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the Waverley roan draws The Mail "through"—" from London to Edinburgh"—" 'twice a-week!"—He looks to his "way-bill"—takes care of his passengers, loses no parcels, and never "drags" an inch of the road! He has got his four " big ones"—" well in hand"—before him. His " five-aridthirty hundred weight,"—" live and dead load," behind him. He gets his four "insides" up, and his three "out" —his " bags"—his " time-piece"— spare whip, and six great coats. The horn blows—he handles the " ribbanda"—lets go the traces: off they go, and he comes in, five hundred miles off, without cracking a splinter bar, sleeps his six hours, has his boots cleaned, and is ready to start again.
Piecemeal, perhaps, we might match the author of Waverley, but we cannot match him as a whole. He awakens an impatience in us as to the fate of his dramatis personce, from the very moment that we are introduced to them. He keeps us straining, and "craning," and tiptoeing, after his catastrophe, and trotting along, with our noses in the air, like the hackney coach-horses of Dublin, who are coaxed forward by a pole with hay upon it, pushed from the window of the carriage before them. We are always villainously inclined, before we have got a hundred pages into his book, to kill the goose at once, and get the eggs put of the last volume; and we are just now (as we observed before) put in excellent condition to admire the dexterity and facile conduct of this author, the adroitness with which he keeps constantly dragging his readers on, neck and heels, (sometimes, too, by the way, when they might be inclined to grumble a little, if he allowed them time to stop,) by the want of that same facility being the chiefest defect of the writer whose work lies before us for dissection.
"Percy Mallory, a novel, by the author of Pen Owen."—It's a pretty practice this, upon " the living subject;" and we are inventing (only it must be a great secret) an improved system of " operative' surgery, by which we propose, shortly, to "cut up" authors in an entirely new way! In the meantime, however, we will open Monsieur Pen Owen, "from the systole, to the diastole."—So !—one cut across the abdomen, from right to' left; another incision (transverse) about
from eight to eleven inches. There! now we shall see what the gentleman is made of.
The author of "Percy Mallory" has great talents, and his books will be generally read; but, either he has not the knack of manaeinff a. narrative, or he will not be at the trouble of exercising it. His main excellence lies in the rapidity and boldness with which he sketches character. He is a quick observer of men's habits and oddities, and has a clever sort of idea of their passions and affections; he writes a smart, petUlant dialogue, with great apparent facility, and gives the chit chat, in general, of a mixed company, with an adroitness hardly to be exceeded.
Against these "good gifts" in an author, there are some grievous ill tricks to be set off. We would wager, although we don't know who he is, that he could write farces as fast as he could move his pen. He has the "touch and go" faculty (so lauded in the •'• manager's room") as light as any gei>tleman we ever met with. No man is less likely to overlay a conversation, or understands better the advantage of " shifting a scene;" but, in return, a general hecdlcssness makes his transitions pantomimic; his '• situations" fall out inartificially, and his means are seldom proportioned to his end; he sets a great deal of machinery to work, which he cannot manage when it is in action; he makes a great bustle where he comes to a difficulty, walks round it, and fancies that he has overcome it. The links that connect his tale ore often clumsy, and sometimes inefficient; and probable incident, or accurate description, are points upon which he seldom pauses to attend to.
But he doesn't prose, and therefore we won't do it for him. Senhor Pen Owen shall speak for himself.
"Percy Mallory,"otherwise "Percy Rycott," otherwise " Percy Clarendon—Lord Brandon," begins his acquaintance with the reader when he is no more than three months old. At that "tender age," he is stolen (or charged to be stolen) from the house of his (supposed) father, " Levison Ilycott, Esq.," of Cumberland. After giving a great deal of trouble at the London police offices, and at the Old Bailey, he occasions the "deportation" of two ladies, "Alice Halpin," and "• Judith Mallory," the last of whom,
(even while under sentence,) swears to him for her child; and, at eighteen, (having duly been reconducted to the north,) being stout—valiant—handsome—and a " cragsman," he meets with a rock adventure—rather too much like that of Lovel in The Antiquary—and rescues "Miss Loo Bellenden," from a jeopardy, into which Heaven alone knows how she ever could have fallen.
