NEW NOVELS. * Mn. D'Arnforit WHITE'S Madaron, or the Artisan of
Nimes, exhibits considerable acquirements and abilities, though rather wanting in the qualities essential to fiction, if indeed the author has a thorough apprehension of the principles on which successful fiction must really depend. He has from study a knowledge of the persons and characteristics of the sixteenth century connected with the religious wars of France; he is acquainted with the scenery of the South, through topographical works or actual observation ; and though obviously favouring the Reformation, he has judgment enough to understand, that while Papists may be virtuous and merciful, very indifferent persons may enlist under the true banner. Mr. White also has two qualities of a novelist—he can distinctly conceive and powerfully paint the characteristics of persons, whether of the mind or the outward presence; his scenes are artistically planned and vigorously sustained. His genius, unluckily, is rather rhetorical than dramatic ; his persons speak too much what is set down for them,—a merit in a Player, a fault in the dramatis persome. The principal defect of .211adaron is a deficiency of individual interest ; the story is subordinate to the history. It is rather a succession of scenes to exhibit real or fictitious public persons as types of their age, than a tale in which the fortunes of individuals form the principal attraction, history being introduced as only a medium in which the individuals move or are moved,—as a swimmer is connected with the stream its rapids and reeks and other features exciting an interest beyond themselves, by the influence they exert upon his struggles. Of this principle of romance Mr. White is not instinctively conscious ; while his formed design, as he announces it himself, runs the other way. "This work is founded on the fortunes of an artisan whose exploit in gaining the city of Nismes from the Royal garrison, in 1569, has been recorded by the historian Be Thou. "Celebrated characters of the age are introduced into the work to speak for themselves. Catherine de' Medicis, Charles the Ninth, Henry of Navarre, Elizabeth of England, the Cardinal of Lorraine, the Legate D'Armagnac, the Chancellor Be PHOpital, the Ambassador Walsingham, Nostradamus the Astrologer, Rene the Perfumer, the Assassins Haurevel and Polt7t, &c. Re.
"The historical part is principally occupied with the progress of the civil war of the period in Languedoc ; and care him been taken that the facts mentioned as historical should be authentic.
"Various songs and legends of the old Provencal times have been inter
• Madero», or the Artisan of Names : an Historical Romance of the Sixteenth Century. By D'Aubigne White. In three volumes. Published by Cash. The Mestere : a Tale of the Sea. By the Author of "The Warhawk," &c. In three volumes. Published by Newby. nyneror Terrace; • or the Clue of Lift. By the Author of " The Heir of Ilea
c ." In two volumes. Published by Parker and bon.
woven with these facts; and the whole is varied by the adventures of the Tieomtesse de Clever°, of the ancient Château of Beaucaire."
The defect spoken of is felt in a want of continuous interest ; yetldr. White appears capable of producing this interest. Taken singly, his scenes are well enough sustained ; but too frequently they want the central attraction of a common purpose ; we read the scene as complete in itself, but this completeness mostly seems to end in itself. Here is a specimen of his power, in a secret assembly of Huguenots. "The dress of these men denoted they belonged to the inferior grades of artisans. Their bearing displayed that independent if not defiant air common to this claim in large cities; whilst to the quick intelligence, usually characterizing its members, was here added the eager Meridional temperament, betrayed even in silence, by a restless fierce movement of feature, and incessant change of posture : they were men, in short, whose spirit and opposition it would be easy to arouse, but when stirred, as difficult to soothe, as dangerous to guide. "Each carriedpistols, and short broad knives in their belts, notwithstanding the prohibition against any Huguenot bearing arms; and to this side the little assembly evidently belonged, for they were gathered around a rude pulpit, wherein discoursed M. Hedelin Dubourg, a popular Calvinist minister of the city of Nismes.
"The audience were attentive but as the exhortation proceeded they grew sullen and dissatisfied. Tlie subject of the address was the duty of unconditional obedience to the divinely-appointed authority of kings and governors.
