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• What doth it contain?' asked Lady Rookwood.
• There is a rusty dagger upon a fold of faded linen,' cried Lady Rookwood, holding down the light.
It is the weapon with which the first dame of the house of Rookwood was stabbed,' said Alan, with a grim smile,
“ Which whoso claspeth in the tomb,
Shall clutch until the hour of doom." • So saith the rhyme.-Have you seen enough?'.
• No,' said Lady Rookwood, precipitating herself into the marble coffin. That weapon shall be mine.'
Come forth-come forth,' cried Alan. “My arm trembles- I cannot support the lid.
I will have it though I grasp it to eternity,' shrieked Lady Rookwood, vainly endeavouring to wrest away the dagger, which was fastened, together with the linen upon which it lay, by some adhesive substance to the bottom of the shell.
* At this moment, Alan Rookwood happened to cast his eye upward, and he then beheld what filled him with new terror. The axe of the sable statue was poised above its head, as in the act to strike him. Some secret machinery, it was evident, existed between the sarcophagus lid and this mysterious image—but in the first impulse of his alarm, Alan abandoned his hold of the slab, and it sunk slowly downwards. He uttered a loud cry as it moved. Lady Rookwood heard this cry-she raised herself at the same moment—the dagger was in her hand-she pressed against the lid, but its downward force was too great to be withstood—the light was within the sarcophagus, and Alan could discern her features; the expression was terrible; she uttered one shriek—and the lid closed forever!
“ Alan was in total darkness. The light had been enclosed with Lady Rookwood. There was something so horrible in her probable fate, that even he shuddered as he thought upon it. Exerting all his remaining strength, he essayed to raise the lid, but now it was more firmly closed than ever. It defied all his power. Once, for an instant, he fancied that it yielded to his straining sinews, but it was only his hand that slided upon the surface of the marble. It was fixed-immoveable. The sides and lid rang with the strokes which the unfortunate Lady bestowed upon them with the dagger's point, but these were not long heard. Presently, all was still, the marble ceased to vibrate with her blows. Alan struck the lid with his knuckles, but no response was returned. All was silent."
presume that this chapter is, with the patrons of that peculiar style of writing, a favourite specimen of the intense. We have seen a tolerably successful burlesque of the whole school of intense writers, which is much less extravagant than this affair of the sarcophagus; and if we had wished to convince our readers of the ridiculous folly of such writing, by means of that species of argument which is called the reductio ad absurdum, we could hardly have hit upon a better example for our purpose than the passage above quoted. Any analysis of the principles upon which it is written, or their adaptation to the intended effect, is wholly unnecessary.
We have promised to furnish a specimen of the author's characters. We must present a summary view of the leading ones, founded upon his own description, and the actions they are made to perform. Luke is a happy compound of the gipsey and the gentleman; the poltroon and the hero. He is magnanimous enough to rescue Lady Rookwood, his worst and most unscrupulous enemy, from robbers who are his best friends, at the same time that he is mean enough to desert his betrothed, and attempt to marry another by the use of mere force. He has passed all his life among gipseys, poachers, and robbers, and yet he expresses the most elevated sentiments and noblest aims. He loves and hates, fights and rescues, with the heartiest good will, in all directions, on the same day, according to the changes of the scene. Altogether he is a very intense character. But not so intense as Lady Rookwood. She
hates her husband with all her might; hates her husband's son, and tries to have him murdered; curses her own son, his intended wife, and all his kith and kin. She is represented as superior to all fear, and accordingly beards a host of robbers in her own chamber; but out of “mortal fear” she jumps into a stone coffin and is smothered to death. Lady Macbeth and Lady Ashton are quite tame characters in comparison with this female fiend. Indeed Shakspeare and Scott seem to have had no idea of the intense, as it is now understood, and their admirers can hardly be expected to relish anything so highly wrought. Mr. Ainsworth and his school will probably become standard authors at precisely that period of literary history when Shakspeare and Scott will be forgotten. Dick Turpin, the highwayman, is in some respects an imitation of Paul Clifford. But, in the gentlemanly qualities of jockeyship and generosity, he out-Clifford's Clifford. He risks his neck to get Luke out of confinement, at the very time when he has on hand the important business of robbing Rookwood House; refuses to sell Lady Rookwood the marriage certificate for a great sum of money; rides his favourite horse to death to reach Yorkshire, for the purpose of eluding a constable, and presenting the certificate, with a thousand pounds in money, to Luke, &c., &c. He is the beau ideal of that fine moral character, a genteel highwayman.
