OR, THE ABBEY OF SAINT OSWYTHE (1801)
T. J. HORSLEY CURTIES
The succeeding pages, like the [author's earlier novel, Ethelwina, or the] HOUSE OF FITZ-AUBURN, owe all their story to the imagery of, perhaps, a too heated imagination. Its mysteries its terrific illusions its very errors must be attributed to a love of Romance, caught from an enthusiastic admiration of Udolpho's unrivalled Foundress. He follows her through all the venerable gloom of horrors, not as a kindred spirit, but contented, as a shadow, in attending her footsteps.
As this species of writing has of late been feebly attacked, I will venture a few observations on the subject. Authors of Novels are nearly allied to those of Romance are twin-sisters, and should be equally allied in affection; but as sisters will sometimes envy and disagree when the one has been more admired than the other, so the Writers of Novels, jealous of us humble architects, will not suffer us to build our airy castles, or mine our subterranean caverns unmolested.
Let me enlarge a little further on this theme. Ought the female Novelist, in order to display a complete knowledge of human nature, to degrade that delicate timidity, that shrinking innocence which is the loveliest boast of womanhood in drawing characters which would ruin her reputation to be acquainted with? Ought she to describe scenes which bashful modesty would blush to conceive an idea, much less avow a knowledge of? Oh no! let the chaste pen of female delicacy disdain such unworthy subjects; leave to the other sex a description of grovelling incidents, debased characters, and low pursuits: there is still a range wide and vast enough for fanciful imagination; but when female invention will employ itself in images of the grosser sort, it is a fatal prediction of relaxed morals, and a species of at least LITERARY PROSTITUTION.
[SOURCE: T. J. Horsley Curties, Ancient Records, or, The Abbey of Saint Oswythe. A Romance (4 vols) (London: Minerva Press, William Lane, 1801), vol. 1, pp. viviii]
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