THE NEW FICTIONS BY BOZ AND MRS. TROLLOPE.
THE opening of the new year has produced two new fictions by popular authors, to be published in monthly parts,—The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, by Boz ; and Jessie Phillips, a Tale of the New Poor-law, by Mrs. TROLLOPE. The evils of periodical publication, in a species of work whose value must eventually be tested by its merit as a whole, are ob- vious. Every thing must be sacrificed to immediate effects ; each successive part must be made to tell by itself: and the result, as MARRYAT has remarked, will be, that when all the parts are brought together, the general character is glaring, overdone, and disconnected ; whilst, either from the climax being virtually reached at an early period, or the necessity of attracting the reader no longer stimulating the author, the interest, as Dangle tells Sir Fretful, rather falls off in the fifth act, the end wearing the appear- ance of being huddled up by negligence or hurry. This sacrifice of art to the profit of the artist is so common, not to say universal, in the present age, that it is hardly an imputation upon anybody to do what almost every one would do if he could ; yet it is a sign of the genius of Boz and the literary character of TROLLOPF, to find that they more systematically. pursue this method than any other writers,—Boz, indeed, having in a certain sense given it the fashion- able currency. The thing signified by this sign is a disposition to sacrifice fu- ture fame to present popularity, by taking advantage of attractive temporary circumstances, and so working them as to produce their greatest effect at the time of production. Mrs. TROLLOPE does this openly and palpably : the titles of her lucubrations announce her intention—The Factory Buy, &c. ; and she treats her subject cleverly, no doubt, but coarsely, literally, and vulgarly—not so much with vulgarity of manner, but by an appeal to the vulgar prejudices and vulgar cant which animate the ignorant and narrow- minded of every grade. The productions of Boz are of a very different kind, both as regards mental elevation and literary quali- ties. His characters are more lifelike, his dialogue more natural and easy, and his whole composition more quiet, more mellow, and more effective; whilst his use of temporary circumstances, however it may essentially contribute to the attraction and character of the work, only appears to be a part of it—as Squeers, and Do-the- boys Hall, in Nicholas Nickleby.
The long titlepage of Martin Chuzzlewit may be passed as an advertisement ; whilst the forced and stale introduction, giving an account of the race of Chuzzlewit, and ridiculing, or rather trying to ridicule, the pretenders to family honours, has little seeming re- lation to what follows. So far as a guess may be formed of a story from twenty•six pages, Martin Chuzzlewit is a misanthrope whom wealth has disgusted with his relations and all mankind ; as he has found, or fancied, design and meanness in every one who approaches him. This gentleman has a grandson, not yet introduced, who is robably to be the hero—the young Nickleby of the story ; and a maiden who attends upon old Martin as a companion, with a istinct understanding that she is to have "no legacy," may be the eroine. But the true magnet of the story, we think, will be found 'n Mr. Pecksniff and his two daughters ; the father illustrating the
uds of the apprenticeship-premium system. The character of he family is at present, indeed, rather obtruded by the author than displayed by his persons ; but Mr. Pecksniff is well conceived— hough his oily smoothness appertains more to any other profession than architecture. The architect, however, is well chosen to illus- trate the apprenticeship-fraud upon parents and the youth himself.
It has been remarked by ADAM SMITH with his accustomed icety of observation, that a workman at the beginning rather trifles han applies. Something of this kind takes place in every occupa- ion, whether mental or manual, and is likely to be visible in a first umber. At all events, the execution of the part before us seems ther more strained than is usual with this writer ; as if he had ess confidence in his resources, or his subject, and felt compelled to labour for effects. This is shown more in his descriptions than in his dialogue, though visible in each ; from the best of which we take a sample.
AN AUTUMNAL EVENING.
It was pretty late in the autumn of the year, when the declining sun, strug- tling through the mist which had obscured it all day, looked brightly down pon a little Wiltshire village, within an easy journey of the fair old town of 'bury. Like a sudden flash of memory or spirit kindling up the mind of an old man, shed a glory upon the scene, in which its departed youth and freshness seemed live again. The wet grass sparkled in the light ; the scanty patches of rdure in the hedges—where a few green twigs yet stood together bravely, re- sting to the last the tyranny of nipping winds and early frosts—took heart - brightened up ; the stream, which had been dull and sullen all day long, tut into a cheerful smile ; the birds began to chirp and twitter on the mod•aghs, as though the hopeful creatures half believed that winter had he ieformi spring had coma already. The vane upon the tapering spire of the old church glistened from its lofty station in sympathy with the general gladness; and from the ivy-shaded windows such gleams of light shone back upon the glowing sky, that it seemed as if the quiet buildings were the hoard- ing-place of twenty summers, and all their ruddiness and warmth were stored within.
Even those tokens of the season which emphatically whispered of the coming winter, graced the landscape, and, for the moment, tinged its livelier features with no oppressive air of sadness. The fallen leaves with which the ground was strewn gave forth a pleasant fragrance, and, subduing all harsh sounds of distant feet and wheels, created a repose in gentle unison with the light scatter- ing of seed hither and thither by the distant husbandman, and with the noise- less passage of the plough as it turned up the rich brown earth and wrought a graceful pattern in tLe stubble-fields. On the motionless branches of some trees, autumn-berries hung like clusters of coral beads, as in those fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels ; others, stripped of all their garniture, stood, each the centre of its little heap of bright red leaves. watching their slow decay ; others again, still wearing theirs, had them all crunched and crackled up, as though they had been burnt ; about the stems of some were piled, in ruddy mounds, the apples they had borne that year; while others (hardy evergreens this class) showed somewhat stern and gloomy in their vigour, as charged by Nature with the admonition that it is not to her mot --uitive and joyous favourites she grants the longest term of life. Still athwart their darker boughs the Bun-beams struck out paths of deeper gold ; and the red light, mantling in among their swarthy branches, used them as foils to set its bright- ness off, and aid the lustre of the dying day. A moment, and its glory was no more. The sun went down beneath the long dark lines of hill and cloud which piled up in the West an airy city, wall heaped on wall, and battlement on battlement ; the light was all withdrawn ; the shining church turned cold and dark ; the stream forgot to smile; the birds were silent; and the gloom of winter dwelt on every thing.
