SOW'. OF THE LIGHTER PAPERS IN THE MAGAZINES. Blackwood, which
continues this month with much spirit that curious hybrid novel on Army Reform, called "A True Re- former," gives us also a feast of fancy in "Shakespeare's Funeral," a quaint conceit, a little over-laborious, and bearing too many traces of modern thought to be praised for the highest life- likeness; but very, interesting, ingenious, and fall of subtle touches which tell of the writer's great love and study of Shakespeare. Drayton, the Warwickshire poet, who had known Shakespeare long and familiarly, the poet's daughter Susanna Hall, her hus- band, Shakespeare's widow, and Raleigh play the chief parts in this dramatic faneyf which is wise, satirical, pathetic, and htinsoront. The general indifference and absence of comprehen-
sion, and the scruples of the gentle Puritan, who is divided between loving pride in her father and "the deadly peril of such enchantments," so that she hesitates to "give what he hath left a voice in books," affords Drayton the opportunity for the following prophecy, with which he takes his leave, and goes away with Raleigh, after the funeral :—
" Methinks I espy, in the depths of time, his image veiled, and mark the generations of men toiling to unravel his meanings, and piecing out his maimed verses and clipt fancies with guess-work ; collecting the while, in pain and doubt, what unthreaded memories tradition may pre- serve of him. And I do fear me that if some disciple be not found elsewhere more devoted than any his birthplace affords, to tell pce.terity what manner of man he was, there may in a brief space, and ere his fame hath reached its zenith, remain of this chief of English poets nothing but a wondrous name."
"The Late Attempt at Suicide" is smart, abusive, and animated with a fury of hatred against Mr. Gladstone which seta every rule of good taste aside, and substitutes for argument such a sen- tence as this :—" Weak, variable, and ductile as he is in things wherein it is a shame for men to be inconstant, he is obstinate and immovable in minor matters which affect simply his vanity or his temper." This is not war, nor is it magnificent. The element of shrewishness that unfortunately prevails in the political litera- ture of Blackwood deprives it of all weight and seriousness, by provoking the kind of smile which drives a railing woman into kicking and biting hysterics. To talk of a Ministry " punishing those who have committed the crime of owning land" is to be silly without being amusing, and Blackwood knows better.
In Fraser, this month, Mr. Reginald Palgrave's paper on the circumstances attending the trial and condemnation of the Earl of Strafford is interesting and well informed. Its object is to show that while the impeachment of the great Earl was a foliate and the bill of attainder a blunder, the fatal termination was due to the interference of the King, under the influence of Went- worth's enemies, the old Court party, and of terror of the consequences of the discovery of the plot, to which Charles had committed himself, to bring up the army in the North to overawe the Parliament. We do not think Mr. Palgrave has quite done justice either to the sagacity and statesmanship of the popular leaders, or to the real reluctance of Charles to sacrifice his Minister. We do not think he is justified in attributing such a narrow basis to the impeachment in its first stage, nor, on the other hand, do we think he gives Charles proper credit for the• curious mixture of conscience with selfish double-dealing and meanness by which most of his public acts were distinguished. He, however, has done good service by drawing more attention than it has hitherto obtained to the question as to the course which the House of Lords would have pursued respecting the bill of attainder if the King had not interfered, and as to the motive which dictated that interference. We observe one or two errors in Mr. Palgrave's paper,—a slight one in stating the fell number of members of the Long Parliament at 510 instead of 607, and a much more serious one in placing the appointment of Oliver St. John to the Solicitor-Generalship, which was made on the 29th of January, in immediate connection with the events of the following April.
The anthill is very good indeed this month. "Byzantine Anatolia" is a most interesting paper, with the well known initials " W. G. P." to guarantee its accuracy and the research to which it is due. "A Chronicle of the Cotton Country " is a terrible Indian story, told with every accessory of topographical description and delineation of character, so that the Beene is wonderfully vivid and present. "Notes on Ghosts and Goblins" contains some very curious additions to the inexhaustible literature of a subject which can never be written down, or argued into insignificance ; and" Anagrams" is a charming collection of out- of-the-way information.
Macmillan's Magazine opens with a bold experiment in verse; it is the story of his ill-fated love told in the " " by a sailor to his mates, in the dialect and with all the rough nesses, the digres- sione, the plain-speaking of the man and the occasion. The verees are irregular, brusque, tender, sometimes a little coarse, in depre- cation of °mese surmises on the part of the hearers, full of illus- tration of feelings and events by the external things of rustic life, and of the distrustful sagacity of persons of Tom Baynes' class who have any sharpness and humour at all. Tom Bernd, the spinner of the yarn, is slightly inconsistent,—his talkie too utterly common, with all its occasional pathos, for nice distinctierre about
the "tenors," the "basses," and the "little trebles " of thestreara and the waterfall ;—but he rambles very pleasantly aboult geld about the story of Betsy Lee (this is only Part I.),—mod he deserves everybody's thanks for these lines :s-•
" I never thought on for the whys and the hews, But I was always terrible fond of cows.
Now, aren't they innocent things, them bas'es ?
And haven' they got ould innocent faces ?
A strooghin their legs that lazy way,
Or a standin' as if they meant to pray;
'hey're that sollum and lovin' and studdy and wise, An' tho butter meltin' in their big eyes.
Eh? what do you think about it, John ?
Is it the stuff they're feodin' on, The clover and meadow grass and rushes, And them goin' pickin' among the bushes, And sniffin' the dew when it's fresh and fine, The sweetest brew of God's own wino!
And the smell of the herbs gets into their sowls, And works and works, and rowls and rowls,
Till it tightens their tits and drabs their muzzle,—
Well, it's no use o' talkin', it's a regular puzzle : But you'll notice the very people that's got to atten' To the like, is generally very aisy men."
