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DEATH OF LORD MACAULAY.
link these fragments together with pieces of inferior workmanship.
The first chapter of this noble work contains a rapid but masterly view of earlier English history, becoming more detailed and picturesque as that period of which Cromwell is the central figure widens on the historian's view. The second chapter depicts the shameful reign of the second Charles. The third—among all, most characteristic of Macaulay's historical treatment-shows us the cabbages and gooseberry bushes growing close to the country squire's hall door in 1685 ; leads us through the shrub-wood, with here and there a woodcock, which covered the site of now brilliant, busy Regent Street; introduces us to the literary gossips at Will's Coffee-house, and the grave surgeons who clustered round Garraway's tables; carries us in a Flying Coach at the wonderful rate of forty miles a day along roads thick with quagmires and infested with highwaymen; brings us even into the crowded jails, festering with dirt, disease, and crime ;-gives us, in short, such a picture of old England in the days of the Stuarts as no writer had ever given us before. From novels, plays, pictures, maps, poems, diaries, letters, and a hundred other such sources, with patient industry he collected his materials for this remarkable view of English life. Then, after an overture so magnificent, the brilliant drama, on which the black curtain fell sadly soon, opens with the death of King Charles the Second.
The slight put upon Macaulay by the electors of Edinburgh was somewhat atoned for in 1852, when they returned him as their member, although he issued no address and stooped to solicit no vote. For four years he continued to represent that city in Parliament; but his day of public life was nearly over,—he was fast breaking prematurely down. Resigning his seat in 1856, he entered the Upper House in the following year as Baron Macaulay of Rothley Temple, having received his peerage chiefly as a fitting tribute to his eminent literary merit. 1859 He wore the coronet little more than two years, dying on A.D. the 28th of December 1859. We have spoken of Macaulay's prose. The little poetry he has
THE LAYS OF ANCIENT ROME.
left us affords almost equal delight, and is equally worthy of close and careful study. Having tried his youthful pen in the composition of stirring ballads from English and French history, such as The Armada and the Battle of Ivry, on his return from India he resumed this style in his noble Lays of Ancient Rome, which were published in 1842. The four Lays,—Horatius Cocles, The Battle of Lake Regillus, Virginius, and The Prophecy of Capys—are imaginative reproductions, in the English ballad style and measure, of those old songs which Niebuhr justly believes to have formed the early history of Rome. For marvellous power over the picturesque —a single line, sometimes even a single word, suggesting a landscape or a group—these Lays have never been surpassed by any poems of their kind. The free swing of the melody, streaming on in a rush of Saxon words, such as alone can trace vivid pictures on an English page, has a mingling of warlike fire, thoroughly in keeping with the character of the plain, hardy, bronze-cheeked, ironlimbed plebeians of the early Republic, who are supposed to listen to and be kindled by the song.
THE BURIAL-PLACE OF MONMOUTH,
In the meantime many handkerchiefs were dipped in the Duke's blood; for by a large part of the multitude he was regarded as a martyr, who had died for the Protestant religion. The head and body were placed in a coffin covered with black velvet, and were laid privately under the communion-table of Saint Peter's Chapel in the Tower. Within four years the pavement of the chancel was again disturbed ; and hard by the remains of Monmouth were laid the remains of Jeffreys. In truth, there is no sadder spot on the earth than that little cemetery. Death is there associated not, as in Westininster Abbey and Saint Paul's, with genius and virtue, with public veneration and imperishable renown; not, as in our humblest churches and church-yards, with everything that is most endearing in social and domestic charities; but with whatever is darkest in human nature and in human destiny,—with the savage triumph of implacable enemies,—with the inconstancy, the ingratitude, the cowardice of friends,—with all the miseries of fallen greatness and of blighted fame. Thither have been carried, through successive ages, by the rude hands of gaolers, without one mourner following, the bleeding relics of men who had been the captains of armies, the leaders of parties, the oracles of senates, and the ornaments of courts. Thither was borne, before the window where Jane Grey was praying, the mangled corpse of Guilford Dudley. Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Protector of the realm, reposes there by the brother whom he murdered. There has mouldered away
SPECIMEN OF MACAULAY'S PROSE.
