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INTENSE BEAUTY OF AMY - AND ACCOMPANIMENTS. 93
metropolis,—and of which we hope, before that time, to be spectators. The account of Leicester's princely hospitality, and of the royal divertisements that ensued,— the feastings and huntings, the flatteries and dissemblings, the pride, the jealousy, the ambition, the revenge,
are all portrayed with the same animating pencil, and leave every thing behind, but some rival works of the same unrivalled artist. The most surprising piece of mere description, however, that we have ever seen, is that of Amy's magnificent apartments at Cumnor Place, and of the dress and beauty of the lovely creature for whom they were adorned. We had no idea before that upholstery and millinery could be made so engaging; and though we are aware that it is the living Beauty that gives its enchantment to the scene, and breathes over the whole an air of voluptuousness, innocence, and pity, it is impossible not to feel that the vivid and clear presentment of the visible objects by which she is surrounded, and the antique splendour in which she is enshrined, not only strengthen our impressions of the reality, but actually fascinate and delight us in themselves,-just as the draperies and still-life in a grand historical picture often divide our admiration with the pathetic effect of the story told by the principal figures. The catastrophe of the unfortunate Amy herself is too sickening and full of pity to be endured; and we shrink from the recollection of it, as we would from that of a recent calamity of our own. The part of Tressilian is unfortunate on the whole, though it contains touches of interest and beauty. The sketch of young Raleigh is splendid, and in excellent keeping with every thing beside it. More, we think, might have been made of the desolate age and broken-hearted anguish of Sir Hugh Robsart; though there are one or two little traits of his paternal love and crushed affection, that are inimitably sweet and pathetic, and which might have lost their effect, perhaps, if the scene had been extended. We do not care much about the goblin dwarf, nor the host, nor the mercer,-nor any of the other characters. They are all too fantastical and affected. They seem copied rather from the quaintness of old
plays, than the reality of past and present nature; and serve better to show what manner of personages were to be met with in the Masks and Pageants of the age, than what were actually to be found in the living population of the land.
"The Pirates" is a bold attempt to furnish out a long and eventful story from a very narrow circle of society, and a scene so circumscribed as scarcely to admit of any great scope or variety of action; and its failure, in so far as it may be thought to have failed, should, in fairness, be ascribed chiefly to this scantiness and defect of the materials. The author, accordingly, has been obliged to borrow pretty largely from other regions. The character and story of Mertoun (which is at once commonplace and extravagant), -that of the Pirate himself, and that of Halcro the poet, have no connection with the localities of Shetland, or the peculiarities of an insular life. Mr. Yellowlees, though he gives occasion to some strong contrasts, is in the same situation. The great blemish, however, of the work, is the inconsistency in Cleveland's character, or rather the way in which he disappoints us, by turning out so much better than we had expected-and yet substantially so ill. So great, indeed, is this disappointment, and so strong the grounds of it, that we cannot help suspecting that the author himself must have altered his design in the course of the work; and, finding himself at a loss how to make either a demon or a hero of the personage whom he had introduced with a view to one or other of these characters, betook himself to the expedient of leaving him in that neutral or mixed state, which, after all, suits the least with his conduct and situation, or with the effects which he is supposed to produce. All that we see of him is a daring, underbred, forward, heartless fellow-very unlikely, we should suppose, to captivate the affections of the high-minded, romantic Minna, or even to supplant an old friend in the favour of the honest Udaller. The charm of the book is in the picture of his family. Nothing can be more beautiful than the description of the two sisters, and the gentle and inno
DIFFICULTIES, FAULTS, AND SUCCESSES.
