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(the aunt, it is to be remembered, of the father of Lionel, whose own years are beyond the age of man,) enters the book in hysterics, falls out of one fit into another through the whole course of the story, and makes her final exit in violent convulsions. Her ruling passion is represented to be a desire to connect her own family with that of Lincoln, which appears to govern her from generation to generation. Her first experiment, with this view, is a long-sighted attempt upon the father of Lionel, before he is known as the heir of the house of Lincoln, in favor of her own daughter. This falls through, however,—the lady attaching herself to Colonel Dynevor, and becoming the mother of Čecil, and the gentleman first seeking an intimacy more to his taste with Abigail Pray, (a pretty domestic of his aunt's, who becomes the mother of Job Pray,) and then disappointing her views for ever, by marrying her god-daughter, Priscilla Lechmere, afterwards the mother of Lionel. All Mrs. Lechmere's visions of glory now give place to her thirst for revenge upon the being who has dispelled them. Accordingly, during his stay in England, where he goes to secure the title and estates of his family, which fall to him just at this crisis, she prepares, in conjunction with Abigail Pray, a plot to convince him that his wife, whose death takes place before his return, had been faithless during his absence. Their contrivance succeeds, and the reason of Sir Lionel is by these means sufficiently unsettled to enable Mrs. Lechmere to procure his subsequent confinement in England, as a lunatic, from which he does not escape until he accompanies his son, although unknown to him, on his expedition to the colonies. The changes wrought in him by time, suffering, and disease, are such, that neither Abigail Pray, in whose house he takes up his abode, nor Mrs. Lechmere, whose death he predicts, although hints enough are frequently thrown out to quicken their penetration, seems even to suspect his identity. In the mean while, the presence of Lionel in the house of Mrs. Lechmere, revives her former passion; and the charms of her grand-daughter Cecil achieve the triumph of which she had been forced by experience to despair. On Lionel's recovery from a wound received in the battle of Breed's Hill, a moment of tenderness into which Cecil is betrayed by her sympathy for her cousin's protracted sufferings, leads, (in the language of the author,) to Lionel's "favoring her with a very particular communication," and on applying to Mrs. Lechmere for her consent, she urges their union on the same evening. The young lady, who appears determined to have as much ceremonial about the matter as the circumstances will admit, insists upon being mar
ried in church. Accordingly, in the midst of a violent snowstorm, the bridegroom goes himself after the parson, and, at ten o'clock, that the bride might not be exposed to the stare of too numerous a congregation, she and her attendants are driven to the spot in her lover's 'tom-pung;' the benediction is pronounced, in spite of a gigantic shadow upon the walls which at first threatens to forbid the banns, and Lionel and his wife adjourn to the house of Mrs. Lechmere just in time to witness her death,—to listen to the mysterious denunciations of the stranger, who is as yet known by no other name than Ralph,—and to overhear the busy preparations for their supper that are making by their cousin Miss Agnes Danforth, more extensive, perhaps, than was necessary for a party of three persons,
the appetites of two of whom, at least, might be naturally supposed to be somewhat impaired by the antecedent occurrences of the evening. This happy consummation, however, does not take place; for when Cecil, under the influence of some indefinite apprehension, goes to her husband's apartment in search of him
Alas! he was not to be found,
But that he was not. We have examined diligently into all the subsequent facts in the book, and have endeavored not to overlook any of what the author calls the circumstances more probable than facts," in the hope of finding some explanation of Lionel's strange elopement at this particular conjuncture. The only probable solution of it, however, that we have been able to discover, is a pious purpose of visiting his mother's grave—a purpose that would not have been likely to grow cool by adding a single day to the score, at least, of years during which the execution of it had been deferred. It cannot certainly be accounted for by the supposition of a malignant exertion of the mysterious influence of Ralph, after the shadowy approbation of their nuptials which he exhibited upon the ceiling of the church. Cecil, however, in spite of the questionable appearance of this apparent abandonment, prosecutes her search after her husband, until she finds him, at last, a prisoner to the rebels at Cambridge. She is accompanied on this excursion by an “unknown man, who, introducing himself to one of Lionel's friends, volunteers his services to her, and afterwards proves to be the keeper of Sir Lionel, and pursues his victim with unaccountable pertinacity, even after the death of Mrs. Lechmere, from whom the only intelligible persecution of him has previously proceeded.
of Lionel is contrived by his father in such a manner as to exchange him for the said keeper, for whom the old gentleman appears to entertain a most cordial horror. On their return he conducts his son, still unknown to him, to the spot where his mother is interred, and there makes a last and successful effort to induce him to desert the British for the American arms.
