British Fiction, 18001829

PORTER, Anna Maria. Knight of St John, The (1817)

Contemporary Reviews

Monthly Review, 2nd ser. 85 (Mar 1818): 328–29.

A strain of noble though romantic sentiments pervades this work; many of the scenes are pleasing and well-imagined; Giovanni’s fortitude and resignation, arising from Christian principles, are strikingly drawn; and the characters of Beatrice and Amadea afford an useful contrast, shewing in the one a coquettish beauty disgraced, and, in the other, humility and virtue rewarded. Yet, as a whole, this romance is somewhat deficient in interest, and disfigured by puerilities: such as the great affection of Cesario for his diamond-ring, and the frequent eulogies on Giovanni’s ‘spotless skin’ and ‘eyes of heavenly blue.’ When relating the siege of Malta by the Turks in 1565, the fair writer gives the historical [328/329] account of the outrages committed by those barbarians, but she wonderfully softens the reprisals of La Valette, the Grand Master; describing him thus, in vol. iii. p. 67.; ‘having retired from a sight which must have unmanned him, he withdrew from every eye to commune singly with his God:’ whereas, on the contrary, when the mangled corpses of the Christian warriors were thrown on shore by the waves, John de La Valette caused all his Turkish prisoners to be immediately strangled, and then, by means of cannon, he threw their bleeding heads into the camp of their countrymen.

Some incorrect expressions must also be noticed, such as, in vol. iii. p. 14., ‘fetching a sigh:’ p. 17. ‘the thick of the fight:’ p. 26. ‘without the siege were raised, he knew the fort must fall:’ p. 346. ‘plunging into the thick of the combatants:’ p. 140. ‘La Citte notabile,’ instead of La Citta, &c. &c.

Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. Format: 3 vols 12mo; price 1l. 1s. Boards. Publisher: Longman & Co.

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