" ' If,' urged the preacher, St. Paul enjoined submission under the rule of a Nero, no tyranny under another sovereign can exonerate us from like obligations. It David refused to stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed, although by the act he saved his life and secured the promised kingdom, no advantage of gain, no argument of self-preservation can justify rebellion against constituted power. Surely, then, (was the pastor's final appeal,) the precepts of the one and the practice of the other of these holy men should overcome that spirit of rebellion, now so unhappily spreading far and wide, within the ranks of 'The Religion."
For some momenta after the conclusion of the sermon, a gloomy silence prevailed among the little congregation, quickly followed by low murmuring whispers of disapprobation, which gradually swelled into loud expressions of displeasure. " ' The pastor's words may be truth, for aught I can prove to the contrary,' said one of his hearers ; but as revolt or extinction are now the only alternatives of our party, those who follow his instructions will soon be swept root and branch from off the face of the land.' " 'N.. Dubourg forgets,' observed another, 'that the King having already
violated the edict of January,. signed by himself, it is be, not us, who disobeys the laws. We only desire to abide by the just decrees so loosely held 4 Crown and Parliament.' "'At At least the minister remembers not the martyrs of Vasaay,' broke in a stern, low voice, and that the blood of our brethren, slain in that massacre, is not yet cold, and calls loudly from the ground for vengeance ! 'Tis soon truly,' added the speaker bitterly, to.forget such wrongs ! ' " ' M. ktedelin has mistaken his men, if he thinks we are made of the stuff which tamely submits to injustice, or that we can suffer teaching which counsels its endurance,' joined in a fourth, who uttered these words
in a fiery and threatening accent. •
"Heated still more by giving vent to their excitement, the little band looked around irresolute, awaiting rather a rallying-point in a leader, than an object of attack, which they had already fixed upon, as their minister, when a man of gigantic limbs and stature., in the garb of a smith, stepped forward, and thus addressed the pastor— ' M. Dubourg, decide, I pray you, which is the greatest, God or the King, since the time has arrived when we cannot serve both ? '
" Gilles Fourgnon,' returned the minister, 'I will answer this question by reminding you, that the words which follow 'Fear God,' in the page of inspiration, are 'Honour the King ' ; and what is there joined, I, as its interpreter, dare not separate.' " 'Then,' groaned the smith, in a tone of deep though suppressed passion, 'let us supplicate the God of Heaven to let fall upon us a day of powder, and an hour of fire, that this act of misery may be at once finished ; for life would be unendurable, were death uncertain, under the King now set over us ! '
"This daring ebullition of indignation, and the applause that followed it, shocked and displeased M. Dubourg.
"'Gilles, my friend,' he cried, 'be not so hasty in rejecting doctrines and duties, ere you consider well their authority and obligation. I have but explained to you the teaching of our spiritual chiefs: Jean Calvin, from the Synod of Geneva, thus cinema them ; Theodore Bese, from the Chair of Paris, insists the same; and surely, however ye contemn the sceptic, or defy the tribune, the opinions of the fathers of The Religion' have not lost all weight with their disciples at Nismes! ' 'When the precepts of Scripture fail to convince, there is but little hope for the SUMS* of its interpreter, N.. Dubourg,' said a sullen voice among the assembly.
"'Then, exclaimed the discomfited minister, 'I can do no more !' "
The novel of The Medora is an attempt to make the late war in the Crimea a theme for fiction, by connecting individuals of the story with the campaign, and mixing up the fortunes of certain Russians, Englishmen, and even Cireassians, in a common connexion. The story is not deficient in variety and adventures. It is, however, very wild and improbable, not simply in itself, but according to received notions of the probable. Mr. Fitzharding, an enterprising Englishman not rich though of noble family, goes to Russia, akes his fortune, and together with his wife dies rather suddenly. About his son and the property there is no difficulty ; but the daughter was absent with "Princess Wudenhoof," whose family was intimate with the Fitzhardings ; her husband the Prince has fallen into disgrace on account of his ill-luck with the Cireassians ; the Princess seta off to rejoin her condemned lord, with Julia Fitzharding., and her own daughter Catherine, between whom and young itzharding, afterwards Lord Courtland, the hero of the tale, a childish attachment and betrothment had taken place. They are traced to the neighbourhood of Taganrog, but there all clue is lost. To discover them is the object of Henry Fitzharding's life ; and after serving in the navy fill he attains a lieutenancy and his majority, he purchases a yacht, "the Medora," and starts for the Black Sea, simultaneously with the commeneement of the late war. In the pursuit of his sister and his little wife, as she was jocularly called, he is surrounded by various mysteries ; goes through many adventures ; is at one time taken by the insolent foe, but rescued by the Cireassians ; at another he is distinguished by deeds of arms and nautical skill, besides discovering some lost relations, whose stories form a subordinate plot.
