13 JULY 1850, Page 19


Mits. STONE had better have continued the kind of fiction which aimn at exhibiting a peculiar clasS of society, than thrown herself upon more general subjects. The reader has a factitious interest it 'contemporary sets of people. they have marked if evanescent characteristics; they are not so hacknied as general representations of common life; and they mostly have a conventional moral tacked to the topic, which the author may exaggerate ad libitum. In a novel that professes to exhibit common life or at least which does not exhibit class life, the author has none Of these advantages, and has to contend with certain disadvantages. " Diffieile eat proprie clinummirt dieere "; and if it be a task in itself to render everyday raatters—" known images of life "—sufficiently distinct and striking to be effective, in a work of art, the difficulty has been

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astly ncreased since the °days of Horace by the competition of authors. A new class of people, with peculiar habits, ideas, objects, and. troubles, is as great a godsend to a fictionist as a new discovery in mechanics to the manufacturer; for the common incidents,, characters, weaknesses, hopes, fears, laves, and distresses of society in general, have been worked up as often as cotton or any other material of manufacture into the common class of goods. Irnless in the case of a penetrating and lively genius able "pro- prie communia dicere," the writer will certainly be driven to com- pile a eento, as clearly if not so obviously as if directly quoted. Such is the case in the matter of Mr. Dalton's Legatee clever as Mrs. Stone undoubtedly is. There is a runaway marriage ; a very angry papa disinherits his daughter, and. dies -before he can alter his will. Then the young people are reduced to great dis- tress, not only mentally and socially but in respect to positive priva- tion ; a thing which is not exactly proper for literary art, any more than a surgical operation is adapted to-painting-; besides which, the theme of poverty is thoroughly hacloned, the late Mr. Mackenzie Daniel having worked it in his various novels enough for one gene- ration. When the distresses of Emily. Meredith, born Dalton, and her husband, have served the turn, they are ended by the arrival of an uncle from abroad, long since supposed to have been dead ; and as the restored Mr. Dalton was the elder brother and rightful heir, of course Emily's father had really no power to will away the estate.

A contrast to the sufferings of the heroine and her punishment for disobedience and elopement, is found in Mr. Dalton's Legatee, the wife of a city tallow-chandler, a good kind of man, of the name of Snoblains, which his second wife has altered into De Snobyn. There is less caricature in 'this section of the book than might have been looked for ; tuft-hunting and husband-hunting being Mrs. Stone's main elements : but perhaps farce, haelrnied as it is, might have been more amusing than the more critically chosen themes. There is some good though not very powerful writing in the book ; but the trait that redeems Mr. Dalton's Legatee from the common run of novels, is a knowledge of a certain kind bf society, and a true exhibition of character. Amid all the follies, selfish- nesses, and social dishonesties of the De Snobyns, they have feel- ings and affections and warm ones too, when they are not sup- pressed by seine interest. The following scene exhibits the mother and daughters in mid career, when they are trying to entrap the son of a baronet.

"All seemed prosperous: everything went 'merry as a marriage-bell,' save that—Redwald did not speak. "No he did not speak. Perhape respect for his mother's doubts, un- founded though he considered them to be, had hitherto deterred him ; or perhaps his own mind was hardly resolved. There seemed little doubt that he had a preference for Miss Be Snobvir ; still his attentions to her werenot so marked as to have been observed by any less interested in his conduct than the parties themselves. Helena began to be a little petulant under the pressure of hope defeled,' and she was again warned by her mother of the inweliay of such, demonstrations.. Your own good sense must i tell you, Helena, that if a young man is

unde an cided whether or not to take mportant step, the very way to deter him is to exhibit petulance.' "Dear mamma, I was not aware that I exhibited any petulance ; but I inn tired of playing fast and loose to Mr. Redwalt Marehmont's caprices. There are others to be had, I fancy, as good as he.'

