British Fiction, 18001829

LOUDON, Jane C. Stories of a Bride (1829)

Contemporary Reviews

La Belle Assemblée, 3rd ser. 10 (Dec 1829): 279–280.

Stories of a Bride; by the Author of “The Mummy,”’ in three volumes, consist of three tales, The Mystic, The Rational, and The Treasure Seeker, strung together, if we may so express ourselves, by a lively and piquant narrative of the life and adventures of the Bride to whom we are indebted for their perusal. Our heroine, the Bride, is the daughter of an English nobleman, who, occupied in the drawing up of various plans of education for her benefit, suffers her to attain her tenth year in a state of perfect ignorance. She is then taken under the protection of an aunt, and her education commenced according to the rules of bon ton. In due time she becomes a wit and a beauty, and as an heiress, and a countess in her own right, has more offers of marriage than the once celebrated Harriet Byron. She is, however, insensible, and on her father’s death, accompanies her aunt to Paris, Vienna, Brussels, &c., indulging us, en route, with characteristic sketches of the manners and customs of the inhabitants. At Vienna, weary of very happiness, she encounters Lord Seaford, also suffering the horrors of ennui. They meet at a pic-nic party, where each is attracted by the yawn of the other. The professed invulnerability of his lordship to the power of love, excites in our heroine a desire of conquest; and by dint of contradiction, she succeeds, and their mutual and well-affected coldness terminates in a marriage. After the ceremony they set out on a tour through Hungary; and on the second day of their journey, they meet a beggar, an Englishman, educated in one of the Universities, and intended for the church, but unable to restrain his travelling propensities, he had spent his life in wandering over the globe, and was reduced in old age, to destitution. In return for the liberal alms bestowed, he presents them with a bundle of manuscripts, embodying many of the strange adventures be had encountered. His lordship is speedily satisfied with the délices à la Hongrie, but our Bride having ‘heard that there was a town in Hungary where there were eight hundred boot-makers, only one bookseller, and no lawyer!’ she determines on proceeding. English carriages, however, are not built for travelling over Hungarian roads, and [279/280] their career is speedily stopped by the splitting of the carriage asunder, and the breaking of his lordship’s leg. To relieve the tedium of a protracted stay in a Hungarian hut, recourse is had to the beggar’s manuscripts, which the Bride reads aloud to her invalid husband.

Into an analysis of these tales we cannot enter. The first—The Mystic—is a highly wrought narrative of the melancholy consequences of an over-excited imagination, as exemplified in the history of a young German student, a member of the Bürschen, a follower of the misunderstood doctrines of Kant, who becomes a tool of the Carbonari, and involves himself and family in one common ruin.

The Rational, is a lively sketch of a member of another class of German Philosophers, who, opposed to the Mystics, believe in nothing, value nothing that is not capable of mathematical demonstration. Our Rational is forced to acknowledge, through the artifices of a pretty cousin, that he could be influenced by things undreamt of in his philosophy.

The Treasure Seeker occupies the third volume. The scene lies partly in Vienna, partly amidst the Carpathian mountains, and is full of wild and romantic incident, lively and spirited sketches of character and scenery. One of the most prominent personages is Gyrwartz, the treasure seeker, one of a miserable set of wretches who believe in a legend, that ‘many of the followers of Alaric the Goth fled from Italy after his untimely death, laden with the gold and jewels which they had pillaged from Rome; and fearing to excite the avarice of their countrymen, by exhibiting their ill-gotten wealth, buried it in our mountains.’ Being slain in the wars of Lombardy and Spain, their treasures have remained undiscovered; and hundreds of wretches spend their lives in searching for them, subsisting on charity, and undergoing hardships which can scarcely be conceived. They believe farther, that when the followers of Alaric buried their treasures, they invoked the spirits of the mountains, with unholy rites, to take them into their charge; but that, at certain seasons of the year, when the moon comes in conjunction with some particular star, the spirits lose their power. Such is a prevalent belief in Hungary, acted upon by some through idleness or a thirst for gold, and by others as a cloak for violence and rapine.

These volumes are written with much spirit, and effect: the author is evidently familiar with the scenes which she describes, and presents them to the reader in all the freshness of vitality.

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