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these objections rest. It is not enough that solitary exceptions may be found here and there, if there be in fact great general uniformity pervading the mass of the people. The characters of fiction should be descriptive of classes, and not of individuals, or they will seem to want the touch of nature, and fail in that dramatie interest which results from a familiarity with the feelings and passions pourtrayed, and a consciousness of their truth. Admitting then, that the power of creating interest in a work of fiction, so far as it arises from development of character, lies in this generalizing principle which substitutes classes for individuals, we are triumphantly asked whether that state of society is not best fitted to the end proposed, in which this system of classification is already carried to its greatest extent ;-where order rises above order in the most distinct and uniform gradation,-each pinnacle standing aloof from its neighbor, each separated by its own impenetrable barrier. No-certainly not; if by these distinctions are meant the mere formal divisions of society into lords, gentlemen, and villains. It is not such artificial and arbitrary distinctions which give the greatest possible variety and scope to character, or effect that kind of classification which is best adapted to the wants of the author. On the contrary, they are so many impediments in his way, forcing character out of its natural development into constrained and formal fashions, if such principles were left to their own tendency, they would make all men so many flat-headed Indians; and when the causes of these unnatural distinctions in human character had ceased to exist, we should look round in vain for the model of the dull and uniform monsters they had created. Not so where men have sprung up in active and adventurous communities, unshackled by forms, unfashioned by governments, and left freely to work out their own way, pursuing their own objects, with nothing to interrupt or affect them, but that mutual attrition which has not always the effect of polishing in the moral, as in the physical world. When therefore we are told that the country whose society contains the most abundant distinction of classes is the chosen fairy land of poetry and romance, and that America can never be such because it contains none, we are instinctively brought to remember a certain forensic maxim, which may be of use before more than one species of tribunal, namely, where the law is against you, always deny the fact. Now we meagre-visaged female, who informs him through the crack of the door, that she is only a forlorn, lone body, and does not much like to give lodgings to strangers in these ticklish times,' he proceeds through the driving rain to a house in the neighborhood with something more of elegance about it, and we are forthwith introduced to the family of the Whartons. After the first and second set of complimentary greetings' are happily over, Mr Wharton, who by his manner, dress, and every thing around him showed he had seen much of life and of the best society, hands a glass of excellent Madeira to his guest, inquiring with a formal bow, to whose health have I the honor of drinking ??
. The traveller, who sat unconsciously gazing on the fire, turning his eyes slowly on bis host, with a look of close observation, replied, bowing in his turn, while a faint tinge gathered on his pale features, Mr Harper. Mr Harper, resumed the other, with the formal precision of the day, I have the honor to drink your health, and hope you will sustain no injury from the rain, to which you have been exposed. Mr Harper bowed in silence to the compliment, and soon resumed the meditations, from which he appeared to have been interrupted.' We are thus particular in noticing this highly complimentary scene, because it is the first instance of a fault very frequent with our author, and here the more unfortunate, as occurring so early, and so hard upon the heels of an extremely spirited introduction. We mean the great stiffness and inelegance, relieved by a little vulgarity, of his high life. This is rather a serious charge, and as we have no opinion of sweeping remarks, we shall proceed to establish it by, we trust, well supported illustration. The almost insuperable difficulty of representing Washington, en famille, we have already noticed but that Harper is Washington the reader has as yet no ground to suspect; he comes to us a stranger, whom we look upon without fear, favor, or affection,' and expect merely that he will conduct himself like any other gentleman of graceful and dignified deportment, under similar circumstances. But, contrary to all this, the moment Mr Harper appears, wrapped in his cloak and mounted on his stately courser, we are tacitly informed that a prodigiously great man is getting under weigh. While he continues muffled, and in the saddle, he supports this character tolerably well; but no sooner do we meet him in the parlor, with the other high-bred gentlemen and ladies, than we perceive at once the author has got more dignity upon
in solitary grandeur; no mysterious hiding places to cover deeds of darkness from the light of the broad sun; no cloistered walls, which the sound of woe can never pierce; no ravages of desolating conquests; no traces of the slow and wasteful hand of time. You look over the face of a fair country, and it tells you no tale of days that are gone by. You see cultivated farms, and neat villages, and populous towns, full of health, and labor, and happiness.
You tread your streets without fear of the midnight assassin, and you perceive nothing in their quiet and orderly inhabitants, to remind you of misery and crime. How are you to get over this familiarity of things, yet fresh in their newest gloss? You go to your mighty lakes, your vast cataracts, your stupendous mountains, and your measureless forests. Here indeed you find nature in her wildest and most magnificent attire. But these boundless solitudes are not the haunts of fierce banditti; you have never peopled these woods and waters with imaginary beings; they are connected with no legendary tales of hoary antiquity;
-but you cast your eye through the vista of two short centuries, and you see them as they now are, and you see nothing beyond. Where then are the romantic associations, which are to plunge your reader, in spite of reason and common sense, into the depths of imaginary woe and wonder?
