« AnteriorContinuar »
surname however, admits of no doubt as springing from the chief butlerage of Ireland, conferred by Henry II. on Theobold Fitzwalter in 1177." We find various descendants of Theobold sitting in the Parliaments of the Pale, and filling high offices, Lords Justices, &c. The Earldom of Ormond was granted to James Butler in 1328, by creation of King Edward III. James, third Earl, purchased the Castle of Kilkenny from the heirs of Sir Hugh le de Spencer, Earl of Gloucester in 1391, which has since been the principal seat of this family. The representatives of the House of Ormond were not alone distinguished by their pride of ancestry and martial deeds. Many of the Earls of Ormond were famed for a love of literature and extent of learning, quite remarkable in their time. We need not refer to higher authority than the compliment Edward IV. paid to the demeanour and conduct of John, the sixth Earl. "If good breeding and liberal qualities were lost in the world, they might be all found in the Earl of Ormonde." In a note to Hall's Ireland, vol. ii., is a curious letter stated to have been the reply of a very loyal man, Sir Piers Butler, Earl of Ossory, in answer to a proposal of the Earl of Kildare, that the two houses should unite their forces, take Ireland from the dominion of Henry VIII., and divide it between them. The Earl of Kildare to have one moiety, Earl of Ossory and his son Lord James Butler the other. "Taking pen in hand to write to you my absolute answer, I muse in the first line by what name to call you-my lord, or my cousin, seeing that your notorious treason hath impeached your loyalty and honour, and your desperate lewdness hath shamed your kindred. You are, by your expressions, so liberal in parting stakes with me, that a man would weene you had no right to the game; and so importunate for my company, as if you would persuade me to hang with you for good-fellowship. And think you, that James is so bad as to gape for gudgeons, or so ungracious as to sell his truth and loyalty for a piece of Ireland? Were it so (as it cannot be) that the chickens you reckon were both hatched and feathered; yet be thou sure, I had rather in this quarrel die thine enemy than live thy partner. For the kindness you proffer me, and goodwill, in the end of your letter, the best way I can propose to requite you, that is, in advising you, though you have fetched your fence, yet to look well before you leap over. Ignorance, error, and a mistake of duty hath carried you unawares to this folly, not yet so rank, but it may be cured. The king is a vessel of mercy and bounty; your words against his majesty shall not be counted malicious, but only bulked out of heat and impotency; except yourself by heaping of offences discover a mischievous and wilful meaning. Farewell."
The descendants of so straightforward a subject should partake of his spirit, and a hatred of court favourites appears a distinguishing feature in the characters of the Butlers. In Carte's life of the Duke of Ormond, we find the hostility of the Earl Thomas to Queen Elizabeth's minion, the Earl of Leicester, not confined to language. He used often tell her Majesty in plain terms that Leicester was a villain and a coward. Coming one day to Court he met Leicester in the anti-chamber who bidding him good-morrow said, "My lord of Ormonde, I dreamed of you last night." "What could you dream of me?" asked Ormonde. "I dreamed," says the other, "that I gave you a box on the ear." "Dreams," answered the Earl, "are to be interpreted by contraries;" and, without more ceremony, gave Leicester a hearty cuff on the ear. He was upon this sent to the Tower, but shortly after liberated.
The next instance of courage which tradition preserves, is related of James, afterwards Duke of Ormond, while yet a very young man about twenty-two years of age. He went to attend the Parliament in Dublin summoned by Wentworth, Lord Lieutenant to Charles I. The Lord Deputy had issued a proclamation forbidding any member of either house to enter with his sword. As the Earl of Ormond was passing the door of the House of Peers, the Usher of the Black Rod required his sword. The request being treated with silent contempt. He demanded it peremptorily, whereupon the Earl replied, "If he had his sword, it should be in his body, and haughtily strode to his seat. The Lord Deputy summoned the refractory Peer before the Privy Council, and called on him to answer for his conduct upon which, Lord Ormond said he acted under the oath of his investiture, that he received his title to attend Parliament cum gladio cinatus." The ability and courage of the young noble obtained him great applause, and the Deputy perceived he had better conciliate his friendship, than provoke his enmity. He accordingly heaped favours upon him; made him a Privy Councillor at the age of twenty-five. This lord was the father of one of the purest characters of that, or any age-the Earl of Ossory. Of him was it truly said—“His virtue was unspotted in the centre of a luxurious court; his integrity unblemished amid all the vices of the times; his honour intainted through the course of his whole life." "His Majesty," exclaimed Evelyn, on hearing of his death, "never lost a worthier subject, nor father a better or more dutiful son: a loving, generous, good natured and perfectly obliging friend-one who had done innumerable kindnesses to several before they knew it; nor did he ever advance any who were not worthy; no one more brave, more modest; none more humble, sober, and every way virtuous. Unhappy England! in this illustrious person's loss. What shall I add? He deserves all that a sincere friend, a brave soldier, a virtuous courtier, a loyal subject, an honest man, a bountiful master, and a good Christian, could deserve of his prince and country."
