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ments, where, in the course of a few years, he acquires a fortune, and the warmest esteem and affection of all who know him.
Dunbar, having earned a competency in India, is returning to England, and touches at Ceylon, on his passage. He there finds every mouth filled with praise of an amiable French gentleman, the secretary to the governor, who unluckily has just been taken ill. He contrives to obtain an interview with this admired Frenchman, and discovers Sarsfield, whose illness is only feigned, to avoid meeting with Dunbar. Though blest with riches, and the strong attachment of high and low, Sarsfield is, nevertheless, melancholy and disconsolate. The bitter memory of the past, his confiding plundered master, his heart-broken father, and the lost Miss Ormsby, perpetually haunt his mind; and, degraded in his own eyes, he hates and despises himself for the errors of his early years. Shrinking from the idea of being pointed at by the finger of scorn, he resolves never to return to Ireland; but out of this resolution he is ultimately reasoned by the sensible and friendly Dunbar, and he consequently revisits the land of his birth.
Disguised as a servant he journeys in the north of Ireland with his friend, and at an inn, and intoxicated, once more meets Butler, the detestable assassin. The scene which describes the frantic conduct of the murderer, and the mode by which Sarsfield worked on his conscience and his terrors, to obtain a confession of the crime, is drawn with the pencil of a master. Nor is there less merit in the description of the trial, which terminates by sentence of execution being passed on the criminal.
Miss Ormsby is still alive, still doats on Sarsfield, and, by dint of study, has rendered herself an accomplished and elegant woman. The nuptials are soon agreed on. The hour is come; the minister is waiting; Sarsfield is every moment expected; and all are anxious for the commencement of the joyful ceremony. It is now dark; Dunbar returns from seeking the bridegroom; his cheek is pale; his countenance is full of horror; and his garments are covered with blood. He has found Sarsfield stretched on the carth, pierced in the breast with a mortal wound, and fast expiring. The hapless lover only lives long enough to breathe his last in the arms of his distracted bride.
Butler was the perpetrator of this crime. Timorous and helpless while under the influence of intoxication, he was bold, cunning, and full of resources, when sober. By affecting a dread of being alone, and by threatening the jailor to haunt him, if he allowed him to remain by himself in the condemned cell, he induced the man to shut him up with the rest of the prisoners; in conjunction with whom he contrived to remove the bars of the window, and escape. In his flight, he met Sarsfield, and,
with demoniac expressions of joy, plunged a knife into his bosom. This monster of iniquity succeeds in eluding pursuit, and thus remains unpunished for his enormous atrocities.
That the story is an eventful and interesting one, our readers will not need to be told. That Mr. Gamble possesses abilities to do justice to his subject, candour obliges us to inform them. He delineates character well, is an acute observer of life and manners, has a considerable portion of humour, and a generally spirited style, and, in more than one instance, shows himself to be, in the pathetic, scarcely inferior to the author of the Man of Feeling. Many of the scenes which he describes produce on the mind almost the effect of reality. This praise given, we must perform the less pleasing task of censuring his defects.
The first literary fault which we must notice in Mr. Gamble's production, is the awkward manner in which the narration is carried on. The narrative wants order and connection, in a wonderful degree. It does not move regularly, but by leaps and starts its motion, to borrow the words of Burke, is "backward and forward, oscillation not progression." Some of the chapters seem as if the printer, by accident or carelessness, had mis-arranged them. In his prefatory advertisement, Mr. Gamble partly gives a clue to the cause of this. The history was originally intended to form a portion of another work, and was subsequently altered and enlarged, to fit it for appearing as a separate publication. A little care, however, would have prevented the defect of which we complain.
In point of taste Mr. Gamble is deficient. He twice or thrice injures his pathetic scenes, by introducing miserable conceits, which would be misplaced any where, and which are most offensively misplaced in such situations. For instance, speaking of the bleeding wounds of the murdered pedlar, he says, "the blood flowed over the floor, in meanders winding, fanciful and graceful, as the deed which had spilled it was crooked, barbarous, and graceless." Nothing in a worse taste than this can possibly be conceived. At a pun he once or twice makes an effort, but the effort is a wretched one. He is likewise too fond of digressing, in the middle of his story; and he now and then indulges in apostrophes and exclamations, which, though he may think them fine, we must take leave to consider as blots in his volumes. That he constantly falls into Iricisms, such as shall for will, and other errors of the same kind, is a circumstance for which the difficulty that an Irishman or Scotchman always finds in writing pure English, may partly, perhaps, afford an
Well, however, would it be, were this all that criticism could allege against him. But he stands amenable for faults, to use
no harsher a term, of a much more alarming magnitude; faults which it would be criminal in us to allow to pass, undisclosed and unreproved. His perverted politics, his sly thrusts at government, his hatred of episcopal establishments, and, indeed of all religious establishments, and his witless sneers at the clergy, we shall only mention with a brief expression of contempt and cen. sure, much as they merit to be chastised with severer vengeance, We must pass on to a subject of higher importance.
That Mr. Gamble believes in the existence of a Deity, we are disposed to credit, because he repeatedly intimates his belief, and reasons on the supposition of that existence. But, were not the evidence strong on this head, one staggering passage, in his first volume, in which he says, "Providence or Nature, the name is of small consequence," would induce us to entertain very serious doubts. Let us nevertheless, in justice to Mr. Gamble, declare, that he always professes himself the advocate of virtue, and pleads forcibly in its cause.
