THE FOUR NOVELS OF THE WEEK.
The Cabal, a Tale of the Reign of William the Fourth 2 Vols. Cochrane and Co. Cavendish, or the Patrician at Sea 3 Vols. Colburn and Co.
Romance and Reality. By L. E. L., Author of the 13 Vols. Colburn and Co.
" Improvisatrice," &c...
Tales of My Landlord, Fourth and Last Series—Count 1Cadell, Edin. Robert of Paris. Castle Dangerous .... ........ 4 Vols. I Whittaker, Load.
THE Cabal is a lively sketch of the politics of the day as they operate behind the scenes of aristocratical life. The characters will probably be published with a key, and puffed off as exact por- traits of well-known personages. There is not, however, a living character in the book, except, perhaps, CORBETT. The author has managed his task with a little more effort than merely drawing living characters and writing their names in initials : the book belongs to a mezzotint° school of satire, where the traits are real, but combined in groups according to the author's own fancy. The Tory opposition to the Reform, for instance, is described with accuracy ; and the anecdotes which are told of the leaders are mostly true enough, but they are so min- gled with other and borrowed characteristics, that no one person could be pointed out as the original. Thus the book is neither a fiction nor a caricature, but something between the two, The story turns upon the secret marriage of a I.ord William Plantagenet with a celebrated actress, Maria Cibber (who is neither Miss FOOTE nor Miss FATON,—though she is said to sup- port his Lordship with the gains of her profession, and to have lived in Keppel Street). A county election comes on the tapis Lord William is the candidate ; but being over head and ears in debts and difficulties, and falling in with an heiress, he determines upon disregardinghis previous connexion, and redeeming himself by the fortune of his new acquaintance. Accidents, however, happen ; his Lordship is exposed ; and while he wins his election, he loses his character, and is compelled to live abroad. The political ob- ject going on all the time, is the turning out of the Whig Ministry; against whom this Lord William is moved with a mighty indigna- tion, because they have refused him a colonial government, or some such thing, at a time when absence was essential ; although his father, the Duke of Lancaster, sends thirteen members to Par- liament. He and some others who shadow forth the active mem- bers of the Opposition, get up what is called a Cabal,—a secret and private club, in which it is resolied to tire out the Ministry and the country by long speeches and perpetual divisions in the House, in the hope that something may happen meanwhile. The style is light and sketchy ; and our opinion of it may be gathered when we say, that if we wished to give a foreigner a notion of present party politics and the intrigues that have been hatching for the last twelvemonth, and the sort of -means used to advance them, we could not hit upon a shorter or better contrivance than .putting the two volumes of the Cabal into his hands. The author is not a Radical, but a Whig,—a Whig, however, not of the aristo- cratic class, but an Althorpian, liberal, steady, and enlightened— a zealous friend of the popular interest, at the same time a sincere lover of order and an admirer of inflexible integrity. • The following extract contains a sketch of the hero and of his mo- tives, together with some information respecting his family and .brethren. Ill-natured people will immediately say that the Duke of BEAUFORT is meant,—which is not true ; for he is the male re- presentative of JOHN of GAUNT. The descent from Tomkins the .silversmith, perhaps, alludes to another noble family ; and other points, which will all doubtless be referred to one, probably ought to be distributed through the Dukery.
" His Grace Richard Plantagenet, the present Duke of Lancaster, passes, with most people, for the male representative of John of Gaunt. flappening, the other day, to look into Debrett, I discovered that his de- scent is not quite so illustrious. " Thomas Tomkins, an eminent silversmith and citizen of London, in the reign of George the Second, is his most remote progenitor, in the male fine, of whom any certain record is preserved. Whether Thomas Tomkins had a father or not, is a matter of serious doubt in the Heralds' College ; but it is sufficiently established, that he died High Sheriff of Mid- dlesex, and left more than two millions of money to his heir.