" Tut, tut !" said Mr. Pecksniff, pushing his latest-born away, and running his fingers through his hair, as he resumed his tranquil face : " What folly is this! Let us take heed how we laugh without reason, lest we cry with it. What is the domestic news since yesterday ? John Westlock is gone, I hope ? "
" Indeed, no," said Charity. " And why not ? " returned her father. " His term expired yesterday. And his box was packed, I know; for I saw it, in the morning, standing in the hall."
" He slept last night at the Dragon," returned the young lady, " and had Mr. Pinch to dine with him. They spent the evening together, and Mr. Pinch was not home till very late."
" And when I saw him on the stairs this morning, Pa," said Mercy, with her usual sprightliness, " he looked, oh, goodness, such a monster ! with his face all manner of colours, and his eyes as dull as if they had been boiled, and his head aching dreadfully, I am sure, from the look of it, and his clothes
smelling—oh it 's impossible to say how strong, of the young lady shuddered—" of smoke and punch." " Now I think," said Mr. Pecksniff, with his accustomed gentleness, though still with the air of one who suffered under injury without complaint, "I think Mr. Pinch might have done better than choose for his companion one who, at the close of a long intercourse, had endeavoured, as he knew, to wound my feelings. I am not quite sure that this was delicate in Mr. Pinch. I am not quite sure that this was kind in Mr. Pinch. I will go further, and say, I am not quite sure that this was even ordinarily grateful in Mr. Pinch."
" But what can any one expect from Mr. Pinch ?" cried Charity, with as strong and scornful an emphasis on the name as if it would have given her un- speakable pleasure to express it, in an acted charade, on the calf of that gentle- man's leg." " Ay, ay," returned her father, raising his hand mildly; " it is very well to say what can we expect from Mr. Pinch : but Mr. Pinch is a fellow-creature, my dear ; Mr. Pinch is an item in the vast total of humanity, my love ; and we have a right—it is our duty—to expect in Mr. Pinch some development of those better qualities the possession of which in our own persons inspires our humble self-respect. " No," continued Mr. Pecksniff; " no ! Heaven forbid that I should say nothing can be expected from Mr. Pinch, or that I should say nothing can be expected from any man alive, (even the most degraded, which Mr. Pinch is not, no really); but Mr. Pinch has disappointed me ; he has hurt me ; 1 think a little the worse of him on this account, but not of human nature. Oh no, no ! "
Perhaps no greater proof of the artistical superiority of Boz to Mrs. TROLLOPE could be given than this, that in the works of Box the fiction is always most prominent to the mind, whereas with Mrs. TROLLOPE the so-called philosophy attracts the attention of the critic. Her character and story are so obviously framed to for- ward some theory of the author, that they come to be considered less in the light of humanities than machines. In Jessie Phillips, as in all her other illustrative novels, Mrs. TROLLOPS takes extreme cases for general rules, and thus presents a really false and useless conclusion, as the true evils of the subject are left untouched. Jessie has not yet appeared ; but she seems to be a flattered rustic belle, who is to be seduced by a libertine young squire, and pro- bably exhibit the hardships of the bastardy-clauses. This, how- ever, is conjecture. We have as yet before us, only a caricatured assembly of a Board of Guardians, who illustrate the " work- house-test." The case is this. Old Mrs. Greenhill had been wet-nurse to a Marquis, and the family allow her an annuity. Her own son is a handsome dashing young fellow, fonder of sports than work, and aiming at gentility. He consequently embarks in trade as a master, without capital ; neglects his business for his pleasures, and of course becomes embarrassed. To save him from gaol, his mother mortgages her annuity to one creditor; but as this will not secure the others, they arrest him. His mother end wife struggle to keep themselves till Tom can " take the bene- fit," but are unable, and, applying for relief, are offered the work- house.
This is an extreme case in all its points, which no general law can meet. The relations of a man who is able to contract debts as a builder, are generally able to save his children from the workhouse during the brief term now requisite for white-washing; and if not, the Insolvent Court will tacitly allow him to sell the property of his cre- ditors to keep himself and family, if he does it economically. The peculiar circumstances of the Greenhills merely render their case more peculiar still. It was one expressly adapted for private as- sistance; and if a village, with more than half-a-dozen persons in the position of gentry, would allow such a person to apply for re-
;. lie& they were not very likely to have dealt tenderly with her even if their parish had not been engulfed in a union, which is the point of the authoress.
It is this extreme view of principles, and her hard, exaggerated painting, which render Mrs. TROLLOPE so utterly powerless upon public opinion, notwithstanding her shrewdness, cleverness, and constant activity. Whilst the notice of an abuse by Boz will excite general attention, and probably induce some movement towards a reform, Mrs. TROLLOPS'S exertions have no effect; for she has no influence except upon folly and ignorance, which have no influence upon affairs till a case is ripe for counting polls, and not much even then.