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through the reigns of Charles II. and James, so as to form a complete collection of original Memoirs of the Stuarts; but, although reserved for notice here, the present work is earlier in point of publication, as well as prior in the order of time.

The student of English history cannot fail to have observed, in all the later historians, frequent references to "Birch's Collections." These and the companion volumes owe their origin to that industrious historical scholar, who died in 1776. We shall transcribe the editor's account of its preparation :

"Having access to almost every important public and private collection of manuscripts in the kingdom, he entertained the idea of putting together a consecutive series of the most interesting correspondence of the seventeenth century. With this object he selected, instead of the communications of the great officers of state to each other, of which he had already given one example in the Thurloe State Papers, the far more entertaining correspondence of the professed writers of news, or Intelligencers,' as they were then called, who were employed by ambassadors in foreign countries, and great men at home, to furnish them with a continual account of every event that came under their observation. To these he added the private letters of men of eminence, holding distinguished employments abroad, as well as those of a few eminent characters about the court, likely to be well informed of what was going on around them. Among these are Robert Cecil, Marquis of Salisbury; Dudley Carleton; Viscount Dorchester; Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury; Henry, Earl of Northampton; William, Earl of Pembroke; Edward, Baron Wotton; Richard Sackville, Earl of Dorset; George Calvert, Baron Baltimore; Viscount Andover; Thomas, Earl of Arundel and Surrey; Sir Thomas and Sir Clement Edmondes; Sir Isaac Wake; Sir Henry Fanshawe; and Sir John Throckmorton. Having caused transcripts of these to be made from the originals, he had commenced preparing them for publication, when the task was interrupted by his death, and his papers were shortly afterwards transferred, by bequest, to the British Museum, where they still remain, Since then, several collections of historical letters have been published, in which a few of those in Dr. Birch's selections have appeared, but very rarely have they been given entire. In general such collections have been printed as examples of style and language at different periods, or as in some way characteristic of the writer or illustrative of his career. However valuable these may be to the antiquary, they want, by their isolation, that interest which belongs to a consecutive series.

"In the present instance, the communications of two or more

contemporaneous writers read like so many different diaries; the lightest gossip of the court mingles with the important details of transactions of State; a piquant anecdote is contrasted with a grave conspiracy; and a momentous discussion in the House of Commons is relieved by an interesting recollection of Shakspeare's theatre, or a lively account of Ben Jonson's masque. By so many observers of various humours writing at the same time, not only is the reader secure against any omission of facts it is desirable he should know, but he is presented with the minutest details of every transaction that transpired, at a period wonderfully fruitful in strange events."—vol. i. p. iii., iv.

"In the course of the volumes, ample details will be met with respecting the careers of Hay, Montgomery, Rochester, Monsor, Brett, and Buckingham-the lights of the male hareem that succeeded each other in the affections of this Christian Pacha. Their several histories are not without some instructive features; but the contemptible cowardice of Montgomery, the atrocious villany of Rochester, the insignificance of Monson and Brett, and the extravagant folly of Buckingham, reflect no small portion of their own discredit on their patron. Hay, Earl of Carlisle, alone seems to have attained a respectable position. He possessed in an eminent degree the prudence of which the others were deficient. On the approach of a rival whose superior attraction he dreaded, he solicited a diplomatic employment abroad, and in its duties put forth sufficient talent to entitle him to more distinction than can be allowed to a mere favourite. In short, it was the age of the Gavestones and the De Spencers revived, without that energy in public opinion that pursued these minions with so signal a punishment. But that energy was coming-and it came with a vengeance."―vol. i. p. viii.

The collection commences with the death of Elizabeth, and is continued, without any break, to the death of James, where it is taken up by the letters contained in the " Memoirs of Charles I." When we consider the enormous mass of letters which it comprises, the number of writers will not appear large; the bulk of the correspondence being from the pen of three or four of those professed news-purveyors-the "private correspondents" of those days-to whom the editor refers; some of whom, as Dr. Mead and John Pory, figure both in this collection and that of the reign of Charles. The most prolific writer among them all is John Chamberlain, the correspondent of Mr. (afterwards Sir) Dudley Carleton. His letters amount to nearly two hundred, and extend over the entire reign of James.

It would be impossible to over-estimate the value of

such a collection as this. It is to such materials as form the staple of it, that we are to look for the true private history of the times. The editor appears to have discharged his duty with great care and industry. His illustrations, principally personal and biographical, are concise and satisfactory, and his selection of documents is extremely interesting. We shall only hope that he may be induced to complete the series, by publishing all that remains of the correspondence of the reigns of Charles II. and James II.

V.-Ruins of Many Lands. By NICHOLAS MITCHELL. With Illustrations. London: Tegg and Co.

