wine was brought to his bedside, but in vain. Sometimes he said there was no hurry, and sometimes that he was too weak. # # # “Charles had never been a sincere member of the Established Church. When his health was good and his spirits high he was a scoffer. In his few serious moments he was a Roman Catholic.”

# # # # * * * # A life of frivolity and vice had not extinguished in the Duchess of Portsmouth all sentiments of religion, or all that vividness which is the glory of her sex. She therefore tells Barillon, the French ambassador, that the king is really at heart a papist, and bids him hasten to the duke and urge him to give orders for the expulsion of the protestant divines in order for the due administration of extreme unction. The duke went to the chamber of his brother, and having ascertained the sentiments of the king, resolved, whatever was the risk, to fulfil his dying wishes. The charm of this narative is apparent—all things fall into their proper places, and a perfect picture is presented to the mind. The mantle of romance is thrown over the forbidding form of history. She moves and talks with a grace that was supposed wholly to belong to fiction, and while she delights, she instructs. It is quite impossible, despite the solemnity of the occasion, not to smile at the courteous banter of the expiring king, uttered almost “in articulo mortis,” apologizing for the trouble he is giving, and begging them to excuse the unconscionable time he is in dying. It seems to be the opinion of many men that all that is requisite, for an historian is a plodding, impartial man. The fallacy of this is apparent—for although Byron asserts that “Truth is stranger than fiction,” it yet requires a rare union of faculties to write it properly. Were history written as it ought to be it would take an author who comprised the patience and research of Bayle, the philosophical and logical powers of Bacon, the style of Burke, the political sagacity of Tallyrand, and Washington's patriotism and nobility of soul. Since these are somewhat out of human reach, we cannot be too thankful that a writer combining so many excellencies as Mr. Macaulay, sits down to the drudgery of exploring the past. History enables a man to exist from the first ages of the world: he becomes the fellow-citizen of Demosthenes; assists in the expulsion of the tyrant Tarquin; stands beside Brutus as he plunges his dagger into Caesar's heart, and is invested with a retrospective life: in a word, history presents every man with the freedom of the world, and gives to him a national interest in every country. It is not enough that a dramatist should give the plot and the costume, he must give his characters language and life. It must not be done in words, it must be done in deeds. Mr. Macaulay has accomplished this. He has clothed the skeletons of the past with flesh, and thrown blood into their veins: they become again animated with the bygone passions of olden days, and inoculate us with their feuds. But Mr. Macaulay has the awkward habit of looking at things with a liberal eye; hence Mr. Croker's indignation. o It is not our intention generally to enter into any dispute that may exist between an author and a critic, but the recent attack on the work now before us in the “Quarterly,” is too marked to escape us. We shall not do the conducters of that Review the injustice of believing that personal motives had any influence in the criticism in question. We are willing to believe that Mr. Croker's indignation at outraged historical truth has impelled him to the rescue of his “beloved abuses,” from the vigorous assault of the historian; but at the same time the Rigby of Coningsby should have some respect for the judgment of the readers of the periodical he is employed to write in. We quote the following as a specimen of the fairness of his attack on his ancient enemy.

“It may seem too epigrammatic, but it is in our serious judgment STRICTLY TRUE to say, that his history seems to be a kind of combination and exaggeration of the peculiarities of all his former efforts. It is as full of political prejudices, and partisan advocacy as any of his parliamentary speeches. It makes the facts of English history as fabulous as his lays do those of Roman tradition, and it is written with as captious, as dogmatical, and as cynical a spirit as the bitterest of his reviews.”

We have only one word of advice to Mr. Croker, let him set to work and write the History of England, and shame Mr. Macaulay to the end of time. Let him do this, so that all future critics may say as they turn from Croker to Macaulay,

“Look on this picture and on that,
Hyperion to a satyr.”

We are inclined to hope that the satyrical Croker will take the advice we tender him, and devote himself henceforth to the truth of history.

A little anecdote of the great critic of the “Quarterly” is not out of place here. Some few years ago, the Review in question now and then executed a poet for the especial delight of their readers; Tennyson, Browning, Keats, and others scarcely less illustrious, have been gibbeted (fortunately only in effigy,) from their new patent drop, the Jack Ketch being Mr. Croker. It reached Mr. Allan Cunningham's ears that the Maid of Elvar, his poetical child, was to undergo capital punishment in the forthcoming number of the Review. The indignant bard, who was a stalwart man of above six feet, with an arm accustomed to wield the mason's mallet, intimated to Mr. Croker that the day after the publication of the attack he would personally chastise him. The valorous Rigby was alarmed, but having announced a “slashing poetical article,” he substituted the meek and small Moxon for the gigantic Highlander, who was equally good as a sculptor and a pugilist.

“In her ear he whispers gayly,
If my heart by signs can tell,
Maiden, I have watched thee daily,
And I think thou lov'st me well.

She replies in accents fainter
* There is none I love like thee,

He is but a landscape painter
And a village maiden she.

He to lips that fondly falter
Presses his without reproof,

Leads her to the village altar,
And they leave her father's roof.

I can make no marriage present,
Little can I give my wife,

Love can make our cottage pleasant,
And I love thee more than life.

They by parks and lodges going,
See the lordly castles stand;

Summer woods about them blowing,
Made a murmur in the land.

From deep thought himself he rouses,
Says to her that loves him well,

Let us see these handsome houses,
Where the wealthy nobles dwell.

So she goes, by him attended,
Hears him lovingly converse,

Sees whatever fair and splendid
Lay betwixt his home and hers.

Parks, with oak and chestnut shady,
Parks and ordered gardens great,
Ancient homes of lord and lady,
- Built for pleasure and for state.

All he shows her makes him dearer,
Evermore she seems to gaze

On that cottage growing nearer,
Where they twain will spend their days.”

Our space will not allow us to quote the entire ballad: we

must, therefore, refer our readers to the volume.

[ocr errors]

A disproportioned marriage becomes beautified and raised for ever on a pedestal, even as the sculptor's hand takes a common block of marble and turns it into a Venus de Medicis, or a Greek Slave.

Let us select another every day fact, the desertion of a trusting girl by her lover, and the revenge of her friend or sister; the magic garment is on, and it is transfigured to an admiring posterity: we shall allude again to this poem as elucidating or illustrating another phase of the poet's mind.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« ElőzőTovább »