THE PASTOR'S FIRE-SIDE.
33asinEs the extrinsic qualities of cheapness and uniformity of ap- pearance, the distinctive feature of this collection of novels is that the authors are their own editors : they are called upon, at various stages of their existence, to go over again the works of their earlier days ; they have a last opportunity of correction, and are enabled to gm- lify the curiosity of readers who are not content with fiction in its perfeet state, but wish to learn the point whence it departed from truth. flow much would we give for the history of the Life of Don Quixote by CERVANTES himself? who does not dwell with delight on the few passages in Tom Jones which relate to the author 'during its composition ? who does not seek in Roderick Random traces of the real biography of the author? Modern improvements in authorship, however, do away with the necessity of search : en- riosity is anticipated ; and the publisher takes care, in the present
• generation, that posterity shall not have to grope in the dark for
s information. The works of the Author of Waverley, edited by _Sir WALTER SCOTT, were, we believe, the first example of this kind consideration for natural curiosity ; and in that instance may perhaps be said to have been called for,—though, for our own parts, we would gladly dispense with the quotation or description fof-the original materials on which the genius of the author has worked : we are glad of the fire, but do not wish to be taken to -the Coal-pit; the effect of an exhibition of the raw material is rather to diminish the force and warmth of the impression derived from the beauty of' the manufacture itself. In many instances, too, the scheme is carried too far. It was rather too much to call upon Miss PORTER for a history of the Pastor's Fire-side, and to -make her account for carrying the gay Duke of Wharton to the dreary shores of Lindisfarne and the wild fells of Cumberland. We will not, however, quarrel with this somewhat unnecessary ex- planation ;-forithas been She occasion of some very pleasing pas- sages of autobiography by this amiable survivor of two able and .accomplished women, who have long administered to the delight and instruction of the youthful reader. It is thus affectingly that she speaks, of the spot where the work was written— But it was not either at Morewick or at Lesbury- that the story of "The Pastor's Fire-side" was begun. It was at my beloved mother's fire-side, in the ever dear village of Thames Ditton, in our pretty cottage there, by the river side ; to which the late Sir Frederick Eden, of classic memory, used to give the 'mime of "Little Arcadia." It stood in a garden of roses and its -humble shingled roof was almost covered with the same. In that lowly, but lovely -place we were accustomed to see a society which palaces cannot always coin- -J=44 spirits, bright in talents and in virtues ! somestill surviving to glad our hearts on occasional reunions; but most gone to the better place, "prepared for the justified in Christ."
With such visitants, to study and to copy, for the best features of my hest -Characters, I planned and I wrote under that revered little roof (now levelled lo the ground, and stables built where it stood), my biographical romance, on the lives of those two extraordinary persons, the Duke de Ripperda and Duke "Wharton.
*We have also something of the history of the growth of romance in the minds of these excellent women. The following anecdote -shows how they had been brought up, like the children of many, 'refined and enlightened in an unreal world of the imagination, to 'mistakes arising from which they ultimately owe most of the mis- tutunes of life. In the case of the Miss PORTERS, the imagination . happily found a more fortunate vent than in fatal miscalculations of society— But all these visions of knights and of ladies, long gone by into their sculp- tured tombs, never usurped over the innocent enjoyment we had in the most simple objects of nature. I well remember one fine day in summer, when my young brother had seated himself on a stone to make a sketch of Malcolm's Cross (which stands at no great distance from -the principal gate of Alnwick Castle), my little sister and myself were told by the affectionate companion of saw walk, that as we had often longed to see a shepherd, if we would go on over the bill, we should have our curiosity gratified. Away we ran, our imagine- . tions all alive. But when we arrived over the bend of the hill and looked -about, we saw only a poor old man seated on the green bank, in a grey frock, -with a blue bonnet on his bead, and knitting stockings. His dog lay asleep be- wide and his sheep were browsing not far off. Our dear little animated sibitia turned her disappointed eyes upon her Aunt, exclaiming—" Audis:this . a shepherd? 0, how different ! " Different, indeed, from what we bad as-. pected. Our heads being filled with.the half celestial images of them " who fed I:their flocks by night in the plains of Bethlehem -" when the heavens opened, rand they heard the song of aagels—" Peace on eaith, and good will to men ! "
But any sister gathered a handful of buttercups for one of the lambs,..andehe smatter was soon made as agreeable between her and the old shepherd and has' edseg, as if he had been as young and angel-like as the brightest formin her tluldieh fancy.