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much to censure in the style of this volume, we look upon it as the depository of the most ample and recent information which we possess concerning the countries that were the principal objects of the author's attention. His notices of Hanover, Germany, and the Netherlands, are few and superficial.
We cannot conclude without reminding Mr. Wilson of some very careless sentences which he allowed to lapse from his pen. We shall select but three or four out of ten times the number which we might have marked.
• Nature must, unquestionably, be held as a book, every page of which is rich with hints of a sacred and instructive nature:'-pp. 100, 101. . . It must be allowed, that we are all inclined to eat more, nay double the quantity, that nature requires.'— p. 122. Errors of the press can be no excuse here, for the construction of the sentence is radically ungrammatical.
• The town of Orebro may be classed among one of the principal in Sweden.'- p. 164.
One example more, and we shall have done with this unpleasant labour.
• After he had kneeled down, and prayed with two clergymen, who accompanied him, he laid down on his face on a block. - p. 220.
Such instances of bad composition are so rare in modern works, that we were quite surprised to meet them in the production of an author who has written so much as Mr. Rae Wilson.
Art. VIII. Woodstock; or, The Cavalier. A Tale of the Year Sixteen
Hundred and Fifty-one. By the Author of " Waverley," &c. 3 Vols.
8vo. Edinburgh. Archibald Constable and Co. 1826. W hatever may be the opinion of the public as to their appetite for new additions to the Waverley library, the work before us affords abundant proof that the author's capability of producing them is, as yet, far from being exhausted. We cannot, indeed, aver that ; Woodstock’ is destined to be enumerated among the best of his works. His warmest admirers must, we should think, allow that it is greatly inferior to 6 Ivanhoe,” “ The Antiquary,” and “ Rob Roy;" but they may well insist that it is as greatly superior to “ The Abbot,” “ The Monastery,” and those other minor creations, which, by general consent, have been already exiled to the regions of undisturbed repose.
« Woodstock' is chiefly remarkable for the dramatic impetuosity and variety of passion and of action which pervade it. It presents scarcely more than one or two characters which wear an appearance of novelty to those who are acquainted with the former works of this prolific author. We have a knight, Sir Henry Lee,
who resembles the Baron of Bradwardine, without the broader shades of his eccentricity; a lovely maid, his daughter, Alice, who is moulded in every respect on the engaging character of Flora Mac-Ivor, without that intense and elevated enthusiasm by which the Scottish heroine was distinguished. The portrait of Waverley himself is not, in the main, unlike that of Markham Everard, the lover of Alice; and the youthful Charles II. is scarcely to be distinguished from the young Pretender.
The most prominent persons in the story are decidedly Cromwell and a cavalier, Roger Wildrake. It appears to us that, upon the whole, the character of the former is pourtrayed in a masterly style. The author follows the best authorities in representing him as an enthusiast, whom the sincere profession of certain religious tenets, and the political activity springing out of them, had first raised to eminence among his equals, but who then becoming fired by ambition and success, followed up those tenets, and exaggerated his profession of them, not because they afforded him any spiritual happiness, but as they supplied him with the most efficacious instruments for the promotion and consolidation of his power. Some of the lesser features in Cromwell's character are also developed in - Woodstock’ with great felicity ; such as his confused style of eloquence, when he wished to mystify his auditors, and to refrain from committing himself; that occasional mental inebriety that urged him to issue orders, of which, in a cooler moment, he repented ; and that secret remorse, which, even in the height of his power, and under the external appearance of the most reckless hardihood, perpetually reminded him of his share in the death of his sovereign. If we have any thing to object to the character of that extraordinary republican, as depicted in the tale before us, it is, that it seems to be invested with too great a portion of dramatic parade. As his personal history has been transmitted to us by his contemporaries, it seems to elude the reach of exact personation. His rude simplicity, his contempt for forms, the quickness of his resolution, and its speedy appearance in action, conspire to confound those lines of shade and light which are so essential to the perfection of a dramatic hero. Our author, however, sometimes endeavours to displace Cromwell's plain doublet for “ the sceptered pall,” and to render his eloquence more clear and emphatic, and his demeanour more conducive to theatrical effect, than the truth of history will warrant.
