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LETTERS FROM THE MOUNTAINS,
BY MRS. GRANT
The Letters from the Mountains contain a history of the writer and a few of her friends—incomplete indeed, and sometimes indistinct, but sufficient to interest us warm. ly, and to make us wish for a fuller knowledge of all that concerned them. We are made acquainted with the principal events in the life of the amiable author, but some of the circumstances of her earlier days are not communicated. Her father appears to have been a British officer, but we see no traces of his character, or that of her mother. She speaks of them with the affection of a daughter, but it does not appear that she was indebted to them for her intellectual accomplishments. She tells us that her early taste for books, even in her infancy, was fostered and directed by an American lady of the name of Schuyler, of whom she draws so splendid a picture, that we feel proud of our countrywoman, and we cannot read of her without thinking of a beneficent planet shining on the then wilderness of America, and by her wisdom and goodness dispensing light and heat to all around her.
The first appearance of Mrs. Grant is in the Highlands of Scotland, and here she displays her unaffected admiration of the beauties of nature. Her occasional descriptions of the mountains, and lakes of that romantic country, are In the year
clear and simple, and so interspersed with familiar remarks and playful allusions, as prove them to be the thoughts of the moment. Indeed, the perfect artlessness of these letters throughout, is a principal charm. That they came from a warm heart and exalted imagination, without one thought of being exposed to the eye of the world, their unstudied graces sufficiently declare.
and about of her age, she was addressed by a highly respectable clergyman, as she after. wards characterizes him—and here we should have expected from one so enthusiastic in her feelings, some tender torments--some little allowable rant about the “ sweet passion of love”—but we are disappointed, for she had discretion and forbearance beyond her years, and she either never wrote, or has concealed such effusions from the prying eye of the critic. From this time Mrs. Grant rises in character, and increases her interest in our affections. Our imaginations are irresistibly carried to every scene which she describes—we see her presiding with dignity over the cares of a large family—the considerate mistress—the benevolent neighbour ;-we see the fond, the enraptured mother, dwelling with delight on the opening beauties of her children, guarding them with suspicious care from the approaches of error, and forming their minds like her own, to the love of virtue and religion; and though busied with a thousand cares, she is yet the elegant companion of an enlightened husband, and the lively and entertaining cor. respondent of her earliest friends. In two volumes of letters there must be some less interesting than others, but these are so generally excellent, that it is difficult to
point out the most valuable. Strong sense and genuine feeling characterize them throughout. Those which describe the amiable manners of the Highland peasantry are extremely pleasing, and those which speak of the writer's domestic and social happiness, and afterwards those which lament the loss of some of her much loved family, are affecting in the highest degree. Her judgment of men and books is candid and just: in a word, Mrs. Grant is always animated, always moral-contented, humble, and resigned; and these beautiful pictures of so pure a mind will be read and admired while taste and sentiment remain.
MISS EDGEWORTH AND THE JEWS.
The story of “ HARRINGTON,” by Miss Edgeworth, has excited more than common attention, because it is stated to have been written to conciliate a particular description of people—one of whose members, “ an American lady,” had complained that her society had been harshly treated in the writings of that celebrated author. Harrington, the hero of this tale, is captivated by a young lady of the Hebrew stock. Both himself and his parents entertain violent prejudices against Jews. These prejudices, in due time, are removed by concurring circumstances; yet, her religion being an insurmountable bar to their marriage, it is suddenly discovered that she had been educated a Christian !_and all concludes happily in the
One of our critics in the New York Magazine, after commenting with sufficient amplitude on novel-writing in general, and Miss Edgeworth's manner in particulargives a summary of this fashionable tale, and concludes with the following remarks ;
“ Miss Mentonero is a lovely, sensitive, interesting girl, —but she is no Jewess! and the whole fabric, which the author had raised, falls before this single fact. By doing away this prominent impediment to the union of the lovers, she completely destroys the interest of the reader, and the moral of her tale. The mode adopted to dispose
of the difficulty is a tacit admission that it could be got over in no other way. Miss Edgeworth is quite willing to allow the Jews to be very clever, good people—but it is pretty plain that she does not think a Hebrew damsel a proper helpmate for a John Bull.”
We readily agree with this writer, that by removing the impediment to the match, she has destroyed the interest of the reader—but not, we hope, the fabric she meant to raise, or the “moral of her tale.” Her design was simply to concede that Jews are like other men
-good and bad-and this she has effected. But had she intended to inculcate that heartless liberality which supposes that conflicting opinions in the most essential articles of a religious creed, should be no impediment to a matrimonial union—she would, indeed, have betrayed an evi. dence of that indifference to all religions, with which she has sometimes been charged. She was perfectly right in admitting that “the difficulty' must be removed; but there was another and but one other way—the sacrifice of their love to their religion. Had she finally separated the lovers on this account, our sympathy would have been sustained, and to the virtues intended to be conceded to the still venerated name of Israelite, would have been added—that tenacious adherence to their faith which we know they practise and so long as they sincerely think it right, they are highly commendable in doing so.
With such laws as could only be performed at Jerusalem, the Jews are now obliged to dispense; but all that are practicable in their dispersed state, they piously obey. Had not this been the case, they would have been long ago