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comparison which is, in one place, drawn between Cardinal Wolsey and the Almighty, or the laboured description of Hope, which is introduced into the account of the imprisonment of Francis I. The one might have done well in a sermon, and the other in an essay, but they are both clearly misplaced in a History of England. Want of judgment is strangely apparent in the minute attention he has paid to the continental wars, which took place in the early part of Henry's reign, and in which England was but little interested; whilst the latter part of his reign, from the divorce of Catherine, in which time are comprehended events of the very highest importance to the character of England, and which continue to produce effects even at the present day, are lightly passed over as matters of no moment. Hundreds of pages are dedicated to the quarrels between Charles and Francis, the revolt of Bourbon and the invasion of Italy, whilst the existence of the future Queen Elizabeth can only be inferred from a note; the suppression of the monasteries, the progress of the reformation, the executions of prelates, peers, and queens, are merely glanced at; and a variety of the most important occurrences affecting England, and England alone, passed over without any notice at all.. Want of method, also, is strikingly apparent in the unsatisfactory manner in which the proceedings in the divorce cause between Henry and Catherine are related, and in the account which he gives of the origin, in Henry's mind, of the idea of that divorce.
Mr. Turner's book is, in truth, very improperly designated a History of England; it is very little more than an endeavour to establish two propositions, first, that Sir Thomas More, Bishop Fisher, and the various other persons who were executed in Henry's reign, upon account of their religion, as is usually supposed, did not, in fact, suffer upon any such account, but were executed because they were guilty of high treason. Mr. Turner's second proposition is, that Henry VIII. was not the tyrannical Blue Beard that we have hitherto been accustomed to consider bim.
After carefully perusing all that Mr. Turner has advanced, we are of opinion, that neither of these propositions has been established. As to the first, it is true, that many persons were executed by Henry VIII., for what was then termed treason; but what did this arbitrary monarch procure to be enacted treason ?- It was treason to entertain those religious opinions, which Henry deserted for the sake of interest, or to gratify his lust; and it was for this new-fangled, religious treason, that the upfortunate More and others suffered. Mr. Turner may call this being executed for treason, but we still say, they suffered upon account of their religion, and not for treason, as that word is now understood.
In considering the personal character of Henry, Mr. Turner labors principally to establish two points: first, that the idea of the divorce from Catherine was instilled into his mind by Wolsey; and secondly, that little blame attaches to him in the case of Anne Boleyn. Throughout his work, Mr. Turner shows a determined hostility to Wolsey ; with a facility in calling names, which is quite
amusing, he terms him “an egotist, an actor, an hypocrite, a trickster, a tyrant, an ambi-dexter, a coxcomb, and a pantomimical puppet," and endeavours to shew, that all Henry's faults originated in him. It is peculiarly unfortunate for this opinion, that until after the disgrace of Wolsey, Henry conducted himself so well, that according to Mr. Turner, if he had died then,“ no king, since Alfred the Great, would have descended to his tomb with such lavish encomiums and universal admiration from the literature of that period.” “ It was only in the latter ten years, from the 45th to the 55th year of his life,” says Mr. Turner, " that the darker and censurable feelings and actions appeared which have attached to his memory its proverbial reproaches.” If this be true, it would appear, that whatever the personal character of Wolsey might be, his influence with Henry had not produced any other than a beneficial effect. But Mr. Turner cannot make up his mind to give Wolsey one iota of praise; and if there be any thing disreputable in the conduct of his favorite Henry, it is indiscriminately imputed to his minister.
“If," he says, " the measures to which he led his royal master be considered only in their individual detail, they bear the features of being subtle, inconsistent, entangling, deceptious, interested, and insincere, and some of his negociations deserve the worst of these epithets. He was certainly a double dealer, and neither understood the value of good faith, frankness, honor, probity, aud undisguising intrepidity, nor could make them the foundation nor the instruments of his policy. He frequently preferred the wily, the intricate, the secret, the insidious, the selfish, the mysterious, and the contradictory."
