NOVELS OF THE SEASON. * WHAT a musician would call the
theme of The Brief Career, or the Jew's Daughter, is one of considerable importance. The idea of the novel is to trace the career of a young man of good-nature and kindly feelings, but impulsive, weak, and selfish; pursuing immediate pleasure without thought of consequences to himself or others, and yielding to conduct which he knows to be wrong or advice which is mischievous from want of determination to resist. The mode in which this idea is sought to be presented is appropriate. The career of a young Etonian suddenly freed from all control by a commission in the army, and led by his own vanity and weakness through the dissipation of London and barrack life, with its fre- quent attendants gambling and money-lending, till ho perishes after a "brief career," in a not very likely manner.
A romance is sought to be joined to these common though sad enough events of everyday life, by connecting the hero, Gerard Quintin, with Carlotta, "the Jew's Daughter," and the true he- roine. The conception seems to have been derived from the Re- becca of Ivanhoe. " Old Hartmann," Carlotta's father, a Jew money-lender of the City, has all the mean avarice popularly attri- buted to the tribe; his daughter is accomplished, of fine feelings, and of a wonderful simplicity and innocence, scarcely indeed pos- sible under any circumstances, and certainly not in our times in London city. Gerard is introduced to Carlotta by saving her from drowning in the Thames. He likes her, without deeply loving her; and continues to gratify his vanity and his liking without regard to her feelings, in London, in Dublin, on a voyage to Ca- nada, and in the colony itself; to which places Hartmann follows the regiment in pursuit of business, and at the instigation of the modern Togo of the piece. At the same time, Gerard is more at- tracted to Edith, the daughter of General Levinge, both as a single woman in London and Lady Levenside in Canada; and this double tender passion goes on throughout the three volumes, without any real termination of either.
Scattered remarks and observations seem to show that Captain Horrocks fully comprehends the nature of the evils against which it is his object to warn ; but they are not skilfully developed for display as a work of art or to impress as a moral. Long as is the book there are few true incidents, and those are not effectively. treated. The story drags along through a succession of London and barrack scenes, with some which the author designs for romantic. Even these scenes are slow, from the habit of dwelling upon insignifi- cant things, or showing off the humours of inferior persons,—as an old attendant, an Irish soldier servant, a retired Lieutenant, and so forth. The great failure of the book arises from the author being unable to raise his principal persons to the elevation neces- sary to excite sympathy. Beyond a melodramatic varnish, which rather mars the effects than adds to it, the life depicted is too much like that which courts-martial and other courts occasionally reveal, as the short if not the merry life led by " fast" young men and military gentlemen.
The nature of the story attaches a passing interest to the book from its resemblance to what the Windsor courts-martial are now turning up. The following is rather in contrast. Captain Dove- reux is the villain of the tale, though an exaggerated villain, as well in his crimes as in his powers. It is he who assists to lead Gerard into drinking, gaming, and money-borrowing, mainly in- cited thereto by jealousy of Gerard's success with Carlotta. He contrives to swindle the Jew of a large sum during a storm at sea, and, in short, is ready for any villany. But Nemesis is on the watch : his crimes are brought before his Colonel, the father of Gerard ; who acts with prompt decision. " Thus far,' he argued, • my lucky star has been in the ascendant? He looked upon his transaction with the Jew as a master-stroke of policy—all fair and above-board. Nor did he anticipate, from the estimate which ho had formed of the miser's character, so decided a refusal as he had met with to his infamous proposal. Nothing daunted—his rival, Gerard, removed from the scene—totally unaware of the new protector who now shielded the Jewess, in the shape of Cuthbert Denison, Spencer Devereux only waited for Hartmann's demise to renew his designs; little dreaming of the volcano which was about to burst beneath his feet, and, in a second, scatter to the winds all his daring villany. " Colonel Quintin wishes to see you immediately in his own quarters, sir,' said his London valet, entering the room. " This was an unusual summons, and one which even Spencer Devereux's ingenuity could not evade. "He therefore buckled on his sword, put on his forage-cap, and shortly afterwards rapped at his commanding-officer's door.
* The Brief Career; or the Jew's Daughter. A Novel. By Captain Borrocks. In three volumes. Published by Newby.
Falconbeck Hall: a Novel. By J. Harwood, Esq., Author of "The Bridle and the Bridal," 8m, In three volumes. Published by Newby. 4" Captain Devereux,' said the latter, ' be seated.'
