Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

the cultivation of your flowers ?"—" Pardon me, Madam, but a much greater pleasure awaits me."—" What can that be?" ■—" That of offering them to you."—Thus begins the affair of the heart, with the embarrassments and developements of which the remainder of this narrative is employed.

In order to keep to the title of Seduction without Artifice, the author contrives to display the process by which the simple Richard, adhering to his natural and manly character, overcomes the pride and high spirit of Lady R. j who, though struck with the person and manners of her lover, could not endure the thought of being connected with one that was so obscurely born. She, however, having once hooked him, plays with him like an expert angler with a trout, and throws off all the coquetry of a fine lady.

Richard, on the death of his friend and patron Mulcroon, quits his cottage, to become the secretary of Sir James Manwood, who had a fine seat in the county of Wicklow. While he was an inmate with bit James, the hero visits the Dargle, and in an evening-excursfon to the Lover's Leap, whose voice should he hear proceeding from the thickets which overshade the bottom of this rock, but that of Lady Ranelagh, singing a most plaintive love-ditty? He follows the sound, recognizes her figure, and flies to embrace her, but she escapes; not howevtr, without leaving her lace-veil in his hands. When afterward they meet at the house of Sir James, she owns the veil, but forbids Richard to follow her or speak to her. In spite of these prohibitions, and all the lady's seeming hauteur and indifference, love makes rapid advances, and we are amused with the contrivances which the sly God employs to insure his purpose. Richard scrupulously obeys all Lady R.'s mandates: but, while " he keeps the word of promise to her ear," he breaks it, as she hopes, and thus all her seeming efforts to retard only accelerate the passion. Suffice it to say that, in the midst of this old play of " She Would and She Would Not," the Eirl of Essex visits Sirjames, renews his attentions to Richard Boyle, promises soon to advance his interest, and, by his marked partiality,, increases the admiration of him in Lady R.'s heart. At last, after various trials of the sincerity of his attachment and the elevation of his sentiments, she consents to give him her hand: but scarcely is this declaration made, when the melancholy news arrives of Essex's disgrace, and of Richard's being implicated among his other favourites in a charge of treason. The lady now offers to protect him: bur, conscious of innocence, he nobly disdains to fly or to attempt concealment ; he suffers himself to be arrested at his cottage tage near Black-rode, is conveyed a prisoner to England, pleads his cause before Elizabeth, is honourably acquitted, the Queen permits him to kiss her hand in token of her high approbation pf his conduct, and appoints him to a lucrative office; he then marries Lady Ranelagh, is created a knight, and at last becomes the great Earl of Cork.

Such, in brief, is the substance of this historical romance; which really contains so little of the history of the great Richard Boyle, that, had the author chosen it, she might have given to it any other name. It affords nothing very striking, ingenious, or interesting; and no person who has read it once will, we think, wish to give it a second perusal.

Why thi? piece should not be .called a novel, we are unaware; and we perceive no reason for keeping it out of the class to which the other narratives in this work are assigned. The first of these is called 'the Young Female Penitent ;* for which one of the tales of the Queen of Navarre gave the idea. It relates the vengeance of a husband on a person who was about to render his wife unfaithful, and the singuhr penitence which he demanded of the latter, who had meditated the act of adultery. In filling up the outlines of the story, the author has introduced romantic incidents, in order to give to the whole a stage effect. After a 6eries of tragical events and affecting recitals, the fair penitent, who atones for hertiult by five years of contrition, acquires the forgiveness and regains the affections of her husband.

The second tale is intitled « The Lovers without Love,' with this motto: "11 j a des gens qui iiauroientjamais ett amcureux, s'i/s n'avoient jamais entendu parler di /'amour." In order to confirm the truth of this observation, two young persons, without conceiving any previous partiality for each other, are brought together for the purpose of making a match, and are talked into love; the result of which the title, of the novel sufficiently indicates: though Mad. Genlis makes these amans sans amour travel through life with as much comfort as those whom a lomantic passion unites.

* Zumelinde, or the young woman turned into an old one, a fairy tale,' is taken from the Belinde of Madame Daulnoy% though the incidents are varied, and only the metamorphosis adopted. This metamorphosis consists in the sudden transformation of the young and accomplished princess Zumelinde, only 18 years of age, into the likeness of an aunt who Whs fifty years old, in order to put the professions of her lover and the praises of her courtiers to the proof. The Faities are supposed to have this wonderful faculty; and it is here exerted to cure 5 Zumelinde Zumelinde of vanity, by shewing her that the power and not the charms of a prince constitute the object of idolatry in those who surround a throne.

« The Tulip Tree, an oriental tale,' Mad. Genlis informs us was composed at the request of a ftiend, who was a great admirer of this most beautiful plant, which was originally brought from America, and forms a distinguished ornament of our pleasure-gardens and decorative plantations. The description of this tree the writer professes to' have taken from a memoir on this subject; and to'have been indebted for the historical trait, which she has worked up into the interesting tale of Uglan, (who passed the greatest part of his time on a kind of stage which he constructed among the boughs of his immense tulip-tree,) to Tavernier, to whose voyages the reader is directed. In an oriental tale, the Fairies or Genii must be introduced; and by their instrumentalitymarvellous events are accomplished: but, alas! our fairy-tale days are passed!

