Page images
PDF
EPUB

he saw me smile. 'And I've done no ein,' said he; 'and, Larry, you may lead me now, ae you led me all my lite.'—And up the slope he went with me, us lighi as fifteen ; and when we got up, my Lurd Clonbrony said. ' I am sorry an old tenant, and a good old tenant, as I hear you were, should have been turned out of your farm.'—' Don't fret, it's no great matter, my lord,' said my father. 'I shall be soon oat of the way; but if you would be so kind to »peak a word for my boy here, and that I could affurd, while the life is in me, to bring my other boy bock out of banishment—'

"'Then.' says my Lord Clonhrpny, 'I'll give you and your sons three lives, or thirty-one years, Irom this day, of your former farm, Return to it when you please.' 'And,' added my Lord Colambre, 'the flaggers, I hope, will soon be bani&heti.' O, how could I thank him—not a word could I proffer—but I know I clasped my two hands and p-aycd for him inwardly. And my father was dropping down on his knees, but the master would nut let him; and obsarvfd, that posture should only be for his God! And, sure enough, in that posture, when he was out of sight, we did pray for him that night, and will all our days.

"But before we quit his presence, he call me back, and bid me write lo my brother, and bring rou back, if you've no objections to your own country.—So come, my dear Pat, and make no delay, for joy's not joy complete till you're in it— my father sends his blessing, and Peggy her love. The family entirely is to settle for good in Ireland; and th- re was in the castle yard last night a bonfire made liv tnv- lord's orders of the ould yellow damask lurniture, to plaae my lady, my lord says.

i And the drawing-rooms, the butler was telling me, I is new hung; and the chairs, with velvet, as white i as snow, and shaded over with natural flowers, by I Miss Nugent.—Oh ! how I hope what I guess will

I come true, and I've rason to believe it will, for [ dream't in my bed last night, it did. But keep i yourself to yourself—that Miss Nugent (who is no more Miss Nugent, they say. but Mies Reynolds, and has a new-found grandfather, and is a big | heiress, which ehe did not want in my eyes, nor in j my young lord's,) I've a notion, will be sometime, and may be sooner than is expected, my Lady Viscountess Colambre—so haste to the wedding! And there's another thing: they say the rich ould grandfather's coming over ;—and another thing, Pat, you would not be out of the fashion. And you see it's growing the fashion, not to be an Absentee!''

I If there be any of our readers who is not moved with delight and admiration in the perusal of this letter, we must say, that we have but a poor opinion either of his taste or hie moral sensibility: and shall think all the better of ourselves, in future, for appearing tedious in his eyes. For our own parts, we do not know whether we envy the author most, for the rare talent she has shown in this description, or for the experience by which its materials have been supplied. She not only makes us know and love the Irish nation far better than any other writer, but seems to us more qualified than most others to promote

1 the knowledge and the love of mankind.

(NotJtmber, 1814.)

, or 'Tis Sixty Years Since. In three volumes 12mo. pp. 1112. Third Edition. Edinburgh: 1814.«

written—composed, one half of it, in a dialect unintelligible to four-fifths of the readiti" population of the country—relating to a period too recent to be romantic, and too far gone by

reviews; and to retain only the general criticism, and character, or estimate of each performance— together with such incidental observations as may have been suggested by the tenor or success of these wonderful productions. By this course, no doubt, a sad shrinking will he effected in the primitive dimensions of the articles which are here reproduced; and may probably give to what is retained something of a naked and jejune appearance. If it should be so, I can only sav that I dp not see how I could have helped it: and after all it may not be altogether without interest to see, from a contemporary record, what were the first impressions produced by the appearance of this new luminary on our horizon; while the secret of the authorship was yet undivulged, and before the rapid accumulation of its dories had forced on the dullest spectator a sense of its magnitude and power. I may venture perhaps also to add, that some of the general speculations of which these reviews suggested the occasion, may probably be found ns well worth preserving as most of those which have been elsewhere embodied in this experimental, and somewhat hazardous, publication.