" Difficile eat proprie eommunia clicere," is a text whose interpretation is debated. Horace probably meant that it is difficult to endow the trite and common with individual freshness. At all events, he might have said so with perfect truth. In a former work, The Warhatch, the author of this novel produced some scenes of seventeenth century description that might have passedfor Scott. When he gets The Medora sufficiently far from home, he does manage to be striking after a fashion. The persons, indeed, are as little like humanity as may be : Russians, Circassians, and others of those outlandish parts, have a strong smack of the minor theatre ; and an all-accomplished serf is quite a fanciful idea of the Muscovite linguist, spy, and diplomatist: still they are not commonplace, and they seem to display a force in the style, which is lost when the author comes to home life. He is then, whether in narrative character, or incident, as poor and flat as needs be. The Only exceptions are an old naval officer and his attendant tar,—who by the by, are both of the stage, and indeed farcical, especially in their respective wooden legs and the use they make of them.
The author of "The Heir of Redelyffe " bids fair to rival Mr. James in fecundity, without the historical reading and range over time and place which gave a certain variety to the material of his stories. With a few exceptions, the subjects of this writer's fictions are taken from contemporary life ; they mostly combine the didactic object of the juvenile tale with the grown-up persons and interests of the novel. This sameness of purpose throws an air of general sameness over her later publications. The haste with which they must of necessity be written has exhibited its effect in a crudity less of actual design than in the way in which the story is carried out. As usual, a moral lurks below the story of Dynevor Terrace : the object is to show the importance of religion to happiness, and that man should not devote himself wholly to the world and its so-called duties, even if he sacrifices nothing more than home pleasures and the graces of life. The last idea perhaps has some novelty ; it is certainly worth illustrating in a more artistical manner than is done on the present occasion. The main story is complex to a great degree and attended by minor stories that further complicate the complicated ; but the Earl of Ormersfield, a respectable high-principled man, sacrifices his real happiness through the greater part of his life to a strict sense of duty and a resistance to all exhibition of the softer emotions. He is finally changed into a softer and more serious man, by his son Louis Lord Fitzjocelyn, after this latter has been changed himself. At starting, he is one of the now somewhat exploded I oung England school ; and in the unconverted state, we much prefer the staidness of the father to the ill-timed levity and well-intentioned fickleness of the son.
When persons have acquired a mastery in art, they can display it under any circumstances. Veterans, however pressed and exhausted, will still show a front to the enemy. South American horsemen can ride when they are too drunk to stand. In the vein, or out of it, a musician will produce notes that shall pass muster. So an artist of any kind acquires a skill in observation, a facility of expression, and a knack of producing a result, from these two faculties. Such a result is by no means excellence--that requires selection and finish ; yet it is this kind' of result which appears in Dynivor Terrace. The complexity of the story and the persons is not only encumbering but puzzling ; the dialogues are tedious, from the length to which they are drawn out, the triviality of the topics, or the manner in which things that might be of interest to the talkers if they were real, are of none to the reader, who is always in the position of a bystander. This falling-Off does not, we think, arise from exhaustion in the writer, so much as from mere haste. The haste of conception, the haste of writing, that will not take time to ascertain even so small a matter as whether the names of persons, that were present vividly enough to the author at the time of composition, are equally clear to the reader. When this is the case, all the higher qualities of distinctness and coherence of plot, cogency or weight of thought, and closeness of style, are naturally overlooked.