Imagens das páginas

start and stop short at what immediately follows. The passage just extracted we consider highly eloquent and powerful—ihat we are about to quote, which is in uninterrupted continuation, seems to us to be really all words. To our mind it conveys no definite idea, it gives rise to no thought-it in fact sacrifices meaning to sound. We extract it as an apt exemplification of the over-writing of which we have complained, and which our readers might begin to think we had overcharged, as we have cited only one instance of it. But there are reasons of every kind to make us extract the beauties rather than the faults:

The orbs of creation; the islands of light which float in myriads on the ocean of the universe ; suns that have no number, pouring life upon worlds that, untravelled by the wings of Seraphim, spread through the depths of space without end; these are to the eye of God but the creatures of a lesser exertion of His power, born to blaze, to testify His glory and to perish! But Virtue is more precious than all worlds—an emanation, an essence of Himself-more ethereal than the angels-more durable than the palaces--of Heaven !--the mightiest masterpiece of Him who set the stars upon their courses, and filled Chaos with an universe! Though cast into this distant earth, and struggling on the dim arena of a human heart, all things above are spectators of its conflict, or enlisted in its cause. The angels have their charge over it--the banners of arch-angels are on its side; and from sphere to sphere, through the illimitable ether, and round the impenetrable darkness, at the feet of God, its triumph is hymned by harps, which are strung to the glories of its Creator !

The one position meant to be laid down in the above passage we admit is discernible; but the illustrations by which it is accompanied are to us wholly incomprehensible.

Such images as

suns that have no number," * worlds, untravelled by the wings of Seraphim,”—in short, the whole of the mass of figures here collected, give not, as far as we can conceive, any sort of help or ornament to the assertion, which in itself is undoubtedly fine, that the Almighty values Virtue above all his physical creations.

The catastrophe of Mordaunt's story is given with much pathos. In consequence of certain circumstances brought about very naturally, he is restored to his possessions; and the news reach him at the very moment his wife is expiring through the effects of need! She dies comforted and grateful that they will be felt by him no more.

This scene, which is done very touchingly, we call the catastrophe of the story, in contradiction to Mordaunt's own, which does not occur for a volume and a half later. We confess, we think it would have been better if it had ended in this place*. Not that we in any degree desire to lose either the general metaphysical discussion which the author, somewhat amusingly, places in one mass together, with a note to direct the impatient reader who may not relish such topics, where he may skip to ;-we do not, we say, desire to lose either this, or the more general description of Mordaunt's mind and feelings in the latter part of the book. But, we confess, we think by far the greater part of them, certainly the whole of the formal disquisition, might be placed earlier with equal effect. We admit that the description of the progress of the daughter is done with much delicacy and interest-al

* Of course we are here speaking only of Mordaunt's branch of the book.


though, probably, at too great length. But we question whether that alone is worthy of prolonging the tale;-and the whole circumstances of his death, with its very improbable physical means, and all its omens and foreshadowings morally, we would very willingly give up. We may here add, that the character of the immediate agent of his death, Wolfe the republican, is very powerfully, though very painfully, drawn.

We have gone too much at length into the consideration of this book to venture upon the metaphysical lecture to which we have already alluded. It would, indeed, take an essay in itself to do fair and full justice to it;—for that which formed the excuse of its existence in its present shape, is likewise ours for not discussing itviz., that such things should be done fully and thoroughly, or not at all. We must say, however, that, in our humble jndgment, we think it displays both much thought and much information.

Neither shall we, for the same reasons, and for others above hinted, (-to say nothing of our fear of boring our readers with a dose of double-distilled metaphysics—viz., once by the author and once by us—) give any further précis of Mordaunt's course. There are in it some touches of great power, and several of very amiable feeling. But we must again express our annoyance at the host of omens, physical as well as moral—" gouts of blood,” for instance, on the floor,—which precede Mordaunt's death. Surely these are not the results of the study of morals in their elevated sense.