The lady being carried to a cottage, near "Wolston Worthy," (Mr Hy- cott's seat,) a servant is sent, posthaste, for medical assistance.
"Dr Drizzlethwaite, as he was called, at length made his appearance; and, although his horse was covered with dust and foam, the gentleman himself was cool and collected, as if he had just passed from one room to another. •
"' For Heaven's sake, my dear Drizzle,' cried Percy, ' make haste—every moment is precious.'
"The other, taking out his watch, seemed to be calculating the time he had taken in reaching his present destination, as a sort of tacit answer to the young man's impetuosity. He returned the watch to his fob—and, repeating in a low tone of voice, 'Thirty-seven minutes and two seconds,' quietly drew a chair, and seated himself, whilst he deliberately took his hat from his head. He wiped off a few particles of dust from it with one of his gloves, which he had methodically drawn from his hand."
Mr Percy becomes fidgety.
"'Come, come,' he impatiently repeated more than once, of which Dr Drizzlethwaite seemed to take no note whatever— his attention being evidently pre-occupied in unbuttoning the overalls which had been the safeguard and protection of a pair of highly polished boots, now slowly disclosing themselves to view.
"' Why_Dr Drizzlethwaite!'
"■ Sir,' responded the doctor, as he turned up his head sideways from discharging the last button at his heel.
"' The patient.'
"* True,' answered the imperturbable doctor, as he neatly folded up the leathern appurtenances, and turned them over the back of a chair.
"' Will you—will you go up stairs, sir?' demanded Percy, out of all patience with this son of Esculapius, although well acquainted with his habits, which might— as they had often done—afford food for a passing joke—but were insufferable in a moment of real agitation and anxiety.
"' I will, Mr Percy—but first,' pulling down his shirt sleeves, and adjusting ihe buckle of his stock, ' the case?'
Percy Mattory. 2T"' How should I know? Come and judge for yourself.'
"' Male or female?'
"' A lovely girl—a'
"' A labour?'
"' Psha !—an accident.'
"' A miscarriage?'
"A miscarriage !—a mis come,
come, Drizzle, for God's sake, see the poor sufferer. She has had a fall.— She was
nearly destroyed—She may be bruised—a limb broken.'
"' The case—why didst not say so before?' slowly demanded he, as he deliberately raised himself from the chair—when, turning somewhat more abruptly towards the window, as Percy had taken the lead towards the door, he quietly opened the casement, and calling to a boy who held his horse—' Walk the mare—walk the mare—gently, chum—there—don't let her stand still.'
"He followed slowly up the narrow staircase, and Percy retreated to the lower apartment,"
Dr Drizzle finds it expedient " to bleed." Meanwhile, our hero frets up and down the cottage kitchen; and at last knocks the doctor's overalls into the fire.
At length the landlady descends, and is going towards the house-door.
"Percy caught her arm, and arrested her progress. 'Where are you going? What, in the name of Heaven, do you want?'
"' The doctor's horse, sweetheart'"'Psha! the doctor can't have his horse yet. How is the young lady? how has she borne?
"Here the doctor's long well-polished boots appeared on the upper part of the staircase, and gradually brought after them the rest of his long gaunt figure, bent nearly double, in order to bear him harmless from its shelving roof and contracted walls."
Percy assists him, and (of course) nearly breaks his neck.
"* How now, master Percy?' cried he, rather more rapidly than was his wont.
"' A thousand pardons, my good doctor; but how is the lady? how has she home the operation? how is she affected? any fracture? any'
"* Can't answer ten questions at a time.'
"' Nay, nay then, how is she? is she in danger?'
"' It is impossible to say.'
"' Have you then doubts?'
"' Never come to hasty conclusions— where's my horse, good woman?'
"' Why, you—you wouldn't leave me in this state?'
"' Why, what ails thee?' instinctively advancing his hand to feel his pulse.
"' Will you not tell me how the suffering angel is?'
'• ' No acquaintance with angels.'
"' Your patient above stairs, then?'
"' I have said'
"' Will she die?'
"' Perhaps not."
"' Only perhaps? Good God 1 doctor, do you really think there is a chance?'
"' There is always a chance.'
"' And only a chance 1'
"' What wouldst have?'