Though living in familiar intercourse with Sir Walter, 1 need scarcely say that I was not in the secret of his authorship; and in truth had no assurance of the fact, till the time of its promulgation.

It is wonderful what genius and adherence to nature will do, in spite of all disadvantages. Here is a thing obviously very hastily, and, in many places, somewhat unskilfully

* I have been я good deal at a loss what to do with these famous novels of Sir Walter. On the one hand. I could not bring myself to let this collection go forth, without tome notice of works which, for many years together, had occupied and delighted me more than any thing else that ever came under my critical survey: While, on the other, I could not but feel that it would be absurd, and in some кте almost dishonest, to fill these pages with long citations from books which, for the last twenty-five »ear«, have been in the hands of at least fifty times аз many readers as are ever likely to look into this publication—and are still as familiar to the generation which has last come into existence, as to those who can yet remember the sensation produced by iheir first appearance. In point of fact I was infirmed, but the other day, by Mr. Caddell, that he had (dually sold not less than eiity thouiand м/чл/ч of these extraordinary productions, in the course of the preceding year! and that the demand for them, instead of slackening—had been for some time sensibly on the increase. In these circumstances 1 think I mav safely assume that their contents are still »o perfectly known as not to require any citations to introduce such of the remarks originally made on them as I may now wish to repeat. And I have therefore come to the determination of omitting almost all the quotations, and most of the detailed abstracts which appeared in the original

to be familiar—and published, moreover, in a quarter of the island where materials and talents for novel-writing have been supposed to be equally wanting: And yet, by the mere force and truth and vivacity of its colouring, already casting the whole tribe of ordinary novels into the shade, and taking its place rather with the most popular of our modern poems, than with the rubbish of provincial romances.

The secret of this success, we take it. is merely that the author is a man of Genius: and that he has, notwithstanding, had virtue enough to be true to Nature throughout; and to content himself, even in the marvellous parts of his story, with copying from actual existences, rather than from the phantasms of his own imagination. The charm which this communicates to all works that deal in the representation of human actions and character, is more readily felt than understood: and operates with unfailing efficacy even upon those who have no acquaintance with the originals from which the picture has been borrowed. It requires no ordinary talent, indeed, to choose such realities as may outshine the bright imaginations of the inventive, and so to combine them as to produce the most advantageous effect; but when this is once accomplished, the result is sure to be something more firm, impressive, and engaging, than can ever be produced by mere fiction.

The object of the work before us, was evidently to present a faithful and animated picture of the manners and state of society that prevailed in this northern part of the island, in the earlier part of last century; and the author has judiciously fixed upon the era of the Rebellion in 1745, not only as enriching his pages with the interest inseparably attached to the narration of such occurrences, but as affording a fair opportunity for bringing out all the contrasted principles and habits which distinguished the different classes of persons who then divided the country, and formed among them the basis of almost all that was peculiar in the national character. That unfortunate contention brought conspicuously to light, and, for the last time, the fading image of feudal chivalry in the mountains, and vulgar fanaticism in the plains; and startled the more polished parts of the land with the wild but brilliant picture of the devoted valour, incorruptible fidelity, patriarchal brotherhood, and savage habits of the Celtic Clans, on the one hand.—and the dark, intractable, and domineerins bigotry of the Covenanters on the other. Both aspects of society had indeed been formerly prevalent in other parts of the country,—but had there been so long super- ( seded by more peaceable habits, and milder i manners, that their vestiges were almost effaced, and their very memory nearly extinguished. The feudal principalities had been' destroyed in the South, for near three hundred years.—and the dominion of the Puritans from the time of the Restoration. When the glens.! und banded clans, of the central Highlands, | therefore, were opened up to the gaze of the' English, in the course of that insurrection, it j seemed as if they were carried back to the!

days of the Heptarchy ;—and when they saw the array of the West country Whiss. they might imagine themselves transported to the age of Cromwell. The effect, indeed, is almost as startling at the present moment; and one great source of the interest which the volumes before us undoubtedly posees», is to be sought in the surprise that is excite! by discovering, that in our own country, and almost in our own age, manners and characters existed, and were conspicuous, which we had been accustomed to consider as belonging to remote antiquity, or extravagant romance.

