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The outer wall of this splendid and gigantic structure enclosed seven acres, a part of which was occupied by extensive stables, and by a pleasure garden, with its trim arbours and parterres, and the rest formed the large base-court, or outer yard, of the noble castle. The lordly structure itself, which rose near the centre of this spacious enclosure, was composed of a huge pile of magnificent castellated buildings, apparently of different ages, surrounding an inner court, and bearing in the names attached to each portion of the magnificent mass, and in the armonial bearings which were there blazoned, the emblems of mighty chiefs who had long passed away, and whose history, could ambition have lent ear to it, might have read a lesson to the haughty favourite, who had now acquired and was augmenting the fair domain. A large and massive keep, which formed the citadel of the castle, was of uncertain, though great antiquity. It bore the name of Cæsar, perhaps from its resemblance to that in the tower of London so called. Some antiquaries ascribed its foundation to the time of Kenelph, from whom the castle had its name, a Saxon king of Mercia, and others to an early æra after the Norman conquest. On the exterior walls frowned the scutcheon of the Clintons, by whom they were founded in the reign of Henry I., and of the yet more redoubted Simon de Montfort, by whom, during the barons' wars, Kenilworth was long held out against Henry III. Here Mortimer, Earl of March, famous alike for his rise and his fall, had once gayly revelled, while his dethroned sovereign, Edward II., languished in its dungeons. Old John of Gaunt, time-honoured Lancaster, had widely extended the castle, erecting that noble and massive pile which yet bears the name of Lancaster's Buildings; and Leicester himself had outdone the former possessors, princely and powerful as they were, by erecting another immense structure, which now lies crushed under its own ruins, the monument of its owner's ambition. The external wall of this royal castle was, on the south and west sides, adorned and defended by a lake partly artificial, across which Leicester had constructed a stately bridge, that Elizabeth might enter the castle by a path hitherto untrodden, instead of the usual entrance to the northward, over which he had erected a gate-house or barbican, which still exists, and is equal in extent and superior in architecture, to the baronial castle of many a northern chief.
Beyond the lake lay an extensive chase, full of red deer, fallow deer, roes, and every species of game, and abounding with lofty trees, from amongst which the extended front and massive towers of the castle were seen to rise in majesty and beauty. We cannot but add, that of this lordly palace, where princes feasted and heroes fought, now in the bloody earnest of storm and siege, and now in the games of chivalry, where beauty dealt the prize which valour won, all is now desolate. The bed of the lake is but a rushy swamp; and the massive ruins of the castle only serve to show what their splendour once was, and to impress on the musing visiter the transitory value of human possessions, and the happiness of those who enjoy an humble lot in virtuous contentment.
The gay Raleigh-the rude Blount-and the voluble boaster, Lambourne-are animated sketches. The considerate publican and the portly mercer are good in their way, though the former savours a little too much of " mine host” in Shakspeare. There is nothing very striking in the character of Anthony Foster,--and Alasco, the Alchymist, ought to have been banished the novel as well as the country. It may be said that his introduction was characteristic of the age, and serves to mark the costume of the work; but surely there is too much of this dull personage, who has not the merit even of originality.—The plain, warlike Sussex stands in bold contrast to his smooth and graceful rival. The preference he gives the Bear garden, over the plays of Shakspeare-his contempt for that “froth and folly” poetry—and his rapturous description of the sports of the Bear garden, are admirably expressive of his character.—The keeping of his household is also in strict accordance with the habits of a soldier, and we could not but participate in Raleigh's fears, when the queen announced her intention of surprising the Earl.
"“ Now the Lord have pity on us !" said the young courtier to himself. “Good hearts, the Earl hath many a one round him ; but good heads are scarce with us—and he himself is too ill to give direction. And Blount will be at his morning meal of Yarmouth her. rings and ale ; and Tracy will have his beastly black puddings and Rhenish ;—those thorough-paced Welchmen, Thomas ap Rice and Evan Evans, will be at work on their leek porridge and toasted cheese—and she detests, they say, all coarse meats, evil smells, and strong wines. Could they but think of burning some rosemary in the great hall ! but vogue la galere, all must now be trusted to chance. Luck hath done indifferent well for me this morning, for I trust I have spoiled a cloak, and made a court fortune-May she do as much for my gallant patron !" !
The narrative becomes hurried, and carries us rapidly with it towards the conclusion of the tale. The interview between the Queen and Amy-Leicester's jealousy of his wife, and his cruel determination-his combat with Tressilian-his conviction of his wife's innocence—and his avowal of his marriage to the Queen—these events, strongly depictured, follow each other in quick succession, and, setting aside the continual gloomy sensation and feverish interest they excite, are the best passages of the book. The struggle in the bosom of Elizabeth, when she learns the perfidy of Leicester—the confusion of the courtiers, and the humility of the disgraced Earl, are vividly represented. We are tempted to extract these scenes—but as the novel has been so generally read, it is only necessary to allude to them.
Our author in this, as well as in his former productions, is largely indebted to the popular ancient English writers. The
catastrophe of Lady Leicester is only amplified from a work called * Leicester's Commonwealth, published in 1584, and attributed to Lord Burliegh. In this old book we find the following passage.
