18 MARCH 1865, Page 18

CARRY'S CONFESSION.* IT is not perhaps possible to write an

interesting novel in. three volumes upon the single quality of firmness,- but the author of Carry's Confession has tried very hard, and has attained what under the circumstances is a curious measure of success. We are not quite sure that the purpose was a conscious one, but as smatter of fact every leading character in this book displays this one characteristic in some special form. Everybody is firm, so firm as to make firmness the essential peculiarity of his naturee and firm in a different manner or degree fro.n every other. The shading is finely done, and the distinctions between the firmness of Mr. Tresidder, the ironmaster, which is simply intense selfish- ness; of Galbraith, the inventor, which is based on family and intellectual pride ; of Neal Galbraith, which springs from an in- tense and dominant will hardened by early responsibility ; of Webber, the carriage-breaker, which is the doggedness of the English rough—the immobility which so seldom survives cultiva- tion; of his wife, which is selfish shrewishness ; and of his daugh- ter Carry, which is fighting firmness, an obstinacy called . up only by attack, are very thoughtfully drawn. The sameness in- evitable from the prominence given to one quality is a little aggravated by the fact that the firmness in every instance helps to produce misery, Mr. Tresidder ruining himself by determined trading without success, Mr. Galbraith spending his patrimony in fighting the iron trade, Neal breaking his own heart and his wife's by a determined refusal to take back his wife after she in one of her fits of resistance tq dictation has fled from him, and Webber living the life of a domestic tyrant, ruin- ing his son and expelling his daughter till a physical shock, by making him lose his self-confidence, deprives his willof its strength, and therefore his character of its hardness. The sameness, how- ever, is not manifest till the story has been laid down, for the incidents are numerous and striking, and there are subordinate characters not so completely governed by their wills. Mr. Pike, the successful clerk, with his high principle and narrow creed, his love for his niece and ludicrous belief in the efficacy of tracts, his steady uprightness and feeble little ways, is an admirable sketch, more free, we think, from caricature than any similar one that we have seen. So is his Puritan niece Addle, with her strong prin- ciples and rigid manner of life, and latent hunger for something less rigid, leas affiictingly principled—for the handsome, rattling, pleasant-tempered actor. So is the "giantess,' the woman seven feet high, whose husband married her as an investment, who is always boasting that "her father had a caravan of his own," and proud of having been a valuable property," but a human being still, who can cry, and love a child, and look after a husband, and do her duty in a depressed, malformed sort of way for all that. So would be Mrs. Higgs, the poor lodging-housekeeper, vinegar at top and sugar at bottom, but th t she is left so shadowy, as if the author had intended to fill in his picture and never found the opportunity. Her epitaph on her brother, the hard, arrogant car- riage-breaker, reveals more of her character than her acts do. "So now he goes down too ; no, let's say up ; they'll never make an angel of him, but he may come in handy somewhere."

The story, though old in idea, is original in its details. Mr. Galbraith, inventive person in iron, once a gentleman in fortune, has been ruined by fighting for a patent which the iron trade are determined to use, and almost childish, is led by his son to cheap lodgings in the Borough. The-son himself seeks work with the man who has been the agent of the trade in the contest, and resolves to work his way up the hill again. His relation to his father, the inverted position of the dependent old man and the protecting young one, is well told: Before he can realize any of his hopes he falls deeply in love with Carry Webber, daughter of a carriage-breaker with money, engaged by her 'father to a pork butcher. Carry really loving Neal, but actuated first of all

a Carry's Confession. By the Author of '0 ,ea: a WAIL" Londut : littrut, and Blaekett. by a passionate desire to get away from home, accepts him, then dissuades him from marrying-- her, tells him she shall make him miserable, introdttces him to her drinking brother and his giantess wife in the hope of disgusting him, and when all fails becomes the pleasant, loving wife,--and the misery begins. Carry frets at the old man's feebleness, old Galbraith frets at her. control, Neal is aggeavated,_ firm, and unreasonable, a former lover of Carry's re-appears, and afters tiresome amount of quarrelling, misconeep- don,. and blundering, each obeys his or her own nature. Carry in a fit of • obstinacy, which nothing but gentleness soothes away—it is not firmness so much as. an instinct of battle—flies to her 'brother, and Neal, all his dominance fairly roused, refuses for years to forgive. Carry while absent bears him a child, and Neal claims and educates it, but nothing can induce him to forgive the mother, and at last he is led to believe that she is dead. He falls in love with the old clerk's daughter, and they are engaged, when the first wife returns to beg forgiveness and to die. That thin out- line is filled up with a dialogue a little lengthy, but always spirited, and incidents conceived in the true spirit of realism, that which does not hesitate to paint the warts on the face. It is very read- able, the first volume especially, and the only real: defect of the story as a story is the deep and painful gloom with which the dominance of one quality overspreads it. There is no doubt gloom in life, but one does not want quite so much of it in a novel, and an author whose sense of humour is so true, who can describe gentleness so well, might let us enjoy, say for a chapter or two, a little sunshine. Perhaps the following gives the tone of the book better than any single extract Neal has sent his father, who always'-resented his marriage with Carry, away to search for a portfolio, in order.that he may propose to t4fie little Puritan, does so, and is accepted :—

" She was not bold enough to look into his face and say it though he -would have had her meet him with her large dark eyes. But she made no effort to disguise her rejoicing; she had learned to love Neal Galbraith with alt her heart, and it was very pleasant to have him at her side, and be assured of his affection. Such a love as theirs made others rejoice too, and there was no one in all the world to sorrow at this engagement, beginning in the bright spring-time.—' Bless my soul, Neal, lad !' exclaimed Mr. Galbraith, entering with his large portfolio before him, 'what! sitting in the dark?'—' Yes—but I've company here.' 4Eh !—who ?'—' Your daughter Addie —the new daughter that is coming

to chase the darkness away from US for ever.'—` ! dear,' sighed the .old gentleman, dropping his portfolio and strewing the carpet with its contents, 'he's at it again!"