The way m which they are here represented must satisfy every reader, we think, byan inward lact and conviction, that the delineation has been made from actual experience and observation :—experience and observation employed perhaps only on a few surviving relics and specimens of what wae familiar a little earlier—but generalised from instances sufficiently numerous and complete, to warrant all that may have been added to the portrait :—And, indeed, the existing records atd vestiges of the more extraordinary parts of the representation are still sufficiently abundant, to satisfy all who have the means of consulting them, as to the perfect accuracy of the picture. The great traits of Clannish dependence, pride, and fidelity, may still be detected in many districts of the Highlands, though they do not now adhere to the chieftains whec they mingle in general society; and the existing contentions of Burghers and Antibursbers, and Cameronians, though shrunk into comparative insignificance, and left, indeed. without protection to the ridicule of the profane, may etill be referred to, a« complete verifications of all that is here stated about Gifted Gilfillan, or ЕЬепегег Cmickfhant The traits of Scottish national character in the lower ranks, can still less be regarded ai aatiquated or traditional; nor is there any thi~ in the whole compass of the work wh;oL gives us a stronger impression of the nice observation and graphical talent of the autho-. than the extraordinary fidelity and felicity with which all the inferior agents in the story are represented. No one who has not bvtii extensively among the lower ordere of all descriptions, and made himself familiar with their various tempers and dialects, can perceive the full merit of those rapid and characteristic sketches; but it require» on!v я general knowledge of human nature, to i> • that they must be faithful copies from knour, originals: and to be aware of the extraordinary facility and flexibility of hand whichbu touched, for instance, with such discrinrra:ing shades, the various gradations of the Ceh:c character, from the savage imperturbability of Dusald Mahony, who stalks grimly about with his battle-axe on his shoulder, without speaking a word to any one.—to the lively unprincipled activity of Callum Bes.—ihe coarso unreflecting hardihood and heroism of Kvan Maccombich.—and the pride, gallantry, elegance, and ambition of Fergus himself. Io the lower class of the LowUnd characters, again, the vulgarity of Mrs. Flockliart and Lieutenant Jinker is perfectly distinct and original :—as well as the puritanism of Gilfillan and Cruickshank—the atrocity of Mrs. Mucklewrath—and [he slow solemnity of Alexander Saunderson. The Baron of Bradwardine, and Baillie Macwheeble, are caricatures no doubt, after the fashion of the caricatures in the novels of Smollet,—or pictures, at the best, of individuals who must always have boen unique and extraordinary: but almost all the other personages in the history are fair representatives of classes that are still existing, or may be remembered at least to have existed, by many whose recollections do not extend quite so far back as to the year 1745. Waverley is the representative of an old and opulent Jacobite family in the centre of England—educated at home in an irregular manner, and living, till the age of majority, mostly in the retirement of his paternal mansion— where he reads poetry, feeds his fancy with romantic musings, and acquires amiable dispositions, and something of a contemplative, passive, and undecided character. All the Knglish adherents of the abdicated family having renounced any serious hopes of their cause 1опг before the year 1745. the guardians of young Waverley were induced, in that celebrated year, to allow him to enter into the army, as the nation was then engaged in forfi'^n war—and a passion for military glory had always been characteristic of his line. He obtains a commission, accordingly, in a regiment of horse, then stationed in Scotland, and proceeds forthwith to head-quarters. Cosmo Comyne Bradwardine, Esq., of Tullv-Veolan in Perthshire, had been an ancient friend of the house of Waverley, and had been enabled, by their good offices, to get over a very awkward rencontre with the King's AttorneyGeneral soon after the year 1715. The young heir was accordinsly furnished with credentials to this faithful ally; and took an early opportunity of paying his respects at the ancient mansion of Tullv-Veolan. The house and its inhabitants, and their way of life, are ailmirablv described. The Baron himself had been bred a lawyer; and was. by choice, a diligent reader of the Latin classics. Hie profession, however, was that of arms; and havms: served several campaigns on the Continent, he had superadded, to the pedantry and jargon of his forensic and academical studies, the technical slang of a German martinet—and a sprinkling of the coxcombry of a French mousquetaire. He was, moreover, prodigiously proud of his ancestry: and. with all his peculiarities, which, to say the truth, are rather more than can be decently accumulated in one character, was a most honourable, valiant, and friendly person. He had one fair daughter, and no more—who was gentle, feminine, and affectionate. Waverley, though struck at first with tho strange manners of this northern baron, is at length domesticated in the family; and is led, by curio?itv, to pay a visit to the cave of a famous Highland robber or freebooter, from which he is conducted to the castle of a neighbouring chieftain, and sees the Highland life in all ¡ta

