British Fiction, 18001829

ANON. Tales of Four Nations (1829)

Contemporary Reviews

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

With little originality of incident or display of character, the perusal of ‘Tales of Four Nations,’ in three volumes, may, nevertheless, afford a few hours’ amusement to the lovers of light reading. They consist of five tales—The Hunter’s Oak, a narrative partly historical, partly fictitious, founded on events in the War of the Roses, occupying the first volume and a half; The Bereaved, a tale of domestic interest, the scene of which lies in France;—The Palace of Chapultepec, a story of modern Mexico;—The Château near the Lake, a Prussian Nouvellette;—and the Ambuscade, the scene of which is the Cornish coast, and the principal actors a band of smugglers, and their brave and victorious opponents the officers and crew of a British frigate. With reference to the first of these—the Hunter’s Oak—we would suggest to the author—of whom this work is evidently the first literary essay—that although ‘Fiction can claim unbounded rule,’ it is only in the realms of Fancy, and that her sway is unacknowledged over characters and events of historic record. We cannot, therefore, view with complacence, Clifford, ‘the Butcher,’ the murderer of the young Duke of Rutland, ‘on the side of the Yorkists’—a suitor for the hand of a daughter of the Earl of Warwick—a companion of, and fellow guest with, Edward the Fourth. The style is somewhat crude and diffuse; and in the event of the writer’s again appearing before the public, we recommend to him, in all kindness of feeling, to be less minute in his details of costume, and subjects of even minor importance. These volumes are dedicated with much propriety, in terms of admiration and affectionate esteem, to Miss Jane Porter and Miss Anna Maria Porter.

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