British Fiction, 18001829

PORTER, Jane. Pastor's Fire-Side, The (1817)

Contemporary Reviews

Monthly Review, 2nd ser. 83 (May 1817): 97–98.

[Heading only appears on p. 97, body of review is on p. 98]

Something like disappointment will probably be caused by the title of this work; and readers, who expect the gentle and domestic scenes of a ‘Pastor’s Fire-side,’ will be surprized at finding themselves carried into palaces and dungeons, and to fields of battle: but the tale displays a great variety of incident, with much justness of thought; and the character of Louis de Ripperda is a touching and finely conceived picture of filial piety and heroic self-denial. The fair writer has, however, taken great liberties with the historical facts on which her novel is grounded. For example: she makes a pathetic scene of the death of Ripperda’s wife, whereas the Duchess de Ripperda outlived her husband;—in order to place Louis in the questionable situation of fighting in a lawful cause against his father, she confounds the Duke de Montemar with the son of Ripperda;—and, after the disgrace of Ripperda, she carries him at once into Africa, entirely sinking three intermediate years which he passed in England. We will not censure her for omitting all mention of ‘the fair Castilian’ who was the companion of his flight: but we may notice her injustice to another lady, the Countess de Blaggay, who was not, as Miss Porter calls her, a woman of mean birth, but born Countess de Coblentz. As Miss P. seems to have intended Philip Duke of Wharton for one of the most agreeable characters, it was injudicious to represent him as playing off an unfeeling and disgusting joke on Louis in the childhood of the latter; and we overcame not the dislike excited by this incident, till we recollected that the occurrence was impossible, because Wharton was born in 1699, and, as Louis is supposed to have been grown up at the period of his father’s embassy to Vienna in 1722, he and his friend must have been nearly of the same age.

We need not trouble our readers by mentioning any farther incongruities: but we must notice a few verbal inaccuracies; such as, (vol. i. page 89.) ‘is there no terms to be kept?’—(Page 113.) ‘He who Cromwell sent to the scaffold.’—(Page 152.) ‘A man who he loves.’—(Page 273.) ‘Their vapoury lights lit him along.’—(Vol. ii. page 58.) ‘To engloom an evil prospect.’—(Page 65.) ‘The sovereigns themselves were principles, and that they should be principles was astonishing.’—(Page 134.) ‘Icy peaks of the glaziers.’—(Page 298.) ‘The Queen knows how ably you fulfilled your duties, and herself suggested to the King rewarding your zeal.’—(Page 302.) ‘The colonnades were lit up.’—(Page 355.) ‘Yourself has separated us,’ &c. &c.

Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. Format: 4 vols 12mo; price 1l. 11s. 6d. Boards. Publisher: Longman & Co.

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