15 MARCH 1873, Page 23

Hidden Perils. By Mary Cecil Hay. (Hurst and Blackett.)—There is

so much promise in this novel, and some of its merits are so attrac- tive, that its faults are, we think, worth pointing out to the author, evidently an inexperienced, and equally evidently a painstaking writer. But a word for its merits, in the first instance. It is "pure womanly," quite free from sensation, from strain, and trick of every kind ; it deals with persons, spheres, and events which may fairly be supposed to be within the acquaintance and experience of the lady-novolista, a class not usually recruited from either the highest or the lowest ranks of society ;—it is fairly interesting, and it is well put together, in good English, without mannerisni or affectation, except in the names, which are ill chosen. Rourke Trenham, Horton Newley, Asaol Brent are at least awkward appellations, and the employment of surnames in the sense of baptismal names is the exception in reality, therefore it should not be made the rule in a novel. Kora Briarlin, as the name of an English peasant woman, is a singularly unhappy effort of imagina- tion. The plot is not strong, but neither is it improbable or incon- sistent, and it owes nothing to sources from which it has become too common a practice to borrow materials. We think Miss Hay has hardly made her heroine, Lorraine Gaveston, so attractive as a woman as she is in her neglected childhood. The first volume presents the pretty bright little creature trying with a true heart to resist the evil influences of loneliness and injustice, and a most attractive, pathetic picture it is ; we do not follow Lorraine with so much interest through her ill- omoned love, and in the second volume Miss Hay makes the mis- take on which we lay most stress. She permits sentiment of a morbid kind to exert far too much influence in real life. Granting, and it is a great deal to grant, that a man like Mr. Gaveston, otherwise sensible and amiable, would have banished his little daughter, because her birth had cost him his beloved wife's life„to represent him as living in cold and sullen estrangement from such a girl as Lorraine, when circumstances and another severe bereavement have obliged him to restore her to her rightful home, is to fail in perception and judgment of human nature, and to lose sight of the nover-failing influence of time on all ex- cessive and morbid feelings. The love story of this novel is very pretty, very pure, perhaps not very probable ; for in real life we do not think people ever widely or for long mistake their own feelings or those of others on points so vital as love and marriage ; but in this instance Miss Hay's error is trifling. She has yielded to the tempta- tion, which besets every young writer, to pile up complications. In some of her minor characters she is very successful. Uncle Bartle. and Lucille Vera are capital studies of the quiet and minute order, and the author exhibits true skill in the use she ultimately makes of Lucille. The girl is perfectly natural, and the temptation to make a terrible example of her would have had attractions for a writer with less self-command than Miss Hay. She handles the Wife's Sister question gracefully, though with a firm adherence to its prohibitory side. We have never seen the plea that the ties created by marriage are, from a religious point of view, valid for eternity, as in time, put forward in fiction before, and while we do not claim serious consider- ation for it in the practical handling of the matter, wo are glad to find it urged with originality and ability on the sentimental side.