; whereas the impulsive and less thoughtful minds which her sister delights to descrihe, full of intellectual perception and curiosity, with lively instincts and enthusiastic tendencies, unbalanced by meditative power and the clear reasoning of common sepse, are perpetually convulsed with anger, sorrow, or despair. The “ Wide, Wide World” we should judge to be the swift production of an open demonstrative character, ready of imagination, and fluent in speech as in writing. Miss Warner writes too easily; she is too diffuse. She has plenty to say, and does not care to condense her narrative. She gives you variety of scene, and a good deal of incident, but is quite heedless as to the space filled, and the period required for perusal. It demands more labour and time to write tersely and briefly, multum in parvo, and this labour and time Miss Warner cannot or will not give. Her sister has, unquestionably, a less ready invention. There is a good deal less variety of scene and incident in her tale ; and if it is long and tedious (which we did not feel it to be), it is more from this cause, the sameness of the narrative, than from that diffuseness of style observable in the “ Wide, Wide World." We could wish the younger Miss Warner would sometimes write at more length. She is perfectly enigmatical in many of her conversations. We laid down her book with no complaint except of the sad labour occasionally required to make out what her speakers were referring to, or how they slipped so strangely into this or that subject, or what in the world they were driving at. We could uot help thinking that these parts were written at a late hour of the night, when the mental powers were in a hazy balance between sleeping and waking, or partially occupied a wool-gathering. The story of " Glen Luna” is otherwise unexceptionable. Its style though less vigorous and strongly marked than that of the “ Wide, Wide World,” is more delicate and graceful, and bears more signs of careful and studied composition. It is more
peculiarly the writing of a refined and tasteful mind, of the true feminine stamp: full as essentially religious as her sister's book, but the religion is more unobtrusive, and given after a less didactic fashion: and this is one of its charms. We like to see religion rather underlying the structure of a tale, and spontaneously breaking forth, now and then, in a full stream to the surface, than brought forward systematically, or by officious efforts of the will, as if the writer were bent upon preaching of duty, and not occupied with the simple unfolding of character. In another respect also we think that “Glen Luna” claims precedence, as not being anywhere marked in the least degree with the prominent and rather disagreeable tendency of the age, of which some slight traces are to be found in the “ Wide, Wide World." The tendency we allude to is that of loving to dwell upon exaggerated or at least uncommon states of sensibility and passion, while self-consciousness is close at hand. In Mr. Kingsley's tales, to some extent, this tendency is perceptible, but in “ Jane Eyre,” “ Shirley,” and “ Villette,” it is dominant, The authoress of these books draws passion with a keen self-consciousness; and while her heroines, bound indeed by an iron will under the great law of duty, but subdued by no feminine instincts, and chastened by no religious love, show themselves prematurely open to the advances of their passionate despots, the ardour revealed on the one side or the other, or both, being regarded from within as well as from without, a painful consciousness is produced in the reader as of the presence of unrefined and coarse elements in the life presented to him; and however much he may own the breadth and power of the painter's brush, he has an unpleasant sense of the colours being by no means clear or clean. That these two inharmonious human tendencies do not always appear in the same character, matters nothing: they appear in the book; they are contiguous in the writing; they mingle their streams together, and the precipitate is dark. Look at Louis Moore, one of the brothers in “Shirley;" in him you have the very sediments of an earthly nature, and selfconsciousness strongly active. The “Wide, Wide World,” and “Queechy," are not to be compared with these novels for a moment. But truly sensitive and impulsive as Miss