barbarous but captivating characters. This chief is Fergus Vich Ian Vohr—a gallant and ambitious youth, zealously attached to the cause of the exiled family, and busy, at the moment, in fomenting the insurrection, by which his sanguine spirit never doubted that their restoration was to be effected. He has a sister still more enthusiastically devoted to the same cause—recently returned from a residence at the Court of France, and dazzling the romantic imagination of Waverley not less by the exaltation of her sentiments, than his eyes by her elegance and beauty. While he lingers in this perilous retreat, he is suddenly deprived of his commission, in consequence of some misunderstandings and misrepresentations which it is unnecessary to detail ; and in the first heat of his indignation, is almost tempted to throw himself into the array of the Children of Ivor, and join the insurgents, whose designs are no longer seriously disguised from him. He takes, however, the more prudent resolution of returning, in the first place, to his family; but is stopped, on the borders of the Highlands, by the magistracy, whom rumours of coming events had made more than usually suspicious, and forwa-rded as a prisoner to Stirling. On the march he is rescued by a band of unknown Highlanders, who ultimately convey him in safety to Edinburgh, and deposit him in the hands of his friend Fergus Mac-Ivor, who was mounting guard with his Highlanders at the ancient palace of Holyrood, where the Royal Adventurer was then actually holding his court. A combination of temptations far too powerful for such a temper, now beset Waverley; and, inflamed at once by the ill-usage he thought he had received from the government—the recollection of his hereditary predilections— his friendship and admiration of Fergus—his love for his sister—and the graceful condescension and personal solicitations of the unfortunate Prince.—he rashly vows to unite his fortunes with theirs,and enters asa volunteei in the ranks of the Children of Ivor.

During his attendance at the court of Holyrood, his passion for the magnanimous Flora is gradually abated by her continued indifference, and too entire devotion to the public cause: and his affections gradually decline upon Miss Bradwardine, who has leisure for less important concernments. He accompanies the Adventurer's army, and signalises himself in the battle of Preston,—where he has the good fortune to save the life of an English officer, who turns out to be an intimate friend of his family, and remonstrates with him with considerable effect on Ihe rash step he has taken. It is now impossible, however, he thinks, to recede with honour; and he pursues the disastrous career of the invaders into England—dnring which he quarrels with, and is again reconciled to Fergus—till he is finally separated from his софа in the confusion and darkness of the nightskirmish at Clifton—and, after lurking for some lime in concealment, finds his way to London, where he is protected by the grate ful friend whoae life he had saved at Preston,

