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back—which show a government more base and tyrannical, or a people more helpless and miserable: And though all pictures of the greater passions are full of interest, and a lively representation of strong and enthusiastic emotions never fails to be deeply attractive, the piece would have been too full of distress and humiliation, if it had been chiefly engaged with the course of public events, or the record of public feelings. So sad a subject would not nave suited many readers—and the author, we suspect, less than any of them. Accordingly, in this, as in his other works, he has nude use of the historical events which came in his way, rather to develope the characters, and bring out the peculiarities of the individuals ivhose adventures he relates, than for any purpose of political information; and makes us present to the times in which he has placed them, les« by his direct notices of the great transactions by which they were distinguished, uun by his casual intimations of their effects on private persons, and by the very contrast «•hicti their temper and occupations often appear to furnish to the colour of the national story. Nothing, indeed, in this respect is more •lelusive, or at least more woefully imperfect, than the suggestions of authentic history, as it is generally—or rather universally written —»nd nothing more exaggerated than the impreeeions it conveys of the actual state and condition of those who live in its most agitated periods. The great public events of which »loneit takes cognisance, have but little direct influence upon the body of the people; and do not, in general, form the principal business, or happiness or misery even of those who are in some measure concerned in them. Even in the worst and most disastrous times—in periods of civil war and revolution, and public discord and oppression, a great part of the time of a great part of the people is still spent No making love and money—in social amusement or professional industry—in schemes for worldly advancement or personal distinction, just ae in periods of general peace and prosperity. Men court and marry very nearly as "inch in the one season as in the other: and "-ГР a« merry at weddings and christenings— a5 reliant at balls and races—as busy in their studies and counting houses—eat as heartily, in short, and sleep as sound—prattle with thiir children as pleasantly—and thin their plantations and scold their servants as zealously, as if their contemporaries were not furnishing materials thus abundantly for the Tragic muse of history. The quiet undercurrent of life, in short, keeps its deep and rteadv conree in its eternal channels, unaffected, or but slightly disturbed, by the storms that agitate its surface: and while long tracts of time, in the history of every country, seem, to the distant student of its annals, to be dark°Г1»Л over with one thick and oppressive cloud "f Diibroken misery, the greater part of those ""ho have lived through the whole acts of the tragedy will be found to have enjoyed a fair average share of felicity, and to have been nneh less impressed by the shocking events ef their daj5 than those who know nothing
else of it than that such event» took place in its course. Few men, in short, are historical characters—and scarcely any man is al\vays¡ or most usually, performing a public part. The actual happiness of every life depends far more on things that regard it exclusively, than on those political occurrences which are the common concern of society; and though nothing lends such an air, both of reality and importance, to a fictitious narrative, as to connect its persons with events in real history, still it is the imaginary individual himself that excites our chief interest throughout, and we care for the national affairs only in so far as they affect him. In one sense, indeed, this is the true end and the best use of history; for as all public events are important only as they ultimately concern individuals, if the individual selected belong to a large and comprehensive class, and the events, and their natural operation on him, be justly represented, we shall be enabled, in following out his adventures, to form no bad estimate of their true character and value for all the rest of the community.
The author before us has done all this, we think; and with admirable talent and effect: and if he has not been quite impartial in the management of his historical persons, has contrived, at any rate, to make them contribute largely to the interest of his acknowledged inventions. His view of the effects of great political contentions on private happiness, ig however, we have no doubt, substantially true; and that chiefly because it is not exaggerated—because he does not confine himself to show how gentle natures may be roused into heroism, or rougher tempers exasperated into rancour, by public oppression,—but turns still more willingly to snow with what ludicrous absurdity genuine enthusiasm may be debased, how little the gaiety of the lighthearted and thoughtless may be impaired by the spectacle of public calamity, and how, in the midst of national distraction, selfishness will pursue its little game of quiet and cunning speculation—and gentler affections find time to multiply and to meet!
