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Of “The Repealers," a very distinguished writer thus wrote to the authoress.
“ My dear Lady Blessington, I have read your · Repealers ;' you must be prepared for some censure of its politics. I have been too warm a foe to the Coercive Bill, to suffer so formidable a combatant as you to possess the field without challenge. I like many parts of your book much, but, will you forgive me? you have not dope yourself justice. Your haste is not evident in style, which is pure, fluent, and remarkably elegant, but in the slightness of the story. You have praised great ladies and small authors too much ; but that is the fault of good nature. Let your next book, I implore you, be more of passion, of sentiment, and of high character. You are capable of great things, of beating many of the female writers of the day in prose, and you ought to task your powers to the utmost; your genius is worthy of application
Forgive all this frankness; it is from one who admires you too much not to be sincere, and esteems you too highly to fear that you will be offended at it.”
Another eminent literary writer writes to her on the subject of a more recent production of hers :
“You have only to write passions instead of thoughts, in order to excel in novel writing. But you fear too much; you have the prudes before you, you do not like to paint the passions of love, you prefer painting its sentiment. The awe of the world chills you. But perhaps I am wrong, and in The Two Friends,' I shall find you giving us another · Corione' or a better · Admiral's Daughter;' both being works that depend solely on passion for their charın. You have all the tact, truth, and grace of De Stäel, and have only to recollect that while she wrote for the world, the world vanished from her closet. In writing, we should see nothing before us but our
own wild hearts, our own experience, and not till we correct proofs should we remember that we are to have readers.”
One fully authorized to speak on the subject of authorship, thus writes to her Ladyship on the appearance of a recent novel of hers : “ People often say to me, I shall write a novel : if I
question them, on what rule ?' they state they know of no rules. They write history, epic, the drama, criticism, by rules ; and for the novel, which comprises all four, they have no rules : no wonder there is so much of talent manqué in half the books we read. In fact, we ought to do as the sculptors do ; gaze upon all the great masterpieces, till they sink into us, till their secrets penetrate us, and then we write according to rules without being quite aware of it.
“I have been trying to read some fashionable French books. Sue and Balzac seem most in vogue, but the task is too heavy.' Rant run mad, and called, God-wot, philosophy! I feel as if these writers had taken an unfair advantage of us, and their glittering trash makes common sense too plain and simple to be true.”
Of “The Victims of Society,” a friendly critic writes:
“I have finished the whole of “The Victims of Society.' The characters are drawn with admirable tact and precision, and a knowledge of human nature, that is only too fine for the obtuse. You are, indeed, very severe in the second volume, more so than I had anticipated; but it is severe truth, finely conceived, boldly attempted, and consummately executed. You have greatly retrieved and fined down Miss Montresor's character, by her touches of penitence and remorse. Lord C. is perfect. W-, an English dandy throughout. I cannot conceive that you have anything to dread. You have attacked only persons whom the general world like to hear attacked; the few who wince, will pretend not to understand the application.”
Of “ The Idler in Italy," one of her most distinguished friends
says: “ I have already nearly finished the two volumes of · The Idler in Italy,' and am delighted with the sparkling and graceful ease. You interest us in every thing, even in the bed resting on pillar swans,' and the terrace that is to be turned into a garden :' your observations on men and things are, as usual, excellent. All the account of the Revolution is highly animated and original; I am sure the work will be universally liked.”
On the appearance of “ The Two Friends," Lady Blessington received the following notice of it from one of her literary acquaintance:
"I have just finished your work, ' The Two Friends, and 1
may congratulate you on a most charming publication, which cannot fail to please universally, and to increase your reputation. It is true that there is nothing exaggerated in it, but it is written in a thoroughly good tone and spirit, very elegant, and sustained with great knowledge of character, many dramatic situations; abounding with profound observations, and much playful wit. The happiest and newest character of the kind I know, is the Count de Bethune, He is admirable. His bearing his griefs like a man and a Frenchman,' his seeing to his dinner and reproving his daughter for her want of feeling in disturbing his digestion, are exquisite traits of character, and remind us of the delicate touches of Manzoni, in ‘ I Promessi Sposi.' Lord Scamper is very humorous, and I laughed heartily at some of the scenes in which he
appears, though in one part his verisimilitude is a little injured by your making him talk sense about the Revolution. Your politics there, by-the-by, are shockingly Tory, and will please Lord Abinger. There are some beautiful discriminative reflections not dragged in per force—nor tedious and extraneous, but natural and well timed. In your story, you have improved prodigiously since · The Repealers ;' it is more systematic and artful. Altogether, you have exceeded my hopes, and may reckon here on complete success. Lady Walmer is very harsh, but a very true portrait. Cecile is charming, and pleases me more than Lady Emily, I scarcely know why The only fault I see in your book is, that it is a little too prudent. But, perhaps, you are quite right, and a man does not allow for the fears of a woman; at all events, such prudence will make you more popular. There is no doubt of your having greatly excelled • The Repealers.'”
Another novel of her Ladyship’s called forth the following observations from another quarter :
“ I have received your book (“Marmaduke Herbert'), and I must candidly tell you that I think you have outdone yourself
, in this most interesting and effective work. It has a grave, sustained solemnity of power about it, of which I cannot speak too highly
" It reminds me greatly of Godwin's earlier writings. The same minute and faithful analysis of feeling, the same patience in building up the interest, and the same exhibition of strength and weakness in one motley volume.
“ I did not think, when you spoke to me of the story long ago, that you could have made so fine a thing of it. The first volume and a half are extremely thrilling, and without effort.
“ The Belle of the Season” brought several letters to Lady Blessington. The following one is most deserving of being ciied:
“I read your · Belle of the Season' with sincere admiration ; the very lightness of the subject makes the treatment so difficult, and it is surprising how much actual interest you have given to the story, while the versification is so skilful, so graceful, and easy, as to be a model in its way.
“ I was charmed from the first few lines, and indeed the opening of the story is one of the happiest parts.
" The whole partakes of the character of the subject, and is a true picture of what a London season is to a young ladyopening those views that are new to her of life and society. A London season wears different faces to different classes ; the politician, the author, the actor, the artist, the tradesman, the pickpocket, the boy who wants to 'old your oss'--each has his own London season. But no doubt the happiest of all, for a year or two, is the young lady's—beginning with court, and ending with a fancy ball, to say nothing of the declaration; for that is the drop scene.
“ Your style is peculiarly fluent and appropriate, and very original. I do not remember any specimen of the 'Rambler' like it.
“ I then went from poetry to prose, and read your 'Governess ;' the story is very interesting, and the character of the
poor child so exquisite a sketch, that I regret much that it was not more elaborate; it alone would have furnished matter for three volumes. The Williamsons are extremely well hit off, and so are the Manwarings; the poets, and characters I like best, are those which belong to what is now the popular class of literature, very caricature. To this class, I think the Mundens, and some of the scenes at Mr. V. Robinson's, belong. But they are amusing, and will, no doubt, please generally
“I am delighted to see that you improve and mature in your charming talent with every new work. I never saw a more striking improvement in any writer since the date, not a long one, of the · Repealers. I ought, as I am on the subject, to add how much I was struck with the little tale of the Dreamer ; if a very few lines, a little too English and refined, were toned down into the Irish colouring of the rest, it would be a perfect gem in composition, as it is now in sentiment and conception."