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hypercritical, but it turns out to have been of some importance. A narrative which is only founded upon fact, as that professed to be, and which indeed, judging from internal evidence, we concluded it to be, could not with any propriety be termed no fiction. All fictions are founded upon facts, but upon facts more or less disguised and arbitrarily arranged to suit the design of the poet or the moralist. Taking “ No Fiction,” therefore, for a biographical novel, we remarked that the title was a misnomer. Unhappily, the work proves to be too true for a fiction, too fictitious for truth; and its pretensions to authenticity have afforded a handle to a personal attack upon the Author on the part of the supposed Lefevre, which, if not altogether unprovoked, displays a rancour and a malignity which nothing can justify. We cannot assuredly make ourselves parties to this quarrel : it comes more properly within the jurisdiction of a civil court, than within our province as Reviewers. Had Mr. Barnett's object been redress or the vindication of his own character, unobjectionable modes of proceeding were open to him. But we cannot conceal our suspicions, that he has been stimulated to the ill advised line of conduct he has adopted, by those whose virulent hostility has not even the poor justification of revenge, and is directed less against the person of Mr. Reed, than the religion of which he is the minister. Mr. Barnett admits, that when his friends asked him about the work, he certainly did furnish a key to some of the characters. This has satisfied us that he was not at that time acting under the influence of his present advisers; nor could he have been guilty of such extreme indiscretion, had he then entertained the sense of injury which he now affects. He admits, that Mr. Reed cautioned him not to acknowledge the application of the work to himself. This proves that Mr. R. was anxious to prevent its being so applied. All the circumstances of the case are not before the public, for the provocation which has led Mr. Barnett to publish his " Memoirs,” was evidently given or taken subsequently to Michaelmas last : during the three preceding years, he is said to have spoken of " No Fiction” with commendation and complacency; and he does not deny it. Now nothing short of extreme provocation under a sense of intentional injury, could be admitted for a moment as an extenuation of the libellous disclosures (even supposing they were true) contained in Mr. Barnett's Memoirs. But we do not find him even insinuating an imputation against Mr. Reed of an intention to injure him; and the publication of “ No Fiction" in 1819, could not form the real reason of Mr. Barnett's anger and vindictive conduct in 1823. The length of time which has elapsed, precludes our regarding Mr. Barnett's appeal to the public as dictated by the honest warmth of an injured man, or of one who thought himself injured. The pretence is, that Mr. Reed refused to write something which Mr. Barnett wished him to write, exculpating him from the charges brought in the novel against the fictitious Lefevre. What Mr. Reed refused to do, or what were his motives in refusing, we know not; he may have acted imprudently, or even unkindly in this instance, although it would be the height of injustice to conclude so much from an er-parte statement. But to us it is wholly inexplicable, that such an application should have been first made in 1822. A prosecution for libel would be vitiated by a similar delay on the part of the prosecutor in applying for redress. It seems strange, that during three years, Mr. Barnett should not have found out; when he was furnishing his friends with the key to No Fiction, that such a disclaimer on the part of Mr. Reed was rendered necessary by his own indiscretion. Had Mr. Barnett thought it possible that his character could suffer from its supposed identification with a fictitious person in an anonymous novel, he ought instantly to have demanded, not that Mr. Reed should write something to exculpate him from the charge of felony, but that the work should be suppressed. Nothing short of this would have contented an innocent and high-minded man, who felt his reputation attacked. Had Mr. Reed proposed to write something to the effect of saying, ' Mr. Barnett did not commit
felony, it would have amounted in our opinion to a cruel insult. How sunk must be the character of an individual which could stand in need of the impotent justification,-he never committed felony! Could it then be necessary--if necessary, could it be sufficient-to protect the character of Mr. Barnett ? We repeat, that he ought to have demanded the suppression of the work, and that in 1819, had he felt that there was any danger of his being suspected of the crimes imputed to Lefevre.
We cannot, then, but consider Mr. Reed's refusal, whether prudent and justifiable or not, as the mere pretence for Mr. Barnett's vindictive proceedings. There seems to us to have been a wish to make up by some means a legal case in 1823, for the publication of No Fiction in 1819, or to obtain matter for an indictment on some fresh ground. We do not impute this wish primarily to Mr. Barnett. We suspect that he is not even the author, certainly not the unassisted author of the publications sold for his benefit. We say this with no unkindly feelings towards him, for it is impossible that he can gain any reputation from those productions. But we believe that he has fallen into the hands of false friends, who have
instigated him to these proceedings from other motives than the wish to serve him; and that because an action could not be maintained, he has been put upon the plan of pecuniary indemnification by means of the press. Had the attack been confined to the person of Mr. Reed, we should not have thought so ill of the head and heart which could pen the aspersions cast upon him. But when we find the warfare of calumny and malignant sarcasm carried on with his aged parents, and even with the dead, when we find female innocence and piety itself treated with unfeeling and unmanly ridicule, we cannot for a moment imagine that we are reading the defence of an injured man, but rather the effusions of some despicable individual who has abused Mr. Barnett's confidence, and, while he writes in his name, displays a malevolence of which we would fain believe that the nominal Author is incapable.
We did not intend to have said so much on a subject which can be of little interest to the public at large ; but we know that Mr. Barnett's work has been eagerly laid hold of by persons who know nothing, and who care nothing, about either him or Mr. Reed, as an occasion for sneer or vulgar philippic against the Methodists, the Dissenters, or the Saints. Mr. Barnett þas pandered, in his Memoirs, to these worst feelings of our nature ; and even had he had truth and injured innocence never so clearly on his side, all good men must, we think, deprecate the equivocal mode of righting himself which he has been instigated to adopt. It may do harm to another; it will do harm to religion, as far as religion is implicated in the character of its professors; it cannot possibly do much good to himself.