It is this, we think, that constitutes the great and peculiar merit of the work before us. It contains an admirable picture of manners and of characters; and exhibits, we think, with great truth and discrimination, the extent and the variety of the shades which the stormy aspect of the political horizon would be likely to throw on such objects. And yet, though exhibiting beyond all doubt the greatest possible talent and originality, we cannot help fancying that we can trace the rudiments of almost all its characters in the very first of the author's publications.—Morton is but another edition of Waverley ;—taking a bloody part in political contention, without caringmuchaboul the cause, and ¡nterchansing high offices of generosity with his political opponents— Claverhouse has many of the features of the gallant Fergus.—Cuddie Headrigg, of whose merits, by the way, we have given no fair specimen in our extracts, is a Dandie Dinmont of a considerably lower species ;—and even the Covenanters and their leaders were shadowed out, though afar off, in the gifted Gilfillan, and mine host of the Candlestick. It is in the picture of these hapless enthusiasts, undoubtedly, that the great merit and the great interest of the work consists. That interest, indeed, is so great, that we perceive il has even given rise to a sort of controversy among the admirers and contemners of those ancient worthies. It is a singular honour, no doubt, to a work of fiction and amusement, to be thus made the theme of serious attack and defence upon points of historical and theologi cal discussion ; and to have grave dissertations written by learned contemporaries upon the accuracy of its representations of public events and characters, or the moral effects of the style of ridicule in which it indulges. It is difficult for us, we confess, to view the matter in so serious a light ; nor do we feel much disposed, even if we bad leisure for the task, to venture ourselves into the array of the disputants. One word or two, however, we shall say, before concluding, upon the two great points of difference. First, as to the author's profanity, in making scriptural expressions ridiculous by the misuse of them he has ascribed to the fanatics; and, secondly, as to the fairness of his general representation of the conduct and character of the insurgent party and their opponents.
As to the first, we do not know very well what to say. Undoubtedly, all light or jocular use of Scripture phraseology is in some measure indecent and profane: Yet we do not know in what other way those hypocritical pretences to extraordinary sanctity which generally disguise themselves in such a garb, can be so effectually exposed. And even where the ludicrous misapplication of holy writ arises from mere ignorance, or the foolish mimicry of more learned discourse«, as it is impossible to avoid smiling at the folly when it actually occurs, it is difficult for witty and humorous writers, in whose way it lies, to resist fabricating it for the purpose of exciting smiles. In so far as practice can afford any justification of such a proceeding, we conceive that its justification would be easy. In all our jestbooks, and plays and works of humour for two centuries back, the characters of Quakers and Puritans and Methodists, have been constantly introduced as fit objects of ridicule, on this very account. The Reverend Jonathan Swift is full of jokes of this description; and the pious and correct Addison himself is not a little fond of a sly and witty application of a text from the sacred writings. When an author, therefore, whose aim was amusement, had to do with a set of people, all of whom dealt in familiar applications of Bible phrases and Old Testament adventures, and who, undoubtedly, very often made absurd and ridiculous applications of them, it would be rather hard, we think, to interdict him entirely from the representation of these absurdities; or to put in force, for him alone, those statutes against profaneness which so many other people have been allowed to transgress, in their hours of gaiety, without censure or punishment.