[ocr errors]

and sent back to Scotland till some arrangements could be made about his pardon. Here he learns the final discomfiture of his former associates—is fortunate enough to obtain both his own pardon, and that of old Bradwardine —and, after making sure of his interest in the heart of the young lady, at last bethinks him of going to give an account of himself to his family at Waverley-Honour.—In his way, he attends the assizes at Carlisle, where all his efforts are ineffectual to avert the fate of his gallant friend Fergus—whose heroic demeanour in that last extremity, is depicted with great feeling;-has a last interview with the desolated Flora—obtains the consent of his friends to his marriage with Miss Bradwardine—puts the old Baron in possession of his forfeited manor, and, in due time, carries his blooming bride to the peaceful shades of his own paternal abode. Such is the outline of the story;-although it is broken and diversified with so many subordinate incidents, that what we have now given, will afford but a very inadequate idea even of the narrative part of the performance. Though that narrative is always lively and easy, the great charm of the work consists, undoubtedly, in the characters and descriptions—though we can scarcely venture to present our readers with more than a single specimen; and we select, as one of the most characteristic, the account of Waverley's night visit to the cave of the Highland freebooter.

“In a short time, he found himself on the banks of a large river or lake, where his conductor gave him to understand they must sit down for a little while. The moon, which now began to rise, showed obscurely the expanse of water which spread before them, and the shapeless and indistinct forms of mountains, with which it seemed to be surrounded. The cool, and yet mild air of the summer night, refreshed Waverley after his rapid and toilsome walk; and the perfume" which it wafted from the birch trees, bathed in the evening dew, was exquisitely fragrant.

“He had now time to give himself up to the full romance of his situation. Here he sat on the banks of an unknown lake, under the guidance of a wild native, whose language was unknown to him, on a visit to the den of some renowned outlaw, a second Robin Hood perhaps, or Adam o' Gordon, and that at deep midnight, through scenes of difficulty and toil, separated from his attendant, and left by his guide.

“While wrapt in these dreams of imagination, his companion gently touched him, and pointing in a direction nearly straight across the lake, said, ‘Yon's ta cove.” A small point of light was seen to twinkle in the direction in which he pointed, and, gradually increasing in size and lustre, seemed to flicker like a meteor upon the verge of the horizon. While Fóward watched this phenomenon, the dis:ant dash of oars was heard. The measured splash arrived near and more near; and presently a loud whistle was heard in the same direction. His friend with the battle-axe immediately whistled clear and shrill, in reply to the signal; and a boat, manned with four or five Highlanders, pushed for a little inlet, near which Edward was seated. He advanced to meet them with his attendant; was immediately assisted into the boat by the officious attention of two stout mountaineers; and had no sooner seated himself, than they resumed their oars; and began to row across the lake with great rapidity.

WORKS OF FICTION.

