The Knickerbocker (March 1835)


In a review published in its March 1835 issue, The Knickerbocker praises The Cavaliers of Virginia (1834–1835), a novel by William Alexander Caruthers.


We gave, in our last number, a brief notice of these charming volumes, then passing through the press. Reference was merely made to the scene, time, and general plan of the story, without adverting to the striking incidents, graphic descriptions, and well-delineated characters, with which it abounds. The work is, in the first place, strictly historical,—and it is almost the only American novel to which the same praise may be truly rendered. The time chosen, is an excellent era for the purposes of a novelist; the field of action is unfettered, and our author has not left these advantages unimproved: and while his principal personages stand out in bold relief, the subordinate performers in the drama are not less worthy of admiration. As the work is already extensively disseminated,—the first edition having been nearly exhausted,—we must content ourselves with the simple mention of much that has pleased us. The deep mystery which hangs around the Recluse,—the visit of the heroine to his romantic cave,—the beautiful portraits (and they preserve their distinctive characteristics throughout the volumes,) of Virginia Fairfax, and Wyanokee, the Indian girl,—the history and progress of the hero,—the battle between the Cavaliers and Roundheads, described in the first volume ‘the last convulsive, throe of the Independent faction in the British dominions of North America,’—the wedding scene in the chapel, with which the first volume concludes,—the scene at the stake in the opening of the second volume,—the escape of the hero from prison,—the finely-illustrated character of Sir William Berkley—these, with many other points, which the tether of our space will not permit us even to specify, will justify all the encomiums we have passed upon the ‘Cavaliers of Virginia.’ We should not forget to mention Brian O’Reily, a hopeful son of the Emerald Isle, who, although made to repeat his witticisms, now and then, and who is on the whole, rather too talkative, is nevertheless a most important adjunct in the story, and when his tongue is in motion, the reader will find original humor dropping from it, in no sparse scintillations. There is scarcely a task in the whole range of literature more difficult of execution, than a historical novel. It requires good discrimination, sound judgment, and a chastened imagination. We find in the one before us these characteristics, and another quality,—not its least agreeable feature,—a tone of high and patriotic American feeling.

APA Citation:
The Knickerbocker. The Knickerbocker (March 1835). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
The Knickerbocker. "The Knickerbocker (March 1835)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 18 May. 2024
Last updated: 2020, December 07
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