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which the reader has no conception of beforehand, but which, the moment he has read it, flashes upon him as the only thing they ought or could have done and said, is a power that few mortals are gifted with, and it remains to be shown that Mr. Bulwer is one of them. His characters have none of the flippant prittle-prattle of common conversation put into their mouths; on the contrary, they are in the opposite extreme, and many times talk and act as men and women never talk and acted before. They harangue, first one a speech, and then the other a speech, by the page together, and are by far too didactic and declamatory. The following is one instance of this author's infelicitous adaptation of the language and actions of his personages to time, place, and circumstances. The scene is a midnight assassination, where Algernon Mordaunt falls by the hand of the conspirator Wolfe. Clarence Linden catches him as he falls, and with his murdered friend in his arms, and the murderer standing beside him, gives vent to his feelings in the following pertinent and appropriate interrogation ;-"Oh where-where--when this man --the wise, the kind, the innocent, almost the perfect, falls thus in the prime of existence, by a sudden blow from an obscure hand--unblest in life, inglorious in death-oh!, where where is this boasted triumph of virtue, or where is its reward ?"
Would nature or Sir Walter Scott have made any man prate after this fashion under such circumstances? True, the author endeavors to soften down the absurdity by saying that Linden was unconscious of the presence of the assassin, but it is easier for the reader to be told so, than for him to believe it. A maiden in such a situation with her lover, or a mother with her child, might be unconscious of any thing save the object they were hanging over-but men and politicians-common friends, and the surviving friend cool and collected enough to question the decrees of fate " in good set terms"--for such a one to forget the murderer at his elbow, is one of those remarkable instances of abstraction that very seldom occur, except in a French tragedy; and it may be very good French-tragedy nature, but that is about all. If Linden had seized the assassin and called the watch, it would have been a more natural sort of proceeding, and much more in accordance with Mr. Bulwer's utilitarian principles.
The forte of this writer appears to be eloquent declamation--melancholy, fervid, or despairing, but still declamation. (The terms “melancholy” and “ despairing” declamation may sound strange, but perhaps they are not inapplicable to some passages in Mr. B.'s works.) In Mordaunt it is calm, melancholy, and philosophic; fervid and impassioned in the republican Wolfe ; desperate and despairing in the villain Crauford ; and by turns bitter and enthusiastic in the painter Warner.* This is an imposing but not very difficult kind of writing, and the real talent employed in it generally passes for more than it is worth. This author's is of the best description, and though certainly the “passion sleeps," it cannot be added that the “declamation roars ;" it often softens down into moralizing reflection, in which the similes and images employed are frequently beautiful, and the language in which they are clothed flowing and melodious, and, when occasion demands, nervous and vigorous; but it is not all this—no, nor judiciously introduced classical allusions and quotations--nor ingenious refutations of common-place maxims and opinions-nor brilliant and antithetical aphorisms, that is to elevate a man to an equality with the author of the Scotch novels, to say nothing of the English ones. But it in no way detracts from Mr. Bulwer's reputation as a fine writer, to say that Walter Scott is immensely superior to him ; after that wonderful man he is
* The feelings and sufferings of Warner have a striking resemblance to those of the Italian painter Correggio, as depicted in a tragedy of that name, a review of which is to be found in one of the early numbers of Blackwood's Magazine.
undoubtedly the most popular novelist of the day. He may, in the novelty and excitement attending his debut be both over and under-rated, but
- Time at last sets all things even,"
and he will doubtless find his proper level, which we think will be far above the mass of his contemporaries--a little higher than the writer of the O'Hara tales, and some degrees below the author of Anastasius.
But for thee, good Sir Walter ! the time is yet to come when thou wilt receive the fulness of thy fame. The present generation admire and applaud thee, the future will feel a deeper and holier reverence for thee; and the language in which thou hast immortalized thyself is one that is fast spreading in every quarter of this habitable globe. Over the illimitable regions of this continent wilt thou be read and worshipped ; in distant India and the yet untrodden wildernesses of Australasia will thy name be known; and the time may come when the British Isles will be but as specks of earth to the boundless countries that will speak their language and treasure up their glorious literature. Then will the halls of Abbotsford become “ pilgrim shrines,” and every decayed memorial that speaks of thee a relic. And when the tide of population shall have poured over the
mountain barrier, filling every highland glen with cotton factories—and " weavers, spinners and such mechanical persons” erect their looms in the very country of Rob Roy, the wild warriors and plaided chieftains that once trod those rugged glens and heathery hills will still live in thy undying page, and thou wilt be the connecting link between a present and a past age--the chronicler of the “ tales of the times of old, and deeds of the days of other years." What strange and savage customs what deadly feuds--what wild legends—what furious passions and fierce fidelity lay concealed behind those mountains that gird the higblands, and which, but for thee, would have passed unrecorded to oblivion ; but as the prophet of old smote the rock and the waters gushed forth, so didst thou, with thy magic wand, touch those highland hills, and the whole billowy scene lay disclosed to view! Then the bloody lowland and English wars, what an historian would they have missed; and though upon the border side,
“ The glaring bale-fires blaze no more,"
and the 's gallant Gordons” and thieving Armstrongs and Elliotts keep honest snuff and tobacconist shops in Kelso and Jedburgh, yet shall not the bitter feuds and midnight forays of their law