صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

society, the sum will be an incredible and unpardonable accumulation of offences against the manners and morals of a civilised country.

Something like this censure, or perhaps something more severe, may be passed upon the Roderick Random and Peregrine Pickle of Smollet; whose humour is inferior to that of Fielding, and his objectionable scenes wrought up with still less regard to decency. In fact, the female who has read these novels has nothing bad to learn.

Nearly all the splendid qualities of

Roderick Random and Peregrine Pickle

are subservient to licentious purposes.

Their characters, and those of the minor agents in each piece, may be, and I dare say sometimes are, drawn with a strict attention to nature: but I trust I shall never know whether many of them

are so or not.

The author is not satisfied with expatiating on the revelry of the stews, and the vile debaucheries of the bully and the harlot; but thinks it incumbent on him to subjoin nastiness to obscenity; and brings into full view the infirmities by which man is degraded; the ravages of loathsome distemper, and the stench and the vermin of the hospital.

E 2

To those who assert all this to be natural, I have only to say, that it is, for that very reason, inexcusable; and I must beg leave to remind them of a certain sarcasm attributed to Voltaire, as applied to the dramas of Shakspeare, and in allusion to the human person: "We are not," said the wit, " because nakedness is NATURAL, therefore to go naked!"

To the list of writers whose novels are calculated to hurt the morals of the reader, it is with much concern I feel myself obliged to annex the celebrated and respected name of Mr. Cumberland. As the author of several most ingenious,

learned, and highly-finished works, he has merited the gratitude, and long enjoyed the admiration, of his country; and it is to be regretted that by his novel of "Henry," the TERENCE OF ENGLAND should have tarnished his honourable character; and after having so successfully endeavoured to mend the heart, employed his great talents to corrupt it.

t

Henry is not Mr. Cumberland's first offence. His "Arundel " is likewise exceptionable; but less so than the other; with which it bears no comparison, either in its pleasing or its perni

cious qualities. Henry is a fascinating publication; it abounds in passages of genuine humour; in the richest and most correct descriptions; and in incidents irresistibly pathetic, or replete with comic force: for the author is a master, and touches every chord of human sensibility with a master's hand. But the goodly work is, alas! marred, and its efficacy counteracted, by its being interlarded with scenes perfectly inexcusable; and very unseemly, as the labour of a head white with the snows of time, and crowned, as it is, with literary laurels. The author of Henry

« السابقةمتابعة »