"' A certainty — a hope at least — nay, do not trifle with me.'
"' I— I trifle, Mr Percy !' cried the doctor, with something like an air of surprise.
"' Psha! I mean — do you think — do you think she is in immediate danger?'
"' Not exactly.'
"' Then, why did you not «ay so before?' asked Percy, peevishly.
"' Because you didn't put the question.' '•• ' Did I not ask whether she was in danger? Did I not inquire her state? her -'
"* Repeat, I can't answer ten questions at once.'
"' Is she suffering?'
"• Suppose so — sickness is suffering. What has happened to my spatterdashes, woman ?* vainly trying to button them.
"• Nothing, your honour, I'll be sworn.'
"' Nothing, fah! been in the fire.'
"' I'll take my Bible oath, your honour.'
"' Don't do that, Goody,' interrupted Percy, • for, in the fire they certainly have been; and I wish they had been burned to ashes,' added he, grinding his teeth at the phlegmatic doctor.
"' M r Percy Rycott."
"' Yes, you are enough to drive one mad.'
"' Mad, in verity,' returned the doctor, with perfect tangfrmd, as he rose up from the vain attempt to reconcile and bring together the lower button* and buttonholes of the shrivelled straps of his overalls, or spatterdashes, as he preferred to call them.
"• Good day, mistress ; keep her cool; barley-water; panada.'
"' Yes, your honour; I'll take care of her as if she were my own.'
'• ' Thine I' muttered Percy, as he look. ed upon the woman with horror, at the bare supposition of her being even of the lame species.
"' I will see her friends,1 said the doctor, as he stalked out of the door, again stooping to make good his retreat.
"' Her friends!' exclaimed Percy, as he caught at Urizzlethwaite's arm, and had again nearly overset him, 'do you know them?'
"« What then?'
"' Will you not tell me?'
"' And why?'
"' Because I wish to be informed.'
-' ' Wish — wish to bum my spatterdashes!'
"' I'll give you a dozen new pair.'
"« Hold the stirrup, man, there.'
"' M'ill you, or will you not tell me ?* fiercely demanded Percy, seizinj; the bridle, as the doctor seated himself in the saddle.
"' If not?' coolly, asked the doctor.
"' Then you are -'
"' Off!' interrupted the doctor, who, striking the spurs into his mare's MiK>, jerked the bridle out of Percy's hand, and threw him nearly to the ground, whilst, upright as a dart, and collected as if nothing had happened, he cantered away without once deigning to turn his head upon his enraged opponent."
After an interview with Miss Bellenden, with whom he becomes desperately in love, Mr Percy rides to "Glendara Lodge," and frightens a French governess into fits. He returns to the cottage, but Miss Bellenden is gone — her aunt, Miss Norcliffe, Advised by Dr Drizzlethwaite) having kidnapped her in the meantime. Then, having nowhere else to go, he goes back to the house of his father.
Mr Rycott, of Wolston Worthy, is a valetudinarian, and half a hypochondriac, despotic — kind-hearted — but impatient of contradiction. His character is a sketch, in lines, spirited enough.
A servant has been dispatched in pursuit of Percy, with orders to say, that " Mr Rycott is dying." Percy finds his father in apparent health; but professes to be "sorry," nevertheless, for his absence.
"' Sorry, sorry, what good will your sorrow do, you graceless dog? Hey! will it cure the gout? will it dnve it from the vitals when your insolent, audacious ?—'
"'Indeed, my dear sir, I was not a
"* Not aware — not aware of my commands?'
"* Your commands——'
"' Have I not a thousand times forbidden you to repeat my words? Did I not forbid you to leave the room, and did I not bawl after you till I had nearly broken m blood vessel in my lungs? 1 believe I spat blood. Ask your mother there ':' addressing his lady, who sat on the other side the fire-place."
Mrs Rycott is a quiet woman.
"• I think it was snuff, Mr Rycott,' replied she, with most provoking frigidity of tone and manner.
"' You think, you think! why shouldn't it have been blood? answer me that.'
"' Only because I don't think'
"' Think, think again; what has a woman to do with thinking? The boy has inherited it, and presumes to think for himself and set his father at nought.'
"' I protest, sir,' interrupted the son, 'I had no intention of giving offence.'
