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evidently taken from the ballads, which, he says, were sung throughout England and Scotland. It is quite unnecessary to offer

any comment

upon

the contradictory statements of two writers, neither of whom had any means of ascertaining the truth. It is clear that they wrote from the ballads and from common tradition ; and that what they say adds nothing whatever to the information derived from those sources. They relied upon those sources alone, and so must we. And what can we learn from them ? What is the testimony of tradition? It confounds, as we have seen, the monuments of different periods and different races-monuments between the erection of which many ages and many revolutions must have intervened; it huddles together things natural and things artificial; remains British, Roman, Saxon -relics in all parts of the kingdom ; and assigns them all to Robin Hood. Sometimes, as Mr Wright has well remarked, he is identified with the dwarfs, and sometimes with the giants, of the popular creed.-(Wright's Essays, ii. 209, 210.) Wherever an old memory or an old tradition was lost, Robin Hood was appointed to fill the vacant place : A clear proof that the popular mind was full of the exploits attributed to him, but none whatever that he performed them. And what of the ballads ? Far be it from us to depreciate these interesting and valuable remains. Our ancient ballads constitute a kind of literary heaven, into which we must peer with anxious eyes when we are looking for the morning star which ushered in our poetry and romance.

But ballads are founded

upon
fiction as well

as upon

facts. With all respect for Mr Sharon Turner, we should as soon think of building upon the historical authority of The Lays of Ancient Rome, or of Scott's Lady of the Lake, as upon that even of the Welsh triads : and before we can admit the ballads of the fourteenth century in historical attestation or explanation of the achievements of a hero whose name is traditionally placed two or three centuries earlier, and is associated with monuments many ages anterior even to the period assigned to his existence, surely we ought to have the testimony of some one who avers in plain prose, that at one time or another he really was a living and not an ideal person.

So long as all contemporary history continues to be an absolute blank respecting him, we may accept the ballads and the traditions as evidence of the widely diffused popularity of the story; but for anything we can see to the contrary, they rather show that it ought to be placed among our national fictions than among our national facts.

We are aware that two French writers have recently endeavoured to fix the wandering Robin within certain definite limits both

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of time and space. Thierry in his . History of the Norman Conquest,' and the author of a Thése de Littérature sur les vicissitudes et les Transformations du cycle populaire de Robin Hood, (Paris, 1832,) would throw him back to the reign of the first Norman kings. They discover under his disguise one of the Saxon patriots who so long resisted the Norman rule.* These writers

Ancient ballads and modern theories would, by this time, have brought into question (had it been possible) another celebrated outlaw of another kind. We mean Thomas à Becket. But however questionable may be the condition in which his historical character has come down to us, his historical existence is beyond dispute. And there was sufficient in it evidently, of what was extraordinary, to provoke fiction to give a little more colour to the story, and add an inch or so to the stature of its bero. Not only did ballad writers, anticipating Mr D'Israeli, provide Becket with a Syrian mother, whom Thierry and Sharon Turner have accepted as a truth; but the ground and popularity of his opposition to his sovereign are accounted for in the romantic school of Angleterre Poëtique, hy representing it as a personification of Saxon and Norman jealousies, as well as of the more lasting rivalry between church and state. We do not venture ourselves to determine whether Becket was or was not a Saxon. We wait till criticism has the means either of reconcilement or of preference, on a comparison of the apparently opposite statements of Becket himself, and of his almost other self, Fitzstephen.

Becket's words are few and general, and were uttered in scornful answer to his enemies. The Clerus Angliæ had reproached him with ingratitude to the king, who had promoted him in gloriam ab exili ; but nothing is said on either side about race, or of the wonderful circumstance of a Saxon primate. Becket replies : Non sum reverâ, ataris editus regibus. Malo tamen is esse, in quo faciat sibi genus animi nobilitas, quam in quo nobilitas generis degeneret. Forte natus sum de paupere tugurio!' In bis remonstrance with Foliot, Bishop of London, the ablest and most prominent of his opponents, he enters more into particulars. Quod si ad generis mei radicem, et progenitores meos, intenderis, cives quidem fuerunt Londonienses, in medio concivium suorum habitantes, sine querela Dec omnino infimi.' Supposing this to be literally true, how far back must the words (radix and progenitores) necessarily carry us ?

And were -all citizens of London, necessarily of Saxon origin?

On the other hand, Fitzstephen's statement is precise, designating the very birthplace, in Normandy, of Becket's father. The circumstance, too, is mentioned by him incidentally, with no further object than that of accounting, by reason of the ancient neighbourhood of the families, for the early favour shown to Becket by Archbishop Theobald. Prælatus Gilbertus (pater Thomæ Becket) cum domino archipræsule de propin. quitate et genere loquebatur ; ut ille, ortu Normannus, et circà 'Tiercii villam, de equestri ordine, natu vicinus.'

The account of Fitzstephen is, to a certain extent, confirmed by the circumstance that a family of the name of Becket appears on

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differ a little with each other, but their theory is in principle the same; and it is no more than a theory, a picturesque imagination, very taking and romantic, but totally at variance with the spirit of the Robin Hood ballads, which is one of loyalty to the sovereign, not of opposition to his sway. Besides, the silence of contemporary historians, is, what lawyers call in their grotesque language, a negative pregnant.' These historians name the most distinguished Saxon outlaws ; but they are all ominously silent regarding Robin Hood. It is easy to dovetail the existence and adventures of the hero of the green-wood upon any passage which indicates the existence of a band of outlaws. This is what the Scotichronicon has done in the reign of Henry III., and Mair in that of Richard I., and Thierry and Barry at other periods: But until some real authority can be produced for Robin Hood's existence, at some one period or other, he must remain historically a dream; or, if scholars please, a myth

the hunter and the deer a shade:! But, in the meantime, he may be just as useful and renowned. The old giant-killer of Greece, commonly called Hercules, will astonish schoolboys by his labours to the end of time; and Robin Hood will have home and shelter in the very heart of English song and fancy, as long as there is pleasure in freshness, freedom, and adventure, in birds and ballads, in green woods, and the air that blows over the early morning of a nation's being.

