We have endeavoured to redeem our pledge to the Public. Not, indeed, to the extent originally contemplated, (a work of interminable labour, as there seems to be no assigned or assignable limit to the productions of our Author's inexhaustible invention,) but, we trust, in a manner that may prove equally satisfactory to the Reader; by having selected for "Illustration" all those Novels which involve, more particularly, the exhibition of former manners, usages, opinions, and interesting public characters.

We hope that we have been diligent in our researches, correct in our statements, candid in our criticisms, and liberal in our sentiments. Of this we are sure-that such was our desire, and our effort.

July, 1824.


NOTHING can more satisfactorily prove the pre-eminent powers of the Author of Waverley, than the approbation with which this novel, (his last, in point of publication,*)

Since the above paragraph was written, our indefatigable author has produced another novel, "St. Ronan's Well;" a work, however, neither requiring nor deserving "illustration." It is the rickety offspring of a sheer lucre speculation, and bears about it all the marks of its sordid origin. As, like Junius, he has chosen to conceal his name, and is "the sole depository of his own secret;" so, perhaps, (should he introduce to the public any further productions of a torpid genius, or mercenary pen,) he had better, also, like Junius, "let his secret perish with him."

"If thou beest he'; but O, how fall'n! how chang'd
"From him, who, in the happy realms of light,
"Cloth'd with transcendent brightness, didst outshine
"Myriads tho' bright !"

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has been generally perused. Its success, reasoning a priori, would appear to have been, at least, problematical. The scene of its action, its epoch, and its characters, presented nothing, apparently, to captivate, or even interest, the English reader-a country, which he either despises or dislikes; an age, whose incidents are altogether forgotten, or, at least, remembered with indifference: and personages, with whom, from a total dissimilitude of state of life, opinions, and pursuits, he would seem to be incapable of feeling any kindred sympathy. In defiance, however, of these obvious obstacles to popularity, the Novel in question has found an acceptance of the most flattering kind: the multitude have read it with almost unmixed gratification; and there are not wanting, among those of a severer tact, certain, who have pronounced it to be as deeply interesting as some of the best and earliest productions of this matchless author.

To what, then, is to be ascribed a result so different from that which might naturally have been anticipated? What is that process, by which this literary alchemist can convert his lump of

lead into genuine gold; and impart to a mere caput mortuum all the energy and activity of an ardent spirit? Of what nature is that talisman, with which he brings back the departed into a second and more animated existence; or gives to "airy nothings" all the interest, and all the charms, of living entities? It may serve the purposes of a lighter criticism, to bestow a few moments on the consideration of these questions.

"If" (as a very accomplished writer expresses it*) "the force and excellence of


language consist in raising clear, complete, "and circumstantial images, and turning "readers into spectators," we may not only pronounce the novels of our author to be among the best existing specimens of this perfect use of language, but at once discover the secret by which he still continues to excite the imagination, enchain the attention, and interest the feelings of his readers. The fact is, he is a perfect master of this instrument of the communication of thought: equally skilled in its general exercise, and in its particular

* Warton's Essay on the Genius, &c. of Pope, vol. ii. 160.

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