18 AUGUST 1855, Page 15



THE striking characteristics of Mr. Thaciseray's novels have been so often and so clearly pointed out, and the novels resemble each other so much in general features—have such a strong family like- ness—that it becomes with each novel more difficult for the news- paper critic to say anything that shall be at once new and true, if he confine himself to his proper task of reviewing the book and fix- ing the literary position of the author. Our limited space, and our obligation to say something of every book as it comes to us, pre- vent us from following the example of our brethren of the quarter- lies and giving once for all a comprehensive survey of an author's writings; while in the ease of a novel that has been published in monthly parts, and with which the public is already for the most part familiar, we are debarred from the common resource of in- teresting our readers by recapitulating the leading incidents of the story and describing the principal characters. Ethel Newcome and her cousin Clive—the brave, honest, affectionate Colonel—the cold- blooded, cowardly, cruel Barnes—Lady Kew, "the wickedest old dear in all England "—Paul Florae and his group of relatives— Rosa Mackenzie and "the old Campaigner —and a crowd of clearly conceived vigorously drawn oharaoters besides,—the public knows them as well as it does the faces of Disraeli and Lord John Russell, and has been much more interested about them for two years past. What can we say that has not been said over hun- dreds of dining-tables, in countless drawingrooms student? chambers, under-graduates' rooms ? Has not London for months been in consternation lest Ethel should waste her fair youth and noble heart in fruitless repentance, and that benevolent auntism we all respect so much, owe so much to, but so shudder at as a fate for our favourites in life and books ? Was there not even a moment when a single hint about the importance of " bap- tismal regeneration" made the profane throw the number violently to the other end of the room, as a vision rose of Venus-Diana with shorn tresses and close white cap, her bow straitened to a fertile, her cestus cut up for the personal adornment of her Anglican director, and all her little loves, all the bevy of nymphs, turned into smugfaced choristers and demure village sohoolmistresses ? Has not the failure of the Bundlecund Bank hung over town with a prescient gloom, -only lightened by the consciousness that Colonel Newoome's nobility of heart and mind could never be In- solvent, come what run upon it there might ? Has not Remy Mate kenzie's removal, by childbirth or any natural cause, and, that wanting, by poison administered so as to save Clive's neck and repo: tation, been almost prayed for in the churobes ? Were we not all present at the case of " Newcome, Bart. v. Lard Highgate," and did we not clap our inward hands with keen applause as the de- fendant's counsel painted, as only that distinguished mover of juries can paint, the character and brutal oonduet of the injured husband ? And now when the play is over, and the curtain down, the brown-holland thrown over the boxes, the lights out, and the audience gone home to supper' is it not rather a dull task and a superfluous, that we should be expected to retire to our sanotum and tell how interested and delighted they have been, how clever and how good the author is, and how often we hope they and we may have the pleasure of witnessing other performances from the same "able and talented hand"?

Well, but we may at least congratulate the public that their favourite Ethel comes out of her trials and temptations not only wiser for her experience, but purer and nobler for her victory over her false-self; and that the happiness to which we have together looked doubtfully forward for her and Clive is theirs at last, though not till long after the fifth act is over, and seen only in prophetic vision from the authorial Pisgah. The play itself only moves through the wilderness, occupies itself with the murmurings of the people, with their idolatries, with their plagues—more than once we think the land of promise will never be reached : but far off from that mountain-top we spy the shining of its streams of milk and honey, and we see in spirit the wilderness cleared, the Jordan passed, and our wayworn and sorelystried ones at rest beneath their vine. The dear old Colonel, too, finds rest. Like those herbs which emit their richeitriperfume when crushed, his character sweetens as his spirit breaks i his little absurdities, his Don-Quixotism, his magnificence of tone and manner, his high temper and irritability, all go, beneath the giant heel of the fate that tramples him. He rises from the blow weak and staggering, acknowledging his fault, deploring the misery he has brought upon others giving up everything he has to repair it so far as may be : he is :tern towards himself, patient towards those who persecute him, remorseful towards those be has injured, more affectionate andloving than ever to those who show him love and affection. He accepts his penalty like a brave, a kind, a humble man. We laugh at him no more • we love and admire him beyond expres- sion; we bow before him in his bedesman's gown as we would not before a prince of the blood ; and we follow his body to the tomb with a heartier belief in the power of simple goodness, a deepened reverence for it wherever we find it among men, and a sublimer confidence that in the still garden of souls its consummate flower goes on to bloom in eternal beauty. Dear old Colonel! since Le- fevre died more generous tears have not been wept over a book

• The Newcomes: Memoirs of a Most Respectable Family. Edited by Arthur Pendennis, Esq. Illustrated by Richard Doyle. In two volumes. Published by Bradbury and Evans.

than have fallen for you—tears which have their source in noble thoughts and strengthen the hearts from which they flow.

