British Fiction, 18001829

MURRAY, Mrs. Henry Count de Kolinski (1810)

Contemporary Reviews

Critical Review, 3rd ser. 20 (June 1810): 218–19.

The author tells us that Count Kolinski was of a superior order of beings, that he found himself at the age of nineteen high in favour at the court of Warsaw, and heir to a noble fortune. He gains his father’s consent to make the tour of Europe, and first visits Russia, then Germany, and Paris. Thence he accompanies Lord Bennet, an amiable English nobleman, to England, and is introduced to a Mr. Archdale’s family, which consists of a wife and three daughters, all very charming and highly accomplished. The Count is, for some time, dubious which he prefers; but at last he becomes the willing slave of Matilda. This lady is represented as a perfect character; and the Count determines to hide his passion from the world, as well as Matilda, till he himself becomes more perfect, that he may then have a better chance of being accepted as a favoured lover. Whilst he is in this state of hope and fear, he receives letters from his father to return to his native country, which was in such a state as to require his assistance and exertions for the welfare of the nation, and the noble house from which he sprung. He accordingly sets out for Poland, with all those ardent feelings which might be expected in a man glowing with indignation for the wrongs of his country. However, this same love, which burns with such ardour in his breast, becomes exceedingly troublesome; and as he has not had an opportunity of making a confession of it to Matilda in a plain way, he pretends to make her his confident, by telling her that he is in love with an English lady. He lays open his heart, his hopes, and his fears, and begs her advice. The lady perceives, it is herself he means, and is about to reply, when they are interrupted, and the Count departs uncertain if his passion is returned. He arrives in Poland, and is present at his sister’s nuptials with the Prince de Ledwisk. Here Mrs. Murray gives a superb account of the dress of the bride; and indeed we must allow that our authoress has evinced much taste in the choice of fine things, and proves herself a most elegant tire-woman. But, alas! with the finery and all the attendants, and all the happiness promised, a body of Russian soldiers enter and seize the Count, the bridegroom, and the rest of the brave Poles. Our hero is sent an exile into Siberia; here he employs himself in mechanics; and, becoming acquainted with a Chinese trader, he contrives to make an air balloon. At night he sets off, and after travelling vastly agreeably, finds by his map of roads, that he is hovering over America. And as this luckily happened to be the very country he wished to see, down he drops, ‘promising himself a fund of entertainment.’ It happens to be that part of America called [218/219] Missouri. And here he is very handsomely received by the inhabitants, who prove to be the descendants of Madoc, for the history of which we refer our readers to the beautiful poem of Mr. Southey. However the Count, after amusing himself for some time, comes over to England, and is informed that the Empress of all the Russias has reinstated his family in their former honours. He then of course marries Miss Matilda; and the parties live ever after a pattern of conjugal bliss.

Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. No format; price 4s. Publisher: Cawthorn.

Monthly Review, 2nd ser. 62 (Aug 1810): 435.

All the improbability of fiction, and all the dullness of reality, are fortunately combined in this tale. The author places Tygers in America, in defiance of Buffon and Bewick; and she carries her Hero in a Balloon from Siberia to the banks of the Missouri, in defiance of common sense. Her characters are scarcely distinguished from each other but by their names; they all seem to be paper-people, ‘the shadows of a shade;’ and we could neither persuade ourselves to believe in their existence nor to be interested in their adventures.—The moral tendency of this story, however, is unexceptionable, and the style is tolerably correct.

Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. Format: 12mo; price 3s. 6d. Publisher: Cawthorn.

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