11 DECEMBER 1880, Page 23

The Clerk of Portwick. By George Manville Fenn. 3 vols.

(Chapman and Hall.)—This novel begins with some pretty pictures of rural scenery. The rectory by the side of the trout-stream is an attractive scene, which impresses itself on the memory. But we like the scenery better than the characters. The hero is passably interesting ; but the villain of the story is not artistically drawn. Ho reminds us too strongly of Uriah Heep. Mr. Fenn has the trick of incessant iteration of some physical peculiarity in any persons whom ho wishes to make odious to us, a trick which all readers of Dickens will re- member with a shudder. Mr. Jermin's "heartburn" after two or three satirical allusions to it, becomes tiresome. The best characters in the book are two troublesome boys, who excite and deserve considerable interest. Still Mr. Fenn is not common-place. His personages have a certain life and motion about them ; and his story is a wholesome one, not without an honest interest in it that does not in the least depend upon any illegitimate or doubtful situation. There is plenty of love- making of the old-fashioned sort ; a missing lover turns up at the right moment ; and an unrighteous plot is discovered, by means of just the last person in the world that one would have expected to do it. The Clerk of Portwick may be safely recommended to readers.