Art. VI.-1. Tancred. By Benjamin D'ISRAELI, M.P. 3 vols.

London : 1847. 2. Die Judenfrage. Von Bruno Bauer, Braunschweig : 1843. WE

E well remember the pleasure with which, many years ago,

we read "Vivian Grey,' and our admiration of its wit and fancy was increased by hearing that it was the production of a very young man, whose life had hitherto lain among books, and who, though bearing a name well known to the literary world, had had little opportunity for that commerce with society which is the ordinary school of the novel-writer. Among the many

the earliest of our Norman Records. Thus A. D. 1180, a hoard of coins, which were sold for L.49, money of Angiers, was found in the earth in the house (in terra in domo) of Mauger de Becket, under the White Cliff, (Rot. Scacc. Norman. i. cxvii. and 79 ;) and in the 4th John, a grant was made of the lands which formerly belonged to William Becket at Welleboe.'-(Rot. Norman. i, 57)

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originalities of that book, the introduction of political characters, and the prominence of political motives, were not the least. Living personages, too, were treated with an unscrupulous familiarity, almost new to prose, but redeemed by the sort of exuberant gaiety that excuses in conversation much' that might otherwise be regarded as flippant and rude.

The years between Vivian Grey' and Tancred' have not been spent idly by Mr D’Israeli. He has written many works of fiction, all, we believe, successful, and some of them among the best of their time; some verse, in which he has rather tried

; than exercised his powers ; and political essays, anonymous, but acknowledged, in which the thing to be said was evidently much less valued than the manner of saying it. The Adventures of • Captain Popanilla' deserve to be remembered as an admirable adaptation of Gulliver to later circumstances; and the Wondrous • Tale of Alroy' is a most imaginative attempt to naturalise in our language that rhymed and assonant prose which has so great a charm for Eastern ears, but which with us will scarcely win more admirers than have been gained by the attempts at English hexameters. Mr D' Israeli has also gradually risen to political distinction since he entered Parliament in 1837, and joined the multifarious majority which placed Sir Robert Peel in power. He has himself stated in the House of Commons, that he had little sympathy for either of the great political parties into which the public men of this country have been hitherto divided; and the general indistinctness of his practical objects, and the prominence he has given to the personal characteristics of statesmen, confirm this assertion. His opinions, indeed, seem rather in process of expansion than to be confined within the limits of any political formula ; and although our observations on the meaning and tendency of his writings may illustrate his notions of government and legislation, it is not at present within our province to criticise his position as a partisan.' We estimate highly his oratorical abilities -the more so, perhaps, from the rare exhibition of that art in the present age; but here we have to deal with the reasoner rather than the orator; and although there may be passages in his speeches which are better adapted to the range of imaginative writing than to the precision of a practical legislature, and argumentations in his novels which are intended to explain and bear upon his political life, we shall comment on his theories as we should on those of one who aspires to be a political philosopher rather than a successful gladiator in the parliamentary arena.

* Tancred, and the books which preceded it, have been so generally read, as to justify us in presuming that the majority of our readers are familiar with their plots and characters. Mr D'Is

6

or Mr

raeli indeed boldly presupposes this; by introducing in successive novels the characters of those preceding, thereby assuming that the former have not only been read, which is likely enough, but remembered, which in these writing days is a bold demand. As there is nothing complete in the writings before us, there is no saying but that these delineations may go on till • Coningsby' is an octogenarian at Bath, and Sybil' holding a salon like that of the Misses Berry. But we have a few grave objections

a to make to the continued portraitures of living members of society with which these volumes abound. Though always executed with nicety of touch, vivacity of expression, and keen wit, and almost always with great good-nature, yet Mr D'Israeli should know that the immediate interest which these personalities confer on his works is dearly purchased ; for, the moment a character is known to represent Lord it loses all power as a work of art. The historical picture' becomes the portrait of a gentleman;' the fidelity of the likeness is the only object of attention, not the moral fitness, the entireness, the beauty, or the grandeur of the character. The great poet or novelist should mould his men and women out of the large masses of humanity, out of the manifold varieties of strivers and losers, and actors and sufferers; and surely he degrades his function when he condescends to draw miniatures of individuals composing the least distinctive and frequently most vapid of all classes of the community-namely, that which is conventionally called the highest. Nor, in truth, however familiar the author may be with the personages in question, can they even have much value as mere resemblances; for on the one hand, if he possesses that knowledge of their real inner being which only friendship or great intimacy can give, he will be no more willing to expose these penetralia to the rude light of open day, than he would the profoundest struggles of his own heart; and on the other, if his pencil only gives the shadowy representation in which men of any worth appear amid the circumstances of ordinary life, no truth is anywise gained. There merely remains upon paper a superficial portrait of what the man appeared to superficial people, and the reality of him rests unknown or misinterpreted, just as before. Shakspeare may have been his own Hamlet, and Goethe his own Faust; as the works of every man of genius in a certain degree portray the mind that composes them; but,

! except in comedy, all characters must lose in proportion as they can be affixed to an individual reality, even to that of the writer himself.

These novels, however, professing as they do to enunciate a system of political philosophy, do not rest their claims to public

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