LAFONTAINE, August Heinrich Julius; PARSONS, Eliza
(trans.). Love and Gratitude (1804)
Critical Review 3rd ser. 5 (July 1805): 330.
Mrs. Parsons had much better exercise her original talents than
translate Augustus la Fontaine. Augustus la Fontaine’s works,
in our opinion, are stamped with that insipid mediocrity which one
can neither admire nor laugh at. The very titles of these novels
are mawkish and disgusting: ‘Love and Gratitude,’ ‘Love
and Greatness of Soul,’ ‘Love and Esteem,’ ‘Love
put to the Test,’ ‘Love and Probity,’ ‘Love
and Vanity;’ which is the last. Vanity of vanities, all is
vanity. Really, to an English ear, that is accustomed to ‘Love
and Magic,’ ‘Love laughs at Locksmiths,’ &c.
this is but dull unprofitable chat. For the style take the following
‘Poor Firmin, however, had received no transient impression,
it rushed violently into his heart,—the image of the beautiful
lady was engraven on his soul. He thought, he talked of her incessantly;
and when he came to the eulogy of her charms, he made use of such
exaggerated expressions, he talked so loud and with such uncommon
vivacity and fire, that his parents and the old bailiff were quite
‘Poor Firmin!’ Poor Fontaine.
Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. 3
vols l2mo; price 12s. Publisher: Longman.
Flowers of Literature (1805): 426.
These are six very interesting tales, all of which have a moral
tendency. They are far superior to the common-place novels of the
day, and derive no small advantage from being translated into excellent
Notes: Format: 3 vols 12mo; price 12s. Publisher: Norbury, Brentford.
Parsons is also mentioned in an introductory section on ‘Novelists’
in Flowers of Literature for 1805: ‘The fertile pen
of Mrs. PARSONS has, within the last year, produced no less than
six volumes. Her novel, entitled Murray House, is formed
upon very probable incidents [...] The other three volumes are translations
by Mrs. P. of six very pleasing and instructive tales from LAFONTAINE,
which she has rendered into correct and elegant English’ (p.
Monthly Review, 2nd ser. 50 (June 1806): 220.
We do not think that these little histories exhibit that clear
insight into the human heart, which the author imagines them to
possess; and if our feelings have occasionally been gratified by
the perusal of them, they have likewise been at times disgusted.
Under the title of Love and Probity, a story is introduced
which is unnatural in its events, and pernicious in its doctrines.
The heroine of this curious tale forfeits her honor, without
temptation, to a stranger whom she accidentally meets in a public
company; and from whom she parts without an attempt to discover
even his name. They however soon meet again, but the little accident
which has happened does not bring them to each other’s recollection
and they fall mutually in Love. Unluckily, the Lady is always sick,
and it does not suit her convenience to discover her disorder. A
secret retirement becomes necessary, and she departs, accompanied
by her own mother and the mother of her lover! who, poor man, is
sent on a jaunt in a different direction The young lady is now delivered
of a fine boy; a circumstance which produces no change of sentiment
either in the Lover (when he is informed of it) or in his good natured
mother; who, alluding to the business, exclaims, ‘yes, my
son, Julia is virtuous, she is worthy to be your wife—her
heart is integrity itself!’ This is indeed a trait of the
human heart!—However, every thing now presses on towards marriage;
when, by mere accident, the Lover finds that in his Julia he possesses
the object of his former casual amour. This discovery produces universal
joy; while his kind mother, leading the bride to the altar, places
a crown of myrtle on her head, as a token of CHASTITY!
All this may be called natural: but in our minds there was more
of the feelings of nature in the poor country lout, who had married
the former favourite of the Squire. On her being brought to bed
a few weeks after the ceremony, Hodge got into drink, and at the
same time into a passion with his immaculate spouse. The gossips
interposed with violent exclamations that she was far too good for
such a sot as he was—‘a villain, to behave so to such
an angel of a wife!’— ‘there, there’—cried
Hodge, the tears streaming from his eyes—damn thee, Molly,
I don’t mind thee being a whore; only don't let ’em
call thee an angel!’
Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. Format:
3 vols 12mo; price 12s. Boards. Publisher: Longman & Co.
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