We are now introduced to the great catastrophe of the story. Job Pray is disposed of by a complication of maladies arising partly from starvation,-partly from the effects of the burns and bruises inflicted bythe revenge of a mob of infuriated soldiers whose captain he had shot in a skirmish—and partly from a surfeit of ham, administered to him during the early stages of the small pox in the presence of his mother, a professed nurse, by an epicurean captain, whose gourmandise and good humor make a conspicuous figure in the book, and who first prepares this salutary prescription for his patient over a fire made of a bunch of oakum and his own wooden leg, and then partakes of it himself in the midst of a scene of squalid horror that might have appalled the most valiant of trencher-men. The leading characters then all assemble on the stage. The details of the family history are stated by Abigail Pray; but the great mystery of the connexion between Ralph and Lionel is cleared up, after all, by Cecil herself, who appears to have possessed the secret all along with most unfeminine composure, and who discloses it at last only to prevent the violence threatened by her husband against his unknown father. The keeper, in the mean time, escapes from the durance so ingeniously shifted upon him by his patient, bursts the door of the apartment where all these events are occurring, frees Abigail Pray from the fury of her "sometime" lover, and in the struggle which then takes place between them, whether from malignity, or revenge, or for hire, or in self-defence, we confess we know not, puts an end almost to the story and quite to Sir Lionel, by stabbing him on the spot. The filial piety of Lionel subsequently rewards this man for having so dexterously put the old gentleman out of his misery, by directing his friends in America to place him in a situation where his “ future comfort might be amply securcd,” after having for a long time “ importuned him, without success,” to return to his own country, and receive from the supporter of the honors of the house of Lincoln the meed of his exemplary devotion to the interests of his family.
If there be any truth in this sketch of the bare outline of the story, it cannot be denied that it exhibits many signal violations both of probability and consistency. We are aware,
however, much as we may deplore the fact, that the novelists of the day no more hold themselves bound to preserve integrity of incident in their writings, than the dramatists do to regard the unities of time and place in the productions which they submit to the stage ; and that the examples of Ariosto, and Cervantes, and Scott, are as much at hand to justify the one, as that of Shakspeare is to vindicate the other of these bands of licensed transgressors of literary decorum. It should be insisted, nevertheless, where the writer of fiction exempts himself from the trammels of these salutary restraints upon his fancy, that he should give his readers the benefit of his prescriptive privilege in the variety, and spirit, and strength of his separate incidents—in the power with which he prepares each crisis in his story-in energy of dialogue—in vividness of description-in a display of all the graces for which his faculties are left free by this convenient enfranchisement. Our author has undoubtedly purchased his exemption from the laws of the severer school of writers of his class, by a conformity in the main with this fair condition ; and we are not disposed to quarrel with his deviations, although they are certainly, in some cases, unusually wide, when no great loss is actually sustained, and when most of the purposes of pleasure and profit for which we undertook our voyage together, are perhaps by that very means more speedily, if not more completely fulilled.
A number of minor inconsistencies in the circumstances may be detected by any reader who is not too completely absorbed in the general current of the narrative to remark the impossibi. lities in nature, that are scattered over different parts of it. A moon appears to be “shining on, shining on” with exemplary constancy, through almost every scene, quite superior to the caprices that are usually attributed to that changeable satellite. A disease which is known to be rather deliberate in its communication, is gifted with the power of almost instantaneous infection; and in its most nauseating period, leaves the
patient open to the solicitations of a singularly uncalculating appetite. A wounded officer, with a ball remaining in his body, is kept for upwards of seven months in alternate states of torpor and delirium, by anodynes administered at the discretion of his valet; and then, when the ball is extracted, and the effects of the-opiate have ceased, awakes suddenly, in a condition to enter instantly upon the arduous duties of a lover, and the important responsibilities of a husband; and even to perform, in the worst of weather, a pedestrian excursion of some length,
in the course of which he is engaged in at least one scuffle, sufficient to form rather a serious trial for strength that could not be supposed to be yet perfectly re-established. But the incongruity that has most incomprehensibly escaped the vigilance of the author, is the momentary apparition of the snow-storm at the wedding; which seems to be just shown” for the purpose of exaggerating the fearful features of the scene; and then to be "put up again," lest the handling of it should freeze his invention. However this may be, no more is heard of it. It opposes no obstacle, either to Lionel's expedition or to Cecil's pursuit ; and on the next evening, or at furthest the next but one, she prosecutes her path over "faded herbage;" they hear the clatter of feet on the frozen ground; they ride in wagons, of which the wheels are unimpeded; and to crown all, they discover a spot in the church-yard from which the shroud of nature had not been withdrawn, and sit upon grave stones which must have been covered with the most comfortless of cushions. Now, may it not be asked without captiousness, whether all such blemishes cannot easily be avoided? And if they can, ought they to be allowed to escape? When they are perceived, and some of them could hardly be overlooked by the most cursory of readers, what is their effect? The charm of that part of the story which they are permitted to disfigure, is, for the moment, destroyed. Our attention becomes fastened upon some particular fact which is not in the order of things possible, and our temporary illusion with respect to the whole vanishes at once. We are affected (to illustrate the greater by the less) as by the occurrence of some tame phrase of common life, in the dialogue of intense passion, and cannot forgive the inadvertence that has dispelled our delightful dream. It is, in short, as essential to our interest, that the descriptive writer should show us that he sees what he paints, as it is to our emotion, that the eloquent speaker should convince us that he feels what he utters.
The characters introduced into this story, are, with a few exceptions, strikingly drawn and spiritedly sustained. The standard parts of the lady and the lover are respectably filled by Lionel and Cecil; and the declaration scene on Lionel's recovery, is certainly not without tenderness. Miss Danforth, although she seems to contribute little to the conduct of the narrative, is quite a fair specimen of the spirit of our countrywomen in the days when patriotism was of no sex. Mrs. Lechmere is decidedly overstrained. Ralph has too much method in his madness, to be allowed all the privileges of that condition, and there appears to be no sufficient cause for all the effects which he is made to