Ranulph Rookwood, the hero of the story, according to the usual acceptation of novel writers, is remarkable for nothing but seeing a ghost. He, and Eleanor who is the heroine, and her mother, Mrs. Mowbray, are entirely passive characters. They are moved hither and thither by the circumstances of the plot; and merely answer the purpose of receiving the good fortune which, according to the rules of poetical justice, is duly awarded at the close of the story. The gipsey queen, Barbara, is a sorry imitation of Meg Merrilies, without any of Meg's virtue or loyalty. She has unlimited power over the gipseys, and inexhaustible wealth at her command; but the author, with his usual consistency, has her robbed by those very gipseys, and cast out to die of starvation under a gallows. The subordinate characters, fortune tellers, mountebanks, pickpockets, highwaymen, &c., are very numerous. Their personal appearance and actions are dilated on in the true Paul Clifford style. Their revels are described with great gusto, and their songs, ceremonies, and slang, occupy no small portion of the volumes.
We should not have troubled our readers with any notice of this work, but from our desire to avail ourselves of the opportunity which it affords, of setting a mark of reprobation upon certain vices of imaginative literature of which it affords a fair specimen. Fiction is becoming every day more popular and more extensive in its range. It is consequently acquiring a power which cannot fail to be effectively and widely exerted for good or for evil. It is, therefore, the imperative duty of the censors of literature to exert whatever influence they may possess, in restoring it to that elevated moral and intellectual rank to which it was recently raised by the greatest genius of our age; and from which, we fear, it is, in Britain at least, too rapidly declining.
It is said, that “Rookwood" has met with considerable success in London. We are not surprised at this. It possesses qualities which are very likely to captivate the fancy of a pretty extensive class of readers. The style, taking this word in the limited acceptation, possesses a degree of vigour, and even when this vigour is exaggerated into intensity, there are many readers who are not able to perceive that the author has taken the step from the sublime to the ridiculous. Another circum. stance has no doubt increased its popularity in London. The whole of the fourth book is devoted to the description of an impossible ride of Dick Turpin from London to York, performed on one horse in twelve hours. It is impossible to deny that this
is a splendid piece of exaggeration. It is nearly free from the author's prevailing faults, and has unquestionably recommended the book to the whole sporting class of English gentry. The man who could write such a description should devote his talents to some better purpose than the concoction of melo dramatic novels.
Poems. By Mrs. L. H. Sigourney. 12mo. Key & Biddle: 1834.
Mrs. SIGOURNEY is the most successful of our female writers in verse; and she has fairly earned this distinction by devoting to the cultivation of the divine art the leisure moments of many years. Her fugitive pieces have been quietly and unostentatiously submitted to the public through various periodical journals, magazines, and annuals; and have uniformly received the meed of praise. They are now collected and published in a very neat volume; and in this form, afford us an opportunity of judging, more fairly than we have hitherto been enabled to do, of the distinctive character and extent of her poetical powers.
In one respect her effusions are undoubtedly to be classed with those of Mrs. He-
" THE LOST DARLING.
Her voice was like some tiny harp that yields
But now alone I sit,
· Hush! Hush thee, dearest.' Then I bend and weep
As though it were a sin to speak to one
Gone to God!
wrung her features, nor the ghastly white
Gone to God!
Ask for its darling like the bliss of heaven?"
"A COTTAGE SCENE.
Sad I came
From earth to Heaven,”
"St. Stephen's cloistered hall was proud
In learning's pomp that day,
For there a robed and sately crowd
Pressed on in long array.
Confronts that conclave high,
From lip and sparkling eye.
In whispered tones they speak,
Which flush each ashen cheek;
Sits on their brows severe,
Groans on the startled ear.
Courage, thou Genoese! Old Time
Thy splendid dream shall crown,
Where unshorn forests frown,
The Indian hunter's bow,
To thankless Spain shalt show.
In Fates' unfolding scroll,
That rack the noble soul.
Then drink thy cup of scorn,
All glorious,-yet forlorn."
It is to be regretted that Mrs. Sigourney has not found time or inclination to task her powers in the composition of a poem of sufficient dignity and extent to bring them all into full development. Her mind is richly stored with beautiful images and lofty conceptions ; her imagination is vigorous, but well disciplined; her powers of diction are of no ordinary character; and her moral sensibilities are such as to insure the sympathy of every enlightened and philanthropic mind. Would it not be well for her to abandon the too prevalent fashion of short effusions-choose a subject with her best judgment, exert upon it her best energies, and found upon one rich and finished poem her claims to that immortality to which the highest and purest minds have not deemed it unworthy their ambition to aspire ?
The Princess: or the Beguine. By Lady Morgan, author of
“O'Donnell," &c. Philadelphia : 1835. Female writers are supposed to have a claim on the peculiar indulgence of critics. In most cases this claim may have some foundation in justice. But if ever lady has placed herself beyond the reach of this indulgence, it is undoubtedly Lady