On the other point, also, we ratner '.ear. t« the side of the author. He is a Tory, те think, pretty plainly in principle, and scarceл disguises his preference for a Cavalier over a Puritan: But, with these propensities. v.t think he has dealt pretty fairly with both sides—especially when it is considered ;h¿;. though he lays his scene in a known crii-i«; his national history, his work is proieseedh a work of fiction, and cannot well be Ïccls í of misleading any one as to matters of fact. He might have made Claverhouse victt rk ..at Drumclog, if he had thought fit—ani :•> body could have found fault with him. The insurgent Presbyterians of 1666 and the 'u¡sequent years, were, beyond all question, a pious, brave, and conscientious race of met.— to whom, and to whose efforts and suffering«. their descendants are deeply indebted lor ¡be liberty both civil and religious which tb-.-y still enjoy, as well as for the spirit of reeiitance to tyranny, which, we trust, they Ьзте inherited along with it. Considered generai.r as a party, it is impossible that they sbouJ ever be remembered, at least in Scotland, but with gratitude and veneration—that theirfofferings should ever be mentioned bet wili deep resentment and horror—or their hea^.Ti both active and passive, but with pnde arj exultation. At the same time, it is ипц*sible to deny, that there were amone tben many absurd and ridiculous persons—«d some of a savage and ferocious characler— old women, in short, like Ma и se Headnç:preachers like Kettledrummle—or defersdoes like Balfour or Burley. That a Tory novelist should bring such characters рпи.nently forward, in a tale of the times, appii's to us not only to be quite natural, but really to be less blameable than almost any :--' way in which party feelings could be «bo-¿: But, even he, has not represented the br,:k v. the party as falling under this description.: as fairly represented by such personage* H>: has made his hero—who, of course, posse«4 all possible virtues—of that persuasion: ¿г.: has allowed them, in general, the courage (.•: martyrs, the self-denial of hermits, and tbf zeal and sincerity of apostles. His represen'»tion is almost avowedly that of one who :* not of their communion; and yet we think; impossible to peruse it, without feelii.? ta* greatest respect and pity for those to «huir,:: is applied. A zealous Presbyterian шс'Ьno doubt, have said more in their favour, wriout violating, or even concealing the trotk;— but. while zealous Presbyterians will ы! write entertaining novels themselves, '.bo cannot expect to be treated in them with exactly the same favour as if that had been ih* character of their authors.
With regard to the author'spicrere of tbeir
opponents, we must say that, with the exrep
ion of Claverhouse himself, whom h>' Ь-4
nvested gratuitously with many grace? a:.-i
iberalities lo which we are persuaded he ras
no title, and for whom, indeed, he basa Ik.n
ish fondness, with which it would be ar*ur.i
to deal seriously—he has shown no sip;? o1 ä
partiaL'ty that can be blamed, nor exbibital many traits in them with which their enemies have reason to quarrel. If any person can rt-аЛ his strong and lively pictures of military insolence and oppression, without feeling his b!<X)d boil within him, we must conclude the fault to be in his own apathy, and not in any softenings of the partial author;—nor do we know any Whig writer who has exhibited the baseness and cruelty of that wretched government, in more naked and revolting deformity, than in his scene of the torture at the Privy Council. The military executions of Claverhouse himself are admitted without
'palliation : and the bloodthirstiness of Dalzell, and the brutality of Lauderdale, are repre
I sented in their true colours. In short, if this author has been somewhat severe upon the Covenanters, neither has he spared their oppressors ; and the truth probably is, that never
'dreaming of being made responsible for historical accuracy or fairness in a composition of this description, he has exaggerated a little on both sides, for the sake of effect—and been carried, by the bent of his humour, most frequently to exaggerate on that which afforded
i the greatest scope for ridicule.
Rob Roy. By the author of Waverley, Guy Mannering, and The Antiquary.
pp. 930. Edinburgh: 1818.
This is not so good, perhaps, as some others of the family ;—but it is better than any thing else; and has a charm and a spirit about it !hal draws us irresistibly away from our graver works of politics and science, to expatiate upon that which every body understands and agrees in; and after setting us diligently to read over again what we had scarce finished reading, leaves us no choice but to tell our readers what they all know already, and to persuade them of that of which they are most ultimately convinced.
Such, we are perfectly aware, is the task which \ve must seem to perform to the greater part of those who may take the trouble of accompanying us through this article. But there may still be some of our readers to whom the work of which we treat is unknown ;—and we know there are many who are far from being duly sensible of its merits. The public, irnleed. is apt now and then to behave rather unhandsomely to its greatest benefactors; and to deserve the malison which Milton has so emphatically bestowed on those impious perçons, who,
"with senseless base inpraiilude,
Cram, and blaspheme their feeder.''