There is another point, also, which came across us very unpleasantly: viz., those passages-and there are, we think, three of considerable length-in which the author speaks of himself and his feelings in very

lavish detail. These things are real, fictitious, or a mixture of both—and, in any case, it would be much better taste to omit them; more especially as a lady-whose connection with himself it is impossible to mistake-is constantly alluded to, nay, directly invoked, throughout these very singular passages, in a manner which, to say

the least of it, gives the reader very awkward feelings. We hope, if the work run to a second edition, these may be omitted. The four volumes could spare

that much. On the whole, we do not think there is anything in the Disowned so good as the very best parts of Pelham; but there is nothing (unless it be the Copperases, or some bits of Mr. Brown) that is not much better than its inferior parts. We think the Disowned evinces much more mind than the former work-more sound and valuable information; and, at all events, that it confirms beyond a doubt, the belief that the author of these books is anything but an ordinary person.

[ocr errors]


No. I.-The Tower. A CHANCE circumstance caused me, a few days ago, to make a visit in the Tower. “Well, if I am to go to the Tower," I exclaimed, “I will see it in due form, throughout.”

When I arrived there, I found that my friend whom I went to visit, had taken care that I should see its “ curiosities," as they are there technically termed, to the greatest effect-for he had engaged a warder to shew us through them, who himself was as great a curiosity as any he displayed. He was the very beau idéal of what the cicerone of such a place should be. His veneration for every thing he displayed—his pertinacity in sticking to the established text, when any little historical discrepancy caused us to put some questions which seemed to impugn the received reading-and above all, his mingled sorrow, hatred, and scorn of the doings of Dr. Meyrick in putting the armour, in the horse-armoury, into chronological order—these, and divers other similar characteristics, caused our worthy guide to be more thoroughly in keeping with the place than it was possible to hope for. I wonder Sir Walter Scott has never immortalized this man. He would form the chief attraction of any work in which he might be transferred to the Gothic hall of some old castle-if, indeed, it would not be too great a degradation for the worthy warder to sink from royal to only noble service. He knows full well the difference of degree, as will be seen anon.

We were first taken to the Spanish Armoury, so called from its containing the spoils of what was vainly called the · Invincible Armada.' At the door are two figures, the analogy of which to either the armoury or the Armada, I vainly attempted to discover. They are representatives of Gin and Beer! These estimable statues are,


suppose, of stone-but, as they are coloured, it is difficult to distinguish their material, One has in his hand a quartern of gin, the other a pot of beer-exceedingly typical of London generally, but how of this particular arsenal, I vainly, even by questions to my erudite guide, attempted to discover. But-oh! Hogarth, let not thy spirit hear there is not, as in the immortal representations of Gin Lane and Beer Street, any indication of the terrible difference between the effects of these two civic beverages ;-the worthy type of Beer, is, indeed, sturdy and stout as he should be; but eke is he of Gin! There is nothing of the squalor, the disease, the frenzy which are so fearfully represented in Hogarth's print. Would that a copy of it, finely coloured, to attract the eyes of incipient gin-drinkers, were stuck up opposite to every gin-shop in London ; with “ See the ruin which comes from Blue Ruin," written underneath! And the stout, healthy effigies which represents that liquor at the Tower should be cashiered—or rather some gastronomic Dr. Meyrick should discover that, like the armour, it has been misappropriated, and that in truth the gastronomic representatives of English strength and courage, at the door of the receptacle of the edils of one of their most glorious victories, should be Beef and Beer.

Upon entering the Spanish Armoury, I found that there were many English things also--and some of a date prior to the Armada. There is, in particular, a very extraordinary cannon-inasmuch as it, and its fellows, occasioned the English, in days of yore, completely to outwit the French, and beat them by dint of craft instead of dint of blows. It is a wooden cannon, made perfectly to represent an iron one, and which in fact appears so even as you stand near it. It is one of several made by Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, when he besieged Boulogne, in the reign of Henry VIII. He found that the roads were impassable for heavy battering cannon; he, therefore, caused a number of these make-believes to be constructed— fitted them properly in batteries in considerable numbers—and then summoned the garrison, with allusion to his means of destruction. The towii surrendered without a shot-which, indeed, on the English side, it would have been difficult to fire. This cannon is quaintly named Policy.