" Frederick Augustus Tomkins, his only son, was the richest commoner
• of his day. He purchased extensive estates in almost every county in England, and was supposed to have acquired the absolute nomination of thirteen members of Parliament. On the accession of his Majesty George the Third, he was created Baron Tomkins, of Tomkins Park, in the county of Middlesex, Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, and a Lord of the Bedchamber. But all these honours only whetted the ambition of Frederick Augustus. By degrees he became disgusted with the humble name of Tomkins, and would have given half his fortune to conceal the obscurity of his origin under a more aristocratic designation. He con- ceived a singular method of gratifying his vanity. He had married a lady who claimed to be descended from a bastard of the house of Lancaster. By a fortunate accident he obtained possession of the ancient residence of the family. He made instant application to the minister of the day ; and, very much to the amusement of the public, as you may read in Horace Walpole's inimitable Letters, was created Earl of Lancaster, with leave to hear the name and arms of Plantagenet only. His son succeeded to the title, and, some years before the close of the century, was promoted to a dukedom.
" In the mean time the wealth of the honest silversmith rapidly dimi- nished. The splendid honours of his descendants were supported by an extravagant expenditure. Estate after estate, castle after castle, were brought to the hammer : the property which remained was heavily mort- gaged; and the present duke is by no means one of the richest of our nobility. " One part, however, of the first peer's purchases is still entire,—his parliamentary patronage; and, during the last thirty years, that alone has afforded ample provision for the younger branches of the family: All the dowagers and spinsters have comfortable pensions : Lord Henry is Bishop of Nottingham, with thirty thousand a /ear ; Lord Edward go- vernor of St. Kilda, with ten ; and among the brothers, nephews, and cousins of the noble duke, there are three generals, two admirals, colonels and commissioners without number, a Master in Chancery, and a Welsh judge.
" It is not for me even to hint that the talents of the Plantagenets are pot as high, or as various, as the offices they till ; but I cannot help think- Ingthat the thirteen members of Parliament have something to do with their good fortunes.
" Of late years, I know not why, this species of influence has been less effectual. Perhaps the minister has had less to give; perhaps he has been afraid of Joseph Hume. However that may be the duke's sons have not been as fortunate as their uncles.
" Lord Plantagenet is Ranger of Sherwood Forest, or Master of the Queen's Falcons, I forget which,—perhaps both. Lord William had a government. You have heard the story. Lord John's promotion has been rapid, but I do not observe his name in the list of sinecures.
" The second son is my friend. My acquaintance with the rest of them is very slight. He is a man of considerable talent, and has led a singular life. The public are familiar with part of his history, but not with all.
" When he was recalled, his affairs were by no means in a flourishing condition. I do not know exactly what provision had been made for him in his mother's marriage settlement,—fifteen or twenty thousand, I be- lieve ; but all that had been spent twice over before he went out. I do not think he had sixpence at his banker's when he landed in England. "I dined with him a few months after his arrival in town. He had bought a very comfortable house in May Fair, magnificently furnished. Lord William is a most accomplished epicure. His wines were excellent; his cook unique. Lord William is devoted to the fine arts. I pique myself on a little taste, and have had some experience. The few pictures I saw that evening could not have been purchased for ten thousand pounds. Lord William is an elegant scholar, and a profound antiquarian. From his boyhood he has been afflicted with a most ravenous bibliomania. I have long suffered under the same disease, and could therefore estimate the value of his small library with tolerable accuracy. There were not six hundred volumes, and the value—but, unless you.are members of the Bannatyne Club, you would not credit my account- " From what source was all this money derived ? I am a quiet man, and ask no questions. Lord William hunted ; Lord William kept race- horses ; Lord William kept a yacht. My income is moderate, though it is tolerably sure at quarter-day. I confess it made me bilious to see Lord William's yacht.
" Credit is a great invention of this enlightened age ; and the. London tradesmen are certainly very liberal, especially to a lord. But credit, even in London, has an end. After the second year, Lord William's yacht gave me no further uneasiness, and George Robins sold his library and pictures considerably below their value. I bought a very choice Correggio for a mere trifle. "His Lordship spent a year in Paris with his cousin the ambassador. He afterwards paid a visit of some months to his eldest sister the Coun- tess of Rothsay, who was then in Scotland. Itwas in Scotland he first saw Maria Cibber. When that delightful actress, at an enormous salary, was engaged to perform at Drury Lane Theatre, Lord William returned to London, and was almost as gay as ever. Whispers most degrading to his character began to be circulated. It was asserted, almost openly, that she supported his extravagance. "However supported, his extravagance continued. To insure his ruin, he became a gambler. His affairs fell into irretrievable confusion.