—nothing, we fear, being more common, than to see the bounty of its too lavish providers repaid by increased captiousness at the quality of the banquet, and complaints of imaginary fallings off—which should be imputed entirely tu the distempered state of their own pampt-red appetites. We suspect, indeed, that we were ourselves under Ihe influence of this illaudable feeling when he wrote the first line of this paper: For, except that the subject seems to us somewhat less happily chosen, and the variety of characters rather less than in some of the author's former publications, \ve do not know what right we had to say that it was in any respect inferior to them. Sure we are. at all events, that it has the same brilliancy and truth of colouring— the same gaiety of tone, rising every now and then into feelings both kindly and exalt
ed—the same dramatic vivacity—the same deep and large insight into human nature— and the same charming facility which distinguish all the other works of this great master; and make the time in which he flourished an era never to be forgotten in the literary history of our country.
One novelty in the present work is, that it is thrown into the form of a continued and unbroken narrative, by one of the persons principally concerned in the story—and who is represented in his declining age, as detailing to an intimate friend the most interesting particulars of his early life, and all the recollections with which they were associated. We prefer, upon the whole, the communications of an avowed author; who, of course, has no character to sustain but that of a pleasing writer—and can praise and blame, and wonder and moralise, in all tones and directions, without subjecting himself to any charge of vanity, ingratitude, or inconsistency. The thing, however, is very tolerably managed on the present occasion; and the hero contrives to let us into all his exploits and perplexities, without much violation e>ther of heroic modesty or general probability;—to which ends, indeed, it conduces not a little, that, like most of the other heroes of this ingenious author, his own character does not rise very notably above the plain level of mediocrity—being, like the rest of his brethren, a well-conditioned, reasonable, agreeable young gentleman—not particularly likely to cío any thing which it would be very boastful to speak of, and much better fitted to be a spectator and historian of strange doings, than a partaker in them.
This discreet hero, then, our readers will probably have anticipated, is not Rob Roy— though Ais name stands alone in the title—but a Mr. Francis Osbaldistone, the only son of a great London Merchant or Banker, and nephew of a Sir Hildebrand Osbahlistone, a worthy Catholic Baronet, who spent his time in hunting, and drinking Jacobite toasts in Northumberland, some time about the yeai 1714. The young gentleman having been educated among the muses abroad, testifies a decided aversion to the gainful vocations in which his father had determined that he should assist aud succeed him ;-and as a unishment for this contumacy, he banishes }. for a season to the Siberia of Osbaldistone Hall, from which he himself had been estranged ever since his infancy. The young exile jogs down on horseback rather merrily, riding part of the way with a stout man, who was scandalously afraid of being robbed, and meeting once with a sturdy Scotchman, whose resolute air and energetic discourses make a deep impression on him.—As he approaches the home of his fathers, he is surrounded by a party of fox hunters, and at the same moment electrified by the sudden apparition of a beautiful young woman, galloping lightly at the head of the field, and managing her sable palfrey with all the grace of an Angelica. Making up to this etherial personage, he soon discovers that he is in the heart of his kinsfolks—that the tall youths about him are the five sons of Sir Hildebrand; and the virgin huntress herself, a cousin and inmate of the family, by the name of Diana Vernon. She is a very remarkable person this same Diana. Though only eighteen years of age, and exquisitely lovely, she knows all arts and sciences, elegant and inelegant—and has, moreover, a more than masculine resolution, and more than feminine kindness and generosit of character—wearing over all this a playful, free, and reckless manner, more characteristic of her age than her various and inconsistent accomplishments. The rest of the household are comely savages; who hunt all day, and drink all night, without one idea beyond those heroic occupations—all, at least, except Rashleigh, the youngest son of this hopeful family —who, ...i. designed