« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
hair dreeping wi' the salt water!-Heaven will avenge on a' that had to do wi't.'" Vol. II. P. 283.
The old sybil appears revived by the event, she rises “like a mummy animated by some wandering spirit into a temporary esurrection;" she gives Ochiltree a ring to present to the Earl of Glenallan, requesting him to come instantly to the cottage. He offers it. The Earl receives it with trepidation and alarm, and promises immediately to attend the summons. In the mean time a visitation of the severest affliction is sent upon the cottage. Their eldest son, the pride and hope of the family, is drowned in a storm, the father having escaped Our extracts have been Jarge, but the scene before us is of so touching and so true a nature that we cannot resist the pleasure of extracting it. The author remarks that Wilkie could alone have painted it, to which we will add, that W. Scott alone could have described it.
"The body was laid in its coffin within the wooden bedstead which the young fisher had occupied while alive. At a little distance stood the father, whose rugged weather-beaten countenance, shaded by his grizzled hair, had faced many a stormy night and night-like day. He was apparently revolving his loss in his mind with that strong feeling of painful grief, peculiar to harsh and rough characters, which almost breaks forth into hatred against the world, and all that remains in it, after the beloved object is withdrawn. The old man had made the most desperate efforts to save his son, and had only been with-held by main force from renewing them at a moment, when, without the possibility of assisting the sufferer, he must himself have perished. All this apparently was boiling in his recollection. His glance was directed sidelong towards the coffin, as to an object on which he could not stedfastly look, and yet from which he could not withdraw his eyes. His answers to the necessary questions which were occasionally put to him, were brief, harsh, and almost fierce. His family had not yet dared to address to him a word, either of sympathy or consolation. His masculine wife, virago as she was, and absolute mistress of the family, as she justly boasted herself on all ordinary occasions, was, by this great loss, terrified into silence and submission, and compelled to hide from her husband's observation the busts of her female sorrow. As he had rejected food ever since the disaster had happened, not daring herself to approach him, she had that morning, with affectionate artifice, employed the youngest and favourite child to present her husband with some nourishment, His first action was to push it from him with an angry violence, that frightened the child; his next, to snatch up the boy and deyour him with kisses. Ye'll be a bra' fallow an ye be spared, Patie, but ye'll never-never can be--what he was to me!-He has sailed the coble wi' me since he was ten years auld, and there
wasna the like o' him drew a net betwixt this and Buchan-ness
They say folks maun submit-I shall try.'
"And he had been silent from that moment until compelled to arswer the necessary questions we have already noticed. Such was the disconsolate state of the father.
"In another corner of the cottage, her face covered by her apon, which was flung over it, sat the mother, the nature of her gref sufficiently indicated, by the wringing of her hands, and the convulsive agitation of the bosom which the covering could not conceal. Two of her gossips, officiously whispering into her ear the common-place topic of resignation under irremediable misfortune, seemed as if they were endeavouring to stun the grief which they could not console.
The sorrow of the children was mingled with wonder at the preparations they beheld around them, and at the unusual display of wheaten bread and wine, which the poorest peasant, or fisher, offers to the guests on these mournful occasions; and thus their grief for their brother's death was almost already lost in admiration of the splendour of his funeral.
"But the figure of the old grandmother was the most remarkable of the sorrowing group. Seated on her accusomed chair, with her usual air of apathy, and want of interest in what surrounded her, she seemed every now and then mechanically to resume the motion of twirling her spindle-then to look towards her bosom for the distaff, although both had been laid aside-She would then cast her eyes about as if surprised at missing the usual implements of her industry, and appear caught by the black colour of the gown in which they had dressed her, and embarrassed by the number of persons by whom she was surrounded-then, finally, she would raise her head with a ghastly look, and fix her eyes upon the bed which contained the coffin of her grandson, as if she had at once, and for the first time, acquired sense to comprehend her inexpressible calamity. These alternate feelings of embarrassment, wonder, and grief, seemed to succeed each other more than once upon her torpid features. But she spoke not a word, neither had she shed a tear; nor did one of the family understand, either from look or expression, to what extent she comprehended the uncommon bustle around her. So she sat among the funeral assembly like a connecting link between the surviving mourners and the dead corpse which they bewailed-a being in whom the light of existence was already obscured by the encroaching shadows of death." Vol. III. P. 32.
The Antiquary attends the funeral as Laird, and supports the head of the corpse to the grave. The scene that follows is more touching, than we should almost have conceived it within the power of language to describe.
"The last of them had darkened the entrance of the cottage, as she went out, and drawn the door softly behind her, when the
father, first ascertaining by a hasty glance that no stranger remained, started up, clasped his hands wildly above his head, uttered a cry of the despair which he had hitherto repressed, and, in all the impotent impatience of grief, half rushed half staggered forward to the bed on which the coffin had been deposited, threw himself down upon it, and smothering, as it were, his head among the bed-clothes, gave vent to the full passion of his sorrow. It was in vain that the wretched mother, terrified by the vehemence of her husband's affliction-affliction still more fearful as agitating a man of hardened manners and a robust frame-suppressed her own sobs and tears, and, pulling him by the skirts of his coat, implored him to rise and remember, that, though one was removed he had still a wife and children to comfort and support. The appeal came at too early a period of his anguish, and was totally unattended to; he continued to remain prostrate, indicating, by sobs so bitter and violent that they shook the bed and partition against which it rested, by clenched hands which grasped the bed-clothes, and by the vehement and convulsive motion of his legs, how deep and how terrible was the agony of a father's
'O, what a day is this! what a day is this!' said the poor mother, her womanish affliction already exhaused by sobs and tears, and now almost lost in terror for the state in which she beheld her husband; O, what an hour is this! and naebody to help a poor lone woman-O, gude-mither, could ye but speak a word to him! -wad ye but bid him be comforted!
