Art. 26. - Leonora; by Miss Edgworth [sic]. 8vo. 2 Vols. Johnson. 1806.
The professors of modern philosophy have been already hunted down by moral writers with such vigour that we trust very few of the race remain; but while a single animal of this description exists, the efforts towards a complete extermination must not be relaxed: - there is now less glory in the enterprize, but the attempt is in itself always meritorious.
This novel is written in a series of letters. Leonora is a virtuous woman, and attributing the report which she hears of Olivia's conduct to the mischievous spirit of scandal and to the malignity of envy, invites her to her house as an asylum from the persecutions of the malicious. Olivia is a professor of the modern philosophy, and has no other conceptions of the rules of right and wrong, than of roles for the game of whist, which may be very useful in the game of life, but which may be broken through or complied with in any particular emergency. She comes ripe from France, a determined foe to all those restraints which confine tide-less blooded females within  the pale of virtue and decorum, and, as might naturally be expected, she shews her gratitude to Leonora by seducing the affections of her husband. Leonora's mother, the Duchess of ---, is fully aware of Olivia's character, and warns her daughter of the danger of introducing such a guest, such a 'she-wolf of France,' into her domestic circle, in a strain so replete with discrimination and good sense, that, if it were not too long for our purpose, we could with pleasure quote her whole first letter to her daughter.
Olivia's character is pourtrayed with a strong pencil, and the whole novel is written with great spirit. The sixth letter is an excellent specimen of moral reasoning. [complete]
Provided by Julie A. Shaffer, January 2000