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ART. XV. Anecdotes of the Delborough Family; a Novel. By Mrs, Gunning. 12mo. 5
Vols. 155. sewed. Lane. 1792. IF it be of great advantage to the painter, in the exercise of
his art, to have an opportunity of studying the works of the moft eminent artists in a gallery of valuable pictures, it is equally advantageous to the writer, who undertakes the delineation of manners, to have been intimately conversant with that great theatre of human characters, the world. In this respect, the writer of the novel now before us appears to have been particularly fortunate; and, from this circumstance, her work poflefies a kind of merit, which entitles it to some degree of distinction. As a mere tale, it is not superior, either in invention or arrangement, to many other novels.
If it be worthy of the praise of ease, sprightliness, and an agreeable diversity of language, it is frequently liable to censure for inaccuracy and redundancy :-but, as an exhibition of portraits freely sketched from real life, it will be perused with pleasure. Instead of giving an outline of the plot, which is contrived with little art, and would afford little amusement, we shall therefore extract two or three passages, which will at once entertain the reader, and thew how attentively the authoress has observed, and how capable she is of describing, fashionable manners.
The character of Lady Dorothy Petting, aunt to the principal hero of the story, is thus described :
• A worthy husband and a beautiful infant, the only child the ever bore, neither of whom at this time existed, had, when living, shared only a portion of her heart, the most considerable part was occupied by dogs, monkeys, birds, and squirrels, of these she was extravagantly fond.
• Here were all dogs, monkeys, birds, and squirrels of fashion, their educations were after tbe most fashionable model, they had different masters to instruct them how to counteract and totally deAtroy the handywork of nature, how to twist and turn in all the va. sious distortions of art; her dogs must stand erect, her monkeys exhibit in a minuet, her birds fing by note, and her squirrels having no capacity for those polite accomplishments, were taught the more fimple qualification of obedience, which for lo insensible an animal was no small undertaking, but to sheir own credit and the glory of their maiter be it fpoken, they gained so much by his instructions, that they would sit on their lady's toilet, neftle in her moff, or creep into ber pocket with as much docility as a good soldier obeys the commands of his adjutant.-In short, through this whole police and happy family, nothing was neglected but their morals; could any thing be more like people of fashion!
. Besides this exiraordinary fondness for the animal creation, Lady Dorothy had other paflions equally ridiculous, though their gratification was fometimes attended with leis harmless conicquences.
• Next to seeing her dear little family in perfe& health and spirits, her darling joy proceeded from having it said in all companies, that Lady Dorothy Perring had brought about a marriage between such an heiress and such a Lord, or such a Lady and the rich heir of a Sir William, a Sir John, or a Sir Michael. This passion for Inatch-making gave her infinite consequence with the young of both sexes, they focked in crowds to her house, from the motives for which her house was open to receive them.
• Miftaken good nature and a foolish vanity were her Ladyship's incentives to so strange a conduct, she really was not ill tempered, and thought it mightily praise-worthy to afält Providence in bringing together those whom her discernment made her see, or imagine that the faw, destined for each other ; often, very often, the totally miftook its purpose, so that it seldom happened but her officious services were repaid with execrations of the huband, and reproaches of the wife, perhaps the only point they ever agreed on, was a most violent hatred for the person by whole means they had been united, and in this fingle instance their hearts were always in perfect unison.'
Among other female characters, who make a considerable figure in the story, are Lady Selina Dangle, who is so overwhelmed with fashionable business, as to be wholly incapable of finding a single day to devote to the amusement of an infirm parent; and her sister Lady Margaret Devero, married to a private gentleman, whose overgrown wealth had made his want of nobility pardonable by the Angrave family,' but which, in the judgment of Lady Selina, was degraded beyond redemption by this plebeian alliance. Between these ladies, passes the following characteristic dialogue :
• It was half after two o'clock when Lady Selina, with the light step of a Sylph, ascended the stair-cafe that led to her sister's dresl. ing-room, humming as the tripped along,
“ Whither, my love, ah! whither art thou gone?" • She found Lady Margaret lounging on a sofa, wrapped up in her dressing gown, with the breakfalt things before her, fipping her tea, and spelling over a newspaper.