Such excess of censure loses its effect; and it is very clear that if the measures into which the royal master was led, were of the character here described, he does not deserve the Alfred-like reputation which Mr. Turner assigns to him for his conduct during the period referred to. No one but a fool or an accomplice could have borne a part in measures which were “ inconsistent, interested, and insincere.” Mr. Turner appears to us to be equally unfortunate in his endeavour to trace to Wolsey the first notion of the divorce from Catherine. The statement is altogether a very confused one; but they who take the trouble to investigate it, will find that the first mention of the divorce was in April, 1527, and Mr. Turner himself shews, that Henry was in love with Anne Boleyn early in that same year. Which is more likely; that Wolsey, to gratify his resentment against the emperor, determined, in April, 1527, to divorce his aunt, and that very opportunely, at that same time, Henry fell in love with Anne Boleyn; or that Henry, having once entertained his guilty passion, then first stirred up Wolsey to prosecute the means whereby he might gratify it?
In considering the conduct of Henry towards Anne Boleyn, Mr. Turner has, in our view of the matter, treated him far too leniently. The same lust which induced him to prosecute his divorce from Catherine, operated to dethrone her successor. The accusations against her, are too monstrous for belief. Can it be believed, that she, who for six years with stood all Henry's solicitations, could so soon afterwards fall off in the way supposed ? If her guilt had been elear, would this pice and tender husband have delayed the execution of the order of Privy Council, whereby she was arrested for a whole week after his dishonor had been rendered manifest? or, is it no argument in favor of the innocence of the unfortunate Anne, that previous to her accusation, Henry had become attached to Jane Seymour-that Anne Boleyn had rated him upon his attachment, and that they were actually married on the day after Anne's execution? Any one who could thus conduct himself, must have had the feelings of a lascivious beast, rather than those of a man, and it is fair to presume almost any thing against him.
Upon the whole, the character of Henry is in our opinion placed far too high-there are stains upon his character which no ingenuity can hide-stains of too deep a dye to be viewed with any feeling, save disgust. Altogether, the book is extremely unsatisfactory; but there are some parts of it deserving attention. The best chapters in it are those relating to the revolt of Bourbon, the particulars of which are related with a minuteness, singularly disproportionate to the flimsy manner in which more important affairs are treated of. The following circumstance has been, we believe, as Mr. Turner remarks, quite unnoticed by other historians.
It appears Bourbon was “ urgent that Henry should invade France immediately. He publicly declared to the ambassador, 'that if the king would personally, without delay, enter into France, he will give his grace leave to pluck out both his eyes, if he be not lord of Paris before Allhallow tide; and Paris taken, all the realm of France is his.' No words could be more emphatic, but they were repeated to a prime-minister's ear that was determined to be deaf, yet whose secret meaning was read by men like himself."
“ Bourbon urged the English ambassador to press again this essential measure. Pace faithfully reported his representations, assured Wolsey of the coinciding feelings of all the army, and expressed strongly his own assimilating sentiments. He even poured out his own feelings so freely as to write, 'Sir! to speak to you boldly, if ye do not regard the premises, I will impute to your grace the loss of the crown of France !' a sentence that stung too deeply to be forgotten or forgiven. Wolsey immediately returned a rebuke for its impeaching implication, and afterwards persecuted Pace till he became a beggar and a lunatic. While these urgent solicitations for an effectual co-operation were made to the cardinal, he as strenuously instructed the ambassador to obtain from the duke his oaths of homage and fealty to Henry, intimating that it would be the condition of an English invasion, probably from the belief or hope that Bourbon would not give it at the outset of his expedition ; for a direction is expressed to Pace what he should do in case it should be refused. Pace applied to the duke in obedience to these orders, who, with some uneasiness, referred him to the imperial minister, de Beaurain. This gentleman at once avowed two causes of hesitation ; a suspicion that Wolsey was carrying on a secret correspondence with France, and a certainty that it would offend the Pope. Bourbon at last assented to it, if it was awhile delayed, and privately given; and intimated, that if known, it might cause many of his friends in France to forsake him, as they desired him to take the crown of France to himself.' Nine days afterwards, the duke, with the approbation of the emperor, professed his willingness to take the oath desired; but objected to the homage, as inconsistent with his own free and sovereign tenure of the duchy that was to be retained by himself. Pace pressed him not to withhold this; but as Bourbon was firm on this point, it was given up, and the duke took the oath required in the presence of the viceroy and Beaurain. The ambassador stated this important fact to his government, with bis strongest assurances of the duke's probity and sincerity, and with a belief that he had no intention to seek the French crown for himself. He advised that Henry should at least go personally to Calais, as the rumour of his being there, although without an army, would put the enemy in great fear, and the duke of Bourbon in high comfort.'”
