Изображения страниц

3d. That for a church to enforce any thing in addition (even although such were not contrary) to God's word, is a more daring act of schism than the sin of those who, without sufficient cause, separate themselves from the communion of any particular church.

4th. That the Church of Rome has made a most dangerous and incurable schism in the visible church of Christ, by assuming to herself this power of making new articles of faith, and decreeing the same as necessary to be believed in order to salvation. And that by thus adding to the catholic faith, she has, as to these additions, separated herself from the communion of the catholic church. That therefore the sin of schism lies at her door, and not at the door of the Church of England; which, so far from denying any article of catholic faith, professes and propagates that which is undeniably such, our enemies themselves being judges.

Lastly. That by the propagation of that faith which is maintained and taught by us, and not by the new creed of the papacy, can the church be known as catholic; or can the promise of the Father to his eternal Son be fulfilled

"I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession."

ART. XI.-Recollections of Sir Walter Scott. Fraser.
London. 1836.

EVERY fragment of information relating to an individual who occupied so prominent a place in the eye of our age, and exercised so vast an influence over the imaginative literature of Europe, must always be welcomed with delight. With these feelings we have perused the little volume which gives the title to the present article. It is evidently written by one intimately acquainted with the disposition and habits of Sir Walter Scott, and opens to us very pleasant glimpses into the domestic economy of the poet in the romantic retirement of Lasswade, with its shield and dagger and coat of mail; or the more splendid and feudal domain of Abbotsford. Such a production will naturally form an agreeable supplement to the more elaborate memoirs by Lockhart, now almost ready for publication; and for which every lover of just and eloquent criticism, and affectionate yet honest. biography, is looking with impatience. The lot of Sir Walter seemed cast in a pleasant spot; born on the 15th of August, 1771, at Edinburgh, of a highly respectable family, and with the prospect of a moderate competence through life, his situation was certainly an enviable one. Like many other distinguished persons, however, Scott in his boyhood was subject to precarious

health-a circumstance which occasioned his removal from the confinement of his father's house, in the College-Wynd at Edinburgh, to his grandfather's residence among the romantic hills of Roxburghshire. Here, along the banks of the Tweed, he wandered, and by Smaylholme Tower, a deserted little border-fort, musing upon many an olden legend. How vividly these scenes dwelt upon his youthful mind, may be seen in his poetry, and no where more conspicuously than in Marmion:

"Thus while I ope the measure wild,

Of tales which charmed me when a child;
Rude though they be, still with the chime
Return the thoughts of early time;
And feelings roused in life's first day
Glow in the line, and prompt the lay;

Then rise those crags, that mountain tower,
Which charm'd my Fancy's wakening hour."

Introd. to Canto III.

The Tower of Smaylholme, perched high amid the crags, overlooks the country in every direction. Defended on three sides by a morass and precipitous cliffs, it is accessible only by a steep and rocky path from the west. Although partially in ruins, the traveller might not long ago have climbed up to the bartizan at the summit of the castle. The charm of the spot would certainly not be diminished in the mind of Scott, by the recollection that the Tower, together with the adjoining lands, was the property of his relation, Mr. Scott, of Harden. Hither, we are informed, after long previous wandering, he would scramble up, carrying with him store of books such as he delighted to dream over. The place formed a kind of poetical observatory, where he watched the varied aspects of the landscape, now darkened by the sweeping storm that howled through the desolate fortress, and now cheered by the shifting sunlight of an April or an October day. (P. 16.) The scene of his noble ballad, The Eve of St. John, was laid here. These poetic visions. were not the best preparation for a course of education at the Edinburgh High School, where Scott was entered in 1779. The Colloquies of Corderius, Cæsar's Commentaries, and Cornelius Nepos, were not half so soothing to the mind of the ardent boy as


patriot battles won of old
By Wallace wight, and Bruce the bold.
Stretch'd at length upon the floor
To fight each combat o'er and o'er,
Pebbles and shells, in order laid,
The mimic ranks of war display'd."

Marmion, Introd. to Canto III.

In regard to Scott's progress at the High School, we are told some change for the better took place when, in his twelfth or fourteenth year, he was transferred to the class of the rector, Dr. Alexander Adam, who, in his peculiar department, was unquestionably a man of genius, and evinced the most persevering industry. Deeply read in the Classics, observes the writer, the Doctor took a real and enthusiastic interest in his own studies; in fact, might be represented as conferring in a limited degree the same services respecting Roman literature, which Sir Walter Scott afterwards effected with regard to the remnants of old minstrelsy. He traced out ideas, as well as words, to their origin; and delighted, by means of parallel passages, to illustrate and revive the great characters of antiquity, and explain ancient manners and customs, so that their tendency might be thoroughly felt and understood. Through the day he was of course occupied with his duties as head master; and his publications (especially, for example, the Ancient Geography) requiring much time, as well as labour, he was in the habit of rising, all the year round, at four in the morning. Consequently in winter he betook himself to the kitchen, where, by the aid of a happin peat, left in the grate overnight, he kindled a good fire without troubling any of his small establishment to assist him. Hither he brought his table and books, and passed many an hour in writing or research long before others thought of commencing the business of the day. Among Dr. Adam's peculiarities was his activity as a pedestrian, by which his health and spirits were promoted and preserved to a very advanced age. In the welfare of his pupils he took a lively interest, and was generally attended in his holiday rambles by one or two of those boys who had acquired his good opinion, with whom he would converse freely on what they had read, and enable them to apply their learning practically to the business of life. (P. 38.) His example of temperance and early rising is thought, not without justice, to have influenced the youthful scholar in after time; but though he seems to have appreciated the activity of his tutor, all his efforts to imbue him with the spirit of classical learning proved ineffectual, and he departed from the High School without exciting any anticipation of future celebrity. Numerous examples of a like nature might be found in our own literature. We can still remember the reported stupidity of Sheridan at Harrow; and who has forgotten the assurance of poor Kirk White's schoolmaster, that he was incorrigibly ignorant and dull?" Yet at this very time the seeds were maturing in the poet and the wit. So it was with Scott; he cared nothing for the faultless insipidity of a Latin theme; but the lineaments of an Effie Deans began to dawn upon his fancy. He might have been beaten in the ancient geography of the worthy Doctor, but the legends of romance, the splendour of chivalry, the stateliness of history,