Mr. Rotitledge contributes a paper upon "Our Present Position and Probable Future in India," which begins by stating that the rooted belief of the Hindoos is that no purely Indian subject ever interests the people of England, or even the Houses of Parlia- ment; that an Indian debate empties the House of Commons, and an Indian paper is merely accepted as " padding " for a magazine. In Mr. Routledge's own case, the latter certainly cannot hold good. He merits attention as he points out the social errors into which Englishmen in India fall, their inevitable con- sequences, and the radical ignorance in which they originate. His essay is full of experience, honourable feeling, and common- sense, applied to a subject which particularly requires and 'rarely receives their application. We would suggest that Miss Stanley's article on "Flowers for the Poor," if printed as a leaflet for letters, and distributed among the fortunate possessors of country places and gardens, could not fail in producing such results as the writer hopes for. The existence of the Window-Gardening Societies is not, we believe, widely known, and this simple, .eloquent, heartfelt description would at once reveal and recom- mend them. "Recollections of Mr. Grote and Mr. Babbage" do not add much to our knowledge, or modify our notions of either of those gentlemen. The writer describes Mr. Babbage as "a mathematical Timon," who hated mankind rather than man, and whose aversion was lost in its own generality ; who hated life, and yet did not want to die ; and who told the following stories of himself, which prove that he had sufficient fun in him to have been reasonably happy, if he had been reason- ably understood :—" He complained that he had caught cold at dinner from mistaking a plate-glass window behind him for an open one, and then illustrated the power of imagina- tion by adding that on finding himself at a strange house without his nightcap he had been perfectly able to replace it by tying -a piece of string round his head." Here is a delightful anec- -dote :—" Mr. Babbage went to Ham House with a large party, -one of whom was a Dutch baron, another an Indian prince. It was understood that the prince was to be shown over Ham by a -daughter of the house, who was not beautiful merely, but rich ; but some of the visitors, including Mr. Babbage and the Baron, were left under charge of the housekeeper. This last part of the -arrangement was unknown to the Dutchman, who surprised his companions by the persistent eagerness with which he kept close to his conductor. At last, on turning a corner, they saw him on his knees, proposing in broken English to the astonished house- keeper, while she was in vain trying to explain to him that he had mistaken the object of his courtship, as she herself was not the heiress." Mr. Black's serial story, "A Princess of Thule," goes on well, with a pleasant mixture of romance and realism, and the comprehensive sympathy with the beauty and the changeful- ness of nature which makes of him a landscape-painter in words. A serial story by Mr. Burnand is begun with less promise and less -originality than we might have hoped ; it lays the Micawbers under heavy contribution,—and in the autobiographical form which is so fatal to mediocrity. An article on "Disestablishment and Disendowment : with a Proposal for a Really National Church of England," is very well meant, and not badly written, but we sub- mit that this most elaborate scheme for effecting an impossibility is not worth serious study. If there is anybody except Mr. Wallace who believes that it is possible "to establish a truly National Church, in which every Englishman, whatever be his religious opinion, shall have an equal share, and to abolish for -ever all causes of local religious animosity," we earnestly invite him to study this paper. For ourselves, it reminds us strongly of -that passage in "Pride and Prejudice," in which Miss Bingley propounds her ideas respecting balls :—" It would surely be much more rational," says Miss Bingley, "if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day."—" Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say," replies her brother, "but it would not be near so much like a ball." Mr. Wallace's notion of the body of six or seven thousand National Church Rectors " who should devote themselves, some to science, some to experimental agricul- ture or horticulture, some to history, philosophy, or other branches of literature," and thereby "reflect glory on their country, and more than any others help on the work of human progress,"—is very rational, and as unsacerdotal as any one could desire, but it is not in the least like a Church.
Mr. Cowden Clarke's Essay upon "Shakespeare's Jesters" is the most noticeable paper in the Gentleman's Magazine. It is very careful and thorough, and it begins by a pleasant discourse upon privileged jesters in general and Court fools in particular, in which it is shrewdly argued that the charm of these creatures consisted in the novel experience which their blunt truth-telling conveyed to the royal victims of perpetual flattery and falsehood. We do not think anything in any of Shakespeare's fools has escaped the writer, with whom we entirely concur in awarding the palm among them to the fool in "Lear." How worthy, one of the other, were the King and his Fool ! How beautiful is that touch in the scene of the storm !—" Art cold? I am cold myself. Poor fool and knave I have one part in my heart that is sorry yet for thee." The analysis of that consummate rogue Autolycus is very clever, and ample justice is done to Touchstone. Part I. of " Crispus, a Poetical Romance," prevents our feeling at all impatient for Part II., and the serial stories are singularly trivial and trashy.
The current number of the St. Pads Magazine is in some respects better than its predecessors, though the serials belong to the cate- gory of those which it is impossible to remember from one month to another. A practically useful article on "Oyster Cultivation," and a very pleasant paper, in which a great deal of study and research are skilfully concealed under its fanciful results, on the "Poetic Folk-Lore of Ireland," raise the St. Pants above its average level.
Among the lesser tnagazines there is considerable sameness. They are all stuffed with fiction. Temple Bar has three serials ; London Society has two ; the Argosy, one only, but the space is one-half that of all the other papers. There is nothing noticeable about any of the three. The illustrations in London Society have been going from bad to worse for some time. We do not think any- thing leas like nature or more like tattooing than the child's face, called "An April Daisy," which forms the frontispiece, could be executed by the most aspiring artist. The whole number is deeply infected with bad grammar, and "Leaves by a Listener," as the title of a paper on certain studios which the writer has visited in order to forestall the Royal Academy Exhibition, is a triumph of infelicitous nomenclature.