THIS is understood to be the production of Mrs. HALL; a lady favourz..'aly known to the world of literature by her sketches of Irish character, in which she rivalled, if she did not outshine, Miss IVIirFoan in her pictures of English village character. Mrs. HALL also comes recommended to us as the editor of an excellent Juvenile Annual, and the authoress of numerous tales in it, and in other compilations of the Annual description. But this Buccaneer is a far wider and bolder flight. The regular novel, to an authoress .of sketches, is -an -enterprise something like the venture of a low- decked coaster across the Atlantic, or in a perilous doubling of the Cape. It would, however, be a great relief to us, if no persons undertook this grand enterprise unless they were as well qualified to "live at sea." as the•autlaoress before us.
The Buccanter. is dint a .hiE,tory of wild adventures in the Carib- . .
kean Seas, but of a Buccaneertin.the :Thames, who has done sad :and strange things -in times.. of yore. Reis at the opening of • the -story- tamed • and civilized-by the fact of -his having a gentle and beautiful daughter in England, who has-been brought up in the house of a man of rank on the coast of Kent, • and with whom the Buccaneer has, in early days, . been concerned in some very • nefarious transactions. This daughter, as also a certain den- of plunder and concealment in the Isle of Sheppy, called the Gull's Nest, —a cliff perforated by as many apartments as are contained inmost palaces,—form together the centre of the outlaw's proceedings. He haunts the 'cave, and lingers about the precincts of the mansion in which his child resides, through three volumes. His object is to be made an honest man again, through the patronage of the Protector ; against whom,. hitherto, his best efforts have been employed ;—for the heart of the Buccaneer, like that of most of his class, is right royal, until he finds the quietest way of ending his days is to desert the Cavaliers and offossOiervice to the Usurper. Hugh Dalton, and his vessel the Firefly, are conspicuous objects in the Buccaneer : but great as is their importance, it fades altogether before the myste- rious personage—the true hero of the novel—who is foundlere, there, and everywhere, in public and in secret, swaying everybody to his own purposes, knowing the thoughts of others almost by intuition, and invariably appearingin the most unlikely spots pos- sible, hut always apropos to some of his own -designs. This ex- traordinary being—spy, courier, soldier, nay bravo and brave—is neither more nor less than the Protector himself; who conde- scends to interfere in a love matter, which certainly was in a very untoward state, but scarcely required the interposition of a person of his quality. Constantine Cecil, a beauty and an heiress, is bound to be married to a man she detests,—and who doubtless is a most consummate villain—indeed one of those villains a lady only can imagine. But this villain bolds her father, Sir Robert Cecil, in dread, by a knowledge of some of the transactions of his early life; and hence his influence over the will of his daughter. One of these crimes is of that trivial kind, that was, if we may believe novelists, common in other times,—the murder of his elder brother, and the kidnapping of his son. Cromwell interferes, as might not certainly have been anticipated, to prevent the sacrifice of so much loveliness on so base an altar; and condescends, with this and a few other equally important matters, to occupy a pleasant month or two in the Isle of Sheppy.
But it would be endless to go into the ramifications of the various scenes of this tale,—which is indeed a novel of at least three tales: let us refer to the original, and our readers will see what a lady's brain is capable of spinning out in the way of all that is lovely and damnable.
There is a great deal of beauty and a great deal of' talent in the Composition of this work : and as to the historical part of it, we must say, that for a poetical view of CROMWELL, the best is here taken of that extraordinary man yet given in fiction, by no means excepting Mod stock. Mrs. HALL is not so embarrassed by Cavalierism as was Sir WALTER SCOTT; it does, however, beset her occasionally : but whenever she looks at the events of history without this taint, there is something masterly in her conceptions indicative of a very superior mind, albeit unexercised on such sub- jects. The only extract for which we can afford room, is one in which Cromwell is exhibited in his council-room, carrying on a judicial investigation into the villany of one of his quondam favourites.
