MORIARTY, Henrietta Maria. Crim Con (1812)
Critical Review, 4th ser. 2 (Sept 1812): 331–32.
Mrs. Moriarty in her preface states that ‘her humble talents
have been called in to action by the urgent claims of four fatherless
children.’ Though this claim knocks at every man’s heart,
and though we seen the meritorious exertion of Mrs. Moriarty in
its proper light, she must not think us ill-natured, if we express
our entire disapprobation of the title, which she has thought
proper to affix to a work which she professes to be perfectly moral.
To persons of loose conduct and principles the title will
be taking enough; but in more sober-minded persons it will
excite something like repugnance and disgust. Mrs. Moriarty is no
doubt the best judge, which description of readers will answer her
purpose the best; but those who may be induced to buy the work from
the title, will be not a little disappointed, if the food is
not high seasoned enough for their vitiated palates.
That misery and disgrace must ensue from a woman’s violating
her marriage vows, is so palpable, that we did not want a novel,
founded on facts, to convince us of the truth. Nor do we
quite approve the character of the heroine in the above novel, for
suffering her marriage articles to be executed before she found
out that there might be some danger in a Catholic marrying
a Protestant. It evidently appears that the lady had most dishonourably
changed her mind in favour of another Beau Garçon.
The reason given is, that Catholics look upon marriage, as a religious
sacrament, and that the Protestant regards it as only a civil contract.
But is it not at least very probable that the person, whose sense
of duty is not strong enough to prevent him from breaking a civil
contract, will not long hesitate about cutting the mysterious knot
of a religious tie? Vows, contracts, and engagements have been broken
by persons of all religions; and all we can say is, that if a man
or woman will not conscientiously abide by their word, there is
no civil contract nor religious ceremony which will make them do
their duty. The distinction, which Mrs. Moriarty makes, has
rather an invidious appearance. We give the lady every possible
credit for her good intentions, but the conclusion, which she draws,
is by no means favourable to the Protestant. The characters may
be taken from life; but the story of Lady V. and her vicious mother,
the Duchess of B— is so revolting, that we trust these are
not some of the facts which are promised in the title-[331/332]page.
The stage effects of the novel, if we may use the expression, though
stale and hackneyed, may perhaps suit some hundreds of novel readers.
We have, however, to request, that in her next publication, Mrs.
Moriarty will expunge from her portfolio all that kind of scandal
which is to be picked up in the housekeeper’s room, or the
butler’s pantry; and will learn to tell her story in a simple
way, without any of those aids, to which she wishes to attach dignity,
by calling them incidents founded on facts. Mrs. Moriarty
may then claim some respectable attention as a novel writer.
Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. Format:
2 vols; price 10s 6d. Publisher: Seaton.
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