were already peopling his youthful imagination. "I must refer," he says, in one of his exquisite fragments of autobiography, "to a very early period of my life, were I to point out my first achievements as a story-teller; but I believe some of my old schoolfellows can still bear witness that I had a distinguished character for that talent, at a time when the applause of my companions was my recompense for the disgraces and punishments which the future romance-writer incurred for being idle himself and keeping others idle, during hours that should have been employed on our tasks. The chief enjoyment of my holidays was to escape with a chosen friend, who had the same taste with myself, and alternately to recite to each other such wild adventures as we were able to devise. We told, each in turn, interminable tales of knight errantry, and battles, and enchantments, which were continued from day to day, as opportunity offered, without our ever thinking of bringing them to a conclusion. As we observed a strict secrecy on the subject of this intercourse, it acquired all the character of a concealed pleasure; and we used to select for the scenes of our indulgence, long walks through the solitary and romantic environs of Arthur's Seat, Salisbury Crags, Braid Hills, and similar places in the vicinity of Edinburgh; and the recollection of these holidays still forms an oasis in the pilgrimage that I have to look back upon." In these exercises of early fancy Scott was aided by a very surprising memory, which retained with uncommon pertinacity every thing committed to its charge: in the composition of his novels, this faculty was brought fully into action.

"What history or experience could afford,

He grasped in fragments; yet from them brought forth.
A grand symmetric whole; by his own fervour
Enlivening that which else were cold and dead."

Nor were its operations confined to the beautiful or precious alone; straws, as well as gold, were kept from decay in this stream of amber; and instances occurred at convivial meetings where the author of Waverley could repeat, from the first line to the last, such a song as the following:

"I courted Molly of Spithead."

About the year 1784, Scott matriculated at the college of Edinburgh, under professors Hill and Dalzell, whose Lectures on the Character and Literature of the Greeks are not without a certain degree of merit, though neither characterized by the largeness of their views nor the elegance of their composition. Scott was not a greater favourite of Minerva at college than he had been at school. From studies where the heart is not, no benefit can arise. Partly from this cause, and partly from ill health, he appears to have gone through no regular course of

education there, except that which in later years he required to qualify him for passing his examination at the Scottish bar. The rupture of a blood-vessel, which could only be cured by a long interval of repose, threw him almost entirely upon literary amusements; he explored the books of Mr. Scott, sen., then residing in George's Square, and exhausted the extensive supplies of a circulating library, full of romances, old plays, and poetry; thus unconsciously, as he remarked, amassing materials for the task in which he was afterwards to be so much employed.

"At the same time (he adds) I did not in all respects abuse the license permitted me. Familiar acquaintance with the specious miracles of fiction brought with it some degree of satiety, and I began to seek in history, memoirs, voyages, travels, and the like, events nearly as wonderful as those which were the work of imagination, with the additional advantage, that they were in a great measure at least true. The lapse of nearly two years, during which I was left to the service of my own free will, was followed by a temporary residence in the country, where I was again very lonely, but for the amusement derived from a good, though old-fashioned library. The vague and wild use I made of this advantage, I cannot describe better than by referring my readers to the desultory studies of Waverley in a similar situation, the passages concerning whose reading were imitated from the recollection of my own."

Scotland could at this period boast of many distinguished writers, among whom Robertson, Hume, Mackenzie, Lord Kaimes, and Beattie, were the most prominent; of these the character of Beattie bore the nearest resemblance to that of Scott; he had much of the same intense love of nature, brightened by a chivalrous and romantic temper. The scenes which to the present day look green in the Minstrel, were the recollections of boyish rambles through "the wild and gloomy, though not unpic"turesque hills, in the neighbourhood of Lawrencekirk and "Fordun." Beattie, indeed, possessed all the elements of the highest poetry; but domestic sorrow clouded his hopes, and severer studies seduced him from the Muse. Another eminent individual with whom Scott was personally acquainted, and almost the only friend who ever led him into an argument, was the author of the Man of Feeling; a work then regarded as facile princeps, and still retaining a place among the British Classics. Mackenzie was devotedly attached to the country, and field-amusements, and until his seventy-ninth year, after which time he suffered from lameness, he is said to have taken the field with his gun and a brace of pointers, with all the buoyancy and vivacity of nineteen. His personal appearance is described as thin and attenuated, with a resemblance to Voltaire, though free from the sarcastic malevolence of the author of Candide. his other qualities he added acuteness in business, great taste and propriety in criticism, pleasantry of conversation, and sincerity in friendship. (P. 36.) To return to Scott. After his sixteenth

[blocks in formation]


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »