Whatever comes from the refined pen of Charlotte Smith, must surely be esteemed by all who look back with regret to the sterling of other days, and lament the dross of the present. This ex-cellent novel may be read without danger to the passions, and with certain improvement to the minds of our fair and gentle countrywomen. It is formed to grace a well-chosen library, and to be there preserved, while others linger out a baneful existence, and then sink into oblivion. The story of the elegant Ethelinde is not a mere jumble of incidents thrown together without regard to connection, plot, or moral, in order to increase the unwholesome trash which already weigh down the shelves of those repositories from whence so much mental poison is retailed out by the week, month, or year, to the destruction of hundreds. A poison prepared by literary hirelings, from the gross and hackneyed stores of a contaminated fancy, weakened by frequent use, and corrupted by impelling necessity, who whispers 'Write and eat.'
On the contrary, the interesting history of the Recluse of the Lake, is well planned, its incidents are happily chosen, and many of them deeply affecting. The author appears to have read the world; and, from the purest sources of reflection and recollection, written for its instruction.
[complete]. Provided by Julie Shaffer, July 1999