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The Brothers ; a Tale of the Fronde. New-York: Harper and Brothers. 2 vols.,
2 vols., 12mo. Many weeks have elapsed since we have received these volumes, and yet, owing to our neglect — ay, neglect is the word — we have suffered them to lay before us unnoticed. Such delay might make it too late to speak of the work, were it no better than the ephemeral novels of the day ; but the Brothers' is a tale of such sterling merit, that it should be bought, not borrowed, and lie upon the table of every reader, who knows how to appreciate literary talent, for frequent reference and perusal. Such being the case, it is not yet too late for us to record our opinion of one of the most admirable productions of the day. Contrary to the custom of reviewers, we have read the book once, twice, thrice ; and might read it again and again without wearying.
Mr. Herbert, one of the editors of the American Monthly Magazine, is understood to be author. He has brought to his task extraordinary descriptive powers, a masterly command of language, a deep knowledge of the human heart, an intimacy with history, and a sympathy with whatever is grand or beautiful in nature and in action. He has chosen a period of time, as the date of his narrative, not too remote for sympathy, and yet far enough from a familiar era to create an interest in his powerful description of its politics and peculiarities. The rebellion of the Fronde, although too often regarded as a mere tumultuary movement of trivial import -- an event, misunderstood by the very actors in its stormy scenes — was, in fact, the first manifestation of that revolution of opinion, which eventually humbled the thrones of the proudest monarchies of Europe to the dust.
Henry Mornington, an English cavalier, in the prime of life, who has been compelled to fly to France, by the result of the civil war in England, which had placed the reins of power in the hands of Cromwell, is introduced to the reader in the first chapter, mounted on his good steed Bayard, and traversing a disaffected district, being commissioned by Cardinal Mazarin to bring up a large body of French cavalry, to join the royal army, then in want of reinforcements. The hero is such a man as lords and ladies love to honor : not ill-looking, brave, faithful, chivalrous : a gallant soldier, an accomplished horseman, fond of his good steed and his staunch hound, prompt in action and foremost in the fray. He suddenly becomes spectator of a fierce duel between two brothers, who slay each other ; rescues a lady, about whom they had been fighting, from pursuit, at the risk of his life, and places her in the convent of St. Benedict aux Layes. The lady — Isabel de Coucy — is young, beautiful, and unhappy ; she cannot explain the mystery which surrounds her, and she is without a protector. To acquire the right of shielding her, the English caralier, convinced of her truth without seeking to penetrate her mystery, weds the fair girl he has saved, with the consent and assistance of the Benedictine prior. At this period of the story, let us pause and introduce an extract, as a specimen of the descriptive powers of the author of the Brothers.'
• Conducted by the monk, we threaded the long corridors within the pile ; thence through a low-browed arch, we gained the outer cloisters — dark, damp, and cheerless. I felt the frame of my companion shiver, as we passed along the gloomy, cavernous range, and I knew intuitively the thoughts that were working in her guileless heart. In such moments as these, the strongest heart is prone to superstitious terrors ; the most skeptical look for omens in the merest occurrences of chance, and pin their faith, as it were, upon a falling leaf or fading flower. I was
about to speak cheerfully, when our conductor unlatched a door leading into an inner garden, beyond which lay the chapel, with its tall pointed windows glancing in the moonlight. The contrast between the gloom within and the heavenly brilliancy without, was not required to impress the mind with the beauty of the scene. The quiet garden, with its clustering evergreens, its embowered walks, and its dark foliage, gemmed with the night-dew, and sleeping in the placid moonshine — the crystal pool in the centre, with its tall fountain shooting upward towards the clear blue sky, its summit bathed in silvery light, and a thousand prismatic colors playing on its dancing rain-drops, while its base lay steeped in shadow ; the light clustered columns and pointed arches, rich with the Horid traceries of the later Norman style ; the rustle of the gentle west wind among the shrubs — for the night was as calm and spring-like as the morning had been wintry and severe - combined to form one of the most lovely pictures of tranquillity and happiness I had ever witnessed.'
Leaving his bride in the care of the Benedictine prior, the cavalier rides forward on the route to Pont à Mousson. The sketch of his person is capital, and we make no apology for extracting it.