Clive Newcome appears to advantage in comparison with the gentlemen who carry off the heroines in Vanity Fair and Penden- nia : he has few faults that are not the germs of virtues—good manners, good temper, a generous affectionate heart, and a manly spirit. Of course he is conceited and magnificent—" a young swell," as his friend Warrington would call him, but not a mere swell—quite as charming a boy as Ethel is a girl. We have heard him called hard names for loving his fair cousin while he knows that her heart is fixed on coronets and broad acres—for marrying Rosa Mackenzie while he is in love with his cousin. No doubt, these rigid moralists are themselves quite insensible to the charms of a woman if she be not good enough and strong enough to resist at eighteen all the influences of the society to which she belongs ; no doubt, they would assist and applaud their own sisters in marrying as far below their own station in life as Clive is below Ethel ; no doubt, they would be remarkably civil to the poor youth who came a-wooing under such circumstances. Doubtless, too, when piqued and wounded by years of caprice on the part of the beloved idol—when a seemingly impassable gulph is placed between you and her—when a pretty girl with a good fortune is only waiting for your handkerchief, and a fond father is doing his uttermost to induce his young Sultan to throw it— placed thus between all that is hopeless, repellant, tormenting, re- volting to your pride on one side, while on the other wealth and beauty smile acceptance and filial duty sanctifies the sacrifice, you the enthusiastic objector would sternly resist all these sordid influences, silence all the proniptings of wounded vanity, grati- tude for affection shown, the inclination of compliant good-nature, see clearly the sad issue of all heartless marriages, act steadfastly on your conviction, and live a lonely life with your love buried in your breast, showing its strength and endurance only in more resolute work, in gentler tones, and in deeds of kindness. If you did it would be nobler than doing what Clive did; but nineteen young men out of twenty would follow Olive's example, and the twentieth would probably owe his exception to his unamiable qualities. Constancy and the ideal are vastly fine things; but we have known young men take refuge from a disappointed love in worse resources than a manage de convenanee to please a fond father, and take refuge again from a stupid wife in less innocent distrac- tions than the studio and the paint-brushes. Clive is no miracle of virtue, but a really good fellow, who takes his good and bad fortune with a manly spirit, and does not sour but ripen under the discipline of life. And Ethel herself, "la premiere demoiselle amoureuse "—how we have heard her part abused, how angry indeed she makes everybody interested in her! Not a thorough woman of the world, and far enough from being an ingenue, she perpetually ex- cites our fears lest she should irretrievably commit herself to either character and repent with unsatisfied heart and composed smile ever after. Indeed-, with all her genuine highmindedness, she is only saved from being Marchioness of Farintosh by her grand- mother's death allowing her full freedom to accept the lesson of her poor sister-in-law's career. And does not this too happen oftener in life than our pride would willingly allow ? Is it not to some lucky accident that many of us, whose lives are happy, owe the final predominance of the good over the evil principle in our existence ? For our part, when we are taught to pray "Lead us not into temptation," we recognize in that prayer the weakness of our nature, and are only too glad if by lucky accidents and strong resolution combined, by warnings from the lives of others and promptings of the monitor within' those in whom we are in- terested can escape the perils that beset and age, and finally attain the blessedness of a life in which the affections find their proper objects and the best energies room to breathe. There is something funny in listening to the hard things that have been freely spoken of this young lady in society, from May Fair to Whitechapel. Indeed, it is always eminently edifying to listen to the great British publicin its criticisms upon the conduct of the affections, and to reflect upon the singular contrast between its practice and its theory. Its theory, particularly among the mid- dle classes, where denunciation of the heartlessness of high life is a delicate and delightful self-flattery, is that marriage without love is just a step above prostitution ; not an untrue theory when one considers the effects of such marriages upon family life, upon individual culture, and upon society at large. Its practice Lord Kew fairly enough describes in the following passage.

