10 FEBRUARY 1855, Page 28


Tam new novel of Mrs. Gore has no relation to the "Mammon" of the present day, which is of a speculating, grasping, neck-or- nothing character, greedy to acquire, but as ready to squander. Neither are the "Hardships of an Heiress" of the common kind, or carried to their legitimate conclusion. The character of John Woolaton, afterwards Sir Woolston Wraysbury, is the great feature of the book ; even the troubles his mammon-worship bring upon his daughter, deriving their interest quite as much from the exhibition of his qualities as from their influence upon Tanetta. This character is very singular in itself, and produced by very singular circumstances ; so singular, indeed, that Sir Woolaton may be deemed a creation for effect, rather than a probable repre- sentation; though he is a consistent and complete creation, not without interest as a metaphysical study. John Woolaton is the son of Sir John, a singular and miserly baronet of a class now extinct. His son, though entitled to the family estate of eight thousand a year, has been kept under and bred as a barrister, in order to remove him from the temptations of fashion. As he is of reserved nature, with "an old head on young shoulders," this training does not disturb him ; but it produces a result which the tyrannical old baronet did not look for. John falls in love with a neighbouring country beauty, and marries in spite of his father's opposition. A total estrangement with two such obstinate dispositions is the result. The old baronet gets more sulky and recluse than ever ; his son struggles on with his allowance of five hundred a year and his scanty professional gains, till growing family expenses land him in debts and difficulties. At this crisis a maternal uncle, of the name of Wraysbury, who has been cut by Sir John, dies, leaving his son the heir to enormous wealth on certain conditions. And now a change is worked in the middle- aged barrister's character, or rather its bad points are developed. • He obstinately refuses to make advances to his old father ;

dies suddenly, on finding from the newspaper that John and his family have gone abroad. In addition to the Wraysbury property, and the entailed estate, two singular wills throw all the savings of his father and mother into the hands of Sir John Wraysbury ; and his whole life is now wrapped up in mammon. He will not assist the husbands of his three sisters ; for which, however, he has to plead their desertion of himself when in difficulties. All family endearments are neglected, all social duties disregarded, and `every thought is centered upon money and the advancement it can pro- cure. As old Wraysbury had resolved that nothing of his shall be mingled with the Woolston's, he makes the second son heir to his vast property ; failing a second son, it is to go to the daughter. This is the clause that creates the "Heiress"; and the hardships she has to undergo spring from her father's system of education, aiming, though unavailingly, at driving out of her all domestic and kindly feelings, and from his efforts to guard her against fortune-hunters.

Connected with the main story are incidents springing out of Wraysbury's relations, besides those centering in himself. His three sisters are married to two scamps of fashion and a grasping parson ; his wife's father is a Squire Pennington, with a family of the genuine kindly old English class. The fortunes of these per- sons are more or less influenced through Sir John, or by independ- ent occurrences, and produce the effect of relief. Roger Farmer, the keen successful lawyer, and former master of Sir John Wrays- bury, is a capital character; sensible, kind-hearted, and worldly in the best sense of worldliness, looking at the bright side of every- thing.

"Old Farmer was one of those who, regarding this world as a place where much work is to be done, but where enjoyments physical and moral abound in proportion,—a field which it depends upon ourselves to clear of brambles and plant with fruit and flowers,—ecouted the idea of despondency. He de- nounced it as the cowardice of a diseased mind. To him, a hypped man was a fit inmate for a hospital ; and he endeavoured to cheer his young friend into nobler thoughts and better feelings."

Mammon, considered as a story, is not one of the best of Mrs. Gore's novels ; for she has changed her method. Usually, her story has been merely a vehicle for the characters and manners of fash- ionable life. In the present case, the aristocracy are not altogether overlooked, but they appear as reproductions of familiar elements rather than as new persons. The features of the book lie in the tale, and in the development of character as connected with the tale ; both of which are forced or extreme. The story is not a succession of incidents springing one out of the other, and growing into a connected action, but a series of contrivances ob- viously planned to effect some purpose of the author : and a simi- lar remark may be hazarded upon.the development of the.persous. They are made what they are for the convenience of the writer. Both these characteristics are native to Mrs. Gore ; but they are less conspicuous when the story is subordinate than when it con- stitutes the main source of interest.

• Mammon; or the Hardships of an Heirs.,. By Mrs. Gore. In three volume.. Published by Hurst and Blackett.

The style of Mrs. Gore is as buoyant, rapid, and pointed as usual. Under the magic of her manner, that which is not probable • in itself wears for a time an air of probability. The way in which Sir John Wraysbury gets possession of all the personal property of his father and mother is not perhaps feasible, but it reads well enough. The millionaire's heart has been softened by the sudden death of his father, the imminent danger of his mother, and self- reproach for his own obstinacy in avoiding reconciliation. Neither has he as yet become altogether the slave of mammon. The family are assembled for the reading of the will.

"The new baronet was eager to get through the business. He wished to be alone with his wife; or rather to unite with her in contrite and careful attendance upon the mother whose hours were numbered. As to the will, how could it personally concern him ? The estate was now his own. All the rest would naturally be bequeathed to his sisters. He only hoped that his poor father might not have been tempted, in a moment of anger, to in- scribe some bitter sentence against him, dip a document that must perforce be made public. For even Sir John Woolston Wrayabury, Bart., with seventy thousand a year, was not proof against the animadversions of the world.

"But on this head, he was speedily reassured. The will of Sir Harry had been executed in his own boyhood ; immediately after lodgement of the sum of money to pay off the encumbrance on the Harrals estate, for the benefit of his younger children. "At that period, his personalty had probably amounted to no very con- siderable sum ; for the whole was bequeathed in a very few words to his wife, Dame Janette Woolston, who, as she already possessed, by virtue of her marriage settlement, the power of appointment over her own fortune of fifty thousand pounds,' said the testator, 'will be pleased to dispose of this further legacy, in favour of one or other of our children, or to be equally divided between them.'