The last of these novels has for its title 'Les Savin'tes, or the female twins.' For the purpose of explaining this title, the following account is inserted:

« At the extremity of the wildest of the Swiss cantons, at Schindelinguen, a picturesque spot, surrounded with woods and hills, and intersected by torrents which precipitate themselves from the mountains, a ruined castle presents itself, standing on the shores of the lake Laverzer. The traveller, in his road from Einsidelen to Zug, never fails to notice the striking aspect of this solitude. The castle has not for many years been inhabited,but every vestige of it excites some interesting recollection. Here we find the name Savinie, twice repeated, every where occurring. It constitutes the only ornament of an old cabinet; the fresco painting- on which presents, on every panne!, these words, worked together, or interwoven, and crowned with flowers. They are moreover carved on the bark of almost every tree. The traveller feels desirous of tracing these unknown beings, who loved each other and lived in this solitude. Their forsaken asylum, however, lying in ruins, informs us that they no longer exist: but we are shewn the temple of happiness created by the Savitiies, as well as a rock and a tomb which bear their name. On this rock I have dreamed; on their tomb I have wept; and I have collected in the neighbouring cottages the interesting traditions which form the ground-work of this tale.'

Mad. De Genlis now enters on her history of these Dtax Jumtllcs, the turn of which may be collected from the affixed motto:

"Simi

«* Similissima coppia e che toventc
Ener tolea cagion di dolce errore"

Tasso.

but, having another work from the pen of this writer to announce, we must here stop our hand.

Art. XV. Let Souvcnirt de FcRc'u Lm**; i.e. The Recollections of Felicia L**». By Mad. De Gen Lis. umo. 2 vols. Paris. 1808.

Persuaded that a good writer cannot be written down but by himself, we become apprehensive for the pen that seems to promise no end to its labours. It must, we think, tire at last;—and, to prevent being caught tripping, it were to be wished that a brilliant career might finish with eclat, and the close of a celebrated literary life be marked by this praise,

"Nothing became it like the leaving it"

Under the title of Souvenirs, Mad. De Genlis here presents us with a miscellany of anecdotes of courts, details of villagers, and what she terms historiettes, or little histories, bonmots, and jests; many among the latter of which are not unworthy of our own countryman of laughing memory, Joe Miller. We are told that these choice morsels have been already dispersed through thirty volumes of the Bib/iotheque des Romans; and as they have been often copied in the journals, and printed in foreign countries, it was a duty which the fair v/riter seemed to owe to these wandering effusions of the muse, to collect them into an edition, and to prevent them from being pirated by others.

The first page leads us to expect a detailed account of Mad. De G.'s residence in England, and of the many civilities which she received during her long stay in what she denominates the pretty town of Bury: yet, even after the mention which 6he makes of this jolie ville and the pleasant society which it afforded, not a tittle of a grateful Souvenir drops from her pen. • A small society, composed of five or six persons, tres spirit utiles, assembled together every day from the hours of seven till half-past ten: the amusement consisted of music and conversation j and the evenings passed very agreeably.* Fort agreablement seems but a vapid eloge from the pen of a French-woman, whose language is generally glowing with expressions of more rapturous signification; and Mad. De Genlis, by excluding from her vocabulary the words charming, enchanting, &c., excites the suspicion that this little society had not produced very lively sensations of enjoyment. Here,

howhowever, it was that the plan was projected of a journey to the delightful cottage of Llangollen; and as this Souvenir seems to have afforded more entertainment to the writer than any other that resulted from her English travels, it also communicates a superior degree of interest in the detail. Yet the hasty mannrr, in which this visit of curiosity was instantaneously adopted and arranged, is scarcely a less extraordinaryevent in the chapter of accidents than the motive which suggested its accomplishment. It is thus related:

'One evening, the subject of our conversation happening to turn on friendship, I said that I would willingly undertake a very considerable journey to see two friends who had been long united by the ties of friendship. —'* Well, madame," replied Mr. Stewart*, " go to Llangollen; you will there see the model of perfect friendship; and the picture will please you so much the more, as it will be presented by two women who are still young, and in every respect charming. Do you wish to know the history of Lady Eleanor Butler and of Mis* Ponsonby ?"—14 I shall be delighted with it."—" Then I will relate it."—At these words, we drew our little circle round Mr. Stewart:—he paused a moment for the purpose of recollection, and then began the narrative nearly in these terms.'

We have not space for the insertion of this very novel history; for the accuracy of which, moreover, we are not able to answer: but we must refer the reader to Vol. i. p. 3. "We cannot, howrver, fail to participate with Mad. De Genlis in the enthusiasm which her romantic imagination imbibed from the scenery of Llangollen, and the extraordinary attachment of its inhabitants*, and the tout ensemble must have possessed a mind like hers with such visionary ideas, that we arc not surprized at the effect of Fancy, when it produced the music of the spheres from the wild and random notes of an Eolian harp. In her subsequent reflections, nevertheless, Mad. De G. does not appear to be the advocate of such excentric connections as form the union between Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby, and 6he leaves Llangollen apparently dis-enchauted. Yet we are almost sorry when she takes leave of the friends, and changes her recollections to bon mots and jests. These are very commonly introduced without analogy, or association of idea9; and the scene shifts rapidly from the famous Vttw etinsen, the greatest mechanic of his day, who made an automaton which played on the flute, and a duck that both ate and digested its food, to a merry anecdote of a miser: which, we will favour with our particular notice, in compliment to the fair author, because it seems to have given her peculiar de•light:

4 * Eldest son of Lord Londonderry.'

'M. de

« ПредишнаНапред »