A SHORT, but very beautiful, poem is in our opinion introduced to the public under this unpretending form. We are not acquainted with Mr. Mitchell's other works, but the one before us is evidently the production of a man of genius and learning. The plan of this poem is simple,— a glance at the great ruins of the world, or rather, we should say, at the great surviving monuments of the world's history during the "dark era," the " classic era,' and the ensuing, or, as the author styles them, the "miscellaneous ages," with the incidents and reflections arising therefrom, form its subject. Of course, the whole value of such an idea must depend upon the mode in which it is carried out; and we cannot enable our readers to judge of this adequately but by placing before them passages from the work itself. We have not space for many extracts; the first is taken almost at random from the "dark era, after a beautiful description of the site of ancient Babylon:

66

Albeit, though doubt and mystery round us spread,
Each mark of ancient grandeur hath not fled.

Far in the western wild, begirt by sands,

A rugged pile, like some grim giant, stands;
Fragments of sculptured stone bestrew its base-
Stage after stage the platform lines ye trace;
High on its brow a dark mass rears its form,
Defying ages, mocking fire and storm:
Struck by a thousand lightnings still 'tis there,
As proud in ruin, haughty in despair!
Oh oldest fabric reared by hands of man,
Built ere art's dawn on Europe's shores began!

VOL. XXV.—NO. L.

17

Rome's mouldering shrines, and Tadmor's columns gray,
Beside yon mass seem things of yesterday!

In breathless awe, in musing reverence bow,

"Tis hoary Babel glooms before us now;

The tower at which the Almighty's shaft was hurled,
The mystery, fear, and wonder of the world,"

The second is of a more impassioned character, and in our opinion of singular beauty:

"And what the deadly Plague Fiend's course may stay?
'No blood of beasts,' the priests of Moloch say;
'A high-born infant cast ye to the fire,
And then will cease the god's afflicting ire.'
She comes the Mother comes! yes, one is found
To offer all she loves!-your trumpets sound,
And shout Astarté, and dread Moloch's name;
Prepare the furnace, and make fierce the flame.
Oh, beautiful that daughter of high zeal!
Struggling with woe, yet seeming not to feel:
Resolve sits stately on her radiant brow;
With heaven's own light her eye seems flashing now;
A robe of Sidon's purple wraps her form,
She, the fair halcyon, calm in terror's storm:
Her raven hair falls cloud-like o'er her breast-
And there, with smiling lip, her babe is prest.
Eternal Nature! must thy ties give way,
And truth and love black error's law obey?
Can she, the mother, view the rising blaze,
With heart unharrowed and unshrinking gaze?
She gives her babe to dark Phoenicia's god,
To soothe his wrath, and stay his withering rod.
The priests approach, with slow and solemn pace,
To rend that nestler from its hiding place;
She firmly stands, with calm and rigid air
Looks at her first-born child-'tis smiling there,
With eye of guileless mirth and lip of bloom, -
Ah, little dreams it of its fiery doom!

That reckless, gleesome look-it reached her heart,
Religion fades, heroic dreams depart ;

Soft o'er her soul the dew of nature steals,
A mother's love, and all her woe she feels.

Oh! now her arms around that babe are cast

In wild caresses-must they be her last?

Back from the priests she shrinks-her youthful frame
Recoils and shudders at the hissing flame;

And fear grows frenzy as they still advance,
While beauteous horror lightens in her glance.

No, no she cries; I dreamed some blinding spell
Was cast around me by the fiends of hell.

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Heaven's laws I reverence; but I cannot part
With this fond thing, the life-blood of my heart.
What give to fire-Oh, hear me, gods above!—
My own, my beautiful, my cherub love?
Yes, I repent; my infant shall not brave
Those raging flames, ten thousand lives to save.
Ah, will ye, priests! my treasure from me tear?
Nor heed my pangs, nor pity my despair?
My husband! father! shield me-snatch away
From fiery death the helpless, sinless prey!
Hold, ruthless murderers! on my knees I fall;
Could my blood turn to tears, I'd shed it all.
A moment stay-this boon ye'll not deny-
If one must perish, let the mother die.
I'll bear your fires, and think your tortures mild,
So you forget the past, and spare my child.'
Thus spoke a mother's love; each age the same,
Bright burned in darkest years that sacred flame;
But Moloch's priests affection's prayer deride,

Friends steel their hearts, and fill their souls with pride;
Poised o'er the flames the brazen image stands,
The babe is placed upon those giant hands.
They bend-it drops! behold that frenzied eye;
Hark! through the shrine that wild and startling cry;
It reaches furthest courts and vaults below,
Each pillar seems to echo shrieks of woe;

Then all is hushed-she sinks upon the floor,

Her heart is still-the mother's griefs are o'er!"

We are sure our readers will not regret the length of this extract: the whole work deserves a far more attentive commentary than we are able to give it. The notes are valuable and interesting. We presume these are considered as the "illustrations," rather than the two common woodcuts which preface each part.

VI.-The Catholic Almanack, and Guide to the Service of the Church, for 1849. With Illustrations. London, Dublin, and Derby: Richardson and Son.

ALTHOUGH there are not many who wish to be reminded that they are growing old, yet we can well believe that few will object to have their years numbered by so tasteful and convenient a time-reckoner as this pretty little volume. With the matter usually contained in the almanac, it contains a large amount of useful information on subjects of religious interest; for example, a complete calendar, adjusted according to the actual order of festivals for the

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