3 AUGUST 1850, Page 17

DENTON HALL * Tao fiction exhibits a wider knowledge of life,

and much more of observation and reflection than the generality of novels. The elements of the plot which seethe whole story in motion, and the resolution of which produces the termination, may not be new, but they are cleverly used to cause variety of incident and inte- rest. rest. In the foreign scenes, the author exhibits travelling and nautical knowledge ; in those at home, an acquaintance with so- ciety, and the result of reflection upon life. The most distin- guishing feature of the book, however, is its style. This is pointed and pleasant in a high degree. It is not mere writing, but the re- sult of an abstract if not a satirical examination of society, with a full appreciation of the more homely virtues and occasionally a something which is almost touching in reflections on the idle hopes and restless pursuits and final termination of man. When mode of expression however, is greatly studied, so as to become a prominent characteristic, the attainment is often at the ex- pense of solid matter. Denton Hall is not free from this defect. The very early scenes, though containing sketches of country life, replete with clever remark and varied observation, are rather de- ficient in incident and movement. The middle portion, exhibiting town life of an equivocal kind in London' is open to the same re- mark—the business of the novel stands almost still while prepa- rations are made for getting it done. The latter part—various, rapid, and rather unusual as it is—seems as if more scenes and ad- ventures might have been the result of the distance to which the author carries us ; while the denouement, though not inconsistent with the dramatis personte, is deficient in completeness and esta- blished art.

An object of the author, as he avows at the close of his book, is to illustrate his opinion that "there is no savage like your savage in broad-cloth—no hostility of an untutored or even a malignant na- ture so dangerous and deadly as the all-absorbing selfishness of your respectable rogue ; for while the former betrays itself and puts

you 011 your , the latter, armed in the triple brass of his re- spectability, guard, his weapons, and his power to use them, from that fundamental doctrine of our social faith, which while it re- quires that the candidate for estimation be well clad, well brushed and combed, well introduced, well connected, well spoken, and above all well endowed, yet is still willing enough, so long as these conditions be complied with, to receive as its honest man one who can be decorous in his villany." The "rough diamond" to exhibit this theory of English society is Peregrine Doubts, a cousin of the hero Felix Doubts ; the oc- casion is the disinheriting of Felix by his father, in a fit of dying caprice; the object is the possession of a lead-mine, the un- suspected richness of which Peregrine has discovered • the means, a marriage with the mother of Felix, to whom all the

• Denton Halt or the Bough Diamond. In throe volumes. Published by Boone.

party has been left.. To bnn this about, .Mr. Peregrine gets. Inzung. cousin to London; uces.him. to offend a patron who

• have provided for him ; . and. throws him in the way: of a-practised •-• • netts, vsheencomageeto rejeet Peregrine has at- temptedle Bei nee -the sister-of one of . his skippers; which he puts upon' Felix, and thus renders the mariner ready to act as an in- strument of, remoling him.. Taking advantage of the worldly ignorance of. Felix, and, his despair on his rejection, he suggests a mercantile•adventnre to Sierra ; where, if the climate should not- kill him, an-instrument in the form of a revengeful Spaniard shall: Htn.ceforth, till nearly the close of the book, there is variety of adventure: a love adventure with the Don's daughter; a removal up the country, apparently for slaughterous objects; ad- ventures on beard a slaver; escapes, captures, and escapes again ; until the approaching close of the third volume indicates that it is time to end the story.

The book abounds with sketches of society and observations on life,; _hut we..will_take a seene-frem the foreign adventures.

Flix-hhs.been compelled .to serve on board a slaver. The ves- sel is-captared by an Englia. cruiser ; and appearances are so much against him, and, his story meets with so little credence, that Felix thinks it-wisest to escape when the ship arrives at Sierra Leone. This he. effeets in company with two of the slaver's crew ; Mantis, a.friendly Negro, and Yourrikah, who owes him a deadly grudge. "There was but little occasion to wake Mantis. Felix had risen the mo- ment there was an opportunity of doing -so with impunity, but in the very same, instant Mantis had also. risen. Felix stood astonished. The Black glided over to,him. " ' New ! ' said he grasping Felix's ium—‘ now is the time i—cool and firm ! Remember, you leave certain death behind. We can but meet it where we ma. The chance is in our favour.' "Without waiting for a reply, he glided in among the shrouds, and dis- appeared over the vessel's side. No-noise indicated his fall into the water— a feather could not have dropped more lightly.

"Felix hesitated a second. Below on the waters rested the darkness of death; but, as the Black said, there was death to be left behind. Ife followed into the shrouds: there wasa moment when he thought he would return and await the worst that could befal him, but he. shook off the feeling—he was over the side—among the chain-plates—he let go his hold, and in the -next instant the waters closed over his head.

" When he rose again to the surface, it was with all the animal excite- ment and confidence of one who is as much at home in the water as on the dry land. He cast up one glance at the darkened sky, to ascertain whether tha cloud which was passing over the moon would obscure it sufficiently king to enable hurt to place such a distance between himself and the brig as would insure him against observation from its deck : one glance at the dark aide, which frowned over his head like a castle-wall, and whose lights and noises were now objects of such terrible interest—then he held his breath to catch the, trace of.Mantis's course, and then he laid, his breast upon the waters and struck out to rejoin him. "Every sound from the brig was borne along the waters to the anxious swimmers with painful distinctness ; but there was nothing heard to give them cause to apprehend that their flight had yet been discovered.

