British Fiction, 18001829

MATURIN, Charles Robert. Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)

Anecdotal Records

Letter from Mary Russell Mitford to Barbara Hofland.
7 Feb 1821.
Yes, I have read ‘Melmoth’ all through; I never read much by Mr Maturin before,—for ‘Woman’ [sic] I could not bear, and, I believe, never finished, and ‘Bertram’ was not at all to my taste; and ‘Montorio’ and the rest I never saw. I don’t think I shall want to look at ‘Melmoth’ again in a hurry, and yet it is a most extraordinary book, full of power—terrible power—but with some most splendid painting and touches, that go quite to the heart, particularly in—I forget the name—the starving story. It is very painful too, but not, I think, on the whole so painful as ‘Kenilworth,’ which is the most complete anatomy of the bad human heart that I have ever met with.
Source: Letters of Mary Russell Mitford. Second Series, ed. by Henry Chorley, 2 vols (London: Bentley, 1872), I, 101–02.
Notes: Women is EN2 1818: 41. ‘Montorio’ is The Fatal Revenge (EN2 1807: 42). Scott’s Kenilworth is EN2 1821: 64.

Memoirs by Robert Pierce Gillies.
Maturin, with his wild romances and tragedies, found himself in a sphere where travesties and farces would have succeeded far better, but he had chosen his walk, and excelled in it. Consequently, though he gained no pecuniary profits by ‘Montorio’ and the ‘Wild Irish Boy,’ yet Mr. Colburn did at last venture the vast sum of £80 for the ‘Milesian,’ and I suppose somewhat accrued to him also for ‘Melmoth’ and the ‘Albigenses.’
Source: R. P. Gillies, Memoirs of a Literary Veteran, 3 vols (London: Bentley, 1851), II, 23.
Notes: The Wild Irish Boy is EN2 1808: 75, The Milesian Chief is EN2 1812: 46, and The Albigenses is EN2 1824: 66.

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