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energy, and are too often special pleas to excite great interest. Those on purely literary subjects, however, are agreeable.
If we were to name, in a single term, the quality for which Southey is eminent, we should call him a verbal architect. His prose works do not open to our mental gaze new and wondrous vistas of thought; they are not deeply impressive from the greatness, or strangely winsome from the beauty, of their ideas. Their rhetoric does not warm and stir the mind, nor is their scope highly philosophic or gracefully picturesque. But their style is correct, unaffected, and keeps that medium which good taste approves in manners, speech, and costume, but which we seldom see transferred to the art of writing. For pure narrative, where the object is to give the reader unalloyed facts, and leave his own reflection and fancy to shape and color them, no English author has surpassed Southey. He appears to have been quite conscious of the moderate standard to which he aspired. “As to what is called fine writing,” he says, “ the public will get none of that article out of me : sound sense, sound philosophy, and sound English, I will give them.” There is no doubt, in so doing, he consulted the Anglo-Saxon love of regulated and useful principles and hatred of extravagance, and was thus an admirable type of the modern English mind; but such an ideal, however praiseworthy and respectable, scarcely coincides with the more noble and inspired mood in which the permanent masterpieces of literary genius are conceived and executed.
THE MODERN KNIGHT.
SIR KENELM DIG BY.
One of the most attractive figures visible on that imaginary line where the eve of chivalry and the dawn of science unite to form a mysterious yet beautiful twilight, is that of Sir Kenelm Digby. To our imagination he represents the knight of old before the characteristics of that romantic style of manhood were diffused in the complex developments of modern society, and the philosopher of the epoch when fancy and superstition held sway over the domain of the exact sciences. Bravery, devotion to the sex, and a thirst for glory, nobleness of disposition and grace of manner, traditional qualities of the genuine cavalier, signalized Sir Kenelm, not less than an ardent love of knowledge, a habitude of speculation, and literary accomplishment; but his courage and his gallantry partook of the poetic enthusiasm of the days of Bayard, and his opinions and researches were something akin to those of the alchemists. High birth and a handsome person gave emphasis to these traits; and we have complete and authentic memorials whereby he is distinctly reproduced to our minds. These, however, do not consist of those elaborate treatises which, doubtless, cost him severe application ; his views of the nature of corporeal and spiritual laws are quite obsolete, — learned and ingenious, perhaps, but not of present significance. The criticisms that beguiled his imprisonment evince his taste and mental aptitudes by their subjects — Sir Thomas Browne and Spenser ; two authors who include that wide range of sympathy that lies between fancy and reason. The events of his life, although remarkable, do not unfold the individuality of the man to the degree requisite for a genial impression. The offices he held imply no special interest of character; others have enjoyed royal favor, suffered persecution, and gone through all the phases of the courtier and scholar, without leaving behind them any fragrant memories. It is not, therefore, as gentleman of the bedchamber to Charles I., as naval commissioner, as an exile for his religion, or as the eccentric devotee of science, that Sir Kenelm Digby claims our notice; but it is in his character of an adventurous gentleman and brave lover, as combining the loyalty and the aspiration of the knight with the graces of the man of the world and society, and thus giving us one of the last warm reflections of a departed era, which invests his name with a peculiar charm. The relics which bring him at once and vividly before us are his portrait by Vandyke, and the unique piece of autobiography he left; the former is in the Bodleian gallery at Oxford, and the latter is preserved in the Harleian collection of the British Museum. These are genuine records ; they had a vital origin, and are caught from reality; whereas the more ostentatious traces of his life are lost in the obscurity of an antiquated style and foreign associations. All that is beautiful in Sir Kenelm's career originated in his love, which, like a thread of gold, interlaces and redeems his experience. Around the name of his wife are clustered the trophies of his fame. Sentiment elicited and glorified the elements of his character, which, uninfluenced by such a principle, would, in all probability: bave diffused themselves in the blandishments of pleasure, or the career of ambition.
