Colburn’s Modern Novelists. Vol IV. Tremaine; or, the Man of Refinement. By Robert Plumer Ward, Esq. Vol. 1. Revised Edition. 1835.
Who is there that has not read Mr Ward’s ‘Tremaine?’ Who is there that, once having read that work, does not wish to read it again and again? Fine taste and excellent feeling are equally apparent in selecting this valuable production for one of the early portions of the new series of ‘Modern Novelists;’ for “we are very sure,” as a writer in ‘The New Monthly Magazine’ observes, “that its appearance at the present time, and in its present new and most agreeable shape, may be productive of great good , of good infinitely beyond the temporary gratification of one’s interest or humour, in its more ordinary resources as a novel.” The same writer, entering critically and at large into the subject, also remarks, that ‘ Tremaine’, “Was written to develope no system of fanciful excellence, but it brought the stores of a richly-cultivated mind, aud of an observant experience, to bear upon a story of real life, fictitious only in narrative, and whose purpose was to display in practical colouring, and with an antidote beside them, many of those dangerous evils which lie too thickly all around us in the everyday world. This is done in no dictatorial spirit, but with the helps of a light and tender narrative, which, while they enliven and interest the fancy, never derogate in the least from the deeper point brought forward for investigation. The theological learning displayed in ‘Tremaine’ is remarkably extensive, and yet displayed with a modest and unobtrusive effect, which is to the last degree emphatic and availing. Its greater purposes do not seem to interfere with its lighter and more fanciful characteristics; and while, in its newest gloss of favour, some took to it with all the relish of an interesting fiction, others had been deeply affected with the importance of its truth, and were already impressing its perusal on their friends as the performance of a religious duty. This it is, if one may speak in Burke’s phraseology, to mitigate philosophers into companions, and compel wisdom to submit to the soft collar of social esteem. In our love and liking for the one, we can appreciate the benefits, without submission be it said, than is in any of my Lord Bolingbroke’s moral or philosophical observations.”
The embellishments of this volume are the best that have yet appeared: a striking and highly characteristic portrait of Mr. Ward; and a chastely-designed beautiful vignette.
From: The Court Journal: Gazette of the Fashionable World. April 4, 1835, No. 310.