There are two other weapons, if I may so term one of them, of Henry VIII.'s time, singularly in contrast to each other, as regards their use, and the associations attached to each. The first of these is a large bülký staff—the knob at the top of which contains three matchlock pistols, with a sort of dagger or bayonet in the centre. This is Henry VIII.'s walking staff; and, with it, he is represented to have traversed the streets at night, to see that the city-watch kept good order. There is an anecdote told of him, with reference to this very formidable looking instrument, which shews him more as the bluff, good-humoured King Hal, which he is represented to have been in his youth, and which Shakspeare, with courtly deference to his royal mistress, has too much depicted him in his play, before the long indulgence of self-will made him the heartless and bloody tyrant which he was in the latter part of his reign. The anecdote runs that, one winter's night, when he was playing the Haroun Alraschid, he was encountered by a watchman at the Bridge-foot, who wanted to know what business he had wandering about the city at night with so formidable a weapon as his staff. What the King answered is not on record; but it ended in his being carried off to the Poultry Compter, and there lodged for the night. The strange part of the story is that the luxurious Harry did not then declare who he was—for he was shut up without fire or candle, and became so befrozen, and it would seem, hungry also, that the next day, when the declaration of his rank had freed him, he made a grant of 30 chaldrons of coals and a large allowance of bread, by the year, for ever; to the Poultry Compter, that unhappy night-prisoners might have fair warmth and food. He also granted the parish of St. Magnus, an annual stipend of twenty-three pounds and a mark—and rewarded the constables, who were quaking with fear, for having done their duty. I was assured in the Tower that these grants are still paid—and, which is rather better authority, Maitland, in his History of London, says that they were at the time he wrote. *

This lively and good humoured proceeding is in šad contrast with the other instrument of which I have spoken. It is the axe by which Anne Boleyn was beheaded. The ideas excited by this execution are always most painful; for, without going into the absurd one-sided feelings with which the history of that reign is usually written and read, and crying her up as a martyr, it is quite possible to have the sincerest pity for Anne Boleyn's fate. That her conduct was light and imprudent there can bë no doubt-but that there was no evidence, worthy of credit, to prove more—and that there was none to establish the most atrocious of the accusations brought against her, is equally certain. To say nothing of her constant, and very beautiful, declarations of innocence to the last, the spirit in which the whole prosecution was conducted is alone sufficient to excite the strongest commiseration for any party so tried. Guilty or innocent, Henry had determined she should be found guilty-and, once such a resolution was known, there was no chance for the accused. He married Jane Seymour the day after Anne Boleyn's execution.

* This work was published in 1756.

This axe, it is said, also inflicted death upon Lord Essex !—The instrument itself is remarkable in formation; the blade is exceedingly broad and large, and the handle, one would think, too slight effectually to wield such a ponderous head. It is made, also, for a lefthanded person. But how remarkable is the moral contrast which the events in which it figured present! Essex, whose whole proceedings after his return from Ireland, were wild and headlong to the most extraordinary extent, is, in every way, as opposite to Anne as it is possible to conceive. Yet there are points of resemblance, too: each had been beloved by the reigning sovereign ; and, from the highest favour, sank suddenly into total helplessness. And, faulty as Essex was, it is scarcely possible not to pity him—for his crimes are not of an order to excite the feelings against him. And the story of the ring—which, unlike most of the romantic stories in history, I fully believe to be true-hacknied as it is, always carries something exceedingly touching along with it.

But the Spanish Armoury still deserves its name—for it is nearly filled with the relics of the Armada. In the first place—not that she can be exactly considered a relic of the Armada—is a figure of Queen Elizabeth on horseback in the dress in which shewent to St. Paul's to return thanksgivings for the defeat of the Armada, but in the attitude in which she viewed and harangued her troops at Tilbury camp. At least so we are assured in a very valuable publication, entitled —" A new and improved History and Description of the Tower of London," which is printed by J. King, College Hill, and sold (besides at divers booksellers) at the Armouries to visiters only, at the moderate price of sixpence.-This effigy of the maiden Queen is covered with “ crimson velvet, crimson silk, green velvet, gold lace, white silk, flowers, spangles, diamonds, pearls, &c.”—or, to use a military phrase, things which “ do duty as such.” There is a great deal of skill displayed in the typographical arrangement of this description, in the valuable work abovementioned. It states the Queen to be just outside a magnificent tent, on the south side of which is a transparency representing a vessel arriving with the news of the destruction of the Armada ; while at the east and west end of the tent are

This word is in the middle of the last line of a right-hand page; the skill of the printer or author determines upon not finishing the line-no—the expectation of the reader is excited-he turns over the leaf hastily—and he finds that


« AnteriorContinuar »