"' Who's the best judge of that, sirrah? Did I not command you to stay? did you not bounce out of the window?'
"'It was to save a life more valuable-^—'
"' Than your father's, thou unnatural, hardened, young
"' Excuse me, sir.'
"' I will not excuse you, sir.'
"' I have done.'
"' You have not done, sir; you shall not have done; I will not have my authority disputed in my own house; your mother, there, never disputes.'
"' Never, my dear.'
"' I'm sure, sir,' said Percy, ' I never did.'
"' Because I couldn't suffer it, by Jove! nor will I suffer it now. Why don't you
answer? are you dumb, or sulky, or?
Now, I dare swear, in your heart you are setting up your father as an oppressive, tyrannical, old'
« 'Who, I, sir?'
"'Yes, you, sir! deny it if you can?' Percy has a conscience, and is silent.
"Deny it, deny it, sir, in so many words, if you can; I insist'
"' Why, sir, indeed, I am sorry.'
"' No doubt, no doubt; for having such a cruel, overbearing, hard-hearted father; but,by Jove'
"' No, sir; but I cannot help thinking it hard that I should incur your anger for nothing but'
"' For nothing; and so, sir, to disobey your father's solemn injunctions, to leave the house merely because he enjoined you to stay in it; to exasperate a man, and that man your tender parent, whose life you know hangs by a thread, by a hair; with the gout flying about him and only waiting an opportunity to fix on some vital part, with lungs like a honeycomb! By Jove, sir'
"' Indeed, sir, I knew no such thing.'"' You did'nt; you haven't heard me declare it over and over again—the arthritica vaga—the'
"' Yes, sir, but I remember your saying so from my cradle.'
"* Oh! is it so, Mr Wise Acre ?— You don't credit it ?—Your father's an old fool a hypochondriac, as that blockhead Drizzlethwaite had the effrontery—and he alone—to call me—a—'
Percy ventures something about "nervous apprehensions."
"' Nerves !—nerves!—out of my sight!
Percy Mallory. 29"By Jove !—to be told by my own child— my own lawfully begotten son—that all my deadly symptoms are mere nervous affections !'"
Percy would fain be heard out. "' Hear you out!—what need of it? Have I not heard enough ?—to be told by a boy—an imp—a suckling—a babe— Zounds! there's my fatal vertigo—ring, ring for Schwartz.'
[Schwartz is a German quack, retain, ed in the house; he does not come at the first ring.]
"' Ring—ring again; do you wish me to go off in an apoplexy before your eyes—
without aid—without Ring—twice—
twice.' He was obeyed, and a stranger perhaps would have been surprised at seeing Mrs Rycott quietly resume her place, and her knotting-needle, as if nothing had occurred. But she was used to this sort of scene, and knew that the best remedy was near at hand!
"' The devil's in you all, I believe,' exclaimed her husband, as he held both his hands to his head, in seeming apprehension of its bursting asunder. 'Why don't you run, sirrah, and bring the fellow here neck and crop? By Jove, you are all in a conspiracy against me.' Off ran Percy, happy in the opportunity of escaping. 'Will the scoundrel never come? Ring again, woman; ring till the spring break—I'll trounce the negligent puppy.— Ay, ay, its all over—I feel the effect of the bursting of that vessel.'
"' It was snuff, I assure you, Mr Rycott."'
At last Schwartz comes; and his German English is very happy. The dialogue of the French Governess (in several conversations) is equally so.
"' Oh! Schwartz, my faithful fellow, I verily believe I am going off in earnest now.'
"' It's no bah, Schwartz, I feel it here.'"' You feeln it everywhere—vat the deivel ish the fagary you get—the Kimmer meid com to me, and say her mashter ish ringing for life or de dead, and here you look plomp and fraish like your own Anglish rindfleish.*
"' Plethora, Plethora, be assured my good Schwartz.'
"' I'll no be assured of no soch ding— your poise beat von, two, dree, like de clock; and tish nodding bot von great passion.'
"' My head throbs, Schwartz, and there's no pulsation at the heart.'
"' Vat den, as the heart got into de head?'
"' I must lose blood.'
"' Lose the deivel. Doctor Dweezempate, swear you bleed yourself into wasser —dat is drobzey.'