“The party preserved silence, interrupted only by the monotonous and murmured chant of a Gaelic song, sung in a kind of low recitative by the steersman, and by the dash of the oars, which the notes seemed to regulate, as they dipped to them in ca dence. The light, which they now approached more nearly, assumed a broader, redder, and more irregular splendour. It appeared plainly to be a large fire; but whether kindled upon an island or the mainland, Edward could not determine. As he saw it, the red glaring orb seemed to rest on the very surface of the lake itself, and resembled the fiery vehicle in which the Evil Genius of an oriental tale traverses land and sea. They approached nearer; and the light of the fire sufficed to show that it was kindled at the bottom of a huge dark crag or rock, rising abruptly from the very edge of the water; its front, changed by the reflection to dusky red, formed a strange and even awful contrast to the banks around, which were from time to time faintly and partially enlightened by pallid moonlight: “The boat now neared the shore, and Edward could discover that this large fire was kindled in the jaws of a lofty cavern, into which an inlet from the }. seemed to advance; and he conjectured, which was indeed true, that the fire had been kindled as a beacon to the boatmen on their return. They rowed right for the mouth of the cave; and then shipping their oars, permitted the boat to enter with the impulse which it had received. The skiff passed the little point, or platform of rock on which the fire was blazing, and running about two boats' length farther, stopped where the cavern, for it was already arched overhead, ascended from the water by five or six broad ledges of rock, so easy and regular that they might be termed natural steps. At this moment, a quantity of water was suddenly flung upon the fire, which sunk with a hissing noise, and with it disappeared the light it had hitherto af. forded. Four or five active arms lifted Waverley out of the boat, placed him on his feet, and almost carried him into the recesses of the cave. He made a few paces in darkness, guided in this manner; and advancing towards a hum of voices, which seemed to sound from the centre of the rock, at an acute turn Donald Bean Lean and his whole establishment were before his eyes. “The interior of the cave, which here rose very high, was illuminated by torches made of pine-tree; o emitted a bright and bickering light, attended by a strong, though not unpleasant odour. Their light was assisted by the red glare of a large char: coal fire, round which were seated five or six armed Highlanders, while others were indistinctly seen couched on their plaids, in the more remote recesses of the cavern. F. one large aperture, which the robber facetiously called his spence (or pantry), there hung by the heels the carcases of a sheep or ewe, and two cows, lately slaughtered. “Being placed at a convenient distance from the charcoal fire, the heat of which the season rendered oppressive, a strapping Highland damsel placed be: fore Waverley, Evan, and Donald Bean, three cogues, or wooden vessels, composed of staves and hoops, containing imnigh, a sort of strong soup made out of a particular part of the inside of the beeves. After this refreshment, which, though coarse, fatigue and hunger rendered palatable. steaks, roasted on the coals, were supplied in liberal abundance, and disappeared before Evan Dhu and their host with a promptitude that seemed like magic, and astonished Waverley, who was much !. to reconcile their voracity with what he had heard of the abstemiousness of the Highlanders." A heath pallet, with the flowers stuck uppermost. had been prepared for him in a recess of the cave; and here, covered with such spare plaids as could be mustered, he lay for some time watching the motions of the other inhabitants of the cavern. Small parties of two or three entered or left the place without any other ceremony than a few word: in Gaelic to the principal outlaw, and when he ol

[graphic]

(isieep, lo я tall Highlander who acted as his lieutenmii, and seemed to keep watch during his repose. 'I luise who entered, seemed to have returned from some excursion, of which they reported the success, and went without farther ceremony to the larder, where cutting with their dirks their rations from the carcases which were there suspended, they proceeded to broil and eat them at their own lime and leisure.

"At length the fluctuating groupes began to swim before the eyes of our hero as they gradually closed; nor did he reopen them till the morning sun was high on the lake without, though there was but a faint and glimmering twilight in the recesses of Uaimh an Ri, or the King's cavern, as the abode ot Donald Bean Lean, was proudly denominated.

"When Edward had collected his scattered recollection, he was surprised to observe the cavern to:illy deserted. Having arisen and put his dress in vme order, he looked more accurately around him, Sut all was still solitary. If it had not been for the decayed brands of the fire, now sunk into grey я-hes, and the remnants of the festival, consisting oí bones half burned and half gnawed, and an empty keg or two, there remained no traces of Donald and his band.

"Near to the mouth of the cave he heard the noiesof a lively Gaelic song, guided by which, in a sunny recess, shaded by a glittering birch tree, and carpetted wiih a bank of firm white sand, he tound the damsel of the cavern, whose lay hod already reached him, busy to the best of her power, in arranging to advantage a morning repast of milk, eggs, barley bread, fresh butter, and honeycomb. The poor girl had made a circuit of four miles that morning in eearch of the eggs, of the meal which hiked her cakes, and of the other materials of the breakfast, being all delicacies which she had to beg 4i borrow from distant cottagers. The followers •H Donald Bean Lean used Titile food except the flesh of the animals which they drove away from the Lowlands; bread itself was a delicacy seldom thought of, because hard to be obtained; and all the domestic accommodations of milk, poultry, butter, ¿i.e. were out of the question in this Scythian camp. Yet it must not be omitted, that although Alii-c had occupied a part of the morning in providing tho?e accommodations for her guest which the cavern did not afford, she had secured time also to strange her own person in her best trim. Her linery was very simple. A short russet-coloured jacket, and a petticoat of scanty longitude, was her whole dress: but these were clean, and neatly arranged. A piece of scarlet embroidered cloth, called the snood, confined her hair, which fell over it in a profusion of rich dark curls. The scarlet plaid, which formed part of her dress, was laid aside, that n iiii.'lii not impede her activity in attending the •tranger. I should forget Alice's proudest ornament were I to omit mentioning a pair of gold earmga. and a golden гояогу which her father, (for •he was the daughter of Donald Bean Lean) had brought from V ranee—the plunder probably of some t'itile or storm.