A mournful historic interest attaches to bis name; for he was the eldest son of the most gentle in lineage and the most pure in motive of the conspirators who suffered death for the Gunpowder treason. Probably no victim of a cause so unrighteously supported ever more thoroughly atoned for his error with his life ; the sacrifice of his existence and his estates appeared to silence forever the voice of reproach ; he was soon regarded as unfortunate rather than criminal — a fanatic, not a traitor ; and the memory of his patience, meekness, and fortitude, survived that of his conspiracy. With such a heritage of gloomy distinction, his son entered life; and there was that in his very blood which prompted, on the one hand, to honor, and, on the other, to mental cultivation and domestic peace. Educated a Protestant, he early commenced those travels abroad then deemed essential to a gentleman ; and the first inkling of scientific zeal and public spirit appears in the recipe he brought home (which soon became famous), for making a “sympathetic powder," by applying which to anything that had received the blood of the wounded, instant relief was thought to be afforded, even if the patient was not present. This idea was never abandoned ; it was one of the results of the occult studies then in vogue; and the “sympathetic powder” is as intimately associated with Sir Kenelm Digby's name, as tar-water with Bishop Berkeley's.
An old English writer mentions having seen, in the window of a brazier's shop in London, a mutilated bust, which he recognized as that of Venitia Stanley. It once surmounted the costly tomb, erected by Sir Kenelm Digby for her remains, in Christ Church, near Newgate; and bore the marks of the conflagration that nearly destroyed the monument in 1675–6. Such is the poor memento of one of the most celebrated beauties of her time. A descendant of the Percies of Northumberland, she was educated by one of her father's relations in the immediate neighborhood of the Digby manor ; and hence occurred the childish intimacy between her and the boy Kenelm. When taken to court in her girlhood, Venitia became, at once, the object of universal admiration; and, as so often happens to ladies thus distinguished, rumor, never however authenticated, was soon busy with her fame. She was abducted by one impassioned suitor, but made her escape; was rescued from a wild beast by another, and induced, after a long persecution, on the report of Dighy's death, to betroih herself to her preserver ; this apparent disloyalty was, perhaps, encouraged by the strenuous opposition of Sir Kenelm's mother to his proposed alliance, occasioned by the malicious reports circulated to Venitia's prejudice. In the mean time her absent lover had won no little reputation as an accomplished gentleman. He stood high in the favor of the queen of France, when he first sojourned abroad, and reäccompanied a kinsman,
who had been sent to negotiate the marriage of Prince Charles in Spain, to Madrid; and, on the way, killed two bandits who waylaid them. As attaché to the prince's suite, he soon became useful and a favorite at court, where he attracted a lady of the royal family; and his early love alone prevented an eligible marriage. We can readily imagine the feelings with which Digby, full of anxiety from the report of Venitia's engagement, disembarked with his royal friend at London, on his return from Spain. On the first day of his arrival he caught a glimpse of the fair object of his devotion; and it soothed his lover's heart to observe that "she sat so pensively on one side of her coach.” An explanation followed. It appeared that their letters had been intercepted, and that the new aspirant for her hand had already been dismissed for his infidelity. A new prospect of happiness was thus opened; but Sir Kenelm was invited to accompany the Duke of Buckingham to Paris, to arrange the nuptials between Prince Charles and Henrietta Maria. Two evidences of the chivalric spirit of these lovers occurred at this epoch. Digby was solicited by a friend, who was ignorant of his relations with Venitia Stanley, to intercede for him with her; and this he felt bound in honor to do, although he "would rather have died than seen her in any other man's possession.” Nor was she wanting in generosity; for, Sir Kenelm being too much impoverished to equip himself for the honorable expedition in view, Venitia pawned all her jewels to obtain the requisite funds. The arguments of his mother and friends were no longer allowed to influence his heart; he fought a duel with one of her traducers, and forced him to confess the baseness of his slanders; he obtained back her picture from his discarded rival; and they were privately married. Digby had been knighted on his return from Spain ; and he was blest with the love and companionship of her whose image had never grown dim in his breast, from the time he sported with her in childhood, until that which made her his bride. His was not a spirit, however, to rest contented without crowning love with glory, and proving its inspiration by great deeds; he wished to show that it "had not lessened the nobleness of his mind, nor abated the edge of his active and vigorous