"• What am I to do, Schwartz?'
"• No pulse ! then its all over with me, indeed.'
"' Tish no ower wid you, bein quiet, and no scolden dc weif and child.' "' I have no patience with them.' « « I zee—I know dat quite a well enough.'
"' They think nothing's the matter with me.*
"' Dere is noding de matter wid you, I say, and dats true.'
"' Ay, Schwartz, but you are tender of me, and know my constitution.'
• • Well, den, cannot you be satisfied?' "' I must be.'
"' Eef you pot yourzelf in soch grand passion just for noding at all.' "• For nothing at all?' "' I say, joost for noding at all—you vil borzt some blode vein.' "»My God!'
"' I'd ish true, pon mcin zole.' "' I wont, I wont utter a word.' "' Nonscince—you speak wer well; but no speak in von passion.' "' I'll try.'
•• ' .mi Hi Gode! you moat do eet, or you shall die.' "'Die!' "* Like ein dog.' "' You may go, Schwartz.* "' I need note to have com, dat I zee.' "And away stalked Mynheer Schwartz." There is a scene after dinner, in which Mr Rycott determines not to be in a passion, quite as good, or better than the above.
Our friend Percy is forbidden ever to think of Mies Bellenden, to whose birth, as well as fortune, his father has some objection, and is commanded to march, without a moment's loss of time, on a visit to the mansion of "Sir Hugh Ferebee de Lacy."
The tenth and eleventh chapters lie at " Lacy Iloyal," and are incomparably the most characteristic in the book; but we do not yet arrive at them.
Being ordered to go straight to Lacy Royal, Percy can do no less than go straight to Glendara.
On his way, he meets a gipsy—the "Mrs Halpin," who purloined him in his infancy—who warns him from his morning call, and from Miss Bellenden altogether. He goes, however, to Glendara, (where there is a brauillerie, that we have not room to extract)—discovers Miss Bellenden in a strange kind of durances-quarrels
with her aunt, and shakes a rnethodist parson. He finds an ally in the French lady, whom he had frightened into fits ; and departs, in ill spirits, for the domicile of the De Lacy s.
Sir Hugh de Lacy claims to be a branch of the " Grandison" family.— A descendant from the same stock with Richardson's " Sir Charles," and an inheritor of that gentleman's style, opinions, and deportment; of course his house, his lady, all his personal arrangements, are in the ultra manner of the veille cour. He is a little bit of a coxcomb—quite without being aware of it; but full of high sentiment and chivalrous feeling.
The dinner scene at Lacy Royal is the very best tit in these three volumes. Our hero, Sir Hugh, Lady Rodolpha, and Miss Gertrude de Lacy, are present. The chaplain is away upon business, and "Grandison de Lacy," the eldest son, is absent, making the tour of Europe.
Mr Percy, being a lover, is necessarily too late for dinner.
"' I beg ten thousand pardons, Sir Hugh—Lady Rodolpha—but——'
"' Lady llodolpha's hand awaits you, Mr Percy Rycott; we will discuss your apologies at a more convenient moment. Dinner has waited near seven minutes.'
Oh this politeness! and the cursed stop-watch calculation too!
"Percy led forward the hostess in all the pomp of Mecklin lappets, point ruffles, and damask drapery, that moved without the rumple of a fold, like a Dutch toy on wheels. He would have made his peace during the journey across a hall that tra. versed the whole depth of the mansion, and through a suite of papered and bagged apartments, which led to the talon d diner, but a very short observation of her ladyship's checked his first attempt.
"' There were few points,' she remarked, ' in which good Sir Hugh was so particular as punctuality in all engagements.'
"Percy said no more. Her ladyship, on their arrival, took her seat at the head of the table; Sir Hugh seated himself at the bottom; flliss Gertrude, and Percy, u>«-a-z.'i>, made up dteparttc carrie."
It is in this partic carree chit-chat, that our author always excels.
"' Good Dr Patersan is obliged to absent himself, on account of some urgent business at Kenilal,' observed Lady Rodolpha, as a sort of implied apology to Percy, for Sir Hugh taking upon himself the duty of saying grace.
"• Indeed !" sighed Percy, viewing the formidable array of domestics planted round