The likeness of departed majesty, robed in the matchless splendour of a ruler’s state, redolent with all the mimic glories of a king’s insignia, the modelled puppet from the senseless clay, that wore in life the imperial purple, and moved a breathing thing, chief actor in its childish mummeries, may here be seen shining in tinselled pomp, in glittering contrast to the blood-stained shirt through which the dagger of Ravaillac reached the bosom of the murdered Henry.
The “Real Robes” of the dead George give value to his waxen image! The heart’s-blood of the slaughtered Henry immortalises the linen bearing its hideous stain. The daring leader of France’s countless hosts—the wholesale slaughterer of unnumbered thousands—ambition’s mightiest son—now ruling kingdoms and now ruled by one—once more than king—in death the captive of his hated foes—“the great Napoleon!” shares the small space with the enshrined Fieschi!
The glorious triumphs of the mighty Wellington are here no better passports than the foul murders of the atrocious Burke; the subtle Talleyrand, the deep deviser of political schemes, ruler of rulers, and master mover of the earth’s great puppets, is not one jot superior to the Italian mountebank, whose well-skilled hand drew tones from catgut rivalling even the ideal trumpet of great Fame herself!
By some strange anomaly, success and failure alike render the candidates admissible—no matter the littleness of the source from whence they sprung. Lord Melbourne’s “premiership” gave shape to the all but Promethean wax. The failure of John Frost, his humble follower, secured his right to Fame’s posthumous honours. All partiality is here forgotten. The titled premier, in the haunts of men, may boast his monarch’s palace as his home. The suffering felon, though iron binds his limbs, and eats into his heart—though slow approaching, but sure-coming death, makes the broad world for him a living grave, here he stands, as one among the great ones of the show! The amiability of Albert, that “excellent Prince,” and therefore “most excellent young man,” is ingeniously contrasted with the vices of a Greenacre, and the villany of a Hare. The stern endurance and unflinching perseverance of the zealous and single-hearted Calvin is deprived of its exclusiveness by the more exciting and equally famous Sir William Courtenay (alias Thom).
The thrilling recollection of the “poet peer,” and “peerless poet,” the highly-imaginative and unrivalled Byron, whose flood of song, poured out in one continuous stream of varied passion-breathing fancy, is calmed by gazing on “dull life’s antipodes,” the bandaged remnant of a dried-up mummy!
Poor Mary Stuart! the beautiful, the murdered Queen of Scots, is only parted from the “Maiden Queen,” who sealed her doom, by the interposition of the blood-stained ruthless wretch (England’s Eighth Harry), to whom “Bess” owed her birth!