Elizabethan days seem singularly remote and -- in Walpole's hands -- singularly unreal. But perhaps every English novelist has to get one book about that period,one glimpse of Mary of Scotland, out of his system. This is as inadequate and inept a Walpole as we have seen for some time. Though a novel in the Herries panel, it lacks the vigor of Rogue Herries and the two Herries brothers, descendants in the line, are stock figures. There is the strong man, a hero to almost all who know him; and the poet, tempted by his love for a Catholic priest to beray his Protestant household. Both love unwisely and too well, each in his way; both are doomed to defeat. There is enough of the period for authenticity, but the story is overwritten.