WYNVILLE t . OR CLUBS AND COTERIES. * THE author of Ireland and
its Rulers, and some other books of a Clever, sketchy kind, in which polities and the characters of poli- ticians were hit off with a flashy vigour, has turned his hand to fiction ; teaking an autobiographical novel a vehicle for his ob- servations and reminiscences of public men, town life, Parliament, and society. Where the story is obviously a mere contrivance to introduce scenes and persons many of which have had a real ex- istence, it is enough if the tale naturally answers its end ; and this is accomplished in Wynville. The filling up of the outline is not always so well managed. In the more historical characters, who • Wynvflle ; or Clubs and Coteries. A Novel. By the Author of " The Age of rat sod Fax." In three volumes. Published by Skeet.
are introduced to sit for their picture, or to play their own role in public life, the writer hardly displays his former artificial breadth and force ; either from inexperience in the form of fiction, or from having already used up the best of his materials. The: men who take some part in the story, and whose identity is thinly disguised by the addition of private circumstances after the man- ner of Mr. Disraeli, also want force, if not vraisemblance. The love-scenes, introduced to give the requisite romance to a novel and some interest and purpose to the tale, are neither probable nor pleasant. Wynville, however, differs front the run of common novels in various ways. The author has an actual knowledge of the men and society he undertakes to write about. His story, slight and inartificial as it may be, presents a true picture of the temptations that beset young aspirants to public or professional life, and, with the occasional remarks of the writer, is capable of furnishing some useful lessons. The sketches of several of the less noted persons are clever and truthful. Important morals are really pointed by the tale, though somewhat awkwardly,—as that man's true happiness lies in exertions useful to society and appropriate to his particular nature ; that intellectual grace and ability unchecked and unsnstained by religious faith are liable to fall into worse vice than a coarser nature ; and that " gay " men, who pass their lives in deceiving others, are likely to be themselves deceived at last.
The hero of the book is Wynville, a younger son of an old Whig family, provided for sufficiently by an uncle who brings him up. The bar is his profession, politics his pursuit ; he is brought into Parliament through the opinion formed of his abilities by Loa John Rowland [Russell] and the interest of the Duke of Fleet- wood [Bedford", The chronology is not very strictly preserved, nor has the book been carefully revised ; but the period over which the actual story extends begins with the latter days. of the Regency and ends with the time of the first Reform Ministry. The leading subjects of the tale are Wynville's experience at the Temple as a law-student, in political circles as a listener and talker, in Parliament as a rising speaker ; and his attachment to Lady Jane Mowbray, whom he finally marries. There are also incidental stories about his friends, and an account of his own state of mind, which has been perverted to a cold intellectual Deism by the rhetoric of the Unitarian preacher Mr. Foss. Perhaps the best parts of the book are those which relate to life at the Temple and to men about town ; but in this case the author, like his prototype Disraeli, does not sufficiently observe either right or propriety,—ascribing to persons traits or conduct in a way that would be libellous if the individuals were named instead of being indicated. The next best parts are those which avowedly relate to public men. The following sketch of Castlereagh is true in itself andeontains a further truth. It is really force of character, or re- solution in pressing on in your -walk of life, which constitutes greatness and commands success. Except the Dii majores gentiwrt —Homer, Dante, Shakspere, and the half-mythical founders of nations—many men can do particular things as well as the leaders of a period or the heads of a school of art or letters; but they want resolution and energy for sustained perseverance; they have not strength of will to impress their own minds on others, and hence are deficient in unity and wholeness, and do not succeed. The discussion takes place at a dinner.
"From the men of the present day, the conversation turned towards departed politicians. Lord Castlereagh's character was discussed; and I was surprised to find that Lord Lingard, Sir F. Bennett, who for many years had been his pro- minent opponent., and Sir Charles North, rated him so highly. It was admitted by them all, even by Lord Lingard, that Castlereagh was grossly ignorant of the affairs of Europe; but his personal courage, combined with his gravity and fascinating manners, had impressed both Lingard and Bennett with the same views of him.
"'A braver man never lived,' said Lingard ; his personal courage was matchless. He was perfectly civil, and never worked lumself up, as others do, into fits of audacity. He was always the same.' "By Jove ! ' said Bennett, 'if Louis the Sixteenth had had Castlereagh for his prime minister, the affairs.of all Europe might have been changed.
"That proves nothing in favour of Castlereagh,' I remarked. It was Pascal who said,: that if the nose of Cleopatra had been an inch shorter, the destiny of the world would have been altered. I confess that I never could conceive Lord Castlereagh to have been such a formidable man as you all ap- pear to think him.'
"'Because, Mr. Wynville,' said Sir Charles North, you were never per- sonally in contact with him. You take your opinions of him from the news- papers, from Tom Moore's witty squibs, from Byron's sarcastic allusions to him. But if you knew the man, you would hold anothenopinion of him.'
"'See what he did,' said Bennett. He began life as Mr. Stewart, an Irish Radical Reformer. He beat the Hills out of DownshiM—I remember the time well. He was then looked to as the chief of the Irish Reformers. Pitt put his eye on him. Before he was thirty years old he was the .leadm• Minister in the Irish Parliament. He confronted all the bullies that infes that den of political bravos. He put them all down. He circumvented the Irish Protestant leaders, and cajoled all the Catholics. . He bullied all the bullies, and did it like a gentleman. In short, he extinguished the Irish. Parliament. He then came over here ; and after the Union, all the Irish. leaders were of very little weight or influence in the new state of thing,. Lord Clare, the big Tory bully of Ireland, was quietly flapped down by the Duke of Bedford; and so with many others of the local great men of Ireland. But Castlereagh went ahead here : a few years saw hum Secretary of State ; and from 1812 to the day of his death, he was leader of the Hour of Com- mons, and kept his party well together. See what strong qualities of per- sonal ascendancy were required to do all that!' "'These are the kind of men who govern, said Lord Lingard ; one man with Ciuitlereagh's vigour of will is worth fifty of your clever, eloquent, ac- complished speakers, like Lord Harrowby or Lord Dudley: " The subject of Castlereagh's suicide. was then discussed. Sir Charles North told a most romantic story concerning it. I never heard so strange a tal ,e • and Lord Lingard confirmed the truth of many of North's particulars. I believe the story told by Sir Charles to be a true account of the cause of Lord Castlereagh's suicide, and I must over think of him with the deepest commiseration."