"Her form, though rather large for her years, was very well proportioned, anq her demeanour had a natural and rustic grace, with nothing of the iheepishness of an ordinary peasant. The smiles, displaying a row of teeth of exquisite whiteness, and the laughing eyes, with which, in dumb-show, she gave Waverlev that morning greeting which she »anted English words to express, might have been interpreted by a coxcomb, or perhaps a young soldier, who, without being such, was conscious of ч handsome person, as meant to convey more than the courtesy of a hostess. Nor do I take it upon me to юу, that the little wild mountaineer would ha»e welcomed any staid old gentleman advanced in life, the Baron of B r ad war dine, for example, with the cheerful pains which she bestowed upon Edward's accommodation. She seemed eager to Place him by the meal which she had so sedulous

ly arranged, and to which she now added a few bunches of cranberries, gathered in an adjacent mo rass. Having had the satisfaction of seeing him seated at breakfast, she placed herself demurely upon a stone at a few yards' distance, and appeared to watch with great complacency for some oppor tunity of serving him.

"Meanwhile Alice had made up in a small bas ket what she thought worth removing, and flingii.g her plaid around her, she advanced up to Edwartl, and, with the utmost simplicity, taking hold ot his hand, offered her cheek to his salute, dropping, at the same time, her little courtesy. Evan, who was esteemed a wag among the mountain fair, advanced, as if to secure a similar favour; but Alice, snatching up her basket, escaped up the rocky bank as fleetly as a deer, and, turning round and laughing, called something out to him in Gaelic, which he answered in the same tone and language; then waving her hand to Edward, she resumed her road, and was soon lost among the thickets, though they continued for some time to hear her lively carol, as she proceeded gaily on her solitary journey."— Vol. i. pp. 240—270.

The gay scenes of the Adventurer's court —the breaking up of his army from Edinburgh—the battle of Preston—and the whole process of his disastrous advance and retreat from the English provinces, are given with the greatest brilliancy and effect—as well as the scenes of internal disorder and rising disunion that prevail in his scanty army—the quarrel with Fergus—and the mystical visions by which that devoted chieftain foresees his disastrous fate. The lower scenes again with Mrs. Flockhart. Mrs. Nosebag, CaÜum-Beg, and the Cumberland peasants, though to some fastidious readers they may appear coarse and disgusting, are painted with a force and a truth to nature, which equally bespeak the powers of the artist, and are incomparably superior to any thing of the sort which has been offered to the public for the last !I sixty years." There are also various copies of verses scattered through the work, which indicate poetical talents of no ordinary description—though bearing, perhaps still more distinctly than the prose, the traces of considerable carelessness and haste.

The worst part of the book by far is that portion of the first volume which contains the history of the hero's residence in England— and next to it is the laborious, tardy, and obscure explanation of some puzzling occurrences in the story, which the reader would, in general, be much better pleased to be permitted to forget—and which are neither well explained after all, nor at all worth explaining.

There has been much speculation, at least in this quarter of the island, about the authorship of this singular performance—and certainly it is not easy to conjecture why it is still anonymous.—Judging by internal evidence, to which alone we pretend to have access, we should not scruple to ascribe it to the highest of those authors to whom it has been assigned by the sagacious conjectures of the public ;—and this at least we will venture to say, that if it be indeed the work of an author hitherto unknown, Mr. Scott would do well to look to his laurels, and to rouse himself for a sturdier competition than any he has yet had to encounter!

« PreviousContinue »