cent affection that continues to unite them, even after love has come to divide their interests and wishes. The visit paid them by Norna, and the tale she tells them at midnight, lead to a fine display of the perfect purity of their young hearts, and the native gentleness and dignity of their character. There is, perhaps, still more genius in the development and full exhibition of their father's character; who is first introduced to us as little. else than a jovial, thoughtless, hospitable housekeeper; but gradually discloses the most captivating traits, not only of kindness and courage, but of substantial generosity and delicacy of feeling, without ever departing, for an instant, from the frank homeliness of his habitual demeanour. Norna is a new incarnation of Meg Merrilies, and palpably the same in the spirit. Less degraded in her habits and associates, and less lofty and pathetic in her denunciations, she reconciles fewer contradictions, and is, on the whole, inferior perhaps to her prototype; but is far above the rank of a mere imitated or borrowed character. The Udaller's visit to her dwelling on the Fitful-head is admirably managed, and highly characteristic of both parties. Of the humorous characters, Yellowlees is the best. Few things, indeed, are better than the description of his equestrian progression to the feast of the Udaller. Claud Halcro is too fantastical; and peculiarly out of place, we should think, in such a region. A man, who talks in quotations from common plays, and proses eternally about glorious John Dryden, luckily is not often to be met with anywhere, but least of all in the Orkney Islands. Bunce is liable to the same objection, though there are parts of his character, as well as that of Fletcher and the rest of the crew, given with infinite spirit and effect. The denouement of the story is strained and improbable, and the conclusion rather unsatisfactory: But the work, on the whole, opens up a new world to our curiosity, and affords another proof of the extraordinary pliability, as well as vigour, of the author's genius.
We come now to the work which has afforded us a pretext for this long retrospection, and which we have
approached, as befitteth a royal presence, through this long vista of preparatory splendour. Considering that it has now been three months in the hands of the public - and must be about as well known to most of our readers as the older works to which we have just alluded - we do not very well see why we should not deal with it as summarily as we have done with them; and, sparing our dutiful readers the fatigue of toiling through a detail with which they are already familiar, content ourselves with marking our opinion of it in the same general and comprehensive manner that we have ventured to adopt as to those earlier productions. This, accordingly, is the course which, in the main, we propose to follow; though, for the sake of our distant readers, as well as to give more force and direct application to our general remarks, we must somewhat enlarge the scale of our critical notice.
This work, though dealing abundantly in invention, is, in substance, like Old Morality and Kenilworth, of an historical character, and may be correctly represented as an attempt to describe and illustrate, by examples, the manners of the court, and, generally speaking, of the age, of James I. of England. And this, on the whole, is the most favourable aspect under which it can be considered; for, while it certainly presents us with a very brilliant, and, we believe, a very faithful sketch of the manners and habits of the time, we cannot say that it either embodies them in a very interesting story, or supplies us with any rich variety of particular characters. Except King James himself, and Richie Moniplies, there is but little individuality in the personages represented. We should perhaps add Master George Heriot; except that he is too staid and prudent a person to engage very much of our interest. The story is of a very simple structure, and may soon be told.
Lord Glenvarloch, a young Scottish nobleman, whose fortunes had been ruined by his father's profusion, and chiefly by large loans to the Crown, comes to London about the middle of James's reign, to try what part of this debt may be recovered from the justice of his now
OUTLINE OF THE STORY.
opulent sovereign. From want of patronage and experience, he is unsuccessful in his first application; and is about to withdraw in despair, when his serving man, Richard Moniplies, falling accidentally in the way of George Heriot, the favourite jeweller and occasional banker of the King, that benevolent person (to whom, it may not be known to our Southern readers, Edinburgh is indebted for the most flourishing and best conducted of her founded schools or charities) is pleased to take an interest in his affairs, and not only represents his case in a favourable way to the Sovereign, but is the means of introducing him to another nobleman, with whose son, Lord Dalgarno, he speedily forms a rather inauspicious intimacy. By this youth he is initiated into all the gaieties of the town; of which, as well as of the manners and bearing of the men of fashion of the time, a very lively picture is drawn. Among other things, he is encouraged to try his fortune at play; but, being poor and prudent, he plays but for small sums, and, rather unhandsomely we must own, makes it a practice to come away after a moderate winning. On this account he is slighted by Lord Dalgarno and his more adventurous associates; and, having learned that they talked contemptuously of him, and that Lord D. had prejudiced the King and the Prince against him, hc challenges him for his perfidy in the Park, and actually draws on him, in the precincts of the royal abode. This was, in those days, a very serious offence; and, to avoid its immediate consequences, he is advised to take refuge in Whitefriars, then known by the cant name of Alsatia, and understood to possess the privileges of a sanctuary against ordinary arrests. A propos of this retirement, we have a very striking and animated picture of the bullies and bankrupts, and swindlers and petty felons by whom this city of refuge was chiefly inhabited-and among whom the young Lord has the good luck to witness a murder, committed on the person of his miserly host. He then bethinks himself of repairing to Greenwich, where the court was, throwing himself upon the clemency of the King, and insisting on being confronted