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PublicationJuly 1868 - December 1869, serialized in The Monthly Packet, editor C.M. Yonge, published by John and Charles Mozley.
1870, published by Macmillan. First edition 2500 copies, C.M. Yonge paid £100. (Macmillan correspondence No. 240, 14.2.1870)
The novel opens in the year 1421. England, though engaged in warfare in France, enjoys peace and prosperity at home, but Scotland is in a state of anarchy. Its king, James I, the caged lion of the title, has been a prisoner in England since boyhood, though the king, Henry V, treats him as a friend.
The chief character, Malcolm Stewart, is a timid, sickly, scholarly youth, who feels that the best way to protect his tenants and his sister is to give her in marriage to their soldierly cousin Patrick, and himself become a monk. This is found to be no solution. Lilias is placed in a nunnery, Patrick goes to fight the English in France, and Malcolm enters the service of his royal kinsman, James I.
The tale is partly concerned with Malcolm's spiritual journey, partly with historical events, Henry V's last expedition to France and his death, and King James' return to Scotland. The historical characters are major not background figures. Most of the action takes place in France.
While in England Malcolm improves in health and falls in love with Esclairmonde, who is vowed to a nun's life, and rejects him. He succumbs to the temptations of camp life in France, but repents and is able to save Esclairmonde from her wicked relatives. Returning to Scotland, he finds that his sister has been stolen from her convent, rescues her and restores her to Patrick who marries her. Malcolm gives up a life of peaceful scholarship to help King James bring order to Scotland. After the king's murder, he goes on pilgrimage to the Holy Land but dies on his return, having seen Esclairmonde again, and told her of the vision he has had of the two kings.
The historical characters reveal themselves in their relationships with each other and with the fictitious ones. Both kings are shown as enjoying the company of their ordinary subjects, both are stern judges. However, James is less pious and more easy-going than Henry, and this is revealed as they deal with Malcolm's shortcomings.
The novel shows a detailed knowledge of the customs and events of the period, but C.M. Yonge's admiration of the two kings leads her to a degree of historical distortion.
For contemporary reviews see:
For other reviews or comments see:
Alice Fairfax Lucy
|I||The Guest of Glenuskie|
|II||The Rescue of Coldingham|
|IV||The Tidings of Beauge|
|VII||The Siege of Meaux|
|IX||The Dance of Death|
|X||The Whitsuntide Festival|
|XI||The Two Promises|
|XII||The Last Pilgrimage|
|XIII||The Ring and the Empty Throne|
|XIV||The Troth Flight|
|XVI||The Cage Open|
|XVII||The Begging Scholar|
|XIX||The Lion's Wrath|
LITTELLS LIVING AGE.
No. 1350, April 16, 1870, page 160
The Caged Lion
By Charlotte M. Yonge, author of The heir of Redclyffe. (Macmillan and Co.)
There are very few women (or men) of our day so well read in mediæval history as Miss Yonge. From childhood the study seems to have been her passion, and in her Cameos she displays a familiarity with character and scenery which is rare and remarkable. In historical fiction she is also often successful; and if ever she fails, it is through the want of power to place her readers at her own point of view. Some of the characters and scenes in the Caged Lion will command sympathy, and they are clearly and graphically put. Thus, our Henry V. is sure to inspire the interest he deserves. We are not so sure about the Lion himself, James I. of Scotland. Yet we suppose, it is merely that he is overshadowed by his English friend and guardian King Henry. Less is known about James than could be wished. The history of his early life and training at Windsor, his genius, his beautiful poem of the Kings Quhair and his strong attachment to his native land, in spite of the gains of his captivity, require to be fully brought out, as well as the passages of his after life and disastrous death. Miss Yonge, who now (we believe, for the first time,) places her name on the title-page, gives us her authorities and points out her deviations from literal history in her preface. We think the book deserves to be well read, and that it will be much enjoyed.
The Caged Lion was reviewed in 1870 in The Athenaeum by Almaric Rumsey.
Reference : 2215 (April 9,1870), 482 483