"To her astonishment, and even to the increase of her fear, her husband's mother heard and answered the appeal. She rose and walked across the floor without support, and without much apparent feebleness, and, standing by the bed on which her son had extended himself, she said, Rise up, my son, and sorrow not for him that is beyond sin and sorrow and temptation-Sorrow is for those that remain in this vale of sorrow and darkness-I, wha dinna sorrow, and wha canna sorrow, for ony ane, hae maist need that ye should a' sorrow for me.'
"The voice of his mother, not heard for years as taking part in the active duties of life, or offering advice or consolation, produced its effect upon her son. He assumed a sitting posture on the side of the bed, and his appearance, attitude, and gestures, changed from those of angry despair to deep grief and dejection. The grandmother retired to her nook, the mother mechanically took in her hand her tattered Bible, and seemed to read, though her eyes were drowned with tears.
"They were thus occupied when a loud knock was heard at the door." Vol. III. P. 51.
After having dwelt on these scenes, now let our readers turn to the Childe Harold, to the Lara, to the Parisina of Lord Byron, and they will then discover how cold, how forced, how heart
less, is all that poetry on which they have hitherto dwelt, with perhaps so much staring admiration, as the production of a vast genius and profound observation. Real genius will follow nature into all her secret paths; real genius will present the living portrait of man, in all his varied forms, whether high or low, proud or humble; real genius delights to distinguish all the diversified features of the human mind, not to harp eternally on the same single chord, and that one, untrue to nature and hateful to harmony.
The whole of the description which now ensues is exquisitely drawn. The unwillingness of the parents to admit the Earl of Glenallan into their cottage, much more to quit it on the day of their son's burial, the reviving imperiousness of the old grandmother, the confession of her crimes are all in perfect nature. From her it appears, that the Earl, having fallen in love with a cousin of the family whom his mother hated, especially as if her son was to have an heir, her right in the baronies would cease. He marries her however in secret; but, by the stratagems of his mother, his elder brother, and this old woman, he is persuaded, that she was in reality the daughter of his father. The Earl on the discovery of this supposed horror, gives himself up to remorse and despair, and his wife in her agony precipitates herself into the sea. A child survived, the fruit of their marriage, who, as our readers will anticipate, is Lovel. We shall not relate the means by which he is preserved, as they are not beyond the ordinary in vention of a novellist: all things are of course settled; Captain M'Intyre survives and recovers; the Earl recognizes his son, who marries Isabella Wardour; the distresses of the old Baronet are relieved, and Dousterswivel is disgraced.
Of the characters we can speak in the highest terms. The Antiquary himself stands the most prominent. The mixture of elements in his composition is well pourtrayed. The knowledge he discovers is curious and instructive, and if his blunders cause amusement, his learning will afford instruction. The old Baronet, kind and petulant, doubting, yet afraid of his doubts, credulous, yet ashamed of his credulity, is pourtrayed with equal fidelity. The beggar Ochiltree, and the old woman are figures that stand prominent in the canvass. They are such alone as Scotland could produce, or a Scotchman describe. The knavery of Dousterswivel, which would appear to be almost overstrained, is, as the author informs us, founded on a fact of actual occurrence. The subordinate characters are drawn with that discrimination and variety, which is a true test of genius, and a distinguishing feature of our author. The incidents are numerous; many deeply affecting; many exquisitely ludicrous; but they are blended to
gether with so much art as to make a perfect and an harmonious whole.
Of the comparative merits of the three extraordinary productions of our author, it is difficult to give any satisfactory account. If the tales of past times delight our readers, if the manners and passions of a departed race, pourtrayed with equal fidelity and spirit, have a charm for their minds, WAVERLEY will justly be their favourite: if the creatures of a wild and romantic imagination, though not without a real existence on Scottish ground, are congenial to their fancy, they will pay GUY MANNERING its due share of their admiration : but if they love nature and the feelings of nature, as they now exist, even in their most secret recesses, and in their most varied forms, whether of high rank or low, whether of joy or sorrow, they will give the palm of preference to the ANTIQUARY.
We only regret that our author declares himself not likely again to solicit the favour of the public. We are sorry for our own sakes, but we must console ourselves with reading again and again his admirable productions. We are happy for these, as we should be sorry to see a perfect series of historical and national portraits disgraced by an inferior appendage, or a worn out repetition.
ART. VII. Review of Mr. Norris's Attack upon the British and Foreign Bible Society. Dedicated (by Permission) to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of St. David's. By the Rev. Wm. Dealtry, B.D. F.R.S. &c. Hatchard. ART. VIII. An Examination of Mr. Dealtry's Review of Norris on the British and Foreign Bible Society; with occasional Remarks on the Nature and Tendency of that Institution. By a Clergyman of the Diocese of London. 8vo. 3s. 6d. Rivingtons. 1816.
WE have already entered at so' great length into the merits of this question, considered with a reference to general views and principles, that it appears quite superfluous to employ any farther reasoning or to bring forward any additional facts, in order to justify the suspicious which we have not hesitated to advance, relative to the spirit which prevails, and above all, to the tendency of the measures which are pursued, in Bible Societies. We shall therefore confine ourselves, on the present occasion, to a comparison of the two pamphlets now before us, selecting, as we go along, such passages from each as seem to bear most directly upon the point at issue.