· For first his lordship hath a speciall fortune, that when he desireth
any woman's favour, then what person soever standeth in his way, bath the luck to dye quickly, for the finishing of
his desire. As for example, when his lordship was in full hope 'to marry her majesty, and his own wife stood in his light, as he 6 supposed; he did but send her aside to the house of his servante Forster of Cumner bye Oxforde, where shortlye after she had
the chance to fall from a paire of staires, and so to breake her necke, but yet without hurting her hood which stood upon her 'head. But Sir Richard Varney, who bye commandment, re'mained with her that day alone, with one man onely, and had sent away perforce all her servantes from her to a market two miles off, he (I say) with his man, can tell how she dyed; which man being taken afterwards for a felony in the marches of Wales, and offering to publish the manner of the said murder, was made away privily im the prison : and Sir Richard himselfé dying about the same time in London, cryed piteously and
blasphemed God, and said to a gentleman of worship of mine acquaintance, not long before his death, that all the devils in "hell did tear him to pieces. The wife also of Bald Butler, “kinsman to my lord, gave out the whole fact a little before her death.'
The old ballad of “ Leicester's Ghost” contains also an allusion to the same incident.
My wife she fell downe a paire of staires,
Unto a fayre at Abingdon dide ryde,
“Too true yt is she did untimelye dye.' Our author has, however, very judiciously cleared Liecester from being an intentional accessory to the murder of his wife.
To conclude these remarks : after a candid survey of the merits of the work-and they are many—we wish that Kenilworth had not been published, or, at least, that the publication had been deferred. The author would not, probably, have then introduced the use of mahogany, a century before it was known in England, -or have used the word unscrupulous, which does not belong to the English language. He would have had leisure, to expunge, or alter, the character of the Alchymist; to give more honour to Leicester, and less coarseness to his queen; and
perhaps he might have been more merciful to Amy-or, if she was to die, awarded her a less shocking death. In allowing himself time, he would have corrected the faults, while he retouched the beauties, of his work, and rendered it more worthy the name of the author of Waverley. In short, (as Goldsmith advises critics to pronounce their judgment,) if he had taken more pains, he would have made a better picture.
It is observed in an English Magazine, of 'some note, that the general diffusion of intelligence through all ranks in England is astonishing; and the editor proceeds to assert, in the triumph of his heart, that a newspaper theatrical critique would put to shame the most elaborate efforts of Johnson on Shakspeare. We have long mourned over the oblivion to which this author seems to be consigned: we have perceived with regret that Addison is no longer a model, and that the Rambler lies neglected on the shelf; and, more in sorrow than in anger, we must take up the cudgels in defence of those old friends, whom we have heard old-fashioned critics rank among the benefactors of literature.
We are very willing to admit, and rejoice in, the fact of that out-spreading of knowledge which is to be perceived, not only in England, but throughout the world. The great number of Reviews, Magazines, and periodical publications—many of them excellent-all above mediocrity-attest the existence of a vast fund of talent in England. But it is second rate talent. When we have named one celebrated groupe, we come to the Colmans the Keats, and the many worthies who swell their list. We do not mean to decry the talents of these writers--we think that they embellish society, and give grace and spirit to light reading
- but it is not the productions of such minds that will vie with the works of Johnson and Addison. It were as proper to compare the beautiful, but shallow and sounding cascade which adorns a summer landscape, to one of our majestic, silent, and deep lakes, whose bosom reflects the image of heaven, and whose waves convey from man to man the necessaries and luxuries of life.
Is it a theatrical critique like this, (and this is a fair specimen,) that would put Addison to shame ?
" Macready's personation of the noble-hearted outlaw, (Rob Roy,)
though it does not exhibit the more poetical qualities of bis acting, has a spell to make the heart gush with strange joy, and to moisten parched eyes with unwonted tears. The power of bills'is visibly upon him. His step, his air, his lofty bearing, are not less than those of a prince-but of a prince who has long had the rocky caves for his pavilion, the heather-clad mountain for his throne, and the brave o'erhanging firmament, fretted with golden fire,' for his canopy.” -Or are the graceful, but superficial productions of the Hermit in London, to take precedence of the religion, the morality, the exquisite polish, and the delicate ridicule, of the Spectator? Dr. Johnson, while his cumbrous diction fatigues the ear, rises a giant above our modern authors, in nervousness of expression and strength of thought. The weak points of his character have been the subject of much derision; and men, while they allowed his superior excellence, have taken a secret pleasure in lowering him to their own level. Thanks to the cruel friendship of Boswell—this feeling has been amply gratified. No man was ever a hero to his valet—and never was valet more au fait in his master's domestic concerns, than is the whole world in those of Johnson. The minute details of a long life are laid open—the casual irritations of a moment, accurately numbered—thoughts spoken in confidence, produced in public: not even his devotions were sacred-much less so his imperfections. Few men, we fear, would stand this severe ordeal as well as he did : we may smile at his superstition—pity the occasional feebleness of judgment which have been so fondly recorded—but we must reverence the piety and benevolence which breathed through all his actions.
It may not be amiss, at this moment, to take a cursory glance at the merits of some of the principal Reviews and Magazines produced by this prolific age—which find their way alike to the study of the learned and the toilette of the fashionable. At the head of these works stands confessedly the Edinburgh Review. This Review has done much for the cause of literature-not in discovering any important truth, or unfolding new ideas—but in giving circulation to the discoveries of others, and in tempting those indolent readers who might be startled by a bulky volume,
the benefit of the reviewer's labours in a more condensed form. It cannot be denied, however, that it has been too often led from its high intents, by party spirit or private prejudice. Mr. Jeffrey possesses a keen and penetrating mind : the acuteness he displays in dividing the right from the wrong, and the decision with which he adopts the one and rejects the other, inspire his readers with a confidence in his judgment, which is, we think, seldom unfounded--and is, probably, the great source of his popularity.