" Devereux quailed beneath the scrutinizing glance of Colonel Quintin. Something was wrong—there could be no doubt of that.
4" Captain Devereux—I regret, beyond expression, that it is necessary for me to send for any officer who serves in the regiment under my command, and to be forced to speak to him in the manner, and upon the subject, which ray duty now compels me to do to yourself.'
" Colonel Quintal paused. Devereux did not utter a word.
" Suffice it to say, Captain Devereux,' resumed the Colonel, 'that, no matter how, I have been made acquainted with every transaction of your life. I am aware of your connexion, and of the nature of it, with the Jew Hartmann. I know the box story, Captain Devereux - and am not ignorant of your disgraceful proposal to restore the same on certain conditions. I am apprized of my son's debts ; am also informed that you have led him on, and that he owes you money.'
" Colonel Quintin,' said Devereux resolved to take high ground, 'surely I cannot be held responsible for Mr. Quintin's debts.'
" ' Sir,' replied Colonel Quintin, raising his voice, as his eyes sparkled with anger at the recollection of Devereux's duplicity, and also the know- ledge that he had acted so warily that in point of law, perhaps, there was no redress, do not attempt to excuse yourself. The evidence is complete against you—one half, ay, one quarter of the facts I am in possession of, would break you before a court-martial. Sir, I cannot find words to express my horror and indignation of your whole conduct, your total want of prin- ciple, and deliberate vice. I will be short with you. No man shall remain in my regiment, nay, or disgrace the service which I have the honour to belong to, who is capable of connecting himself with money-lenders and bell-keepers--of robbing his brother officers, mere boys, under the pretended mask of assisting them—of proposing to a parent, sir, to restore money which was obtained by you, in a most questionable way from your depraved asso- ciate, for his daughter's virtue. Sir,' continued the Colonel, conscious of the justice of his cause, and anxious to strike at once a final terror into Deve- reux's breast, I tell you fairly, I am astonished and disgusted beyond measure at these details . You perceive that I am acquainted with every particular; and I scarcely know whether I am not acting in too lenient a manner when I inform you, that if you do not immediately send me in your papers for the sale of your commission, I shall report your conduct to the General, when a court-martial must bethe result.'
" For the first time in his life, Spencer Devereux felt the odds against him. He also knew that in Colonel Quintin he had a man to deal with firm as a rock of iron ; one on whom his duplicity and cunning were entirely lost ! Crest-fallen and subdued, he listened to his commanding-officer's address with averted eyes, wishing that the ground would open and swallow him up. Deeply-seated feelings of smothered rage and vexation mingled with his 'sense of alarm and total incompetency to utter a single word in self-defence. " You have the option, Captain Devereux, to sell immediately, or to stand a eourt-martial.'
" I ask time to consider, Colonel Quintin.'
" Which I will not grant, Captain Devereux. Stop, sir,' he continued, as he rose from his chair and unlocked his writing-box. I will not leave it in your power, or in any one's power, to say that I took advantage of your position. State the amount of my boy's debts to you. You shall have a check for it this moment.'
" There is no hurry, sir,' replied Devereux, catching at what he deemed the last chance to work a change in Colonel Quintin.
"'Not another word, sir. I will not din race myself by holding conver- sation a moment longer than is necessary with a man of your stamp.' "` Sir I" " Ay, sir—I repeat it ; and I remind you, Captain Devereux, that as your papers are not yet sent in, I am still your commanding-officer.'
" Your son owes me fifteen hundred pounds, Colonel Quintin,' replied Devereux, whose temper was now roused. Indeed, he was only prevented from proceeding to further extremities by the inward knowledge of how weak a game he played, and the conviction that nothing remained for him but to follow the Colonel's advice, and send in his papers without delay. '1 should wish, however, that Mr. Quintin may be sent for. The debt is fair.' Fair !' cried Colonel Quintin, in a passionate and ironical voice, as he scribbled out a check with trembling hand. ' All gambling debts are fair, I know that—debts of honour, eh ! Captain Devereux ?'
" He threw the check, in a contemptuous manner, across the table. "' Colonel Quintin,' said Devereux, as, livid with passion, his frame trembling with suppressed rage and mortification, ho tightly grasped the ,
back of a chair with both hands, endeavouring to control himself, it is evident that you have had an informant—that I have been watched behind my back. Therefore, I conclude, it is no use my attempting to defend Before a court-martial, sir,' thundered forth the Colonel, you may, if you choose, defend yourself to your heart's content. I will not hear a word . and, as to the informant, I decline to speak a syllable. He has done his duty, which is more, sir, than I can say of you, since you have served in my regiment.'
