MISS LAURA JEWRY'S TIDE OF LIFE. * "SAY what can Chloe
want P—she wants a heart." The Tide of Life requires little more than the dramatic power of reviving the past, to be a first-rate novel. Miss Jewry is acquainted with the forms and opinions of the age in which she has laid her story, and embodies them without display and without exaggeration : although dragging a little at the outset, the story is well varied, has sufficient movement, and contains some parts of considerable beauty : her dramatis personae are well conceived, consistent with the times and with themselves ; neither are the incidents or the villanies pushed to the extreme which is common in romance. But past times only appear in set forms of speech ; and as a mat- ter of course the inner modes of thought and opinion are those of the present day in masquerade. Hence the book does not rise be- yond a well-contrived and well-written story, instead of presenting a living picture of the past.
The time of the tale is that of the Restoration and its antece- dents. So far as regards the classes, customs, and opinions of the age, the novel is historical; but little use is made of the events of history, and none of the persons. The story is somewhat complex both in its outline and filling up ; but the two main objects are to marry the heroine, Henrietta L'Estrange, to Algernon Carew, in spite of a double betrothment, and to trace the fortunes and it may be the punishment of Hemietta's waiting-maid, Grace, who after engaging herself to John Perry marries his brother Richard. This part of the novel appears to be founded on actual fact; too close an adherence to which in the conclusion has given rise to a denoue- ment needlessly painful, in the execution of an innocent man. The story is well conceived. The open good-humour of the rustic Richard—the feminine weakness and remorse of Grace—the dogged and revengeful pertinacity of John, a compound of natural ill-tem- per, stern fanaticism, and monomania which never rests till he has brought himself and his innocent brother to the gallows by the confession of a murder which never was committed—only require more force and vitality, more of dramatic spirit, to become a power- ful tragedy of humble life.
The distinguishing classes and features of the age are intro- duced into the fiction without the obvious determination to dis- play them which is generally found in historical romances. There are Roundheads and Cavaliers—pious Church-of-Eng- land divines, with indications of fanatical preachers and free- thinking philosophers — the ruffians, half-thieves half-kidnap- pers, formed by the civil wars and the manners of the age—to- gether with the buccaneers. To bring these into fuller action than the two stories already mentioned would furnish scope for, there is a further plot, in which the fortunes of the two children of a Royal- ist gentleman sold to the Plantations are involved. This episode paints the distress to which civil warfare and reverse of fortune ex- posed women of gentle blood and nurture' in the sweet character of Barbara Wrenshaw : it exhibits the son Philip seeking his father in the West Indies and becoming by revengeful passion and the force of circumstances a corsair, though with some touch of noble- ness ; while the passion of Oliver Wrenshaw for his cousin Barbara, and his unsuccessful plotting for the restoration of the King, bring into play the abductions, prisons, sanctuaries, and other strong fea- tures of two centuries ago. The end of Oliver, the able intellectual -villain of the piece, when, driven from shore by his debts and mis- fortunes, he makes a voyage to the Indies with his cousin Philip, will show how Miss Jewry gets rid of a person difficult to pro-
vide for, and treats a scene in the Tropics.
"On that same 24th of December, the gallant little Frolic lay becalmed in the seas that surround the West Indian islands. Fresh and invariably favouring breezes had borne her thither with a speed past even that which TOM the coxswain vauntingly claimed for her and her crew had no reason to murmur at this first hinderance of their voyage. Nevertheless, they were restless and discontented under the infliction of their spell-bound position, and watched with eager eyes for some sign of the speedy unchaining of the winds. Philip paced the deck with a quick impatient step, glancing often from the sea to the sky. His cousin the companion of his voyage, leaned against the side of the vessel, absorbed in deep thought, his eyes fixed on the still waters. His fixed posture at length attracted Philip's attention, and, approaching him, he laid his hand on Oliver's shoulder.
"'(aced cousin,' he said, as the latter turned at the touch, you are read- ing the sea as if it were a page full of love-lore. What can fix your gaze
• The Tide of Life; a Novel. By Miss Laura Jewry, Author of The Forest and the Fortress," "The Ransom," &c. &c. In three volumes. Published by Newby.
thus on that bright sheet of monotonous water, which it chafes my patience to look on ?'
