27 JULY 1867, Page 21


THE authoress of the Heir of Redclyffe calls this little book " an Invention,"—to disabuse her readers, we conclude, from the be- ginning, of the notion of its being an historical tale. It neither romances on a period, nor beautifies nor blackens actual char- acter. Its merit lies in a very pretty, discriminative conception of two or three specimens of character, which might perhaps have existed in England at any part of the last half of the seven- teenth century, but which are certainly drawn fron the writer's own imagination, and very slightly from the popular notions of the prevailing parties of the period.

Here you have a fastidious, delicate, Puritan lady, wedded to a coarse, illiterate clown of the Cavalier school, and, chiefly by means of her wiser, more teachable, and candid sister, and also of the sensi- ble man whom the sister marries, the business of the book seems to be to show how the discordant couple may not only have their redeem- ing points, but how these may be by degrees made known to each other, so that the Christian lady may cease to be sour and repell- ing, and the brutal husband may be softened and elevated.

There is a good deal of delicacy, nice handling, and wise sup- pression in the quiet story. To our minds it is a pleasant, recon- ciling picture, not resembling Miss Yonge's ordinary stories, pro- bably not destined to please algrod many of her readers, but at all events having a great share of merit of its own.

The machinery is common-place. Au American lady and

• 77,e Danrers Papers. All Inventicn. By the Author of the Heir of Redclee. L nadon: Macmillan at.d Co. gentleman come to pay a visit to a certain Sir Bernard and Lady Danvers, residing in the north-west of Ireland, at Castle Barry- more, at the head of one of the loughs of the country. By virtue of ancient kindred descent, they come filled with a curious interest in the annals of the Irish Danvers family, and are per- mitted to ransack the old letters and records of the time previous to the emigration of their own particular branch (somewhere about 1689). Of course there are also the pictures to see,—Lady Penelope Bernard, the Puritan mother of their race—Sir Thomas Danvers, her husband. In the same room is the picture of her sister, Lady Frances, afterwards wife to Colonel Richard Chetwynd (who in due time comes to be Knight and Lieutenant- General). The pictures tell a good deal—Lady Pen, small, pale, sandy-haired—Sir Thomas, red, coarse, double-chinned—but the narrative is mainly given through the correspondence of the two sisters, after marriage has separated them, and poor Pen is tremblingly obeying her lord and master at his house and home at Highbury Danvers, in Somersetshire.

After the lapse of some years he takes her to Ireland—her own family estate—and to this he is compelled by his lady's own imprudence—for it seems that, all in ignorance and mistaken zeal, she in his absence from home has committed him and his retainers to the cause of Monmouth, and poor Sir Thomas, returning, finds himself suddenly placed in great jeopardy. The rebellion is soon put down, but Kirke and Jefferys are pursuing their vengeful career, without an atom of discrimination. He has to pay largely for her disloyalty, and still, fearing for her life, can do no other than take her to his remote castle in Ireland. Capitally do the two characters come out there. He, abrupt, coarse, drunken, yet with a fund of honest and generous feeling, attached to and pitying his lady all the while, and doing his best to reconcile her to the exile ; she, only discovering by slow degrees what her conduct has brought upon him, repelling him meantime by her sourness ; the sister and brother-in-law revealing the truth where they can, but cautious in their disclosures. Then comes the invasion of William of Orange ; Sir Thomas, staunch in all things, has no hesitation here. He joins his Stuart King, is in the battle of the Boyne ; is wounded, and believed to be slain. Then his Orange brother-in-law, Chetwynd, who, of course has fought against him, goes down to Castle Barrymore, to break the news to the Lady Pen. But she has already heard it, and now first learns the complete history of what her ill-matched but generous husband has been doing for her through all this time of peril. Of course, conscience and remorse for the mistakes of the past lead to a new feeling of tenderness for the supposed deceased. Then she has a fatherless boy to plead for him. But, as may be conjectured, the husband is not dead, though desperately wounded, and is lying at a well concealed retreat near the castle, while the good brother- in-law, who suspects it all, has to feign ignorance and connive at their interviews.

All this part is extremely well given. The loyal baronet can by no means give pledges to King William, nor can his wife endure separation, so they join the exiles at St. Germain, sending over their boy to Lady Frances and her husband for education, and after a time they emigrate to Virginia. The eldest born remains in England, serving after a time in Queen Anne's armies, and gaining honour and renown ; and the last of the Danvers papers is a letter from this young man himself, written from the American Highbury Danvers, where he is visiting his father and mother and younger brothers and sisters. The charm- ing aunt, Lady Frances, has died long before ; but here, in 1712, we have the prim, Puritan Lady Pen transformed. "And how is it," asks her son, "you never told me how sweet and lovely is my mother's countenance?" And here, too, is the rollicking baronet grown sober. " And sure I am," adds the youth, " that no married pair were ever more happy or more blessed than they are ;" and so he takes courage to announce to them his love for a cousin, the daughter of the cherished Frances Chetwynd, with whom, let us hope, as we doubt not Miss Yonge and everybody else does, that he " lived very happily ever afterwards."