Page images
PDF

upon us. Mr. Froude would explain the secret of Mary's passion for him.

'Afterwards when Mary Stuart returned, and Murray and Maitland ruled Scotland, Bothwell continued true to his old colours, and true to the cause which the Queen of Scots in her heart was cherishing. Hating England, hating the Eeformers, hating Murray above all living men, he had early conceived projects of carrying off his mistress by force from their control—nor was she herself supposed to have been ignorant of his design. The times were then unripe, and Bothwell had retired from Scotland to spend his exile at the French court, in the home of Mary Stuart's affection; and when he came back to her out of that polished atmosphere of devilry, she found his fierce northern nature varnished with a thin coating of Parisian culture, saturated with Parisian villany, and the Earl himself with the single virtue of devotion to his mistress, as before ho hod been devoted to her mother. Her own nature was altogether higher than Bothwell's, yet courage, strength, and a readiness to face danger and dare crime for their sakes, attract some women more than intellect however keen, or grace however refined. The affection of the Queen of Scots for Bothwell is the best evidence of her innocence with Eitzio.'—ii. pp. 295-96.

This last sentence reads to us as if a spike or so of Mr. Froude's paradoxes were yet unsown.

The awful close—the murder of Darnley—Mr. Froude has worked out with more than his own highest power and simplicity; this simplicity is at once the manifestation and the secret of its power. One touch is new to us. When the Queen quitted Damley's bedside, after being more than ordinarily lavish, as it seemed, of her fondness, she let drop one fearful sentence.

'The King, though it was Late, was in no mood for sleep, and Mary's last words sounded awfully in his ears. "She was vory kind," he said to Nelson, " but why did she speak.of Davie's slaughter?"'— ii. p. 369.

Surely this betrays something more than the wounded pride of a Queen, the grief and indignation for the cruel murder of a faithful servant It is the vengeance for a deeper injury.

'Just then Paris came back to fetch a fur wrapper which the Queen had left, and which she thought too pretty to be spoiled. "What will she do ?" Darnley said again when he was gone; "it is very lonely." The shadow of death was creeping over him; he was no longer the random boy who two years before had come to Scotland filled with idlo dreams of vain ambition. Sorrow, suffering, disease, and fear had done their work. He opened the Prayer-Boole, and read over the 55th Psalm, which by a strange coincidence was in the English service for the day that was dawning.

'These are tho last words which are known to have passed tho lips

Mary Stuart's husband:—■

'"Hear

'" Hear my prayer, oh Lord, and hide not thyself from my petition.

'" My heart is disquieted within me, and the fear of death is fallen upon me.

'" Fearfulness and trembling are come upon mo, and an horrible dread hath overwhelmed me.

'" It is not an open enemy that hath done mc this dishonour, for then I could have borne it.

'" It was even thou my companion, my guide, and my own familiar friend."

'Forlorn victim of a cruel time! Twenty-one years old—no more. At the end of an hour he went to bed, with his page at his side. An hour later they two were lying dead in tho garden under the stars.'— ii. pp. 369-70.

Of the authenticity of the famous letters, Mr. Froude lias not the least doubt; he has enwoven them into his story. And in truth, after Hume's note, it may seem, to the calm inquirer, surprising that they have been held in doubt. Poetry and Romance may still submit to that spell'of fascination which held all Scotland, all but Knox, under its resistless magic; the sad fate of Mary may still appeal to what Mr. Froude well calls the 'imaginative sympathies,' which still repudiate the severe truths of history. Fotheringay may disturb the least impassioned judgment, and cast back, as it were, a shade of compassionate doubt, on. Kirk-aField. But calm, stern Reason cannot swerve from her office.

At all events with Mr. Froude was all contemporary feeling, all contemporary belief. From that moment all was lost to Catholicism in the two kingdoms. This the Catholics themselves acknowledged; many of the English hastened to transfer their allegiance to their last hopeless hope, Catherine Grey.

Spain at once threw up her game in utter desperation. The war against Elizabeth, against England, must be carried on no longer in Scotland; it must be resumed by other means and in other quarters. All the French documents are to the same effect. M. Mignet is at one with Mr. Froude.

It would indeed be difficult, we believe, to produce one authority of the time in favour of Mary. It was not until much, if not all, was forgotten, that a reaction took place; a reaction of romantic compassion for her sufferings, a vague admiration of her beauty, a feeling half of romantic Scoticism, half of religious antipathy to Elizabeth. Mary has, notwithstanding the verdict of friends as well as of foes, continued to bewitch a large part of posterity into belief in her innocence.

Art.

[ocr errors]

Art. VIII.—1. A Memoir of Charles James Blomfield, D.D^ Bishop of London; with Selections from his Correspondence. Edited by his Son, Alfred Blomfield, M.A., Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and Incumbent of St. Philip's, Stepnev. 1863.

2. Addresses and Charges of Edward Stanlej/, D.D. (late Bishop of Noncich); with a Memoir. By his Son, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, M.A., Fellow and Tutor of University College, Oxford. 1851.

3. Tiie Life of the Right Rtv. Daniel Wilson, D.D., late Lord Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India. By the Rev. Josiah Bateman, M.A., Rector of North Cray, Kent, his Sonin-Law and First Chaplain. 2 vojs.^vo. London. 1859.

