1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Brockden Brown

Anonymous, in "Of Wieland, and other Novels, by Charles Brockden Brown" American Monthly Magazine 1 (January 1824) 43.



In works of imagination in particular, where amusement rather than instruction is sought for, profundity of thought, and aptitude for correct moralization, are not so likely to gain readers, as vivacity of narration, variety and rapidity of incident, and accuracy and force of drawing and discriminating characters. The writer of the novels before us, possessed the former qualifications in perfection. Of the latter, he has, in these works, afforded us but little indication. His inventive powers are great, and the events he narrates surprising; but the are too often miraculous, and that too without any satisfactory explanation. This is a great fault; but on account of the extraordinary depth of thinking that pervades the works, the reader might forgive it, if the general air of the characters and transactions were not too foreign from those of real life; if the perpetual elevation, and uniform dignity of the language did not render it monotonous and tiresome; and, above all, if the profound moralizing strain of the Godwin school, in which none ever excelled this writer, did not intrude too often, and continue too long, between the incidents of the story.