• Lord, fifter ! cried the, running to the glass, and adjusting her hair, are you unwell, or what ails you! Why, I breakfafted two hours ago. How are your babes? Where was you last night? Is your good man in swaddling cloaths yet?
• You talk so fast, and ask so many questions, Selina, replied Lady Margaret, laying down the newspaper, that I hardly know how to answer, or where to begin. Pray, child, do I look as if I was ill? No, indeed, there is norbing the matter with me. I was last night playing faro at Lady Simpleton's, and did not come home till five. I suppose the children are well, if not I should certainly have heard it. You know I never see them but at dresling time. I hardly know what account to give you of poor Mr. Devero. Juft before I went out yesterday the doctors said he had the gout in his
ftomach : however, I have sent this morning, and they tell me it is got down into his feet again, fo I hope he will get better.
• As Lady Selina did not ask questions with any view of information, the filled up the time, in which it was her fister's turn to speak, with looking over a pile of visiting cards, and as many more of invitations, with which the table was covered, till Lady Margaret came to a period, when she did not omit to seize on the occasion, by telling her she had almost stopped a coach in the Park yesterday, lo very like Mr. Devero's, that the expected her Ladyship was in it; but that, luckily, before me pulled the string, to dispatch her footman with a message, she looked again, and discovered it had a Marquis's coronet, which, to be sure, added she, is the only thing wanted, my dear sister, to make your's the finest carriage that ever was seen.
• And that will not be long wanting, Lady Selina, retorted Lady Margaret, colouring like crimson. Mr. Devero is determined to get himself created; you will see his name in the next list of peers, I assure you.
• Dear me! Well, I am vaftly glad to hear it. Baron, what will he call himself? for you know he can be but a Baron at firit. How happy I shall be when he gets above that diminutive rank. I wish with all my heart they would make him into a Duke at once.
• Oh! child, I know you with us prodigious well; I Mall there. fore intrust you with a secret that will complete your joy: Mr. Devero, from one step to another, is promiled as high up as a Mar. quisate, and a ducal coronet of courle will, in due time, terminate our demands on court favors. Lady Margaret bridled her head at the conclusion of this speech, and Lady Selina looked as if she did not believe it.'
Many other female characters in high life are drawn with cqual fpirit.
The following domestic scene is humorously sketched :
· Where have you been, Mr. Devero, you are always out of the way when I have the least inclination to see you ? go and look at my picture, Sir Joshua has just sent it home, and if you do not allow it to be charming, you forfeit all pretensions to taste; it would have been odious, if I had contented to your proposiiion, and had the children drawn in the same piece!
• Such was the question, information, and observation, with which Lady Margaret Devero received her husband on his return home from his morning excursion on horseback; he was a man of few words, and fewer ideas, but he had an honest heart, with just enough understanding to find out, that if a private gentleman has the good fortune to unite himself to a lady of quality, and would afterwards with to preserve the spirit of a man, it should be botiled up like a choice cordial, and the cork never drawn in his own family.
• Mr. Devero meekly faluted his wife, and meekly followed her to the drawing-room, at the head of which food the most beauti. ful whole length of a moderately handsome woman, that the gal
lantry of a painter, or the pencil of flattery ever executed; it was, in fact, as much a representation of a Venus, a Minerva, a Pigmy, or the modern Giant of the Burning Mountains, as of Lady Mare garet.
- Well, Mr. Devero, did you ever see any thing fo enchanting? such a likeness too! so exquisitely striking! pray look at the languishing softness of my eyes, and the sweet dimple on each side my mouth, one would actually think I was going to speak, but you never say any thing ; pray, fir, are you filent from disapprobation, or from allonishment?
• Certainly the latter; besides, I am trying to trace the resemblance.
Trying, and are you so very stupid as not to have found it? • It is not my fault, Madam ; if Sir Jofrua had been more just, I should have found the explanation less difficult.