But the · Cavalier Wildrake is a perfect picture of his class. Here there is not a single touch of exaggeration. He is one of the loyal, unfortunate, impoverished, gay, licentious gentlemen of the day, waked from the tomb, and presented to us at the most racy period of his existence. Faithful, under every circumstance, to the young King, he yet accepts favours from any one who is disposed to afford them, and ready to undertake any service for friend or enemy,
provided it will afford him the means of renewing his inveterate habits of dissipation. But we anticipate. We must, in some degree, follow the order of the tale.
It begins in the early part of September, 1651, soon after the battle of Worcester, when, in consequence of the utter destruction of his army by the republican forces under Cromwell, Charles II. was compelled to fly. The reader is aware that the unfortunate monarch, in order to provide for his safety, separated himself from fifty or sixty of his companions who had accompanied him from Worcester, and that, without imparting his intentions to them, he went to Boscobel, a lone house on the borders of Staffordshire, belonging to a farmer named Penderell, who, together with his four brothers, faithfully protected the King for some days. It was while under the safeguard of the Penderells that he had, on one occasion, taken refuge in an oak-tree, and heard his pursuers pass beneath him. From Boscobel he proceeded to Bristol, disguised as a poor farmer's son ill of an ague, in the hope that he might there find a ship in which to escape ; but being disappointed in that expectation, he entrusted himself to Colonel Windham of Dorsetshire, whose family was long distinguished for its affectionate fidelity to the house of Stuart. They proved their attachment to the King on this perilous occasion; and so complete was his seclusion, that it was generally believed he was dead. During his stay at Colonel Windham's, his friends, after many disappointments, succeeded in providing a vessel at Shoreham, in Sussex, which Charles reached in safety, after passing through many adventures in different disguises. The vessel conveyed him to Fesamp, in Normandy.
Such are the well authenticated particulars of the life of Charles between his flight from Worcester and his escape from the coast; and it will be seen at once that to the unrivalled powers of the author of " Waverley” they presented the foundation of a tale which required but little exertion from his creative hand to be rendered dramatic and interesting in the highest degree. It will be observed that he has changed the scene from Colonel Windham's to Woodstock, where, with the license of his art, he protracts the existence of Rosamond's bower and the lodge adjoining it, which were thrown down during the civil wars under Charles I. Colonel Lee takes the place of Windham, and his son and daughter compensate us for the absence of that venerable old matron, who expressed her delight in being reserved to be instrumental towards the preservation of the young King, after having lost three sons and one grandchild in defence of his father. There seems to be no other reason for transferring the principal scenes of the story from Dorsetshire to Woodstock, than that the supposed continuance of Rosamond's bower might be made use of in lengthening out the narrative, in heightening the interest of the incidents, and conducting them to a dramatic conclusion.
• The first volume is chiefly conversational. Dialogue forms the favourite means, as they certainly are the only legitimate ones, which the author usually adopts for introducing his characters, as well as displaying the manners of the period of which he treats, to his readers. We are accordingly first led to the parish-church of the town of Woodstock during the time of service, which is performed, not according to the ritual of the Church of England, but upon the Presbyterian model, by the Rev. Nehemiah Holdenough. We should rather have said that the service was attempted to be performed by this reverend gentleman, for no sooner does he mount the pulpit, than he is forcibly dragged from it by an • Independent orator of Cromwell's armv, yclep'd Tomkins, otherwise Trusty Joe,' who treats his audience to a sermon quite in the style of that period, when every metaphor and precept of Scripture was invested with an immediate application to the events of the day. This Tomkins is a very active agent in the hands of the author. He paints him as a consummate hypocrite and spy, sent down by Cromwell, in the first instance, with a small guard, to take possession for the Parliament of the lodge at Woodstock. After finishing his sermon, he sets out to execute his mission. His proceedings are described in the author's happiest manner, in a chapter headed by the following beautiful stanza:
« Come forth, old man — Thy daughter's side
Is now the fitting place for thee:
The ruins of the parent tree.' The soldier, leaving his companions in the to:vn, went alone towards the park of Woodstock.
