British Fiction, 18001829

SUMMERSETT, Henry. Martyn of Fenrose (1801)

Contemporary Reviews

Critical Review, 2nd ser. 33 (Sept 1801): 112.

When we had perused only a few pages of this romance, we felt pleased with the performance; and, in spite of our objections to wizards and sorcery, could not avoid bestowing some commendation on the warm imagination of its author. But, before we had finished the second volume, disgust compelled us to throw the book on the floor, and we confess we have never since proceeded to the perusal.

Is it not enough that the English are already condemned by all Europe for the multiplicity of their oaths and blasphemies, that our circulating libraries must furnish their readers with a new set of anathemas?—‘May the spirit of my father strangle me in savageness!’ and ‘By the ruler of the world of angels, I will level all my rage and resentment at these smiling devils!’ are the only two instances of our author’s invention with which we will pollute our journal. But should any dragoon or boatswain’s mate find himself disposed to improve in the delectable science of swearing, he will here meet with whole pages employed, between a mother and son, in curses and imprecations, from which, if he have taste, he may select many precious morsels for the use of the galley or the guard-room. The German dramatists are here absolutely out-heroded.

Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. Format: 3 vols 12mo; price 13s. Boards. Publisher: Dutton.

Monthly Review, 2nd ser. 40 (Feb 1803): 207.

Mr. Summersett’s fertile and lively imagination hurries him beyond the boundaries of nature into the regions of enchantment, and we become acquainted with the fleet courser which outstrips the wind, with the magic sword which mows down armies, and with the wonderful wizard of Fenrose, who may be intitled ‘the prince of the power of the air.’—Those who can read of such marvellous faculties, without being shocked at so flagrant a violation of the known laws of nature, will find in these volumes several interesting and amusing scenes, characters well supported, and events related in a manner which displays ability and genius. We might mention in particular the description of the field of battle, the descent of the stranger and his dog Fidelity into the abyss, and the scene of William’s imprisonment in the vault.

Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. Format: 3 vols 12mo; price 9s. Sewed. Publisher: Dutton.

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