• You really think then, passing her arm through his, with a smile of intire approbation, that he has not done me justice ? on fome occasions, I do not know any body chat can distinguish better than yourself, and I confess you have corrected my first harty opinion, for I now think it might have admitted of some alteration, and if Sir Joshua had made my arms a little fuller, my eyes rather more open, my skin whiter, with a something of additional colour io my cheeks, and the vermillion of my lips a little heightened, it would have been fill more masterly, and ihe likeness better preserved.
• This critique being decisively established, without a further reference to the judgment of her husband, they returned to her Ladyship's dressing-room, the convinced that there might have been a more advantageous likeness, and he, that there was no likeness at all.
We must not omit to take notice of the very inelegant manner in which this work is printed with respect to orthography. Among many other erro:s of this kind, we find the following; irrififtible ; viberated; setting for fitting; reveres for reveries; hisitating ; Emely for Emily; Proteous for Proteus; &c. &c.
Notwithstanding these and other literary defects, the work, as a lively delineation of characters and manners, does credit to the writer. In an advertisement, Mrs. Gunning assures the public that there is no circumstance, incident, nor situation, in these volumes, that has the most distant allusion to her own family, her connections, her friends, or her enemies.
ART. XVI. Elay on the Life and Character of John Lord Somers,
Baron of Evesham: Allo Sketches of an Eray on the Life and Character of Philip Earlof Hardwicke. Proposed to be inserted in a Compendious History of Worcestershire. By Richard Cook
sey, Esq. of the Inner Temple. 410. 103. 6d. Boards. Bew, &c. THE
'He information, which Mr. Cooksey has been able to ob
tain from provincial researches, concerning Lord Somers, relates principally to the early period of his life, and to the
situation of his family and connections in the county of Worcefter. Mr. C. ascribes, but, we think, without any ratiffactory evidence, the “ Tale of a Tub" to the pen of Lord Somers, in conjunction with the Earl of Shrewsbury. His account, which is sufficiently improbable on the face of it, is, that,
• Swift found among Sir William Temple's papers, the only copy Mr. Somers ever made of this boyish amusement; which, in hours of unreserved and social conviviality, (of which no man was more fond,) he had communicated to his friends, Lord Shaftesbury and Sir William, but to whom he had forgotten he ever introsted it. This Swift copied; and, by fervile adulation and profeffions of zeal and attachment, prevailed on them, after striking out some reflections on kingly government, to which the young authors were not, at the time of writing it, much attached, to suffer him to publish it as his own, which he did, with a dedication to Lord Somers, and is the chef-d'ouvre of his prose writings-preferring the reputation of a witty writer to that of a serious and conscienti. ous member of the church, to his admillion into the higher orders of which, this publication was urged as a perpetual bar.'
As the Lord Chancellor Hardwicke married a niece of Lord Somers, this circumstance connects the name and family of Yorke with Mr. Cooksey's design of writing a History of Worcestershire. Whether the descendants of that great ma. gistrate will feel any lively emotions of gratitude to Mr. CookTey for this honour, is a subject on which we have some doubts. He has thought fit to give to the world two letters or memoirs relative to the life of the Earl of Hardwicke, the first of which is written by the late Jeremiah Bentham, Esq. Mr. Cooksey's reason for publishing these is indeed somewhat singular, and is accompanied with a very singular confession, as coming from the pen of a lawyer and an historian; for he says, the author of the first (Mr. Bentham,) he suspects of some trivial inaccuracies; and the writer of the other, who insists on being unknown, of many more,' which, he adds, he · Ihall be happy to correct and set right, from such information as he may be favoured with before the publication of his proposed history.' The production of the anonymous writer is full of the harshest constructions and most malignant charges against the Earl of Hardwicke; and we wilh that, before Mr. Cooksey had lent his aid to their publication, he bad observed the same liberal caution which he has adopted respecting another anonymous performance :
• I might add (he says) fome ftritures, published by a very reSpectable avihor, who itiled himself, The Fatber of Candour, 'in a very ingenious and learned tract, entitled, A Letter concerning Libels, Warrants, and Seisures of Papers ; which contain charges, tending to depreciate the acknowledged merits and high reputation of the