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they often are, display to us the appearances of real, not of fanciful nature, and what is more to the purpose, they are always blended with a sufficiency of historical, or at least, probable events, to keep alive curiosity and render the reader anxious to learn the result of the tale.

The novels of Brown, on the contrary, are so glutted, if we may use the expression, with philosophical reflections, springing from the inexhaustible fertility of his superior intellect, that there is little room left in them for the admission of incidents. These are, therefore, comparatively few, and compressed into bounds so small, that it is with difficulty the reader can trace them. He, consequently, becomes tired of the search, his curiosity cools, he frets at being kept by the never-ending exhibitions of the author's powers of subtilizing, from the main object for which he took up the book, namely, to become acquainted with the fortunes or misfortunes of its characters. He, therefore, throws it aside, no doubt, fully convinced of the author's talents, but with no disposition ever to resume its perusal.

Thus the exhibition of abilities does not always afford pleasure, nor even command attention. To gain the suffrage of the world, more depends on the mode than on the power with which talents are displayed. Strength, not grace, is the attribute of a giant; and there are productions of mind whose profundity and force extort admiration, but do not communicate delight. The vigour of Churchill, the satirist, is great; but his manner is rough, and his sentiments unamiable. Who reads him?—The artless Goldsmith has no extraordinary vigour; but his manner is elegant-natural-sweet. Who does not read him? Every one loves his memory; every one praises his works. His fame will never die; while that of the bold, rough, powerful Churchill, is already almost extinct.

Some of these novels, however, abstract and metaphysical as they are, possess, in no slight degree, the power of entertaining. Desultory and superficial readers, it is true, such as chiefly resort to the circulating libraries for entertainment, will not derive much enjoyment from any of them. They will not have patience to go through the long but masterly discussions of the principles of duty, or investigations of the motives of action, with which they abound. Such are best pleased with sprightly dialogue, or hurried and animated narrative. But there are minds differently constituted; tastes differently formed. There are the serious and the reflecting, who read for the purpose of study rather than amusement, or rather the amusement most acceptable to them, is that which awakens in their minds, contemplations on the nature and dispositions of man, and on the duties and designs of existence. To those who relish such studies; who wish to animadvert upon theories and doctrines, and to see the positions of right and wrong illustrated by portraits drawn from human characters, and examples from the occurrences of human life, the works of Brown will afford a mental repast, rich and noble, which can be excelled by none with which we are acquainted, in the whole regions of fictitious literature.

As novels, therefore, although these works may not be so universally attractive as if they were of a lighter and more narrative cast, yet they have not been written in vain. They fill up a chasm or vacancy in a department of literature, which had not been before occupied, or occupied but in a very partial manner by one or two of Godwin's works. It has been said, that Godwin, in his Saint Leon and Caleb Williams, set the example to Brown of this style of writing. It may have been so, if affording a hint can be called setting an example. But Brown, if he took the hint from Godwin, has greatly improved on it. He has carried it to an extent, and raised it to a height much beyond any thing to be found in Godwin; and may justly be placed at the head of the school, if he may not be considered its founder. The existence of such a school of novel-writing, although it should not be so extensively popular as some others, is a matter, which, by increasing the varieties of this department of literature, must afford satisfaction to literary men; and, inasmuch as it addresses itself to the peculiar taste of some readers, it supplies a desideratum in letters which entitles its founders to gratitude and praise. The question of its popularity apart, it must be admitted to be a school of romance highly magnificent and instructive, and requiring greater powers of mind to excel • in it than any other. By Americans it ought to be regarded with peculiar favour, for by an American it has been brought to the highest point it has yet attained.

On this account, Brown ought, in justice, to be considered the chief ornament of our national literature. In no other department of authorship, except that in which he has so greatly excelled, can we claim any superiority over other countries. Nor is excellence in the philosophical romance so slight a matter, that we should not be proud of it. It is a most difficult species of composition. To excel in it, requires a mind of the first rate order, fertile in ideas; choice, accurate, and flowing in expression; inventive, acute, and gifted with an almost intuitive skill in the nature, passions, and general pursuits of man, together with the obligations imposed on him by his various circumstances and positions in society. In short, the same powers of mind and knowledge of human nature, which enabled Brown to write “ Wieland," and " Arthur Mervyn,” would have enabled him to excel in any species of mental exertion to which he might have chosen to apply his faculties.

These novels, indeed, taken as a whole, appear to us a phe

nomenon in literature; and we are persuaded, that by every reflective mind, that studies them properly,--for to understand their worth, and appreciate their importance, requires much study-will consider them such. We have mentioned the opinion which several critics have advanced, that Brown was a follower of Godwin's school of romance. We now state explicitly, that we think such an opinion erroneous. That he took the hint of his peculiar manner of scrutinizing motives from Godwin, we will not controvert. But if he did, it was all he took from him. In nothing else does he resemble him; and, even in this, there is a peculiarity about Brown which sufficiently distinguishes him from his alleged model, and gives him, in our opinion, solid claims to originality in the only point in which it has ever been denied him. Godwin's strain is connected, deductive, argumentative. Brown's is abrupt, concise, and sententious. The one deduces and demonstrates; the other investigates and analyses; the one is expansive and profound ; the other is close, pointed, and elucidative; the one is vehement and passionate; the other is intense and pathetic. In fact, except in their propensity to dwell on the operations of the mind, these two great writers have as little in common as any other fabricators of tales; and even moralizing, the topic which is so alluring to both, is approached by each in a manner so different, as to entitle him to the full credit of thinking for himself.