I was, at this eventful period of my fortunes, somewhat past my thirtieth year ; although — from Jong exposure to war and weather, and from having been cast very early upon the world, under circumstances such as form the character and ripen the mind — I looked several years older. Not unusually tall or bulky in my person, I was both strongly and actively framed ; and constant exercise and hardship had indurated my muscles to a degree that would have rendered me more than a match for many a heavier antagonist than myself. My features were irregular – not so much so, however, as to amount to ugliness, much less to vulgarity. My eye, though sunken, or, to speak more properly, deep-set, was quick and clear; and my brow - now surrounded by a black fillet - was broad and fully developed. My lip was shaded by a thick mustache, and, as I have elsewhere observed, I wore my hair in the long flowing curls at this time peculiar to the cavaliers. If, in addition to these, I mention that the lower part of my face was bronzed to almost Indian redness, while my forehead retained its natural fairness — that my arms, though not so long as to appear unsightly or deformed, were of unusual reach and that, from long practice, my motions were easier, and my general appearance far more graceful, on horseback, than when on foot — no description can be more accurate. On my departure from St. Germains, my dress had been carefully selected for other qualities than richness or display – properties which, however admirable in the court, would have been of no small disadvantage under existing circumstances. A strong, but plain, buff coat, with none of the rich silken loops or fringes of Flanders lace, with which it was then the mode to deck the sternest habiliments of war ; a gorget, or cuirass of steel, which, although highly polished and of the choicest metal, were neither chased nor inlaid with gold or silver ; heavy jack-boots, extending far above the knee, and equipped with a pair of massive spurs ; gauntlet of buff, protected on the outside by iron scales ; and a staunch hat, provided with jointed cheek-pieces, and an inner lining of the same material ;such were the accoutrements of a well-appointed trooper, and with such, for the support of that character, I had furnished myself. Plain, however, and unadorned as they had appeared, when I sallied, some three weeks before, from my headquarters, they were then at least in the highest state of order ; which was more than could have been said of them when I halted for the night at Beaumont. The leather of my doublet was sorely chafed, and splashed with specimens of every different soil through which my road had lain ; the steel of my breastplate was curiously ingrained with rust of every hue, from the deep black of a fortnight's growth to the red stain of yesterday ; my boots, guiltless of the brush, were gray and mildewed ; while my castor, that Corinthian capital of a gentleman's architecture, had been shorn of its feather, and knocked into every various shape of which a Spanish beaver is susceptible. It was in vain that, during my last halt, I stuck a new feather of the royal colors into my weather-beaten hat, and flung a bright scarf, of the same dye, across my shoulders ; I could not cheat even myself into the belief
that I bore the slightest resemblance to a chef d'escadron — for such was the rank I bore — in the service of the most Christian king.'
Mornington takes command of the squadron and leads it towards the head-quarters of the royal troops, but arrives at the Benedictine priory only in time to witness the forcible removal of Isabel by unknown enemies, and to fall, covered with wounds, while endeavoring to save her. He snbsequently discovers that his secret enemy, and the persecutor of Isabel, is young de Chateaufort, the sole surviving son of the duke de Penthievre — the other two brothers having fallen in the duel. Mornington's endeavors to discover the prison-house of his bride, are fruitless. De Chateaufort's enmity is caused by his knowledge that, in the event of Isabel's marriage, the estates of her family will pass away with her — they being secured by a certain statute which is unaffected by the Salic law. Meanwhile, Mornington renders the royal party signal service, and gains the esteem and friendship of the great Condé. At length, he discovers the place of his wife's confinement, and frees her by the prowess of his arm. But the machinations of his powerful enemy have not yet ceased — de Chateaufort having influence enongh to procure the arrest of his foe on the charge of having murdered his two brothers, and of having illegally married an heiress — a ward of court. The principal evidence of the murder is a document, the forgery of which is betrayed, and the marriage is proved legal by the sudden appearance of the father of Isabel de Coucy, in the person of the noble prior of St. Benedict aux Layes. The restoration of Mornington to royal favor and the arms of his bride, is the result ; and he receives the marèschal's baton from the fair hand of Anne of Austria, the queen-regent herself.
Such is a meagre outline of the tale ; but it is impossible to speak in sufficiently warm terms of the skilful conduct of the story to its denouement, or of the masterly sketches of Cardinal Mazarin, Condé, Turenne, de Charmi, and the other characters. Lydford is exceedingly well drawn. But, perhaps, the battle-pieces are the best in the book. Like those of Wouvermans, they place the reality before us. We hear the bray of the trumpets, the neighing of the steeds, and the report of the petronels and culverins; we see the fierce charge of the royal cavalry, the wave of the embroidered banners, and the dazzling weapons of the cavaliers. If our recommendation be of any avail, we advise those of our readers who have not already done so, to procure the · Brothers,' at once, and thus secure a valuable addition to their stores of fiction.
Horse-Shoe Robinson ; a Tale of the Tory Ascendancy. By
the Author of Swallow Barn.' Philadelphia : Carey, Lea and Blanchard. 2 vols., 12mo.
