13 DECEMBER 1851, Page 16

SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. * This fiction possesses a unity and distinctness from

the moral pur- pose of the writer, which the actual power displayed as a novelist might not have attained. There is indeed a dramatic spirit en-. hibited ; the characters are not only conceived with truth and de- veloped with consistency, but are naturally displayed in manners and discourse : the thoughts are just, the style is elegant, and some knowledge is shown of men and women. There is, however, a lack of substance, and consequently of interest, especially in the earlier and later parts. The true action of the novel is long Be- layed, and the story is continued after the interest has ceased. The tale, however, is a considerable advance upon Hearts in Mort- main and Cornelia ; there is more life and reality about it.

The purpose that gives salt and flavour to what would otherwise be little more than a series of sketches, or a repetition of incidents which however well told have been told before, is to inculcate the necessity of religious faith, and to show how trials may rectify and elevate. The principal persons, except Katherine Melburn, are either wicked, weak, or in the state which theologians express as that of the " natural man." To reclaim and convert such as are

Spiritual Alchemy; or Trials turned to Gold. A Tale. By the Author of "Hearts in Mortmain," and " Cornelia." In two volumes. Published by Bentley.