We are almost sorry that “Martha" appears at this moment, or with the Author's name, as it is likely to be read by many persons with a prejudiced mind. It is a work of which we should not have hesitated to pronounce, whether it came before us as a fancy sketch or a real portrait, that it was adapted to be extremely useful to young persons. We almost wish, that the name had been veiled, and that the reader had been left to gather from internal evidence, that Martha was not the Lucilla of a novel, but a study from real life. It would have had more effect, inasmuch as our admiration is more freely conceded to an unknown and indefinite personage, than to one within our own sphere and on our own level. In that case, the indelicacy of allusion to the living would have been obviated. But possibly the Author imagined that this would lessen the force of the example. Our objection, we confess, is of a temporary nature, and applies chiefly to the present moment. The example of Martha Reed will, we trust, continue to operate as it deserves, on the minds of youthful readers, when Douglas and Lefevre are forgotten.
Two volumes in small octavo may appear, at first sight, a most disproportionate quantity of matter to be occupied with the memoir of a single young woman unknown beyond the sphere of a private circle, and whose life was unvaried by any one remarkable incident. Yet, it would not be thought too long, so capricious is the public judgement in some things, were the heroine the creation of the novelist. With the mere account of what a young person did or said, or where she was born, and where she went, it would obviously have been ridiculous to take up one tenth part of these volumes. But Mr. Reed has aimed, not at narrating the incidents of a life, but at developing the progress of a character. And so well has he succeeded in doing this, so highly instructive is the mental history which is laid open in these volumes, that, whether the individual had or had not a real existence,-whether the portrait were or were not in every feature a faithful, unflattering copy of the original, the work would be equally efficient for the purpose of usefulness. The design of the publication is thus stated in the Preface.
· Let it be understood that the history is entirely of a domestic class. The Author has no splendid incidents, no improbable reverses, no extraordinary circumstances to excite curiosity and hold attention. The life he records, if interesting at all, must be so, not from its dissimilarity, but from its resemblance to our own. The occurrences which vary it are of that simple and sober kind, that they abound in our daily enjoyments, and are familiar to our common existence. The same observation should be applied to the character he would describe. It is not intellectual so much as moral; and if intellectual, the mental endowments are only such as are ordinary and general, while they are successfully directed to high and extraordinary moral attainments.
• The Author was convinced that in portraying such a life, it would be utterly useless merely to make a chronological record of events and actions, or even to do inore than faithfully describe the leading features of character. He has been concerned to subordinate dates and occurrences to their moral effect; to trace the influence of circumstances on the passions and the judgment; to shew, not only what the individual became, but to mark, step by step, the way
in which she reached her spiritual elevation. And this object was not to be effected by a hasty sketch, or a few powerful strokes of the pencil. Patient exertion was indispensible. There must be stroke upon stroke, line upon line, touch upon touch, to reach progressively the full expression of a character at once energetic and delicate.'
It was inevitable that, in endeavouring to accomplish this, the Author should be tempted to linger at particular points,
and that his style should sometimes run into diffuseness. A want of compression is the prominent defect of the work. Yet, with this qualification, few readers will, we imagine, think it too long. The character of Martha is truly feminine and perfectly natural. It has none of the stiffness of the model, none of the pedantry of an over educated character, none of the false sentiment of the heroine, but is of that simple, domestic, amiable kind which every one would wish to realize in his daughter or his sister. Had we room or inclination for minute criticism, we might very possibly detect remarks or expressions obnoxious to animadversion. But, upon the whole, the work has struck us as exceedingly well written, and in a much chaster style than the Author's former production. We frankly confess that the work has strongly interested us, though we had not the slightest knowledge of the individual whose virtues it commemorates; and we judge that it will interest, not indeed all sorts of readers, but the young for whom it is designed, and all who feel for and with the young. The parent may derive from it many valuable hints, while the youthful reader will find in it an attractive example of rare, yet far from unattainable excellence. On this account, waiving all criticism, we have pleasure in giving it our cordial recommendation. We shall merely subjoin a few extracts, and leave them to speak for themselves.
• Hitherto Martha's mind had been free from any continued uneasiness on religious accounts. She had been nurtured on the bosom of parental piety; her education had restrained her from many of the faults common to childhood ; she rejoiced in the exercise of filial love and obedience ; her sensibility sympathized with the affecting portions of scripture history; her temper" was cheerful, joyous, and unsuspicious; what wonder, then, if she had hastily concluded that she knew all it was necessary to know, felt all it was needful to feel, and did all it was requisite to do?
. If any thing occasionally disturbed this state of self-satisfaction, it was the often-reiterated admunition of her anxious and beloved parents : " Remember, my dear, profession is not possession ; pious education is not piety; the form of godliness will never save you." These exhortations had fixed themselves in her memory, while her mind was unprepared to appreciate them; but, now that her eye was turned inwardly, upon herself, they arose to her clothed with an importance they had never worn before, and gave force to those . convictions of which she was so entirely the subject.
Martha's principal deficiency had been the want of self-inspection, a defect
that is never supplied but by religious influence. She had mourned over an evil temper, and confessed the criminality of a wrong action; but she had not inquired into the
motives and principles of conduct: she had admitted the truth of our general depravity, Vol. XX. N.S.