for the church, and educated among the Jesuits beyond seas, had there acquired all the knowledge and the knavery which that pious brotherhood was so long supposed to impart to their disciples— Although very plain in his person, and very depraved in his character, he has great talents and accomplishments, and a very insinuating address. He had been, in a good degree, the instructor of Diana, who, we should have mentioned, was also a Catholic, and havin lost her parents, was destined to take the j in a foreign land, if she did not consent to marry one of the sons of Sir Hildebrand, for all of whom she cherished the greatest aversion and contempt. Mr. Obaldistone, of course, can do nothing but fall in love with this wonderful infant; for which, and some other transgressions, he incurs the deadly, though concealed, hate of Rashleigh, and meets with several unpleasant adventures through his means. But we will not be tempted even to abridge the details of a story j which we cannot allow ourselves to doubt that all our readers have long been familiar: and indeed it is not in his story that this author’s strength ever lies; and here he has lost sight of probability even in the conception of some of his characters; and dis
played the extraordinary talent of being true to nature, even in the representation of impossible persons. The serious interest of the work rests on Diana Vernon and on Rob Roy; the comic effect is left chiefly to the ministrations of Baillie Nicol Jarvie and Andrew Fairservice, with the occasional assistance of less regular performers. Diana is, in our apprehension, a very bright and felicitous creation—though it is certain that there never could have been . such person. A girl of eighteen, not only with more wit and learning than any man of forty, but with more sound sense, and firmness of character, than any man whatever—and with perfect frankness and elegance of manners, though bred among boors and bigots—is rather a more violent fiction, we think, than a king with marble
legs, or a '. with an ivory shoulder. In spite of all this, however, this particular fic
tion is extremely elegant and impressive; and so many features of truth are tended with it, that we soon forget the impossibility, and are at least as much interested as by a more conceivable personage. The combination of fearlessness with perfect purity and delicacy, as well as that of the inextinguishable gaiety of youth with sad anticipations and present suffering, are all strictly natural, and are among the traits that are wrought out in this portrait with the greatest talent and effect. In the deep tone of feeling, and the .# of heroic purposes, this heroine bears a family likeness to the Flora of Waverley; but her greater youth, and her unprotected situation, add prodigiously to the interest of these qualities. . airservice is a new, and a less interesting incarnation of Cuddie Headrigg; with a double allowance of selfishness, and a top-dressing of pedantry and conceit—constituting a very admirable and just representation of the %. amiable of our Scottish vulgar. The Baillie, we think, is an original. It once occurred to us, that he might be described as a mercantile and townish Dandie Dinmont; but the points of resemblance are really fewer than those of contrast. He is an inimitable picture of an acute, sagacious, upright, and kind man, thoroughly low bred, and i. with all sorts of vulgarities. Both he and Andrew are rich mines of the true Scottish language; and afford, in the hands of this singular writer, not only an additional proof of his perfect familiarity with all its dialects, but also of its ...] copiousness, and capacity of adaptation to tones and subjects. The reader may take a brief specimen of Andrew's elocution in the following characteristic account of the purgation of the Cathedral Church of Glasgow, and its consequent preservation from the hands of our Gothic reformers. “‘Ah! it's a brave kirk—nane o' yere whig. maleeries and curlie-wurlies and open-steek hems about it—a' solid, weel-jointed mason-wark, that will stand as long as the warld, keep hands and gunpowther affit. It had amaist a doun-come lang
syne at the Reformation, when they pu'd doun the kirks of St. Andrews and Perth, and thereawa, to cleanse them o' Papery, and idolatry, and image *
worship, and surplices, and sic like raga q* the muckle hoor that silleth on seven hills, as if ane was na braid aneush for her auld hinder end. Sae ] the commons o' Renfrew, and o1 the Barony, and the Gorbale, and a' about, they behooved to come into Glasgow ae fair morning to try their hand on
urging the High Kirk o' Popish nick-nackeis.