" 'and as for this romance of love,' the young nobleman went on, kind- ling as he spoke, and forgetting the slang and colloquialisms with which we garnish all our conversation—, this fine picture of Jenny and Jessamy falling in love at first sight, billing and cooing in an arbour, and retiring to a cottage afterwards to go on cooing and billing—Pshaw ! what folly is this! It is good for romances, and for misses to sigh about ; but any man who walks through the world with his eyes open knows how senseless is all this rubbish. I don't say that a young man and woman are not to meet and to fall in 'love that instant, and to marry that day year, and love each other till they are a hundred : that is the supreme lot ; but that is the lot which the gods only grant to Baucis and Philemon, and a very very few besides. As for the rest, they must compromise ; make themselves as comfortable as they can, and take the good and the bad together. And as for Jenny and Jesse- my, by Jove ! look round among your friends, count up the love-matches, and see what has been the end of most of them! Love in a cottage! Who is to pay the landlord for the cottage ? Who is to pay for Jenny's tea and cream and Jessamy's mutton-chops ? If he has cold mutton, he will quar- kl with her. If there is nothing in the cupboard, a pretty meal they make. you cry out against people in our world making . money-marriages. y, kings and queens marry on the same understanding. My butcher has Bayed a stockingfull of money, and marries his daughter to a young sales- man. Mr. and Mrs. Salesman prosper in life, and get an Alderman's daugh- ter for their son. My attorney looks out amongst his clients for an eligible husband for Miss Deeds; sends his son to the bar, into Parliament, where he cuts a figure and becomes Attorney-General, makes a fortune, has a house in Belgrave Square, and marries Miss Deeds of the second generation to a Peer. Do not accuse us of being more sordid than our neighbours. We do but as the world does ; and a girl in our society accepts the best party which offers itself, just as Miss Chummey, when entreated by two young gentle- men of the order of costermongers, inclines to the one who rides from mar- ket on a moke, rather than to the gentleman who sells his greens from a hand-basket.'"

The young Earl who delivers this homily is one of our especial favourites. He is not particularly clever, by no means literary or learned ; shallow, we should presume, in constitutional history and his duties as an hereditary legislator ; but he has a temperament and a temper which make a man beloved. Ile might but for that duel with the Gascon, and the thoughts that pain and weakness brought with them when tended by the care of a pious and affec- tionate mother, have gone on till his death getting worse and worse, more idle, more reckless, more dissolute, more heedless of the mis- chief of his conduct. He too, like Ethel, is saved by an accidental concurrence of circumstances, and turns out a useful and actively benevolent man, though he almost disappears from the story. It is the delineation of such characters and careers as his that draws down upon Mr. Thackeray the wrath of the Pharisees. We read not long since in a monthly magazine of the highest traditional repute that Mr. Thackeray taught lesson that all young men, to be worth anything, must pass through a stage of profligacy ; while Mr. Maurice recommended a similar graduation in infidelity as necessary to the maturity of spiritual perfection. Somewhere one has read that there was joy in heaven among the angels when the sinner repented : on earth, it would appear that the saints have no comprehension of such a feeling, but insist upon a sinner always remaining a sinner. Their anger is quite beyond their control when a writer of fiction takes the liberty to copy from life, and to make his youthful scapegraces shake off their slough, and apply in a virtuous direction the same geniality of temper and fulness of life which at first led them astray. They would de- bar the moralist from showing the weariness and vexation of spirit that come of self-indulgence, the power of good influences, the sweet remorse of the prodigal returning, the welcome of the ex- pectant father. It is true, whatever the Pharisees may say, that a turbulent and licentious youth is often the harbinger of a noble and beneficent manhood ; for which, probably, the constitution of our modern society, offering no proper objects for the fermenting period of life, is mainly responsible. And it is also true that young men remarkable for their staidness and sobriety are sot usually among either the best or the most intellectually eminent of their generation. But Mr. Thackeray has always carefully enough guarded himself in this matter. He notes the fact, makes dra- matic use of it, and draws from it a kindly moral : for the rest, he might take to himself with perfect truth that verse of Tennyson's In Memoriam on this subject-

" Hold thou the good : define it well:

For fear divine Philosophy Should push beyond her mark, and be Procuress to the Lords of Hell."

If from Mr. Thackeray's teaching on the conduct of young men any reader learn aught but kindness and a hearty liking for what is manly and upright and generous, he must have a faculty we do not envy for converting wholesome food into poison. That he should not limit his representations of life to that sublime excellence which never errs from the cradle upwards, or to that consummate hypocrisy which having sown its wild oats carefully draws the mould over them or takes care to sow them only in the secretest places, is no matter of regret to any one who knows that the highest aim of the writer of fiction is to show how characters are developed and modified by their mutual action and by the influence of circumstances. It is not Mr. Thackeray who teaches immorality by the true distinction he draws between grades of wickedness, but they teach it Who would obliterate all distinctions and render repentance impossible. It is needless to say that "the Newcomes" are surrounded by other characters, more or less interesting, but all unmistake- able in intention, and executed with precision and force. Mr. Thackeray never draws upon his imagination solely : the world he paints is the world he has seen and lived in—the world of Bel- gravia, Pall Mall, the Inns of Court, the regions haunted by men and women of fashion with lions from the outer districts, by working men of letters, barristers, and artists. Among these his experience is wide and deep, his invention unexhausted. As Clive Newcome is himself a painter, the specialty of the book lies in its allusions to art, its descriptions of artists and their abodes and manners its reminiscences of art-tours. We extract -two passages as indications of a rich vein upon which Mr. Thackeray has struck. The first is from Olive's letter describing his implo- sions of the Louvre.

