We are by no means surprised that this work should have passed through the first edition before we had an opportunity of stating our opinion of its merits. The public have, by the extensiveness of its circulation, given a decisive verdict in its favour; and though we would not lay it down as a universal rule that the public voice is the voice of just taste, yet we must observe, that the general approbation bestowed upon a story like that under our consideration, “simple in its construction and humble in its pretensions,” affords strong presumptive evidence that it is calculated strongly to arrest the attention and to interest the feelings. This conclusion, which we drew from the circumstances in which it was submitted to our notice, was amply confirmed by its perusal. Seldom have we met with any combination of incidents, real or imaginary, which possessed more of the deeply pathetic. The moral inculcated by this tale is seriously impressive. It exhibits in the most affecting point of view the misery consequent upon the illicit indulgence of the passions; and the effect of the awful lesson which it teaches is not impaired by any intermixture of levity of dialogue or pruriency of description. The style of the authoress is elegant and correct, free from ambitious ornament, and never degenerating into colloquial negligence. We will not, by analyzing the story of the Father and Daughter, diminish the pleasure of such of our readers as may be induced to read the work itself; but, as a specimen of Mrs. Opie’s skill in composition, we shall make an interesting extract, only premising that the heroine, Agnes Fitzhenry, after having been tempted by the wiles of Clifford to quit her indulgent father, and, after the lapse of a considerable space of time, being convinced of the villany of her seducer, is represented as returning in the dreariness of a winter’s night to the house of her parent.
[Quotes the scene in which Agnes meets the mad Fitzhenry, from “Agnes was now arrived at the beginning of a forest” to “Agnes beheld her father!!!”]