This work has been before the public for several months, and had no sooner appeared than it was at once taken into favor, and deservedly ranked among those choice and rare works which may be read repeatedly without much diminution of interest and pleasure. If its predecessor — 'Swallow Barn ' — was worthy of its warm reception, `Horse-Shoe Robinson' is yet more so. If the former reminded us occasionally of Irving, and seemed to resemble his tales in slenderness of plot, the latter is distinguished for its rich originality, and the interest of its story. It is
not our intention, at this late hour, to give an outline of a tale, with which it is probable that many of our readers are acquainted, nor to rack our ingenuity to invent blemishes, after the honored custom of critics ; but simply to add our tribute of praise to the universal voice of the reading public. In this case, at least, the vox populi has shouted for the right man. Mr. Kennedy, as a novelist, stands deservedly high. All his descriptive sketches and pictures of character and manners, are life-like and correct. His characters are not tainted with that exaggeration which is the besetting sin of modern novelists. They do not come, like shadows, to depart,' but leave a lasting impression on our minds, so that we refer to them and speak of them, as of personages whom we have actually encountered in the busy walks of life. Then there is in all Mr. Kennedy's portraits from life, what the painters call keeping. His gentlemen and ladies, unlike Mr. Cooper's, are gentlemen and ladies. They show, but do not speak of their breeding. They neither roll their eyes nor distort the muscles of their countenances. The gentletlemen do not cross their legs with grave deliberation, as General Washington does in the 'Spy.' Then, how charming are the heroines of the author of Swallow Barn.' What a gay, bold, dashing creature is Bel Tracy. 'Against the field, Bel Tracy!' Mildred Lindsay is a noble girl — enthusiastic, gentle, devoted, firm, feminine, lovely : an angel and a woman in a breath. The very spirit of truth breathes from the ruddy lips of the sweet · Maid of the Mill'— the rosy and heroic little lassie who loves John Ramsay with all a heroine's devoted tenderness. Yet, it is not alone in the delineation of such gentle characters that our author's forte lies ; for, are there not the hero, a breathing, good-humored, and true-hearted gi
the cunning Curry the fierce and sensual Habershaw the fiendish Wat Adair — and a whole host of others? The scenes change, but the wizard's power is manifest in all. The woodman's hut, the miller's abode, the tory bivouac, the fight, the flight, and the trial, are portrayed with equal fidelity and force. Lack of space alone enables us to resist the temptation of embellishing our pages with some of the high-wrought scenes of this delightful novel.
Plan of Boston.
Published by George G. Smith, Engraver.
This plan, which has lain for some weeks on our table, unnoticed, not on account of its lack of merit, but through the multiplicity of our engagements, is, in all respects, worthy of general patronage. It is exceedingly well executed, and, as far as our knowledge extends, perfectly correct. It contains all the new names of streets — which the taste of the City Council changes often enough as well as the new squares, places, courts and streets, which are named and made, or named and not made, or made and not named. The size is convenient, the paper fair and substantial, and every bar-room, reading-room, club-room, or any room of any kind whatsoever, where people ‘most do congregate,' should be esteemed unfurnished unless furnished with Mr. George G. Smith's plan of Boston.
In looking over the map of this curious peninsula, whereon is so strangely constructed our sober city, we are struck with the elegant irregularity of the streets and the studied confusion of the lanes and alleys. “The houses in Baltimore,' said a Boston lady to a gentleman of that city, seem to have been thrown into the streets, and left to scramble for places.' “Yes,' said the Baltimorean ; and the
same may be said of Boston, with the addition that your houses have scrambled for places and not been able to find them.' To our mind, however, as we look at the map, it is the streets which seem to have been thrown in promiscuously among the houses, through which they meander as gracefully as curving rivulets through a grove.
The misnomers of some of these streets are a little amusing ; though, at the same time, others are named with exceeding appropriateness. There is Pleasant street, which is not very pleasant ; there is Traverse street, which is no thoroughfare ; there is Poplar street, one of the most unpop'lar in the city ; there is Rowe street, as peaceable as any other. On the other hand, there is Short street, which is very short ; Winter street, as cold as an iceberg ; Beacon street, the most conspicuous (most beautiful too, by the way) of all; and, better than any, Somerset street, which has lately turned topsy-turvy. But the most inappropriatelynamed place in Boston is 'The Common’; for it is the most uncommon Tesort in the city. Beautiful as it is, magnificent as are the rows of trees which border it, cool and delightful as it is in summer ; smooth, broad and shady as are the walks ; the Common is not a resort for the fashionable nor of the citizens generally. Except on Sunday evenings in August, and great muster-days, crowds are never witnessed there. The élite prefer Washington street, with its narrow sidewalks, rattling carts and vulgarities, to the free, open and quiet Mall. Could a European city boast such a magnificent spot, it would be thronged from morn till noon from noon till dewy eve.' It is always a matter of astonishment to strangers, that it should be so neglected.
Notice. George Dearborn, of New-York, has in press, and will shortly publish "THE POEMS OF Fitz-GREENE HALLECK;' also, “THE CULPRIT FAY AND OTHER POEMS, BY T. RODMAN DRAKE.' These are to be edited by Mr. Halleck. Judge Story's Eulogy on Chief Justice Marshall will shortly appear, published by James Munroe & Co. Besides several small works, we have in reserve for future notice, 'An Exposition of the Mysteries or Religious Dogmas and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, Pythagoreans and Druids. Also, An Inquiry into the Origin, History and Purport of Freemasonry, by John Fellows, A. M.; - a work which exhibits much curious research and learning.