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But this blemish, the importance of which we must not dissenible, is the only material fault we have to find with the story. It is, in general, beautifully conceived, and beautifully executed. The author has selected the only part of Mary's life which, from the magnitude of the events, their connection with each other, and the short time within which they occurred, affords fit materials for poetical narrative. We have a beginning which excites curiosity, a middle which keeps it up, and an end by which it is satisfied. And the loves of Catherine and Roland are most skilfully interwoven with the fate of their mistress. Never was a double plot better connected. From our first entrance into the Castle of Loch Leven, to the last signal of adieu waved by Mary in the Firth of Galloway, our interest is concentrated on the three principal characters, interrupted by no episodes, and broken by few improbabilities.
We are criticizing an author too enterprizing to be deterred by any difficulties of execution. We bave no doubt, therefore, that in supressing the visit paid by the Regent to Mary, during her imprisonment, he decided wisely; but we must own we were watching for it as we read, and felt disappointed when we found it was to be omitted. We know that it was, in fact, deeply affecting to Mary; and when we recollect the relation, in which he stood to the principal persons in the castle, the circumstances under which he met the sister, to whom he owed so much, whom he once served so faithfully, and appears to have once loved so truly, now deposed for his advantage, and imprisoned by his authority, the mixed feelings of pride and shame with which he must have been received by Lady Lochleven, the outward deference that must have covered the fear and dislike of George Douglas, the unrestrained hatred of Catherine Seyton, and the awe of Roland Græme, we cannot conceive a finer picture, than would have been the result of such a subject, in the hands of such a master. Perhaps he did not like to injure his fine sketch of Murray's character, by the unnecessary cruelty of that visit; perhaps he feared that lie must degrade that of Roland, by forcing from him promises of a fidelity that he was to abandon. Whatever were his motives for the suppression, we cannot well doubt, as we said before, they were sufficient; but we regret that his management of the plot made it necessary.
Where all is so excellent it is difficult to select particular points. We are not sure whether we prefer the busy scenes of Holy Rood House, the interview in which Roland yields himself up to Catherine, as she signs the cross over his forehead, the scene in which Mary anticipates one blithesome day at their blithesome bridal, or the morning that she awakes at West Niddie. Perhaps they
are all inferior to the battle, painted in the favoruite manner of our author, and of Sir Walter Scott, from the point of view occupied by the ladies and the squires who protect them. But there is no end of enumerating beauties, and we have not time or inclination to search for blemishes.
In KENILWORTH our author is again upon tragic ground; a ground which, either from the advantages we have ascribed to tragedy, in its independence of any concealnient of the catastrophe, and wider admission of historical subjects, or from the peculiar bent of his talents, he always appears to us, on a reperusal, to tread most successfully. But though Kenilworth must rank high among his works, we think it inferior, as a whole, to his other tragedies, the Bride of Lammermoor, the historical part of Waverley, and the Abbot, both in materials and in execution. Anny Robsart and Elizabeth
occupy nearly the same space upon the canvass as Catherine Seyton and Mary. But almost all the points of interest, which are divided between Amy and Elizabeth, historical recollections, beauty, talents, attractive virtues and unhappy errors, exalted rank and deep misfortune, are accumulated in Mary; and we want altogether that union of the lofty and the elegant, of enthusiasm and playfulness; which enchanted us in Catherine. Amy is a beautiful specimen of that class which long ago furnished Desdemona; the basis of whose character is conjugal love, whose charin consists in its purity and its devotedness, whose fault springs from its undue prevalence over filial duty, and whose sufferings are occasioned by the perverted passions of him, to whom it is addressed. Elizabeth owes almost all her interest, to our early associations, and to her marvellous combination of the male and female dispositions, in those points in which they seem most incompatible. The representation of such a character loses much of its interest in history, and would be intolerable in pure fiction. In the former, its peculiarities are softened down by the distance, and Elizabeth appears 'a fine, but not an uncommon object, a great, unamiable sovereign ; and the same peculiarities, shown in the iniscroscopic exaggeration of fiction, would, if judged only by the rules of fiction, offend as unnatural; but supported by the authority of history, they would be most striking. A portrait might be drawn of Elizabethi, uniting the magnanimous courage, the persevering, but governable, anger, the power of weighing distant against iinmediate advantages, and the brilliant against the useful, and of subjecting all surrounding minds, which dignify men, and men only of the most manly character, with the niost craving vanity, the most irritable jealousy, the meanest duplicity, and the most capricious and unrelenting spite, that ever degraded the silliest and most hateful of her sex.
Our author has not, we think, made the most of his opportunities. He has complied with the laws of poetical consistency, without Tecollecting that, in this instance, the notoriety of Elizabeib's history warranted their violation. Instead of pushing to the utmost the opposing qualities that formed her character, he has softened even the incidents that he has directly borrowed. When Leicester knelt before her at Kenilworth, 'ere she raised him, she passed ber hand over his head, so near as almost to touch his long eurled and perfumed hair, and with a movement of fondness that seemed to intimate, she would, if she dared, have made the motion a slight caress.' Listen to Sir James Melvil's account of the real occurrence. “I was required to stay till he was made Earl of Leicester, which was done at Westminster, the Queen herself belping to put on his ceremonial, be sitting upon his knees [kneeling] before her with great gravity; but she could not refrain from putting her hands into his neck, smilingly tickling him, the French ambassador and I standing by. Then she turned, asking at me how I liked him?' Again, when she discovers Leicester's conduct, in which every cause of personal irritation is most skilfully accumulated, she punishes him only by a quarter of an hour's restraint under the custody of the earl marshal. When, at a later period, and under circumstances of much less aggravation, she detected his marriage with Lady Esses, she actually imprisoned him. Our author has not ventured on the full vehemence of her affection or her rage. But, after all, his picture of the lion-hearted Queen, though it might perhaps have been improved by the admission of stronger contrasts, is so vivid, and so magnificent, that we can hardly wish it other than it is.
