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dislike to works of fiction in which humanity was depicted in a revolting aspect, and individuals were represented without any redeeming trait in their characters. We find in several of her novels, in the character of the personages, a mixture of good and evil, and seldom, except in “the Victims of Society," evidence of unmitigated, unredeemable baseness and villany in the character of any person she writes of. Books that give pain, and are disagreeable to think of after they have been read, she had a strong objection to. One of her literary correspondents, in 1845, writing to her, referring to a recent work, which gave a painful and disagreeable portraiture of several characters, said, “It is a sin against art, which is designed to please even in the terrors which it evokes. But the highest artists, Sophocles, Shakspeare, and Goethe, have de. parted from that general rule on certain occasions, and for certain ends. I should have compromised with the guilt depicted, if I had abated the pain the contemplation of such guilt should occasion. It is in showing by what process the three orders of mind, which, rightly trained and regulated, produce the fairest results of humanity, may be depraved, to its scourge and pestilence, that I have sought the analysis of truths, which, sooner or later, will vindicate their own moral utilities. The calculating intellect of which should have explored science, the sensual luxuriance and versatility of
which should have enriched art; the conjunction of earnest passion, with masculine understanding, in which should have triumphed for good and high ends in active practical life, are all hurled down into the same abyss of irretrievable guilt—from want of the one supporting principlebrotherhood and sympathy with others. They are incarnations of egotism pushed to the extreme. And I suspect those most indignant at the exposition, are those who have been startled with the likeness of their own hearts. They may not have the guilt of the hateful three, but they wince from the lesson that guilt inculcates. The earnestness of the author's own views can alone console him in the indiscriminate and lavish abuse, with all its foul misrepresentations, which greets his return to literature, and, unless he is greatly mistaken, the true moral of his book will be yet recognized, though the vindication may be deferred till it can only be rendered to dusta stone and a name.”
In 1832, in “Colburn's New Monthly Magazine," Lady Blessington's “ Journal of Conversations with Lord Byron’ made their first appearance. The Journal contains matter certainly of the highest and most varied interest, and would convey as just an account of Byron's character, and as unexaggerated a sketch as any that has been ever published if a secret feeling of pique, and, perhaps, the recollection of some slight, had not stolen into her “ Conversations.”
The “ Journal” was published in one vol. 8vo., a little later, and had a very extensive sale.
“Grace Cassidy, or the Repealers,” in three vols., the first and worst novel of Lady Blessington, was published by Bentley, in 1833.
From all Irish political novels, including “The Repealers,” the English public may pray most earnestly to be delivered.
“The ingenious device” of representing real living celebrities under names and titles that only differ from their own by a single letter, or the substitution of the designation of an estate, or a family name for a title, has been adopted in this work. Thus we find Earl Grey disguised as Lord Rey; Lord Meath, as Lord Leath; Mr. Shiel, as Mr. Thiel; Hon. Mrs. Anson, as Mrs. Pranson.
" Meredyth," a novel, in 3 vols., was published by Longman, 1833.
In October, 1833, Mr. William Longman wrote to Lady Blessington, stating that “Meredyth” had not hitherto had the success that had been anticipated. £45 had been spent in advertising, and only 380 copies sold, 300 of which had been subscribed.
“The Follies of Fashion, or the Beau Monde of London, in 1835," appeared in one of the periodicals of the time.
“ The Belle of the Season,” a much later production, was a lively sketch of an episode in fashionable society.
“ The Two Friends,” a novel, in 3 vols., was published by Saunders and Ottley, in 1835.
“The Victims of Society,” a novel, in 3 vols., Saunders and Ottley, appeared in 1835. If the delineation of high life given in this work be correct, the experience which qualified the author to produce such a performance was very terrible. If it be not true, the wholesale pulling-down process, the utter demolition of the reputation of people in fashionable society, of women as well as men, in this work, is to be regretted.
