British Fiction, 18001829

ANON. Neighbourhood, The (1800)

Contemporary Reviews

Critical Review, 2nd ser. 30 (Oct 1800): 230–31.

In this work we have rather a collection of characters than a regular narrative, or a tale abounding with incidents. The most prominent character is that of Pursling, a vulgar and illiterate, but opulent tradesman, who retires from business, and becomes a provincial magistrate. Some of the features of this and other characters in the work are sketched in Smollett’s manner, but not with the ability which that writer usually displayed. Under the ludicrous name of Spavin, a clerical jockey is represented, who at length renounces his follies, and ably superintends a school which had been kept for some years by an ignorant adventurer, called Dr. Syllabus. The family of the Tonics are humorously characterised, though the indelicacy of miss Tonic may disgust some readers. Captain Canvass has no original or striking traits assigned to him: he is merely a respectable seaman. We do not see the necessity of giving him for a wife the girl who had been seduced under a promise of marriage by Pursling, or of making him adopt her illegitimate child as his son: it was not necessary so far to degrade the captain, though, perhaps, it may be argued that he evinces his humanity as well as judgement in rescuing a worthy woman from a state of dishonour into which she had unguardedly fallen.

Upon the whole, this is an amusing, but not an interesting novel. We smile at various parts of it; but our hearts are not influenced, our feelings are not roused. The style, we may add, is sometimes [230/231] affected, and frequently inaccurate. The work seems to have been fabricated in haste; but this, we apprehend, is a very common case with regard to novels, which are too often written currenti calamo, and sent to the press without revision.

Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. Format: 2 vols 12mo; price 7s. Sewed. Publisher: Black & Parry.

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