British Fiction, 18001829

LATHOM, Francis. Mysterious Freebooter, The (1806)

Contemporary Reviews

Critical Review, 3rd ser. 8 (July 1806): 327.

Stimulated, we presume, by the applause which he obtained for his ‘Impenetrable Secret,’ which appeared some months ago, Mr. Lathom has speedily recovered the elasticity of his mind, and returned to the charge in an ancient romance; and a spirited charge it must be confessed to be; for, where he fails to command our approbation, he generally seizes our attention. He has faults which we cannot but loudly condemn, yet he has merits which induce us to read. His plot is various, and not complicated; the incidents that compose it are generally natural and simple. Its principal error, and that is a grievous one, is its prolixity; a most soporific effect being produced by the long reference to preceding events, which occupies almost the whole of the first volume, and by the story of Mabel Monteith, which has little relation to the principal affair. We cannot help observing therefore that this work might have been with great advantage reduced into the compass of two or at most three volumes, for if a great book of any kind be a great evil, how immense a mischief is a great novel! Our author has certainly the principal art of a novel writer, the knack of exciting interest; but scarcely any interest can be strong enough to prop, upon its own single basis, four long volumes. We say on its own single basis, because Mr. Lathom has most disdainfully rejected all assistance from grammar, style, and harmonious construction. And yet, when we had finished the work, we forgot our displeasure at the errors of the composition, in our regret that the story was concluded.

Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. Format: 4 vols 12mo; no price. Publisher: Lane.

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