Having thus, as we hope, established for our countryman a sufficient claim to originality in the line of literature which he adopted, -for it is not pretended, that he, in any degree, resembles any other writer than Godwin—we will now go farther, and say, that we consider his novels much superior to those of his philosophical rival, in the demonstration which they afford of intellectual power. Godwin has produced no work so unique -so deeply philosophical, so awfully mysterious, and so overwhelmingly pathetic as Wieland; or so full of strange and impressive incidents, and just, yet novel reflections, as Arthur Mervyn. Godwin's knowledge of existing manners, appears to be more extensive than that which was possessed by Brown, He has drawn, therefore, more accurate pictures of his contemporaries, and his incidents seem to correspond more with the ordinary practices of life. But Brown excelled in the knowledge of our general nature. Man, in the abstract, seems to have been his favourite study. He delighted to contemplate him in reference to the universe, as a being forming an important link in the chain of creation, subject to certain laws and destinies which he cannot control, and liable, at the same time, to mutations of condition, powerfully affecting his well-being, which are greatly influenced by the results of his own volition. Godwin's personages are, in general, the artificial men and women of the

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world, whose fortunes and characters are operated upon, and very much modified, by the institutions of society. Brown's heroes and heroines, it is true, are also of this world, for they are human beings; but their conduct and fortunes seem to flow more from their natural condition and internal impulses, than from the operation of institutions, the influence of fashion, or the collisions of worldly competition.

But the great characteristic by which the novels of Brown are distinguished from all others, is the profound rationality of his personages, and their perpetual proneness to weigh the results of their actions before they are committed. Notwithstanding this habit of prudential calculation, his works do not contain a greater proportion of discreet and well-conducted personages than are to be found in productions which represent the transactions as resulting from less premeditation. The villains of Brown's creation are the most finished of all villains-deliberating ones. They are seldom driven by the irresistible agency of external circumstances to the commission of evil. They deliberate as if they had the free choice of action; they investigate and compare results, and at length, from determined preference-not from sudden impulse—they adopt the course which is criminal. On the other hand, his virtuous characters are doubly so, on account of their adhering rigidly to what is right, despite of every inconvenience and hardship to which they may be thereby exposed, and of which their premeditating habits have sufficiently apprized them.

We have thus far descanted on the general character of these remarkable novels. We shall now approach them more closely, and speak of each in reference to its peculiar merits--for, although there never was a series of fictitious works more similar in their leading features and prominent outlines, yet each is founded on a special basis, and unfolds events and characters peculiar to itself. The series consists of six different works Wieland, Arthur Mervyn, Edgar Huntly, Ormond, Jane Talbot, and Clara Howard, neither of which is extended beyond one moderate duodecimo volume, except Arthur Mervyn, which consists of two. We have here arranged them in the order of their enumeration in the edition before us; and we believe, that in the same order their respective merits may be justly estimated.

Wieland, the first of the series, is undoubtedly the most singular and magnificent of them all. We know, indeed, of no narrative more powerfully conceived, and more impressively written than this. A tone of awful solemnity pervades it, which in some places arises to a degree of terrible intensity, sufficient to agitate the firmest nerves. It is, also, wonderfully original. We know of no model after which it might have beeu constructed. To neither its plot, its characters, nor its design, åre we aware of any prototype. It relates disasters and sufferings of the wildest and most heart-rending description that ean befall humanity. Its design, as well as its execution, is remote from every thing trite or common-place. It would seem almost impossible, at this age of the world, to discover any fresh topic of moral instruction. But the lesson taught in this work, if not absolutely new, has so rarely been made the subject of moral inculcation, that it possesses all the air and effect of originality. The delusions of mind which sometimes arise from the impression of unaccountable sights and sounds, are painted in such strong colours, and the calamities which they produce are illustrated by such awful examples, that a lesson is given against their indulgence, which must be felt and remembered by every reader.

The scenes of the story are in the neighbourhood of Philadelphia. Indeed all these novels are truly American in their localities. With the exception of a small portion, or rather episode, of Edgar Huntly, the scenes of which are in Ireland, all the events narrated in these works, take place on American soil. No exotic scenery, nor borrowed imagery in the descriptions of external nature, is introduced. Brown drew all his illustrations, as he drew his characters and his reflections, from the stores of his own mind. He borrowed nothing from books. He needed not to borrow. The abundance of his own resources is so apparent in every page, that it may be safely conjectured, that it would have cost him more trouble to either borrow or imitate, than to write in his own peculiar way, from his immediate impulses and reflections.

But to return to the novel of Wieland. The narrator of this affecting story is supposed to be the sister of the hero; and a most powerful narrator she is of her brother's virtues, delusions, and terrible calamities. A tendency to the religious fanaticism from which these fatal delusions arise, is represented as hereditary in the family of Wieland. His grandfather was a high-born German, who offended his relations by marrying the daughter of a Hamburgh merchant. He was also of a literary turn. The fair relater informs us, that his life was spent in the composition of dramatic pieces, at a time when there were so few works of the kind in the Saxon dialect, “that he may be considered as the founder of the German Theatre; and that the modern poet of the same name sprung from the same family, and perhaps surpassed but little, in the fruitfulness of his invention or the soundness of his taste, the elder Wieland.” This dramatist died early in life. His only son was, by the Hamburgh merchant in whose care he was left, apprenticed to a London trader, in whose service he passed seven years.

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