" A most equitable distribution,' observed Sir John Wraysbury, when, having finished his recitation of the will, the solicitor appeared to glance to- wards him for his opinion, as he laid it on the table and deliberately replaced his spectacles in their case. " 'Equitable, certainly,' was Mr. Henderson's reply ; yet I am inclined to fancy, Sir John, that my late respected client contemplated some ulterior arrangement. For in the course of the seventeen years which have elapsed since this will was made, the value of his personalty has been increased by economy and a few successful speculations, from five or six thousand pounds to nearly eighty.'

"At this intimation, neither his daughter nor his son-in-law could restrain a start, or change of colour. " 'So that, with the original sum in settlement, my poor mother holds at her disposal about one hundred and thirty thousand pounds ?' inquired Sir John, pleased that so handsome a provision should fall to the share of his sisters.

" 'Held at her disposal,' emended the family solicitor. I say held, sir, because in her ladyship's condition of mind and body, she is utterly in- competent to alter the dispositions of a will, which, at her desire, my part- ner and self drew up for her on occasion of your marriage.'

" Of my marriage ? ' reiterated Sir John, in much surprise, vexed to find that, though he had escaped reproof at the hands of his father, the milder Lady Woolston had Judged it necessary to place on record her displeasure. " Finding it probable that the resentment of Sir Harry might for years restrict to very narrow limits the income of her sou,' continued Mr. Hender- son, addressing the whole family party, 'her ladyship considered it her duty to assign to him, without reserve, the whole of her property, either then in

enjoyment or to accrue at any future time.' ;Rut Lady Woolston could not then contemplate the enormous addition to her fortune made to her by the will of Sir Harry ?' faltered Harpsden, turning as pale as his white cravat.

" Certainly not,' calmly rejoined his brother-in-law ; nor the fine pro- perty to which I have in the interim succeeded.' " • But you are of course at liberty to decline the legacy, or at my poor mother's death, to refuse to administer,' said Emma, amid all her conster- nation preserving a truly Woolstonian eye to her interests. " Pardon me, madam,' interrupted the solicitor ; Sir John has no voice in the matter. The assigns of her ladyship's deceased trustees, myself and my partner, are appointed executors to her will ; and as it directs that at the death of her only son the property shall be divided among the chil- dren of his marriage with Miss Pennington, he has only a life interest in it. Sir John cannot move a step in the business.' " Then I call it a most iniquitous job !' cried Harpsden, half choked with astonishment and indignation. And though Emma and Clara were too well-bred to indulge in such direct accusations and vociferous tones, in that house whose business for a fortnight past had been transacted in whispers, their opinions were probably coincident with those of their clerical brother- in-law.

" The man with the old head on young shoulders,—though his head was somewhat younger and his shoulders a great deal older than when he earned the designation,—kept his temper. From which, the Reverend William Harpsden inferred that he also meant to keep the money.

" ' It will be as well to moderate your expressions, Harpsden,' mildly ob- served Sir John, 'till we have ascertained that the property is as consider.. able as Mr. Henderson at present believes; and that my poor mother has made no revocation of her bequest since my accession of fortune.' Which latter suggestion appeared so much within the scope of probability, that the mercury rose as by a sun-stroke in the veins of Harpsden and his sisters-in- law.

" Certainly, certainly,' they unanimously exclaimed; 'nothing so likely as that Lady Woolston should have made a later will.'

"Mr. Henderson shook his head. He knew how much effort it had cost the meek-spirited or rather weak-spirited woman only to sign the one he had drawn up under her instructions. That with her own brains she should have concocted and with her own hand written another, was much as if the faint-footed Emma had talked of ascending Mont Blanc. " Nor are we certain that it is yet too late for the cruel circumstances of the case to be laid before her,' said Harpsden, endeavouring to swallow his rising choler. Dr. Fermor pronounced yesterday that her ladyship was a shade better ; that there were slight indications of returning consciousness.' " 'Au effort of nature may, even to the last, bo hoped for,' added Clara, who was a general dealer in plausibilities. • " And why not an effort of art ? ' retorted Harpsden, briskly •, have thought from her first seizure, that the medical men were strangely supine.' re

Yet none of those present could bring to mind that he had previously made such a suggestion. ' No ease is so hopeless that medical science should relax in its endeavours. Nux nudes has not been tried; which is often used at the Union to stir the torpid muscles and faculties of aged and paralytic pa- tients. Among the higher classes, galvanism has been found of even greater efficacy.'

"The young head on middle-aged shoulders could bear this no longer. 'In one word, Harpsden,' said he, 'I am convinced that my two sisters here

present, and even poor Carry, your wife, have confidence in my honour and principles. I am not a money-thirsting man, as the nature of my marriage must have shown you; and you consequently cannot attribute to interested motives what I am about to say. But, by Heavens,sir ! I will not have the last days of my poor harmless mother disturbed by experiments, in hopes that a new signature may be extorted from her hand. You yourself informed me, on my arrival, that her mind was totally gone; that her life could scarcely be called existence; that the doctors announced their art to be un- available. It would do little credit to any of us to torture her, at the eleventh hour, for mercenary purposes.'

"The Reverend William evidently thought otherwise. A moment after- wards, he hastily quitted the library, as if no longer able to endure the com- pany of a man who had robbed him and his family of the third of one hun- dred and thirty thousand pounds ; but, in reality, to despatch a fresh express to London for the attendance of a celebrated mesmeric practitioner, to whom the Zoist attributes the miracle of having occasionally restored the dead to life."