"Mrs. Be Snob., n smiled. '1 might point out to you, Helena, that you are petulant now; that you are unjust, yourself must feel, for the young man has shown no caprice ; but I would rather learn from you—for I must 'Mr. Dalton's Legatee, a Very Nice Woman. A Novel. Ity 'Mrs. Stone, AttitOr Of 'The Art of Needlework," "The Cotton Lord," -" The Young MiMaer,nake.- threw-volumes. Published by Newby. - confess myutter ignorance of the .fact—to wham, amongst all our viral°, you can point as a parti so perfectly unexceptionable, so exceedingly desimble, as Redwald llarchmont, or to repeat, in your own expressive language, the yin slightest possible sneer curled Mrs De Snobym's lip,) where "another is to be lmd as good as he " ? "A deep ihmh passed over Helena's face ; the tears rushed to her WM,. and her vexation was very evident in the look she turned an her sister; but she did not speak. Evelina did.

"'Mamma, I think you are a little too hard upon Helena.' " I am sure, my dear, I do not wish to be so.'

"'We are botth, sure of that, manuna ; we well know that : but you see Helena beano ales whether Mr. Marelunont means to speak or not ; and you must allow that suspense is very harassmo.0- ' " 'I do anon it—,nevertheless, it inust be borne ; it is a trial that emir' youn woman. has to encounter ins greater or less degree.'

" suppose so; hut I think dm very ungenerous in a nian toga tat lathe out letting a girl know his intentions.'

"'Go on' what, Evelina—be more explicit.'

" 'Why,.raarnma, go =paying particular attentions.' " 'So do I; but to whom do you refer ? ' To Mr. Marchniont, to be sure, mamma!'

"'He has not paid any "particular attentions," that I have seen, bo any- one,' " ! mamma, don't, don't say that!' exclaimedEvelina, now almost cry- ing in her turn, as her sister had been for some minutes. Don't say tba4, for -we have all thought that he admired Helena so much, and you thought so once, mamma.' "'I think so still ; but that does not alter the fact that he has shown her no particular attehtions. I think that Redwald was much struck with your sister on. their first acquaintance ; and I_will confess that, at that time, I was in hopes the impression aught not only be permanent but that it might quickly be brought to a happy result. In that I was mistaken. Whether warned by Ids mother—with whom I feel we are not favourites—or whether it be the result of his own unbiatsed judgment, I know not; but it is quite evident-to me now, that he is a young man whose fancy will not be allowed to blind his discretion!!

"'But what should Lady Marehmont warn him about, mamma ? surely, Helena is a match for him ? '

" do not underrate my daughters, Evelina ; but I canfully justify Lady llarelnnont in looking higher for her son titan the daughter of a London tradesman. I have told you before, that it is not by shutting our eyes:to fact—how adverse soever to our wishes—that we are likely to attain those wishes; but by carefully adjusting our own conduct to suit circumstances which we cannot alter.'

"'But surely, mamma, you would not have Helena reserve herself for Mr. Marehmont, until the gentleman may see proper to conclude his delibera- tions "'You cannot of course, Evelina, ask such a question seriously. My ut- most energies, you are well aware, are devoted to the attainment of mutable establishments for yourself and your sisters. It will not be my fault if they be not brilliant ones. You must see that I spare no cost, no labour, to diss play you to the best possible advantage. Far from wishing any of you to wait the "deliberations" of any m you must remember that I cautioned Helena long ago to correct subdue her naturally warm impulses, to keep herself free—absolutely free in mind and heart—that she might at once avail herself of any advantageous circumstance that arose whether in the shape of an offer from him or another. Now Helena can point: out to me any prospect opening before her brighler, or so brightly, as that of an offer ultimately from Redwald M.araluxunit, I am quite willing to further her views as far as M. m.y. power.' "'Then, mamma,' interrupted Helena, 'you OA think he may make me an offer?

"Undoubtedly I-da, Helena; though I am sorry to-see you ask the ques- tion so eagerly : it looks as if you had not kept your feelings quite so much under contrasts I could have wished.' "'I cannot kelp it; indeed, indeed, Ma112/1111, I cannot help it!' said He- lena, again bursting into tears."