“ The Confessions of an Elderly Lady,” came out in one vol., 1838.-" The Governess,” a novel, in 3 vols., followed in 1839.—“Desultory Thoughts and Reflections,” in one thin 16mo. vol., appeared in 1839.* _“ The Idler in Italy". was published in 2 vols. 8vo., Colburn, in 1839; the most successful and interesting of all the works of Lady Blessing. ton.—“The Idler in France” appeared in 2 vols. 8vo., Long. man, in 1841.-" The Lottery of Life, and other Tales," in 3 vols., appeared in 1842.
“Strathern, or Life at Home and Abroad,” a story of the present day. This novel appeared first in “The Sunday Times ;” afterwards, it was published by Colburn, in 1845, in 4 vols. Between the two publications, Lady Blessington is said to have realized nearly £600. It was the most read of all her novels, as she imagined ; yet the publisher, in a letter to Lady Blessington, several months after publicaion, complained that he only sold 400 copies, and had lost
To the liberality of the publishers, Messrs. Longman, I am in. debted for the use I have made of this work,
£40 by the publication, and that he must decline a new work proposed by her. In this work, the writer drew, as in her other novels, her illustrations of society from her own times ; and her opportunities of studying human nature in a great variety of its phases, but particularly in what is called “the fashionable world,” enabled her to give faithful pictures of a large portion of its society. These portraitures in “Strathern” are graphic, vivid, and not without a dash of humour and sarcastic drollery in her delineation especially of fashionable life abroad. But the representation is certainly not only exceedingly unfavourable to the class she puts en scene in Rome, Naples, Paris, and London, but very unpleasing on the whole, though often amusing, and sometimes instructive.
In the “ Memoirs of a Femme de Chambre," a novel, in 3 vols., published by Colburn and Bentley, in 1846, Lady Blessington availed herself of the privileges of an imaginary servant maid, to penetrate the inner chambers of temples of fashion, to discover and disclose the arena of aristocratic life. The follies and foibles of persons in high life, the trials and heart-sicknesses of unfortunate governesses, and the vicissitudes in the career of ladies'-maids, and in particular in that of one femme de chambre, who became the lady of a bilious nabob, are the subjects of this novel, written with great animation, and the usual piquancy and liveliness of style of the writer.
“Lionel Deerhurst, or Fashionable Life under the Regency," was published by Bentley, 1846.
“Marmaduke Herbert,” a novel, was published in 1847. Of this work, a very eminent literati wrote in the following terms to Lady Blessington, May 22d, 1847 :
"It seems to me, in many respects, the best book you have written. I object to some of the details connected with the ' fatal error,' but the management of its effects is marked by
a very high degree of power ; and the analytical subtlety and skill displayed throughout the book struck me very much.
“I sincerely and warmly congratulate you on what must certainly extend your reputation as a writer.”
“ Country Quarters,” a novel, first appeared in the columns of a London Sunday paper, in 1848, and was published separately, and edited by Lady Blessington's niece, Miss Power, after her Ladysiiip's death, in 3 vols. 8vo., Shoberl, 1850.
“Country Quarters,” the last production of Lady Blessington, is illustrative of a state of society, and of scenes in real life, in provincial towns, in which young English military Lotharios, and tender-hearted Irish heroines, speculative and sentimental, are the chief performers; for the delineation of which Lady Blessington was far more indebted to her recollection than to her imagination. There is no evidence of exhausted intellect in this last work of Lady Blessington's. But the drollery is not the fun that oozed out from exuberant vivacity in the early days of her authorship; it is forced, strained," written up,” for the occasion;
“and yet there is an air of cheerfulness about it, which, to one knowing the state of mind in which that work was written, would be very strange, almost incredible, if we did not recollect the frame of mind in which the poem of John Gilpin was written by Cowper.
The literary friends of Lady Blessington were in the habit of expressing to her Ladyship their opinions of her performances as they appeared, and of sometimes making very useful suggestions to her.
The general tone of opinions addressed to authors by their friends must, of course, be expected to be laudatory; and those, it must be admitted, of many of Lady Blessington's friends were no exception to the rule.