ut the townsmen o' Glasgow, they were feared their auld edifice might slip the girths in gaun through «ccan rough physic, eae they rang the cummon bell, and assembled the train bands wi' took o' drum — By good luck, the worthy James Rabat was Dean o' Guild that year — (and a gude mason he was hiin&ell, made him the keener to keep up the auld bigging), and the trades assembled, and offered downright battle to the commons, niber than their kirk should coup the crans,
as they had done elsewhere. It was na for luve o' Paparie—na, na !—папе could ever say that o1 the trades o' Glasgow—Sae they sune cam to an agreement to lake a' the idolatrous statutes of santa (sorrow be on them) out o' their neuks— And sae the bits o' stane ¡dole were broken in pieces by Scripture warrant, and flung into the Molendinar Burn, and the auld kirk stood as crnuse as a cal when the fleas are caimed aff her, and n'body was alike pleased. And I hae heard wise folk say, that if the same had been done in ilka kirk in Scotland, the Reform wad jn-i hae been as pure as it ise'ijn now, and we wad had mair Christian-like kirks; for I hae been sae lang in England, that naething will drive it out o' my nead, that the dogkennell at Osbaldistone-Hall is belter than mony a house o' God in Scotland.'"
\.Iranhoe. A Komance. By the Author of Waverley, &c. 3 vols. Edinburgh, Constable & Co. 1. The Novels and Tales of the Author of Waverley; comprising Waverley, Guy Mannering,
Antiquary, Rob Roy, Tales of My Landlord, First, Second, and Third Series; New Edition,
with a copious Glossary. Edinburgh, Constable & Co.: 1820.
Since the time when Shakespeare wrote his thirty-eight plays in the brief space of his early manhood—besides acting in them, and lirmkin:; and living idly with the other actors —and then went carelessly to the country. and lived out his days, a little more idly, and apparently unconscious of having done any thing at all extraordinary—there has been no such prodigy of fertility as the anonymous author before us. In the period of little more than fire years, he has founded a new school ol invention; and established and endowed it with nearly thirty volumes of the most animated and original compositions that have enriched English literature for a century— volumes that have cast sensibly into the shade all contemporary prose, and even all recent poetry—(except perhaps that inspired by the Genius—or the Demon, of Byron)—and. by their force of colouring and depth of fuelint;— by their variety, vivacity, magical facility, and living presentment of character, have rendered conceivable to this later age the miracles of the Mighty Dramatist.
Shakespeare, to be sure, is more purely original; but it should not be forgotten, that, in his time, there was much less to borrow— and that he too has drawn freely and largely from the sources that were open to him, at least for his'fable and graver sentiment;—for hi? wit and humour, as well as his poetry, are always hie own. In our times, all the higher . valks of literature have been so long and so often trodden, that it is scarcely possible to keep out of the footsteps of some of our precursors; and the ancients, it is well known, hare stolen most of our bright thoughts—and not only visibly beset all the patent apnrnaches to srlory—but swarm in such ambnfhed multitudes behind, that when we think we have gone fairly beyond their pliijiarisms, and honestly worked out an original excellence of our own. up starts some deepread antiquary, and makes it out, much to his
own satisfaction, that heaven knows how many of these busy bodies have been beforehand with us, both in the genus and the species of our invention!
The author before us is certainly in less danger from such detections, than any other we have ever met with ; but, even in him, the • traces of imitation are obvious and abundant; and it is impossible, therefore, to give him the same credit for absolute originality as those earlier writers, who, having no successful author to imitate, were obliged to copy directly from nature. In naming him along with Shakespeare, we meant still less to say that he was to be put on a level with Him, as to the richness and sweetness of his fancy, or
j that living vein of pure and lofty poetry w'hich flows with such abundance through every part of his compositions. On that level no other writer has ever stood—or will ever stand— thoush we do think that there is fancy and poetry enough in these contemporary pages,
; if not to justify the comparison we have ventured to suggest, at least to save it, for the first time for two hundred years, from being altogether ridiculous. In saying even this, however, we wish to observe, that we have in view the prodigious variety and facility of the modern writer—at least as much as the quality of his several productions. The variety stands out on the face of each of them; and the facility is attested, as in the case of Shakespeare himself, both by the inimitable freedom and happy carelessness of the style in which they are executed, and by the matchless rapidity with which they have been lavished on the public. .
Such an author would really require a review to himself—and one too of swifter than quarterly recurrence; and accordingly we have long since acknowledged our inability to keep up with him, and fairly renounced the task of keeping a regular account of his successive publications; contenting ourselves with greet