"A singular dark shadow, that moves at times, but never far from the spot on which I first marked it. I am puzzling myself to account for it. It cannot, from its position, be a reflection of the Frolic's sails, yet the burning sky has not a single cloud.' , think I know its cause. Here, Tom,' to his coxswain who was passing, 'explain what yonder dark shadow means to Master Wrenshaw.' "An arch mischievous smile played on Philip's lip as he spoke. The sea- man grinned. "'That, your honour ? It's what we call a sea lawyer lying under the water: "'A sea lawyer ? ' "'Ay, sir, and one more to be feared than e'er a brother he has on land : 'tis a shark.'
"Oliver coloured angrily. He disliked excessively his cousin's boyish trick of bantering him on his profession, and resented his sanotioning, by a smile, the insolence of the sailor."
The Templar's anger is soothed by the captain, though roughly ; and Tom tries to smooth matters.
"The coxswain's quick eye marked the sullenness of the young lawyer's manner, and, with a goodnatured wish to set all square and ship-shape' as he mentally phrased it, he said, 'Well, I will say, I think the sea lawyer is worse than the chaps on shore. I would rather see Mother Carey's chickens any day than a shark following a ship. He never leaves the chase without his prey ; and I have been thinking this lest hour who will fill yonder greedy maw?'
"'What does he mean ? ' asked Oliver of his cousin : the creature is sure- ly powerless unless one were rash enough to venture within his reach.'
"'Tom is speaking in accordance with the mariner's belief that the shark follows a vessel. in which there will speedily be a dead body ; its instinct thus guiding it to its destined prey, as that el the vulture and the crow lead them to the afar-off battle-field.' "
The wind freshens and the vessel gets way upon her.
"The scene presented. to the landsman's _gaze was one that might well move him to wonder and awe. The large red moon was just on the verge of the horizon, about to sink beneath the waters ; the darkening sky was stud- ded with stars growing every hour brighter as the greater light waned, and all around the vessel lay a sea of liquid light, through which the rapid little frigate cut her daring way, dashing from her bow on either side showers of fiery foam, that danced and sparkled and coruscated, as though her path were through another element, and she was passing scatheless amidst waves of fire. They stood upon the forecastle for some minutes, looking at this splendid night-piece, then turned and walked towards the stern : once or twice, on their way thither, Oliver's step appeared unsteady, and Philip laughingly remarked, That his cousin had not yet got his sea-legs' : it might have been' however, that the unusual potations he had quaffed had more to do with the uncertainty of his tread than the motion of the vessel. Near the helm they fourid Tom ; and Philip left his cousin with the 190k- swain for a moment., whilst he exchanged, a few words with the officer of the watch.
"'Well, your honour, what do you think of the fiery seas of these parts ? ' asked the seaman.
"'As worth a voyage to be looked on,' replied Oliver. Doubtless, your friend the shark has been scared from his dark pursuit by this lightning of the waters ?'
"The coxswain shook his head. No, no! not he, your honour ; he's used to it, don't ye see. There he is to leeward still.' "A feverish restless desire to see again the monster which had taken such strong hold of his imagination possessed Oliver ; he peered over the vessel's side in search of him.
"'You are wrong ; he is gone,' he said, after that earnest gaze. " would take any wager lain right,' replied the seaman : if your ho- nour will just step up on the bulwark and look further astern, you'll make him out.'
"In an hour of more sober judgment Oliver Wrenshaw would not have dared such an experiment as standing on the edge of the vessel's bulwark whilst she was thus dancing over the waters ; but his head was confused by wine, and his desire to ascertain the absence of the shark unreasonably in- tense in consequence. He followed the coxswain's direction therefore, gained the narrow standing-place, supporting himself by a rope close at hand, and leaned over to look at the fiery wake behind them. There is little possibility of accounting for what followed. The breeze at the moment might have freshened, and a lurch of the vessel shaken his hold of the rope ; or a sudden giddiness might have caused the fatal accident ; but as Philip turned, and was about to warn his cousin of the danger of such a position for a landsman, Oliver disappeared. There was a splash in the water—a loud and bitter cry, borne by the breeze far over the midnight sea ; and as Philip, the coxswain, and the sailors of the watch, all rushed by a common impulse to the side, the waves of fire were thrown aside in a thousand sparkles, and a huge dark body appeared. One more cry—terrible! never to be forgotten by those who heard it 1—and the shuddering waters closed again. "'It's of no use, Captain Wrenshaw, none !' exclaimed the coxswain, for- cibly detaining Philip as he was about to spring overboard after his cousin. 'It is the shark, sir ! All is over.'"