How affecting to turn from this fine panegyric, traced by the hand of generous friendship, revealing the peculiar excellent qualities of the deceased, and particularising each, to the passionate burst of grief; in which the bereaved Duke must have indulged, when the heir of his house lay a corpse before him; and what depth of feeling and sublime appreciation of the inestimable loss is contained in his reply to some expression of condolence-"I would not exchange my dead son for any living son in Christendom." Surely, such an instance of genuine regard for the illustrious dead must be remembered with pride by their descendants! How well the Earl of Ossory deserved the praise bestowed on him, and the universal grief felt at his death, may be seen from the following anecdote, which exhibits, strong filial piety and fearlessness of Court favourites which the King's presence could not restrain. Not long after the celebrated attempt of Blood to kill the Duke of Ormond, in which he had nearly succeeded, being on his way with him to Tyburn, where he resolved the Duke should hang, when he was rescued, the Earl of Ossory met the Duke of Buckingham, who was universally beloved, the instigator and protector of Blood, in the royal chamber, and thus addressed him while behind the King's chair. “My lord, I know well that you are at the bottom of this late attempt of Blood's upon my father; and therefore I give you fair warning, if my father comes to a violent death by sword or pistol, if he does by the hand of a ruffian, or the more secret way of poison,
I shall not be at a loss to know the real author of it. I shall consider you as the assassin, I shall treat you as such, and I shall pistol you, though you stood behind the King's chair; and I tell it you in his Majesty's presence, that you may be sure I will keep my word."
But we must bid adieu to this noble house. The present Marquis, born in 1808, came to the title on the death of his father in 1838; he is married to a daughter of General, the Hon. Sir Edward Paget, G.C.B., and it is to his taste and perseverance the Castle of Kilkenny owes its improved condition. We might suggest an alteration in the entrance, to preserve the harmony of the structure, which is unquestionably one of the most striking of our Irish Castles and Mansions.
SONG OF THE CAPTIVE ROBBER.
FROM THE RUSSIAN.
hush green forest, cease to pour
Thy murmurs on mine ear:
Thy voice, which I may hear no more,
Speaks sadly of the days of yore,
Troubling my wandering thoughts with fear;
And on the morrow I must stand
Before the mighty Tzar, with blood-stain'd hand!
THE DRAMA OF MODERN FRANCE.
No. III. THE CLASSIC SCHOOL.