"I had not been ten minutes in the place before I fell in love with the most beautiful creature the world has ever seen. She was standing silent and majestic in the centre of one of the rooms of the statue gallery ; and the very first glimpse of her struck one breathless with the sense of her beauty. I could not see the colour of her eyes and hair exactly, but the laraer is light, and the eyes I should think are grey. Her complexion is of a beautiful warm marble tinge. She is not a clever woman, evidently ; I do not think she laughs or talks much—she seems too lazy to do more than smile. She is only beautiful. This divine creature has lost an min, which has been out off at the shoulder ; but she looks none the less lovely for the accident. She may be some two-and-thirty years old- and she was born about two thou-, sand years ago. Her name is the Venue of Milo. 0, Victrix ! 0, lucky Paris! (I don't mean this present Lutetia, but Priam's-son.) How could he give the apple teeny else.but,thisAnslaver7-this joy of godsend men-at whose benign presence the fleeter* spring up, and the .aman ocean sparkles,- and the soft skies beam with serene I wish we might sacrifice. - I would bring a spotless kid, snowy-toated, and 0,pair ef dovea, end a jar of honey- yea, honey from Morel's in Piccadilly thyme-flavoured, narhonian; and we wouldacknowledge the sovereign loveliness, and adjure the divine Aphrodite. DraltnievM nee.,iny pretty young cousin, Miss Newoome,Sir Brian's daugh- Vex'? She bsa great look of the huntress Diana. It is sometimes too proud sn-4 too cold' for me. The blare of those horns is too shrill, and rapid pursuit through bush and bramble too daring. 0, then generous Venus! 0, thou beautiful bountifiiIcalm ! At thy soft- feet let me kneel-on - cushions of Tyrian_purple. , Don't show this to Warrington, please: I never thought when lbegaii that -Pegasus was going torim away with me. '

• wish I bad read Greek Sadie more- at seteet: it's too !etc at my age;

be nineteen -mom" and have got my own business; but when we nreturn. I think ../ shall -My and „read it with Cribs. What have I btenid_oisig, spending _nix months over a picture of Sepoys , and Dra- goons cutting each other's throats? Ad engin not to be a fever; .It ought tebsestim; not a screaming bull-fight or a battle of -glidiators„ but a temiile far placid contemplation, wrspt worship, stately rhythmic ceretiony, anti:revisit solemn and tender. &hail take down ray- Snydert and Rabehs whea,I get tome, and turn quietist. TO think-1, have spent weeks in ftlei pieting: Wei Life Guardsmen delivering cut one or Saint George, and-paint- ing Blitek beg4ttri eft' a crossing!" • Thetheij7a portrait-piece,- struck Off by .;11r. Clive in a con- versation betWipen him and Pendennis as they walk . home from.a dinner-party.- -

"Mr. Clive laughed. 'Bossy is as good a little:ma-tura as can be,' %he , said. She is never out of temper, though I fancy Mrs. Mackenzie tries her. Itlen't think she is-very-wise ; but she is uncommonly pretty, and her bean- tygenies.on youir,.-Ats for Ethel, anything so high and mighty I hare never seen riiitce. I sawdimPreneh giantess. Going: to court, and about. to parties eyeetinght, whereaparcel of young fools flatter her, has perfectly-spoiled her.,.„By loF.a..linet. handsome . she is ! • How. she turns with her long neck, alaff4Ooks-iit yeli(Trhin under those black eyebrows. If I .painted her hair, 14,11ink I kilionittiiint it almost' blue; 'add then glaze over with lake. . It 28 blue. And how.Lfinely her head-Is-joined on to her shoulders !' And he wares bailie air an imaginary line with his' cigar: She would' doter Judith, wouldn't she'? Or.hosv-grasid she would look as Herodias's daughter sweep- ing down ii,stair-in.agreat dress of eloth of gold like Paul Veronese-hold- . iqg a charger before her with -white arms, you know-with the niusclee ac- cented like that glorionf-Diaini at Paris-a savage smile on her face, and a ghostly solemn gory head on the dish !-I see the' picture; sir, I see ttie,

