Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Printed by George Ramsay & Co.

W. 16

Th. 17

Fr. 18

Sa. 19

Su. 20

M. 21

Tu. 22

W. 23

Th. 24

Fr. 25

Sa. 26

Su. 27

M. 28

Tu. 29
W. 30

Morn.

H.

M.

3

3

4

4 31

5

3

5

40

6

26

7

42

9

33

10

55

11 48

12 31

[blocks in formation]

2

32

26

2

Even.

H. M.

3 17

3 47

4 16

4 48

5

21

6

1

7

0

8

35

10

17

11 24

12 11

12

50

1 10

1

45

2 20

TERMS, &c.

Sept. 1. Partridge shooting begins.
22. King George III. crowned.
23. Day and night equal.
29. Michaelmas day.
30. Hare hunting begins.

The Correspondents of the EDINBURGH MAGAZINE AND LITERARY MISCELLANY are respectfully requested to transmit their Communications for the Editors to ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE and COMPANY, Edinburgh, or LONGMAN and COMPANY, London, to whom also orders for the Work should be particularly addressed.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

ON THE HISTORY OF FICTITIOUS WRITING IN SCOTLAND; WITH REMARKS ON THE TALE ENTITTHE HEART OF MID-LO

66

LED

THIAN."

WE have long been of opinion, that no country in Europe contains more copiously than our own the materials that are best adapted to serve as the ground-work of fictitious history. Scotland is, in point of natural scenery, one of the most picturesque and striking of European countries. It possesses every variety and character of surface from the majestic grandeur of an Alpine district, to the soft beauty of a pastoral landscape, and the rich cultivation of an agricultural territory. It is finely intersected by lakes and arms of the sea, which, by detaching its districts, and varying its aspect, add much to the effect and grandeur of its scenery; and the traveller, in passing from one department of the country to another, cannot fail to be frequently impressed with the idea so strikingly conveyed in the words of the novelist, "that the region through which he is passing is one on which the hand of God himself has set the stamp of freedom, and that the mountains are his seal." The history of this kingdom, not less than the appearance of its surface, is pre-eminently adapted to the purposes of fiction. The long line of our ancient monarchs is consecrated by the image of that warlike glory which seems ever to shed its radiance around them; and, if either chivalric enterprise or unfortunate beauty give interest to the tale of the times that are ence by, we do not know where we

should look for a more interesting display of such circumstances, than to the affecting memorials of our own royal line. The peculiar manners and opinions of our countrymen are equally adapted with any of the preceding singularities, to supply to the novelist the materials of his work; and, when we recollect the instances of determined courage, and of wild fanaticism, which, in trying circumstances, they have so often displayed,the ardent zeal which they have always felt for whatever concerns the glory of their nation, their peculiar talent for music and for song,-the poetical fancy which they seem to have derived from the magnificent charac ter of the scenery around them,

and the remarkable superstitions which they have always indulged, and by which not only the more impressive aspects of nature, but the very detail and privacy of their domestic occupations, have been invested with a preternatural and religious gloom,-we feel as if we were indeed the inhabitants of that country which is distinguished above all others by its marked adaptation for the purposes of fiction. To all these circumstances it ought to be added, in the last place, that the language spoken by the natives of Scotland is peculiarly suited to the expression of whatever is either picturesque in nature, or kind in feeling,-that, improved as it has been by the familiarity of this people with the language used in the sacred writings, it often displays an eastern richness and strength of expression which may be of the most important advantage to a writer of genius,-and that, indeven

[ocr errors]

dent even of this, and of all the further advantage derived from its rich stock of original poetry, there is a naiveté, and picturesqueness, and affection, in its phrases, which the polish of time, and the assiduity of learning have altogether removed from the more fashionable dialect of our southern neighbours.

It were erroneous to imagine that these precious materials have been altogether unimproved during preeeding ages. Our national ballads, on the contrary, a species of composition in which Scotland is well known to be rich beyond all the other countries of Europe, will ever furnish to the antiquary and scholar a most valuable mine of those early traditions and manners which constitute the basis of our hereditary wealth. The universally admired pastoral of the "Gentle Shepherd" is an exhibition of the truest style of rural manners, as they existed in this kingdom during the century before last, and will ever be regarded as the most perfect model of that species of writing which has for its object the description, on a limited scale, of the peculiar landscape and mode of thinking which is characteristic of this country. The other poetical works of the author of this pastoral, and of his two great compeers in Scottish song, have extended the notices which our ancient ballads contained to a still wider range of incidents and characters;and as Fergusson, by his intimate acquaintance with the peculiarities of our capital, has, in many of his poems, given the most correct delineations of the scenes which it presented,-Burns, by his better information with respect to agricultural life, and his unrivalled skill in the delineation of the warmer and more impetuous passions, has blended the representation of those with traits of national manners and feelings which will ever be admired while the language in which they are embodied is read. Some admirable specimens of the same peculiarities are scattered through the valuable periodical publications which Scotland produced during the latter part of the preceding century, and the accomplished and lamented author of the "Cottagers of Glenburnie," has concluded this list by a display of the characteristic habits of our peasantry, which every observer of Scot

tish manners must have recognized as being executed with most impressive fidelity.

