TROWEli t t3 HIITSPOT. * THE object of the writer of this fiction
is less to produce a story secundum artem, than to contrive a vehicle for exhibiting his ideas of certain evils of society, especially those which arise from the abuses of the law. The structure and incidents of a tale of this kind are not amenable to strict rule. It is sufficient if the writer amuses the reader and exhibits the evils which he aims at reform- ing in a striking way, even though he verges upon caricature. The circumstances, however, must be in the main true; there may be exaggeration, but not falsehood—improbability, but not impossi- bility. Mr. Trower has not sufficiently borne this principle in mind, even if he possesses that dramatic genius which is as necessary for the novelist as the dramatist. Hence the book fails in its main purpose. The unquestionable abuses the author brings forward look petty,—impositions, no doubt, but not requisite to be de- nounced in a fiction : the greater evils have little vraisemblance in themselves, and unfortunately none at all in the mode of cure. Harold St. Just, the hero of Hutspot, is a young barrister ; the heroine, Mabel Stuart, is an attorney's stepdaughter. Mr. Plow- den employs St. Just, and encourages his suit, till St. Just turns law reformer, and then he scowls upon the man who would take his life by taking the means through which he lives ; while Brownlow Plowden, his son by a first wife, and an unsuccessful lover of Mabel, makes a breach between the lovers in various ways, and amongst others by forged letters. The genius of St. Just, however, carries all before him He becomes a minister of state, achieves a thorough reform in the law—" wish we may get it "—and marries Mabel, although Brownlow Plowden out of revenge attempts to murder hini.
There are other things in the book besides law reform and the loves of St. Just and Mabel. The story opens at Oxford, then tra- vels to SCotland and field-sports ; where Mr. Trower seems more at home thEuvin the inns of court, and where his suggestions as to the necessity of caution in taking moors in Scotland seem to us more practical than his views of legal reform. When the course of the story brings him up to town, there is an actual knowledge of life, and a just appreciation of its "mingled yarn, good and ill to- gether"; though from want of a gift for fiction the author can only describe what he knows, and fails in embodying it. The following visit to a court of justice, by the hero and an unlucky litigant, will give an idea of the author's better style ; though there is a little exaggeration about it. The judges and "leaders" are hardly so dull in court as in the description. "After threading the many passages which issue from the great judg- ment-hall, and guided by a finger-post in the direction which they were seeking, they found themselves in the immediate presence of a superior court of justice. Lingering a few momenta on the judicial threshold with a somewhat diffident step, and pushing to a noiseless door, which slammed either way with a very accommodating indifference, they entered a quiet green room, into which a midsummer sun was pouring its unmitigated rays through a large oriel window. At one extremity of the room, in an easy arm- chair raised on somewhat of a platform, was seated a very quiet-looking gentleman of quite an elderly age, who was evidently the president of the assembly. He spoke but little, and what he did say escaped him in such gruff but inaudible murmurs that it failed of reaching the two visitors. Yet doubtless they were words of wisdom, since they fell from the lips of a judge : moreover, they were important words, for on them depended the interests of many a suitor ; and they should have been spoken therefore with a dignified articulation and a gracious delivery. They were likewise particularly struck by two other equally quiet personages, whom, from the conspicuous position they occupied on the floor of the court, and from the undue share of the old gentleman's attention which they monopolized, they concluded to be public characters of some eminence.
"The impression, however, which they produced upon them was very far from favourable. The voice of one was particularly inharmonious ; in fact, he appeared to be labouring under a severe chronic cold : the ease, therefore, with which, under such circumstances, he delivered himself of the duties which a a very cumbrous mails of documents, bound together by a leathern strap, showed him to be intrusted with, was the more remarkable. The other was evidently labouring under no indisposition, but was just as inaudible as his colleague : he talked, however, a great deal, in a very bland and familiar
• Flutspot; a Tale for the Nineteenth Century. By Charles Francis Trower. Published by Longman and Co.
comprehend what he said, though the substance of his remarks was lost to every one else. Flood, after several attempts to resist it, was beginning to yield to an involuntary fit of drowsiness, when his sleeve was pulled by the ubiquitous Plowden ; who, informing him that his cause would not come on till at least the afternoon, soon got deep in consultation with him upon what he called one or two very ' nice,' but which his client could not help de- scribing as one or two very 'nasty' points of his case. "Leaving them awhile, to explore the interesting buildings in the neigh- bourhood, Harold soon lost himself in the vast hurrying human tide which . he found ebbing and flowing at the bottom of the stone staircase which led from the quiet room. Here rose those grand imperial towers, embossed with heraldry, in which the destinies of nations were nightly sealed. There, Yonder consecrated pile, whose solemn matin chimes, sounding above a city's din, were once more calling, unheeded, a godless world to prayer. And there, that vast grim vaulted hall, beneath whose canopy crowds that might have peopled villages, like pigmy insects, sauntered. Here, bands of politi- cians, agents, reporters, witnesses, were hurrying to committee-rooms. There, knots of long-robed lawyers unravelling the thread of some anxious controversy, or speculating on some important suit now pending in tho ad- joining courts, paced its immense cold floor. What a bewildering scene! What food for the moralist! What stores for the satirist !
"Noon came, and Harold hastened to rejoin his companion in the quiet room. All was going on as before. The same dignitaries of the bar were alternately on their legs. It seemed as though neither of them had ceased interrupting one another, and addressing the elderly gentleman, since he left The same sombre stillness pervaded the room, broken only by the hoarse interjectional sentences of him with the chronic cold, or the unintel- ligible accents of his rival with the bland voice."