The Foe in the Household

BY CAROLINE CHESEBRO. Boston : James R. Osgood & Co.
To those who read Miss Chesebro’s beautiful story as it appeared from month to month in these pages, we need not, we suppose, say much in its praise ; for its charm must have been felt already. To our thinking, it deserves to rank with the very best of American fictions, and is surpassed only by Hawthorne’s romances and Mrs. Stowe’s greatest work. It has a certain advantage over other stories in the freshness of the life and character with which it is employed ; but it required all the more skill to place us in intelligent sympathy with the people of the quaint sect from whom most of its persons are drawn. It is so very quietly and decently wrought, that perhaps the veteran novel-reader, in whom the chords of feeling have been rasped and twanged like fiddle-strings by the hysterical performance of some of our authoresses, may not be at once moved by it ; but we believe that those who feel realities will be deeply touched. Delia Holcombe, in her lifelong expiation of her girlish error, is a creation as truthful as she is original; and in her sufferings through her own regrets, the doubts of her unacknowledged daughter, the persecutions of Father Trost, the unsuspicious tenderness of her second husband, all the high ends of tragedy are attained ; and the tragedy is the more powerful since in time it has become a duty rather to hide than to confess her deceit. Her character is admirably studied, and so is that of Father Trost, and in their degree, Friend Holcombe’s, Deacon Ent’s, Doctor Detwiler’s, John Edgar’s. No character in the book is feebly done ; and the persons of merely episodic passages, like the Guildersleeves and Annie Gell, are thoroughly realized.
No book of our time has combined such high qualities of art and morals with greater success than “ The Foe in the Household,” for which, in the interest of pure taste and sentiment, we could not desire too wide a currency.