A battlemented portal of Gothic appearance defended the entrance to the avenue. It was of mixed architect:re, but on the whole, though composed of the styles of different ages, when it had received additions, had a striking and imposing effect. An immense gate composed of rails of hammered iron, with many a flourish and scroll, displaying as its uppermost ornament the ill-fated cypher of C. R., was now decayed, partly with rust, partly from the effects of violence.
• The stranger paused, as if uncertain whether he should demand or assay entrance. He looked through the grating down an avenue skirted by majestie oaks, which led onward with a gentle curve, as if into the depths of some ample and ancient forest. The wicket of the large iron gate being left unwittingly open, the soldier was tempted to enter, yet with some hesitation, as he that intrudes upon ground which he conjectures may be prohibited - indeed his manner showed more reverence for the scene than could have been expected from his condition and character. He slackened his stately and consequential pace, and at length stood still, and looked around him.
Not far from the gate, he saw rising from the trees one or two ancient and venerable turrets, bearing each its own vane of rare device glittering in the autumn sun. These indicated the ancient hunting
seat, or Lodge, as it was called, which had, since the time of Henry II., been occasionally the residence of the English monarchs, when it pleased them to visit the woods of Oxford, which then so abounded with game, that, according to old Fuller, huntsmen and falconers were nowhere better pleased. The situation which the Lodge occupied was a piece of flat ground, now planted with sycamores, not far from the entrance to that magnificent spot where the spectator first stops to gaze upon Blenheim, to think of Marlborough's victories, and to applaud or criticise the cumbrous magnificence of Vanburgh's style.
There too paused our military preacher, but with other thoughts, and for other purpose, than to admire the scene around him. It was pot long afterwards when he beheld two persons, a male and a female, approaching slowly, and so deeply engaged in their own conversation that they did not raise their eyes to observe that there stood a stranger in the path before them. The soldier took advantage of their state of abstraction, and, desirous at once to watch their motions and avoid their observation, he glided beneath one of the huge trees which skirted the path, and whose boughs, sweeping the ground on every side, insured him against discovery, unless in case of an actual search.
. In the mean time, the gentleman and lady continued to advance, directing their course to a rustic seat, which still enjoyed the sunbeams, and was placed adjacent to the tree where the stranger was concealed.
The man was elderly, yet seemed bent more by sorrow and infirmity, than by the weight of years. He wore a mourning cloak, over a dress of the same melancholy colour, cut in that picturesque form, which Vandyke has rendered immortal. But although the dress was handsome, it was put on and worn with a carelessness which showed the mind of the wearer ill at ease. His aged, yet still handsome countenance, had the same air of consequence which distinguished his dress and his gait. A striking part of his appearance was a long white beard, which descended far over the breast of his slashed doublet, and looked singular from its contrast in colour with his habit.
• The young lady, by whom this venerable gentleman seemed to be in some degree supported as they waiked arm in arm, was a slight and sylph-like form, with a person so delicately made, and so beautiful in countenance, that it seemed the earth on which she walked was too grossly massive a support for a creature so aërial. But mortal beauty must share human sorrows. The eyes of the beautiful being showed tokens of tears ; her colour was heightened as she listened to her aged companion; and it was plain, from his melancholy yet displeased look, that the conversation was as distressing to himself as to her. When they sate down on the bench we have mentioned, the gentleman's discourse could be distinctly overheard by the eves-dropping soldier, but the answers of the young lady reached his ear rather less distinctly.
6. It is not to be endured," said the old man passionately ; " it would stir up a paralytic wretch to start up a soldier. My people have been thinned, I grant you, or have fallen off from me in these times – I owe them no grudge for it, poor knaves; what should they do when the pantry has no bread and the buttery no ale? But we have still about us some rugged foresters of the old Woodstock breed
- old as myself most of them -- what of that? old wood seldomwarps in the wetting; I will hold out the old house, and it will not