" The course of justice must not be delayed, although it be the sabbath," said the Protector ; and, having hastily ascertained that his officer had arrived at Cecil Place in time to prevent the intended marriage, he immediately ordered that Colonel Jones and Sir Willmott Burrell should be at once ushered into his presence. At the same time he despatched one of his pages to command the at- tendance of Manasseh Ben Israel.
When the knight entered, he was received by Cromwell with his usual show of courtesy. He appeared, however, with a downcast look, his hands folded over his bosom, and his mind made up to the approaching contest with one whom he well knew to be as profound and accomplished a dissimulator as him- self, when dissimulation was the weapon wherewith lie designed to fight. Sir Willmott briefly apologized for his travel-worn and soiled habilunents, and displayed a due portion of surprise and indignation at being torn from his bride in the midst of the marriage ceremony. The Jew trembled with agitation, and would have interrupted the Protector's more slow, but not less sure, proceed- ings, had he not been prevented by a timely check from Cromwell, who bent his brow towards him with a peculiar and warning expression. "It cannot be supposed, Sir Willmott," Ile observed, in a calm, and even friendly tone, "but that I regret exceedingly being compelled to trouble you in this manner, and at such a time. You will be Made aware that I have been called upon to perform a double duty ; first, to my worthy and excellent friend Manasseh Ben Israel, with the nature of whose suspicions (it ruaketh a Chris- tian soul shudder to think upon it) you arc already acquainted ; and next, to the lady who was about to become your wife. Her Highness has long and truly loved her : and she is, moreover' somewhat related (although only after the Episcopalian fashion) to my most beloved daughter. I was, therefore, bound to have especial care concerning the maiden's bridal.
" The Lady Frances Cromwell could have informed your Highness that Mis- tress Constantia was, of her own free will, a party to the ceremony."
"I do not dispute it. Now our business is to satisfy the mind of our friend here as to your alleged conduct towards his only child. It is a noble matterin our laws, and one that we may well be proud of, that, by God's. blessing-, every man is considered innocent until he be proven guilty. The Lord forbid that I should lay aught of sin unto your charge !—you, who have appeared at all tunes a sure and a safe prop unto our Commonwealth. Doubtless you saw the Lady— Zillah: say you not, worthy Rabbi, that the maiden's name was Zillah?"
"Even so," replied the Jew, with a bitter sigh ; "she was named after her mother."
"You, doubtless, saw her ; and, struck by her beauty, which we hear was most marvellous, paid her more courtesy than was .quite fitting in a betrothed man. But Satan lays many snares for the unwary, and beauty is a peril that few men altogether escape. Verily, it is of the evil one. But there-are-excuse;
atleast there may be excuses, especially in such a land as France, where temp- tation assumes every seducing form; and a young woman, like this lady, Might have been easily led to believe your bourtliness to be that of the heart, whereas it was only that of the manner. The Rabbi stood aghast : his friend Cromwell talked in a tone so much more moderate than he hadexpected, he knew not what to think. Even Burrell, who
bad anticipated a thunder-storm, was deceived by the calm; and, after con- sidering a moment that the Protector would .not speak thus if be had really re- . ceived any communication from Hugh Dalton, replied, breathing freely for the first time since he received the mandate to appear at Hampton Court, " It is possible she might have been led to such belief, though, as I have before as- sured her father, I had no intention so to Mislead his daughter. • • It is very hard to be suspected of a crime so base; and—" " But Innocence wears a robe of such pure light,". interrupted the Protector, " that it will shine in the darkest night, as yours will, if you are innocent. 'Know you how the fair Jewess became possessed of this picture ? Nay, I should hesitate to think harshly of you, even if yeti had given it to her, which you might have.done in pure friendliness, although the world—it is a harsh and ill- judging world—might Condenin you on such ground. But we have ourselves suffered so much from its wrong judgment es to have /earned mercy towards others. Friendship, excellent, right, true friendship, may exist between man and woman in our advanced—ay, and in our young years. Why should it nut? Or, as the picture is of excellent painting, and the young lady, it would seem, desired accomplishment in that useless art, you might have lent it to her as a study--or--"
" I certainly did not give it," -replied Burrell ; " hut I have some idea of having lent-it, with sundry Flemish drawings. Your Highness may remember that several gentlemen, attached to the embassy at Paris, came away hastily. I was one of those."
