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display a concentrated energy of purpose, a power of description, and graphic grouping seldom surpassed; the actual facts are true, but the author has coloured them, and presented us with a splendid picture. It is impossible to comprehend the real nature of this portion of the work without reading more of it. The following little extract will serve to show in what style the whole is written :
"On the morning of the 11th February, five 24-pounders, five 18-pounders, four mortars, and innumerable field-pieces, opened a tremendous cannonade on the keep and upper works of Scylla, to demolish our cover and bury us with our guns under the ruins. This battering continued daily, without a moment's cessation, until the 14th; when covered by it, the French sappeurs and artillerists formed two other breaching batteries, at two hundred yards' distance from our bastions, notwithstanding the appalling slaughter made among them by our shells bursting, and grape shot and musketry showering around, with deadly effect. Though the whole of Regnier's infantry remained under cover during their operations, the execution done in those who worked at the breaching batteries must have been fearful ; they were so close and so numerous. My own brave little band was becoming thin from the fire from the heights ; every cannon ball which struck the low walls was rendered in effect as dangerous as a shell, by the heavy splinters it cast on every side; and I foresaw that the Castle of Ruffo, mouldering with the lapse of years, and shaken by the storm and earthquakes of centuries, would soon sink under the overwhelming tempest of iron balls which Regnier hurled against it from every point; his gunners stopping only until their cannon became cool enough to renew the attack. We had expected great assistance from our flotilla of gun-boats, which by keeping close in shore, might have cannoned the enemy's position and shelled their approaches; but a storm of wind and rain, which continued without cessation or lull from the time the attack began until it was ended, rendered an approach to Scylla impossible; the sea was dashing against it in mountains of misty foam, and on its walls of rock would have cast a line-of-battle ship like a cork.
“The roar of the musketry and the perpetual booming of the adverse battery guns produced a tremendous effect; awakening all the echoes of the fathomless caves of Scylla in the splintered cliffs, and Mount Jaci, and after being tossed from peak to peak of the Milia hills, with ten thousand reverberations, all varying, the reports died away in the distant sky, only to be succeeded by others. The dense volumes of smoke that rose from the French batteries, were forced upwards and downwards by the stormy wind, and rolled away over land and sea, twisted into a thousand fantastic shapes; mingling on one side with the mists of the valleys, on the other with the Foam of the ocean. The continual rolling of the French brass drums, the clamour of their artillerymen, and the wild hallooing of their infantry, added to the war of the conflict above and that of the surge below, increased the effect of a scene which had as many beauties as terrors.
"The night of the 14th was unusually dark and stormy; and on visiting Bianca in her dreary vault (which by being below the basement of the keep, was the only safe place in the castle), she told me with a pale cheek and faltering tongue that often of late she had been disturbed by sounds rising from the earth below her. I endeavoured to laugh away her fears; but, on listening, I heard distinctly the peculiar noise of hammer and shovels; which convinced me that the French sappers were at work somewhere, and that the hollows of the rock had enabled them to penetrate far under the foundations of the castle. On examination, we found that for three nights they had been lodging in a mine, during the noise and gloom of the storm, and had excavated two chambers, one under our principal bastion, the other under the keep, connecting them by a saucepan, led through a gallery cut in the solid rock; the effect of such an explosion would have ended the siege at once, and blown to atoms the vault appropriated to Bianca and her servant. My mind shrank with horror, from contemplating the frightful death she had so narrowly escaped. Next night the train would undoubtedly have been fired; acd the inner chamber was pierced within three feet of her bed!”
The reader will discoverin “The Adventures of an Aid-de-Camp”a fund of anecdote, exciting adventures, and amusing sketches. The stories are sometimes of too horrible a nature to be in good taste, but will be, no doubt, eagerly devoured by many. Some, again, are possessed of great beauty, and display much knowledge of the human character. TRAVELS IN SIBERIA. Including Excursions Northwards down the Obi, to the Polar
Circle, and Southwards to the Chinese Frontier. By Adolph Erman. Translated from the German by William Desborough Cooley. In two volumes. London.