" He had, indeed, one hope left. The Duke of Lancaster's thirteen members had been, time out of mind, sure cards with every ministry. They reckoned on them after the government boroughs. All through the bad times they had been staunch. They never ratted till the new men were actually in place. His• Grace, certainly, was staggered by the eman- cipation of the Catholics; for he is high-church to the backbone. On that question he waived his prerogative, and left his nominees at liberty to vote as they pleased. Three of them were seriously indisposed ; and Lord Plantagenet, to the astonishment of the oldest politicians, actually voted against the administration. But at every other division of any con- sequence, within my recollection, the thirteen were steady at their posts. In fact the Duke made a point of it.
"Such tried fidelity could not be suffered to continue unrewarded. Of course there was a silent understanding that Lord William was one day to have something. He complained grievously of the ungrateful tardiness of the Treasury, and, I suspect, thought it a breach of the con- stitution to neglect a man whose family could command so many bo- roughs. But the ministry had good reasons for their delay, and he had too much sense not to see them, in spite of his complaints. " His conduct, while he held his government in the East, was still re- membered. He had also acted very imprudently since his return, in keeping himself too much in the eye of the public. His brother, Lord John, with all due deference be it spoken, is an ass. But lie had never done any thing to attract notice to his promotion. Accordingly, he got on marvellously. Poor Lord William, on the contrary, was the observed of all observers. The favourites of a minister, in this country, should contrive to be as insignificant as possible. "His family pressed him to marry. Though not what it once was, rank still brings no inconsiderable price in the marriage-market. His sister, the intriguing Countess of Rothsay, is said to have spread her nets for more than one heiress on his behalf. Whether, however, his attach- ment to Maria interfered, or whether there was any truth in a whisper about a private marriage, which some ill-natured persons sent about, a year ago, but which met with no kind of credit, certain it is, that his Lordship betrayed no personal inclination to enter into the state of matrimony. His hopes still reverted to ministerial patronage.
" Of course you read the Age. Well ; you remember an article last winter, ' On the Ex-Governor' It really was savage of the Age to pub-
lish that at the time it did. The government affair bad begun to be for. gotten, and, I do believe, the Duke of Wellington had somthing in his eye. But with such an exposure on every table in London unanswered, and, I am afraid, unanswerable, it was out of the question. " However, he did not lose heart, though he cursed the licence of the press, and the cowardice of the cabinet. " When the present men were first talked about, his expectations were very sanguine. Several of them are nearly related to his family. The Marquis of Chester, who has a seat in the cabinet, is his uncle, and returned him last autumn for one of his boroughs, all the duke's being occupied. But, when the Whigs came into place, under a pledge of
Parliamentary Reform, he saw there was no time to be lost. The whole foundation of his father's influence might be swept away in an hour, and by any change it was sure to be diminished.
"Three days after the ministry was formed, he received intelligence through a private channel of the death of Sir Archibald Scrymgeour Douglas, our ambassador at the court of Persia.
" He lost no time in waiting on Lord Chester. I believe the Marquis was very well inclined to further his views, but, on consulting with the Premier, he was obliged to tell him, in plain terms, that the ministry could not comply with his application.
"Lord William called on me that morning. I observed an air of forced gayety in his address, extremely unlike his usual nonchalance.
" Well, Arundel,' said he, I am going to take your advice at last. I have been in Parliament three years without opening my lips. Come down to the House to-night, and you shall hear my maiden speech. You stare !—well, well ;—I fancy I shall make as profound a statesman as my Lord Chester, and, perhaps, a better orator than his son. You do not know me. They did not know me. But, as Sheridan said, I feel it is here, and, by God, it shall come out 1' "