tors cand he fell to carting his-mustachios--just like his brave old father. •

could not help laughing at the resemblance, and mentioning it to my Ii'ieñd.1Te broke, as was his wont, into a fond eult-gium of -his. sire--visted he'etnild be like him-Worked himeelf-up into another stete ofoxeitement, which he averred, '• that if his father wanted him to marry, he would marry that -instant. -.And why not lisisey ? She is a dear little -thing. Or why not that splendid Miss S.herrick ? What a bead,-a regular Titian ! 'I was looking at the difference of their colour at Uncle Honeyinen's that day of the dfileuner.. The shadows in ltosey'S face, sir; are all pearly -tinted. You Weld to paint her in milk, sir cries the enthusiast. ' Have you ever re- marked the grey round her eyes, and the sort of purple bloom of her cheek ? Eithens could have done the colour: butl don't somehow like to think of a young lady and that sensuous old Peter Paul in -company. I look at her like a little wild flower In afield-like a little child at play, sir. Pretty little tender nursling./ - It 1.see her peeving in the steeet, I feel as if I would like sonie -felloW to be rude-toi.her that I might have the p ileasure.of knockg him &tins She iirlikealittid Song-bird, sir-a tremulous, fluttering, `little linnet, that you would take into your hand, pavidam qumrenteni tnatrem, and smooth its little pluirievatid lei it perch on your finger and sing. The Slierrick creates quite a different sentiment-the Sherrick is splendid, stately, sleepy, . .

"'Stupid,' hints Olive's companion.

"'Stupid. Why ..Some . women ought to be;-stupid. What Yon call dulness estlI repose. Give me A calm woman, a slow woman-a lazy, majestic woman; 'Shot melt gracious virgin bearing a lily; not a leering giggler frisking' a. rattle. A lively woman would- be the death of me; Look at Mrs. Mack, -perpetually nodding, Winking, grinding, throwing out sig- nals which you-are to.be at the trouble to answer! I thought her delightful for three days: I deelarsi. was-in love with her-that is, as much as I ean be after-but rimier mind that, I feel I.shall.never be really in love again. Why shouldn'fthe-Sherrick hp, stupid, I say ? About great beauty there - shmild *Tway* reign a silence. As you look at the great store, the great octesin, any great scene of-nsture you bush;.sir. ''You laugh at s panto- mime, but you are still Ma temple. When I saw the great Venus of the Legere,. I thought, NI/911-thou, alive, 0 goddess, thou should'st never open those lovely lips but.to.spealt-lowly, slowly :. thou should'st never descend from that pedestal bid-to -walk stately to some near conch, and assume an- other attitude of beautiful calm. To be beautiful is enough. If a woman, con-de 'that well, who Shell -deniend -more from her?, You don't want a rose to sing. And.I think wit is out of place where there's great beauty; as! wouldn't have At Queen Le Queen on her throne. I say, Pendenuis,' -here. broke off the -enthusiastic youth,-' have you got Another- cigar? Shall We go in. to Finch's and have a game at billiards? . dust one-it's quite early yet. Or shall we go in to the flaunt?. It's Wednesday night, you know, when all the boys go.' We tap at a door man old, old -street in babe: an old. maid, with a kind, comical face, opens the door, and nods Cr-madly, and says, 'Mow 4a-tiro-aint seen you this ever so long. -How do," ' Mr...Nooconi." Who's. here ? ' 'Most everybody's here.' We pass-by:a little snug bar,. in which trim elderly lady is seated by a great fire, on which boils an enormous kettle; While two gentlemen are attacking 'a cold 'saddle of Mutton and WestIndia .pickles: hard by Mrs. Nokes the land- lady's elbow-with mutual bows-we recognize Hickson, the sculptor, and Marge% intrepid Irish chieftain, chief of the reporters of the-Morning Press newspaper. We pass through a passage into a back room, and are received with a roar of -welcome from a erowd of men, almost invisible in the smoke." kr. Thacker:1y is.ahout to leave us again for-a lecturing tour. in - the united States.- _ May his voyage be prosperous; and may he re- turn with his sketelinbook amply filled for a picture of American life,as kindly and aii:.oleVer as theie, sketches of English life, with • whack- many an evening of the last two years has been charmed. May rao. Philo-Russian sacrifice him upon the altar of a holy desire to grab- Cuba unmolested; may no Loafer, unable to understand irony, take 'him 'for a loathsome aristocrat, and challenge him to gin-ding and bowie-knives; may no, amount of humbug, preten- sion, and self-ignorance, prevent him from heartily enjoying his boar -and reaping a golden harvest. His popularity is a test of Bound settee and appreciation of goodness and talent.