The work before us is a very valuable one, embracing in the two volumes a vast and, to the general reader, little-known tract of country. With the general history of Russia its political events, the rise and downfal of its sovereigns, its ambitious schemes and tyrannical government, most persons are acquainted, at least superficially; but there are details as necessary to be known concerning a country as the great events which convulse its surface. There are revelations to be made concerning its inward economy, the domestic habits of the city and the country, the condition of the humbler classes, which influences their character, and renders men, as a nation, effeminate or the reverse. Few travellers have dared to lift the veil from the private life of the Russians, because each dwelling in St. Petersburgh may be said to be under the surveillance of the police, and the individual who should dare to come forward and explain the actual economy of the great capital of Russia would scarcely venture to show his face in the country again ; the wastes of Siberia would be his portion, or the dreaded knout fall heavily on his back. Erman, however, speaks as though he had little to reveal, little with which to find fault. He comes from Berlin to St. Petersburgh as a traveller, relates what he observed, and gives an accurate description of the metropolis, its buildings, and its people. The account of their manners is all couleur de rose; we hear of no labour extorted from the people by an arbitrary government, but are told that, as they are satisfied with a simple diet and frugal living, they are content to receive moderate wages for their labour. The author takes merely a traveller's view of the subject; he enters into no political disquisitions, and only gives us an account of what he actually beheld. To describe in the space of a short notice the whole merits of the book before us would scarcely be practicable; we must be content merely to glance at their contents, and leave to the reader the task of exploring its minuter treasures. Our author gives the best insight into Russian manners we have hitherto met with. He passes on to Siberia, and, after having given a most interesting account of the journey, enters upon a careful delineation of the habits and customs of the population of that place. In the imagination of many, Siberia is connected alone with snowy peaks and boundless plains. A few rude huts diversify the landscape, and across the scene flits the poor exile, half-clad, and sometimes ill-fed. But read Erman, and our readers will be charmed at the comfort which is to be met with in Siberian homes. Upon the exiled serf and his condition our author touches but lightly; he seems to sympathise with the regulations of government, and to imagine banishment for ever from their native place by no means a severe punishment. Nor does he even allude to the practice of dismissing into hopeless solitude the man guilty of some trivial offence against the presumed majesty of the emperor. Siberia has terrors for all but the highest in realm in St. Petersburgh. The population of Russia live in continual fear of it, since they know that the nod of the Czar may dismiss them to a doom far more hopeless than death. Often, it is true, the wife follows her husband into his solitary retreat, and shares his unhappy fate. It is not alone for crimes deserving of death that the Russian is punished. Were it so, our sympathy would become as morbid as is that of those who aim at abolishing capital punishments in our own country. Many of the men who have languished in Siberia have been sent there for the most trivial political offences. Into this question, however, it is unnecessary to enter. It is one which, in one way or another, embraces the whole political system of Russia. Our business now is with the valuable and elegant translation before us. Mr. Cooley has performed his task in a highly-creditable manner, and his style is so smooth and polished that we forget altogether the fact that we are reading a translation. The reader will find in Erman's travels a great variety of detail. It is by far the most interesting book of the kind published for some time. The author possesses great natural power, is an elegant delineator of scenery, and is, besides, a shrewd observer. The following extract is very capital :
“During our stay in St. Petersburgh the villa garden on the islands, and the various shrubberies between them, were all decked with young foliage. The fineness of the season added much, no doubt, to the beauty of the landscape, the charm of which, nevertheless, lay chiefly in the local details. The clear waters of the Neva winding through the islands, and overshadowed at times with groups of trees, then again issuing forth in brightness, together with the contrast between the waving foliage and the stately glittering palaces beyond, sufficiently explain the tone of rural scenery so manifest in St. Petersburgh, and which seems so remarkable in a northern climate. While the sudden awakening of nature from her long winter sleep loudly invites to the enjoyment of the country, the oppressive heat of summer makes the cool umbrageous retreats of the island absolutely necessary.”
ETHELWULF, ETHELBALD, ETHELBERT, ETHELRED I., ALFRED.
With the exception of Alfred, the reigns of these kings form so uninteresting a period in English history, were characterised by such weakness, with so few redeeming features to render them worthy of notice, that we shall devote but little space to their consideration. A more congenial occupation will it be to glance at the life of Alfred; the admirable nature of whose administration, unsullied by a single act of cruelty or injustice, and distinguished by the introduction of, and fostering care exercised over, those measures which conduce to the public weal, will ever constitute a remarkable era in British annals. But we must first allude to his immediate predecessors.
