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‘What doth it contain?’ asked Lady Rookwood.
* A warrior's ashes,” returned Alan.
“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,
“So saith the rhyme.—Have you seen enough?’ ‘No,' said Lady Rookwood, precipitating herself into the marble coffin. ‘That weapon shall be mine.' i. Come forth—come forth, cried Alan. “My arm trembles—I cannot support the “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 machimery, 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.”
We 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
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. pp. 288.
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. Hemans—They are all the offspring of feeling, pure, exalted religious feeling—a sentiment which invests all the scenes of nature, all the ways of providence, and all the vicissitudes of human life with a bright atmosphere of moral beauty. Every subject that she handles is made to feel the potent alchymy of religious thought— and every thing that she touches she adorns. The mountain, the river, the cloud, the field of battle, and the tranquil fireside circle are all viewed through the clear medium of Christian philosophy, and their moral features are delineated with a steady and unerring hand. Her forte seems to lie in domestic scenes. These afford a proper field for the display of that characteristic which, if we mistake not, constitutes the principal charm of her poetry—tenderness. /
We will present our readers with a specimen of her powers in this way.
“THE LOST DARLING.
“She was my idol. Night and day to scan
As though it were a sin to speak to one
And yet I wish I had not seen the pang
Gone to God!
Her descriptions of natural scenery are highly graphic, at the same time that they are chaste in diction, and richly melodious in rhythm and measure. The poem entitled Connecticut River, which is rather too long for quotation, will afford a sufficient justification of this opinion. We will present a little domestic picture, touched with all the delicacy of one of Claude's landscapes or Van Huysem's flower pieces.
“A COTTAGE SCENE.
“I saw a cradle at a cottage door,
Sad I came
But Mrs. Sigourney's muse has not limited her to domestic scenes and descriptive effusions. Like Mrs. Hemans she occasionally presents us with a historical picture, —sketchy but striking—and always glowing with a pure religious light. The following we have chosen rather for its brevity than its superiority to others of the same class.
“COLUMBUS BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY OF SALAMANCA. o “St. Stephen's cloistered hall was proud
In learning's pomp that day,
For there a robed and sately crowd
“What hath he said? With frowning face,
“Courage, thou Genoese!. Old Time
“Courage, World-finder! Thou hast need!
The only faults we feel disposed to find with these poems, are their brevity and a degree of carelessness in respect to the measure, which last desect, however, is but occasionally observable,
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. **walk writers are supposed to have a claim on the peculiar indulgence of cri. tics. 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