The strongest prop of virtue he labours hard, however, to destroy. He disbelieves the immortality of the soul. He affects only to doubt, but his doubt is manifest disbelief. The pestilent and accursed doctrine, that man is a mere lump of breathing clay, who, when he dies, "to night and silence sinks for evermore," he incessantly thrusts forward. He puts it into the mouths of his chief characters, he advances it in his own character, he lets slip no opportunity to inculcate it, he absolutely drags it in by force, and blurs and contaminates with it the most affecting pages of his book. The motto of his tale should be, "Death is an eternal sleep." It seems in him a want, a crav ing, a rage, to blast the brightest prospects of the human race; and thus, whatever may be his real meaning, to give additional arms to insolent Vice, and to drive suffering Virtue to despair. It would, perhaps, be in vain, to attempt to convince him of the criminality and absurdity of his opinion; but we must tell him, that, were his opinion as true as it is palpably false, he commits an act of cruelty, as well as of gross impolicy, in thus obtruding it on the world. If this life be indeed all that man is to know, cruel must he be who wantonly and uselessly destroys any of those benevolent illusions, which cheer him on his path, reconcile him to his fate, and shed a lustre over the night of the grave. This argument may probably have weight with him, when others, of a higher nature, would be disregarded.
That he should not believe in a state of future punishment, follows as a matter of course. It was not necessary for him to assign another reason; but he does assign one. The guilty, he rays, are punished here, and therefore ought not to be punished hereafter. Their conscience, exclaims he, is their tormentor;
and he powerfully describes its influence. But, unfortunately for his theory, he pictures its influence as exercised only on weak minds, and on those which are not lost to all sense of virtue. The fiend incarnate whom he has drawn, the loathsome Butler, never felt it, except when he was intoxicated; and it appears, if we rightly compréhend the author, that he was only twice intoxicated in ten years. An admirable system this, which punishes those who have some virtue left, and frees from all dread of pun ishment the profoundly vicious!
As if anxious to insure impunity here, as well as hereafter, to all villains and murderers, Mr. Gamble makes Sarsfield regret that he had been instrumental in bringing Butler to justice. "If Heaven," says he, "allowed him time for repentance, was it for me, above all men, to refuse it him?" Repentance!—As well might we expect Caliban to be transformed into the tricksy Ariel, as expect such a monster to repent. He feels, occasionally, a dread of the gallows, and a horror of hell, but never any thing like contrition. The moment he breaks his fetters he again dips his hands in blood. What would be the inevitable result of indulging, at the expence of a sacred duty to society, such feelings as are attributed to Sarsfield, it is needless for us to say. Were those feelings generally acted upon, this would be an excellent world, for robbers and assassins, and an abominable world for every body else.
Having stated what Mr. Gamble does not believe, we will now state what he does believe. He believes—yes, gentle reader, he really believes-in dreams, omens, and presentiments of evil. Numerous proofs of this credence occur in his volumes. It seems to us, that, whatever plausible arguments may be urged on this head, if the existence of spirit be granted; that there is the rankest absurdity in the idea, that a mere soul-less machine, a creature originating from, and ending in nothing, can have any prescient intimatious of the future. But there is nought astonishing in the fact of Mr. Gamble having such a belief. The strainers at gnats have a wonderful facility in swallowing camels.
In conclusion, we earnestly advise Mr. Gamble to expunge the obnoxious passages, in the case of his book reaching a second edition; and, at all events, to reflect deeply on the gloomy and perhaps terrible consequences, of persevering in his attachment to a system which, as Mr. Burke eloquently expresses it, "makes Jife without dignity, and death without hope."
ART. XV. The Political Memento, or Extracts from the Speeches during the last Six Years, of nearly an Hundred of the most distinguished Members of both Houses of Parliament. By a Parliamentary Reporter. Svo. pp. 530. 15s. Longman. 1814.
THE prophecies of the Opposition, like the dreams of lovesick maidens, must be interpreted by contraries; but even with this general law of interpretation they will not always be found to preserve their consistency. There is not, indeed, a happier employment than this aforesaid trade of prophesying; for, however the predictions may be contradicted by the event, the prophets are still secure. Mankind, in general, and especially those in the political world, have a strong tendency to look forward, but none to look back, unless, indeed, their attention be forced, by very considerable powers of lungs, into a retrograde channel. Let, therefore, the predictions of the prophet come as false as they may, he will have too much sense to recall the minds of the nation to his former blunders, but will try his luck a second, or a thousandth time, and begin prophesying again with all his might and main. Political prophesying is like a lottery in which there are many blanks, few prizes, but no forfeits. As long as a man will predict misery and misfortune to the country, he will never want an audience: fully will admire, and faction will re-echo his strains. Let the event discover, what reason had long since endeavoured to prove, the falsehood of his calculations, he envelopes himself in new gloom and freshcreated mystery; and redeems the extravagance of his past errors by fresh draughts upon the everlasting resources of futu rity; or, as was inimitably said by our late lamented minister;
"Destroy the web of prophecy-in vain :
The creature's at his dirty work again."
It is the object of the present volume to record a few of the finest specimens of the prophetical eloquence, which, for this last five years, has distinguished the opposition leaders; and to contrast them with those reasonable hopes which the ministers of the day entertained of ultimate success in the glorious cause in which the country was embarked. A collection of speeches upon various subjects, and at various times, expressive of those opinions which were held by different parties respecting the final issue of the contest, will perhaps discover, in the clearest point of view, the various degrees both of penetration and patriotism which directed and animated the speakers; and by recalling our attention to the past, will effectually shew in whose wisdom we should most securely repose our confidence for the future. It will not be without entertainment that we shall read an extract from