We are sorry we cannot speak more highly of this bulky volume. Mr. Turner is a writer we highly respect, but in the present instance, justice will not permit us to yield him any praise, at all commensurate with that we would have gladly given to some of his former productions.
Foscari, a Tragedy, by Mary Russell Mitford. London: Whittaker.
8vo. pp. 78. 1826. This tragedy has two distinct plots; one, the endeavour to unseat the Doge, and the other the accusation of murder, whicle is brought against the younger Foscari. Of the manner in which Mrs. Mitford has treated the first of these, we would speak in terms of unqualified approbation; the whole of the two acts through which it runs, are admirable, the language is strong, nervous, and poetical, and there much dramatic tact is displayed in the arrangement; but we cannot yield the same praise to the remainder of the play. The character of Erizzo is horribly unnatural; the second plot is essentially bad and confused, and if properly considered, there is not even a plausible reason for the conviction of Foscari. The cup of horrors is filled to an overflow, and distress is heaped upon distress, until the effect is entirely lost. The truth of history is widely and needlessly departed from. What reason, for instance, could there be for the gratuitous killing of Foscari? The tragedy would have ended much better without it. The bringing in of the dead body in act 4, is extremely injudicious; and the dance in the third act might well be omitted. The whole region of circumstantial evidence, and such blood-thirsty gentlemen as Erizzo, ought to be consigned to melo-drame, where both are extremely useful; neither of them suits the dignity, or the propriety, of tragedy. Nature is the proper study of a tragedian, and certainly human nature never exhibited a being of such unmixed evil as Erizzo. The man never lived, who for any cause performed such demon-like actions, without one compunctious visiting of conscience. We do not think the tragedy can last long upon the stage; but its success sufficiently shows, that a good play will succeed; and disproves the cant which we hear continually about the public distaste for the regular drama.
Regarded as a poem, Foscari certainly deserves great praise. The story of the Kite in the first act; the Doge's answer to Erizzo, and indeed the whole of the senate scene in the second act; Erizzo's statement of the murder; Camilla's appeal to the Doge; the defence of Foscari; and the passing of the sentence in the fourth act, and some passages in the parţing scene in act 5, all these do Miss Mitford an infinite deal of credit. There is in all of them a freedom, a vigour, a boldness of thought, and an ease of expression, which cannot be equalled in any play lately produced upon the stage. There are, indeed, several prettinesses which might be well struck out; but as a whole, the play is extremely well written. We shall make one extract in proof of our assertions. VOL. 1.
DOGE. “Hast thou said all ?
The Heart, and other Poems, by Percy Rolle. London: Westley
and Davies. 1826. pp. 128. 12mo. There are many faults, and many beauties, in this little volume. The faults are those of youth and inexperience, want of judgment and study; but the writer has evidently some of the true poetical inspiration, and may hereafter produce verses far more worthy of public attention. The following are extracts from an Ode to Death, which appears to us the best poem in the book :
* Great leveller---pale shadowy reaper, Death!
Thou that dost dash the hue from valour's cheek!
All creatures that have life---the strong---the weak!
Giant invisible ! and thy silent tread
But where thy steps have been,
And youth and flourishing beauty overthrown!
There was a time we were not; can it be
That makes us shudder to depart with thee?