• Hereupon the Rabbi would have spoken, for he remembered how Sir Will- aloft had told him that the picture was not his ; but the Protector again stayed him, seekingth entangle Burrell in a web of his own weaving. " You ■,•isited the lady frequently ?" . " Not very frequently. I told Manasseh: 'Ben Israel, when he first injured me by this most unjust suspicion, that I did not often see her, and when 1 did, it was to ascertain if there were any letters'she desired to tranaint to England." " Net from the carnal desire of paying her homage?" • " How could your Highness suppose it *as?"
" You but row confessed she might so have interpreted your civilities. But —know you aught of one Hugh Dalton a free-trader ?" "Know—know—know, your Highness ? I know him for a most keen vil- lain !" replied the Master of Burrell warmly..
"Indeed !—But you scorned not to employ him."
Burrell was silent; for, though he had journeyed full fifty •rnileS, he had not been able to form any :plan of defence, if Cromwell should really be aware of the arraugements entered into in the cavern of the Gulls' Nest Crag. Such he now dreaded was the fact, not only from the appearance of a paper the Protector drew forth, bitt 'from the fact that the seeming calmness was fading from his brow. All that remained. was stoutly to deny its being in his handwriting : it was a case that finesse could in no way serve. . • " Did your Highness mean that I employed this Man?" he said at last, with a clever mingling of astonishment and innocence in his voice and meaner.
During a brief pause that followed, the eye of Cromwell was, as it were, nailed upon his countenance. " I do mean, Sir Willmott Burrell, that you scorned not to employ this man. Know you this hand-writing?" Sir Willmott's worst fears-were confirmed.
" Permit me," he said, glancing over the dopument; then, looking from it with most marvellous coolness, he raised his eyes, exclaiming,. "Sir, there is a plot for My destruction ! This hand-writing is so well feigned, that I could have sworn it my own, had I not known the totalimpossibility that it could so be!". •
"I have seen your hand-writing before :—write tuiw, Sir." - Burrell obeyed, took the pen in his hand, and Cromwell noted that it trem- bled much. " Sir Willmott, I believe-you in general place your paper straight ?"
"Please your Highness, I do; but I am not cool—net collected enough to act as calmly as at my own table. The knowledge in whose presence I sit, might agitate stronger nerves than mine. Behold, Sir, the villain counterfeited well; the IV is exact, even in the small hairstrokethe U's are crossed at the same distance, and the //'s are of the height of mine :—a most villauous, but most excellent counterfeit !"
" Which?" inquired the Protector : "which mean ye is the counterfeit—the 'Writing or the writer? Without there !—Call in Robin Hays. Sir Willmott Burrell, Sir Willmott Burrell! the Lord deliver me from such as thou art !" he continued, swelling and chafing himself into anger, "pricking the sides of his intent.," that so he might overwhelm the dastard Knight. "We doubted, Sir, at first, but we doubt no longer. Sir, you have robbed that old man of his daughter ! You have, by so doing, perjured your own soul, and brought most foul dishonour upon England. I once heard you talk Of patriotism : a true pa- triot loves his country too well to commit a dishonourable action ! Sir, I have learned that you were married to the Jewish girl."
. "Please your Highness," interrupted Manasseh at length, "I do not wish the marriage: if there .be, as we suppose, a marriage, I wish it not kept ; I only want my wretched and deluded child."
"Your pardon, good Rabbi. I am Protector of the rights, and not the fanta- sies, of those who Inhabit England, and I held no sinecure. You may well turn pale; Master of Burrell! 0 'Lord that such should dwell in the tents of Judah !—that such should remain Sound in life and limb, blessed with carnal and' fleshly comforts !—that such reptiles should crawl among us—be fed by the same food, warmed by the same sun, as just men ! No, no, Manasseh ; if there has been a marriage, as sure as the Almighty governs Heaven, it shall be kept ! -Nay, Sir Willmott Burrell, never dare to knit your brows. Justice, Sir, justice to the uttermost, is what I desire in this country ! DOst remember the fate of Don Pantaleon Sa, the Portugal Ambassador's brother—a Knight of Malta, and a person eminent in many great actions? Dost remember him, I say—that he died the death of a murderer, according to the Scripture, 'he that sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.' Justice shall be satisfied ! Not that I seek to confound you without a hearing. But here comes one, once a re- tainer of your own, who can point out where the lady is." Robin Hays, little conscious of the fate that had befallen Barbara, entered with much alacrity, for he was glad of any thing that afforded him change of place.