If we are asked with reference to the good old fashioned romance, and are required to construct a second castle of Otranto, to amaze our reader with mysteries, like those of the far famed Udolpho, or harrow up his young blood with another Fatal Revenge, we answer, that in our humble judgment, it matters little in regard to these mere creations of the brain, in what earthly region the visionary agents are supposed to reside; the moon, for aught we know, it has been elsewhere said, may be as eligible a theatre of action, as any on this earth. Not that we would speak disparagingly of the wildest creations of romance, or have it thought that we are less affected than others, by those masterly efforts of a bold imagination, left to luxuriate in its own ideal world. But we are not ambitious that scenes so purely imaginary, should be located on this side of the Atlantic, when they cannot from their very nature, partake any thing of the character of the soil and climate which give them birth ; although we are by no means sure that a first rate horror, of the most imaginative kind, might not be invented without the aid of Gothic architecture, or When you
Italian scenery.--While for these reasons, which do not peculiarly affect ourselves, we have no particular longing after this species of American castle building, we do hope to see the day, when that more commodious structure, the modern historical romance, shall be erected in all its native elegance and strength on American soil, and of materials exclusively our own. The truth is, there never was a nation whose history, studied with that view, affords better or more abundant matter of romantic interest than ours. ask us how we are to get over the newness and quietude of every thing among us, your question points only at the present time—a thing in itself utterly destructive of romance in all quarters of the globe. What shou we think of a historical romance, for instance, in which the duke of Wellington should win the battle of Waterloo, and the marquis of Londonderry be made the secretary of State for foreign affairs? And yet if their noble lordships should meet with any different fortune or fate, however excellent the plot, however spirited and well sustained the characters, who would not throw down the book with a quodcunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi? Since then the præterperfect is our only romantic tense, we reply, a little paradoxically perhaps, go back to the days when things were newer-but not so quiet as they now are. It is no new principle in the laws of imagination, that remoteness in point of time attaches romantic associations to objects which have them not in themselvesand these, so soon as they are created, become heightened by contrast. A ruin is a romantic object, only because it carries you perforce into remote antiquity, and suggests on its very front the moated castle with all its battlements and towers standing in proud proportion, a stately pile that seemed to bid defiance to the ravages of time and storm. You look at an elegant modern edifice, with a stack of chimneys for its minarets, and a smiling cornfield for its court yard, and it suggests nothing of itself, but the unromantic notion of peace and comfort, which are reigning within. Go back then to the day when its walls were slumbering in their native quarry, and its timbers flourishing in the living oak; when the cultivated farm was a howling wilderness, the abode of savages and outlaws, and nothing was to be seen in its borders but rapine and bloodshed. Imagine some stern enthusiast, voluntarily flying the blandishments of more luxurious abodes -or some accomplished courtier, driven from the scene of his ambition and intrigues-or some gallant soldier wearied of the gay capital, and panting anew for adventure and renown, fearlessly marching with his chosen band into these dreary and dangerous solitudes ; follow him through the perils and difficulties he surmounts, and witness the long struggle of civilization, encroaching on the dominion of barbarism; and you will then find that romantic associations may become attached even to this familiar spot. Neither need we revert to any very remote period of antiquity to rid us of this familiarity, which forever plays about present things with a mischievous tendency to convert the romantic into the ludicrous. It is astonishing what changes are effected in manners, customs, pames, and outward appearances, in the course of a single human generation; and when we look at the days of the fathers of the oldest now living, how little do we see that we recognize, how much that we wonder at ! Not the least pleasing, perhaps, of the many admirable productions of the great master of romance in modern times, refer to a period hardly so remote as that of which we speak; and yet no one, not even they who live on the very spot, which is represented as the theatre of great and romantic action, complains of the familiarity of those scenes.
There seem to be three great epochs in American history, which are peculiarly well fitted for historical romance ;-the times just succeeding the first settlement—the æra of the Indian wars, which lie scattered along a considerable period—and the revolution. Each of these events, all pregnant with interest in themselves, will furnish the fictitious historian with every variety of character and incident, which the dullest imagination could desire or the most inventive deserve. What is there for instance in the rebellions and wars of the Scotch covenanters, to compare with the fortunes of those sterner puritans, who did not rise in arms against their prince; but who, with a boldness of adventure, under which the spirit of chivalry itself would have quailed, leaving behind them all that is most dear to men on earth, the companions of their youth, the graves of their fathers, the home of their hearts, crossed a trackless ocean; fixed their habitations on an unknown and inhospitable shore; not for the visit of a day, not cherishing a latent hope of future return, when they should have amassed wealth, or acquired fame, to raise them in the estimation of their coun