FRANCE perhaps, even more than other nations which can boast of ages of civilization and greatness, has among its people, large and important bodies who cling with unalterable devotion to the feelings, manners and customs, of distinct and different periods. Thus do the advocates of the dethroned house of Bourbon invariably adopt the style and sentiment which characterised the courts of Louis the Great, and his unfortunate descendants. Thus too, there are many who to this day, in sorrow be it said, assume the bearing, and ape the antics of the hideous French republic. How dearly also do the Bonapartists attach themselves to the pompous fashion and grandiloquent tone of their brief, but magnificent empire; for, with them,
Cæsar, thou art mighty yet:
It is rather singular that the classic drama happens to be alike acceptable to royalist, republican, and imperialist. The supporter of the ancient regime fondly cherishes the school formed by the Corneilles and Racines of his boasted Ludovican age. The Girondist, or Terrorist, regards the classic stage as the best means of bringing to present and perspicuous view, the form and features of those Greek and Roman commonwealths, which the revolutionary party so viciously, and miserably endeavoured to copy. Again, the theatres of ancient Greece and Rome were in accordance with the amplified state and proud existence of a conqueror, whose models were Cæsar and Alexander. Indeed, during the continuance of Napoleon's sway, the classic drama was so popular, that the taste went to excess, and plays became the mere vehicles of cold, tedious and bombastic declamation. The Romantic school therefore had to contend against the fixed prejudices of these three parties, which it could never overcome. Its eminent success was with the rest of the people; but the classic drama still retained its hold upon a portion of the public. There were authors who wrote for it, and audiences who came to applaud it. Yet it would probably have followed the political decline of its favourers, and have sunk into very infrequent representation, or entire disuse, but for the appearance of an actress whose great genius has effected, for a time, the complete restoration of the classic stage. Mlle. Rachel has revived Corneille, and Racine, and rendered popular their modern imitators. This heroine of the Théatre Français resembles in personal dignity and grace, the master statues of antiquity: her mind is also with the ancients. Subdued by her wondrous art, the romancists themselves come once more to contemplate and to sympathize with the sorrows of Andromache, or the wrongs of the sister of Horatius. The writings of the classic drama are again in the ascendant. Among the more modern classic authors, the principal of later, or actual existence, are Laharpe, Chenier, Lemercier,
Ducis, Delavigne, Guiraud, Soumet and Latour. The "Philoctete" of Laharpe is a scholar-like and faithful imitation of a Grecian play. The Sieurs Chenier and Lemercier, (the latter afterwards deserted the classic cause) are eminent as poets, but as dramatists are now little thought of; their works, such as "Tiberius," "Clovis," "Agamemnon, are not, we believe, patronized by Mlle. Rachel. Guiraud is the author of the tragedies of "Les Machabées," and "Compte Julien," and others of more than passing merit. Ducis converted the plays of Shakespeare into classic dramas, and mainly owed his success to the acting of Talma. The reputation of Casimir De La Vigne is too well established to allow his works to be passed over, without more comment and consideration. M. De La Vigne is really a fine poet, and his writings frequently display much of elegant diction, and exquisite pathos. Unlike his romantic rivals, he never verges beyond the bounds of purity and propriety; indeed this is a virtue common to most authors of his school. La Vigne's four great tragedies, are "Don Juan d'Autriche," "Les Enfans d'Edouard," "Les Vêpres Siciliennes," and "Le Paria." We prefer the two latter, and therefore would especially notice them. "Les Vêpres Siciliennes," as its name announces, takes for plot that terrible massacre and extermination of the French, which occurred at Palermo, in 1282, and which has obtained the appellation of "The Sicilian Vespers.' The famous John of Procida, the instigator of the revolt, is introduced upon the scene, and his stern and determined character is well pourtrayed. The nature of the subject is however, little suited to the unity of time and place which a classic dramatist is obliged to observe. having, as in a Shakesperian play, the events of the fearful insurrection vividly presented to the audience, the story entirely depends on the descriptive accounts given by the various persons of the drama. Some of these narratives are, however, told with spirit, especially that of the heroine's confidant, Elfrida, who has witnessed the commencement of the massacre in the church of Palermo. Her relation is as follows; but of course the reader must make due allowance for the injury done to the original verse, by a translation into English prose.
Elfrida. "I slowly ascended the steps of the sanctuary, still strewed with flowers and sacred branches. The people, prostrated under those ancient arches, had begun to sing the psalms of the prophet-king, when a terrible sound shook the temple. The doors moved suddenly on their hinges. They opened. Aged men, distracted women, priests and soldiers who besieged the outlets, the former pursued, the latter threatening, the whole rushing against each other, burst over the threshold in multitudes. From mouth to mouth, fly the words 'War to Tyrants.' Priests repeat them with a savage look: children even respond. I wish to fly, but suddenly this increasing torrent closes the path. Our conquerors, whom a profane and rash love had to their destruction assembled at the foot of the sanctuary, calm though surprised, hear, without fear, the tumultuous cries of the enraged mob. Their swords glitter; numbers increase their courage. A cavalier rushes forward, opens a passage; he advances with precipitation. All yield to the strength of his arm: the dispersed ranks make way for him. He offers himself to their blows, without helmet or armour. 'It is Montfort,' they cry. To that shout succeeded a long murmur. 'Aye, traitors,' he exclaimed, 'my name alone, is a barrier to you. Fly from hence! He spoke thus indignantpale with wrath, and waved in the air his formidable sword, still reeking