"What, Robin Hays !" said Burrell. "Methinks your Highness has as-. aembled most creditable witnesses against me—a Jew, and a thing like that ! "
"No sneering, Sir. This person asserts that Zillah Ben Israel came over in the Firefly."
" Ah! with Hugh Dalton," said Sir Willmott, thrown off his guard at what he conceived the Skipper's utter faithlessness; then muttering, "I thought—" "No matter what. Methinks this confirms the document you denied," ob- served the Protector, whose rage had somewhat subsided. "No, not with Hugh Dalton, as you imagine, Sir Willmott, but with a man of the name of Jeromio an Italian. The description answers in every respect—the dark eye, the Maui hair, the sallow aspect—all." u Indeed !" said Colonel Jones, who bad been present &irk% the examination, leanieg ;against one of the window-frames, and taking mucti note of all that passed. " Indeed ! then doth the Lord work marvellonsly, and wonderful is his name ! for it was to all appearance a foreign woman, or rather fiend—One with a Pale cheek and jetty locks—who interrupted the bridal at Cecil Place, and slew the fair young maid that waited on Mistress Cecil!" •
"Why told ye not this before?" inquired Cromwell hastily, while the Rabbi advanced towards the soldier with great eagerness as the Protector spoke. But there Was another whose blood ran icy cold as the words of Colonel Jones were uttered. He stood for a monsent as if suddenly smitten with sorie cruel !baled?, the next touch of which would be death ; then he pushed boldly past 'Sir Wilt- mott, and grasping the soldier's arm, said in a broken husky voice, "In God's name, who was slam ?"
"A modest-looking maid, whom they called Barbara, yes, Barbers was the' name."
Robin spoke not again, nor did he move from the Colonel's side, thoigh his hand relaxed its grasp : he stood and looked like a creature to whom the gram had refused rest—a being whose breath and blood were frozen and congealed, at the moment when life and its energies were naestneeded; strong passion, powee- ful feeling, were upon hiecountenanee, and remained there as if the spell of some magieian had converted him into stone. The effect which this scene pro- duced upon the Protector was evidence that he had a heart where the milk of human kindness flowed, and must once have flowed abundantly,
however circumstances might have chilled its generous source. Deeply anxious as he was as to the result of the investigation, r..tOong full tilt at the difficulty he encountered, having the means of over- whelming the Master of Burrell within his reach, he suffered the Jew to continue a series of questions to Colonel Jones, while he spoke to Robinsooth- ing and caressing him as a father Would have soothed and caressed an afflicted child. But this unbending of his sterner nature was lost upon the unhappy Ranger ; he could not have replied if he would ; all his faculties were suspended; and he remained in silence and without motion, unconscious of the Protector's
condescending kindness. '
" 'Tis ever thus," ejaculated Oliver, looking upon the sad figure now by his side. " 'Tis ever thus; there never was a noble heart but the blight fell on it doubtless he loved the maid : the Lord be with us ! He is seized—pray the Al- mighty not for death." He struck his dagger on a hand -bell that lay mien the table, ordered that his own surgeon should attend Robin with all due speed, and then walked kindly by his side to the open door, where he delivered him to 'a favourite attendant. Those in the ante-room who had witnessed Cromwell's "gentlenessto Robin Hays were profuse in their offers of assistance to One whom, but a little while before, they had jested at and insulted. Courtiers are as rife in republics as in king-governed countries. Your sycophants bow to the power, and not to the person. Dress but a dog in royal robes, and call bins Emperor-, Protector—King, and thousands will rejoice loudly if he but wag his tail. ,