COUNT ROBERT OF PARIS.
AYE! here is the Master-hand—" Oh for an hour of blind Old Dandolo!" How very poor do all the others seem when we have
immediate means of comparison with the Patriarch! How trivial
and ephemeral the Cabal—how extravagant and absurd the adven- tures of Cavendish—how affected and overstrained the elaborate
and pretending pages of L. E. L. I We read other works with a mixture of compassion and good-will ; over the writings of the Author of Waverley we bow in thankfulness that he has vouchsafed
us another draught from the true source. •The difference between the painful toiling of an industrious-Imitator, and the easy out- pouring of an original creator, were never more evident than in this latest and last series of the Tales of my Landlord. The familiarity of the author with his subject—the perfect conception of his cha- racters, and their consistency throughout—the deliberate march of
the story, as if it were chapters from history rather than the ima- gination—as well as the noble sentiments, naturally propounded, and the spirit-stirring scenes characterized by equal truth, and springing from the collision of interesting characters—all carry us back to those days of delight when Waverley was a novelty and its author a mystery. Having been for some time deprived of the
true pabulum, we can justly relish what we were afraid we had nearly lost, and what perhaps we may soon lose; so that now is,
the moment when we are more alive than at any other to the true beauties of this admirable person's writings, and best prepared for a correct appreciation of them.
The subject of Count Robert of Paris was some time ago made known, by an injudicious and unfair extract, copied from an Ameri-
can paper ; to which the Editor, JEDED1AH CLEISEIBOTHAM, takes an opportunity of alluding, in no measured terms of indignation. It turns upon Byzantian history—that curious and most voluminous subject, which our GIBBON has sounded rather than given us the chart of. It is contained in many and huge volumes, among which not the least remarkable is the history of the Princess COMNENA ; whose ornate and affected style is very often imitated by Sir WALTER with great felicity, and who is herself a principal person in the story. The epoch chosen is the passage of the Crusaders, under GODFREY of Bulloign, and their temporary occupation of Constantinople in their way to the Holy Land. Count ROBERT of Paris, one of the bravest and most impetuous knights of the valiant host, is the hero ; and if heroine there be, it is his valiant and chivalrous wife, Brinhelda, the lady of Aspmmonte; who married the knight who alone could unhorse her in a tilting-match. These two personages, (the last of whom is fictitious, and imagined from GRTA, the wife of GU1SCARD, a female warrior often commemorated by ANNA COMNENA) become involved with the Imperial family. Count Robert is entrapped and imprisoned in the dun- geons of the Blacquernel, while his Amazonian wife is exposed to the courtship of the enamoured and effeminate Caesar, Nicephorus Briennius, the commander-in-chief and the son-in-law of the Emperor, being the husband of the celebrated Anna herself. At the same time, a conspiracy—(for it was the land of conspiracy and hypocrisy, of outward devotion and inward treachery)—is going on to deprive the Emperor of his throne. The machinations of all parties are confounded and de- feated, by the fidelity and courage of one of the Varangean Guard ; Saxon exiles from England, who, when driven from their native land by the Normans, offered their services to the Byzantian Emperor, and became his body guard ; and were re- markable, in a country of disgraceful effeminacy, adulation, and slavery, equally for the barbarian virtues of truth and fidelity. Sir WALTER, as of old, has done deserved honour to the Saxon cha- racter; and the Varangean Guard Hereward is one of the most interesting characters of the tale, where all may be said to be interesting, if not for the beauty of the traits, at least for the exquisite propriety with which they are drawn—the truth of their sentiments, the spirit of their conversation, and the life of their actionF.
Besides Count Robert of Paris, which occupies nearly three large volumes of an extra-romantic size, there is a second story, called Castle Dangerous. It is the history of the tenure of the Castle
of Douglas—for a year and a day—undertaken by an English knight, in order to earn, by way of reward, the hand and the broad lands of Lady Augusta de Berkeley, who has promised them on this sole condition. She herself, disguised as a minstrel's son, is a witness of the struggles and difficulties by which her gallant knight essays to.keep his word and gain his guerdon. It turns out in the end (to save the Scottish honour), that he loses the castle, while he wins the lady.
We will not indulge in any extract from these delightful vo- lumes; for, amid the universal competition for "circulating fame,' these at least will be in every body's hands—if it were not for their excellence, assuredly from the melancholy feeling which now attaches to the name of our favourite author, at this moment sail- ing to a distant land and a fairer climate, to gather strength and lay in a new stock of health for further exertion,—or, what may be more probable, to seek a foreign grave. He himself alludes to this circumstance, in a concluding note, which cannot fail to touch the reader who shares our veneration, for the Father of Historical Romance.
"The gentle reader is acquainted, that these are, in all probability, the last tales which it will be the lot of the Author to submit to the public. He is now on the eve of visiting foreign parts ; a ship of war is commis- sioned by its Royal Master to carry the Author of Waverley to climates in which he may possibly obtain such a restoration of health as may serve him to spin his thread to an end in his own country. Had he continued to prosecute his usual literary labours, it seems indeed probable, that at the term of years he has already attained, the bowl, to use the pathetic language of Scripture, would have been broken at the fountain ; and. little can one, who has enjoyed on the whole an uncommon share of the most inestimable of worldly blessings, be entitled to complain, that life, advancing to its period, should be attended with its usual propor- tions of shadows and storms. They have affected him at least in no more painful manner than is inseparable from the discharge of this part of the debt of humanity. Of those whose relation to him in the ranks of life might have insured him their sympathy under indisposition, many- are now no more; and those who may yet follow in his wake, are entitled to expect, in bearing inevitable evils, an example of firmness and patience, more especially on the part of one who has enjoyed no small good for- tune during the course of his pilgrimage. "The public have claims on his gratitude, for which the Author of Waverley has no adequate means of expression; but he may be permitted to hope, that the power. of his mind, such as they are, may not have a different date from those of his body ; and that he may again meet his patronizing friends, if not exactly in his old fashion of literature, at least in some branch which may not call forth the remark, that-
" Superfluous lags the veteran on the stage.
" eibbotsitrd, September, 1d31."