A DOZEN years have ripened and perhaps improved the author of The History of a Flirt, though without effecting much change in essentials. There is good writing in The Roses, to which the matter in many parts is not equal. A moral object is aimed at, and with more success than in the older fiction. Peculiar persons, as well as the manners and characters of everyday life, are depicted with discrimination and truth, though the reader often wishes the people had something of more importance to do. As in The Flirt, the present fiction is rather tedious in the earlier and middle portions, but increases in interest as the termination is approached. The title of The .Roses is used to designate three heroines5 who are respectively called red, white, and wild. The main story is, however, concerned with Frances Delaney, the white rose, and Alice Montgomery, the red. Frances is the shy, retiring, resolute daughter of a poor officer : after a girlhood passed in Wales, she visits the family of the Montgomerys, Mrs. Montgomery having been an old friend of Mrs. Delaney. The friendship of the pa- rents is renewed in the children ; Alice Montgomery, a gay, light- minded, fairylike creature, taking greatly to the graver Frances, which liking the latter returns with even a deeper feeling. A novel, however, is nothing without love. The trouble of Franeerarises from nourishing an attachment to Henry Dunevan, a serious piece of manly excellence, who seeks her society to make her a means of improving Alice, with whom he is really in love. When Frances discovers the truth, she is of course overwhelmed, and, hopeless of happiness, marries a middle-aged man to gratify her parents, but soon becomes reconciled to her fate, and is happier than she really deserves to be.
* The Roses. By the Author of "The History of a Flirt." In three volunlee. Published by Hurst and Blackett. The intended moral of the tale is illustrated by the fortunes of ,lice: it points the evil of parents permitting self-will in children even of the best disposition, as well as the clanger of inviting young men indiscriminately to the house. After flirting and re - - ting several suitors, Alice consents to accept her mentor, Henry Dunevan; but, tired of his steadiness, she breaks off the engage- ment, notwithstanding the favour of her parents for the suitor, and accepts Fremantle Hope, against their wishes. She is, however, grievously punished. The husband turns out an ill-tempered miser, who has only married for money. Mr. Montgomery dies from grief at her absence abroad, and a miserable future is be- fore her ; but Hope dies conveniently, and enables Alice at last
to marry Dunevan.
When the elegantly quiet, feminine, rather diffuse style, and the everyday nature of the incidents and persons are regarded, it may seem odd to charge The Roses with exaggeration ; yet such is really the fact. Wherever interest connected with the story is attempted, there exaggeration will be found. The over- whelming grief of Frances when she finds Dunevan is engaged to Alice is an exaggeration of sentiment ; her sudden acceptance of Colonel Chisholm, while still deeply attached to her old love, is an exaggeration of conduct to produce effect, and only lowers her character ; the wretched avarice of Hope, begun even on his wedding-day, is an exaggeration, especially compared with the gayety and show of liberality by which he wins Alice, contrasted with the soberness of his rival. Hypocrisy or eoneealment of character is perhaps much less easy than is represented in fictions, but of all the vices avarice is the most readily discovered, from its continually and contemptibly displaying itself in small matters.
In the few incidents of real and deep emotion, not the exaggera- tion of common troubles into tragic displays, the writer shows considerable power. The severance of her engagement by Alice is an event of this kind. Accompanied by her betrothed, she has paid a formal visit to her friend Mrs. Chisholm, on her marriage, and displayed so much petulance towards Dunevan that he is driven to ask for an explanation of what he has done.
"A saucy smile curled the prettiest lips in the world, as she declared her horror of Henry Dunevan 's taste in many late transactions, which could not be got over, even by the root-house and barouchette of Avon- side. Henry Dunevan—the once so greatly feared tutor—stood like a culprit before his fair mistress : he wished to hear a statement of her grievances, before his and her dearest and most interested friends : he besought her to bring forward her accusations, and he felt assured he could justify himself. Perhaps this was the proper moment to make all things plain, and the judge and jury were at hand : Mrs. Chisholm would be almost a 'packed' jury ; but he would not find fault with her leaning towards her friend, and Colonel Chisholm we all know would
prove an uncompromising judge. He wished the adings to be opened. How earnestly and fondly he gazed upon Alice !—but her eyes were resolutely turned away from him, and she would not observe his solicitude to take her hand. She calmly withdrew her arm from Colonel Chisholm's support, and seated herself on one of the rustic benches in the root-house : her voice did not tremble, or her lips pale, through the stirring scene which followed this preamble. She begged us to be seated for a few minutes, and hear what she had got to say,—for it seemed to her now or never was the fitting time. We took our seats in silence : I felt chilled and alarmed, for there were tokens of a tempest, which would surely fall upon the devoted Dunevan. My agi- tation was perceived by my husband ; who simply gave my arm a pressure, which seemed to say, Be composed, and allow things to take their course.' I struggled hard to obtain that composure, as Alice opened her case. "I have many complaints to bring forward, my dear friends ; but the greatest complaint is against myself. I believe I have a hard heart, or a wicked heart, or a something which stands between me and happiness in mar- riage. I am perfectly happy single ; but I have done very wrong and very wickedly in accepting Mr. Henry Dunevan, and I cannot fulfil that engage- ment. I know I am giving pain—but an unhappy wife would give more.' "Henry Dunevan sprang upon his feet—but he quickly resumed his seat, without speaking ; he placed his hand before his eyes in silence. I felt the tears flowing down my cheeks, but I also was powerless ; I could not have uttered a sound to save a life ! Alice continued speaking, and gathered ap- parent power and spirit as she proceeded. She took no notice of Mr. Dune- van's emotion.