we

Still, however, much remained to be done in this wide field of national literature. The authors have already mentioned had only given incidental notices, or described particular scenes of the great landscape that was spread before them; they were almost all of them much better acquainted with the manners of rural life than with the more varied incidents, and more complicated passions of polished society,and none of them pretended to be in possession of that extensive learning and acquaintance with life which could enable them to venture, with any probability of success, beyond the limited sphere of their own immediate observation. An author, therefore, was still wanted who should possess all the qualifications in which we have now stated his predecessors to have been deficient ;—a man intimately acquainted with all the varieties and classes of life,-who had looked with keen interest, and a discriminating eye, upon every thing that belonged to the land of his nativity,-who possessed, at the same time, those stores of varied and recondite learning which might enable him easily to transport himself into past times and distant scenes,-and who, with all these qualifications, could spread before him a wider canvass for the display of the scenery and manners of our country than had ever been employed by any former artist. All this, accordingly, as every reader knows, is what has been done by the author whose works have given occasion to these observations. We had sometimes thought, indeed, that, faithful as his representations both of scenery and of manners most undoubtedly are,-strong as has been their effect upon the public mind in both departments of this island, and well as we recognize in his individual portraits the countenances and attitudes of many of our oldest acquaintances and most intimate companions, there was yet wanting, in the general spirit of this author's exhibitions, that peculiar tone which, from our acquaintance with former compositions of the same kind, we had been accustomed to consider as especially and exclusively Scottish,-that interesting

[ocr errors]

naiveté, and picturesque simplicity, that delightful air of tenderness and innocence, that accordance with the character of our native landscape, -that something which every Scotchman perfectly understands and feels the moment he sees it, though it is the most difficult of all things to express in words, but which he at once pronounces to be expressive of the true style of the scenery and manners of his native land. "The Cottagers of Glenburnie," inferior as it no doubt is in the genius which it displays, to any of the productions of the author before us, we have yet always consider ed as perfectly in the style to which we are now alluding; and we had sometimes imagined, that, with all their unequalled excellencies, the descriptions of this far greater artist, having missed the truly Scottish spirit, could scarcely be considered, however much they might deserve admiration in other respects, as perfect representations of what they were chiefly intended to exhibit. We are convinced, however, that this idea was, to a certain extent at least, unfounded, and that it originates, in fact, in the more comprehensive object which this author has in view, and in the more varied accomplishments which he has brought to its completion. His object is not, like that of all his predecessors, to exhibit merely single objects, or detached scenes, but to represent every variety and attitude of his subject, from the simple beauty of a Clydesdale cottage, seen in the fine light of an autumn evening, to the hoary majesty of a baronial castle, frowning sternly upon its subject territory, and begirt with all the ensigns of its former grandeur,-to pourtray the blunt sincerity of our familiar rustics, and the sly roguery of the inhabitants of our cities, to exhibit famous generals in all their glory, and the miserable receptacles of the lowest of the abandoned,-to display all the pomp and circumstance of glorious war, and all the uproar and tumult of popular insurrection,-to depict the wild extravagances of religious fanaticism, and the low knavery of legal science, to unroll before us, in short, the whole map of the country as it existed in times previous to our own, with all its varieties of village, country town, burgh, and metropolis,-with all its changes of po

[ocr errors]

pulation, and operations of war,-with the exact costume, and characteristic features of all the great, the good, the wonderful, or the mean, that formerly lived and gave animation to its scenes. In the accomplishment of such a work, it is evident that one common air and spirit of feeling, such as we recognize in the simple scenes and detached pictures of former authors, could not be maintained,-the work must have all the bustling activity, and rapid motion, and varied attitude of the objects it describes; and we are satisfied, therefore, that while we have every reason to admire the wonderful talent which our author has displayed, and the exact likeness of his individual portraits, we have not the slightest reason to imagine that his work has suffered by the comprehension of its plan, as a correct delineation of the true spirit of our former manners.

We meant to have extended these observations to much greater length, and to have pointed out more particularly both the peculiarity of talent which these tales display, and their comparative excellence, when considered in relation to those other narratives whose popularity and effect they have so successfully eclipsed. We are afraid, however, that we have already too long detained our readers from an account of the work which is now more immediately under review, and we must, therefore, in the hope that this shall not be the last of our author's productions, defer the prosecution of our more general observations till another opportunity. In the mean time, without stopping to give any analysis of a work which all our readers may be supposed to have perused for themselves, we proceed to offer a few reflections on some of its leading incidents and characters.

None of our readers can have forgotten the keen feeling which was awakened by the publication of the first series of the "Tales of my Landlord." The characters and exploits of the heroes of the Covenant, had long formed one of those consecrated subjects which, in this country at least, could not be approached but with the most reverential emotion. The persecutions which these devoted martyrs had undergone seemed to be amply compensated by the love and veneration which were paid to their memo.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »