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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 12 - Volume 10.djvu/478

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392 NOTES AND QUERIES. r i2 S.X.MAT 20, 1922. original dimensions, began on Dec. 5, 1857. In November, 1858, when the fifty-second portion of ' Smiles and Tears : a Tale of Our Own Times,' had brought this continuously popular story of 110 chapters to an end, the publisher announced that Mr. John Fred- erick Smith (in " Bohemia " called " Jaef " j to distinguish him from the other Smiths then more or less conspicuous in the " City of Prague ") was ready with ' The Substance and the Shadow,' and assurance was given that it "surpasses in stirring incident and startling adventure the most popular pro- duction of this justly celebrated author." Care was taken not to mention any of the stories which had brought fame to the author and fortune to the proprietor of another periodical. ' Stanfield Hall ' (1849), ' Minni- grey'(1851), 'Amy Lawrence' (1851), 'The Will and the Way ' (1852), ' Woman and Her Master' (1853), and others, besides number- less miscellanies which had been the innocent delight and often the only instructive reading in thousands of humble homes in English- speaking countries, were never mentioned by the new proprietors of " Jaef." Never- theless, Mr. J. F. Smith was proudly claimed as one of the most popular novelists of the age. His works, in their original language, have met with the most unequivocal success not only in Eng- land but the Colonies and the United States of America, whilst translations of them, both in fastidious France, deep-thinking Germany, as well as in Spain, have been received most enthusiasti- cally. Few writers possess more varied powers. While awakening the interest of every intellectual reader, faithfully describing scenes of home life, graphically sketching the various phases of Eng- lish character, there is still so much insight into the human heart, and so much knowledge of human nature, that his tales are universally ac- ceptable. These are the characteristics of all truly great writers. They are not cribbed, cabined, and confined by national predilections. Their books have more than local interest ; they depend on no single or contemporary sympathy but are wide in their philanthropy and deep in their significance. . . . The characters which Mr. J. F. Smith has so ably drawn are realities ; they are the result of extensive experience and close observation. The scenes which he has described are no mere fancy sketches ; the stories which he has constructed have a truthfulness about them which ensures a lengthened vitality I The high moral tone of this gentleman's compo- sitions is a marked and honourable feature. He never panders to vice, nor paints the brutal and abandoned in attractive colours. While he has stood forth as the unflinching advocate of the poor, the wretched, and the ignorant, he has never shunned to denounce vice, whether clothed in rags or purple. We confidently believe that Mr. J. F. Smith has rendered essential service to the cause of human progress by his highly popular fictions. He is an undoubted favourite with the reading public and well deserves the success he has achieved. And, of course, the new employer bore witness that ' Smiles and Tears ' had " excited such universal sympathy that it has been generally pronounced the most suc- cessful work of Mr. J. F. Smith's prolific pen.' r Other goods scarcely less tasty were in the back numbers, which could be had " as soon as they have been reprinted." Readers had " followed with interest " the hairbreadth 'scapes of ' The Soldier of Fortune ' ; had joined company with ' Dick Tarleton ' in all the varied circumstances of his chequered career ; had watched the shifting scenes of ' The Phases of Life ' ; had " caught the the strain of the pibroch and gazed on the gallant march " of ' The Young Pretender.' And in later manifestos the publishers were obliged to exult that ' The Substance and the Shadow ' surpassed " in stirring interest and startling adventure the most popular and highly wrought productions of the justly- celebrated author." The ecstasy of the publisher regarding ' Molly Moyne ; or, Broken at Last ' was perhaps too profound for words, but in good sooth it is for " Jaef "a dull and common- place story about an old Manor House,. Rockingham Hall, which stood midway be- tween Lincoln and Sleaford in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, whence the tired writer jerks to the Italy of the Car- bonari and Cardinal Doria, and makes the then current war which created modern Italy an episode in his work. It galvanized the serial considerably, but bad begun made bad ended. ' Who is to Win ? or * The Stepmother,' which (after some unexplained delay) fol- lowed in July, 1860, is a tale of English domestic life, which, it was much too con- fidently predicted, would " be found to equal, if not to exceed, in interest any that the popular author has hitherto given to the public." It used to be buzzed in Fleet Street that when the publishers drew up that advertisement they were possessed of only two chapters of what they mentioned that " to supply an analysis of the plot would be to forestall injudiciously the vast amount of pleasure which we predict is reserved to our readers." ' Who is to Win ? ' struggled on through 66 chapters, lingering until February, 1861 ; and It was followed in June of the same year by the 66-chaptered ' Sowing and Gathering,' a story of the same