We are not sure that we have suggested any improvement in Elizabeth. We have none to offer in Leicester. His struggles under the contest between love, ambition, and vanity, the subservience of his spirits and his feelings to the associations of time and place; Any's power when present, and weakness when absent; his half formed resolution to abandon for her the court, and its flight at the thought, not of what he would lose, but of what bis rivals would gain; his devotion to Elizabeth, only equalled by his fear, are the best picture extant
• Of the old courtier of the queen and the queen's old courtierof the man who, without hereditary rank or fortune, the son and the grandson of attainted and forfeited traitors, without talents in affairs or in war, a dangerous counsellor and an unfortunate commander, stained by the imputation of almost every crime, and the comunission of many, unfaithful to his mistress in love, and hurtful in business, managed to deceive, and practically to retain in sub
jection, jection, for thirty years, the most jealous woman, the most imperious sovereign, and the most acute discerner, to whose scrutiny his vices and deficiencies could have been exposed; for whose sake she endured, during her whole life, the slander, to which she was most sensible, and reposed the land-defence of her kingdom, at the time when the Armada threatened its greatest danger,' in hands notoriously incompetent.
Varney belongs to the class, so rare, if it really exist, of unmixed villains, in whom, with vigorous intellectual powers, the moral sense is totally deficient, and who accordingly select their objects with perfect selfistmess, and pursue them with unrelenting earnestness, softened by no compunction, and awed by no fear, but that of failure. Our author apologizes for his introduction, by assuring us, from time to time, that there are such men. We are willing to surrender our previous opinion to the authority of one so intimately acquainted with human nature: but the necessity of this apology ought, perhaps, to have led him to doubt the propriety of introducing the character that required it. If the mixture of human feeling, which we think would have been found in the real Varney, could have been infused into the fictitious one, without defeating the plan of the novel, it certainly would have improved it, by rendering more natural one of the principal characters. We are reminded by Tressilian of the Wilfred of Rokeby. They are both executions of the difficult task of giving dignity to an unsuccessful lover. They are both men of deep thought and retired habits; both nourish an early, long, and unfortunate attachment. In both it sinks so deep into the mind, that it becomes their dream by night, and their vision by day ; mixes itself with every source of interest and enjoyment, and when blighted and withered by final disappointment, it seems, in both, as if the springs of the heart were dried up along with it. But as Tressilian is to support more of the plot than Wilfred, he has a firmer bodily and mental temperament; and his mind, instead of having mere sorrows to brood over, is steeled by injuries to avenge. They are fine variations of what appears to be one conception.
Blount and Raleigh are very good, particularly Blount at his knighthood; but when we arrive at the end of the journey, at the beginning of which they were so specially introduced to us, and during the course of which they have occupied so much of our time, and find that they have no influence whatever on the catastrophe, we are inclined to ask what procured us the honour of their company? Our author sometimes reminds us of the magician, that accompanied Benvenuto Cellini to the Coliseum, and whose misfortune it was, that his powers of evoking spirits were greater than his means of employing or removing them. No man has more inVOL. XXVI. NO. LI.
fluence in the vasty deep. They come when he does call them; but for any thing they have to do, it often seems that they might as well have been left there.
The fault of Raleigh and Blount is, that they are supernumeraries. Wayland Smith is not that; but if another agent could have been ound to conduct the countess to Kenilworth, we cannot but wish that the whole episode of Wayland the cunning smith, (though the clink of his ghostly hammer still frightens the children of Uffington and Compton,) and of the semi-miraculous cure of Sussex, could have been omitted. They are an unnecessary waste of time and violation of probability. But a legendary hint affects our author, like a sound which reaches the ear in imperfect sleep. He instantly builds on it a superstructure of persons and events, as disproportioned to its origin, as if the mouse had brought forth the mountain.
The last volume and the opening of the first are, we think, superior to the rest. The author seems to have found some difficulty in filling the interval between Amy's parting with Leicester at Cumnor, and her journey to Kenilworth. For this purpose we have the episodes of Wayland Smith, and Sussex, and Raleigh, the pleasing anachronism of Shakspeare, the bear-bait taken from the contemporary cockney description of such a scene reprinted by Andrews :* Wayland's introduction to Amy, in the disguise of a pedlar, borrowed from the common stock of Novel-ism—and the scene in which Janet detects the person, copied almost faithfully from Artaserse. But as the action proceeds, as the early events begin, in their consequences, to bear more and more upon each other, and the clashing interests to muster their forces on each side, our author's genius seems roused as the demands on him increase. Like Sir Walter's Minstrel, when at last he caught the measure wild,' he is cursu concitus heros. Nothing can be finer than the evening which Amy passes in Mervyn's tower—more striking than the conclusion of her interview with Leicester, or more affecting than its beginning. The paleness that indicates Varney's purpose to Foster, and is told only by the dialogue, is a splendid imitation of Buckingham's question to. Dorset, in Richard the Third :
• Look I so pale, Lord. Dorset, as the rest?? At every page the catastrophe seems impending, yet none of the events which defer it
forced. And so skilful is the preparation of the mine, which is to overturn Leicester's confidence in his wife, that though all the circumstances, by which his jealousy
* Orson Pinner's supplication (for the outlines of the story are true) was in fact successful. The biped performers were restrained from acting on certain days in the week, lest they should interfere with the quadrupeds.