MRS. JOHNSTON'S NIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE.
THE first volume, or series—as it is the fashion to call separate volumes or batches of volumes continuing the same subjects in the same manner—of this publication was received by us with more than a common warmth of approbation. Many parts of the work made a deep impression on our minds; and we are even yet accustomed to.refer to the "Widow of Spitalfields7 as a true pic- ture of virtuous low life, and a most affecting example of patience and resignation under afflictions such as few know but the very poor. The praise we have to bestow on the "Quaker Family, a story which occupies nearly the whole of the present series, is not less than that deserved by the former one. It has convinced us that the authoress is a person of genius, and that her name ought immediately to be removed out of the list of the bookmakers, and other manufacturers of literature. Her conception of character is just and forcible in the highest degree, and she is not inferior when she comes to the details of development. Isaac Ellis, the patriarch of the Quaker's Lot—a small property inherited by him, and culti- vated with his own pious hands,—with his rigorous and unbending habits both of body and mind, joined with a severe but yet tender love for an only son born to him late in life, and whose errors, while they cannot move a muscle of his father's face, yet wear out his heart and strength,—presents the full-length of a Puritan such as formerly demanded all the powers of Sir WALTER SCOW to give full effect to. That great man's creation, Davie Deans, may be held as the model of Isaac Ellis ; but it is so worked up to, and with such varied skill, by the authorass of Nights of the Round Table, that she must not for a moment be considered an imitator. One other writer only of the present day is capable of portraying such cha- racters as Isaac Ellis, his wife Prudence, and her mother Priscilla, -with the same force, truth, and delicacy,—and she is a woman : we refer to CAROLINE BOWLES, and to parts of her Chapters on Churchyards, for proof.
The "Quaker Family " is the history of two or three genera- tions of persons of that persuasion. The moral to be enforced is the mischief of unseasonable severity. Old Isaac, loving his son with a fervour not less than him who of old was about to sacrifice the first of that name, visits on his first and only born the slightest deviations from his ideas of Worthiness with a punishment only due to the gravest offences : instead of checking vice, or the remote tendency to it, he encourages a spirit of rebellion, and estranges the affections of his child. An accidental series of temptations is afforded in spite of the primitive seolusion of the Quaker family, and the hopeful Joseph turns out all that is disgraceful : from a fine energetic lad, he is converted by his severe parent—corrected as his faults are by a tender, but most quiet and submissive mother, and a high-minded and educated Old "friend," his grandmother— into a loose and abandoned creature of the world, whose history is sad to read even by the unconcerned, but killing to his friends and parents. He becomes a soldier, of all abhorrent trades ; is de- graded by a low amour, and saddled with children half Irish unhappily, and owning a mother and connexions of the worst among camp followers. Here is a contrast to the happy and peaceful " Qua- ker's Lot!" But out of all this wretchedness, order is to arise; the cor- rupt members are lopped off; a new system of education is com- menced, on the still innocent progeny of vice and penury ; a new scheme of training, with less severity, more openness and know- ledge, less prejudice, and more affection—could not be. Thus is the history continued into another generation, and with as much fide- lity and truth as if the author had watched the Quaker's Lot for half a century, as Mama and his servant used to do his bees in a glass hive. We make no extract: why ? the vacant space of the busts of Brhtus and Cassius Was the greater honour. There is no passage that would not suffer from being taken out of the effect of the light scattered upon it from all the rest of the story. The defect is, however, easily supplied: send to your bookseller—the price of a bottle of wine will put you in possession of " The Quaker's Lot."