the headless trunk of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester and Cardinal of Saint Vitalis, a man worthy to have lived in a better age, and to have died in a better cause. There are laid John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, Lord High Admiral; and Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, Lord High Treasurer. There, too, is another Essex, on whom nature and fortune had lavished all their bounties in vain, and whom valour, grace, genius, royal favour, popular applause, conducted to an early and ignominious doom. Not far off sleep two chiefs of the great house of Howard, Thomas, fourth Duke of Norfolk, and Philip, eleventh Earl of Arundel. Here and there, among the thick graves of unquiet and aspiring statesmen, lie more delicate sufferers ; Margaret of Salisbury, the last of the proud name of Plantagenet, and those two fair Queens who perished by the jealous rage of Henry. Such was the dust with which the dust of Monmonth mingled.
ALTHOUGH the English drama has fallen from its high estate, a few men still remind us in this nineteenth century that we are the countrymen of Shakspere, of Jonson, and of Massinger. Among such may be named Sheridan Knowles, the author of Virginius; Henry Taylor, the author of Philip van Artevelde; and Thomas Noon Talfourd, the author of Ion. That dramatic writing may not be entirely without a representative name in this last era of our literary history, we take the first and most prolific of these dramatists as the subject of a brief sketch.
James Sheridan Knowles was born in the year 1784, in Anne Street, Cork. His father was an English master and teacher of elocution there. During the boyhood of the dramatist the family removed to London, where the spirit of poetry began to stir in his heart, when he was about twelve years old. Writing a play for his boy friends, he conducted the performance himself. Then came from the new-fledged pen an opera, a ballad called The Welsh Harper, and a Spanish tragedy. But what more than all gave the genius of young Knowles its decided literary bent, was the notice with which the distinguished critic Hazlitt honoured him. Many a clever boy has written plays and poems at twelve or fourteen without turning out a Sheridan Knowles. Hazlitt, however, brought the boy to his house, made him known to Coleridge and to Lamb, and did him the invaluable
BEGINNINGS OF FAME.
kindness of criticising his juvenile productions, and cultivating his dramatic tastes.
It was in the Crow Street Theatre of Dublin that Knowles made his debut upon the stage. He did not take with the audience; in fact, his first appearance was an utter failure. Yet we find him persevering in his efforts to be an actor; and it was well for his fame that he did persevere, for his stage-experience must have greatly aided him in the preparation of his popular dramas. Conjoining, as did his far greater prototype Shakspere, the occupations of actor and dramatic author, he knew, from daily habit and observation, what was required to make a play tell upon
the house. None but a practical teacher can produce a thoroughly good and useful school-book; and, granting him to possess the requisite brains, we may reasonably expect the actor to produce a more effective play than the working lawyer, or the author who never leaves his desk,
In a theatrical company at Waterford, to which Knowles was for some time attached, he met Edmund Kean, who filled the principal part in his first acted play, called Leo the Gipsy. There, too, the publication of a small volume of poems, entitled Fugitive Pieces, brought the literary struggler a little money and some reputation.
But Belfast was the opening scene of his decided success in the walk he had chosen. While engaged there as a teacher of elocution and grammar, he produced a drama called Brian Boroihme, which was received in the local theatre with enthusiastic applause. And then came the first of his great plays, Caius Gracchus. 1815 Spurred on by success, for which he had long been battling and hoping, he continued his dramatic authorship. Virginius was the next production of his facile pen. Though offered to Kean-indeed it is said to have been written at his request—it was not first acted at Drury Lane, but came out under less favourable auspices in Glasgow. There it had a most successful run. Macready soon got hold of it, studied it, played it, and made his own fortune and the fame of Knowles. According to the opinion of Hazlitt, the author's old friend and mental father