Ethelwulf, the son of Egbert, ascended the throne of Wessex in the year 838. His first important act was bestowing the sovereignty of Kent, which included Essex, Surrey, and Sussex, upon his eldest son, Athelstan, whose military qualities in a measure supplied the want of those in the person of his father. The Danish engagements continued with little interruption during the whole of this reign. The kingdoms of Northumberland and Mercia still remained under the sway of separate monarchs; but the former, disorganised by regal competitors, was in no respect fitted to withstand the Danish attacks. The Welsh, too, again exhibited an unwillingness to submit to the Saxon authority. Burhred, however, the Mercian king, to whom they were tributary, aided by Ethelwulf, soon quelled their formidable opposition. But it was from the Danes that the country received the most injury. No less than eleven regular battles were fought, independently of the skirmishes that arose from their attempts to land on protected parts of the coast. Victory generally attended the English arms. They were also defeated by Athelstan, near Sandwich, in a naval engagement, the first of which we have any record. Their numbers were so great, their invasions so frequent, that the repulses they experienced seemed rather to increase than to diminish their incursions and ravages. It is painful to read of the cities and edifices they destroyed, the cruelty they perpetrated, and the universal terror excited by their presence. But these evils would have been far greater had not Ethelwulf possessed in his counsellors, St. Swithun, Bishop of Winchester, and Ealstan, Bishop of Sherborne, persons who by their advice and their money, aided in repelling the ruthless Northmen. They were, in fact, the king's executive. The former, although he fostered Ethelwulf's predilection to religious exercises, admonished him repeatedly to correct his supineness, and to act with a vigour becoming the exigencies of the kingdom; while the latter, knowing that piety would not render the country prosperous, VOL. III.-No. 1,393.
or deliver it from the Danes, incited him to head his troops on the battle field, and conquer the enemy. Well was it that he enjoyed the advantage of such able advisers, and, notwithstanding the sacred office which they sustained, we believe that their procedure in thus departing from the limits of ecclesiastical jurisdiction is fully justifiable on the plea, that by endeavouring to protect the kingdom from foreign foes they were promoting the interests and securing the continuance of their religion.
But we have now to refer to Ethelwulf's long-cherished and important design, that of making a pilgrimage to Rome. Neither the magnitude of the undertaking, the length of the journey, nor the unsettled state of his dominions, cooled his ardour, or weakened his resolve. All difficulties seemed to vanish in the wish to satisfy his religious enthusiasm. He left in 855, remained with Pope Leo IV. about a year, repaired the Saxon school founded by Ina (king of Wessex), in 727, which some time previously had been destroyed by fire; visited the churches, chapels, and sacred relics, bestowed large gifts upon the Holy See, and in short omitted nothing which might feed the flame of devotion. He returned through France, where, though his wife Osburga was then alive, he married Judith, a princess only twelve years of age, the daughter of Charles, the French monarch. His motive in forming this alliance was probably to extend his influence, and to consolidate the interests of the two countries; but, notwithstanding these suppositionary reasons, it was both impolitic and unnecessary.
During his absence, Athelstan had died, and Ethelbald, his next son, partly at the instigation of Ealstan, sought to usurp the throne of Wessex. The people, disapproving of Ethelwulf's marriage, and fearing that his religious zeal might lead him to neglect his kingdom, rallied round Ethelbald's standard. Anxious to avert the calamity of a civil war, the former submitted to his son's demands, and signed a treaty in the year 856, by which he relinquished Wessex to Ethelbald, and contented himself with the less powerful kingdom of Kent. Could the illustrious Egbert have lifted the veil of futurity, and perceived the state to which England had been reduced by the administration of Ethelwulf, how deep would have been his regret that the structure, in the formation of which he had spent his whole life, should have been almost annihilated by the apathy, the incompetency, and the misgovernment of his son.
The last two years of Ethelwulf's life were devoted to acts of charity and religion, but these exercises, though admirable when subservient to the necessary duties devolving upon a monarch, in his case unduly encroached upon the time and attention requisite to the preservation of his dominions. He died in 858, after a reign of twenty years and five months, and was buried at Winchester. Contrary to the Saxon custom, he bequeathed the kingdoms of Wessex and Kent to Ethelbald and Ethelbert, and on their decease to his younger sons Ethelred and Alfred.