"The cloud still continued to befriend them and spread darkness over their path. Mantis led ; and Felix, guided by the sound of his strokes, steadily followed some yards behind. Not a word was exchanged between them ; each knew his part, and neither had breath,to throw away upon vain discourse. With silent determination they fought their way onwards., now, husbanding, now laying out their strength, with the judgment of practised swimmers.

" While things were-thus progressing steadily, and with that- confidence of a anceessfulissue which so generally msuresit, all at once Felix felt some- thingfirush against his leg. He had sufficient presence of mind to repress the exclamation which rose to hia lips ; but he could not master the shock within.

"That- which had before been forgotten now fleshed across his mind,. In the'eagerness to escape, it had not occurred-to him that the sea was swarm- ing:with sharks. For a moment his-strength: wasgone—a cold horror. over- spread his frame, and he was on the point of sinking : the sound of Mantis still steadily struggling on ahead recalled him to himself; he struck out his limbs violently to scare the monster—insisted to himself that it was imagi- nation or some floating fragment which had caused his alarm—and without allowing himself to think, swain-on' with all his might. Imagination, how- ever was not sufficient to-account for hissensations.; for after a minute, he agai felt something brush roughly against him, and he heard distinctly a strange gurgling sound close to him.

"At this moment, the moon burst out from behind the clouds, and shed her ijght over the waters. Felix turned and beheld Yourrikah at his side. " The monster's face was horribly -distorted, and a hideous mocking laugh burst from him as his glance met that of his enemy. "'Did the young caballero think that a FelLattah sleeps over hisrevenge ? ' "A. few minutes before, Felix would have thought that, next to the ap- ce of a certain historical personage, this apparition would have been ,

e most disagreeable which could have presented itself; but even this was 80 preferable to the shark, for which it had been-mistaken, that he regarded the discovery as a relief, and was enabled to preserve that sang-froid which seemed so much to irritate the Black, accustomed as he was to inspire terror. " ‘Did.you think a Fellattah sleeps over his hatred, dog ? ' repeated the latter, finding that he received no answer. "Dialogues conducted under the circumstances of the swimmers are ne- cessarily- own-to objections which-do not attend those taking place on terra firma ; andFelix„feeling that the same movement of his jaws required to let oat an-argument would let in a dose of salt water, preferred listening to a , monologue; and.therefore, contenting himself with an elaborate stare at the Black, he struck out steadily, in hopes of overtaking Mantis, wha had gained ground, and whose dingy head was rising and falling in the heaving sea, sonic distance in advance.

"He did not at all underrate the danger of his present position. Ile knew h" the desperate character-of the Black„ and recent events had.rendered it more than a matter of suspicion, that 'he was capable of risking his own life for

the sake of dastroymg an_enemy ; _and he WUB therefore full, of anxiety; be- cause, though he felt himself Capable of coping with the monster onshore, on anything like even terms, he feared that if a struggle was engaged in in the water it must inevitably •end.in,the-destrtictMn of both of them, by depriving them. of theiestrength, the,wholetof which he felt-would , not be more than_ enouei to enable them to reach the yet distant shore. " The,Blitek, however, seemed ta be also min-dful of this ; for whatever might be his plans of hostility, he delved, their, execution, and, without uttering-another word, swam on-by-the side of his enemy. Thus, then, they adstanced,_each, keeping a jealous watch on the other. "After they had been about an hour in the water, they found themselves, to Felix s infinite satisfaction, within -a short- distance of the shore. A.low headland rose uphefore -them, and at its foot the waves fell rippling lunge'', a .soft sandy beach: They had been.gradually overtaking Mantis who was: mow but a very little way in advance. Yourrikah _observing this; and .pos-

, sibly fearing the result of. a combination of the enemy's forces, seemed to consider that the moment for action had arrived. He raised his arm out of. the water, and shouted to-the other Black with aloud defiant yell. "It was now for the find time that,.F.elix saw. with.horror that he was. armed with his long knife, and that thus it was in his power, with little cam-, parative risk,..to destroy them. both. "After, brandishing his weapon in an ..ecstasy of Rayne triumph, the Black_ dropped back to make his blow from behind, and to avoid, by so.doing„ the, risk of being locked in his victim's death-grasp. Felix turned to meet the. blow, stanch to the last, and waiting, the moment to grapple with his enemy, to wrest the knife from hand,.or.to.cling round him„alid die in company.

"Yourrikah was now advaneingslowly, seeking a- moment to-plant his weapon without being_ closed upon.. The. moon shone out so brightly that the -features of his ghastly face were illuminated with horrible distinctness.. As the eyes of Felix were fixed on it in sort of faseinalion„he suddenly saw the waves violently agitated; then there was a plunge,. and the Black Toss. out of the water to the waist, with.a prolonged.and fearfuLery. Felix. felt_ a. rushing, and a stunning blow,, and was borne almost senseless on the shore. After a moment or two he opened his eyes, and found himself supportedin the arms of the -faithful Mantis.

"Yourrikah never.came to land,-he had been.taken by a.shark_!"