"'From the moment I accepted the man whom I really believed admired Frances Delaney, and who never did approve any word or action of mine, I felt I had done vainly and foolishly. I was surprised, and, perhaps, flattered into fancying I could mould him into my own tastes, and draw him down from his own high thoughts and actions ; but that was impossible. How he could ever set his affections upon a gay creature like myself, so totally unfit to be the companion of such a serious-thinking person, I cannot imagine : we have not a thought in common ! ' "'Oh yes, we have, Alice!' exclaimed Dunevan in accents of deep distress, as he rose again and stood before her : his face was deadly pale. " never knew it, Mr. Donovan. We differed on all subjects.' "'Nay, Alice, we loved the same warm hearts, and reverenced the same fond parents—we did not differ there I'
"'In everything else there sets a fearful discrepancy,' returned Alice. 'I always told you my tastes were distinct, and my ideas more worldly ; but you would not listen to me. We quarrelled over everything, and I never hid from you my real suspicions that we had both acted unwisely. I acquit you, Mr. Dunevan, of all blame ; but I cannot fulfil my foolish engagement, for I should be wretched !'
"Wretched with me I said the astounded Henry Dunevan, gazing upon her with terror.
"We should be wretched together,' pursued Alice. must enjoy the world, which you scorn ; I must be a butterfly, while you personify the eagle ; I must shine among the mirthful, while you are studying and bearing testimony against the idols I adore.' " 'Alice, Alice, this is dreadful!'
"'It would be worse if we had to suffer together, without a chance of es- cape, Mr. Dunevan. Frances has married a man whose tastes and senti- ments are in unison with her own, and they are happy. I see it now very clearly—we were both wrong ; we could never make an Avonside of our home! I cannot endure gloomy places, serious faces, and unfashioned ap- purtenances. I must fly from pole to pole; and my temper has been unused to contradiction, which I cannot endure. Wo had better part friends, and part now ; for the very thought of myleavy chain galls me. I confess my folly, and lament my inability to love you. Dear good Mr. Dunevan, release -
me now, and I will pray for your happiness with a woman more like Primes Chisholm than I could ever be. Oh, release me now !'
"Henry Dunevan appeared to gather up his almost deranged faculties, with a strong internal effort, to answer this appeal. For a few moments he essayed in vain to utter ; but at last he spoke: his words were broken— al- most inaudible.
"'I have foreseen this—I have felt it—foolish—foolish—I must suffer—I forgive all—be free.'
"Alice clasped her hands, as if an iron weight had been removed. She caught Mr. Dunevan's hand, and kissed it. 'Oh let us return to old times, and be free and happy as we used to be ! I shall receive you with such pleasure, now we are unchained ! I shall so reverence you, now you have let me go!'
"Henry Dunevan felt deeply.distressed : his heart was breaking, while Alice was rejoicing. He had broken the tie by his own words—the engage- ment was indeed dissolved, and he alone felt the blow. He felt it most poig- nantly; but he bore up against this sudden wrench like a man. It seemed dreadful to witness such delight in the emancipated object, yet surely it was better than a life of wedded misery. Perhaps that very sight might event- ually contribute to his peace, when the first burst of feeling had passed. He turned away from Alice's sudden movement, and shrunk from her light touch.
"'You are right, Miss Montgomery—go—you are free! I was vainer than you, to think I could form the happiness of such a woman—be happy in your own way—I will never more torment you.'
" ' But say we part in peace, say we part in peace!' cried Alice, still cling- ing to his hand : she really was alarmed at his looks and manner. Henry Dunevan released himself gently and firmly from her grasp.
" am not angry at your openness, Miss Montgomery ; so be not fearful. You were right to acquaint me with your feelings, and I thank you for it. You have never tried to deceive, and that very openheartednesa has been my ruin, for I thought I might trust in it for better days. We part, indeed ; which is—' for a moment intense feeling overcame him, but he recovered his self-possession to hurry over the leave-taking.
i " A than does not part n peace, when wild havoc is at his heart. Thera is no peace when every hope is torn away and all the joys of life withered— but from my heart I sincerely forgive the misery you have caused me.' Mr. Dunevan bowed hurriedly, and quitted the root-house."