" Everything goes against me, Colonel—I allow appearances are so—' 4" Appearances, sir !' interrupted the Colonel : 'if they are only appear- anew,' you can appeal to a court-martiaL'
" I intended to sell shortly, Colonel Quintin.'
",,' I am glad to hear it. Send in your papers then this very day.'
"' It shall be done, sir?
" Our interview is over, Captain Devereux, I have nothing more to say—except that I advise your immediate departure for England.' "
The scattered reflections, as we have intimated, show greater apprehension of the contained moral than the story itself. Here is one.
" Devereux welcomed Gerard cordially enough, and introduced him to his brother officers. They were all young, some indeed mere boys, fresh from Eton, Harrow, or, likely enough, from the side of some anxious and devoted mother, who tremblingly, and with adequate cause to those who are aware of the dangerous temptations to youth abounding in military life, surrender- ed up her hope and joy to serve his country ; the commencement of which service, alas! generally consists in a furious and prolonged campaign with the enemy—an enemy more fatal in every way to the constitution of body and mind than French or Russ have ever proved themselves. Dissipation, late hours, cigars, intrigue, and wine, tax the powers of nature so violently before they are even formed, that many a man, should he not prematurely sink to his grave, often in after life is heard to allude to these shadows of the past,' and justly to attribute his ruined health, and happiness for ever flown, to these youthful acts of folly, which cannot be too strongly con- demned, and which it should be the anxious care of all commanding-officers narrowly to watch, and, if possible, to restrain within those limits which common sense and the decent usages of society so obviously demand."
Mr. Harwood's Fakonbeck Hall is remarkable for a continuous fluency and animation of style, a graphic power of descrip- tion, and some consideration of ihe phases or conditions of ac- tual society. He also covers a wide field, beginning with the Conquest, and telling the story of the house of Falconbeck, till he opens his actual tale in the present day. In addition to this, by episodes, or the artifice of inserted tales, he carries the reader half over the world; to India, South America, Mexico, and the inte diate seas, with incidents of wild adventure, and no small Villany, to which last the perception of the author is not sufficiently alive. The vivacity of style, the variety of topics, and the continual succession of new scenes or scenery, render the book readable. Much praise, however, cannot be bestowed on it as a fiction. The fundamentals of the story are old enough; turning upon the right. ful heir being kept out of his property by the villany of his uncle, who fancies he has destroyed all traces of his sister-in-late; marriage. In addition to want of novelty, the story is rather encumbered by introductory or collateral matter, and not improved by some contrivances, which the novice fancies are triumphs of skill, but the experienced see to be nothing more than attempts at obvious claptrap. For instance, that impostor and madman Courtenay, who some years ago raised an embryo insurrection in the neighbourhood of Canterbury, figures in the novel ; at first as a buccaneer, whom Sir Amaury Bradsfer, the wrongful holder of Falconbeck Hall, has employed to destroy the evidence of his brother's Mexican marriage ; then he appears at Oxford as a reli- gions enthusiast and a star ; finally we have him in his actual capacity of insane leader of the peasantry, accompanied by a beau- tiful, ambitious, and worldly daughter of a professor, who, when he falls under the fire of the soldiery, dies on his body. Properly there is no story to the book. The rightful Lady Bradsfer submits at once to the scheme of her brother-in-law. Her son, Lora Bradsfer, recovers his rank and property through mere accidents without effort of his own. The episodes have no real relation to the fortunes of the principal characters. All secondary matters being put aside, the book consists of a series of scenes, chiefly at Oxford and Brussels, designed to exhibit in a type or person the different classes of society, and some of the scenes of contemporary life, in a striking form. There is an Oxford Tractarian, a caricature from his extreme roguery ; at Brussels a Spanish grandee, a devotee of Don Carlos, is painted en beau, but not badly done. Professors, students, and tradesmen of Oxford, the last taken after the originals of the insolvent Courts, where they figure as ruining young men : Communists, revolution- ists, poachers, pugilists, and men upon town, are also introduced into situations adapted for them; Mr. Harwood occasionally vary- ing his narrative by discussions on many passing questions. All is done glibly, whether a portrait is painted, a scene described, a story told, or a theory unfolded. The author, however, too often exhibits rather a surface knowledge of what he undertakes to de- scribe, or he sacrifices reality to melodramatic effect.