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an impotent endeavour to succeed: but when he represents two gentlemen contentiously engaged he gives them at once, dignity, acrimony, and a chivalrous tone of sentiment supported by an exquisite felicity of style. His plays have many scenes that support this opinion: and the tenth chapter of the fourth book of Henry, is an admirable instance of this power which he possessed.
Cumberland excels, also, both Fielding and Smollett, and sometimes even Richardson, in his descriptions of female grace and beauty. Fielding and Smollett describe their women like voluptuaries ; Cumberland like a lover. In them wefind only the common enumeration of charms which may inflame desire, in Cumberland such as may awaken sentiment and respectful feeling, for he usually combines them with some moral excellence of which they are made only the visible effects or the pleasing associates. He utters no hyperbolical raptures at the imaginary contemplation of his females, nor exalts them to divinities by giving them charms which mere mortals never possessed : he soberly and dispassionately celebrates such corporeal qualities as may be found in any accidental assemblage of the sex, and which, having all the weight of truth, they please as beauties but do not strike as wonders.
In the character of Ezekiel Daw, Cumberland made a fresh exertion of his benevolence, and strove to excite the reader's good will for an itinerant methodist preacher; an individual whom it has long been the custom to regard with a mixture of ridicule and contempt. By giving him active and essential piety, by making him humane, zealous in doing good, and respectable in conduct, he has certainly succeeded in displaying one methodist whom it is possible to esteem. His quotations from scripture are copious and appropriate: but I am afraid they are sometimes irreverent.
Lady Crowbery is a very pleasingly drawn. Her husband is a wretch whose end no one pities. Isabella, as the heroine of the tale, has received all the author's most elaborate touches and is, in many parts, pourtrayed with great felicity. But her filial piety exalts her moral character I fear beyond what it is capable of attaining when attained in opposition to vehement and resistless love. She has many fascinating qualities, though I should not think her so dangerous to the peace of an admirer as Lady Louisa G. or her friend Lady Jane in Arundel.
Of Zachary Cawdle I probably think less favourably than the author, for he says, in his Memoirs, that he drew him con amore.
He is only one of a species : he will never constitute a dis
He sometimes amuses, but when he does, it is rather by exaggeration than by any display of nature. His wife, Jemima, might have been omitted, and the narrative had proceeded just as regularly. If she was introduced only to shew
that faith without good works, is merely a holy cheat, a sanctimonious covering to hide innate depravity and to cloke the basest actions, the labour was superfluous. Every one knew that who knew how to join two propositions.
Fanny Claypole is drawn with some skill. The unbridled fury of her passions leads her, on all occasions, to violent excesses, and whether she loves or hates she is equally the object of our terror and aversion. Her father is another in. stance of Cumberland's willingness to degrade the established clergy by every meanness that can sully without destroying the man. Like Joseph Arundel, he is a despicable sycophant, who fawns, crawls, and licks the dust to obtain some paltry, mercenary end. But is it necessary, is it prudent or patriotic, to exhibit such vices in the character of a clergyman? I do not say they are not to be found in the members of the church: but when it is considered how potent opinion is and how much of our reverence for the most sacred institutions is founded upon that frail and fickle basis, it may be justly questioned whether much political evil may not eventually result from the too great freedom of satire in holding up the established ministers of religion to insult and derision. Without being fastidious, also, I may be permitted to hint that such willingness to this kind of freedom is somewhat remarkable in the son and great-grandson of a bishop, and in a man who often employed his pen to combat the enemies of the church, or to promote the duties of its members.
The episode of Blachford is well conducted, and is made subservient to a moral purpose. Henry, also, is displayed to great advantage in his conduct on the occasion. He does not do more, indeed, than many, it is to be hoped,would have done ; but what he does is so much beyond the reach of common integrity that the display of it seems to give a new impulse to virtue.
Cumberland appears to have been aware of his superiority in depicting the passion of love. In the initial chapter to the first book he says, “one thing however, there is for me to do, that cannot be dispensed with though I shall probably hold it • off as long as I can. I must make love, and I am far from sure, I shall make it in a style to please my readers.
I wish to my heart I knew what sort of love they best like; for there are so many patterns, I am puzzled how to choose what may please them. I have been sometimes told that the author of Arundel was not far from the butt: if so, I hope I am as good a marksman as he is.”
This, indeed, is playful raillery, but truth is at the bottom: and Cumberland might confidently have assumed to himself that excellence which he seems only to surmise. Yet, he could sometimes degenerate into rant, as when a gentleman exclaims, who is listening to Isabella, “ What voice do I hear? What vision do I behold? She breathes through rows of pearls over beds of roses. 'Tis an enchantment! She will vanish presently, and I shall start out of my trance.'
Surely the author was in a trance when he wrote such unnatural bombast. He rarely, however, offends in this way.
Cumberland's opinion, as to his excellence of style, was settled long before he wrote his Memoirs. In the first chapter of the twelfth book of Henry, he hints that the critic will not find much to reprehend in his diction, but begs, that if a blow be struck, it may be struck with justice. It would be idle repetition to dispute this opinion with the same minuteness as I have done in the Observer ; the reader must candidly believe my power to do it, or remove his doubts by looking into the volumes bimself. I will only instance one error. The ninth chapter of the last book has this interrogatory at the head of it.
“ Why is earth and ashes proud ?”
In dismissing this novel from my notice, I would finally observe, that it is one which must always be read with pleasure; that the contexture of the fable is artfully woven; that the characters are, most of them, skilfully drawn; that the situations are often pathetic and interesting ; that the attention of the reader is never suffered to lapse into indifference, and that the sentiments which it con