WILEY & PUTNAM’S Library of choice Reading.—Headlong Hall and Nightmare Abbey.
This is a witty, amusing book, yet rather in the way of squib, than of dart from the bow of a strong and far-sighted archer. The sort of wit that consists in making a single person the representative of an opinion or a whim, and making it comic by its excess and its consequent unbearable clashing with the whims of other men, was carried to perfection by the old English dramatists, where each man stood behind his “humor” as behind a waxen mask. You longed to melt it, and see whether the man’s natural face, if it made you laugh less, would not also tire you less. Give us comedy like that of Cervantes and Molière, where the men, with all their oddities and follies, were really men, and the nose two feet long had behind it a real body of average size. Caricature will only bear a glance, and we confess that only pages here and there of these playful fictions were readable to us.*
“Wiley & Putnam’s Library . . .” New-York Daily Tribune, 12 May 1845, p. 1.