FEW branches of literature areTnore generally, or, if well executed, more deservedly popular than biographies. The history of almost any man, if truly and simply told, must be full of interest to other men. The causes of this interest are suggested with all his wonted tenderness of touch and truth of sentiment by M. Guizot in his etude entitled 'L'Amour dans le Mariage.' 'Men will have,' he says, 'romances. Why not instead look closely into history? There, too, they would find human life, with its infinitely varied and dramatic scenes; the human heart with all its passions, startling and tender, and, above all, the master-charm of reality. . . Beings who have really lived, who have actually felt the chances, the passions, the joys and griefs, the aspect of which affects us so powerfully, these seen close at hand attract me more powerfully than the most perfect of romances. A human being-, the handy work of God, so displayed before us, is far above all the works of man. Of all poets God is the greatest' *

Beyond, moreover, this portraiture of human nature, many biographies afford the finest and most real of touches of history. Events are for the most part only interesting to us in proportion to our power of associating with them the feelings, and sufferings, and interests of the men by whom they were accomplished, or on whom they acted; and when therefore biography reveals to us the actors in the great dramas of history as they really lived and felt, and aspired and wrought, it rises to the highest conceivable conditions of interest

The difficulty of obtaining such biography is extreme. Writers who follow the subjects of their memoirs at a small distance of time are peculiarly liable to imperfect and distorted views.

• ' L'Amour daus le Manage,' 1 and 2.

The Church of England and her Bisfiops. 539

Mists ever hang the thickest and the darkest around the near objects of the low valleys, even when the giant tops which pierce the sky are bright in their inaccessible distance with the light of heaven. Actual contemporaries are almost certain to be too much interested on the one side or the other in the scenes in which their hero has been an actor to be free from the strong temptation to depreciate an adversary or to exalt a friend. Autobiography is, perhaps, the best form which this species of contemporary history can take. For though there are few who can take so impartial a view of themselves, and of matters round them, as to pen lines like those in which Gibbon has so inimitably sketched himself, yet it is easier for honest criticism to rectify, so to speak, the misrepresentations of the autobiographer than those of the friendly relator as to whose special views and weaknesses it has not such full information.

This is the best justification we know of that of which late years have given so many examples, namely, the writing of the father's life by the son. For this is the next step to autobiography. It is not plainly without its peculiar dangers. The portrait of a mother exhibited in the Royal Academy, in 1862, shows us that there are faces which a son can venture to draw with absolute fidelity, and that there are limners capable of transferring exquisitely to canvas the well-known and beloved lineaments. But there are not many painters like Sir Coutts Lindsay, nor many subjects such as it was his lot to paint. Still such sketching is autobiography at one remove, and we are ready to receive it as such, and are, we believe, able, when so taken, to correct by a calculation which is not in itself difficult, the errors which are likely to find their way into the recorded series.

The works the titles of which we have placed at the head of this article are all of this character; two of them being written by sons, and one by the son-in-law of the subjects of their memoirs. In literary merit they differ widely. Mr. Bateman's Life of his father-in-law is detailed, and evidently faithful; but homely and unpretending in its execution. The most living parts are those in which the Bishop is let to speak for himself. The chaplain son-in-law's surrounding text suggests to us the belief that he was sometimes scandalised by the more unrestrained movements of his episcopal superior, and.would, if he could, have cut the doublet something squarer, slouched the hat a little broader, and settled the' somewhat coarse but kindly and expressive features into a more habitually artificial gravity.

Canon Stanley's memoir is a very different production, though he, too, has a few difficulties to reduce, and a few softening touches

with

S with which to send forth his portraiture before a critical world. But it exhibits all the excellences of his character and the graces of his pen. There is that power of making the picture live before the eye, which adds so fascinating a charm to all his writings. There is such a loving reverence breathing through the whole, that it soon imparts itself to the reader; and as he proceeds he is hardly able to blame what he disapproves. As we read of his father's work on Birds, and on his reception of Jenny Lind, we could almost fancy that the Canon of Christchurch found some interest in Natural History, and did not abhor Music. The memoir is what all his writings are—a most skilful, because a concealed, justification of his own opinions, thrown into a sketch of such beauty of language, such tenderness of feeling, and such completeness of execution, that we cannot imagine any reader of well-instructed taste beginning the memoir and laying it down unfinished. We must in truthfulness add, that discerning and observant readers will, we fear, trace already in these pages an inclination to blot out the supernatural element from a revelation which, if it be not supernatural, must be false alike in fact and in intention. It grieves us to remark this tendency; nor should we have called attention to it here, had we not felt bound to mingle with our praises this note of caution as to every theological composition of this polished and graceful pen.

The memoir of Bishop Blomfield, if it does not sparkle or beguile like that of Bishop Stanley, is on the whole a creditable performance. The Life was in more respects than one difficult for a son to write. It would not have been difficult to make it jocular and unbecoming its purpose; it would have been easy to make it stately, defensive, and dull. It has happily, to a great degree, avoided both of these dangers. If those who were familiar with the Bishop, and knew how his overtasked mind continually sought some rest in fun and merriment, sometimes complain of the absence of his jests, we must remind them that to have read the written joke, in the midst of the narrative of the Life, would have been a widely different thing from witnessing the spark as it was cast forth the candescent metal, and seeing how small was its volume beside the living man who cast it from him. The volumes have, upon the whole, escaped the dulness of a chronicle, whilst they are a real sketch—generally fair, and sometimes almost dramatic—of the events in the midst of which the Bishop's life was cast They are, too, all sketches which possess the double claim on our attention of representing human life as it was seen by the narrators close at hand for our interest and instruction, and also of affording many materials for the history of

the

« PreviousContinue »