Such is an epitome of Ethelwulf's reign. Indolent in disposition, danger. ously addicted to a monastic life, deficient in nearly all those qualities which produce an able warrior or a wise sovereign, he allowed the country which his father had raised to a position of power previously unknown to become the scene of internal disputes, to be torn into factions by the rival Northumbrian princes, and only saved from the horrors of a civil war by surrendering part of his dominions to the restless, ambitious Ethelbald. Instead of energetically following up the victories which he obtained over the Danes, and fortifying the island so as to resist their oft-repeated attacks, he resigned himself to the charms of priestly companionship, to the inspection of holy relics in Rome, to the enriching of monasteries, and the bestowing of gifts upon the sovereign Pontiff. In comparison with Egbert, we see how far superior the character of the father was to that of the son; but in comparison with Ethelbald, Ethelbert, and Ethelred, even the reign of Ethelwulf, is worthy of admiration.
It was Alfred who restored the glory which had vanished with the accession of these four degenerate monarchs,
Ethelbald, already king of Wessex, retained the throne in virtue of his father's will. Licentious in character, endowed with little mental power, influenced by no desire to improve his dominions, his inglorious reign was happily short. In opposition to the ecclesiastical laws, he married his step-mother, Judith, but the entreaties of St. Swithun induced him to dissolve the connection, and the princess returned to her native land, where she formed an alliance with Baldwin, Count of Flanders; from whom sprang Matilda, subsequently the queen of William the Conqueror. Ethelbald died in the year 860, and was interred in Sherborne Cathedral. Some historians allege that his removal was much regretted; but the sympathy manifested appears to have proceeded principally from the clergy, who having derived considerable benefit from the change he introduced in the payment of their tithes, would naturally feel somewhat grieved at the event. Such a circumstance, therefore, cannot be adduced in proof of his popularity ; in fact, we see no reason to believe that his demise was an occurrence in which the people evinced much regret.
Ethelbert, who had previously reigned over Kent, now succeeded to the crown of Wessex, and united the government of the two kingdoms. The Danes again infested the island, and committed their usual depredations. On one occasion Ethelbert bribed them to leave the country, but though he observed good faith, they violated the treaty, and immediately afterwards ravaged the greater part of Kent. This circumstance, however, led the monarch to alter his pacific policy; he re-organised the army, which had fallen into neglect during the tranquil sway of Ethelbald, and resolved resolutely to oppose such treacherous foes. The Danes, perceiving these warlike preparations, thought it prudent to defer their invasions. Ethelbert died in 867, after a reign of about six years. His body rests by the side of his brother's in Sherborne Cathedral.
The next prince who occupied the throne of Wessex and Kent was Ethelred I. His administration was altogether better than that of his late predecessors. Vigorous and courageous in war, he fought in one year nine pitched battles with the Danes, besides several attacks, in both of which he was generally victorious. But notwithstanding his military activity, the Northmen seemed determined to settle permanently on the English soil; a design that was in no slight degree favoured by the dissension existing in East Anglia, Mercia, and particularly in Northumberland, over which the Saxon monarchs now possessed little authority. In the latter kingdom, discord and anarchy were predominant; the sovereignty was claimed by two nobles, one of whom resolved, by recourse to the Danes, to decide the contest. This fatal step paved the way to their temporary supremacy in Britain. As might naturally be anticipated, they acceded to the wishes of the Northumbrian rival; and having Ianded in East Anglia, from whence they procured horses, they penetrated into, and subdued the whole of Northumberland. The advantage that this victory conferred upon them, stimulated Ivar, their general, to extend his invasions; as the result of which, East Anglia and Mercia were obliged to submit to the conquerors. At the same time, the Danish leader, conscious that Wessex formed the key to the dominions of England, by obtaining which the whole island would fall within his power, decided upon attacking that kingdom. A memorable battle ensued at Aston, in Berkshire, in the year 871, where the Danish troops commanded by kings and generals of renown, suffered a total defeat from the West Saxon sovereign and his intrepid brother, the youthful Alfred. The favourable issue of this engagement is represented to have been owing in no slight degree to Ethelred's religious valour; for at the moment when his soldiers, led on by Alfred, were despairing of victory, the king (having been previously occupied in devotional exercises) unexpectedly appeared among his army, inspired them with hope, and distinguished with the
gn of the cross, dashed so resolutely into the Danish forces, that the enemy surprised at his bravery, and the sacred nature of his mission, precipitately fled, leaving a large number of their comrades slain on the battle-field. Another encounter,