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Catherine Anne Austen (Mrs. Hubback) is well-known and highly esteemed as a writer; for her novels are in themselves good, and they have additional interest as coming from the niece of Miss Austen. The consequences of this singular regard have been most beneficial to Mrs. Hubback in literature. Mrs. Hubback has been and promises to be the most prolific creator of novels, for we believe that The Younger Sister, The Wife's Sister, The Rival Suitors, The Old Vicarage, May and December, Malvern, Life and its Lessons, and Agnes Milbourne, are not all the fictions which have proceeded from her pen since the commencement of 1850. (Novels and novelists: from Elizabeth to Victoria by John Cordy Jeaffreson, 1858)
The novel contains several romantic scenes, among others, the breaking down of two railway bridges, and the siege of a small Welsh cottage by a bull, somewhat after the fashion of the Anaconda in Monk Lewis's tale of wonder. While travelling to Newcastle, Agnes Milbourne meets Bernard Maxwell and falls in love with him. In Scotland Agnes Milbourne fell under the influence of the eager and unpleasant Miss Atkinson, who did what was possible to dragoon Agnes out of the Church into the Kirk. But meddlers rarely escape soot-free,—and in so doing the disagreeable Ann Atkinson very nearly lost the pet preacher to whom she had paid her addresses, and who had reluctantly consented to receive the same. Agnes Milbourne fell in his way, and he fell in love with her; but a copy of ‘The Christian Year,’ and other aids and helps, not the smallest of which was an unexceptionable cousin Hannah, won the battle. Agnes was shocked at Mr. Craig, wandered back from the Kirk door to the Church chancel, and, by doing so, became an eligible wife for Bernard the orthodox, who would have had nothing to do with a heretic wife.
The Athenaeum, 1856 — There was a song, or a farce, or a street saying, we forget which, current a year or two since, and its burden was "Why did you send your Wife to Camberwell!" Mrs. Hubback will probably be shocked at the levity of any one who says that her religious tale irresistibly brought back to us that once familiar question. "Why did you let Agnes Milbourne go to Scotland?” considerate critics have a right to inquire. The young Lady was disposed to remain quietly in union with the Church of England till she went northward, when under the pressure of sorrow, to pay a visit to some disagreeable Presbyterians,—and the consequences of this were that she herself narrowly escaped becoming a Presbyterian (and of course disagreeable, too), and thereby losing a charming Church-of-England husband, with whom she could not, or would not, wed if their Churches were to turn out different. There is no need for us to apportion the several quantities of faith, hope and charity contained in and moralised by a fable such as this. We are not pious enough to relish the tone of argument,—we are not irreligious enough to find the strained tones of some of its scenes and combinations amusing.