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And stripp'd of light fictitiously assumed,
Of conflict beams with sudden brightness forth!
How much of God to build a man it takes !
In each high lineament the plastic God! Let common sense, not to speak of chastened judgment, construe these passages, inquire into the meaning of the phrases and terms, and pronounce upon the incautiousness of the penman; and as severe a criticism as we can utter, will be Mr. Montgomery's due. “How much of God to build a man it takes!" will not escape reprobation. Our next is from a canto called “the mystery;" and mysterious enough it is in all conscience !
Above, beneath, around, where'er we move
E'en like that pillar, which of cloud and fire
And prays the heart to piety and love. If examples are required of mere words, they are to be got without end. Take the following out of many about night :
How eloquent is night!-- when all the stars
Creation where he walks, and weeps, and dies !" “When thoughts, which plunge themselves in Deity” is surely startling phraseology; but it is thoroughly Montgomery-like, just as there are sundry pet words and epithets that are thrust in by the shoulders with an offensive and inappropriate profusion, and until they lose all euphony. “Apocalypse" is one of these; “ millenial" is in the same predicament. We proceed to give another example of absurdities:
Inventive man would fain achieve
But man is ruin; ff rebuilt he rise,
Now for turgid unseemly exaggerations :
Behind our veiling drapery of sense,
His throne among them like a sainted king ! We conclude with a feeble panegyric. Printing is the theme, and a thousand times has its praises been proclaimed in statelier prose :
But in this prologue of preparing means
Thine was a voice whose resurrection-blast
ART. VIII.-1. Lives of the Queens of England. By Agnes STRICKLAND.
Vol. IV. Colburn. 2. The Chronicles of England ; a Metrical History. By George Ray
W. Smith. Miss Strickland's “ Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest, with Anecdotes of their Courts, now first published from official records and other authentic documents, private as well as public," has reached the fourth volume, commencing a new series, viz., the Queens of the House of Tudor, and promises to increase in respect of interest as she advances further. Our authoress has arrived at an era where original facts relative to her heroines are much fuller than during the earlier periods which have occupied her. In this present section of the publication we have the lives of Elizabeth of York, consort of Henry the Seventh, and the first five wives of Henry the Eighth,—viz., Katherine of Arragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Howard.
With regard to the character of these “Lives" in a critically literary sense, it is hardly possible to speak in terms too high, if the industry of the writer be merely understood in collecting authorities and materials from all existing sources of information, and even in ferreting out facts and illustrations that to a less honest or vigilant historian might be deemed trivial and insignificant. And yet Miss Strickland has not at her command the most vigorous method of treatment; for, while her style is diffuse, and dashed with the feebleness of prettiness, she falls into the snare of guessing largely
in the absence of authentic evidence ; so that it may be questioned whether she produces the striking historical effect which several existing national works, by Hume and others, have bequeathed to us, not only of the genius and complexion of particular ages, but of the royal dames who shared the throne with some of the most celebrated of the kings of England. Our authoress ekes out her narrative with long accounts of progresses, and the draperies, so to speak, of royalty, rather than supplies us, when the record is scanty, with the real and undoubted events of the period.
We have truly hinted, however, that the present volume introduces us to a period of time and a series of characters that are surrounded by much more abundant light than what illustrated the lives of the preceding queens. Besides, the matrimonial alliances of Henry the Eighth are rendered most remarkable not merely as engagements of the kind, and on account of their tragical passages, but in consequence of the public historical interest attached to the events which the tyrant contrived to combine with his lustful enormities. And here we must observe that a female historian, in the present more circumspect and artificial days, is scarcely in a condition to allow her to tell the whole unvarnished truth, and to picture fully the manners of a grossly licentious court. For example, Miss Strickland does not find that her pen is at full liberty to discuss the evidence bearing upon the consummation of Prince Arthur's marriage.
After all, these lives are a valuable contribution to our historical literature; for they are agreeable specimens of biography, and have besides for heroines, ladies of whom we have only incidental notices in pre-existing works, or whose fortunes have to be gathered from crabbed or almost inaccessible channels. The history of the heiress of the Plantagenet kings, Elizabeth of York, to quote an illustrious example, who blended “ the rival roses of York and Lancaster in her bridal wreath," has partly been sought for in the curious metrical narration called the “ Song of the Lady Bessey." The account given of this narrative by Miss Strickland, will amply reward a careful perusal. But it is by far too long for our pages; and therefore we shall, in the first instance, content ourselves with an extract containing our authoress's remarks on the long prevailing prejudice in favour of the Salic law in the case of the princess. Says Miss Strickland,
The treaty of betrothment privately negotiated between Elizabeth of York and Henry of Richmond by their respective mothers, was the first gleam of comfort that broke on the royal prisoners in sanctuary after the murder of the innocent princes in the Tower. The young princess promised to hold faith with her betrothed ; in case of her death before her contract was fulfilled, her next sister Cecily was to take her place. But it is a singular fact, that neither at this time, nor at any other period of her life, was the slightest proposal made by the partisans of the house of York,